Positive Parenting Day #PositiveParentingDay

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Today I am celebrating Positive Parenting Day! It was created by my good friend Shawna at Thoughts of an Introverted Matriarch. I hope you will join us as well as others who see and feel there is great benefit in positive parenting. We all have unique perspectives that may give some clarity and insight as to what positive parenting means. Thank you for reading!

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As a child I was in “trouble” a lot. I was a misunderstood child, much of my behaviors were deemed as being unruly, obstinate, disrespectful, unwilling to listen, or behave. I actually adopted all of those things about myself into my adult years until I finally received answers to my unbendable questioning of authority and relentless need to ask “why” to those things that authority figures said were so important. I was a curious child, I needed to understand why my parents, grandparents, teachers, etc … told me to do things, I needed to understand the reasoning behind what they told me to do.

I did not get my answers.

Many times I received harsh words, punishment, and was told that I needed to just listen and do what I was told. I was active, full of energy, my mind was racing and in a constant state of anxiety. I NEEDED answers, I needed to know what was happening in my life, I needed control, I needed to be comforted during the unyielding chaos that overwhelmed my little mind. All of this is still here, my mind has not changed, but my coping mechanisms have and that has only happened within the last few years of my adult life. When I finally received my diagnosis of Aspergers and generalized anxiety disorder, the other two diagnoses of depression and PTSD made sense as symptoms of not knowing about my other diagnoses.

Why didn’t teachers or other adults ask me what was going?

Had someone taken into account that my behaviors had more to do with how my brain operates they might have been able to help me. If only they would have known that my sensory challenges could be so overwhelming that they would spin me into panic attacks, and at times depression. Even as a young child I suffered from depression and anxiety, my relationship with the adults in my life could have been different if we all knew this bit of information. Had we all understood that many times just by simply telling me in advance what we were going to do or explaining to me why it was inappropriate to do something instead of automatically being reprimanded, I believe my behaviors as a child would have been less aggressive or what was considered out-of-control.

However, no one knew.

People did not understand. I still do not understand to this day how people assume that children should know better. Or the presumption is that they are purposefully misbehaving. My case is a bit different in that I had different challenges, but several factors remain — kids develop differently and each one has neurons connecting at different times. This includes their sensory connections as well as things like social skills, motor skills, learning and reading. There is this misconception that children innately understand right from wrong and not only that, they’re supposed to understand “our” right from wrong, as if they are equipped to interpret each authority’s moral compass wherever they go. They are demanded to understand an adult world full of rules that have been adopted from the adult’s very own upbringing that in most cases is completely different from another adult.

There are certain “group” rules that apply and those can be learned and reinforced in a positive way, but my question is why —

When these rules are broken, aren’t people questioning in a “I want to understand the child” way instead of assuming they are being defiant for the sake of being defiant. Consider taking a child into a sensory drenched environment with sounds, smells, lights, colors, people, you name it and the child is expected to not have any sort of reaction. They are taken to a new environment, they may or may not fully comprehend why they are there and then, they are expected to be happy and have fun! What if the child is upset because a grocery store looks and feels like a haunted house to them? What if they are freaked out because they are hearing things that they have never heard before and the only way they know how to express this is by fixating on a toy and demanding that you get it for them?

What if their behavior is them showing you that they need to be comforted and soothed because they feel like their world is out of control?

Behaviors are communication and many times with children and adults it takes detective work or just a moment of observation to figure out why those behaviors are manifesting. My adult influencers and how they treated me directly impacted how I parent. I took all of the negative experiences I had with authority figures in my life and internalized their words and actions toward me. I grew up thinking I was a bad child, I was stupid, and that I deserved to be punished if I ever did anything wrong. It became a culmination of voices that drowned out any sort of positive things ever said or done for me. I was bad and there was never going to be a way to be good. No matter how hard I tried, I still did things wrong.

This spilled into my faith.

I worked so hard at being good, I changed my life to be good. I tried and tried, but still I would think a bad thought, I could not serve everywhere so I was failing, I couldn’t be enough or be like how I perceived everyone around me. For some reason, I was the only one who couldn’t do it, I couldn’t change enough. Whenever I did something that I considered wrong, such as thinking a bad word, I punished myself in some way. Mostly through reinforcing the words spoken to me by adults throughout in my life. Even if they said them flippantly or didn’t even mean them in the way I interpreted them, I soaked them in. I accepted my fate as an unacceptable human being because I was different, because I didn’t understand, because I heard far more negative things spoken about me than positive words.

I did not want to have children for the longest time because I was afraid that I would do this to them.

I was afraid that I would spank them, lose my temper, say things that could destroy their self-esteem, treat them with disrespect. I was afraid that I would be a horrible parent. I beat myself up for how I was as a teenager with my younger sisters. I was not always the kindest person because I was angry and confused. I had a lot of things going on in my life that were so bad and so ugly, I grew up being bullied and made fun during my school years all of these things seeped together, they led me into the path of suicidal thoughts throughout the years. The voices singing loudly about how inadequate, unwanted, unworthy, and tainted I was bombarded my brain. I dredged through these voices gasping for air just to feel ok. I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be for for my sisters, I couldn’t be the person I had always thought I should be, and that scared me about being a parent.

It wasn’t until I started teaching Sunday school that I realized who I really was around kids.

When I taught them I did not teach at them. I talked to them, I wanted to know what they thought. I wanted to understand where they were at. When a child became disruptive I tried to understand why they were behaving that way. I recall one boy who would act out and interrupt making it hard for the others and me to do class. The standard discipline was to make them sit outside the door, I hated it. One time, I took him out and asked him why he was acting like this. He was hard, and I could tell that he was bracing himself for being “in trouble”. It was as if I saw the walls wrap around his heart as he geared up to be told once again how awful he was and if he didn’t stop he was going to be removed. I looked at him and asked, “Why are you behaving this way? Don’t you know that we want you here?”

His eyes looked as if he were in pain.

I went on, “Don’t you know that I want you here? I think you are a great kid and I want to spend time with you learning and teaching, but I can’t do that if you continue to disrupt the class. The other kids want you here too, but they also want to learn and have fun.” I remember vividly how he looked at me and told me that no one wanted him. My heart broke, and I asked him more questions, reinforcing that he had value and that he mattered. I did not have any challenges with him for the rest of the Sunday school time, but other adults did. They punished him, they did not talk to him. They ignored his cries, “behavioral outbursts” longing to trust an adult and remind him that indeed he did matter. I treated him with respect and I valued what he had to say.

After doing several years of teaching, I felt that I really wanted to have children.

I desired it so much and it wasn’t happening, I look back now and though I am saddened by the loss of a child, I am thankful that I was able to have kids later in my life. My fears were still there, but I had become such a different person that my natural instincts overthrew much of my negative parenting style that I had learned from society and growing up. I still had my days and I still do, having children can make you tired and overwhelmed especially as a new parent. Having twins was scary and overwhelming for me, then becoming pregnant right away, discovering it on Daniel and Ariel’s first birthday, was lot for me as well. Discovering Daniel being Autistic took on other forms of stress and chaos for me. Not because of him, but because of all of the confusing and misinformation about autism. During that time it was still quite limited in understanding, awareness, and misinformation.

I had people telling me that my child was wrong, bad, needed to stop his behaviors, he should not be like “this”.

And it hit me, he needed to be understood. He needed my empathy, acceptance, and respect. I have applied that way of thinking to all of my kids. I am not going to say it has been easy or that it is now, there always times when it gets tough and times when it gets overwhelmingly rough. However, we do our best at staying positive and respectful. The kids are allowed to speak their minds. They are allowed to question our ideas, rules, decisions, answers, and yes even our behaviors. We talk about things, we question things together, we discuss theories, human behavior, faith, whatever, we talk about it. Though we do that we still have rules. They understand that if the rules are broken, there are consequences for those actions. We do not hide it from them either that if we break the rules we have to deal with the consequences.

There are no harsh punishments.

We do not speak words to them that attack their identity or personality. We do not tell them that they are bad, a disappointment, or should know better, etc … They are kids, their minds are developing and will continue to develop. Right now their minds are learning and branching out to discover things about themselves. They should start to question authority and create their own opinions. They understand that when they question they may not like the answer, but they still need to trust that we are doing what we think is the best for them. They do not “get away” with things, they feel no need to. Do they sneak, tell the occasional lie, try to pull a fast one on us? You betcha! And that is a good thing, they are testing the waters while it is safe. They know that if they do something that they should not that they will most likely be discovered and there will be consequences such as taking a break in their room, or not being able to play video games.

They are good kids.

