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Autism: Christmas 2017 part 2

Christmas day itself went pretty well. My husband bought cat toys for my son and I (strange, maybe, but for us it was great!) The cats were delighted, and were running all over the place chasing their toys. So much fun for us to watch. Two weeks later and they still spend a lot of time playing with those toys, and Finn even brings hers up to the table with her to hide from the others when she isn’t playing.

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We also made a puzzle. Last year we spend 5 days on a 1000 piece puzzle only to have Finn pee on it on the fifth day (she decided to move from her bedroom to the dining room where we had the puzzle – and I didn’t understand in time to transfer her litter box with her.) Disgusting, and very frustrating.

So this year we did a 300 piece puzzle. It was challenging enough to get our minds working, but easy enough that we could complete it in a few hours. Perfect! And for three strong introverts, that was about as much time as we could happily spend together before needing our space.

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My husband had that week off of work, and a few more times we got together to make other puzzles of the same size. I would say that was good.

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But the depression still had a strong hold on me, and by December 30th, I was as low as I’ve been – and nothing especial even happened save that my husband gave away something I wanted – even after I protested and said I still wanted it… that hurt. It hurt a lot – but the depression was already there before that happened.

Plus, even though that was hard on me, it couldn’t possibly compare to, say, the day we had our children taken. Or the day my dog died. Or any number of truly horrible days that I have lived through.

Yet the pain was bad enough that I honestly didn’t want to live through it. And I think that maybe the only reason I did get through it was that in that level of depression I had a crisis of faith (which happens when my depression or anxiety get so bad) in which I was convinced that God didn’t want me (no one else did after all) – so if I died then it would have sealed my fate, and I would have been in hell forever.

I guess I should be thankful for that.

The very idea of spending eternity separate from God is more than I can bear – and yet for that fear I have to bear the pain of that fear to ensure I don’t spend eternity separate from God. I suppose that those who don’t share my faith couldn’t possibly understand this, and those who do share my faith, but don’t experience the shame and despair that allow these spiritual attacks (I never doubt that God exists, or that He is good – only that He wants me, or that I am actually saved)

It was, maybe, January 2nd before the depression started to lift. Even then, a week later, I am still in a battle. Some days… some months… some years, even, it is tough. Tough to live well. Tough to be in this world. Just… hard.

 

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Autism: Loads and Burdens

This sadness has been overwhelming me.

  • Does God want me?
  • Am I saved?
  • Why do I fail at everything?
  • Why am I so bad (why do I struggle with things other people don’t seem to?)
  • Will I ever do good (will anything I do have a positive impact on the world around me?)
  • Does anyone want me (will I ever feel like I belong anywhere?)

I think that maybe Christmas is a difficult time for me. Anyway, it has been hard this year, and I am feeling overwhelmed and shutting down, even though I haven’t done anything for it yet.

Time is speeding up, or I am slowing down, or… How did Christmas come again so fast? I am not at all ready, and I look at the decorations as if… as if people put them up in May or something, and it all feels so wrong.

Time is speeding up for me. I go to start something, learn something, research something, and suddenly the day is over though I have done nothing. It is very frustrating. Is it any wonder I wish this life allowed magic, or cheat codes to get through? I don’t expect to win any awards, or accomplish any great thing anyway, but I could sure use some help to get through the day and take care of what I have without being so overwhelmed all of the time, but then…

Loads and burdens.

My pastor talks frequently about loads and burdens – how some people have heavy burdens they won’t share with other people for fear of asking too much of people, and other people ask for help with loads that they should learn to carry themselves.

I have a lot of burdens, this is true. And sometimes I ask for help with them, but mostly I don’t. Other people don’t understand, and can’t seem to help much anyway.

But then I guess what I struggle most with – day to day living – people would consider loads. I know they are… loads, that is. I should be able to handle them. Other people do. Other people are able to do all I struggle with and so much more. I should be able – but I am not.

Loads and burdens.

I ask too much.

Having said all of that, I am struggling these days. I have been writing this blog for nearly 2.5 years – longer than I have ever kept going at any type of work in my life, without a break. But I have also been pushing myself really hard to keep going these past 7 or 8 months or so.

I need a break.

So in light of Christmas coming (and despite how hard this is for me to admit even to myself) I have decided to take some time off from writing my blog, and think that Christmas is probably the time I need to do that.

I am hoping that a month will be enough, and plan to start writing again in mid-January.

Until then I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, and to thank all of you for your support over these years.

