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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Autism: Crates and Pens

Well, there we were; three days before my husband’s vacation started, and I was feeling particularly bad. Though I was thankful at first he understood why I thought I couldn’t go – I was also emotionally struggling with the fact that he didn’t seem to care, and didn’t seem to be trying to find a solution. Suddenly I really did want to go (mainly because I had found out his sister wouldn’t likely be able to come into town to visit; and we don’t see her often since she lives kind of far; and she has health issues; and…)

I had spent most of the morning picking cherries off our backyard cherry tree. It is north of our carport, in probably the worst possible location for it. It is loaded with cherries, but they tend to be quite wormy. After harvesting, I took them inside, and spent most of the afternoon cutting and pitting them, and removing worms. Gross.

And then the phone rang.

It was my husband. He works at the thrift store, and right before he phoned, a large metal dog crate had been dropped off. “It is 4′ x 2.5’” he told me. Did I want it?

Now, that isn’t huge, but my dogs are small. A crate with a roof meant that I could take my dogs camping, and still keep them safe from eagles, osprey, and owls that might like to eat them. It would also keep them from chasing all the people, bikes, cars, dogs, cows! And other animals they saw – so keeping them and others safe.

The phone call was brief, yet it changed all of my plans – and I was very happy!

Yet I still wasn’t sure my husband wanted me to go with him. “So we can come with you?” I asked when he brought it home. Yet his response (while admittedly it might have meant nothing of the sort) didn’t confirm to me that he was thrilled with the prospect.

Still I carried on packing.

That evening, neighbours came by. I had the crate set up (to ensure I could) and they offered the use of their hex pen as well. The hex pen was the same height as the crate (3′) and had 8 2′ sections with a door in one. Perfect!

I guess that my husband saw my excitement at that point in the idea of being able to go up to the lake – and whether it was something he wanted, or didn’t, he did accept it then.

Still I worried. I don’t want to be where I am not wanted, yet… I really do want my husband to want me there. I really do want my husband to love me. And as I packed, I was not convinced. I suppose I should be one way or another – but my husband and I were… thrown onto different wavelengths when our children were moved. I guess that is the best way to describe it. Sometimes I really believe he wants me around. The rest? I guess I am convinced he wishes we never met. I suppose it is the same for him.

We did end up going camping. We did end up having a good time. And for the most part? He seemed happy to have us there with him.

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Autism: Like Losing My Children All Over Again

The week my mom left was an especially difficult time for me. It is so hard for my mind to understand the abstract nature of this world – such that, “my mom is gone; will I see her again; and… are my memories of yesterday(s) real?”

Above the difficulty I was having with her departure, I also happened to be reading a book that led me to question my faith. It wasn’t so much in belief, but in “faith without works is dead.” So I was overflowing with guilt and shame, regret, and fear that since I seem to fail at everything. Does this then mean I won’t have ‘works’ to show my faith is alive, and therefore God will reject me?

That same week, I must have been triggered by something (perhaps the dream in which I was trying to bring my children home,) for I was emotionally re-living the loss of my (foster) children, and the attack I had experienced at that time much like it was occurring again in the present time. My pastor says that the emotional receptors of the brain don’t understand time. Therefore, when a memory is triggered from something that was emotional (and that time in my life was very much so) it feels as if we are experiencing it again. Therefore the saying “Time will heal,” is not accurate.

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I tend to agree with him on that one, as it is certainly true for me. I frequently relive traumatic times in my life when memories are triggered, and it really hurts as badly now as it did then. I may not be living it every moment of every day as I did when it happened – but the pain is just as intense, and the hurt just as strong, as it was in those days.

And then I had another dream. And though the dream was extremely unlikely to be a subconscious reflection of reality; and though he has never given me any reason to believe this might be a possibility; and though I have not been suspicious, or jealous, or anything in our relationship – the dream still had a very strong impact on me.

In the dream, my husband was confessing to cheating on me continuously, and was mocking me for being upset, and for being too stupid to know he didn’t want our marriage to last.

It wasn’t even a very long dream, and when I woke up, while I still acknowledged such a thing to be extremely unlikely – emotionally I was aching, and responding to my husband as if it were true. I didn’t speak to him of this – it was a particularly ridiculous dream; yet perhaps if I had I would have been able to heal, and not fall apart in ways he couldn’t understand (not knowing where such things were coming from.)

It has been hard enough living with this idea that he doesn’t want me battling in my mind for several years – but to have this added to my mind: that he doesn’t want me because he has someone else (even if I know it to be untrue, and only the result of one nightmare) brought me to a certainty that he doesn’t love me, and doesn’t even want me around.

