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Monthly Archives: September 2017

Autism: Carrying On

I was feeling better today. Partly I convinced myself that my ‘baby’ would be okay. Also I admitted that it made sense for her foster parents to adopt her, and even to move away – though it did make me really sad that they didn’t adopt my other two in that case. I know they were more of a challenge, but they longed for a home and stability, too.

I suppose the wording in this is confusing for those who don’t know of my history. The ‘baby’ I speak of here was the youngest of three foster children placed with me a little over a decade ago for the purpose of adoption. With domestic adoption, finalization doesn’t come right away. It typically takes 6 months to a year for the paperwork to be put through, and because we had a sibling group of three, they extended that time.

In short, we had the children with us for a total of 35 months. In the end the children were moved, and we had no way of fighting to keep them since they were legally not our children. We did want them. Did want to keep them. Did try to fight for them. Did fail.

That failure is the main trauma in my PTSD, though I had the condition before as a result of childhood abuse.

The foster parents had the children before they were placed with us, during the three months they were taken the first time (we fought and got them back) and from 6 weeks after they were taken the last time. They had the baby straight from the hospital at birth until she was placed with us at just over a year old. We liked them; they were good Christian people – and much, much better with social skills than I could ever possibly be.

In the days since reading updates about her, I have slowly been able to admit to myself that this is possibly a good place for my baby. They are giving her the experiences that I would want her to have – and they actually know how to do these things in order to teach her.

Also, if my baby is sick and dying – as they posts hinted towards – I… it isn’t that I wouldn’t want to be there for her (I ache to have her with me constantly) but… I would blame myself for her illness (I take on the blame of everything even when I couldn’t possibly have caused it) and that would destroy me many times over as losing her has done, and would do again.

Then there is the (questionable) gift that I have of altering reality in my mind. After the shock that lasted for several days I have partially been able to separated ‘her’ baby from ‘my’ baby – so it is hers that is sick, and mine is the same girl I remember in my mind.

Perhaps this isn’t great for my sanity – but in truth, life isn’t good for my sanity. This at least allows me to carry on.

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Autism: Earth Has No Sorrow…

The sharp pain has become a dull ache, with a knot in my chest and stomach.

Perhaps she isn’t dying? Do they ever have such trips for children who aren’t terminal? I still haven’t been able to tell my husband.

I went downtown to do some shopping, and stopped in (on purpose) to the store where I know ‘my’ (foster) son works. I bought stuff I probably wouldn’t have if he weren’t there, but I really needed to see him; and felt I needed the excuse to be there.

He recognized me in line so I waved at him and he waved back. He wasn’t my cashier, but he did talk to me (he is much more social than I am, and doesn’t seem to be afraid to talk.) My heart was burning and I felt like I would cry.

Why did they have to be taken from me?

Will it ever stop hurting?

‘They’ say, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal,” and I want to believe it, but… My imagination doesn’t carry me that far.

My Clara is stressed out that I am upset. She has been peeing on the floor and sulking in her crate. How do I explain to her that I am afraid my baby is dying; I am hurting over my past; I am feeling empty and hopeless about my future?

I pick her up and rock and I sing to her. I am sorry baby girl; you can’t help me with this, and I can’t fix it – but I love you.

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Autism: A Heavy Cross to Bear

My heart has been hurting all day, and the tears continue to flow. We went to the petting zoo and fed the animals again, as part of my husband’s birthday celebration. While it still felt natural to be there talking with and feeding the animals, it did not remove the pain.

I still haven’t been able to talk with my husband about ‘our’ daughter… I just can’t. He knows I am upset, but not why. Likely he thinks it is him and so is afraid to ask.

Instead I immersed myself into the life of Sims, building a new family; us really, with our kids, created much the same as we were when the children were first placed with us. The resemblance – especially for all the children, is remarkably strong to who they were then.

I only moved them in. I haven’t started playing yet. It got late, and I think I am afraid of them ageing – or worse, having the kids taken by the social workers (this happened playing Sims before when I couldn’t get the children to do their schoolwork – it was very traumatic for me and took me many days to recover.)

My ‘cross’ is a very difficult one to carry. Here is another trauma, which I must experience on my own for in ‘their’ eyes I haven’t the right to be told. If ‘my baby’ dies, will I be told that?

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Autism: Terrified

My heart aches. My head hurts. I cry out to God – my hope is gone.

