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Autism: Dream House

There is this house I dream about: Victorian in style; five or six stories; large; white. From a bedroom on its top floor, there is a curved staircase behind a door which leads to the attic. The attic is filled with boxes, toys, pictures and other things from my past… and it is haunted.

The house has several stairways, and I often get lost on them. There are secret passages that lead to rooms – often rooms I spent time in as a child, like my aunt’s basement, or the playroom under her stairs.

Last night I was on the main floor. My husband and I decided that we needed more money, and would turn part of the house into a motel of sorts. We would move upstairs with our two girls, who were asleep at the time (the foster girls we tried to adopt, I presume, though they were quite young – 3 and 5 maybe – and I never saw their faces clearly, and I never thought their names.)

“But the attic…” my husband said.

“Never mind,” I responded, “we just won’t go in there.” (In the past dreams, I have often gone in. It is always haunted, and the spirits follow me into the room below.)

As we were speaking, an agent showed up with clients who wanted to rent the two bedrooms on the main floor. (I clearly knew there were two bedrooms on the main level, and two bedrooms on the second level to rent, with a bathroom on each floor.) I hadn’t had time to make the beds, or change the sheets, or anything. My husband got the girls up and brought them upstairs.

I explained to the clients that we had only just decided to rent the rooms out, and I hadn’t had a chance to clean yet – but if they could give me a couple of hours, I would have it ready for them. The sheets would be changed, and the blankets as well, because I didn’t believe in sharing unwashed blankets between guests (as many motels and hotels do) though I did worry as I had quilts on the beds which would get ruined with many washings.

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While my dream house stays the same between dreams, what I am doing there often changes. I am not sure where the house came from – the style is somewhat like the older houses in the city where I grew up, though this one has white siding, where those ones were all brick. I have stood outside of it a few times, but for the most part I spend the entire dream inside.

Most of the time I am in the room with the staircase that leads to the attic. It has a bay window beside the door. The room itself is empty of furniture, though sometimes I bring things down from the attic to sort through (which I am never actually able to get far with in my dreams, for as I mentioned, the attic is haunted.)

Though I have dreamed of this house at least since my teen years, it has recently become more frequent that I find myself there, and I begin to wonder why this is. I suppose the motel idea is due to the fact that my last job was working both the front desk and housekeeping part of a motel. I am sure that 4 rooms would be much easier to maintain than 35 – however I do not see myself running a bed and breakfast; I don’t have the personality for that.

I wonder if I will ever find this house during my waking hours, or if I will ever find out why the attic is haunted. Until then, I suppose I will just spend my nights exploring the house, and getting to know it more.

 

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Autism: Residual Pain

Residual effects of yesterday.

I am still struggling with overwhelming sadness and a sense of worthlessness. Other people write on their birthdays how blessed they are to do things and celebrate with their family and friends. Does that mean I am not blessed? We did nothing. I feel cursed. Broken. Alone. I prayed that it would be different, but many of my prayers are met with silence. I can only conclude that God is angry with me.

It isn’t that I believe He shouldn’t be, but… if I could do better, don’t you believe I would? And didn’t He come to save the broken and lost? Does anyone want saving more than me? Has anyone prayed as often for the evil to be taken, and to be made good, as I have? Maybe others have, and so have I, but years later and I am still broken. My life, my family, my heart – all broken.

This is reflected in the children I couldn’t conceive, and the children I couldn’t keep, and the family who abandoned me to their own activities on my 40th birthday. Not blessed. Cursed. And though I know I deserve this, it hurts just the same.

Once again I have to explain to the child I was, who held on for the belief that things had to get better, that things really don’t get better. And I try to hide from her the fear that all those years she lived in pain and terror were really the best she would ever get. And it breaks me, as much as if I were having to tell a child standing in front of me that this would be their reality. It breaks me, over and over, like a near drowned shipwreck victim being smashed against the rocks by the waves.

I want to write to you about success and healing, but what comes out is pain – for that is the experience I live with. Moments of happiness surrounded by weeks of pain. To write anything else would be a lie.

