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Autism: Handy Dart

It had been so many months since I sent in the paperwork, that I just assumed I didn’t qualify. “They could have at least written back and let me know,” I thought; and then I forgot about it. Well… not quite forgot, just sort of let it go. So I don’t qualify. I didn’t really expect to anyway. After all, I am not that bad.

For months I stopped talking about it. There was nothing to say. Only that morning I had been talking to my son, and questioning why people don’t respond even just to say, “sorry, we can’t help you.” Just to get some sort of closure. I wasn’t expecting anything much out of the conversation. I had been sick, and still wasn’t thinking well. It is like illness puts a fog on my brain that doesn’t let up for a long time once it is over – and I was still in that fog.

I hadn’t talked to my son for a while, because I had been very sick – so had my husband – and he didn’t want to get sick, too. So he stayed downstairs, and I slept upstairs for a lot of days. I still wasn’t thinking well, but I was getting better, and it was really nice to spend time talking with my son (even though I hardly knew what was being said.)

When he went back downstairs, I checked my email, and had received a message from my therapist letting me know about cheap swim times at the community centre. Knowing that I am not close enough to town to either walk or get a bus (no buses come anywhere close to my house – I would have to walk near an hour to town to catch one) and that my husband takes our only vehicle to work (besides, though I can drive, my anxiety around driving usually keeps me home anyway – especially when I would have to drive to town and back three times in a day to get my husband to and from work, and go do my thing in the middle of the afternoon.)

I am pretty isolated here, though truly we are not that far from town – just 7 minutes driving – but it is 7 minutes of twisty, turny, hilly terrain, which I am not well able to walk.

So months ago, trying to encourage me to get out of the house sometimes, my therapist suggested the “Handy Dart” bus service. It is a service for disabled people who couldn’t manage to catch a regular bus, or get to appointments and such in other ways. For $0.25 more than the regular bus service, this one will pick you up at your home and take you right where you need to go. Then they will pick you up when you are done, and take you home again. Sort of like a cab, only you have to phone and set it up 3 days in advance, including letting them know if anyone else is coming with you (for an extra ticket) and it is a bus, so shared.

Considering it would cost about $20 to get from my house to town in a cab (that is just one way) this is a great deal! Only it is reserved for highly disabled people: cognitive, physical, and sensory.

I am isolated, and I do have severe anxiety. I do get bad motion sickness, especially on buses. I do have bad sensory issues (only I am not sure how the Handy Dart can help with that since there would be other people on the bus, and sometimes other people smell.) At the same time, if there were bus service in my area, I could take the bus (not pleasant, and very anxiety provoking, but I could do it.) If I had another vehicle, I could drive to town. And if I lived closer to town, I could walk or ride my bike to get where I needed. Only none of those options are available to me. So months ago, I filled out the forms for the Handy Dart. My therapist filled out her portion, and my husband brought it in.

Then… nothing. Nothing for months. Of course I didn’t qualify. I am not that disabled.

But my therapist suggested I contact them, and “see if I might qualify.” So I emailed them, because… phones. Less than 5 minutes later, I got a phone call back, “Sorry, I am not sure how this got overlooked. The boxes are all checked, and you are good to go.”

So I did qualify. Right away. No question that I am not disabled enough. Obvious to them that I need this service. So obvious. And I cried in response.

From the moment I first went to my doctor for an Autism diagnosis, I have received nothing from them except the fact that every step of the way it is so obvious to them that I am highly disabled.

  • Yes, you have autism… and OCD, and PTSD, and severe anxiety, and depression, and…
  • Yes, you are struggling too much to be working.
  • Yes, we will put you on medical leave.
  • Yes, you qualify for long term disability, though 60% of applications are rejected.
  • Yes, you qualify for Community Living services, reserved for highly disabled individuals.
  • Yes, you qualify for the Handy Dart service.

