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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Redirecting: Finding Balance In This Season

Those who have been reading my blog for a while may have noticed that I am not posting as much as I used to. There are several factors for this; I could list them all but it will make this post much longer than it needs to be. I can get rather wordy. (And distracted.) ;-) I can already feel my mind going into many directions, thoughts, details, explanations, stories, etc … I do not want to pull you into the labyrinth that has formed to help me make connections and solve puzzles to bring me peace of mind. No, I will spare you this time. I have plenty of “mind-dump” posts that do that. However, I make no guarantees that this post will not be wordy. Ok, I will tell you a little bit because it will help to understand. Over the course of about a year and half, I have found that I have lost interest in some of my most prominent special interests.

They have been replaced with new ones.

I have some that get triggered into a great obsession for a few days, but then I am satisfied and go back to my new ones. However, my special interests have become much more balanced. I find myself utterly submerged in absorbing information, taking in details, studying every aspect to fulfill my need to feed the insatiable desire to answer every last question that pops into my mind then, suddenly I am awakened to daily life. To my surprise, I have been able to pause my thirst for answers until I am able to devote the time I long for. This is new for me and for a period of time it left me with a mix of emotions. I felt lost. I felt as though I had lost some part of my identity and it made me feel sad. Who was I if I did not have the unquenchable desire to go on a quest of questions, answers, connections, constant RESEARCH??

I felt confused and bored.

My thoughts had been in is such a state of frenzy for so long I could only label what I was feeling as being bored. The boredom I speak of is actually a state of mind that is good. My mind was calm, though I never stopped thinking, connecting, consuming information and details about my interests and all around me, I still felt something that I had never felt before. My thoughts were finding their place in my file folders tucked away, organized properly, in the file cabinets in my mind quicker. I was not looping as I used to, I still looped but it was different. I still loop, but it is not a painful agony. Literally, when I would go through some of my loops the heart ache from confusion or not being able to have answers drove me into the stages of grief that you feel when your heart is broken or you have lost something or someone very dear to you. It hurts terribly.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with this and some triggers are far worse than others, but it has not caused me to shut down for days or weeks like it used to.

I have been able to figure things out on my own without the need to talk it through with David, or write about it the way I used to. I believe much of this has to do with all of the positive changes that I have made in my life. This summer, I have spent a lot of time with my kids. I have always spent a lot of time with my kids, A LOT of time with us being together so much that in a way it made me lose connection. I was not fully engaging and enjoying them the way that I wanted to. I was here and not here. So I have made it a point to stay off the computer more during our summer break. I have had my days where I needed to decompress and venture into my virtual world, but it made me see how much I was using it to try to deal with things.

It did help me and has helped me on many occasions, but I realized that I need to be more present mentally with them.

I am so proud of what Daniel has accomplished this summer in his summer enrichment program. He is such a happy fella and has enjoyed himself a great deal. He has become very affectionate which is new. He is explaining his thoughts to me this is new. He is trying new things and initiating conversations with people, those he knows and strangers without demanding that I talk to them and ask his questions for him. There are so many things that he is doing that I did not realize he was not doing — if that makes sense. I am proud of Ariel and Joshua too! I would brag all day long about all three of them, but I won’t. Of course, everyday is not like that, but I am sharing the positives because in the past I would not have been so much in the here and now that I could truly appreciate these things. I would have moment of joy and thankfulness then, I would quickly jump to the next distraction. I was so overwhelmed and just trying to get through my days using unhealthy coping mechanisms.

I did not do this on purpose; it was the only way I knew how to cope with all that I was trying to process.

There is so much for me to process on a daily, hourly, second by second basis that it is hard to keep a clear and calm direction. I had to go down some deep dark paths and face my past — I needed to accept who I was in order to find myself and accept that I will continue to change and grow. Logically I knew this, but I continued to have lurking thoughts that one day certain things about me would stop if I just found the right thing or the proper rule. I used my blog to help me and for the past five years it has been a life saving platform for me. It truly was my solace, my hope, my direction, and my identity. Now when I go through something I still write it out, but I do not publish all the time. I read other blogs that give great information and insights and think I really do not need to jump on that train. I no longer have the time to try to edit and reread what I wrote.

I am doing so many things that I cannot keep up with writing, sharing, or put in the time to do social media.

