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Autism: My Dad

My dad was good at a lot of things. As I was lying in my bed yesterday afternoon, exhausted, and depressed, and overwhelmed by life, I was thinking of that. He was good at a lot of things. I am not really good at anything, and that fed my depression.

My dad was a good son. He was a good brother. He was a good friend. People liked him, and I think he genuinely liked people. He was the first one people often called for help. They would frequently drop in unexpectedly, and he would welcome them in. I remember at least two instances in my childhood where people were really struggling, and my dad invited them to come live with us; and they did.

Frequently my dad took people out for coffee, or just for drives, and he talked to them. My dad was very social, and was very easy to talk to. He was generous, and giving, and caring. He liked helping people. He liked being useful.

My dad liked spending time with people. We spent a lot of my childhood visiting with his friends and family, and camping as a large group with his extended family. He would go fishing with his brother and brother’s kids, and sometimes take us; when he didn’t, he always brought small gifts home with him to show he was thinking of us. He would take us and go to amusement parks with his sisters, our cousins, and his parents. He would take us to the drive in theatre (a lot!) or just rent movies and invite people over to watch at home.

My dad liked spending a lot of time with us. He would take us for walks along the creek, and on picnics, and for drives just to talk. When my dad was home and awake, he was almost always visiting. He even came with my older brother and I to nearly every cadet meet we had. He would bring donuts he got free from Tim Horton’s because, of course, he was friends with all the workers there. Even my fellow cadets (I’d like to say friends, but since I didn’t talk, I guess I wasn’t much of that to them) liked him.

My dad liked to sing. He had a great voice, and when we were on our drives, he would put in a tape and sing along. He would encourage us to sing too, even though my younger brother and I did not have good singing voices; he never criticized us for it. I still love the songs that he used to sing.

My dad was a hard worker. Though he worked in a steel factory, in a physically demanding job (and though he was injured before I could remember, and had a bad leg as a result), and though it was shift work which changed week to week, he never complained about having to go to work. He worked full time, and was the sole income provider for our family for a long time. Even so, when he wasn’t working or sleeping, he was visiting with, and helping people.

My dad was good at woodwork. He finished our basement in the house we moved to when I was four, and put a lot of detail into it. He built us a nice toy box/bench, a corner cabinet, a desk… He kept our homes in good condition. He even whittled animals and things from wood, and they were really nice. He was just good at it.

My dad was good at a lot of things, but the brokenness in him… I guess that is why people didn’t believe me when I did speak – for my father was good at a lot of things, but the deepest seeds of evil he pretty much reserved for me.

My dad was good at a lot of things. I am not really good at anything. Maybe that is why I am depressed. Maybe.

Vacation July 2016 014

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The Cost of Dependence

So I talked with disability.

I didn’t choose to be off of work, or to be home, but I was told to by my Psychiatrist and Counselor.

It scares me to be here, without an income of my own.

I had a lot of stress going in to work, and they were very likely right to take me off, but I am still afraid.

It is hard to be dependent on another person.

The beginning of my struggle with being dependent on someone was my childhood. “Would you do me a favour,” my father would ask. I hated that word – favour. I still hate it.

The word meant I would be asked to do something that I hated; something so fundamentally wrong that I have never been able to overcome it. Completely detestable, and inappropriate.

I would shake my head, “no,” and my stomach would turn. Sick, overwhelmed, angry, disgusted, confused…

I was twelve before I understood it was wrong. Fifteen before others found out. But it had been going on for years. Horrible, terrifying, wrong.

I hated it. I hated it like I hated the macaroni and cheese he kept trying to force me to eat, though I knew I was allergic to it. Hated it like I hated the sound of the TV being on constantly, or the darkness in the house in the middle of the day. Like many foods, sounds, smells, experiences of my childhood, I hated it – but I didn’t know it was wrong.

I would shake my head, “no.” No, I don’t want to do that for you. No, I don’t like it. NO! Please don’t make me. But the words never came.

“After all I have given you,” he would say, “I buy your food, and your clothes… I work so you can have a roof over your head…” Ungrateful child that you are, why won’t you do this for me?

Ungrateful, hateful child that I was…what is wrong with you to not want to do this for him?

“Fine,” he would say, “I guess I just won’t buy you food anymore.”

So I would. Of course I would. What was wrong with me?

Dependence.

If you do this for me, what will the cost be? Will it be more than I’m willing to give? Will it hurt me to give it? Will I hate myself for it?

