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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Autism: At The Hockey Game

On Saturday evening, my husband invited me to a hockey game… okay, he didn’t exactly invite me… first he asked if our son would like to go. Our son likes computers, and video games, and movies, and… nowhere in his list of ‘likes’ are sports of any kind. “You can ask him,” I suggested. Of course he said, “No.” Leaving the house, being with people, watching sports… that is not our son.

Then my husband called up his friend, who was busy with family, seeing as this was Thanksgiving weekend (Canada.) So I said, “I’ll go.”

Surprised, he responded, “you will?”

“Sure, if you can’t find someone else to go.” I suggested another friend, but he lives too far out of town now.

“No, you can come,” he said.

So, when he got home from work on Saturday, I was ready to go. We had our supper, and I brushed my teeth – because leaving the house without brushing my teeth would leave me thinking of nothing else all night long. So gross. And we went out in the pouring rain.

It was raining, hard! I waited behind the van as he put up his hood (I didn’t have one) and then we walked together through the rain to the hockey arena. The parking lot was packed, and there were people everywhere. We thought a lot of people must have decided to bring their family to the game for Thanksgiving – and were later surprised to learn there were only a little over 1,000 people there. Maybe something was going on at the college or community centre, which both share a parking lot with the hockey arena.

We found our seats, but there were some kids in them, that my husband had to ask to move. We were right above the… okay, I am not a hockey fan, not really a sports fan, so I don’t know the terms and I am thinking I am wrong… the dugout? For the home team. They just moved to the other end.

Going to a live game is quite different than watching it on TV. It is like when I was a teen, and would go to the Ti-Cat (Canadian Football) games with friends. I enjoyed them, though I never watched football at any other times, and I enjoyed this.

It isn’t the first time I have been to one of their games, but it has been a while. I don’t understand the rules of hockey, but understood enough to know that when our team (in… was it purple and white? Or maybe black and white? Should be purple, like on their bus… anyway) got the puck in the other team’s net (they were in green, I remember that), it was a goal, and that was good.

They were great skaters, so that was fun to watch, and right away in the beginning of the first period, our team scored three goals! That was exciting. The other team didn’t score any goals all of the first period. In the second, I think they got two – and we didn’t get any… hard to remember – but our team won 6:3 or 6:4 or something.

Okay, so not a huge hockey fan. I watched the game, and found it very exciting – more, though, was that I enjoyed spending that time with my husband doing something he enjoyed. I can say for a fact that I never love him more than when we are doing something together – even something more to his taste than mine.

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So although I was out in public, in a crowd, in a noisy place, watching a sports game, and pretty much doing a whole list of things that aren’t my thing, I still had a most enjoyable night out.

 

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Autism: Doing Okay

Despite the rain, I have once more ‘come through it.’ It has been about three weeks of tears and pain, and I won’t say that is completely done (I still cry frequently at the thought of my dog, who died four months ago today – I don’t get over things quickly) but more that today, I was ready to do a little extra.

Actually, it likely started yesterday when I went into the basement to check for water issues (it was pouring out, and is still coming down heavy) in the basement, and stayed to vacuum up spiders, which continue to multiply in the one room. The reason we have water problems in there is because about 11.5 years ago, we had our roof replaced with a metal one (which we love) and they removed the gutters and downspouts – meaning the water is flowing too close to the house, and the drain pipes around the house are likely filled with leaves and dirt.

I kind of understand why they did that, as the snow comes down so heavy it would wreck the gutter – yet I imagine that is easier to solve than having water problems in our basement, which we didn’t notice was an issue until about 9 years later. It isn’t that it floods, but that along the edge of the wall in the one room down there, the concrete soaks up the water up to about two inches from the wall. It only happens in there because the deck, carport, and breezeway cover the rest enough to keep the water away, and on the other side, the ground slopes quite a bit away from the house.

Anyway… spiders. I hate spiders! Mostly I just want them to be relocated outside, and away from our house. I always feel guilty killing (just about) anything – spiders included (but not mosquitoes.) The ones in and around our house are huge! Wolf spiders, and others of similar size. Well, that room in recent years has become our storage, especially with the issue of crumbling concrete that overwhelms me to the point that I often fall apart after having been in there. And that is what allowed the spiders to take over, making it more and more difficult for me to go in there.