I want to reach into the pictures from before I lost her and pull her through, and never let her go again. But I can’t do that and it tears my heart all over again. I want my babies, and I can’t have them – and how do I live with that?

How do I keep going knowing this?

The future is filled with pain and I am terrified of it.

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Autism: Shocking News

It was my husband’s birthday. The day started out well. In fact, as far as my mental health goes, I was in a really good place. We went to church, as we always do on Sundays, and I felt very… present for both the worship and the message. That doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I go to church fixated on something else – or more often, just really tired – and I have to fight hard to pay attention. It isn’t about the message – we have an amazing pastor, who I suppose could have done something else, but it would have been a waste of real talent.

Anyway, there I was on my husband’s birthday, still feeling wonderful after that unexpected apology from my sister in law, when I did a ‘normal’ thing and the world came crashing down around me. Again.

I came home from church, and went to play Facebook games on my computer – just to pass the time while I ate my lunch. (My husband had the service he does at the retirement homes on the first and third Sunday of the month, and was preoccupied preparing for that.)

I went intending to play Facebook games, but saw a post in my news feed on the way from my (foster) son. Even that wasn’t unusual, but I had spent a lot of the week before thinking of him and his sisters. When I saw the post (just a video of a dog and a raccoon in a pool) I clicked and went to his ‘page.’ There was nothing really to see, most of his posts are like that – but there was a small comment from someone linked to the children from the time I knew them. Just a tiny comment, “Love it.”

Knowing it was likely she was still involved in their lives, I clicked to go on her page. My heart was pounding. I am not supposed to be hearing anything about ‘my’ children (since they were foster kids, were moved from our home, and had no legal relationship with us) and I didn’t want to be blocked, or seen as doing something wrong…

It isn’t like I do this a lot. If I did, what I saw probably wouldn’t have come as such a shock to me – but it was a shock. I didn’t know.

On her page I found a picture of ‘my baby.’ Well… she hasn’t been ‘mine’ in pretty nearly exactly 8 years, but… (She’ll always be my baby.)

She didn’t look anything the same. If I saw her in town, there is no way I would recognize her – and even seeing her there I wasn’t sure that it was her, until…

There was another picture of her, with her name, on her birthday.

Further down, there were more pictures of her. It was these pictures that broke me, for she was on a trip – a ‘wish trip,’ or a ‘dream trip,’ is how they described it. They listed her bucket list, and the pictures… I was not prepared for those. I didn’t know she was sick. I don’t even know what she was struggling with. I don’t even know if she is better.

It isn’t natural – this locking out of a child’s life. It isn’t right.

It isn’t like I would do anything illegal to get them back – or intrude on their lives and confuse them, or… It isn’t right.

She was sick. She may be sick. It is likely (as that is what wish trips are) that she is/was severely sick. And I didn’t know. I read it, and couldn’t stop crying for many days.

I read further and found that they had adopted her the very same month that I had been diagnosed with Autism two years ago. It made sense. It really did. They had her from birth until she was placed with us at 14 months old. She went back to them a short time after she was moved from our home (they all did – only the older two were moved after that.) They have had her most of her life. It does make sense, but it hurts, too.

She was my baby.

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Besides, how could they adopt her, and not the older two?

My mind was struggling with such news all at once. If I had known all along… but then it might have hurt as much then. How could I know?

It was my husband’s birthday – and my pain was deep. However, I felt I couldn’t share it with him. Not on his birthday. So I kept quiet, and turned away to cry, and tried (and failed) to smile, and… I wonder what he thought was wrong with him that day. I can only hope he didn’t think it was about him.

 

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Autism: Unwanted Dreams

As thoughts of my children overwhelm me, there is a sadness which catches within and threatens me with memories and fears of despair. My heart and soul long for their return even now, though they have been gone eight long years.

I woke up with the song “God is Awesome,” running through my head. “… there is power here for miracles to set the captives free and make the broken whole…” I am broken. I was broken before my children were taken that day, but in that moment I was shattered.

The thought of my children returning fills my mind with dreams of a future; an expansion of my heart and life where all other ‘dreams’ are of shelter, isolation, retreat. I still want to learn such things, and still think they are ‘good’ things to do – but in my children I see ‘life’ and ‘purpose.’ I see ‘future’ and ‘hope.’ And while I worry about the transition for my son that was left with us, I also see that my fears of him being alone, and even for his faith, have their answer in this.

