Just a (good) update....
I haven't been here in a while so I figured I'd stop by with an update. (Brief background: DH has had primary custody of SS9 for most of his life; BM is in and out, has been in with pretty limited visitation for a while now, visits do not go well. Not at all.)
SS is doing very well. He's been seeing a new (since last year) child psychologist, who shall henceforth be known as Dr. Wonderful. When we first went there we were pretty much at our wit's end; our lives would cycle around visitations. SS would return clingy, upset, depressed, angry, moody and withdrawn - slooooowly we'd get him back to himself, just in time for him to become anxious and worried for the next visitation and it would all start over again. And over. And over. Months and years went by with my poor SS spending more than half of his days worried, stressed, angry, etc.
The situation had become intolerable and SS just couldn't go on like that anymore. Dr. Stupendous told us that he was going to work with SS on dealing with visitations, and learning how to cope. Sure, doc. Good luck with that. You're going to help a child learn to deal with being emotionally abused and neglected for 48 hours every few weeks?
Dr. Fantastic was true to his word. We've no idea what he is doing or how he is doing it - but it's working. SS seems to be accepting that A) his mother is not going to change; she's not going to become even an adequate parent, but more importantly B) that it's not his fault.
Dr. Incredible is pleased with SS's progress thus far. We are ecstatic. No more outbursts of rage and destruction or self-hatred, no more talk of his own death. Even the clinginess is way down. SS is becoming the boy that he should have been able to be all along, the boy we'd catch glimpses of here and there during the in-between periods, the boy that we knew was in there buried under the incredible pressure and stress he was under. He walks around singing now, and tells silly jokes, and laughs and smiles - a LOT. His schoolwork, his social life, even his physical health is all just so much better. It's great.
BM is, well, BM. Her behavior is not really different than it has been (appalling). From what we've gathered, however, even the visits are going better because SS has this new acceptance of it - so his responses are different. He (mostly) no longer gets very upset or tries to get her to, you know, talk to him when he's there - instead he brings up books to read so he can occupy himself while he's being ignored. When BM does remember his existence (commercial breaks), she's apparently calmer because he's not been "annoying" her so she's less likely to scream insults at him.
Nothing we can do about the filth or lack of food there. SS still is telling us and Dr. Magnificent that he wishes he never had to see BM at all. No idea what the future will hold in store. All I know is that I sent a happy, giggly little boy off to school this morning; one who has all sorts of plans for the weekend and the future. And it was wonderful.