I have not had to manipulate or coerce them into choosing right from wrong. Fear and harsh punishment, or even spanking has not been used to control their behaviors. We use empathy, reassurance, cause and effect with their reasoning that is age appropriate, respect, and our own fallibility to parent our kids. Our goal has been and will continue to be to raise children who respect themselves and others. Who choose to be empathetic toward themselves and others. To understand that actions do have consequences and that can have a positive or a negative outcome. To understand that we all make mistakes, we learn from them, and move on. We need to show compassion, try to understand others, and be open when we do not understand something. And that they should strive to be the very best them – an individual in competition with no one but themselves.

To me those are some things I think about and how I feel about positive parenting.

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Update On Our Goings On (And A Part Two)

Hi there folks!! I know it has been a long time. I have decided not to take down the blog, because well … I may have more to share. 😉 I wanted to give an update on what has been going on. We have literally been nonstop between school, doctors, David’s job, and I have been training to teach kickboxing at the Y. I have taught three classes now! I love it, but I tell you the first time getting in front of everyone was so extremely difficult. After I got over the initial anxiety attack, (well hidden from all) I did pretty well. I have gotten better each time, I just try to have fun and make it fun for everyone else. So far I have gotten a lot of positive feedback and great constructive criticism to make some things better. Still I just started and there is always going to be room for improvement.

Overall we are doing very well.

There are many good things, such as going through the first round of state testing and everyone recovering fairly well. Since they changed the tests though, there is really no telling what the results will manifest. Daniel could not type out all of the paragraphs and essays they wanted. It is rather ridiculous to have no other type of testing for children who are like Daniel and struggle with writing, typing, and dealing with multiple, complex, abstract questions. But oh, well his teachers know how smart he is and we do not put too much stock in those tests anyway. It is just frustrating to feel like I am putting him in a situation that does not work toward his success.

However, it was a success because he had fun despite the testing and he felt proud of himself, so YAY!

Ariel and Joshua have been doing great, they felt good about taking their tests too so I will not harp on it any longer. They love going to kid’s boxing and last week they did basketball camp. This summer they are participating in several different camps and they are really looking forward to it. There is not much else going on other than school and their Lego group. There have been some challenges with trying to transition to David’s schedule. He leaves for a week or longer about every month . My grandma has helped when she can, but it gets a bit taxing. No matter how much advance notice I have, I still do not transition or recover well from having my schedule interrupted. I have times when I can do ok, but it always makes me disorganized mentally and heightens my anxiety — though my transitions times are shortening, that is good.

David is doing well too and enjoys his new position, it is a lot more responsibility, but he likes that.

Unfortunately, for Daniel his pains have not gotten any better. He started having a great deal of pain in October, we and the doctor felt that it was growing pains. It could be, but now it has spread to many of his joints and he complains about it being at the bottom of his feet, wrists, bones, he says that it feels like it is ripping apart. I am concerned that it is an autoimmune disorder. We tried to get blood work, but his anxiety was too much and he would not let them. I still need to reschedule that, but he has other appointments ahead of him. Last Thursday he had a sleep deprived EEG done, we are trying to find out if Daniel is having seizures. We have to wait 7 to 10 business days. The neurologist needs to look over the results to determine if Daniel needs to get into an MRI sooner.

The current wait is up to the middle of June.

He has an appointment with ear, nose, and throat doctor to see if we can find anything out about his heightened sensitivity to sound. It has gotten increasingly worse to the point where he will smack his ears and start screaming or go into a panic if he if accidentally startles himself. However, these things are off and on and can be triggered by being overwhelmed with sensory input or anxiety. He could possibly have tinnitus, we may get an official diagnosis of auditory processing disorder and/or we may be able to discover something about his vestibular system. We hope we can rule things out or find some answers to help him. We did start him on a low dose anxiety med. He had become practically non-functioning due to his anxiety about his pain. The fact that it was coming and going and he never knew when it was going to hurt caused him anxiety that on top of his daily anxiety had become too much for him to bear. He started to stop eating, drinking, barely moved, would not do school, could not focus on anything, and was having frightening meltdowns regressing to behavior he had not done since he was nonverbal.

We made the choice to try anxiety meds first to see if it would help.

It has helped him so much, he still has the pain and does have anxiety, but he is not in a constant state of flight or fight. He has gotten back to being his happy self despite all that he is going through. He has been able to catch up on his school and is doing so good. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with how hard he fights and goes through and still manages to keep on going with a positive attitude most of the time. It is awful to feel so helpless in helping him; I can’t stand that fact that I cannot fix this right away. I can only hope all that we are doing to see what is going on will lead to some answers and find something to ease his pain. I couldn’t figure out why yesterday I felt so emotional and down. It occurred to me that all of this may be stressful.

I still am not sure, but I think any parent may feel stress and overwhelmed by all of this.

Of course, I am analyzing myself and my emotions. The questions pop up, Why are feeling sad? Why are you so fatigued? Why do you feel like crying? What is wrong with you? Other people go through this and have to do this too so what is your problem? I don’t see those parents, I don’t see their responses or how they handle it. I do not know how to respond in this situation so for some reason I automatically think that I am doing it wrong or that I should not be feeling certain ways. I have done more things in the last few months that have pushed me socially and physically than I ever have. Calling doctors is a literal terror for me. I had panic attacks before calling.

I knew I had to do it so I forced myself, for Daniel, and every time it got a little better.

It still would put a huge knot in my stomach and fear through my body. Why? Nothing terrible happened. All of the medical paperwork has been overwhelming. On top of that paperwork I had to go into the YMCA to fill out paperwork for employment. That took over an hour, I have not done that in so long I had a moment of panic. Thank goodness for iphones! I was able to retrieve all the information I needed instead of trying to remember it all on my own. That is another situation that caused me a great deal of stress. I have been pursuing a position at the Y as a group fitness instructor, for some reason my situation as taken so long. There have been multiple things happen out of my control and their control that has caused it to take much longer than it typically takes.

It sent me into moments of panic, paranoid anxiety loops, at times overcome with black-and-white thinking, leading into thoughts of giving up on everything.

Finally, I resolved to being so determined that I kept pursuing it. Everything started to fall into place and I reached my end goal of filling out paperwork for part time employment at the Y. I am still waiting though because it takes about 7 business days to go through AFTER they speak to my contacts and then, run a background check. Ugh! All this waiting for Daniel and for me is anxiety inducing. Oh, I forgot Daniel was reevaluated by a SLP and instead of language delay she thinks he may have language processing disorder. He has a new SLP locally that we meet with every Weds. He started three weeks ago and she is evaluating him for LPD.

He likes her a lot and is doing things for her that he has flat out refused with the virtual SLP.

He is going to be reevaluated by an OT in the next few weeks too to determine what needs/resources to get him here. He is just not able to process virtually anymore. I think it is all too much for him and he cannot concentrate. The school was in the process of getting us in home speech and OT therapy, but it is taking a long time and if it is going to happen it looks like the time frame will be next year. He really likes one-on-one time with people and he does like that physical interaction, he seems to do better when he can be with the person. I hope it all works out.

I think I filled you in on everyone for the most part.

Part Two: 

Today is my birthday! Yay! I feel good, I love getting older and my life is on a great path at the moment. Still I find myself consumed in feeling so alone at times. Most days I do not think about it. It is when Daniel is going through so much and I have no one to talk to or I feel like no one is there or understands that it starts to creep up on me. I don’t need much, I just need to be reminded that I am not alone. I have been surrounded by so many people lately and the same old feelings flood me — I am lonely, I am different, I am awkward, I do not belong. No matter how much I talk and share in commonalities with people, the fact remains my words, much of the time, have very different meanings.

I leave after having wonderful conversations feeling as if I did something wrong.

I wonder if they really like me. I ponder what I said, did I share too much, not enough, did they understand what I meant? I question if they truly understood or were they pretending. Did I talk too much? Was I too excited? Why do I feel so disconnected after engaging in such positive human connection? It never goes away. I do the same thing with texts and emails. A few weeks ago, David was gone and it was one of the worst weeks we have had in a long time. I will not share details, but it was rough beyond words. I reached out to the only person who has some sense of understanding, David, and he was in the middle of an important meeting. He couldn’t talk … I had gotten to a point where depression was consuming me.

The irrational thoughts flooded my brain and I could not shake them.

The world was dark, and I just wanted it to stop. I sank, as I have always done in the past. I sank, but continued to take care of everything. I did not stop, my children needed me. I did not have a choice to stop. I could not reach out to anyone because it felt like no one was there. When these thoughts start to take over it is so hard to believe that anyone cares or even remembers that I exist. I told myself, You are alone, You have always been alone, and You have always been able to do it. Now get up and do it. This was a different type of tone then my past voice. This voice had a different strength to it. It wasn’t a tone of sadness and despair, it was a voice of you have been able to handle it in the past and you can handle it now.

