Autism: Because I Couldn’t See

08 Jun

Night after night I wander the streets of my hometown, searching for a place to live. Where in the world do I belong?

In the daytime, I look around me at the beautiful small town I have lived in for the past sixteen years – surrounded by mountains; a beautiful, clean lake a 5 minute walk from my house, trees everywhere… so, so pretty! Few places on earth could compare to this. I know this, and my soul is truly thankful to live in such a place. Yet…

I miss my mom. I miss her so much I ache nearly constantly, and the words are a constant presence in my heart and mind: I miss my mom. I want to go home. Again and again as if the desire will take me there.

niagara falls

Part of my Autistic challenges is that I cannot picture the future. I can think of what I want, I can even think up reasons for it, but I can’t see it. I can’t see myself in the future, or what it will actually mean, or how different things would feel to me. Try as I might, I just can’t do it.

So when I decided to move so far from home sixteen years ago, I thought of all the things I was running from – but I could not think of what I would be leaving behind. The furthest I got on that thought was that my son and I would fly back to visit a couple of times each year. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to – time, and distance, and money are all abstract concepts that I struggle to fit into my version of reality.

At the time, my son and I visited with my mom at least weekly. We would spend each and every Saturday at her house from mid-afternoon often until late morning on Sundays. I loved that my mom and son had such a strong relationship – yet I ripped them apart just after he turned four to move across the country.

It wasn’t my intent to disrupt that relationship, or even change that routine – though I did understand I couldn’t get back weekly (but surely a few weeks at a time, a couple of times a year would make up for that!) I just couldn’t see that what I wanted would not be possible, and could not imagine the passing of time that would make those years fly by. I couldn’t!

If I had known, if I could have seen, it is unlikely I would have moved away in the first place – or maybe I would have moved out of town, but somewhere close enough to drive… Niagara Falls, perhaps, where I could take a nice country drive for an hour and visit. Maybe Northern Ontario, even a four or five hour drive would have been possible – but 5 days! I have only been able to do it once. Once in sixteen years! And I lost my (pre-adopted) kids at the end of that trip, when my middle daughter (who had reactive attachment disorder) raged for five weeks upon returning home.

In the beginning, my mom was able to travel, and she came to visit us yearly. Then I got married, and it was three years before I saw her again. At that point, I flew her in to help us with the children a couple of times a year. Then they were moved, and she hasn’t been back since. She is too busy taking care of family there to be able to travel here.

Meanwhile the years pass, and my four year old son has just turned twenty – and he doesn’t miss our hometown, or even the people in it as much as he did when he was four. Even that makes me sad. It is not like I can return, and give them back those years – but I couldn’t see. And that blindness towards what the future might be has caused so much pain.

So in the nights, I wander the streets of my hometown, with my young son in tow, and search for an apartment. A place where I can live, and visit, and know my family. For I miss them so, so much while I live here so far away.

I am thankful for the beauty, and I have grown to love the place where I live – but I long for my mom, and for the years that were lost because I could not see.


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