I wasn’t good at that to begin with now I am lucky to make it one to two days a week to visit blogs and facebook pages. After thinking about all of this for several months, and being stuck on the couch because of vertigo for several days, I decided that I need to keep this redirection. Because I was unable to look at a computer screen without getting sick, and I could not move off the couch because I would pass out or almost pass out, I decided to try and get the kids first semester of school ready. Thankfully, I was able to do that. I got all of the lessons prepared, created a new organizational system that I think will work great for all of us. As I got a little better each day, I created a calendar for new adventures that I have planned. When I was able to read the curriculum it occurred to me how much more attention they are going to need from me. I am going to need to be more creative in ways to help them and to cultivate their learning independence. It was then, that I decided that I was going to take it easy from blogging.

I already have, but I needed to make it official in my mind.

I plan to write and share when I feel like it. There are so many great things that I have planned for them and myself this next year that I want to make sure I get it on here to help me remember AND to share with those of you who read. The funny thing is every time I think I am going to take a break from writing something usually happens and I end up writing a ton of posts. We’ll see what happens, I am not stopping I am just cutting back. I feel a real need to devote more quality time with my kids. They are getting to that age where it is going to go by so quickly and I want to savor as much as I possibly can. I am looking forward to this year. I am excited about the new school year, I wish it was a few months away, but I am excited. Again, we’ll see how the start of the year goes with new teachers and working with therapists.

I am hopeful.

Goodness, I tried to make this short! To finish this up, I am redirecting and focusing on my home life. I have a couple more races before the half marathon. I will be training. I am still studying for my group fitness certification, hope to have that complete by September now. I had to push it back because David is going to be out of town much more during August and September. I am trying to find ways to get funds for Daniel to continue with the school that he has been going to. They will be offering an after school program, but it is such a large chunk of money I am not sure how we will be able to do it so I will be focused on trying get grants. That takes so much time. I cannot recall the other things, you get the point. I will end this post here, and say thanks to all of you for reading and sharing in our journey.

It will continue just not so frequent, I suppose. Until next time, best wishes!

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Anxiety Almost Stopped Me … Almost

Yesterday I ran my first 5k and I admit I am rather proud because I placed 2nd in my age group. I was surprised when people told me, I had no intentions of winning anything — I had a certain time/pace goal, but the thought of placing did not cross my mind. It was a nice surprise. However, as proud as I am of what I accomplished with my body I feel even more sense of pride in that I actually tried it. I was too anxious to sign up for several weeks. I went a few times with intentions of signing up and I even went online to register at least five times; each time I felt panic rise up and I could not do it.

I felt like I was annoying people because I kept asking them if they were going to run.

I kept talking about it because I wanted to try it, but I could not overcome the panicky feelings that would rise within me when I thought about it. I get frustrated with myself when I do this, I try not to, but it is such an aggravating experience for me. I want to do something, but the unknown takes hold of my mind and it becomes consumed with every possible scenario or I see nothing. It feels black, empty, with vapors of fears misting through my thoughts. I am not afraid to fail. It has nothing to with that. In my mind, just attempting something new is a great accomplishment. The time it takes to prep and then, follow through is WINNING! (I feel that with most things, the areas where I struggle with perfectionism is different and they normally have to do with intellect or emotional needs of others , that is a whole other post.)

My anxiety comes from social fears and sensory unexpectedness.

When it is a special interest of mine, I can press through these overwhelming feelings. My desire is so strong for my special interest that I am unstoppable. Yes, I still have to talk myself into moving forward or make myself go places while almost in tears and hyperventilating, but in the end it is something that I care about so much that I can get through it sooner. Something that I am somewhat interested in or intrigued to try, I find my anxiety can talk me out of it quickly. I will feel disappointed, but the amount of energy that I would need to use in order to do it does not seem worth it. I have done this with so many things. The more that I thought about the race the more I felt like this was something that I had to do. I needed to try it because it felt challenging on so many different levels.

I thought about all of the experiences that I had missed out on because of my social anxiety and I did not want this one to be another thing that I did not do.

I found myself openly talking to people at the YMCA about my anxiety. At first, they thought it was about how well I would do in the race. They encouraged me and told me that I would do great which, I will say has been quite a fantastic experience to have so many people be encouraging and build into me. People on my facebook page were encouraging as well. It gave me such a boost of positivity and courage to follow through. I am thankful for everyone who did that for me. I explained to those who did not understand my reasons for being anxious, that my main source of anxiety was due to the fact that I was going to be surrounded by about three hundred people in a situation that I had never been in before. The unknown filled my mind with AAAAAAGGGGGG!!!

It still did not register with some people, but they were kind.