There was a slight difference in that my aunt messaged me a couple of times to see how we were doing.

And after hearing that inner voice, I made a choice to reach out to my dad, step mom, and my mom to let them know what was going on with Daniel. I was not going to feed my feelings. I realized that I what I needed was for people to know all that Daniel was going through. I needed people to show empathy/understanding for him and understanding for me as a parent. I got it and I started to feel better. It made a huge difference having my aunt send a quick message saying, “Hey thinking of you all. How are you doing?” It gave me a boost. It occurred to me that no matter how many people I have in my life my struggles, my issues; my daily life has got to be dealt with by me. I need to figure out what I need to help get out of that sinking feeling. I thought about it and realized that this feeling is somehow apart of me and it looks as if it will not be going away. I tend to get down when I feel like there is no one who can relate to what I go through with some of Daniel’s struggles and my own and I get overwhelmed and tired.

I know that there are people I could reach out to, but the “I do not want to be a burden” voice kicks in or I get too busy trying to keep everything going that I don’t. 

There are others that I could contact too, but they don’t get it. I find speaking to people who do not understand more stressful and I end up trying to explain too much which in turn makes me feel even more alone and my family more misunderstood. They do not know what to say or how to respond. I also feel bad at times because I cannot give a whole lot back to people in my current life’s journey. I give what I can to people. I care, but so much of the last few months have felt as if I am an island all on my own. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I have always felt this way so I need to find peace with it. I need to find peace with me taking care of myself. I need to find peace with people not understanding. I need to find peace with being surrounded by groups of people and feeling alone.

I need to accept all of this, but you know I said all of this before.

I forget. I find myself feeling so “normal” and like everyone else when I am going and going; doing things that I love and/or I keep busy doing what people do on a daily basis. Things like making phone calls, texting, talking in the waiting room, or going to the store more than once in a day. Until I realize that I am exhausted from being around people. I am emotional over having a simple conversation. I am filled with anxiety about what I said, did, or I don’t understand a look someone gave me. I am able to fit in so well to the point that I fool myself, until I cannot do it any longer. Until I remember that I cried right before I made Daniel’s doctor appointment because I was so anxious.

Until I have to ask someone to repeat themselves multiple times, not because I cannot hear them but because my mind is incapable of deciphering their words.

Then, they look at me like I am some sort of idiot and start to talk louder or slowly in ways that feel demeaning. Until I stand in the middle of the boxing gym surrounded by my team, and see these personal connections that I do not seem to be able to make. I watch in amazement at the comradery between these people, how is that connection made? I feel it toward people, but somehow I do not feel it back. Do people feel that way toward me? If so, why doesn’t it feel the same for me? … Until I have to talk to myself for an hour in order to start writing an email to find out the status of my employment and then, spend another hour on three sentences getting stuck on the closure. How do I end this email!? There are so many untils, so many I have shared before, and so many new ones since I have ventured out into my community much more.

But you know, I haven’t let any of this stop me.

I have plans and goals that I intend on completing. I still feel all of the same things, but I do not let them consume me. I am alone, but I am not alone. I know that there are others who feel this way too. I may not speak to you, or have regular contact  with you, but I know you understand what I am saying. Because I know that, it helps me keep up my strength to keep on going. It provides a stronger voice to pull from when I feel so isolated that it hurts to breathe. I also, know that I am alone and that is ok too. I can do a lot on my own — I just need to remember when loneliness comes over me I need to reach to those who will remind me that they are there. I need to come back to my blog and write when it becomes unbearable. I don’t need a lot, but I do need to have glimpses of hope to keep me going. I kind of went off on a tangent, I have not written in a while you know!

I hope you all have a great rest of the weekend and now I going to go enjoy my birthday. :-) I am 42 years old today! Whoo hoo, I love birthdays! Happy Birthday or A Very Merry Unbirthday to you! 

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Happy New Year! (And Farewell … For Now)

HELLO! It feels like it has been decades since I have been on here. I hope your holidays went well, your recovery is going well, and that the new year is starting off with great things. Our life has been non-stop for months, as I had shared before, and it is only going to get busier. There have been some rough transitions, this back to school week after the holiday break has been one of them. However, things are really good. We have had a nice run of positive things happening. I confess, this is a wonderful feeling. It felt as if we would never get out of some tough trenches – emotional, financial, and physical.

Good news!

I finally got my group fitness certification. I am meeting with a person who handles the instructors at the YMCA next Thursday to see about teaching kickboxing or any other opportunities there may be available. I am going to get my kickboxing certification in the next few weeks and pursuing my youth fitness certification. A lot of studying for the youth certification. I have also, started advanced boxing, to my fairly packed workout schedule. (How do I manage it? I get up at 4 am head to the Y and get home either before or right at the time the kids wake up. I also, go on Sat. when David can watch them. It doesn’t disrupt anything.) I LOVE it! I cannot remember all their credentials, but they are top-notch trainers in the area. I do my first sparring session this Saturday … it is going to be intense. Can’t wait!

Ariel and Joshua started boxing too. :-)

They now offer boxing for the youngsters and it is fantastic. They have such fun and enjoy the activities. David got me a punching bag for Christmas so the kids and I use it. When he is out of town I can practice at home. Yay! Daniel overall is doing well. He is scheduled for Jan. 26th to get another speech evaluation, he hasn’t had one since he around was four years old, I think. We hope to discover the cause/figure out why he loses his verbal skills completely at times. We also, need some more information so the school can make the proper accommodations/get more helps and resources.

David’s job changed again …

I cannot remember his title, it has changed so many times that I cannot keep up, but the good news is that he finally got the job he has been working so hard for over the past year. I am very happy for him. Although he is going to be out of town even more throughout the year, it will take quite a bit of adjusting to routine change for all of us. BUT I finally found someone for respite. The people at Daniel’s music therapy helped me find someone. We meet her on Sunday and she will help out twice a week for now and when needed as much as she is able. I am so excited about that, I have been trying to find help for years to no avail.

What else?

I am not really sure what else I was going to share. There has been too much to write about and no time to do it. This holiday was one of the best ones we have had. We spent time with my family (Dad’s side) and it was so much fun. People are much more open to talking about Autism and trying to understand. My anxiety for months has been off the charts, but I have managed to work through it pretty well. I even went to a holiday party for several hours with MANY people that I did not know. Granted the next day I was in tears from being so overwhelmed, it only took about two days to recover and that is a big thing for me.

With all of the new things I am doing, it is crucial that I use positive coping mechanisms to recover. 

I say that because part of that involves staying off the internet much more. There are some days (weeks) where it simply is not possible for me to give anymore or process anymore with people other than my family. In realizing how much I am socializing in my community, with school activities that are currently in session and more to come, and that I need to focus so much on the kids schooling I have decided to stop blogging. (for a while) I do not think it will make much of a dent on the internet world. There are so many blogs popping up and various perspectives in the Autism community that there is plenty to read out there. It is time for me to move onto my next journey which involves participating more in my physical life.

I am a little sad, but mostly at peace.

I wanted to let those who have been reading my blog know and tell you that I appreciate you all. Those who have commented and followed me; I cannot express how thankful I am for having you here. You have helped me in so many ways and you were a light in my plethora of dark days. I am not sure if I will take down this blog or not, for the time being I am leaving it up. I have not decided if I am completely finished with blogging or not either. I am content in that for the moment I am saying farewell until next time … whenever next time may be.

“Your time may come. Do not be too sad, Sam. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

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It’s Gone …

It has been a month since I have been on here! Wowsa, time seems to be moving at a rapid speed and I am unable to grasp a second to take a breather. It has been like this for so long, that I sometimes have a hard remembering when it felt like time was standing still and I was stuck in quicksand, unable to grasp hold of anything to get breath peaceably. My life has always been like that, falling into the depths of despair or leaping onto rapid waves of unstoppable.

I rarely have a middle ground — if I did I am not sure I would know what it looks like or how to respond to it.

I have found that since, I’ve been able to calm my mind and filter my thoughts into more productive outlets, I am not as frazzled. I do not feel as though I am being tossed about without being able to control anything. I do have more control over many things in my life, and those things that I do not have control over I have managed to find peace with them. (on most days) In doing so, it revealed what was causing much of my angst and anxieties about not being in control of certain aspects of my life.

Throughout my life, beginning with child I managed to find ways to create and maintain routines.

Though, much of my life they were disrupted or had to be modified for my mom’s own structured routines. I did learn how to adapt. I managed to create new ones when I moved in with significant others, but most of the time it was easy because they were not home or we worked different schedules. I liked it and hated it at the same time. I could not control how they affected my environment and because I was not with them constantly, any sort of behaviors that were “new to me” would throw me. My immediate response was I do not know you at all! You have never done this, why are you doing this? My world is crumbling!