I should be thankful, and I am! It is just that… for nearly 40 years I fought so hard to be ‘normal’ and to ‘fit in.’ People never accepted that I belonged, though they were mostly too polite to tell me to go away, yet they always judged me as if… as if I could work hard enough to fit in, and just wasn’t making enough of an effort. And I believed them.

For nearly 40 years I fought, and failed, to be seen as normal, typical, capable… and now at every turn they respond as if to say, “Of course you have Autism.” “Of course you need these services reserved for the most disabled people.” “Of course you couldn’t succeed in that world.”

And I think, “so why did you make me feel for so long that these failures were all my fault?” “Why didn’t you tell me that I wasn’t able to be like you no matter how hard I tried?” “If it is so easy to see, why was I expected to be like everyone else?”

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

That is me. I have spent my whole life believing that I was a failure; that I was stupid; because they tested me in ways that I never could have succeeded. And now I find that this was so obvious to them that there was never a question that I was ‘typical,’ or even could be. So why didn’t they tell me?

And why do I still think that if I fight myself hard enough, I should be able to do what they expected?

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Autism: Hindsight is 2o/2o

My son was looking for more pictures of China today, so I went through a couple of DVD s which had pictures taken off of old, dead computers several years ago. I found a couple of pictures and sent them to him (most of them were from our trip to Ontario in 2008 with the kids, and Christmas of 2008 and 2009, so didn’t have cat pictures in them as she wasn’t there.)

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Looking through the pictures left me once again wishing I could turn back time, and save the adoption before it failed. As I went through them, I stumbled upon a page of emails that I had copied from the months leading up to the first time the children were moved.

I was surprised by how much I have forgotten over the years regarding the children’s behaviours. I knew they did these things, yet with passing time forgot the frequency and intensity through which we experienced them.

There was just so much struggle with all of them, and while I did remember it wasn’t easy, I really did forget how hard it could get.

As I read those emails I realized a few of things that I didn’t notice before:

  1. I should have journaled rather than share our challenges through email during that time – for had I been reading these things about another family I would have thought the children were way too challenging for any family (I also forgot that upon placement we were told the social workers had thought our middle girl was unadoptable) and that the situation was hopeless.
  2. Looking through the pictures doesn’t tell the entire story; so while I knew by looking at the pictures when the children had been struggling just before they were taken (by the pure exhaustion on everyone’s face) and I remembered the struggle they were having, the intensity wasn’t accurately portrayed in the photograph.
  3. If I could turn back time, and do all the social workers told me were essential to a successful adoption with these particular children, and did everything `right,`we would still have been at severe risk of adoption disruption – for the emails, though I know every fact was true in them, tell of a family who was doing all they could to `hold it together,`and couldn’t possibly hold on much longer.
  4. Unless I kept all of those facts presented in the emails to myself, I would have found myself one day standing before the ministry and having them tell me it wasn’t going to work – and it likely wouldn’t have been much longer than we had with them.
  5. If I did everything `right` and never emailed or spoke much on any of our struggles, we might have succeeded in adopting these three children, but I still would have been completely burnt out, and I still would have isolated myself from other people, who would have always judged me, and who I could never please with the children I had. I was doomed to feel I had failed in some way.

I wanted my children more than I can express. I loved my children more than I can say. Losing them was a huge trauma I have yet to overcome. But I think now that even if I had done everything `right`, the adoption was still doomed to failure.

I hate that that is true, for I put all of myself into succeeding with them, and it still breaks my heart that I couldn’t do it. It breaks my heart that they are gone. And I miss them so very much.

 

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Autism: Becoming a Hermit

I hate to leave home. Even when I go camping, I wish I was able to teleport to get there and back so that I could have my own kitchen, and bathroom, and be able to enjoy what I love about camping without having to truly leave home. Or perhaps I would appreciate making my home on a property that would also work for camping.

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I prefer shopping online, and learning online, pretty much doing everything from the comfort of my own home. I suppose that is why the idea of virtual reality appeals so much to me, for I still want the experiences, it is just… I don’t want to leave home to have them.

