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Category Archives: Autism: Reality, Sensory Issues, and Other Abstract Concepts

Autism: To Dream Again

This morning was “The Summit” church service at the wharf – were once a year all three campuses and five services of our church get together for church, worship, and lunch after.

It rained a lot yesterday – which is kind of a big deal since we had a drought all summer with only half an hour of rain in about 2.5 months. Today was sunny and the skies were clear (which also hasn’t happened for much of the summer.) It was a nice day for outdoor church.

While I was there I once again noted something that surprised me. I was watching the parents with young children, and the older children at the awkward stage, and was surprised once more to acknowledge that I don’t want children.

Stressful, exhausting, difficult…

It is a foreign concept to me to not want children. Until a little over a year ago, even after years of infertility and a traumatic failed adoption, having children of my own was the main desire of my heart – even though I did have, and raise, and still have, my now adult son.

I would see other parents with their children and felt… envy, and sadness, and… lost, alone, forgotten. Other people had families – why couldn’t I?

It was another, and a major, characteristic that separated me from them – and I hated that separation. I still hate it, maybe, but at least I can see what I couldn’t see then: Children are overwhelming.

Beautiful, and fun, and worth the effort? Yes – but…

Children call attention to their parents. Always. You see the children, you see the parents – and there is advice, and there is judgement, and there is a lot of stress that comes with the job.

And I can’t be watched.

As I sat watching the parents dealing with the children I remembered that. I can’t be watched, and children call attention to their parents. Always.

I can’t be watched, for when I am watched I operate from a different part of my brain which significantly drops my functioning level to the point where I pretty much always fail. So having children – no matter how much I wanted them and loved them (and I did) – was a recipe for failure. There was no way beyond it for I can’t function when I am watched, and parents are always being watched.

As I began to accept this revelation – which has come to me in the past, but I always fought against (“if I could only try harder, or do things different, or research more, or… maybe I could” – but no, I can’t function when I am watched, and whatever else a parent faces in raising a child, they are always watched – and if they don’t want to be watched, there must be something really wrong with them, and they shouldn’t be trusted with their children to begin with; right?)

As I began to accept this revelation I began to realize that if it weren’t for the memory of the trauma of losing ‘my’ children, and without the fixation of a lifetime of wanting children (possibly because that, in my eyes, was the measure of success and ‘normalcy’ – to be a ‘good parent’) I might even be able to admit that I am happier and calmer with my life as it is now.

The traumas are there, and they do cause me to struggle a lot of the time – but this thought that I could live okay without children… it is mind blowing. It is to turn completely in the other direction, and accept that it might be possible to dream again.

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Autism: Only A Dream

It was only a dream, though I longed to stay there. First my foster son came to me: beaten, fearful, longing for love. “Can he stay here?” the people standing behind him on the porch asked, “He can’t go back there.”

“Of course,” I replied, and took my son inside; still a child; still wanting to be with me; still wanting ‘this’ to be home. From wherever they were, the girls followed close behind.

I read the file belonging to the youngest. “Nguyana” was written at the top. I hadn’t the time to question it; there was so much to do.

I cleaned their rooms and set up their beds. The younger two were still in cribs. I prepared my birth son as best as I could for their homecoming.

I was in the baby’s room, watching the girls play. “I love you,” the preschooler told the baby with strong emotion. “She has grown,” I thought; feeling thankful that they were mine once more.

Their brother walked into the room. “They called her Gooyanna,” he told me, “We didn’t like it.” Well, they were only foster parents, it wasn’t a legal change. “We will call her (by her real name,)” I told him, and he was satisfied.

It was only a dream. It didn’t last long. My children came to me, but when I woke they were gone. I was sad, and longed to return.

They come to me in my dreams. Only my dreams. And I wish I could remain there with them. I awaken sad and broken for only when I am with them do I feel whole.

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Autism: Morbid Humour

Most of the time I guess I would agree that I don’t have the best sense of humour. I don’t ‘get’ jokes; I hardly even like them. I am too anxious or depressed most of the time to be anything other than serious; the world scares and hurts me. Every once in a while however, I get this uncontrollable urge to laugh in what might not be the most appropriate of circumstance.

Like the other day when I went to get my license renewed.

“Are you an organ donor,” the person asked, “Would you like to sign up for that?”

“Yes,” I told her, and suddenly got flooded with many thoughts about this. Not so much that I wanted to die in an accident or anything, but if something happens to me, and my husband has me cremated (his family does that, mine doesn’t) at least parts of me might still be around for… Okay, I am not sure about cremation, though I did have my dog and my son’s cat… done.

I have buried so many of my pets – rabbits, guinea pigs, and a couple of cats – here in my yard. Not only did I feel I was running out of room, but… it kind of traps me to this property. It really is the only hesitation I have at thoughts of moving. Kind of morbid, really. Cremating makes it… easier, somehow – as anywhere we go, they could come too.

Not that I exactly believe they are tied to their bodies or their box or… the thing is, I really don’t know what happens to animals when they die. That lack of knowledge has been painful for me. The problem with cremation, though, is that DNA is destroyed, and… I think a lot about these things. I probably shouldn’t. I am sure it can’t be healthy. Still I do.