And while it was unfair to him, since it had nothing to do with his actions, and everything to do with my dream; I still responded to him as if it were truth – and it hurt. It really, really hurt. And he had no idea.

So he fed this belief he didn’t know I had, from a source fully outside of reality, by responding to my discussions about not being able to go to the lake since I had no solution for keeping my girls safe with (what appeared to me) indifference – and as if he really didn’t want me to go with him. And then he got my gloves wet, and I fell apart, and it was like…

It was like losing my children all over again.

 

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Autism: Live and Learn and Grow

I must say, this has been a particularly good year for gardening for me. It isn’t that a lot is growing – I have realized some mistakes along the way (that I will hopefully not make again in the future.) I am growing organic without any especial help, meaning that some of my food is being eaten by bugs. I haven’t added a lot in terms of food or fertilizer; though I have done some.

Having planted wildflowers in the past, several of my garden beds are being overrun with flowers where I had intended to have vegetables. Things kind of look overrun and unkempt I guess; especially when compared to other gardens in the area.

I think the best part is that when I have needed the energy – to turn the soil, or pull the weeds, or especially to harvest the food – it has been there. That certainly hasn’t been true in other years, and even between harvests this year my energy has been so low that I have often wondered how I would get it done. But then the food was ready to harvest – and suddenly I had the energy to gather the food.

It has been wonderful!

Having food growing in my yard also means having access to foods I wouldn’t normally purchase, and being able to experiment with recipes that I hadn’t tried before.

One day I went out, and my ‘onions’ looked ready. Well, I thought all along they were onions, as that is where I planted some green onions last summer – only I had so many volunteer tomatoes come up in that garden last year that the onions got buried. Luckily they came back again this year, and there were a lot of them.

So I went to harvest my ‘onions’ only to find that what was growing there was garlic! Bonus! I certainly wasn’t disappointed in this find – only surprised. I have tried growing garlic before with no luck (apparently close to where I had planted the green onions!) and was surprised to find that up on the stem of the garlic, there were smaller, milder garlic cloves (at least I think that is what they were) growing in a bunch.

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I pulled out all of those baby cloves (since they didn’t look like they would store well) and harvested some chard to go with them, and sauteed them up for lunch. I can’t express how good they tasted! That was a meal I hadn’t tried before – but then, I do like most vegetables (so long as they don’t have too many seasonings or such added to them.) These I just sauteed up in olive oil with a bit of salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast (makes it taste cheesy!)

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Well, I harvested much more kale and cherries; made kale chips; dehydrated the cherries; felt like I was making good use of the life I was given. Kale chips just might be my favourite food in the world. Of course, I make them myself. I am not sure I would like them so much from a bag in the store – especially with the huge price on them (though I even understand that as four big batches made in the oven only fills a couple of medium sized bowls when finished.)

I brought those kale chips camping with me, and they saved me many days of food meltdowns filling multiple dietary and sensory needs, and allowing me to move on to other foods without struggle. (Though I did have to use a LOT of self control not to eat them all in one sitting.)

I have been home for a few days. A neighbour dropped off some garlic by my gate – again with the baby cloves. Remembering how good the chard was, and adding that to the memory of my sister in law telling me beet greens tasted like chard, I sauteed them up with beets from my garden, and beet greens. Again, so good!

Just this morning I spent several hours harvesting raspberries from my backyard. I got a large bucket full (or 9.5 US dry pints to be exact – I measured) and I have another large batch of kale ready to go. I think I will save that for tomorrow.

All in all, I will say that this hobby has met with success. I am so happy, and so content – even though not everything grew as I wished it would. Well, live and learn, and… grow!

 

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Autism: Apologies

There is this thought that continues to creep into my mind that I don’t love my husband as I should. Perhaps that isn’t the best way to put it, as once written, I suddenly get a picture in my mind of shocked responses from the people who are reading it. I do love my husband. I even like my husband. But I still don’t think I love him as I should.

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The thought grew stronger after I had written my post about wet gloves. Though all I wrote was true, and reflected accurately my experience of the situation, it wasn’t… edifying is the word that comes to mind – towards him.

So I had this constant though in my mind that I should revise the wording of that post. I went away camping for a week, and all the time fully intended to alter it when I got back home, before its scheduled release the following Monday. When I got home, however, I re-read the post and concluded that it was an accurate portrayal of my experience, and to alter it would be… almost a lie. I couldn’t do that.

While I don’t think my response to the situation – though admittedly much more intense than other people might have responded – requires my apology (I stick to what I wrote, and what I felt about that) I do believe I need to apologize for the way he came across – not only in my post, but in my thoughts as well.

It is difficult for people to understand struggles outside of their experiences. It is difficult for people to be able to consider how what they do might strongly affect another person. Especially in terms of such things that most people don’t have strong reactions to – such as heightened sensory issues, or even allergies.