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Autism: Under the Surface

Though I tried very hard, still I could not think. I read my devotional without an issue – but then it was mostly reading. I was able to get through penmanship, but then that is just copying. I did my grammar, but it was just answering simple questions, which I learned in grade school to do. Then I got to Latin.

It was a review lesson, and the work up until this point has not been difficult. Still I was unable to think. I couldn’t even translate one simple word, my anxiety was so bad. Not one. Not difficult stuff, but I couldn’t do it.

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The reason? I had to go out that night.

Not an unusual place. Not with new people. It was a potluck dinner, but I had already planned to eat ahead of time. I did have to bring a dessert, but it was not something new, or difficult. Just so, so anxious. It is always hard on me when I have to go somewhere, but this was a bit much even for me… at least for an evening that is pretty much routine through the year. True, we took a break for about four months, but I still saw them in church most weeks. It shouldn’t have been so hard, but it was.

I couldn’t think. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t do any cleaning. Even the very things that calm me became impossible at that level of anxiety.

So maybe it wasn’t just that I had to go out that night.

Think again. Analyze again. Take it apart, and make the picture bigger. Look at it in context. Of course I would have been anxious about that night:

  • First time in months.
  • Potluck dinner.
  • Not eating with the group (eating would have been worse, but still.)
  • Bringing a dessert.
  • Visiting.
  • Leaving my house.

Each of those things individually cause me anxiety. Together, of course they would cause high anxiety. Even still, there must have been more. Look bigger.

  • First time leaving my dog since her spay 10 days prior.
  • One day after the anniversary of the day ‘my children’ were taken.
  • Dark, rainy days.
  • Frequent upset stomach in the days leading up to this (struggling with food again!)
  • Frequent headaches (mostly from the weather.)

Okay. So all of these things, for me, are huge. Together? Too much. The moment is beginning to make sense, but might there be anything more?

  • I have been completely fixated… perseverating… overwhelmed by my house, and the needed renovations.
  • My mind feels like it is about to snap as I try to make sense of all the losses in recent years.
  • My mom was planning to phone the next day (a good thing, as it is years between visits, and I like to talk to her, but… phones!)
  • My upcoming birthday tomorrow (September 25) which is always a time of reflection.

And now I pretty much understand why I couldn’t understand my simple Latin lesson. Autism: There is always so much going on under the surface. So much more than what is actually seen.

 

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Autism: Memories That Haunt Me

Well, the day is here. Seven years. It hasn’t always been this hard, but hard enough. Today I think of my children, and what might have been. I think of how quiet my house is. How empty. How large. Perhaps that is why each year at this time it becomes really hard to live here.

Last night I fought my way to sleep through tears, hopelessness, and an overwhelming sense of how broken the world is, and how broken my life is. I feel every loss, and every failure. Each and every one.

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I see my daughter at four, leaning in for a hug before she left for preschool with my husband. Achingly I hear my self deny her. I know why – I didn’t want her leaning across her sister, who had been sent from school despite spending the weekend treating her lice at home. I was overwhelmed. I would see her in a couple of hours, but was anxious about the appointment we were about to go into. I had my reasons. None of them good enough. I wish I had taken my baby in my arms – for three days later, when they let me see her for the last time, she had already been turned against me and wouldn’t come close.

“It is okay, Mommy,” she said. “They will let me come home.”

But they never did.

I see my daughter at six. Happy and smiling despite all of her struggles. Allowing us to change her plans, and drag her to an appointment (because she wasn’t allowed to go to school) even though we knew how hard change was on her. I see her relax as I assured her we would pick her up from the play room at the ministry when our appointment was over – but we never did.

I see my son at ten. Afraid, and vulnerable, and wanting so much to believe he would never be moved again. Wanting so much to be liked, and to fit in, that he would do and say anything. I see this child, who always surrounded himself with people – yet always seemed so alone.

I see my son at thirteen. Bravely coming to a strange place to watch his sister, while we went into an appointment – and being told he wasn’t allowed to go in with her. Awkward, and uncomfortable, and trying so hard to do the right thing despite all of this. I see his face as I walked out, and told him she wouldn’t be coming home with us. None of them would be coming home with us ever again. And I hear his words, and see his response these past seven years. “Family doesn’t matter,” he says. “People don’t mater.” “I would rather be alone.” And he is. That is the moment he stopped wanting to visit people. That is the moment he started hiding in the basement.