Yesterday, however, I decided to tackle the problem. I vacuumed where I could get to (I didn’t move boxes or dressers or anything) and then sprayed with mint (peppermint and wintergreen oil mixed in water) because I heard they hate it, and then sprinkled diatomaceous earth around the walls, doors, windows and such. Hopefully that will help. It wasn’t enough, but it was a lot more than I have been able to do in there in months.

Then today I decided that I needed to make reusable tissue… Kleenex… handkerchiefs… whatever. Well, really I decided that a while ago, after several loads of laundry where I was met with mess when someone forgot to take it out of a pocket. I check. Really I do, it is just… it grosses me out to put my hands in the pockets of dirty clothes. These will be for me only, but at least I will know if it happens again that it wasn’t my fault.

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Besides, nothing makes me feel better than doing things that are good for the environment, and I feel this society is far too disposable to begin with. So I cut down where I can. Sure, a box of tissue isn’t really expensive. It won’t lift us out of poverty that I use washable paper products – but it has to help some, especially with my ‘carbon footprint’ (or whatever it is called.) And that makes me feel good.

This has been something that I have wanted to do for quite some time, but is only something I actually can do when I am feeling okay – which, unfortunately, doesn’t happen often. Ironing and sewing are even tasks that I like, as long as I am the only one who will be using it (or my confidence will drop.)

I might have been a bit optimistic, though, as I cut enough cloth (fabric pieces that I had got during bag sale at the thrift store – so, new, but pretty much free) to make 60, but only had the energy to make 10. Oh well, at least the rest will be ready for the next time I have a decent day.

 

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Autism: Battles From Good

The moment, though unexpected, was a good experience. Such things do not happen for me often, especially when I am around other people. I can even see how I was being prepared ahead of time for this particular moment, so that I would be open and receptive to it.

Here is was, smack dab in the middle of Rosh Hashanah. Okay, so it is a Jewish holiday, and I am not Jewish, nor do I exactly celebrate their holidays. I do make note of them, however. I feel the times and seasons are important to some degree. Not that I need to celebrate, but more to be aware of when they are, and what they mean.

Each day in my inbox I receive probably about 20 emails that I delete without even opening them up: companies trying to sell me something, survey invitations, food recipes, craft ideas, plans for going off grid… in short all items that were a fixation at one point or another. Then there are the emails that I pretty much always open: daily devotional, prophecy news, posts from blogs that I am following, emails from family, friends, and health care professionals…

Included in this list are emails with news and information about Israel, and Jewish people (also a recurring fixation at different times in my life.) Typically I don’t read these. It isn’t that I am not interested; like many of the others, I just have to choose how to prioritize my time. Despite not having a job, I still feel busy, and still try to use the time I have well.

Only I chose to look at that email, and more, I watched the video linked to it. Basically it talked about Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year, when the Jewish people are taught that the souls of every person on Earth go before God, and he decides what will happen to them in the year ahead. So, lots of information, but what I got out of it came down to this: Rosh Hashanah: Anything is possible.

And so I started praying. It goes in hand with what I was saying about being 7 years from losing my kids, and turning 40 the same week. A week after that? Rosh Hashanah. How I long for change. Not just any change, but something good. Something wonderful. A complete turn around from what my life has been so far. I not only long for it, I need it. As you might have noticed from my fifteen months of posting – I am not doing great. I can’t pull out of it on my own (do you read how hard I try?)

I don’t even know what I need, but I know I need something. So I pray.

That day, I had just come back from a walk with my dog. I was standing in the yard, when a neighbour (from ‘my’ church) came by. We started talking about some very personal things, when another neighbour (also from church) came by. We talked, and then ‘we’ prayed (okay, I didn’t exactly pray out loud, but I did explain to them why I couldn’t, and I did pray in my head within the silences.) When it came to praying over me, and they were praying for healing over traumas in my past – which I hadn’t spoken about, we had been talking about general traumas including health issues – they both were overwhelmed, and there was a loud silence before they carried on.

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Anyway, it might seem strange – and for me, it was. Yet because I had been praying so hard for change, and for healing, and for really good things to happen, I was highly encouraged by that moment.