I talked with Disability yesterday. “It will be twenty-six weeks processing time,” they told me. Six months just to find out if I qualify.

Meanwhile I am dependent on my husband for all of my needs.

He is a good man. He is not my father.

I am dependent, and I am afraid.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2015 in Autism: Mental Health and Healing

 

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Autism: Forgive Me For Not Trusting Your View

The man was a hard worker. Friendly, social, and funny. He was close to his family, and had many friends. People liked him.

He talked to the neighbours, participated in group activities, was there when others needed him.

He was easy to talk to, and liked to listen.

He opened his home to the poor and broken.

He liked animals, was involved in the lives of his children, loved his wife.

He was everything they expect a healthy, whole person to be – and they believed that is what he was.

The woman was quiet, and anxious. She had few friends, and spent most of her time with her son, who was often sick.

She didn’t often work outside of the home, and struggled to keep the jobs she had.

She didn’t joke, didn’t sing, was estranged from her family for several years, came from a broken home.

She watched the children, and allowed them to come in, but was not playful.

She was distant, and people didn’t know her well.

He was certain of himself, and she was unsure.

At his funeral, the large space was packed with people. She has lived most of her life alone.

When trouble came to their marriage, they blamed her. It couldn’t have been him, he was a good person. “She is crazy,” he said, “delusional,” and they believed him. He was a good person, they thought. She was hard to know.

The youngest would go with her. She was his caretaker, it is how it should be. The older children would go with him. “They are closer to him,” they said, and she believed them.

That their daughter didn’t speak must have been her fault. That all of their children had strong emotional issues during their teen years must have been her fault, too. “They will do better when they are away from her,” they said, and the young girl trembled.

He fought for his marriage, while she was ready to run – and they supported him. He was a good man, they thought – but the child knew different.

He talked to his children for hours, trying to settle them, it seemed. He confused them with his lies. “She is crazy,” he said. How should they respond. She is my mom, the girl thought, please don’t leave me with him. But the girl could not speak.

Maybe it was the house, the parents thought. She had never wanted to move there. So once more they sold their house, and moved.

What a sacrifice he has made for her, they thought. What a good man. She doesn’t deserve him.

She doesn’t deserve him, the girl thought, but not in the way they think. She is crazy, the girl heard repeating in her mind, and she was confused.

And then the girl found friends. She still couldn’t speak well, but it was nice to have people around. Her friends liked him, too. “He is funny,” they said. He is as sick as his jokes, she thought, but she still couldn’t speak well.

The boy liked her, her brother told her. He would like to spend more time with her. So she let him… and he saw things that others did not, and it made him uncomfortable. So he asked her, and the man went to jail.

Still they liked him, and thought him a good man. The girl must be mistaken,” they said, and blamed her “crazy” mother.

It is true, she thought, but they didn’t believe her.

They went to court, but she still couldn’t speak, and the man was released. “It is as it should be,” the family said, “the child was mistaken.”

I wasn’t, she screamed, but the words wouldn’t come out. I know what he did, and it was worse than you could imagine.

Still she couldn’t speak, and they believed he was good. She knew different, but they liked him anyway.

She grew, and ran, and then he got sick.

And she returned with her son for her brother’s wedding. She visited him with her son, but she wouldn’t leave the boy with him. She wouldn’t let him talk to her son the way the man had spoken to her as a child, and he was upset.

“He is dying,” they family said, “she should visit him more.”

But they did not understand. They could not, or would not see.

The man was angry, and afraid his death would bring her pleasure – so he canceled his insurance, so she wouldn’t receive anything. I don’t want your money, the girl thought.

All I want from you is that you would KNOW what you did to me. That you would understand. But he didn’t… he didn’t tell her he knew what he did to her. She forgave him anyway.

And then he died.

But her mother was left with nothing to raise their disabled son. It wasn’t right, the girl thought, and took the guilt on herself.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2015 in Autism: Child and Teen Years

 

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Pictures Behind Closed Eyes

Pictures behind closed eyes

I am frightened yet I strain to see

Scarred reminders of my past

Hidden deep within my memory

Who is here to listen

To the unspoken words I cry?

Who will hear my story?

I can’t speak, but I will try

Will you help me forget the days

That long ago have passed?

Do I have to remember the first day

Before I forget the last?

It has been a long and narrow road

Lead on by an unseen hand

And all the pain I’ve suffered through

Was caused by the sin of man

Pictures behind closed eyes

I am frightened yet I strain to see

Scarred reminders of my past

Hidden deep within my memory

 

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