And I hate them for what they did to my children. And I forgive them, and think, “Maybe they were right.” Because I am broken now. And I hate myself for losing them. And I hate myself for trying. And it is so much easier to forgive other people – even when they took my children away.

The tears flow. Seven years, and that is enough pain for a lifetime. Yet the memories don’t end there. Over and over again I see those moments:

  • The last, struggled breaths of my dog – and how he looked lying dead on the table once he was gone… and the box that now takes his place.
  • The last pained breaths of my cats, my rabbits, my guinea pigs – and the very tears I cried as I held them in the end.
  • The last look at my Grandmother before I turned the corner in her apartment building, and left her for the last time.
  • My Grandfather, two of my cousins, my father, my mother’s mom…

And I think, as the losses pile up, and the memories haunt me like ghosts – I don’t think I can take any more. My mind will break. My heart will break. I can’t. I can’t. And I remember that thing that people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Is that biblical? I wonder. Can it possibly be? But what about those whose minds do break? What about those who snap, and take their lives, or take the lives of others – was it not too much for them?

I don’t know. Seven years. Seven years, and the pain remains. A hard, hard day.

 

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Autism: This Week Broken

This is the week. The most difficult week in all the year, and I am feeling it. By the time I post this, it will be over – but that makes it no less difficult to get through. I can feel it coming, like some dreaded experience, though the experience of it happened seven years ago. Seven. Such a Biblical number, don’t you think?

Seven years should bring rest. While my body pretty much is at rest (my dog is still recovering from her surgery, and I don’t like to move from her, for she wants to follow) my heart and mind are not. I am full of anxiety, irritation, and depression. I feel anything but restful. Not grateful. Not content. Not calm. I know I am supposed to be, but I am not, and that only makes me feel worse.

Seven years of “after.” Seven years of “since.” It happened so long ago, that I should have healed. But I haven’t. In moment I think I have, but so many things are triggers, that so quickly I realize that I haven’t really healed at all. I should have healed. I haven’t. Another failure to add to my list. I begin to think that I was never resilient to begin with – that word that they like to throw around to help them feel better for the things they feel they have to do. “People are resilient,” they say. “Children are resilient.” Whatever helps them to sleep better at night, I guess, but not all of us are. Not all of us. Probably in their line of work, the majority of the people (adults and children – who are not that different, really) are likely not resilient.

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So maybe I shouldn’t have tried to adopt in the first place – being one of the not resilient ones. Maybe they shouldn’t have approved me. Only I was taught (as if it were fact) that if I tried hard enough, I could… and if I worked hard enough, I could succeed. Never was it even suggested that this might not be true. Those who fail are those who don’t try hard enough, or work hard enough.

Besides, I was feeling pretty good at that point in my life, and fully believed I was healed of those issues in my past (at least in the moment… perhaps if they had asked me on a different day…) and I was already (successfully) working with children.

I had the desire. I had the education. I had the empathy, and the mercy, and the love. I had the time. I had the space. And most important of all, I tried hard. I worked hard. Every day I worked to succeed at this. I tried enough. I worked enough. But somewhere along the way someone was flawed in their thinking.

Maybe if some people work hard, and try hard, they can succeed. Some. Not all. Not all.

So I failed, seven years ago – and above the trauma, and above the loss and the pain, and my own shame over not being able to succeed at something that so many others manage to succeed at (for I compare myself with all parents, and not just those who try to adopt through the foster care system – I can’t help it) but I also still feel the judgment of so many others who seem to believe if I had only tried hard enough, or worked hard enough, I could have adopted those children. I want to shout out, “I did!” Though I know it wouldn’t make a difference.

Seven years. And what is more, I am also turning forty this week. Another biblical number. Forty days and forty nights of rain. Forty days in the dessert. Forty years in the wilderness. Forty. Another number promising an end to suffering and pain, and the beginning of hope. Seven years and forty years, both in the same week. Will things get easier after this?

I am trying. Trying not to think of it – though my days are filled with fear, pain, sadness, hopelessness… My nights are filled with tears, and insomnia. I am struggling through with headaches and exhaustion. This week. Trying, trying, always trying… yet though I try so hard to think of other things, and find positive ways to spend my time, it does no good. This week, I am broken.

