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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: Change of Perspective

Speaking of age, my husband said something to me one day that caught me off guard.

We were talking of things that need to be done around the house: water heater, window, passports… I said the passports weren’t exactly a rush as we had no plans to go anywhere, and the earlier we had them done, the earlier they would expire.

I mentioned that I thought they only lasted five years (as that is how long we had our last ones.) My husband said he thinks we can get them for ten years now and “that’d be my life.”

Ten years.

Ten years ago my youngest ‘foster’ daughter was sick and falling over. Ten years ago we were told about ‘our’ children’s youngest brother, and were asked to adopt him.

Ten years before that my cousin died from complications with her Cystic Fibrosis, and my grandfather had a heart attack and cancer, and died a few months later.

Ten years is nothing.

I focus on the idea that the world might end in a few months – just to keep going. Anything I do, however, is with the consideration that I have as long left as I have lived so far – so renovations, and even habits, are important considerations for carrying me through the future.

When I get overwhelmed with the renovations that need to be done, or the skills and habits I would like to form (all of which I fixate on often) I get a strong impulse to move to a home that would make these things easier for me.

My husband’s statement sent me into another perspective which I haven’t seen before.

It isn’t so much that I thought he would live forever, but… the idea of his death was in how it would affect me – and such thoughts placed a sense of urgency on getting things in place that would help me and my son to endure it (for thoughts of him dying bring me to a place of panic – how will I keep going on my own?)

But this thought, spoken from his mouth as such a fact, transformed that perspective to what he might be considering as a result.

With ten years left, there is no benefit to moving (even if he were someone okay with change; which he isn’t.) With ten years left, what is the point of altering his diet or his habits and thereby making his life harder and less enjoyable?

And the things around the house? Some – like the window (which has cracked in many places and is held together with tape) and maybe the water heater are necessary. Others – flooring, paint, decluttering, updating, or even getting a wood stove – I suppose would not be so important at this point in his life.

They matter to me, but of course they wouldn’t matter so much to him: Ten years is nothing.

Obviously he could live longer, and that is the hope – but it isn’t like he will pass a certain date and the danger will be gone. Instead things are likely to become less important to him with time.

A complete change of perspective in just a few words, “that’d be my life.”

Easter 2015

 

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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: 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.

Battlefield Park

 

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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.

welland

 

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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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