I felt really good as I walked back into my house – yet within minutes the attacks began. “What were you thinking?” “How could you share like that?” “They are going to hate you.” “Nothing good is going to come of this.” “Nothing good ever happens to you.” And on and on the attack came, worse and worse as the minutes ticked by. The anxiety was so severe that night I could hardly sleep. I woke up sick, and full of fear.

Later that day, my son got upset about my dog, and actually swore at me (he has never done that before, despite being 20 years old) and told me he wanted to leave home. It has been three days, and he hasn’t talked to me since. After that, my pain grew. It grew and grew until the tears were a river running down my face.

If I hadn’t lost my dog… If I hadn’t lost my kids… If I hadn’t moved so far from home… If I had been more patient with my son growing up, maybe he would be more patient with my dog… If he leaves, I will never see him… If he goes, what will I do?…

For hours I was in such pain I was hyperventilating, and my headache grew and grew.

That is the thing. When good things happen in my life, I get attacked. Every time. And it often hurts even more… well, no – it just returns me to the pain of all the bad things. So it gets to where if something good is happening, I immediately start panicking, because this is my experience afterwards.

The thing about my fears, that seems to stump the counselors, is that they very frequently come true. And do they hurt as much as I feared they would? Absolutely, and much more. I guess that isn’t true of most people – seeing as that is a tactic counselors use to try to calm anxious people. (“Think of your worst fear.” “Has it ever happened?” yes “Was it as bad as you feared?” worse!)

So yes, I am afraid of the good, and I am afraid of the bad – and this means I am pretty much afraid all of the time!

 

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Autism: Handwriting

While I am desiring to write about positive experiences, growth, healing, and blessings, my reality is very different. It isn’t so much that really bad things are happening all of the time, but more that, in my own experience, I am near continuously in the midst of a strong internal battle that makes things seem, perhaps, worse than they appear from the outside.

I will write about this, but I wanted to make a really strong effort to share something positive about my life. Sometimes all I have is a brief moment in time, and in one of those moments, I took this picture.

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When my son was young and homeschooling, I used these books with him to teach him cursive writing, or penmanship. He hated it. So many tears over such a small exercise, but the activity really did hurt him. His hands, it seems, just weren’t built for this. He struggled with fine motor control, was severely frustrated and bored with repetition, and overall, it was one of his most dreaded lessons. He quickly moved from these books to the computer, where he was much more comfortable. His typing speed is around 80 words/minute with high accuracy at this time, but the lessons served their purpose. When he has to he can write very well – but it still hurts, and still takes him a very long time.

For me, however, I prefer writing by hand. I can type well, and maybe have a speed between 40-50 words per minute. My accuracy is good, and it isn’t like it hurts me or anything. It just… doesn’t feel the same. When I need to think, I do best writing things down. When I write things down, I connect best with what I have written on paper. So the reason I prefer writing by hand, rather than typing has just about everything to do with the way my brain is wired.

I connect better with the written word than to the spoken work, and in fact for many things (especially praying) am still unable to connect well my thoughts to what is coming out of my mouth. So people talk to me, and I write back. If I speak, I am often tormented for days, even years after. I need to write my response. If people are praying in a group, I remain silent – praying in my head within the silences, but not out loud. It isn’t that I am against praying out loud, it is just that I can’t. I know that both of these issues look bad, but what can I say? How can I explain? I have Autism. My brain is just wired that way.

When my words are spoken out loud, it is always for the benefit of the people I am with. So then I am not actually praying to God in that moment, but almost to the people I am with. It feels wrong, but when I am silent (and this is likely not true, since I have explained to pretty much all of these people about my disability, and my struggle with the connections in praying out loud) I worry that others believe it says something about my faith. It doesn’t.

Not only do I only speak for the benefit of other people, but the connections are still not at all good. I have been working on this for 30-40 years, and still it isn’t a natural thing for me to talk. Words do come out, it is just that I am unable to think well – not nearly to the depth that I exist within my mind. So the words that come out are often not what I meant. The words come out wrong, and awkward, and I often fear they offend people when that is not what I meant at all.

What is more, people take these wrong words that I have spoken, and try to read into them, which kind of ends up like the game “telephone,” where the message received in the end is nowhere near what I started out saying. And then I end up in trouble for something I really wasn’t saying to begin with.

For all of these reasons, I prefer to write. Since it is not ‘normal’ it often isn’t received well, and since I write every detail of what I am thinking (so as not to be misunderstood, or dishonest) I am told that I overwhelm people with my writing – and at 40, communication – though others who know me seem to think I do okay now – is as difficult for me as it was when I was a child.