But what is the point? This dream is a fantasy on par with my desire for teleportation and wishes that come true. It won’t happen – and this hope? It fills me with life and joy for a moment, and crashes in despair in the realization that it won’t ever happen.

The ministry would never come seeking us to take our children home – they neither saw the children as ‘ours’ (since we never had finalization on the adoption and weren’t related by blood) nor did they see us during that last year with us as a decent answer for the children.

And why would the children want us? They are settled where they are, even if it is foster care, and the girls wouldn’t even remember us, they were so young. Besides… what have I to offer them?

So the dream that shows me a life full of purpose, and healing in my heart, mind, and marriage, turns to despair as I admit to myself that it is impossible. And my heart breaks as I feel myself losing my children all over again. And again the loss threatens my sanity for there has been far too much of it.

The thought came strong after hearing the apology from my sister in law – for until that night I would have said that was more impossible than having my children returned to us, but it came. Unexpectedly, and unsought, it came. And I thought, if God could orchestrate that, having my children returned to me couldn’t be so hard.

And I allowed the thought. I fixated on it for days.

But dreams… in my life, dreams don’t come true.

And the pain that comes crashing over me when I realize again that the loss was forever… it destroys me. It shatters me all over again, and I wasn’t even healed from the first time.

I guess that there are some hopes, and some dreams that I must convince myself I don’t want. Children? That is one. My children? Never, ever, ever!

And yet even telling myself I don’t want them brings pain, and tears, and despair.

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Autism: Best Case Scenario

The fear had been strong. The panic was growing as the time came closer and closer. I had no idea how I would manage. My therapist said I had nothing to fear, and that made my fear worse; of course I had much to fear.

We finished packing and got in the car. As we started to drive I felt calm, peace – excitement even – washing over me. It could be a good trip. Though things could end really bad, they might be okay. Still I had concern for when we got there a little over 2 hours later.

When we pulled in, I had a moment of panic. A moment of pain. Just a second really, and then from nowhere came the peace and contentment once more. They were there. I was there. I was okay. It had to be… it had to be… “Thank you, Lord.”

We had our day. I walked the dogs, went for a swim, brought ‘my girls’ closer. I looked over at them and felt… fine! Where did that come from? Thank you, Lord.

I had my supper before everyone else – I have to do that or I panic, and am overwhelmed, and fall apart; doesn’t matter who I am with – their food is more than I can handle. Their timing leaves me crashing. I ate, went to the camper to write my journal, and felt… good!

In the evening we played cards. We had a great game of ’31;’ best ever, really. Then we played ‘hearts,’ and I enjoyed that, too. It was a good evening. I felt… happy!

After cards a couple of people who don’t live too far left for the night. A couple more went down to the lake or something. We were left with this couple who brought about such traumatic pain in our lives 9 years ago almost to the day.

She began by asking about the kids and went into a very sincere apology for calling the ministry on us. It was sincere. I fully believe that. I can tell these things. They felt bad. It was all over their faces. Regret was there; I know it.

She said that she thought at the time that her heart was in the right place, but looking back, “maybe it wasn’t.” I could tell from their expressions this has been painful for them for a long time. She told me she felt sick over it, and has regretted it for a long time.

I responded that “we all do things we regret.” My husband agreed. I don’t know if they saw it, but I was sincere, too. I know regret. I know shame. I know pain. My ‘gift’ (and for good reason) is mercy, and mercy they had for their remorse was very real.

We then spent a very long time talking about the children – and I spoke to them as I speak to everyone else about my kids who cares to know. It was nothing short of amazing to be there talking to them like that. Not fake. Not forced. True and natural.

I know it was all God. I never even hoped to have anything like that experience from them, or to ever get an apology. My fear was that in being near to them I wouldn’t be able to show them the grace I knew I should give, being a child of God. I was afraid I would fail… again. I was afraid of what they could do to me, or take away from me, and was afraid that would show.

What was given was better than I could ever have imagined – and all I can say is, “Thank you, Lord.”

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Autism: Gone Camping

We were packed and on the road by 8:20am. The weather was almost cold, and the skies were blue! (if you have been following about our summer, it is the worst year on record for wildfires throughout the Canadian province of BC, and our skies have been so thick with smoke we haven’t been able to see the lake or the mountains around our home most days.) On the drive, we saw many eagles sitting on trees, or gliding through the air.