 

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Autism: Dogs, Birds, and Squirrels, Oh My!

Warning!!!

I read the news, and I was certain to remember. After all, though I know there are cougars in the area, and though I think about that fact most times when I am out, it isn’t often that one is seen.

But that day, I read the post on Facebook. A cougar was spotted beside one of the nature trails not too far from my house. The warning, since cougars can travel a large distance in a day, was for the whole area. The people had been walking on the trail near our closest beach. The cougar was on a different path, following along above the. Scary!

We have black bears. I saw one in town behind a daycare a few years ago (when I was picking up my ‘daughter’.) My neighbour has frequently seen them along the property line in between our houses (mainly due of the plum and apple trees we have growing there.) I know they are around. I think of them often. Yet, I am not really that concerned most of the time.

There are coyotes that live close (after all, the nature trail a block up the street is called coyote park for good reason.) We have raccoons, wolves, moose, possibly even grizzly bears up in the more forested areas (not that ours isn’t.) We see deer frequently. The eagles and osprey are an issue for pets. And there are cougars (or mountain lions as they are sometimes called.)

They are here. I know people who have had their pets taken by them. Yet most of the time, walking on the nature trails, I am not concerned. Not too much.

But the warning came up, and I took it seriously. It was out in the daytime (not shy.) Following a family (not too scared.) Beside a nature trail close to home. I told my husband and my son, “we might want to avoid the trails for the next little bit.” That was the warning. Be careful. And I am. I am a cautious person by nature.

Until I have too much else to think of, that is. I was downtown, wanting to go to the fair, but overwhelmed by all I had already done that morning, and missing my dog so much it hurt. I had the van, and could have driven home – but that would mean going back out again to pick my husband up (and at a time when I needed to be making supper.) I was panicking.

So I turned the van away from the fair, dropped it off with my husband, and just before I left his work to walk home along the trail, he said, “watch for bears!” Cougars! Oh no, I thought. “It should be pretty safe now,” I said questioningly to him, “right?” He didn’t think it would be an issue. So I took a deep breath, prayed for safety, and started walking.

It was pretty empty when I started out, and I was walking along, watching everything, when a large black animal came towards me around a corner. My heart started thumping, and I turned away. “Check,” I told myself (at least see if it is following you.) It was a dog. Just a large dog. The owner was right there, only I couldn’t see him before he came around the bend.

I walked past trying to look confident (which I was anything but) and carried on. A loud rustling came through the tall grass on the lakeside. “A cougar is going to pounce me,” I thought as pictures of Simba in The Lion King learning to pounce went through my head. “Please Lord, take care of my dog and son,” I thought. But it wasn’t a cougar, of course. It was only a little bird.

The trail got pretty busy at that point, and while I struggled with ‘people’ I felt a bit more protected from sudden cougar attacks (after all, it might choose to eat one of them instead!) About halfway through (a 4km trail) it was kind of muddy. No one else was going in that direction, as the only people who would go through – like me – happened to live on the other side.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught movement on my right hand side. Now, to be honest, the grouse usually scare me when they are near. You don’t see, or hear them, when all of a sudden they burst out in flight (scared by the person walking by, when we wouldn’t have noticed them otherwise.) This time, however, she just stood there – and her presence, with my mind per-occupied with cougars and bears, was enough to set my heart racing until my mind had the time to label – “Grouse. Just a grouse.”

Not too long later, there was movement in the tree above me. “Does it hurt when the cougar tears out your throat,” I wondered, before I heard the chattering. “Is there enough time to feel pain before it kills you?” But it was just a squirrel.

I tell you, I have never, in all the time we have lived here, been so happy to reach the steep hill at the end of the trail. Seven houses (up a high hill) later, I was home. Thankfully, wonderfully home.

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Autism: A Blizzard in my Head

Sitting in the passenger seat, driving down the highway, with my trembling dog on my lap. There was no thought to what I would do with the day – only that one moment in time. Take her in, hand her to the vet, walk away. It would be untrue to say that my thoughts were racing, as not one could take hold long enough for me to acknowledge it – such was the extent of my anxiety. I tried to remind myself that it would be okay, that so many dogs have this surgery and are fine, that it was best for her, but none of these thoughts would register. Take her in, hand her to the vet, walk away.