I love to write, and am often complimented on my handwriting. Even so, when I looked for a routine this fall, and came across these books, I decided that I would work on my handwriting. This has turned out to be one of the most soothing parts of my routine. It isn’t new. It is pretty much how I was taught to write, so long ago. It isn’t difficult. As I said, my handwriting was good to begin with. All I do is take the letter, and take the words, and copy them – over and over.

Much like my writing, I love this. I can do this. I am confident in this. And maybe I am not growing, much (though I have found I am more conscious in forming my letters when writing) with this activity, but mentally it calms me. Sometimes that is all I need.

 
 

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Autism: Vicious Cycle

This week I have been filled with… anxiety, irritation, depression, despair. I suppose it doesn’t help that in order to deal with these issues, I start eating and drinking things that aren’t especially good for me: Gluten, dairy, caffeinated pop, cappuccino, meat even. Though I know these foods aren’t good for me, and I know they will at the very least increase my anxiety and irritation levels, there are times I just can’t seem to help myself.

While I technically know that these foods wreak havoc on my emotional stability, the challenge is that when I am struggling emotionally, most of the foods that are good for me end up leaving me nauseous. This not only after I have eaten them, but at the very thought of eating them. So what do I do?

It is strange that the very foods that I know I am intolerant to are the ones that settle my stomach the best. Well… dairy not so much, but it happens to be easy, and go with many of my favourite foods. The meat? It is more that it is what my family are eating, and even then I am strongly limited by what I like (which isn’t much) and then I feel bad for eating it. So why do I?

I suppose it is likely true for most people that we eat healthiest when we are feeling our best. But when I am struggling so much just to find reasons to keep living, how can I then find the energy to care that I am not eating well? Priorities. I realize that eating healthy will eventually help me emotionally, but it is just too much in those moments – and as I said, eating like that initially leaves me feeling sick. It is a vicious cycle. One in which I actually have to be healthy, to eat healthy, so I can be healthy… you see?

Perhaps it would help if the foods that were actually good for me were cheap and easy to make. True, fruit is easy – but when I feel like this, I am really too tired to eat fruit. Plus it leaves me feeling hungrier, and with stronger cravings for those foods I shouldn’t eat. Nuts are easy, and tasty, but they are expensive. Vegetables are good, but take a lot of prep time.

If there was, say, a tray of cut fruit, vegetables, nuts… healthy foods prepared and in front of me, I would likely eat that. But that is rarely the case. I could buy these things in the store, but the cost is prohibitive. So when I am feeling okay, I will go and buy the fruits and vegetables, fully intending to cut them up for this very reason – but that only works if I get them cut before I crash, and I often crash when I get back from shopping.

All this to say, “I am not doing too well this week.” So would I have been like this anyway, or does it remain because of what I am eating? I really can’t say. I just hope, like every other time, that I come through it more or less intact.

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Autism: Great Inventions

After a few days of meltdowns over my birthday, I thought I would write a more positive post. For though there are many days when I feel… discouraged, to say the least, that is not all of my experience. It may even seem that my moods swing so far, and so often, that I could be said to have bi-polar disorder. I don’t. It just happens that I have been given strong doses of sensitivity and empathy, which means I am strongly impacted by life as it happens to me, as well as when it happens to others.

As I have mentioned in the past, I am not great at doing reviews. This isn’t even my purpose. Yet I wanted to share this because it fits so well with who I am. About a week ago, I ordered this off of Amazon, and received it in the mail.

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It is called a Wonderbag. Basically it was developed for women in Africa, who were spending hours every day cooking over a wood fire. Not only was this time consuming, but dangerous. Fumes from the fuel were being inhaled, as ventilation was not adequate. Many children, often under the age of 5 were dying from this. Even those who didn’t die were strongly affected with poor health. Burns. Fires. Hours spent cutting and gathering wood. Something needed to be done.

This was not a new concept. In the depression times, in order to conserve fuel, ‘hay boxes’ were used. Basically they would dig a hole in the ground, fill it with hay, and put in a pot full of boiling food in order to finish cooking without fuel.