My first, and longest lasting job was running a daycare from my home. I appreciated that the work was brought to me, and felt terrified of any thought that I might ever have to work away from home.

This wasn’t always the case, however.

As a child, school gave me extreme anxiety – but ‘home’ was worse; especially when my dad was there. So I went to school (and wished I was invisible.) When school was out, I spent a lot of time exploring parks, forests, and waterfalls with my older brother.

I loved camping, and going for walks, and picnics, and visits with family. Amusements were, and continue to be (though I now live nowhere close to them) my favourite places to go, despite the crowds and noise.

When I was in cadets, that was where I wanted to be, and those were the people I wanted to be with. Anxious? Extremely. Yet I still preferred being there to being at home.

Even during my teen years, though I really struggled with school, and often ‘chose’ not to go (really, I couldn’t make myself some days, and some seasons) I still preferred to be on the school grounds, visiting with my friends, or even sitting alone, to being at home.

It is true that for all of those years, eating, and especially bathrooms were a huge issue for me – but then, they were at home as well. There really was no safe place for such things for me. Such issues only became worse with time.

I finished high school through correspondence, which was a much better option for me, but I still wanted to be at the school when I did the work – just not in the classroom, and sometimes not even in the building.

When my son was born, and we were still living with his birth father, I would walk for six hours a day, every day just to get out of the house. I suppose the reason for that was more that my son’s father was on a different schedule than us, and wanted us to be quiet while he slept during the day – an impossible thing with an infant at home. Still, I enjoyed that time out walking with my son.

Shortly after my son turned one, I started babysitting my six month old cousin. Suddenly it was too hard to get out of the house, and we spent most of our time at home – and I felt trapped. That only lasted through the summer, and after that I took my son to playgroup, playgrounds, children’s museums… anything to get out for parts of the day.

I think it was my first attempt at college (for which I did really well – though again was extremely anxious) that being home all the time became most appealing to me. I was in my early 20’s at the time, and shortly after graduating, I opened my home daycare.

In the years since, I have become more and more of a hermit – or perhaps I just became too exhausted with the anxiety and judgment, and failure, and… that happened whenever I left the house.

Though I do go to church, and I have gone to college again, and I have had jobs away from home, it has never become any easier. The older I get, the more my entire being screams to be home whenever I go away, and I guess that over time I have just become too exhausted to keep fighting it.

After all, I like being home.

 

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Autism: On The Defensive

“There aren’t enough jobs for everyone who wants one anyway,” I think to myself in defense. “Some people are always going to be out of work; especially in this economy. So why should I push myself to do something that would be really bad for me, and lead to another failure.”

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The thing is, I do get so defensive when I feel pressured to work. Yet people always seem to judge and pressure people in one way or another. Why do we do that? As if our opinion, and our preferences (or how we chose to push ourselves) is all that matters – and who that person is, and what is best for them, means nothing at all.

I know that people do this, yet it still consumes my thoughts, overwhelms me, and fills me with anxiety and self hatred when it is directed at me; it always has – even when I was working, and especially as I was raising my children; for parents get the worst pressure put on them to conform to other peoples opinions.

  • I should want to work; what is wrong with me?
  • I should push myself to work; I must be lazy.
  • I shouldn’t want to be home all the time; it is wrong to be isolated.
  • I shouldn’t be living off public support; I must be selfish.
  • I should just live with the overwhelming anxiety, depression, irritation, exhaustion, burn-out… that comes from working – like everyone else does, right?
  • If I can’t work, I have no value.
  • If I have no value, I don’t deserve… anything.
  • If I can’t meet their expectations, they would be better off if I didn’t exist.
  • No wonder they hate me.
  • If they hate me, I must be no good.
  • Since I can’t be good, I hate me, too.

And you see how quickly the pressure for me to do what they think is right leads to depression and suicidal thoughts?