The only time I had complete peace was when I lived by myself — as I remember it. 

I remember that I felt safe. I had my own routines that no one questioned or disrupted. If I wanted to alter my routine in any way it was my choice. My apartment was quiet, calm, comforting, and just the way I wanted it. I only had that for about a year and half. Prior to that the times I had lived alone I was in such states of depression and social confusion that I preferred to have anyone around, but that caused triggers and spirals of depression too. During that time, when I had peace living alone, I also enjoyed my job. I was happy at the church I started to attend, I was making friends.

I felt connected, well … I felt more connected than, I had — I still felt a sense of not belonging.  

However, when the triggers of anxiety and/or depression would coil its way into my thoughts I would sink into my apartment and cuddle myself in isolation. I was able to pull out though. I could crawl my way back up and find hope sooner. All my life I had wanted my own safe place that would not be invaded, whether that was my mind, body, spirit, or environment as long as I could have one place to escape to I was able to survive this world. For a short season, I felt as if I had gained all of those safe places at once — when I felt as though I lost it I spent the last decade trying to get it back. I didn’t realize that certain new adventures that I put myself on were a way for me to escape the reality that I was never going to get “that place” again.

I continued to tell myself once (such and such) is over, finished, completed, answered, then, THEN I could finally go back to that place.

I have been chasing after my routines. I am able to adapt my routines and change them with new things that come into my life; however, when I find that I REALLY like a certain routine or even emotion that I have felt I never want it to go. I tell myself that one day I can have it back. There are many issues that come with that line of thinking — people, things, and situations change. It is hard for me to maintain a continual remembrance of that truth. I know it, but in certain places of my mind I either don’t know how to believe it or I do not want to. Maybe it is both or some other reason.

The reasons do not truly matter at this point, what has to be done is acceptance.

I need to accept that I will never get the past back. Even yesterday, there are things that I wish I could change and there are things that I loved about the day. I want some of it back, but I can’t get it back. The time is gone, the person I was yesterday is gone and parts of me are still here today. I learned valuable lessons yesterday and today I have found joy in being able to sit down and write for a moment. Something I have not had the pleasure to do in weeks.

Change is so hard for me, I can do it, but it takes such effort, restraint, self-soothing, and constantly reminding myself that it is ok.

I have come to terms that part of my “unhealthy” self-soothing has been the unspoken promise that one day, ONE DAY; I will have all that I had during that short period of time when I was in control of most everything in my life. I have managed to lie to myself all of these years by shading over the dark parts with white wash. I managed to convince myself that even though people hurt me deeply during that time, if only I have the answers to why, or if only I could go back that somehow all of it would be settled and peace would fall across the land.

I grew up reading great tales, fairy tales, which helped me escape the terrible pains I was feeling.

I created my own fairy tale retreats in my mind and morphed them into comfort and false hope — this is not necessarily a bad thing. My imaginations manifest in poems and stories, they help me to work out emotions, situations, and thoughts that I do not understand. That is healthy; it becomes unhealthy when I can think of nothing else. If I am escaping from my realities to the point of wanting the false hope more than, real hope. I have had a clear mind for quite a while. I am in a healthy place most of the time; I do have depression that lurks during the winter months.

I do get easily overwhelmed and anxiety ridden, especially during the holiday season.

I am not always ok, life can get incredibly challenging and I sink. The difference when I sink is that I am no longer chasing after vapors. I am not seeking to find a place that no longer exists. I am fully here, mindful of my life. I have stepped back from certain things that take me away from my life. When I find myself feeling certain ways I no longer go to the internet to find comfort. The truth is it has become too hostile for me. My emotions and abilities are stretched pretty thin on a daily basis, when I go online lately I have found that it wipes me out.

I become easily exhausted reading facebook, twitter, and even blogs that enjoy.

I try to read as many as I can, but I have to be sure that I am emotionally and physically up to par. I may have written about this before, mostly likely I have since it has been happening for several months. (A year maybe.) I was extremely frustrated with myself for a while because of this, now I accept it. I have to do what is best for me and my family that means saving my energies for them. Daniel is going to be evaluated again for Speech and Language to see if we can find any answers about him losing his speech. He is getting it back daily now, but we need answers and hopefully, to pinpoint the cause to help him with resources. I plan on getting the kids into other programs around here too to help with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and for the boys reading and spelling.

That will be taking up a large amount of time.

Daniel has taken to wanting to be involved with us much more too. He has always been involved with us, but he has been requesting specifics which has not happened before. He wants us to participate altogether as a family. He wants to spend more time with me and he wants to spend more time everyone else around here too. He takes his breaks when needed, but lately he has been spending a lot of time with us. I want to be here for that mentally and emotionally. Since I made changes a while ago with making efforts to try to be more present, mindful here, I have changed even more and so have things around here. David and I also, realized how important it is that I get alone time.

We have now started to schedule a day for me at least once a month, where I go and do whatever I want.

I can take as little or as much time as needed for myself. I do not really need a lot of time as long as I have time I am good. The promise of getting time alone gives me something to stay focused on so when the rough days (weeks, months) come I know that I will have some time to spend in quiet. He has been going out of town so much that it was taking a serious toll on me last month and I could feel myself sinking deep into hopelessness and exhaustion. That is what brought about the “day break.” I am not entirely sure why I am writing all of this or sharing it, but I do know that in order for me to move forward and let go of past things that I have been clinging to I need to accept that “it’s gone.”

If I need to mourn over some of it so be it.

Maybe this is my way of writing out the grief and coming to terms with it all. I plan to keep hold of the memories and cherish some parts of my life that brought me a different type of joy. I plan to move forward and look to new aches and joys that come with life. I get so wrapped up in details and trying to resolve these things that we call emotions that I lose sight of what really matters to me. I also, get quite anxious when I start so many new things and it is rather easy for me to fall back into the past where I already know the outcomes — painful pasts can be much more safe than, unknown futures. :-)

I have found myself at the end of thought, so I will stop here — thank you for reading if you made it this far!

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The Half Marathon: I Did It!!

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My half was the next morning, I was an anxious mess — over 2000 people were registered!

I felt better because my dad and niece were going to be running, but when they told me that they were going to start five minutes later I had a moment of panic. My niece apparently has severe anxiety in crowds and was going to have a panic attack if she started with everyone. I did not find that out until after the race, I wondered why they wouldn’t say anything to me about it, aka The Queen of Anxiety! Ha ha ha I was too cold to think about it. It was around 45 degrees and I cannot run in layers because it bothers me, sensory issues. I wore a tank top, shorts, and gloves for about half of the race then, I threw the gloves because I got them wet. Urg! I was too anxious about being late to concern myself with them not being there so I went into the gazillion bodies and surrounded myself to stay warm. I ended up finding one of the women who is my boot camp sessions and we run at pretty much the same pace. We stayed together until about the third mile and then, for some reason I took off.

I went into a daze and the next thing I knew I was at the 4 mile marker, and two of my sisters and my step mom were there.

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They looked surprised, shouted my name, and encouraged me to keep going strong. I found out later that they were surprised because I was behind the 1:30 pace group. I was just as shocked, I thought the 2:00 and the 2:10 pace groups had passed me, but it turned out I passed them. I wasn’t out of breath, my body felt good I passed the 6th mile marker and around then was when my dad and niece came up behind me. My dad asked me how fast I was going, I said, “I think about 9:06 to 9:20 somewhere in there.” He said, “I don’t think so we are going 8:45. You are going faster than you think!” I decided to try and slow it down. I was already running on a swollen ankle and my IT band and hip flexors were still not 100% from my last injuries on both legs. I had missed five weeks of training due to injuries and I was not sure how I was going to do in this race. Still I went on, I passed the 7th, the 8th, and I was still feeling good, but I did start to feel a little tinge in my right leg.

When, I got to the 9th mile, there were hills and my leg started to hurt.

I got to the 10th mile and I was limping and walking up the hills. I went too fast in the beginning, the cold weather is tricky. It is hard for me to determine how fast I am going and I feel good running in colder weather. I already have a high pain tolerance so it takes much longer for me to realize that I am hurt. I decided not to push it too much on the hills, I walked at every water station to get water and ease up a little. When I got to the 11th mile, I said to myself, “I don’t know if I can do this! I am NEVER doing this again!!! OMG! Is this ever going to end??” As I ran by all the people with their signs of encouragement, hearing their cheers, I soaked in the words, “You got this! You are almost there!” Other runners passed me as I had to take some walk breaks and they said things like, “You are so close, don’t give up now!” and “You are right there, you can do this!”