For this, it is a cloth bag, with foam pellets for insulation in between the layers. So what I do, is start the food cooking on the stove (stews, soups, grains… things that can be made in a slow cooker) and boil it for about 10 minutes, depending on the type of food. Then I take the entire pot, with a tight fitting lid, and put the whole thing in the wonderbag. It has a separate section to cover it, and the drawstring is pulled to fit it tightly over the pot. Then I leave it for up to 12 hours.

That is it! I don’t touch it. I don’t need any more fuel to cook it. It doesn’t plug in. Just a bag insulating a pot to cook my food.

I love the idea. Anything that conserves energy. Anything that helps the environment (less fuel, less wood, less transportation, “less is more!”) Anything ‘off grid’. Anything that helps other people. Anything that saves money. I love it!

What I especially liked about this particular item was that for every purchase, the company would donate one wonderbag to a person in Africa who needs it. So great! Technically I could have made one for myself – but then I wouldn’t have been able to donate one. I liked the idea, and so decided to back the company up.

True, it wasn’t exactly cheap, but not bad compared to the price of appliances. Besides, I had a gift card that I had earned from things I was doing online. I thought this was a good way to use it. But would it work?

That part always makes me nervous. I can really get excited about an idea, but will it work?

The first thing I made in it was vegan quinoa chili. This is something I would make on the stove, and often have cooking for close to an hour. In fact, many of the foods that I cook for myself take about that long to cook. I boiled it for 10 minutes, put it in the Wonderbag, sealed it up for about 5 hours, and when I opened it it was steaming! I could actually see the steam pouring off of it, and I had to use oven mitts to take it out of the bag. And was it good! So good. I ate that for supper, and froze the rest for quick meals later.

That same night I was going to a potluck dinner (I ate early, because potluck!) and made a peach crisp. Though the Wonderbag says ceramic, or Pyrex dishes aren’t a good material to use, I just wanted something to carry it in, and keep it warm. I put it straight from the oven at 6pm, and again had to use oven mitts to take it out close to 8pm, it was that hot!

I think that we are going to have a great relationship, my Wonderbag and I. Right now I have a coconut, cashew, millet curry cooking in my Wonderbag, and I can’t wait to try it!

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Residual Pain

Residual effects of yesterday.

I am still struggling with overwhelming sadness and a sense of worthlessness. Other people write on their birthdays how blessed they are to do things and celebrate with their family and friends. Does that mean I am not blessed? We did nothing. I feel cursed. Broken. Alone. I prayed that it would be different, but many of my prayers are met with silence. I can only conclude that God is angry with me.

It isn’t that I believe He shouldn’t be, but… if I could do better, don’t you believe I would? And didn’t He come to save the broken and lost? Does anyone want saving more than me? Has anyone prayed as often for the evil to be taken, and to be made good, as I have? Maybe others have, and so have I, but years later and I am still broken. My life, my family, my heart – all broken.

This is reflected in the children I couldn’t conceive, and the children I couldn’t keep, and the family who abandoned me to their own activities on my 40th birthday. Not blessed. Cursed. And though I know I deserve this, it hurts just the same.

Once again I have to explain to the child I was, who held on for the belief that things had to get better, that things really don’t get better. And I try to hide from her the fear that all those years she lived in pain and terror were really the best she would ever get. And it breaks me, as much as if I were having to tell a child standing in front of me that this would be their reality. It breaks me, over and over, like a near drowned shipwreck victim being smashed against the rocks by the waves.

I want to write to you about success and healing, but what comes out is pain – for that is the experience I live with. Moments of happiness surrounded by weeks of pain. To write anything else would be a lie.

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Autism: Happy 40th:(

My head is pounding and I am struggling to stop crying. I don’t know why I hoped for anything better. I set my alarm to wake up for 7:40am so I would have time to get ready for church. My husband had the fire going, and bacon cooking in the kitchen. I was in a good mood to start out. I took my dog outside, then fed her.

When I came in, the fire was nearly out. Just burning paper, I guess. The bacon, which despite eating mostly plant based foods, I would have eaten today, was for my husband alone. Arrogant of me, I suppose, to believe they were for me (even if it was my birthday.) I got ready for church, but by then there was no time for breakfast.

I don’t do well even missing one meal. At church I was so hungry it was hard to stand… so weak it was hard to pay attention. One person said, “Happy Birthday!” He seemed to mean it. I didn’t feel well. When I got home, I had oatmeal and cappuccino, and felt more awake after.