Because no matter how hard I try; no matter how hard I have always tried; I am always a failure in their opinion – and no matter how defensive I become towards their opinion, somehow I always end up believing they are right, and I am broken, and I blame myself for that brokenness, for they seem to be of the opinion that if I tried harder, I would be okay.

Yet it is for these very reasons that I was approved for disability. It isn’t as if I woke up one day thinking, “I don’t feel like working anymore. I think I will live off public assistance,” and then somehow convinced those in ‘power’ that a person who was able to function well, but didn’t feel like it, deserved that money. It just doesn’t work like that!

It was out of the brokenness that they found me, and realized that (when 60% of applications are denied for this type of disability payment) that my barriers to employment were so extensive that it was unlikely I would be able to work for a very long time, if ever again.

And still I know that if I ever find myself healed, and healthy, one of the first things I would do would be to go looking for work. I don’t need the opinion, disgust, judgment, or pressure from others to take me there. If I am well, I will find work. If I am not, pressuring me to do what I am not ready for will only break me further.

 

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Autism: Not a Great Week

This past week has not been a great one for me. For one thing, I didn’t write much, and am now two blog posts behind schedule (keeping in mind that I have been scheduling my posts three weeks in advance, which is best for my stress levels, and am now only two weeks ahead.) It isn’t exactly that I had nothing to write about, but more that I didn’t have the energy to motivate myself to do much more than binge watch Netflix for much of the week. These things will happen with me, despite my best efforts to push past it.

Going along with that really low energy thing, I hardly even worked on my lessons this week. Maybe two days, and I didn’t even do all of them then. It isn’t that I didn’t want to, just… I couldn’t make myself do anything – even the lessons that calm me.

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I did clean, but I can’t express how difficult that was for me. Every moment was like torture as I pushed my exhausted body to move, knowing that leaving it messy would just make everything worse, including my energy level. Yet moving made me so tired that I had to take breaks between every (5 minute) activity: clean the bathroom, watch Netflix; wipe the counters, watch Netflix; vacuum one room, watch Netflix…

I did go for a walk one day with my son. That was especially hard, and I almost didn’t make it home, I was so very tired. You’d have thought I was trying to move after running a marathon, instead of just taking a short walk after a decent sleep. So tired. I don’t know what is going on there.

Then above that, I have been unusually prone to tears. I mean, I would just be going along, feeling okay, when suddenly the tears would come – and everything bad that every happened weighed on me, and the tears wouldn’t stop. And no, it wasn’t the right timing for that.

A whole week of nothing. I went to care group, but didn’t speak – my words weren’t working this week. My brother in law came for a visit, and stayed two nights, and I struggled to talk with him, too. I worried that he would think I was being rude, or angry, or… I don’t know – whatever it is that people assume I am when I can’t talk to explain myself.

Everything I ate made me sick, and so I ate a lot of wheat – not the best choice for me, but the easiest to get down when I feel like that. Of course, then I had heartburn, and itchy skin, and horribly itchy ears, and insomnia, and of course it only made the nausea worse – but not until after I had eaten it, which is why I could. Eating wheat also brings cravings, and reduces my self-control in eating other foods… all to say it was a horrible week for health and diet.

All of this brought my functioning down to a very low level. If I could have brought myself to do my lessons, I wouldn’t have understood them anyway. If I could have talked to people, what came out likely wouldn’t have made any sense. It was not a week for making decisions. It was more one of those weeks that in the past have caused me to fail at just about everything I have tried to do because people will push me, and will not accept that while I am quite capable a lot of the time, sometimes I am just not!

So I guess it is just as well that so little got done this week, because whatever I did would have just become another regret to add to the pile of things that torture me at times like these. And once more I am thankful that they decided I needed to be at home – because really, at times like this (which happen too frequently to count) I just can’t survive out there.

 

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Autism: Breaking the Dependence

Maybe my desire to live a simple life is being met in ways I never considered. My computer is dying; therefore I am spending more of my time writing on paper, reading books, and doing crafts like making my dog a sweater from the sleeve of an old knit shirt: forgotten skills.