So if I was cremated, and I was an organ donor, parts of me might not be cremated – and therefore when the resurrection came, there might still be something to resurrect. So I signed.

Of course, while I was signing, that is what I was thinking of: “What if the resurrection comes and my ‘parts’ are made suddenly into a ‘new me’ standing outside of the person.” I pictured this and had to fight really hard not to start laughing hysterically in front of this complete stranger – who would not understand.

But as I was fighting laughter, it turned to sadness as I realized the tragedy of this – the person who had my ‘parts’ would probably need those parts to survive, and what would happen to them if they were suddenly removed?

I wonder if the worker perceived any of these struggles in my mind as I was signing the card, and thought there might be something not quite right with me. I kind of wonder if she might have been right with that perception.

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Autism: Overrated Sanity

And then the days come when I am once more interested in learning and growing. This both surprises and saddens me – how could life go on after such pain? It often feels that when my heart breaks, it actually does break – and there should be nothing after it. No life. No laughter. No joy.

Perhaps death. Death feels like the appropriate answer to a broken heart. And in the moment only death holds hope that peace and joy could ever come again. I am not suicidal, but there are frequent moments in my life where I long for death. This is not the same thing. One is an action, the other is a prayer.

Mostly I pray, when things hurt so bad (and for me I get to that spot several times a month even on a decent month, for my past holds many painful memories, and my mind frequently forces me to relive the trauma) that God will take me home. Please take me home. Please don’t leave me here any longer. I can’t do this any more. I don’t want to be here anymore.

And in those moments I realize that I am absolutely no different from the child I was long ago, lying in my bed, praying for the same. I don’t belong here. I never have.

90's and earlier 008

This world is not my home, and this is a truth I can never alter – but there are some things that help me to hold on just a little longer.

I suppose for other people it is family and friends – and I do hold on for them. I pray to stay when I long to go because of what my death might do to other people… not a lot of other people, but there are some. What would happen to my son? To my girls (dogs?) To my mom?

I pray to stay for them, but make no mistake – this is a sacrifice for the ones I love. For me the sacrifice is in living, for death means home, and home is what I long for.

The other day I was watching Sherlock and he said something that I immediately had to go and type down (though I may not have it quoted word for word.) He said:

“Your death is an event that happens to other people. Your life is not your own; keep your hands off of it.”

I am not suicidal, but to stay is a sacrifice – and there are many days when I am lying in bed thinking I can’t keep holding on. I just can’t.

There are some things in life that make it easier to stay for a little longer – and that usually comes out in hobbies and events, such as learning to can. I can’t learn when I am struggling; my mind shuts down and won’t let any new knowledge in.

So when I got up in the morning and decided that this was the day I would make my first attempt at canning, I knew. I knew that whatever it was that I used to convince myself that what was real really wasn’t was worth it… is that too confusing?

Perhaps my grip on reality isn’t strong – but it isn’t strong on purpose. My reality threatens my sanity, and it is only… ONLY through letting go of the truth a little, and accepting the possibility that there is a way to escape the confines of the natural law – only then can I get up and live again.

However I do worry about where the line is, and how much more I can take before I cross it. Then again, there are days when I think that sanity is highly overrated.

 

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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.

Battlefield Park

 

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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.

pink sweater

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: Giant Spider

Last night I didn’t sleep well at all – though I tried to go sleep around the usual time.

It was after 2am before I finally got to sleep, and I was woken up at 6am with Ditch (my cat) enthusiastically digging in his litter box (we now use pine litter – which is the best I’ve found as far as litter is concerned, but it is loud when they dig at it.)

For a short time I thought it was my husband digging in the litter box until I was awake enough to be more reasonable.

It didn’t help that I got up at 12am (having not slept yet despite 2 hours of trying) when I remembered I hadn’t filled up the cats food bowls the evening before. I walked down the hall and through the kitchen in the dark in bare feet.

As I walked towards the dining room where we keep their food, I hesitated and decided to turn the light on.

There – directly in my path, just on the other side of the doorway was the biggest wolf spider I have ever seen! It was easily the size of the bottom of our tea mugs (about 6 inches in diameter) or – as my husband said when I described it to him, “the size of a mouse – we had those in Vancouver.”

It ran across the floor and hid under the edge of a cushion Clara (my dog) likes to lie on when I am doing the dishes. Curling my toes in (just in case), and keeping my eye on the spider, I slowly walked over and filled the cats’ bowls before quickly retreating back to the doorway.

There went Finn (my Siamese) nonchalantly walking within a foot of the spider as if it weren’t big enough to almost eat her!

Finn

Needless to say I was very shaken when I got back to my room – which had ‘my girls’ bouncing all over me, trying to help me calm down. It was more than two hours later before I finally got to sleep.

And the spider?

Still out there somewhere.

Of course I didn’t kill it! No, I couldn’t even consider that (and could you imagine the crunch it would make? It would traumatize me forever!)

Besides – while other spiders run away when they are disturbed, wolf spiders have a horrible habit of running straight towards you. There was no way I was taking that chance even if it meant Finn would be spending the night right next to it – besides, she doesn’t seem to mind being so close to spiders.

As for me? I am surprised I got any sleep at all!

 

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