It was 10:30am. My husband went to his chair to read, so I went on my computer. The time went by. My dog was sick (I found out later that night she was walking from my couch, across my end table, over to the cat stand to eat Finn’s food. Oy! I put her baby gate between the table and stand, and she felt better after that.) I took her out many times, and had to clean her up several times, too.

At 2pm, an hour before I usually start it, my husband put the chicken on. I had agreed that for birthdays, holidays, and when away from home, I would eat meat so we could eat together. He wanted an early supper so we could go to a missionary event at our church that night. I agreed to eat at 5pm instead of 6.

I had planned on making the meal that night, despite it being Sunday, because it was very important to me that everything was done the way I like it (and he tends to change things with food.) Only he was in the kitchen, and I can neither go in when someone is there, or hover to ensure he does it ‘right’ (because he gets offended) so I stayed on the computer, and at one point took my dog for a walk.

They knew I was going for a walk, for I had trouble finding the leash and harness (after her surgery, we weren’t able to go for a while, and things were out of place.) Yet despite being my birthday, no one offered to come with me.

At 4:10pm, I heard my husband mashing the potatoes. They shouldn’t have even been turned on until then. At 4:20, I smelled sweet peppers (not the vegetable I like with roast chicken.) I started crying. At 4:38, he announced it was ready, and I went into full meltdown. Everything was wrong. Everything was different. The potatoes were cold. The chicken was upside down, so instead of enjoying the crispy skin (pretty much the reason I agreed to this meal) it was soggy, and I cried more for the chicken who lost its life for this. The vegetable was the wrong type. The spices in the gravy were in different amounts, so tasted different, and it wasn’t thick enough (I had him thicken it.) It was just wrong!

It took me twenty minutes (a record for me, maybe) to fight the meltdown and come out to eat. I know he was trying. I know he didn’t mean to ‘get it wrong.’ I know this, but it hurt just the same. I cried the whole night. After all, this was my 40th birthday. It should have been different.

My son made me a cherry cheese pie (I can’t eat cake – and shouldn’t be eating dairy, but I do like it, and so asked for this.) It is what he does. When they brought out the candle, I tried to make a wish (Yes, I still do that, and it still matters) but Clara growled at my son, who sprayed her with water, making her growl more. I cried for her. I cried for him. I cried for Gryff, my dog that died leaving me heartbroken, and needing to find another. I cried for me.

I sent my husband out to the meeting. Though I fully intended to go that morning, I couldn’t stop crying that night, and leaving the house was no longer an option. He would have stayed, but there was no point. Had I been near my mom, things would have been different – but she is 4,000km away. His family is here to plan things like this for him, but I only have him, and this wasn’t enough.

I am not angry. I am sad. I needed this to be a really good day – different from the others – and it wasn’t. It hurt. It piled on the pain from all of my losses, and said, “This is all you deserve, and this is all you will ever get.” My head and my heart are full of pain.

Happy 40th Birthday to me.

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Posted by on October 14, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Under the Surface

Though I tried very hard, still I could not think. I read my devotional without an issue – but then it was mostly reading. I was able to get through penmanship, but then that is just copying. I did my grammar, but it was just answering simple questions, which I learned in grade school to do. Then I got to Latin.

It was a review lesson, and the work up until this point has not been difficult. Still I was unable to think. I couldn’t even translate one simple word, my anxiety was so bad. Not one. Not difficult stuff, but I couldn’t do it.

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The reason? I had to go out that night.

Not an unusual place. Not with new people. It was a potluck dinner, but I had already planned to eat ahead of time. I did have to bring a dessert, but it was not something new, or difficult. Just so, so anxious. It is always hard on me when I have to go somewhere, but this was a bit much even for me… at least for an evening that is pretty much routine through the year. True, we took a break for about four months, but I still saw them in church most weeks. It shouldn’t have been so hard, but it was.

I couldn’t think. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t do any cleaning. Even the very things that calm me became impossible at that level of anxiety.

So maybe it wasn’t just that I had to go out that night.

Think again. Analyze again. Take it apart, and make the picture bigger. Look at it in context. Of course I would have been anxious about that night:

  • First time in months.
  • Potluck dinner.
  • Not eating with the group (eating would have been worse, but still.)
  • Bringing a dessert.
  • Visiting.
  • Leaving my house.