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Autism: Dead or Alive

I woke up coughing at 5:30am. This was not related to the smoke in the house that I mentioned on my last post – though it probably had something to do with it, my house was not smoky on this particular night.

I felt like I was choking, and my first thought (which lasted for several minutes) was that there had been a fire and I died of smoke inhalation. For about 5 minutes, even though I could dimly see my room around me, felt and heard ‘my girls’ beside me, and was aware of one of my cats on the bed as well (I have a very full bed these days!) I completely believed this to be true.

When I told people at my Life Group (Bible Study) about this, one of them asked if I was in Heaven. When I said, “No, I was looking at my clock, and into the faces of my dogs,” she mentioned something about the possibility that I wouldn’t make it there; to heaven, that is…

Panic!

If I dream I have died (though this wasn’t a dream) and don’t find myself in heaven – does that mean I am not saved?

Thankfully my husband responded that he believes there will be animals in heaven, and gave his reasons – so in a few seconds I was calmed by his words (thank you, dear husband!) I need my dogs. I don’t think that will change when I am dead.

So there I was, lying awake in bed, fully convinced that this was the beginning of the afterlife and I would be trapped in this place (at least I had my babies with me!) when I realized I must be alive.

How disorienting that was!

It was then that I felt a deep longing for my youngest (foster) daughter who was taken from me 8 years ago, and remembered that I had been dreaming of her – though the dream escapes me now – when I was awakened by the choking.

Perhaps in those last moments of my dream there was a fire, and I was dying in it.

What a strange experience that was, and I wonder if there are other people in the world who are fully alive, and believe they are dead. So weird.

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Autism: Created to Be

When I left, I felt really good. I was decently calm (I never am fully calm when I have anything to do) and even wanted to be out visiting; which is very unusual for me. I talked to people, and smiled, and then…

It wasn’t part of what he had planned to say, but he made a comment about ‘human people,’ which lead him to start talking about ‘dog people.’ You know, like “human people… I don’t know why I said that. What other kind of people are there… unless they are dog people…”

So then he went to mention that they were not people – dogs that is – or your babies, or…

He made it sound like a joke, and lots of people were laughing. Some were even clapping, which doesn’t happen frequently.

Then he said he thought it was a gospel problem, and he could write a whole sermon about it. Then he went back to what he had been talking about before he got distracted.

The whole thing maybe lasted 2-3 minutes – but it caused me struggle for the entire day. Not even a little bit, I was fully triggered into severe anxiety and depression, which were very difficult to overcome.

My babies are my source of joy. A level of joy I have rarely experienced in my life. They are… if not healing my loss (which isn’t likely to happen this side of heaven – the pain and trauma and triggers are all to much) they are at least helping me to go forward.

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They are an answer to my ache for children, for family, even for friends – which people took from me over and over again.

They are my tie to sanity, though I have to let go of some to keep the rest.

They are not people – and I am so thankful for that! But their place in my life as my ‘babies’ is essential for so much of my life it would take all day, and maybe even more, to explain it (and even then most people wouldn’t understand it.)

It was a joke, but still I worry that people are coming to take even this away from me. And why not? They’ve taken pretty much everything else. And it makes me want to hide again, and not go to church, or write, or go out, or be seen, or share myself with anyone ever again – much as I felt when my children were taken.

And it was only my dog, who was given to me for that very reason, who could pull me through that. Then he died, and I was back there again. So I was given Clara, and a few months later Molly, and several months later Misty-Grace. They are my babies…

I went in happy, and left in pain. I am pretty sure he didn’t mean for that to happen – and while it may sound like I am venting about ‘those’ people who don’t understand, this is a man I both like and respect. Perhaps if it weren’t so, it wouldn’t hurt so much.

It is just another thing wrong with me.

I was upset for a long time after until… the sermon series we have been on is titled ‘God Still Speaks.’ And this I believe. I was upset until God reminded me through thoughts that He gave me my dogs, and He gave them to me for this very purpose. He gave me this heart for animals, and it is a gift – not a gospel issue.

This love I have for my babies is a strength, not a weakness, and this is an essential part of who I was created to be.

 

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Autism: Slipping, Sliding, Panicking

Speaking of snow…

As long as I was able to stay inside, and was comfortable sure that my husband was still at work, I was content and even feeling thankful for the weather that day.