For instance, I have a severe egg allergy. Every year when I go camping, and other people are around, the others seem to have a really difficult time understanding the allergy. They want eggs for breakfast. Pancakes are cooking on the grill. They want to add eggs to a different section of the grill. They don’t understand why I ask them to wait until my food is finished cooking before they add theirs. It isn’t that they are meaning to hurt me, but that they honestly can’t see why this is a problem.

It is the same with wet rubber gloves. Most people do not have sensory issues to the extreme where a bit of water accidentally dripped inside of rubber gloves will cause a full meltdown. It isn’t that when such things happen people are intentionally doing something to hurt me. I know this. It still hurts, but I know it isn’t on purpose.

So when I wrote, I wrote from my experience. My sensory issues cause me pain. Real pain. So it possibly comes across as the person who caused me that pain maybe should have known better. Maybe should have understood. It isn’t… edifying.

The thought continues to come through my head that I don’t love my husband as I should. So how should I love my husband?

Unconditionally.

Yet unconditional love is hard. Really hard. Nearly impossible for an easily hurt, easily offended sinner such as I am. In fact, for all relationships I have had, there is only one person I can think of that I have even come close for – and that is my son.

When my son does something that upsets me; or does things I wish he wouldn’t; or does something that hurts me, or someone else, or himself; or takes the wrong path, or… in that moment what I want most for him is that he overcomes the issue and does better next time. What I feel is a strong desire to reconcile that drowns out all thoughts of pain, or hurt, or anything negative. “See what you have done. Overcome it. Let it go.”

I think everyone should be love like that. I think that is the love my husband should have from me. So I pray, “Please Lord, teach me to love my husband as I love my son.” And I say to my husband, “I am sorry for not loving you like I should. Please be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

 

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Crows and Eagles

Speaking of crows, we are really missing the adults around here.

Now I know that crows aren’t the nicest, or the friendliest birds to have around. I even heard they eat the eggs of song birds. Sad. Yet for years, we have been thankful for the benefits having the crows around serves. Namely: Eagles.

Yep. Eagles. Beautiful, majestic birds that live in the pine trees, beside the lake, just down the street from us.

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“Lucky!” People have told me as I was walking along the path by our house. “Lucky that you get to live here, and see them.”

Yes. Lucky. Beautiful. I will admit, I love to watch them, except…

I have small animals. Twelve years ago we got our first rabbit, and eleven years ago, we allowed him to have the yard as a playground. He loved it, and was all the healthier for it. After that, we were given other rabbits, and guinea pigs. Then there was our Pomeranian, and our cats, and now… now I have my babies.

My Chihuahuas are smaller than our Pom was, and even smaller than our rabbits were, and above that? The eagles seem to really be drawn to their colouring.

Clara is nearly white, and Molly is a light tan, and both last year and this, eagles have been a major fear, circling our yard (and circling me while I walk with them in my arms) several times a day for weeks, the one thing that kept the eagles from sneaking up on us unawares were the crows.

As soon as the eagles came near, the crows were after them, squawking, attacking, and driving them away. Not so great for the eagles – but really good for my pets.

This year, however, I have noticed that with the adult crows away (I guess they are on vacation – those babies seemed really stressful to raise!) the younger ones aren’t so concerned when the eagles come around – so they don’t squawk, and they don’t drive them away, and instead I have to spend much of my time outside watching the skies to ensure that nothing comes down and carries them away.

Before people (usually specialists or scientists or something) start saying eagles can’t carry a dog away, well…. several of our neighbours have lost cats to the eagles, and my girls are smaller than cats. Plus, I know they are coming here specifically for my babies since they are circling our yard watching them (or circling me watching them!)

So as I seek ways to protect my girls from the danger in the skies, I am both thankful for the many years the crows did protect my babies, and praying they return soon to keep up the good work.

 
 

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Awkward Teenage Crows

It seems like just yesterday when we were being banished to the other end of the yard because the parents didn’t want us too close to their precious baby. Such squawking! After a short time, we realize the issue – it was time for the babies to learn to fly, and they weren’t able to get so high. Without a direct comparison, it was hard to tell the ‘baby’ from the adult, and therefore we would get too close (while doing our own thing, not thinking of them at all) and would get yelled at.

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And just like that, the parents were gone.

What brought us to that knowledge was a series of loud crashing going on in the trees.

“What are they doing?” My mom and I asked each other.

And then we realized: They were trying to land, and not doing it too well.

Awkward ‘teenage’ crows!

They were so much fun to watch!