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Out of necessity, I rented my first computer for college in 1999. I never wanted a computer; didn’t like them; didn’t trust them. Most importantly I hated the way they made me feel (drained, dull, and trapped.) While my son, who had just turned three at the time, seemed to have been born for computers, that was not the case with me.

When did it change then that a necessary evil, which I used to serve a specific purpose, was suddenly something I depended on for constant entertainment? When did a machine I didn’t even want become something I couldn’t live without?

As I scream in frustration while my computer freezes up for the fifth time in about an hour, I contemplate the question: What do I need it for anyway? I know that for my son, his computer is his connection to a confusing world. I think that in my case, I would live better without it. We do have a library after all, and unlike most public spaces, I enjoy spending time in there.

Then, two days ago as I was standing in the kitchen making my lunch, I heard the sound of pouring water. I turned to my left to find the dishwasher spraying water all over the now flooded floor. As I mopped it up, I again thought, “Do I really need this?”

So I cleaned the floor, and I washed the dishes by hand, and set them back in the dishwasher to dry. My hands hurt after because putting them in water makes them sting – but the kitchen was clean, and I felt really good about that.

The next day I went into town and bought myself a couple pairs of good rubber gloves. We had the repair person in (at my husband’s request) but since the seal was gone, he was unable to fix it. When I was a kid, appliances were built to last 20+ years. I am told that these days, we are lucky to have them last for 5. That makes me angry, for it isn’t about whether they can make them to last so long, but about whether they choose to – and out of greed, they don’t. It makes me angry because I save for 5-10 years, using thrift store appliances that don’t work great, trying to get enough to buy new only to find they die shortly after.

In that case, I don’t think I need a dishwasher. A good pair of rubber gloves, and a few minutes of my time, and the result is a simple solution that calms my senses. That is what I need!

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Choices Made Long Ago

This morning I woke up early with a nearly overwhelming urge to plan What if? Not what if I get this job, or win the lottery, or suddenly find myself pregnant, but more on the lines of: What if I could return twenty years in the past, indwell my twenty year old body, and live and make decisions based on who I am now, and what I now know?

If that were possible, what would I do differently? What would I do the same? Where would I live? (On ‘my little corner’ where I always find myself in my dreams?) Who would I live with? What job would I do?

If I didn’t move across the country, would I still have turned to church and found faith? If I hadn’t met my husband, what would his life be like now? (Probably much messier, much simpler, and easier for him, I imagine.) If I hadn’t tried to adopt “my” children, would someone else have succeeded in adopting them? Would they still be together now?

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If I hadn’t moved away from home, would I have followed through on homeschooling my son? If we had remained close to our families, would my son be more social? Would he have friends who lived close enough to visit? Would he seem so alone?

If I didn’t have twenty years of failure behind me, would I still have sought my Autism diagnosis? Would I have brought my son in for his? Would we still have gotten it?

I am completely overwhelmed by the reality that my choices have such lasting consequences – and that if I choose wrong, working to fix it won’t remove all that was set in motion due to that choice.

I don’t know whether this is in spite of, or because of, my form of Autism, but I spend an unreasonable amount of time and energy considering things that are outside of the laws of the world I find myself in.

And though I know making plans for what I might have done is at best a waste of time, the pull is so strong that I will likely spend my day fixated on it anyway. Though I realize it will ultimately lead to me feeling trapped so far from home, for a while – a very little while – I will believe that “anything can happen,” and there I will find hope.

 

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Autism: Halloween Again

Well… this is attempt #2 at this topic, as I lost the first draft when my computer froze up. So frustrating! I almost feel irate (a word I never used before studying Latin, but they use often in the Derivatives section.)

It is that time of year again, when I have to turn off all our lights and hide away in our own house. At least it was last night. It isn’t that I don’t like Halloween; when my children were young, I took them out, and enjoyed watching their excitement. When I was a child, I also went out, and enjoyed it. For years we gave out candy. I think, for children, it is a fun tradition – but we don’t celebrate it anymore.