They handed me a questionnaire. Just a bit of information on my dog, and her recent health. The parts which I knew I could fill in, but the ones requiring a choice? No way! “Do you want to pay $40 more for an iv during surgery?” I don’t know! Why didn’t you ask me this before I brought her in? How am I supposed to answer this?

“What do I say?” I asked her. “No. She doesn’t need it.” Okay. Am I signing my dog’s life away? Why can’t I think? Why don’t I know what to do?

So I gave her the form, and handed her my dog (As if she isn’t one of the most important things in my life right now. As if I didn’t care at all.) and walked out.

“Where would you like to go?” my husband asked me. Not a thought. Not a thought but six hours! Six hours until I can pick her up. Until that day, I hadn’t been separated from her so long since she was given to me. Six hours – it seemed like forever… and would she be okay? “I don’t know,” I replied, “I can’t think today.”

That was an understatement. My mind, often so loud with thought that I can barely hear anything else, now feels like a blizzard. All I can hear is the wind. All I can see is the snow. There is nothing else. “You make the decisions, I will just come along,” I told him. There was nothing else I could do. So he started driving around, and one more word registered. Nauseous. “Please find somewhere to go. When we drive around I get nauseous.” Please make a decision. I can’t.

Somehow he carried me through the day, and I was so thankful to have him there. What would I have done in that big, confusing city without him? Unable to think beyond the moment, how would I have gotten around? So thankful to have him, though I could not tell him so.

We walked through two (No Dog’s Allowed!) parks that I had taken Gryffindor to last year (I didn’t know.) Sadness mixed with the already strong anxiety, and didn’t help me to think. We went to one membership required store, where I remembered how stressed out I feel in large spaces (high roof, huge isles, people going in all directions…) We visited at one of his cousin’s homes.

Six hours. Six hours that threatened to never end. Six hours – the length of time Jesus hung on the cross. The amount of time I spent in labour with my son. The length of a regular school day. Six hours. And then it was done, and she was back in my arms again.

My beautiful, beautiful girl. I hope to never be apart from her for six hours again. Unreasonable, I know, but I can’t live life in that blizzard – and that is where I am without her. “Heal, my girl,” I think now as I watch her sleeping beside me. “You have no idea what you mean to me.”

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Autism: Missing the Fair

For years I have wanted to go, and it wasn’t an option. For one thing, I had no one to go with; my husband and son don’t like such things. For another, it was too expensive – something like $11-15 for something that I would only stay at for a couple of hours. Even if I could bring myself to spend the whole day (which I couldn’t, unless maybe they allowed me to bring my dog – which they don’t) that would still be too much to spend.

This year, however, they had a deal for the opening day. If we went in before 5pm, the cost would be $5. Much more reasonable. So I made the plan, and fully intended to go.

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The fair opened at 10am, which meant I had an hour from the time I dropped my husband off at work, until I could go in. It still seemed like a good idea. After all, the reason it was so cheap on the Friday was because not a lot of people would go then (what with school and work and everything.) If the crowds weren’t so bad, I might be able to manage longer – besides, I really wanted to go.

During that hour before, I made plans to do some shopping. There was a sale on laundry detergent at Walmart, so I would go there to get that. Then the farm store had a sale on the dog food that my dog eats – well, more a free exchange than a sale. That food is super expensive ($17 for 2kg!) but if I had an empty bag of store brand dog food, I could exchange it for a free bag of this expensive food. Great deal!

The expensive stuff is the brand my dog was on when she was given to me. A large Ziploc bag of the kibble came with her – but we were running low. I have actually been making homemade food, and only giving her maybe 1/8 cup of the kibble each day (that is about all she would eat – she, of course, wants homemade.) Still, $17 for 2kg is a lot of money, so I would have to at least mix it with something else.