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Those little moments gave me the boost to press through the pain.

I couldn’t feel my toes and on that last mile I encouraged myself by saying, “Finish this thing so you can take your shoes off!!” I saw the finish line and it seemed decades away because by this time my perception of time and what year it was all kinds of off. I tried to press through, but there were a few more hills when I tried to run them I had sharp pain in my leg. I decided to walk them and run the last leg that was flat. I was so tired; I really felt like I was never going to make it then, my dad sneaked back into the gate and ran next me. I heard my aunt yelling, “Come on Angel, you got this!! Don’t you give up, NOT THIS DAY! NOT THIS DAY!” She and my dad ran me in and I hit that finish line. It was incredible! I have never experienced anything like it. It is a grand feeling to hear the crowd cheering, your name being called, and to have so many people wanting you to succeed.

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At the end, I was overjoyed to feel such acceptance and support from my family.

I realized that I have made some really great friends too. They supported me and encouraged me throughout. It has been eye opening for me to experience friendships that do not try to make feel badly when I succeed at something. They do not judge me or make me feel foolish for my oddities and inability to stay in contact or socialize regularly. (I have only had that with online friends.) They have encouraged me the whole way and I thankful because this was a hard thing for me to accomplish. I had to work through past experiences of friends getting angry at me for being faster than them in track even though that happened in elementary school. I had to press through my social anxiety and not go into full blown panic attacks for any and everything, like PORT-A-POTTIES and PEOPLE crowding me! I faced many fears — they were not fears about running, they were mostly about past traumas and social situations.

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I am excited to say that I finished in 2:02:43 (9:22 pace)! Yee Haw!!!

I feel proud of the many things I accomplished and learned throughout this five month journey. I learned that I train too hard and too fast! I will allow my body to recover and train correctly for next year. I learned that I hinder myself more than anyone or anything else. I learned that I am strong, and I can do much more than I allow myself to do at times. I learned that I do enjoy running and it is a great anxiety reducer for me. I discovered a sport that is perfect for me. I shocked myself every time I ran a race or ran more miles that made me realize how much I underestimate myself. I learned how to manage my anxieties and how to press through them without thinking negatively about myself. I faced some more fears and anxieties with my family, and have overcome several of them. I learned not to be so fearful of being hurt or of “doing/saying” the wrong things to people. There is more I am sure, but I already published one post and my brain is frazzled.

AND I need to finish dinner along with tending to my swollen ankle and sore legs! hashtag sitting make them hurt. :-) 

Quick side note though, I am not sure how many posts I will be able to do, our life is so full. I want to share everything that is happening, but my time and energy is going into to daily life. I just had Daniel’s IEP meeting — it went great! Joshua’s is coming up in the month. David is leaving this week again, and fall starts off the holiday, festivity marathon. The kids are working hard with school. Daniel loves his after school program and I am registered to do my CPR/AED certification next week then, I am scheduled in December to take my group fitness exam. I have to wait until then because David has to go out of town more and we have holidays and birthdays coming up as well, but its happening. I need to study! Who knows what other things are before me to face and accomplish!

Until next time, sending you jolliness and best wishes! ~ Angel(ique) 

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The Kid’s Half Marathon: They Did It!!

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Wow! September whisked by me before I had a chance to realize it. The last two weeks had been rough, but good things did come out of it. I haven’t the time to write about it now and I want to stay on topic. There were times this past week when I was not sure the half marathon was going to happen for me or for Daniel. Everyday seemed to spiral into stressful experiences. (Anxiety triggers, weather changing, thunderstorms, routine change, not being able to get words out, allergy issues, stomach problems, sound sensitivity, and countless other things that were going on gives you enough information to know that we were all having our struggles here.) However, on Friday it took a turn for the better and we all had a fantastic day.

I was so happy because that was the night that the kids were to finish their last mile in their half marathon.

They were full of excitement and ready, when we left the house it was a little chilly, but by the time we got there the winds had picked up. The temperature dropped significantly. It was FREEZING! I was not dressed for it, the kids were not dressed for it, David had to go back to the car to find any jackets or coats that I had in there. Thankfully, I always have things because I am usually cold. I was in such a heightened state of excitement and social anxiety that I was not thinking in my usual overly prepared sort of way. We got there and huddled together as the crowd formed. I planned for David to walk with Daniel while I ran/walked with Ariel and Joshua. Daniel did amazing in this setting; we were surrounded by loud, hollering kids who were full of excitement and energy. He had his sound reducers on, but lately they have not been enough.

I wanted him to have fun more than anything.

If it got to be too much the plan was for David to take him somewhere like the car or back into the building. He was not sure what to expect, either was I, but I prepared him as much as possible. He knew that if he felt distressed or overwhelmed that he could leave, but he did not. He stayed with us in their age group then, right before we were to take off he had to use the restroom so they started later. I was not certain if they were going to do it, but Ariel, Joshua, and I had to take off. The wind was so intense it was pushing my little Ariel back. I held her hand to guide her along a few times. We ran, walked, ran and walked; Joshua wanted to run so I told him “Go for it!” He did, I was amazed because in all of our walks and runs he got tired first and would sit in the road – good times. 😉

He ran faster than us and stopped to wait for us.

I yelled out to him, “What are you waiting for?” And He said, “I am waiting for you guys.” I yelled back, “Run, buddy! If you want to run, run!” He said, “Ok!” then took off. It was great to see him take off smiling and running across that finish line. Ariel and I were a few seconds behind, but the wind and the cold was really getting to her. She wanted to stop, but I told her, “You have worked so hard for this, you can see that finish line, don’t give up now we are almost there.” It was kind of freaky to see her face because it looked just like mine from the pictures they have taken of me in some of my races. Her eyes were set, her face was focused, determination rang through her body, and she went for it.

She did it!

My aunt was the mc and warmed up all the kids before they started, she was also at the finish line. As they ran down she was cheering them on and encouraging them to keep going. I made sure they were ok, got them their snacks and drinks and then focused on looking for David and Daniel. I started to panic because I did not see them anywhere and I was concerned for Daniel because he has had such a hard time lately. I went running back down the mile stretch, they were nowhere to be found and I did not see any other kids. Finally, I saw a mom with her little girls and asked if she had seen anyone else back there. She told me there was one more, I asked, “With headphone looking things?” She said yes, and I RAN!

I found them around the corner around the half way mark.

Daniel was walking and pointing to all the shiny black veteran memorial tiles in the middle of the bricks on the pathway. I was overjoyed to see him and I had a moment of cherishing how much he loves shiny things and details. BUT we had to get to the end, everyone was waiting and he had put in so much effort over the past two months – I wanted him to get his medal. I grabbed his hand, David was holding his other and told him, “Daniel look there is the finish line, we have to run.” He started to run a little, but was still hesitant. Then, he heard my aunt over the microphone hollering for him and telling him, “Come on Daniel you can do it!”

The cheers of the crowd could be heard all the way where we were, he was smiling and running.

I looked down at him and said, “Daniel, you just stole the show!” He ran, leaped, and had the biggest smile on his face all the way to the finish line. I was almost in tears, it was such an emotional experience to see and hear all of the adults and kids cheering, and hollering encouragement and Daniel’s name. He ran straight into my aunt’s arms and gave her a huge hug. They got a picture of it and you can see his face, I can’t share it yet until I purchase it, he had the biggest smile. I was (am) so proud of all three of them. They did amazing! We walked/ran 22.21 miles before their last mile. It was good exercise and bonding moments because we talked and explored as we did our miles. David went with us on several occasions which made it a fun family activity.

They each received a finisher medal AND it was the same one that the adults got the next day.

I thought that was such a wonderful thing, all the kids who participated put in a lot of effort to do their half ahead of time — they deserved one too! I was excited to tell the kids that all of us would get the same medal; it was a bit more special to share that together. The best part was how proud all three of them were of themselves. We set out a goal, we went above and beyond, (they only needed to do 12 miles before the race) and they finished! I was ecstatic that Daniel could enjoy himself. I asked him how he felt about the people cheering for him, he wasn’t too sure, but the rest of the night he kept showing me his medal and was overflowing with happiness. He did so well, we were also able to go over to my aunt’s house after my half marathon the next day for over five hours.

He is still chipper today and full of all kinds of energy.

Tomorrow, school may be too much so we will ease into it. If they are up it for we will definitely do that again next year. It was such a positive and fun experience. Ariel and Joshua said that they want to do a 5k with me so … I guess we will train for one. Woot!