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For one thing, we were getting over 100 children at our house most years. This because:

  1. In a town full of hills and mountains, our neighbourhood (and especially our home) are rather level.
  2. We live in a rich neighbourhood. We aren’t rich, but many in our area are – so the kids are brought here expecting better candy. I do understand this: it is what we did as kids, too. (Only the middle class neighbours usually gave out more and better candy than the rich ones.)
  3. It was too expensive to buy the “good” candy (chocolate and chips) and the kids complained at suckers.

So we just gave up, and started hiding every year.

On top of that, there were my Autism related issues to consider:

  • My anxiety and sensory issues seem to be getting worse as I get older, meaning…
  • getting stressed out with kids knocking at the door over and over for hours,
  • fear of being judged (for giving the wrong candy)
  • fear of saying or doing something wrong (like dropping things)
  • my own dog who would bark continuously
  • fear of the unexpected (like people saying or doing something ‘off script’)

There are lots of reasons why Halloween is no longer celebrated in this house, but I really do hope the kids enjoyed themselves.

All day I was anxious about the evening to come:

  • What if the kids came before my husband got home?
  • What if they knocked on the door despite the lights being off?
  • What if they noticed we were in the bedroom watching a movie, and got upset with us?
  • What if my dog still barked all night?
  • What if…

As a result of the darkness, however, my husband and I did three things which we have done extremely rarely since our (foster) kids were moved:

  • We ate supper together at the table (which became too hard, too quiet after they were gone)
  • Because we were together at the table, we actually had a conversation (about or wedding, since our anniversary is November 1)
  • We watched a movie together – “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

Despite all of my fears and concerns, I ended up having an amazing night – and felt it was a wonderful way to ‘salvage’ our anniversary since in all other ways it would have been as disappointing as my birthday.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Dreams of Home

Last night I dreamed that I was moving back to my hometown. I have dreams about that a lot! I guess it has to do with my regret for moving so far away from home, and my constant longing to see my mother. It isn’t that I don’t like the place that I now live. If it weren’t for family, there would be no comparison.

I love the town I have lived in for the past sixteen years. It is beautiful – lakes, mountains, hills, trees… no comparison. Where I am from has a lake as well, but that lake is surrounded by factories, where this one is surrounded by nature. My hometown is crowded, and busy, and dirty. Where I now live only has about 20,000 people, and is nowhere near a big city.

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Here I have my church – the only one I have ever called my own. I have been attending that church for sixteen years, and just about everyone that I know goes there. Here I met my husband, raised my son, learned to drive… Here I had my first job, owned my first house, grew my first garden… Here I grew in faith, and here I learned of my Autism.

Yet so many nights I dream of moving ‘home.’ For years and years I have dreamed of moving back, and in all of those dreams, despite the large size of the city, I am almost always wandering along the same street, on the same city block. There, where I spent most of my highschool years. There where I lived when my son was born. There where my grandmother had moved the last time I had visited her before she died.

I walk along the street, searching for my new home. It has to be there. It cannot be anywhere else. One road, one block, within a huge city – and that is where I need to be. I spent seven years of my life on or near that part of the city. Seven years that encompassed the time from the beginning of highschool until just after my son’s second birthday. I guess those years meant a lot to me, for it is always where I return.

Last night, as I was walking along that road in my dreams, I met with a couple from my church. They were there, on the parking lot of a plaza on the corner, as part of their vacation. When I said, “Hello,” they asked me what I was doing there. “This is where I am from,” I told them. “I am looking for a place to live.” Then I continued on my way.

Often in these dreams, I have ended up in the city impulsively. I suddenly found myself on an airplane, flying ‘home’ despite the fact that I had to work the next day, or had someone to meet. I am there thinking, “I am not supposed to be here,” and it causes me to panic. Still I am there to find a place to live, and find that place I must.