Well, we didn’t have another bag to exchange, but if I went to the grocery store and bought some, I could empty it into a container, and bring in the empty bag. I did research, and found a comparable brand with good reviews (plus $11.50 for 3kg is a bit better priced.) And I did that. In the hour before the fair, I went to the grocery store and bought one bag of dog food. I talked to the cashier a little (because I used to babysit her son when I first moved here.) Then I went to Walmart, because it has a traffic light coming out to help me turn on the highway. Then I went to the farm store, where I had to talk to the cashier in order to ask for the free exchange.

By that time, I had been away from home for more than an hour, and I was starting to feel it. My anxiety was high, but I still wanted to go to the fair. After all, it was a decent price, and when would I get another chance?

I parked at the back of the shopping centre, and walked up to the fairgrounds just behind. As I got close, there was a farmer’s market full of crafts and farm grown food. I walked through that (because I like to) and it was at that point I felt I really needed to be home. So I drove back to my husband’s work, where I dropped off the van, and then walked along the nature trail home (forgetting there was a warning of a cougar sighting on a nearby trail the day before – but that is another story.)

When I got home, I crashed, and actually slept for the afternoon (did I mention that I couldn’t sleep the night before for anxiety over having to talk to cashiers in the morning?) Normally I can’t nap during the day, but I slept deeply for 2.5 hours. When I woke up, I very much regretted not having gone to the fair.

After that, there was no option to go, as the price was once again too high. It makes me sad sometimes how much my anxiety interferes with life. But when my brother in law (who is staying with us for a few days) asked me the next morning to go to the parade, I picked up my dog, and went – and I enjoyed it very much!

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Autism: One Short Email

The thing is, even being content or happy doesn’t shield me from the effects of receiving an email like that. I even allow that she might not have meant it the way I read it. But the pain, and the panic, and the after-effects were as strong just the same.

That morning, I was exceptionally happy – for me. I rated my depression as a five out of ten (and considering I have only gotten above a five a couple of times in over a year, that is really good – for me.) I was doing so well, and I was accomplishing so much, and then out of nowhere came this email.

I won’t say exactly what it said, as it both isn’t important, and will trigger me again – but it basically said, “You are doing it wrong.”

There.

Conflict. Criticism. I just can’t do it.

Small as it may seem, it is a huge trigger for me. I mean, big. I did mention I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, right? That does come from a traumatic childhood, but it was healing. Triggered at times, but not in all I did. It was getting better.

But then I had three children removed from my home in a failed adoption – and the trauma from that is so bad that one small encounter with a stranger, or one sentence in an email can take me from the most contented I have felt in months, to hiding out in tears for days after.

“You are doing it wrong.” Those weren’t the words she used, but it is the same thing. It wasn’t even about something that is absolute – just like with the children’s ministry – one theory, one opinion, in a world full of them. What makes them right?

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Only power. But power doesn’t make a person right, it only gives them the ability to destroy those that don’t have it. “You don’t agree with me? I will crush you.” And the thing is, they can. Forget this, “what can they do?” for I know what they can do. They can crush me – and they do. Again and again.

And what can she do? She can take back what she gave to heal me. I have never even met this person, and she has the power to destroy me, because in a moment of overwhelming pain I agreed to accept a gift from her.

Yet from my childhood, and from trying to adopt my children, I know. I know that any gift given can also be taken back. And any gift that isn’t taken back still gives that person so much power over me. And with that power, they can (and do) crush me. And it terrifies me.

So one line, in one email, can set me to days of panic attacks and tears. One comment can set back months of healing, and cause more fear than I can express. People want to believe that other people are resilient – that what they say and do doesn’t matter, really – but not all of us are. Not all of us. Many of us have been through so much already, that we just can’t take any more. And what have we learned? That other people have power. That other people can and will use that power to destroy.

Maybe she was just making a suggestion. Maybe I took it too hard. The next email said how well she thought I was doing… but then, the children’s ministry did the same thing – over and over – and they destroyed me, and then blamed me for being too stressed out working with them.

So what can one person who disagrees with me do? More than I hope any other person has to experience. One line in an email. One line. And the fear, and the trauma, and the social anxiety, and the desire to isolate myself grows in leaps and bounds. For what could they do, but take away the life line they threw to me, and leave me to drown.

 

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Autism: Amazing Day!

