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Autism: Fighting Demons

It was probably the nicest day of the year so far. It was a Saturday, and I had nothing pressing to do. The day before had been my cleaning day. I had my blog posts written and up to date. There was no shopping that needed to be done…

My mom and I were sitting outside, watching ‘my girls’ who had spent a while happily exploring the yard, and running around, and had moved to rest on the lawn.

I set up the hammock I had gotten from the thrift store the previous fall, and brought out my bag of papers and pencils in case I was inspired to write.

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I lay down on the hammock, and looked up into the maple tree above me, and there I stayed for maybe two hours.

The sun was filtering down through the branches, and the leaves were gently swaying in the breeze.

It was as calm and content as I have ever felt. No fears. No anxieties. No worries. Just peace. For that moment, all was right with the world.

Yet even then I felt this tug at my heart, and fought these words in my mind.

“You will be punished for this.”

Punished for feeling content. Punished for feeling good. Punished for taking time to be okay that I was not in control. Punished for making peace with all that I have lost, and all I have experienced.

And though I tried to push away the attack and fight the demons within, I was not well succeeding.

When other people in the world are so busy, or are so sick, or are living in war torn places fearful for their lives – how can I take an afternoon, and spend it laying on a hammock watching the leaves sway in the breeze.

How could I?

I tried to fight it more. After all, I am never content, like I was that afternoon. I am always fighting some battle in my head – and trying to gain control over things I have no control over – and trying to return to a past that I can’t reach – and trying to make up for things I can’t overcome…

And if I let go of the past that hurt me so many times, and took so much from me, does that mean I don’t care?

If for just one moment, or two hours on a Saturday afternoon, I can make peace with the life I was given, shouldn’t I take that opportunity?

And the demons say, “no.”

But God says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Only I am always afraid – and when I am not afraid? That scares me to. The demons I fight are very strong, and their words are familiar, and it is hard for me to stand.

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Autism: I Need My Mom

My mom is coming tomorrow.

It feels unreal, and as I go about my day, I continue to repeat the words that have become all too familiar over the past several years: “I need my mom.”

The more anxious I get, the more the words come. I pace back and forth, and repeat, “I need my mom.”

“I need my mom. I need my mom. I need my mom.” The words come automatically, but they must mean something. The harder things seem, the more anxious I am, the more upset I am, the more the words come. “I need my mom.”

I don’t know when these words became such a compulsive thing. I can’t remember when I started saying them so frequently. Did this come from my childhood? I don’t remember. Did it start when my kids were lost, or when I started working for the first time away from home?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I do know that for many years now, in many situations, the words come. “I need my mom.”

And now, for the first time in 7.5 years, my mom is flying to see me. The day is almost here, and that makes me anxious.

niagara falls

“I need my mom,” I think – and then, “Wait! She is coming.”

I have needed her for so long it is hard to wrap my head around the fact that she will be here so soon. We just have to get past the travel part – for the travel part makes me anxious. People fly every day, don’t they? Most of the time, people are fine. I don’t even mind flying myself. I often consider that something might happen, but I am not really afraid.

I am afraid something will happen tomorrow, though.

For years I have wanted her here. For months this trip has been planned. The day is almost here. But what if it isn’t? I am afraid.

At 40 years old, I wouldn’t have expected to still need my mom like a little child – but I do. I guess that is a good problem to have, maybe. Only people with good mothers would still need them at 40, right?

So I will wait in anxious anticipation. Tomorrow evening we will drive out to the airport and pick her up. Her plane arrives well past my bedtime, and it is even worse for her with the 3 hour time change. I am pretty sure we will all be too tired to visit tomorrow, even on the 1.5 hour car ride back home.

But she will be here. And for eight weeks, I won’t need to say, “I need my mom,” for my mom will be here.

I can hardly wait!

 

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Autism: Sensing a Theme

A couple of days after my dishwasher went, the oven in my stove stopped working. A day after that, I realized one of the front burners on my stove wasn’t working. I am sensing a theme here… computer, dishwasher, oven, range… what will be next?

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I am actually doing pretty well with the dishes. I mean, I have to really push myself to do them (that got old fast!) that is more due to my health issues and the overwhelming sense of exhaustion I have been feeling these days, but it only takes about 10 minutes after each meal, and I love how clean the kitchen is after. We didn’t often get that with the dishwasher for we had to wait for it to fill, and not all of the large dishes could fit in at once – meaning that most of the time, there were dirty dishes in the sink.