Always I have it in my mind that once I have found a place to live, I will go to visit with my mom. Sometimes I get that far in the dream, and hop on a bus, and go for those visits (with my mom, and my brother, and my niece and nephews) but mostly I just know that is what I am going to do.

In these dreams, my husband doesn’t come with me. He usually doesn’t even know I have gone. It isn’t that I intended to leave him behind, just… suddenly I was on a plane going home. There was no time to think of him. So while I am searching for a home, and noting that I will visit with my mom after, my anxiety grows. Sometime I will have to call my husband, and let him know that I am almost the full width of the country away from him, and I wonder… will he come to live here, too?

 

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Autism: Knowing Myself

I am a person who struggles a lot with discontent. Whatever I have, I dream of something different. I am working on this. I am praying about this. Still I struggle.

I wonder if this has to do with a lifetime of trying, and failing, to meet other people’s expectations. A lifetime of thinking that this lifestyle, or that job, or some ability is the definition of success. Here I am 40 years old, and I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I like. I don’t know what I might be good at, and spend so much energy fighting against those things that I am definitely not good at – because I feel I should be able to do them.

Take, for instance, my strong desire towards, and fixation on, homesteading. So often I long to be able: to grow food, to harvest food, to have a wood stove, to gather, and store, and know that if I want to eat I have to work for it. I want to be able to knit, and sew, and make crafts to display around my house. I want to have many animals (and not have to eat them) and a large piece of land far away from people.

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Only I have no energy, and am not gifted in any of these areas. None. Okay, I am good with animals, but I am not good with death. I’d like to have them, but to what purpose? I don’t have the physical strength to keep up the work of caring for them day after day, and I really need my time for sleep, which having a large farm to care for would not allow.

It doesn’t make sense, yet I feel so strongly that I should be able to do this, that I am completely denying the truth of whether I actually could. Maybe it has more to do with my lack of trust in the economy, or my dislike of being dependent on other people – but there is so much about that lifestyle that I cannot do, and rather than accept that fact, I become discontent with my lack of ability.

Then there is the idea that a good life includes a huge family, which brings on the desire for many children. Only I couldn’t have more than one child, and even trying to adopt didn’t work out. All of my life this was something I wanted, and I could not understand why some people didn’t want that. In these later years, however, as I pick and pull at these desires that have driven my life, I begin to question: Why? Why do I want children? Why do I believe having a lot of children is the definition of success?

I was so upset by my failures in this area, that I was constantly feeling driven to try harder, and beg for more that I never stopped to question whether I should. I loved being a mom, don’t get me wrong, but there is so much about being a parent that is beyond my ability or comfort level, that the knowledge my son has grown beyond those years should bring me peace rather than a longing to return.

Being judged by other people, for instance, is a huge struggle for me. Yet parents are being judged constantly, and it seems nothing can be done ‘right.’ The more children a person has, the more room to be judged. On top of that, I am completely awkward around other people. Playdates, schools, teachers, playgrounds, other parents, birthday parties… having children demands interaction, and all of this was way beyond my comfort level.

Then there is the idea of being responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of another person. The very idea of that level of… power – it terrifies me. And with children, all of my sensory issues are tested to the limits each and every day, and my attention (which automatically turns inward, and is quickly exhausted when pulled out of myself) is demanded at all times.

Above all of this, there is the constant terror of all that could go wrong, and I see it all. Someone said that having children means to forever have your heart go walking around outside of your body – and this is both completely true, and overwhelmingly terrifying for me: anything could happen. Anything.

I like my quiet. I like having a lot of time to sit, and think, and analyze. I like having a lot of alone time, without demands being placed on me to get things done. There is so much involved in both of these areas which I am not good at, that even the desire to live in such ways leaves me feeling like a failure.

So I believe I have been given this time to review and rewrite my idea of what success means, and to understand what drives this discontent in my life, and figure out how to let it go.

 

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