But then it was time to make supper, and the anxiety grew. Suddenly my mind became fixated on the fear that my husband would not make it home on those bad roads. It didn’t help that one of the main characters in the show I have been watching died in a car accident (though it wasn’t snowing there.)

What would I do?

How would I live?

Who would I have to call?

How would I manage?

There are many things that my husband takes care of that would be a real struggle for me, and…

I am a worrier, and the roads were very bad. I was watching the cars sliding around on the relatively flat road outside of my window – and the way home from my husband’s work is full of steep hills and twisty roads, and…

I am not one of those people who believes that bad things can’t happen to me. Of course they can, and they do, and… just because this hasn’t happened to me before doesn’t mean it won’t happen to me now.

So the minutes ticked by, and my anxiety grew.

He did come home (this time) but then we had plans to go out that night. I looked at the roads, and thought maybe we would cancel. Better to stay home and be safe than to leave my girls, get killed in an accident, and have them never understand why I didn’t return to them, right???

My husband wanted to go, though. We were going to the local theatre to see the play, “Romeo and Juliet.” This was the only night we could go as it was a pay what you can night, and the regular price was just too expensive for us.

So we went.

We did slide around the road several times, and I was panicking all the way there and back. As I tend to, I kept trying to pray quietly – but my husband, perhaps trying to take my mind off of it??? kept talking and cutting me off (though he didn’t know that of course.) Maybe he thought that continuous talking would be calming for me, but instead it made it worse. I really needed silence so I could hear myself pray.

Anyway, we made it home safe – and the show was really good, so… “All’s well that ends well,” as they say.

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Autism: Introducing Grace

As predicted, the snow fell today. The first of the year. I woke up to a winter wonderland and it left me feeling… content.

Though his alarm woke us, it takes me a long time to get up (often about an hour,) and my husband had the fire going and the tea made before we even got down the hallway… ‘we’ being my girls and I.

The girls don’t like the snow. They sat in the doorway shivering before two went out running after someone on the street (they can’t actually make it there as we have a fence in the way.) Immediately they regretted their decision and came running back.

“Take us in please, mom,” they pleaded, looking as miserable as they could though they had been out less than two minutes, and the temperature was hovering around zero. They jumped in my lap as soon as I sat down, and buried themselves in the blankets.

The next few times I went out for more wood they wouldn’t even come to the door. I came in to find Clara trembling. No way was she going out there again. “Please don’t make me,” she begged. Thankfully I didn’t have to – they have their indoor pads, though I worried that my youngest wouldn’t know to use it.

We only got her 6 days ago, after all.

She is learning from the others, but she is still not quite sure – and until now she was able to get enough time outside to go there.

It is true that I didn’t need another dog. I didn’t even feel I needed the second until she got here. In fact I was quite sure in the beginning that we were okay as we were. Clara loved having me all to myself. She is my ‘baby’ and let me know rather quickly that she wanted to be treated as such – carried around, showered with love, talked to, sung to… I needed her. She wanted me.

We were doing great, and any thoughts of ever getting a second dog disappeared as I watched her lunge at every other dog that passed us. She didn’t like one of them – and she was so tiny and cute (before she started growling) that people and dogs were all drawn to her… in the beginning.

I was okay with ‘just’ Clara. But then they asked me to take her mother, too. I was sure they would back out, or find someone else, or… it took me a long time to give them an answer, and I was afraid all along. But the moment Molly came into my home I knew she was a good fit. Such a sweet, cuddly, trusting girl – and Clara? From the beginning the two have been inseparable, like twins. And Clara is so happy Molly is here that she can hardly stop licking her.

But did I really need a third?

The girls have been doing so well, I certainly didn’t feel another could possibly be a good choice, but… she was Molly’s baby, too. She was Clara’s younger sister. Most importantly, knowing my girls, I knew the other interested homes would not be a good fit for her – and their ‘owner’ knew that, too. Those families worked full time, and were away a lot, and there she would be (after being raised in a home with at least 10 other dogs around all the time, and people home constantly) alone for more than 8 hours a day.

My girls cry when I leave the room a lot of the time, and become stressed out if I go out even a couple of days in a row. It wouldn’t have been great. They offered us some incentives to take her and I fearfully agreed… and then she came. My girls accepted her right away, and right away she became another of ‘my babies,’ who bring me more joy and contentment than just about anything else in my life.

So did I need a third dog? Absolutely!

I think I will call her ‘Grace,’ for God has blessed me so much more abundantly than I deserve, and I am so thankful for her.

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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.

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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: 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: 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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