My husband stopped at McDonald’s and got us Vanilla Chai Frappes (so delicious, though I am not supposed to have dairy – but it was worth it!) We were up at the lake, and unpacked by lunch time. It was probably the best day for travelling.

We got the truck camper this time. I requested a camper… my back, my husband’s knees, fears over the dogs and wildlife… packing things in, setting things up, worrying about weather… overwhelming. Other times I have been up I have noticed that the people we have been there with go expecting to use the campers or the dome; even the young people. And we are expected to use a tent. I don’t know why that is.

So I asked my husband to ask for a camper, and we were given the truck camper for the week.

I can’t sleep in a narrow bed – I toss and turn, and have to spread out. If I can’t, I don’t sleep. It is as simple as that. So I got the ‘high’ bed, and my husband took the lower one (he stays still through the night, and often chooses a couch to sleep on… oh – having my ‘girls’ meant it wouldn’t have been good for us to be in the same bed, plus… we both sleep better when we have separate beds.)

I worried because the bed is so high, but brought different sized suitcases and bins that could make a bit of a ladder for my girls. They even have steps to get to my bed and my chair, there is no way they would be able to get onto that bed by themselves, and jumping down would have been dangerous.

As it turned out, we didn’t need the steps. Our niece and her husband have two young children, and had left a bed rail in the camper. (They weren’t up that week.) It was perfect, and there was only one moment through the whole week when I worried about my girls being up so high – Clara decided in the night she had to go to the bathroom, and was running around the bed trying to find a way down (she had a bathroom pad at home, but there was no room for it in the camper – besides, she doesn’t often use it during the summer.) Anyway, I took her outside, she did what she needed to, and we went back to bed; all good.

The bed was very comfortable. It had three windows on each side, and the girls and I really enjoyed spending time there (when we could; it would get hot during the day.) The girls liked being right there with me – which is normal at home, but when we are outside while camping, they are in their pen, or on a leash, or in their crate… and don’t get so much time to come so close to me. They loved being able to look out the window on the three sides, and spent a lot of time watching the birds and squirrels and such through them.

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One thing I really liked about being up at the lake this time was that we had people around us the first night, and the last two nights – but in between, even the neighbours weren’t around. Though I did enjoy my time visiting, I really liked the quiet while my husband and I were up there alone. Plus, without anyone around to chase or bark at, I was able to let my girls run around on the property off leash (while I could watch them, of course) and so didn’t feel bad about the time they did have to spend in their pen.

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I really hope we can get the camper during future trips. I think that my husband and I are both past the tent camping stage.

PS – the campers were all old ones that the owners gave, or practically gave for use up at the lake. They are not new campers and most don’t actually belong to anyone – so… Well, maybe we should ask around if anyone has an old camper that we could have so that we would always have one when we go up there, too (especially now that my husband is reducing his days at work and will have three day weekends from October on – so it is more likely we will go up often.)

 

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Autism: Trust and Lies

The challenge was they were going to be there. I wanted to be okay with that; really I did. But I was afraid.

I was afraid something would happen to get my ‘girls’ (chihuahuas) in trouble – like last time – and worried about what they would do. Worried about what she would do.

I was afraid that the forgiveness I had assured myself I had towards the past wasn’t… wasn’t strong enough to be in the same place as them. After all, thoughts of visiting the city where they live (one of my favourite places in the world, though I have only been there twice) brought me to panic. I mean, if we went, they would expect a visit… and could I visit them?

Forgiveness is all well and good in the abstract (notice I am not saying it was easy) but how would it hold up in such a close environment?

And trust? Now, forgiveness is one thing – we all struggle with something, and I know… I know that the failure and shame that I have had in my life wasn’t experienced without a lot of prayer, and study, and energy, and – everything I had really – given to succeed; yet I failed. Do they know that?

I wonder if those looking at my failures actually knew how hard I tried. Frequently it seems they don’t, for they are so angry with me for failing – as if I chose to fail! Really? When I say that I gave everything I had to do well, I actually did give everything I had to do well. So I have to believe that is true of everyone else, too. I have to.