There were others who understood and those who had done it before explained as much to me as possible. They also, gave me helpful tips for running and being in that atmosphere. A couple of my friends from cycle class and boot camp invited me to go with them. This helped a great deal, and they were so supportive — I was really amazed. I have not had many friends in my life, especially, ones who are sympathetic, encouraging, and supportive like this. It made such a difference for me. I could not sleep the night before, keep in mind David’s mom and aunt were coming that afternoon too. It was just another component to my social anxiety, nothing bad, it was that we had not seen her in about six years. That can cause me confusion with social dynamics if I am not around a person for a long period of time. Side note: The visit went great and everyone had a wonderful time. The visit was another reason why I kept teetering on whether I wanted to run or not.

Too many social interactions and new things could spiral me.

However, I decided I was determined to work through this. To help me, I had to force myself to go to the running group that I signed up with to train for the half marathon. I was not going to go because I was consumed with anxiousness, the group is a few hundred people who participate. I had paid for this so it gave me an additional reason to go, and I decided that it would help prepare me for the upcoming group at the 5k. I had a lot of support and many people from the Y that were running too. It was one of the socially “safest” first 5k’s I could do. I was a little bummed that I would not have any family there, but I worked through that because I have grown accustomed to doing things on my own. There was no way that David and the kids could come and my aunt had left for vacation. I was ok with that, BUT my dad surprised me and told me that he was going to drive into town to cheer me on.  I had a moment of panic, mixed feelings, and then I was overcome with good feelings.

It’s how I process, panic at something new or unexpected, then being bombarded with all sorts of thoughts and emotions, finally ending with my settled feelings. :-)

I was happy that he was there it felt really good to have someone there at the finish line. It felt good to have my dad there. :-) On my way home, I thought of what it was like only a few hours before. I was shaking, trying to maintain control of my breathing, working through feelings of frustration with not being able to stop, overcome with panicky feelings about my friends, I had feelings of fear that they would think I was ridiculous or that my anxiety would be the cause of me losing them as friends. I was shaking, and trying to maintain control right until the gun went off for us to start. I did pretty well at being ok in front of everyone else, but on the inside I was freaking out. I knew that I had to find some sort of calm so that I could run and keep control of my breathing.

After I got going, I felt much better.

I am not one who loves running, I did enjoy myself though and the end results definitely made it even more positive. I was running alone for a while and starting lose my zest, but then a couple of ladies from my boot camp caught up with me and three of us practically made the finish line all together. It was a great feeling, they won too in their age group. I am glad that I did it and now I will be more at ease for the 10k that is coming up in several weeks. I just need to do something once and then, I am usually fine after that. I will still have anxiety, but if I have positives to remember I do much better. I felt great accomplishment by following through with it. I was amazed too at how my family gave me so much support. They posted on facebook and texted me how proud they were which, I have not experienced with other things that I have done so I was a little confused, but I got over it. It felt really good to experience and be able to have something to share with so many of them.

I plan on running the half marathon with several of my family members this coming October.

I am looking forward to having a shared experience with them, it’s a good feeling to have a connection in some way. I think this was a another big mind shift for me. This was something that I never thought I would or could do, I did not even know I could run! :-) I overcame a huge feat within myself this weekend, not only with trying something new, but with my relationships. I received a trophy for the race, while that is really exciting because I have never received a trophy except for participation before, I believe I received much more in that I saw things in myself that I have never seen before. I had moments of actually, being able to see how others saw me. I have a difficult time with that and I do have to work through dismissive thoughts that come immediately into my mind, but I have so many positive anchors to hold on to that it makes it somewhat easier.

I am determined to not allow anxiety to take anymore experiences away from me, too much good can come from new experiences.

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Our First Fireworks Display!

This has been the summer of new adventures, no doubt, but last night was one that I never thought would be possible. Every Fourth of July has been a nightmare for our household. I personally, get so nervous, anxious, and overwhelmed with the noise that it is challenging for me to enjoy them, but I do love watching the colorful blasts explode filling the black sky with wondrous sparkles — I do love that. The kids love that part too, but the unexpected, loud, booming noises have been too much for them. I believe it was last year, that Daniel was able to watch them from inside our home without going into a panic. That set the stage for this year and his desire to go to an actual firework display.

Ariel and Joshua have wanted to go for so long, but they too are overwhelmed by the sounds.