Travelling for a couple of weeks in a group of five (not from the same nest – the one from our tree joined with four others from our neighbours tree to form a… ‘murder’ of crows, I guess it is called) they were so obviously thrilled with their new flying skills, we could have watched them for hours (had the eagles not come out looking for an easy snack in my girls.)

They hadn’t quite gotten their flight patterns down, and kept nearly flying into each other. Landings were even harder, and that was the source of the crashing, and the broken branches that were the first give-away that these weren’t the adult crows. These were the ‘babies’ from just a very short time ago.

At one point, one of these ‘teens’ landed on our fence post. Another landed on the stucco wire fence beside it, but couldn’t get its balance. It kept tilting back and forth like a child on the spring toys at the park. So funny!

Then the five went to explore a pile of logs on a driveway across the street. They kept slipping off the logs, too, so moved to the retaining wall and rocks behind. One decided to jump in the bushes lining the driveway, but the branches couldn’t hold it, so it kept falling out. It gave up after a few tries.

They were also just trying out their new voices, so there were all kinds of sounds coming out of the trees for a few days.

I have never noticed them during this stage before, and it was quite amusing to see them so awkward, yet thrilled just to be alive. So much fun!

 
 

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Autism: Wet Gloves

The idea was that I would go and and wash dishes while my tea was cooling, and then take my tea, and my girls outside, where we would enjoy the evening as we did most nights while my mom was here. I have to be able to make plans like this, and when those plans are disturbed, it affects me strongly.

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Affects me? Effects me? Whatever. The problem was wet gloves.

It may not seem like such a big deal to those who don’t understand, but for me to be able to wash my dishes, I have to use gloves. Dry gloves. For without gloves, or with gloves that water has gotten into, my hands literally feel like they are burning the entire time I am doing dishes, and for long after – like sticking my hands into acid, burning.

It is one of my major sensory issues – and one I work around by using gloves.

Well, it wasn’t my turn to cook yesterday, so I had to leave the kitchen for someone else to use (a very difficult thing in itself for me – and the only reason I go along with it is that when other people are here, I get paralyzed, and really struggle to make the meals at all.)

The meal that was made, was not something I would have made – and not one I like much as it is (though to be fair, most meals made here are not for me, since I am plant based, and the others aren’t.) In fact, this meal was one that only the person making it likes, and likes a lot. But it was messy, and used a lot of dishes, and… ended with water all over the counter, which got into my gloves, and brought me to tears as I set my tea down, and picked my gloves up to start on the dishes.

And suddenly everything was overwhelming, which brought me to a very teary meltdown.

Flipping rubber gloves inside out to dry the inside is not an easy thing to do, and not a fast thing to do, and I was very upset about my plans being altered (my necessary plans to get through the dishes which were overwhelming me to begin with.) As I was trying to flip them inside out, and they weren’t flipping well, I got frustrated, and cried out in that frustration as I shook the glove in the air to try and force the fingers out.

“What is going on?” he asked me.

“Someone put something wet on my gloves, and now they are wet inside,” I answered.

“Do you want a new pair,” he asked.

“This is my new pair,” I responded.

“Well, I am very sorry,” he told me.

Great. But do you understand? Do you know why this is so horrible for me? Can you even imagine? My tea is getting cold, and my girls are waiting for me, and I have all these horribly dirty dishes from a meal I didn’t even want that I have to wash by myself, and my hands are going to burn, and my mom is gone, and my children were taken, and…

Your response is telling me that you feel good about forgiving me for being so upset at something you did – and still you leave me to continue this activity that is now going to feel like I had my hands soaking in acid, or bleach because you didn’t think about my gloves being there on the counter (not even that close to the sink, and folded over to avoid getting water in them).

And I will be the one left with the shame of another thing that tells me I don’t deserve to be loved, and everything that goes wrong is my fault – even when it is something you did that hurt me.

And I just want to shout – “Don’t you think that maybe, this time, you are the one needing forgiveness?” And forgive you, I will – but please stop making me feel like I am horrible, and you are merciful, when you do something that causes me pain, and I feel the pain from it – how is that yours to forgive?

I realize it wasn’t done to hurt me. I realize that when you put the dishes there, or cut the vegetables there, or did whatever you did that got the inside of my gloves wet – it was more that the thought of the gloves getting wet never crossed your mind, than that you did it to hurt me, but…

I can also say that, though I have hurt many people in my life, and though sometimes that was a direct consequence of something I did – I never did it to hurt them, either.

I may fail more often than others, and I may hurt people more often than others (it seems my very presence often causes people more pain than they would have had without me) but I don’t think that should bring us to the point where I should apologize when you hurt me.

And I just want you to understand that things that might not seem like much to you, can cause huge amounts of pain and distress for me – and I am not wrong, or unreasonable to feel it.

 

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