I am posting about my half marathon right after this one. :-)

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Fall Brings On The Loops & Feeling Blue

Many of you who have read my blog for a while know that I have a huge challenge with understanding relationships. I have improved in my understanding in many ways and it has helped me with settling certain fears, confusions with some of my relationships. My sudden anxieties, confusion, fears about uncertainties of relationships, and panic attacks about what I have said or done have not gone away. My panicky loops, heart crushing feeling, lump in my throat, nausea filled thoughts are still there. Yep, they are still here lingering, waiting, and looping whenever triggered. When it happens, I feel a sudden blackness fill my mind.

My heart feels like it has been slivered into pieces – its glass shattered all over the place!

I have a lump in my throat, that at times manifests into tears, or hyperventilating episodes. I close my eyes tightly, clutching every muscle in my body desperate to try and make my mind make sense of the situation. It’s like I can literally feel my neurons get blocked at pathways, they cluster at some road block and no matter how hard I try to understand what is going on I cannot. With all of my relationships, I have no idea what “we” are anymore. It does not happen as frequently as before, but when it does happen it is frightening. It is a frightening feeling to be in long-term relationships with people, especially, people you are related to, live with, or have been in a relationship with for several years. It is confusing for those in my life who care so deeply for me … who I have been able to express this to through communication, mostly written.

They cannot imagine feeling this way; I cannot imagine having the feeling of “knowing” in a relationship.

If I am not in constant contact with people who I do not feel are steady in character I get thrown by the relationship. What I mean by “steady in character” is that they are consistent in their behavior with me and with others (they do not blow to and fro with emotions, decisions, ideas, how they treat me, their beliefs, etc.). People who seem unsteady to me, make me anxious with their ups and downs that seem like progress, but then I realize that they haven’t — they’ve merely refashioned old patterns. I saw this many times growing up, and throughout my career, church experience, and other social situations. Yet, I did not understand it.

I believed it to be me that was a problem — it very well may be.

I am not suggesting that how I interpret people’s patterns and behaviors to be correct. I am suggesting that I may be incapable of being in relationships with people like that because they cause my mind to have too many “why” questions. They lead me down unhealthy, obsessive paths to try and figure what they are doing and what our relationship means. I need to solve this great mystery as to what they feel about me — although, even if they did tell me I may not be able to accept it anyway — no matter the response. There are certain people though who once we reach a certain place in the relationship, the anxiety and fears do not last long. I can usually trace the triggers sooner. These are rare and have happened through continual consistency, balance in the relationship, and mutual communication.

The communication does not need to be every day, but it is mutually interactive in constant behaviors and understanding of what we are saying and what we mean.

They do not manipulate with emotions. They do not use me for their emotional needs only to toss me aside when they have found someone else for their fix. I am not going to say that I have come so far that I can figure out who is doing this and who isn’t right away. It can take me years to figure out that someone is(was) doing this and when I do figure it out, I find it challenging to let them go. I want to believe the best in everyone and I do realize that many people, including myself, operate in behaviors that we have adopted from our environment, upbringing, and cultural influences, patterns that we have learned and adapted for ourselves to help us cope in this world. I get that, the hard part is realizing and accepting that some people are just not meant to be in your life.

My life, has been so filled with loss of relationships that the thought of letting people go is painful, so, so painful for me.

I feel as though I am rejecting them, when I am not — I am releasing them to find people who are a better match. The issue is that I have never been good at closure — I just leave. I stop communicating after a while. I give up and have learned that most of the time those people have not noticed that we are no longer in a relationship. After thinking about it, I realized that some of the people who have done that to me were probably not good at closure either. I bet they caught on much sooner that we were not a good match. People look for similarities, many look for people who are similar to them, think like them, act like them, and I have never been able to do that.

No matter how many friends I have I am still a loner.

Some days I feel really sad about this, some days I am overcome with sorrow because I am well aware that I do not fit in anywhere – even in the Autism community. I have said it before, and I will be frank (not a man named Frank, I will be direct) I am in a loop that I am completely exhausted from having to go through it time and time again. I feel like I belong everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I read from other Autistics and I am a mixture of all sorts of traits, patterns, behaviors, and I am also not the same. I feel a sense of loss, loneliness, anxiety, and a hovering sense of fear that has no name. I am tired, anxious about many things, and mentally drained when I feel this way my pattern is to latch onto relationship issues.

However, I also realized that my “loss of friend” loop does seem to be triggered around this time of year.

I feel lonely right now, but I do not want to be with people either. I can’t say that to people though because they can get hurt or angry. I have lost some hope that this loop will ever go away, but instead of dwelling negatively on it I will focus on the fact that I know this is a loop. I understand that many of these things will go away. I have more understanding about why some of my relationships ended, due to me and due to others. In the past, I took all the responsibility for the relationship ending “I felt I failed”, but now I am understanding more that they just fizzled — it was not meant to be, I suppose. I believe that they were able to find friends who were a better fit for them, which makes me happy for them.

Now that all of that is out, I will accept that my “fall time” blues are already rising. 

This year, I hope I can apply many of my new healthy coping mechanisms toward my “blues & loops” and help with my depressive thoughts. I do have another happy post that I plan on writing this weekend — I hope. It seems that I have been able to reclaim yellow! Yes, the color. I will have to explain in better detail in another post, but believe me reclaiming yellow is a big deal and is a good sign for me emotionally. Other good news, Daniel started his after school program this week and is doing great. Of course, there are transitions and anxieties to process, but overall he is a happy fella. Ariel and Joshua have had a great week too, they started going to science lab at the library and have built some more amazing Lego’s creations.

Those are the things I would like to loop about, happy kids and creativity! 

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Family Reunion – It Felt Good To Feel Accepted

This past Saturday was my big family reunion from my dad’s side. It has been over 10 years since we have had one and it has been that long since I have seen many of them. It is a little different for me because I had not lived here for so long; I missed many family gatherings and events that my sisters and other family members had attended. It fed into my feelings of not belonging, and isolation from people I was supposed to have some sort of connection with because of that. It escalated my social confusion and anxieties with them. However, when I would see them again I would feel an instant acceptance with many of them, not all. I feel more uneasy with certain family members that I have had more social contact with then, the family that I am referring to at the moment.

I was excited and nervous about the family reunion.

I was concerned about Daniel, I knew that he would enjoy himself, but would it be too overwhelming? Would I have to run out of there feeling judgmental eyes? Would people treat him like he was odd or admonish me for my parenting style? Would I have everything I needed to feed him? Would I have everything needed so he could have fun and not feel the sting of anxiety? So many questions! And they didn’t stop. I had plenty more for him, and then I had more for Ariel, Joshua and ME! I scripted, I planned, I prepared, I did all that I could think of to make this the best day possible. The good news is that I did not do that for months or weeks, I did start the week of because my own anxiety started to set in.

My anxiety had more to do with seeing my youngest sister because I have not talked to her or seen her in a couple of years.

From all that I have pieced together she either hates me or doesn’t care one iota about me and my kids. Either way, it stirs anxiety because of the uncertainty of the relationship. If you hate me, fine just tell me. If you don’t care if I exist at all, fine just tell me! I am ok with that – I am not ok with the not knowing. It caused me to be in almost hysteric panic state before leaving, but I believe that was just a trigger. I think with all of the schedule changes, school starting, mom coming in town, David being gone, my leg being hurt causing me not to be able to be as mobile as I normally am and the lingering “Oh, my goodness I am going be around people for hours!” the relationship confusion and uncertainty was what my mind focused on as a negative way of stimming.

So I got passed all of that and it turned out she did not come anyway.

I had had several interactions with family members that I do not talk to much on facebook too where I explained myself clearly and was open about being confused by their comment. I told one that I was Aspergers and another one about my social confusion. I had a moment of panic … for a few hours, but then something wonderful happened, they accepted me. They did not come after me with any sort of rude or dismissing comments they either “liked” what I had to say or explained themselves. I have found myself telling people more and more what is actually going on in my mind and explaining what I mean. I have become more open about Aspergers, my anxiety, depression, triggers, and how I process things too.

It has made such a difference to use my voice (in writing mostly).

I know that this blog has been the springboard for my new ability to do this with people in my physical life. (It has taken several years!) My family here, my dad, and step mom who live about three and half hours away have all been trying to be understanding and accepting. I have noticed major changes in how they speak to me and interact with both Daniel and me. I feel that with me being more open and able to explain my feelings/thoughts that it has contributed to our relationships moving in positive directions. It has taken me time to adjust and accept these changes – it is hard for me to trust after so many challenging relationships, but I am working at it. Ok, let me venture back into the great acceptance that we received as a family at the reunion.

Keep in mind; I am not sure we would have been able to go to a family event like this last year.