Since so many new things have gone well overall, we decided that we would try it this year. The kids were excited and overjoyed. The kids and I were outside most of the day as they played in their pools. David took a much needed break from work inside the quiet house. :-) I made a traditional (to my family) type of celebration meal with hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, deviled eggs, (David’s favorite) and other veggie sides, plus a strawberry pie! (Recipe here Spring Fruit – Strawberries, there are several recipes on that page, but I only made the pie. I did not have time to do the nut crust so I made this one instead – coconut flour pie crust, I used coconut oil instead of butter.)

It was a lovely day. 

When the time came we ventured downtown to see the fireworks. The pros of going somewhere to see fireworks is that it eased my anxiety a little because I knew when they are going to do them, what to except for the most part, and when they would end. I had a script from my childhood, I also went to the website to see their agenda. This helped me prepare the kids too. When we stay home we are at the mercy of the people surrounding our entire neighborhood. We never know when they will set them off. How long they are going to set them off. What types of fireworks they will set off — people around here like to buy illegal ones that are like mini-bombs that have no other purpose other than to be very loud. I really dislike them. The place was crowed and that always makes me nervous. I do not like being surrounded by crowds just in case we have to run out of there. I have always been like that, not only with the kids.

My whole life I always have multiple exit strategies within seconds of arriving to my destination — even family events. ;-) 

To make this short and sweet, we found the perfect spot for us. We were not too close, far enough away from the crowd, but close enough to see the fireworks in all their glory. The kids loved it! They were so excited and had smiles on their faces the whole time. They all wore their sound reducers, which I believe made things much better. Next time I am wearing some because it was really starting to get to me, the booms were invading my body with such rage that I became irritable shaky. I was able to enjoy them for a while and the happiness on the kid’s faces helped me at times, but all the people, smells, crackling speakers, flickering street lights, and all the other things that I absorbed became too much. I hid it well for the kids, but I was shutting down by the time they were over. I convinced the kids that we needed to run as fast we could to get to the car.

I REALLY wanted out of there. 

I made up some sort of story about needing to escape the crowd, just being silly. David joined in my imaginations and the kids played along for a few blocks, but then tired out. I got us away from the suffocating mass that was coming up fast behind us so my plan worked for the most part. ha ha ha The kids told me all about how much they loved it and Daniel asked questions the whole way home. The poor cat was frazzled and scared from the neighborhood fireworks. He is still recovering and is very skittish. Today we are all feeling the effects of the experience. David and I have been talking quiet all morning and Daniel keeps getting upset at us, insisting that we are too loud. He is in his room playing at the moment — getting peace and making his own noise.

Ariel and Joshua are feeling it in their own way, but they are playing together with Sonic and friends plush toys. 

I am writing this to help process and to ensure that I do not forget this “first” that turned out great too. We are all tired, a bit cranky, processing all the information and sensory from last night, and in recovery mode. Today I decided that I am not going to clean the house or do the laundry as planned, I am going to play outside with the kids and allow myself to recover — hoping that the stress of the house and laundry to not overcome me. I can do it all tomorrow, right? I hope that for my fellow Americans that you had a wonderful day that was not too overwhelming with booms and blasts. I will leave with some pictures and wish you all a fantastic rest of the weekend!!

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Joshua’s Birthday Weekend Bash!

Joshua is 8 years old today!! Yay! The last two weeks have been a whirlwind, but now that I say that I realize that I have been saying that for at least a year. This year has been nonstop with all sorts of new adventures, changes, and our everyday life is so full. This is much different from when I first started this blog. Onto this past weekend, well Saturday I had planned a birthday party for Joshua. Unfortunately, every year Joshua’s birthday falls on a weekend that tends to be busy for everyone. I tried to get more people to come and plan a party, but things just fell apart. I was more concerned with how Joshua was going to take the disappointment because he can take things very personal — if not reminded of the actual circumstance he can fall into thinking that people did not want to come or that they did not come on purpose.

I came up with a plan to try to make it not so disappointing for him.

He also, wanted another Sonic cake which to be honest after the past two weeks the thought of trying to do that was overwhelming. Instead, I offered the idea of some gourmet cupcakes. After I told him what they would be he was “ok” with that. However, when he saw the tasty treats that I made then, ate them he said, “I am so glad you talked me into these cupcakes mom! They are SOOOOO good!” Score! ;-) I planned a family party with just us and offered to do it in the morning so he would not have to wait, another SCORE for me. Another good thing was that my dad and step mom were town for her family reunion and they were able to come over and visit for a few hours. It was really pleasant and all of the kids were happy to see them.

Chocolate cupcakes with a marshmallow frosting!

Chocolate cupcakes with a marshmallow frosting!