What an amazingly wonderful morning I have had!

Okay, I don’t write posts like this very often, but every once in a while what I do matches up with who I am, and this is what it feels like!

It is September. I love September! I have mentioned that in the past, and I will say it again. This is my favourite time of the year… yet… is it dissatisfaction to say I always wish I were still a child starting school at this time of the year? I don’t mean kind of wish I was a child, or kind of wish I were starting school – but really, truly.

me at 7

Though I look it, and try hard to speak it, and try so hard to fit into the world that way, I don’t really feel like an adult. I don’t mean I wish to go back to my childhood – no way! That would be horrible. And I imagine that many children struggle, and childhood isn’t always what we idealize it as. Childhood can be hard! I can attest to that.

Children, however, are so full of potential. They haven’t failed yet. They could grow and learn and do and be anything. It is as we grow that the world folds in on us, and puts us in this little box – and if we spill over the sides, or we don’t quite fit right, or the box tears at the edges, we are told we have failed. And that potential that we are born with is reduced to lies and labels that others place on us, or that we place on ourselves.

  • Liar
  • loser
  • failure
  • broken
  • evil

And the chance to be, or to do, or even to try again is taken from us. And we are compared to others who are better than us. Why do we have to be compared? Why can’t we just learn on our own time, at our own pace? Not failures – just… not masters yet. Yet. Not forever. We can learn. We can grow. Let us out of the box. Give us a chance. I wish I were still a child.

It isn’t even exactly like I would like to be going to school – with its forced learning, on external schedules, and being tested and compared to others in the group. Again, why do we have to compare? Why does it have to be a competition? I am not them. They are not me. Why do we have to learn the same?

But provide the materials – the books, the games, the crafts… let me choose what I want to learn, and when I want to learn it. Their tests won’t tell what I know (only how much I could memorize for a short period of time.) They won’t show what I am interested in, or what makes me happy. They won’t show who I am. Don’t put me in a box – let me grow. Let me soar!

Today is Monday, September 5th, 2016. It is Labour Day in Canada. A holiday, and the day before school starts for the kids. But who says I can’t learn and grow on a holiday? It is September, and I was eager to learn. So I took out my books this morning, and began. Though I tried to plan, this morning I didn’t go with the plan. Instead, I took out one book, which led to another activity, and another.

As I write this, it is just after 12pm. I took my dog out, and fed her breakfast. I had a nutritional shake for breakfast, plus some tea and a homemade larabar later on. I went outside, and pruned our huge maple tree so that it wasn’t hanging low over the road.

In between all of that, I took out the materials I already had at home, and learned. And this is what I did:

  • Christian Devotional (“Lord, I Want to Know You” by Kay Arthur)
  • Calligraphy
  • Latin (Latina Christiana – or Latin for Christians)
  • Grammar (Harvey’s Elementary Grammar)
  • Reading music for my keyboard (Music in Me – Level 3)
  • Spanish (Duolingo)
  • Writing (this is my third blog post this morning.)
  • Dreaming (this should be a subject.)

Even with all of that, I had time to:

  • think (so many ideas went through my head this morning. I love that!)
  • laugh at my dog, and take her outside a few times
  • listen to classical music and nature sounds
  • check my email
  • read through Facebook

And after all of that, I still want to:

  • ride my exercise bike
  • go swimming
  • go for a walk
  • do a craft or other activity

Not that I will. The pool is closed today, and it is raining outside. Still I want to. That means that what I have done so far doesn’t feel overwhelming to me. In fact, I feel so good, I could do more. I could even, maybe, visit with someone! Amazing!

If I were a child, this would be enough. Since I am on disability, and only because I am on disability, I can do these things that are so healthy for my mental and emotional state. But why, I ask, is this way to spend my time not valued so much as if I were, say, out in a factory making buttons? Or going to school, and getting a degree? Or standing in a store selling…? Only because I am not paid for it. But who determines the value of what people do anyway?

So many things that people do for money are just pointless activities creating things just to make money. Where is the value in that? I can’t live like that. For me, learning… learning is life, and what I am doing here is of more value than anything that I could do out there. And that is why I wish I were a child. And this is who I am. And that is what made this morning so amazing!

 

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