This summer has been filled with many unexpected “firsts,” for the kids and me. I am not sure that I would have been able to handle going to the family reunion on my own last year; I know that two years ago I would have most likely opted out. The kids did great, none of them were anxious with the fear-type anxiety they were excited/happy anxious. I was too after; I worked through my other anxious feelings. I felt at ease, I did not even think about what others might think or do by the time I got there. The kids and I were all smiles and ready to see people. I had already prepared myself for all the hugging, they are all very huggy and there are actually times when I do not mind hugs when I feel safe and I have prepared for them.

No one forced the kids to hug them and they just let them run around and be kids.

Daniel had to wear his sound reducers the whole time. We had to take several breaks outside so he could have some quiet, but it was good for me too – we gathered ourselves and had the ability to go back in. He was non-verbal the whole day, it was too overwhelming, but he did communicate to me through sounds, gestures, and taking me places to let me know what he needed/wanted. He was incredibly happy. He smiled all day long, went up to people looked at them and studied their eyes. No one got upset or agitated. He walked around to all of the tables sitting down in a chair listening, looking, smiling, or he wandered around the table looking in close at people and smiling at them.

Everyone was very kind.

They did not give him strange looks when he was hand flapping or while he was walking the perimeter of the building inside – we did need to walk outside too. He went to my aunt a couple times when he was getting overwhelmed and wanted her to hold him on her back while walking around or rocking. I normally do that at home or when we are out, it is rather amusing to see. He is almost as tall as me and over 60 pounds; when people say anything I say, “This is why I do boot camp so I can carry him.” Obviously, that is not the only reason – people have strange reactions when they see it so I use that as a way to ease the situation.

Ariel and Joshua had so much fun too.

They ate treats, played with water balloons, ran all around outside, and played with other kids. My aunt came up with a game for the kids to go around to people that they did not, write down their name, and one fact about them. Ariel went off all on her own and I went around with Joshua to help him write the things down. We went to one table and they had mentioned something about Daniel’s sound reducers. They thought they were head phones, I told them what they were and also shared the he was Autistic. My cousin looked at me and said, “Really? They think (insert name)’s oldest boy is Aspergers.” I said, “Well I am diagnosed Aspergers and this little guy is Aspergers too, so it does run in the family.” I smiled at him and noticed that his face lit up.

We were able to speak for a little bit, but not much – I believe that it may have given a little hope or at least peace when I said it.

I am not too sure; I do know that it was a positive experience. When I was saying my good-bye’s he hugged me and said, “I love you.” It was a moving moment for me because even though we had not had many interactions and had not seen each other in a very long time, I knew that he meant it. I actually, felt a lot of love on Saturday in a way that I have not been able to before with my family. I know the kids felt it too and Daniel especially, knew that people there cared about him, accepted him, and loved him. He knows immediately when people are not “feeling the love” so to speak and he wants no part of them or the environment. We had been there for over five hours; though Daniel did not want to leave it was time.

I was still not sure how the rest of the day would go.

After such an event we all need to decompress and sometimes Daniel’s only release is to meltdown. I wasn’t sure if our night, or the next few days were going to be filled with decompressing. I was feeling that and the need to get home quickly, I had to have several people help me out with all of our toys, bags, cups, etc … And all looked grand on the horizon then, by accident and fluke a water balloon hurled across the parking lot and landed right into Daniel’s bin of prized possessions – either electronic or solar-powered, fragile delicate solar-powered flowers and critters. There was a moment of shock and then, I uncontrollably lost it with “Oh, no! Oh, no! Please, God no!”

I grabbed a towel to try to dry off everything.

I was a frantic mess. All that was running through my head was If any of these are broken this day is ruined. All the happiness is gone! I will not be able to calm Daniel down. My night and the next few days flashed before my eyes and it was not pretty. His toys are not easy to get I have to order them online which means that it would take a couple of days to get here. I just wanted him to have a great day; I wanted all of us to have a great day. I wanted a positive memory so we could do it again. I wanted him to keep all the joy that he had. I knew that I had to gather myself, I walked away trying to get his solar-powered flower to work and I couldn’t – I was almost in tears. Then, the next thing I knew Daniel was standing close to my side, he was quiet, and calm.

He reached under his flower and clicked something, it was working.

He looked at me with his sweet face as if to say “It’s ok mom.” We walked back and my uncle brought a soothing calm presence too telling me, “Daniel is calm, you are calm. Everything is ok.” He was right, I apologized to Daniel letting him know that I panicked because I thought it was broken and later at home I explained to him how I was overwhelmed too. The kids and I talk openly about our challenges. Daniel has started to feel more comfortable and less confused knowing that I too have similar challenges. It has helped him even more to know that Ariel and Joshua have also had similar challenges. It has helped their relationships because it has helped his confusion as to why they respond certain ways.

I admit after I got home I struggled with feeling embarrassed about my meltdown.

My step mom texted me later to see how Daniel was doing. (He was doing fantastic and has been. Needs additional breaks and downtime, but we can do that!) I told her that I was struggling with feeling embarrassed, but I knew that it would pass. No one said anything to me to make me feel bad; they understood that it was a response toward other things. They may not have known the full extent, but they understood I was overwhelmed. I have longed for such wonderful experiences with my family. I find myself feeling an array of emotions about all of it, the tears start to well every time I think about it – they are good tears and cleansing tears. My heart swells at Daniel experiencing such love and acceptance; I feel it for Ariel and Joshua too. It is just a little different with Daniel though, I am not sure how to explain it.

I think anyone who has felt what I have throughout my life may understand what I mean.

When you feel that sense of being rejected, not belonging, confused by relationships, one could understand how amazing it is for someone you love to not feel that, especially your child who is already rejected by so many in our society simply because they are Autistic. Because of lack of understanding, denial, personal fears, etc … To be rejected by family because of it contributes a certain amount of pain that I have no words for, and I know there are many families who know this pain. It has moved me beyond any expression to have my family be so embracing of Daniel and us. It has changed something in me and given me a new sense of belonging, I still struggle with that. It is not all washed away, I have years of triggers, situations, confusion, and pain that will not disappear – it may lessen though. That does not mean it will not creep up and linger all sorts of distortions in my mind at some point, the difference now is that I am able to use my voice, even when I feel afraid.

There is so much going on in my mind I cannot get everything out.

I would like to say, if you read this and your family has not been accepting or even open to understanding autism you are not alone. For years, I felt alone and hurt feeling that my family rejected us because they did not understand or want to understand. It takes time to process autism; it makes it more challenging because there are such vast views and ideas. It took me time to work through my own process for Daniel and the process of accepting my own diagnosis. Trust the process, find people who can and will support you now, right where you are at, seek out people who build into you – it may not be family at this time, that is ok. Because I found people online that have supported me in healthy ways, I was finally able to articulate to people in my physical life what I needed and wanted in ways of support and relationships. I cannot give clear ideas sometimes, there are days when the support I need is to be there – no talking or touching just there. It can be in a text, a facebook message, or in the same room.

If you can find people who will support, stay (physically or virtually) with you, and accept you when you can and cannot express yourself, I think that is a good thing.

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Me, My Mom, And Our Shenanigans

My mom flew into town on Friday, we were so proud of our trickery because we had actually pulled off this big surprise for my grandma. For those who are unaware, my mom is also an Aspie/Autistic. We are very different in many ways, and oh, so much alike in others. One of them being we are terrible liars, but out of the both of us I am the worst at keeping secrets like surprises for people. I get so excited! I am notorious for blurting out what a gift is when I am told repeatedly “Do not tell them what the gift is.” An example, one year for Mother’s Day, my mom, her brother, and my grandpa had all contributed to get grandma a ring with all of our birthstones. Mom kept reminding me not to say anything and said that we needed to keep this a surprise for grandma.

The day we picked up the ring I came walking in and said something like, Grandma we got your ring.

Granted I was a little kid, but I have done this well into my adult life. I script over and over “Do not say anything,” but it takes so much energy to try and come up with other things to say and to “convince” my mind that I am not lying or that it is ok to “evade” the truth for this special occasion. My mom is better at it because surprises and doing fun things like that for people trumps her hard core “I cannot lie” mechanism in her mind. :-)  She loves surprising people, but do not and I REPEAT do not surprise her. She dislikes surprises very much. Me too, but I enjoy doing it for others who I know will feel happy when surprised. She too can struggle keeping such secrets from her mom; we both almost exposed our shenanigans to grandma. We had to be crafty because grandma is smart and will start figuring things out.

Grandma had a rough week physically.

She got some strange bug bite that became infected, had a bad reaction to the antibiotics, couldn’t get her knee shots because of the infection, then thought she had gall stones so went in and got a shot for that, but she pulled through and when I came home with my mom surprising her I think it boosted her spirits. We celebrated her birthday yesterday, it is actually on Monday – she will be 80 years old. She was so happy and was feeling much better. I am glad that my mom went against all of her natural instincts to do this for grandma. It took a lot for my mom to make sudden plans, spend money that she had not planned for and take vacation time that she did not plan for months in advance. My mom would not have been able to do this even a year ago.