Well, dishes were my son’s job, but he can’t seem to get them clean washing by hand. So I do them, and he puts them away after a while, and the kitchen stays clean! Besides, on his own he offered to clean the basement (his ‘suite’) and has been doing it every week for at least a month. It may not have the frequency of the dishes, but it leaves me with only one floor to clean, and cuts down on how overwhelmed I feel with the size of our house. It is a good thing.

For the computer, I did a system restore back to about October 22nd. Not that I really understood what I was doing! My son suggested I do a virus scan, and told me it would be easy. I looked for that, but found the restore – with a note on it that said “try this first.” Okay. Feeling as if I was doing something I shouldn’t even consider, I clicked the button, and hoped it wouldn’t cause trouble. My computer hasn’t frozen up since, and it has been four days (considering it was freezing up something like 5 times an hour, this is a good sign.)

I am not sure how I feel about the computer thing. I had so much free time without it – but then I haven’t had any energy, and likely would have just spent these days watching Netflix anyway.

The oven, though. I guess that is something that will have to be replace. I do have a Nuwave infrared oven that I ‘won’ at a silent auction at the thrift store. I haven’t used it much as the timing is different, and things don’t seem to get as crispy – for things such as pizza, this can be an issue. Still I know it works – or at least it did the last time I tried it – so I guess we will use that for a while.

As for the burner… often I find that even having four burners isn’t enough – potatoes, gravy, corn, vegetables, and where do I make the stuffing? Since we don’t have an oven, however, I don’t imagine we will be making a lot of large meals, and three burners will have to be enough.

Considering that ovens, like fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers are no longer made to last, I hate the thought of buying another. Besides, they aren’t cheap. Once again I am frustrated by the greed of some people. My desire is that when I have to make these purchases, I would buy them once with the expectation that they would last the rest of my life. The idea that they might only last for five years not only doesn’t fit within my view of how things should be, but is beyond what I can accept.

So we will wait for a decent stove to come in to the thrift store. We will pay something like $25-$50 for it, depending on the condition, and we will hope that it will do for a few years.

Meanwhile, my head whirls trying to come up with an acceptable solution. I wonder if I could build a cob stove, or a rocket stove, or… There has to be something better than this.

 

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Autism: Beauty Broken

I like pretty things. To be surrounded in beauty leaves me feeling happy, peaceful, and inspired. Some people seem to be born with the gift of making things beautiful. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I plan, and design, dream, and work hard to organize my environment in a way that pleases myself, and brings joy to other people. The thing is, however, that no matter how wonderful something might seem in my thoughts, when it comes out, it is often ugly.

It isn’t that I see what I have made, that others think is ugly, and think it is beautiful. No. I see what they see – but I can’t seem to fix it.

I work hard at things. I work hard at everything I try to do. It just… doesn’t turn out well. It is like something is broken inside of me, and my dreams lose something in the translation between thoughts and reality.

Often I think that if I could just think something, and have it magically appear, life would be wonderful… but then perhaps that idea is a sort of idol – like wanting to be “God” of my own life. I feel shame over that desire – but then I think, other people are able to come up with wonderful ideas and make them happen. So what is wrong with me?

It isn’t really that I want to be God, but I would really like to make my dreams a reality. To be able to decorate, paint, draw, organize, design, make crafts… create beauty… I think that would bring me a lot of joy. Only I can’t, and like so many other things in my life, I feel that failure very deeply.

Once I had a garden that turned out wonderful. Only it was an accident. I hadn’t planned it that way. My husband borrowed a rototiller for me, and I tilled up the backyard. Only I had old sunflowers left over from the previous year, and the seeds got mixed into the soil as I tilled. Sure I sprinkled a package of country flower seeds in one corner, and had bought my children trees, rose bushes, berries… for their birthdays that year – but what came up was an accident. A beautifully, wonderful accident.

back garden

The thing is though, if I planned it, if I tried to repeat it, it wouldn’t work. It would become another failure in my life. But that year, my garden was accidentally gorgeous.

Even though I nearly always fail to create beauty around myself, I always have to try. I get tired. I get discouraged. Every failure hurts. I know this. Yet I have to try anyway.

But if I could take what is in my head, and bring it out to reality… if I could learn to do that – my life would be filled with beauty. Beauty that would calm me. Beauty that would bring me joy.

Yet it seems very similar to when I was younger, and trying to speak. I knew what I wanted to say, but so much was lost in the translation – that pathway from my thoughts to my mouth – and it never came out even close to how it began.

I think that may be the biggest struggle I have with my Autism. What is in my mind is beautiful, and wonderful, and my thoughts… with my thoughts I could maybe change the world. But they won’t come out. No matter how hard I try, what other people see on the outside, is not how I began.

The real me, buried deep within, is very different from the failure I present to the world. And it breaks my heart.

 

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