So I forgave them. It wasn’t easy. What they did… what they set into motion… it broke me. Years later I am still broken from it, and I am not certain it can be healed this side of heaven, but… I forgave them.  Over and over again I forgave them – for it seems to me that forgiveness isn’t a one time thing. What was done hurts over and over again. It effects my life over and over again. It comes to mind over and over again.

And every time, I have to forgive again. And I do. I am convinced I do – yet when I am faced with being in the same place as the one who hurt me, I fear it isn’t true.

Trust is even harder. They hurt me once, or twice, or over a period of years, and it was… the worst thing ever. The very worst. And I know they have it in their power to hurt me again, and so I cringe from the contact – for it hurt so very bad the last time. That thing they did? It hurts still. Not a little bit – time doesn’t heal. Time gives perspective. Time lengthens the distance between the waves of pain. But it doesn’t heal it. This still hurts as much today as I think of it than it did then.

I forgave them believing that people fight their hardest to do well – and when we see their failure, we can’t know how hard they tried. But trust is harder for their battle hurt me so much, and I know they have the power to hurt me again.

So as I prepared for my trip, knowing they would be there, the panic grew moment by moment and day by day.

I wrote to my therapist who said, “they can’t take anything away from you but your sleep,” which I know not to be true. They can hurt me again. They can hurt me badly. I cannot lie to myself. I cannot accept other people’s lies – even if they mean well. Even if they are trying to help me find calm. A lie is a lie (whether they know it or not) and it makes the panic worse.

For maybe the worst doesn’t happen to other people (it seems therapists are trained to say our worst fears don’t often happen, and they use that to try to calm people) but my worst fears have happened to me. Again and again. And to tell me that doesn’t happen, or that can’t happen, only makes me feel more alone, misunderstood, and afraid; for the worst does happen to me, so I know it can happen again.

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Autism: Joy at the Petting Zoo

“Did you want to stop in at DeMille’s and get some corn,” my husband asked me as we drove into town on our shopping trip. DeMille’s is the local farm store in our community – and the reason it is the store (when we do have others) is that they have a really nice petting zoo.

“Sure,” I answered. I love going down to see the animals, and I love the feeling of walking through the store full of (mostly) local produce, and pretty canning jars, and freshly baked pies, and… That place is what ‘living’ feels like.

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It is real, and it is natural, and it is… me (though I’ve never lived on a farm.)

Mostly I just head straight for the animals, though, while my husband does the shopping. Today I went in with him. He got the corn. I got a few sweet potatoes (I really liked how they were smaller, and not the huge potatoes the grocery store gets.) He also asked me to pick out some apples, and I got a nice looking 10lbs bag.

We put them in the car, and on the way back to the animals my husband asked if I wanted to buy something to feed them.

Really?!!! We’ve never bought food for them before – I always just go in and look. “Yes, that would be fun!” I replied.

We went back in and he bought two paper bags full of seeds and corn and such, and then went back out to the animals.

They have it set up now so there are two gates to get in (and keep the animals inside.) So now they are able to have some of the animals out of their pens.

When they saw us come in with the paper bags, they came heading strait for us. I took out some seed, and they each took turns eating it. They were all so gentle. They even let me pet them after I fed them, and when we walked to see other animals, we had a following behind us – donkeys, sheep, a llama, some chickens…

We got to some “fainting goats” in their pen just as a worker was about to drop lettuce and such in. She let us take some out of the box to feed them first. We did that, and gave them more from our bags. As we were walking down the ‘boardwalk’ (a bridge of pallets covered with plywood) a rooster came running at us. I gave him some food from the bag, too, and he happily stopped to eat.

We fed more goats, and some Alpacas (with ‘Beatles’ like haircuts – so cute!) and more chickens, and at that point the sheep and a donkey met up with us and got the last of our food.

$1 a bag! That was probably the best dollar I have ever spent in my life! Hours later and I am still filled with joy from the experience. Such a wonderful gift my husband gave to me today – if ever he wanted to convince me he knew me; really knew me; it was in those words, “Do you want to buy something to feed the animals?”

I think my experiences with animals are much like what I see when other people are interacting – but always feel left out and awkward then – completely natural, and full of more joy than I could express.

The only thing I might like better would be a day (or weekend) spent at the fall fair – but my husband and son don’t like the fair, so I never get to go. Anyway, that doesn’t take away from how happy I am at this moment after spending even a short time at the market, feeding the animals.

 

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