Each of those things individually cause me anxiety. Together, of course they would cause high anxiety. Even still, there must have been more. Look bigger.

  • First time leaving my dog since her spay 10 days prior.
  • One day after the anniversary of the day ‘my children’ were taken.
  • Dark, rainy days.
  • Frequent upset stomach in the days leading up to this (struggling with food again!)
  • Frequent headaches (mostly from the weather.)

Okay. So all of these things, for me, are huge. Together? Too much. The moment is beginning to make sense, but might there be anything more?

  • I have been completely fixated… perseverating… overwhelmed by my house, and the needed renovations.
  • My mind feels like it is about to snap as I try to make sense of all the losses in recent years.
  • My mom was planning to phone the next day (a good thing, as it is years between visits, and I like to talk to her, but… phones!)
  • My upcoming birthday tomorrow (September 25) which is always a time of reflection.

And now I pretty much understand why I couldn’t understand my simple Latin lesson. Autism: There is always so much going on under the surface. So much more than what is actually seen.

 

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Autism: Memories That Haunt Me

Well, the day is here. Seven years. It hasn’t always been this hard, but hard enough. Today I think of my children, and what might have been. I think of how quiet my house is. How empty. How large. Perhaps that is why each year at this time it becomes really hard to live here.

Last night I fought my way to sleep through tears, hopelessness, and an overwhelming sense of how broken the world is, and how broken my life is. I feel every loss, and every failure. Each and every one.

Vacation July 2016 014

I see my daughter at four, leaning in for a hug before she left for preschool with my husband. Achingly I hear my self deny her. I know why – I didn’t want her leaning across her sister, who had been sent from school despite spending the weekend treating her lice at home. I was overwhelmed. I would see her in a couple of hours, but was anxious about the appointment we were about to go into. I had my reasons. None of them good enough. I wish I had taken my baby in my arms – for three days later, when they let me see her for the last time, she had already been turned against me and wouldn’t come close.

“It is okay, Mommy,” she said. “They will let me come home.”

But they never did.

I see my daughter at six. Happy and smiling despite all of her struggles. Allowing us to change her plans, and drag her to an appointment (because she wasn’t allowed to go to school) even though we knew how hard change was on her. I see her relax as I assured her we would pick her up from the play room at the ministry when our appointment was over – but we never did.

I see my son at ten. Afraid, and vulnerable, and wanting so much to believe he would never be moved again. Wanting so much to be liked, and to fit in, that he would do and say anything. I see this child, who always surrounded himself with people – yet always seemed so alone.

I see my son at thirteen. Bravely coming to a strange place to watch his sister, while we went into an appointment – and being told he wasn’t allowed to go in with her. Awkward, and uncomfortable, and trying so hard to do the right thing despite all of this. I see his face as I walked out, and told him she wouldn’t be coming home with us. None of them would be coming home with us ever again. And I hear his words, and see his response these past seven years. “Family doesn’t matter,” he says. “People don’t mater.” “I would rather be alone.” And he is. That is the moment he stopped wanting to visit people. That is the moment he started hiding in the basement.

And I hate them for what they did to my children. And I forgive them, and think, “Maybe they were right.” Because I am broken now. And I hate myself for losing them. And I hate myself for trying. And it is so much easier to forgive other people – even when they took my children away.

The tears flow. Seven years, and that is enough pain for a lifetime. Yet the memories don’t end there. Over and over again I see those moments:

  • The last, struggled breaths of my dog – and how he looked lying dead on the table once he was gone… and the box that now takes his place.
  • The last pained breaths of my cats, my rabbits, my guinea pigs – and the very tears I cried as I held them in the end.
  • The last look at my Grandmother before I turned the corner in her apartment building, and left her for the last time.
  • My Grandfather, two of my cousins, my father, my mother’s mom…

And I think, as the losses pile up, and the memories haunt me like ghosts – I don’t think I can take any more. My mind will break. My heart will break. I can’t. I can’t. And I remember that thing that people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Is that biblical? I wonder. Can it possibly be? But what about those whose minds do break? What about those who snap, and take their lives, or take the lives of others – was it not too much for them?

I don’t know. Seven years. Seven years, and the pain remains. A hard, hard day.

 

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