She normally does not deviate from her work routine or her budget unless it is an emergency.

We have both come a long way in the past year, even in areas that may not seem like a big deal to others. Much of the reason is we are both doing things that we are good at, that feed some our special interests, and we have people who may not understand our ways, but are accepting and supportive of them. We have people who encourage us and do not get upset or treat us badly for being good at things. I think many Aspies, possibly women more so, experience people who get jealous or confused by how well we can do things and how much we can accomplish in short periods of time. That is just a fleeting thought. For us, having all of this in our life after years and years of being beat down spiritually, emotionally, in some cases physically, it has given us a new sense of self. It has given us our voice back, and we have regained a lot of identity that we had lost. We have done this throughout my life; we experience similar types of ups and downs together – just an interesting tidbit.

I will end this with the conversation my mom and I had on the way home from the airport … and a little more. 

We laughed and laughed so hard. I do not know how many others will think it is as hilarious as we did, but I am sure some can relate. :-)

Mom: You need to friend me on facebook. I sent it to you a while ago; I had to change my page.

Me: Oh, ok. I was not sure it was you so I wasn’t going to friend you. I meant to message you, but got busy.

Mom: Well, friend me so I can see what you are saying about me. (She laughed – this is in reference to my sister telling her that I posted that my mom was making me lie to my grandma and I was dying inside because of it. I was joking about her making me lie.)

Me: Ok, I guess I’ll friend you. (Then, I shared all sorts of things because I could not remember what I had and had not told her since we last talked. Our conversations usually sound like we are downloading information to one another.) Right, I told you that already. Well you know I can’t remember. We talk like every three months, download everything and then we don’t have anything else to talk about for another three months.

Mom: I know, I can’t remember either. (As she was laughing.)

Me: People must think we have the strangest relationship. I see people post things on facebook about their mom and them being best friends and they talk a billion times a day. My goodness! What do they talk about? I would say, “Why are calling me so much? We just talked!” and you would say, “Stop calling me, I already talked you once this week!”

[At this point, she and I were laughing because had anyone else been in the car they most likely would not “get it.” Also, because we find our relationship amusing in comparison to others, how we speak so directly, straight to the point, honest, and informative. We do not chit chat, and there are many times that we simply sit in silence.]

Mom: Yeah, well that is just the way we are and we understand it. I don’t get their ways, never have and I never will.

Me: Yep, well they may not understand us and we do not understand them. Their mom as their best friend? I mean, I would say you are my best friend, but I am not going to talk to you every day. Come on, I don’t even know what best friend means! What does that even mean?

Mom: (She lost it laughing hysterically.) Right, what is a best friend? I don’t know. We are just not wired like them and it’s ok.

Me: Yeah, it’s ok. At least, we understand each other, NOW.

My mom and I have always had a strange relationship, good and bad; extremely confusing to us and others. We cannot live with each other, but if we do not have contact in a certain amount of time we start to panic and have to reach out. Even if we had been upset with each other. It’s different with her and my sisters, they have contact a lot more often. In some of my past posts I have explained that my mom was only 17 years-old when she had me. She was an undiagnosed Aspergers woman, who had a rough upbringing. All of the things they say not to do to Autistic children were done to her and beyond. She persevered and has led a successful life despite many, many obstacles from others and herself. My own self-discovery of being an Aspie led to my mom’s self-discovery. After I read Aspergirls:Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome in 2010 I believe, many of my doubts were diminished about whether or not I was an Aspergirl – I saw clear traits in my mom. It helped me to understand her too.

However, I still have days where I doubt.

Some days I feel like maybe my diagnosis is wrong, but then I read from others and see my traits or my actions in real life remind me in boldness that I am indeed Aspergers. I related very much to that book and I got it for my mom along with this book Asperger’s on the Job. She read Aspergirls and could relate to several things, but what actually happened was she finally understood a lot about me. When she read Aspergers on the Job she finally understood a lot about herself. Blending the information of both, gave her the answers she had longed for her entire life and we have been on a journey of healing, recovery, and acceptance ever since. Many things contributed to this, but those books were a pivotal turning point for our relationship.

My oh, my! We both have come a long way to self-acceptance, understanding ourselves, and each other. :-)

Related post: Gifts For My Mom

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The Summer Is Almost Over …

We start school in two weeks; it seems like the summer just started! I do not think it helped with all the cold weather we had here. We could not go swimming very much because of cool temperatures and Daniel was unable to make it through screaming kids. I can relate, it seems like kids are yelling and screaming much more than they had in the past. Not tantrums or acting out, they are just screaming as their way of talking — they skip words all together and go for the AAAAAAAAA!! Maybe it is just me; my sensory issues could be more heightened. :-)

Other than that, this summer is going down as one of the best, for sure. (I just said, “for sure” ha ha ha)  

We did so many new things; we had a great deal of fun together. David participated in several more activities too which was nice. I started the transition to school this past Monday, it went ok. My hope is that if I start now by the time we actually do start they will feel more at ease and it will go a little smoother. Next week, Ariel and Joshua are going to camp at the museum all week long. It will be interesting how everything goes. (I think I am speaking for myself mostly.) They will be there from 9 am to 4 pm. They have not done anything like that before; I believe they are going to have a fantastic time. They are going to do all sorts of activities from physics to art.

I wish I could do it too!  

I will be enjoying some time with Daniel. He is going to be happy to have me all to himself all day long. I have plans for us to do things too. It is such a challenge to spend alone time with each child, I want to set aside time again to spend with each of them … I am thinking “type-loud.” This time with Daniel may help his transition into starting school a bit more. David is leaving the week school starts too and the last time he left the transition did not go well, with the addition of starting school I plan on taking extra time to prepare him — all of us. However, we have a nice distraction that weekend to look forward to; my mom is coming to surprise my grandma for her 80th birthday!

I am not telling the kids yet, but I think it will be something that we can look forward to — to help us through the first week of school. 

Then, the weekend after that, David will still be out of town, I have a family reunion on my dad’s side. I am looking forward to that too. I have not seen many of these people for over 10 years and they can be very entertaining. We are all odd and quirky in our own ways and many of them are a lot of fun. They live all over the Midwest. I am anxious, of course, but I think it will be good for the kids to see how big my family actually is, they do not know many of their extended family members on my side or David’s side. Ariel always talks about wanting to meet her cousins and know more of her family, she will get too soon!

I do not really have anything insightful to share, I just felt like posting.

This summer has been so different from the past; we have had many good days. Although, when that happens I tend to feel sideswiped when the rough days come. I get overwhelmed when I find myself having a bad day too. It’s like I expect all days to be good ones once they start and I get taken aback when something spirals me or affects the kids in some way. I am not sure why I am always surprised by it, but I am. Yesterday, I became discouraged with myself because anxiety was starting to overcome me. Instead of spiraling down the path, I accepted what I could do. I voiced it to others and tried to move forward. I still had anxiety, and I still do today, but I feel ok.

I am resting. 

I think one thing that I have gained even more understanding about this summer is how to accept when I can do things and when I cannot. Most importantly, I comprehend how much I need to stop being so hard myself when I simply cannot force myself to try something new or handle sudden changes. It isn’t easy for me to do those things and I finally accept that. (Today anyway, tomorrow I may feel differently. ;-)) I have had people tell me to just do it, but you know what? Sometimes I just can’t, I cannot “just do it” because it is too much. I have my kids to think about as well, when I force myself to do things when I am in an overwhelmed state it affects my kids. It makes Daniel very anxious too, he can feel all that energy and I do not think it is worth it to put me or them through that anymore.

I have done a lot lately, and next weekend I am pushing my boundaries again by doing a 10 k. 

I am proud of how far I have come over the months. (years) I am no longer going to let the words of others make me feel badly about my choices. I do what I need to do for myself and my family. I think this summer has made it clear how important it is for me to do that — my choices have not been influenced by others or past voices, they have been my own. The outcome has been positive for all of us and I would venture to say that it has impacted how well our summer has gone in many ways. I am not looking forward to summer ending; I hope our school year goes just as well. I do need to remind myself that there will be some rough days, if I don’t I will keep being surprised and that seems to shake me up. I suppose, it’s the sudden and unexpectedness of it. I also, need to fuse in my mind that they do not last forever. For some reason it always feels like they will never end. Maybe writing that out will help me remember?? Who knows! Although, my track record of remembering these things isn’t very good. LOL

I am done for now. Have a great week everyone!! 

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