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(Recipes here Paleo Chocolate Cake with Maple Peppermint Chocolate Frosting and Marshmallow Frosting)

On a personal note for me, I am finally good with the relationship with my dad. 

I am at peace, I am glad that I told him about being diagnosed Aspergers and was able to explain to him about how I think and what I feel. It did help a great deal in my anxiety levels with having them come over because I did not feel as if I needed to hide myself or that I was keeping something from them. Good all around. I digress! This is about my Joshua. To ramp up the jollies, I added another cool thing to the mix. I told him that on Sunday we would go to a pizza buffet that had bumper cars and an arcade! Big time score. The majority of his gifts were Sonic items — his current special interest. He did get a couple of Lego’s, but he was an excited and happy fella with the gifts and the cash that he got from his Grandma K. (David’s mom) and my dad and step mom. He is buying more Sonic items. :-)

I wasn’t sure how the arcade place was going to be, it is something like a ChuckECheese. 

It was very loud in the arcade part, but where they had the food and tables it was not too bad. Daniel and Joshua both wore their sound reducers in the arcade. They all had a blast and they even had gluten free pizza so Daniel and I got to eat too. It was very good pizza by the way, I was pleasantly surprised. Daniel told me, “I love this place.” Then, he asked “Can we come here every Sunday?” Um, no. I should have worn some sound reducers too it took a toll on my auditory system and made me fatigued the rest of the day. Not just that we are all fighting off some sort of cold that is going around, even when I am having a good time being social takes a lot out of me, and the whole experience of planning a party only to have it fall apart took readjusting. Even still it was a fabulous weekend, we are all resting and recovering — Joshua is not resting so much he is too busy to be sickly!

He is playing with his new toys. 

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I know that I got something right when he tells me that he has had the best day, he has said it two days in a row and that is record for him. He can get derailed if the slightest thing goes “wrong” so I am extremely happy that he has felt that everything has gone well. Daniel and Ariel got a little something too. Ariel asked for a human skeleton model, a tarantula, or a frog skeleton model. We got her the pregnant woman model to go with her pregnant tiger model she currently has. She wants them all so she can study them and learn to be prepared for when she is a doctor/veterinarian. Daniel requested solar powered flowers to go with his collection. He plans to build his own house one day and have it be completely solar powered. He loves solar power!

Here are some more pictures of our festive time!  

 

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Struggles With Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Eating Disorders, & Sensory Processing

If you are not familiar with Body Dysmorphic Disorder here is the definition:

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by a  a preoccupation with a defect in  the person’s physical appearance. The defect is either imagined, or, if a slight physical anomaly is present, the individual’s concern is markedly excessive. The preoccupation must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Last, the preoccupation cannot be better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., dissatisfaction with body shape and size in Anorexia Nervosa). ~ Body Dysmorphic Disorder Symptoms By PSYCH CENTRAL STAFF

My dysmorphia fed into my later developed eating disorder. I have come very far in my recovery with my eating disorder and my BDD (I am not “officially” diagnosed, but I do seem to fall under the criteria. Having a name for it has helped me in recovery even if I am not officially diagnosed.) however; I confess there are times when my mind is high-jacked into obsessive thoughts about my perceived defect, in my case this time it is my stomach. I have had different parts of my body be the object of obsession; I have overcome several such as my body hair, my nose, and my birthmark. Those were long lasting, but I did have others come and go such as thinking that my skin had a green tint and I thought everyone could see that. It was one of the reasons why I went to a tanning bed so much in my past — I thought that when I was tan the green tint went away.

I still struggle with my arm hairs, thinking that they are gross, thick, and I feel much better when it is summer time and they are blonde.

During the winter, they turn a slight color of brownish blonde, but to me they stand out and I think that I am hairy like a monkey. I am not kidding. People have reassured me over the years that my arm hairs and any other hairs do not look as what I describe seeing. (It doesn’t change what I see.) I have had obsessive thoughts leading myself into downright sobbing at the sight of the hair on my body or face. I am told that people do not notice it all. I do not notice these things on others. I am not sure if other people who also struggle with BDD do not see anything wrong with other people, only themselves, but that is how I am. I have spent countless hours thinking of ways to “fix” these flaws or what is worse; I have spent my time on wondering what everyone else sees. I imagine all of these people finding me grotesque and in the past there were days when I was afraid to leave the house for fear of being stared at. I was terrified to share my picture on here or my facebook page. (I go back and forth on my personal page with family and people in town. I always feel nervous when I post a picture of me.)

What I see and what they see is something entirely different.

Of course, I know that not everyone will find me attractive, but that is the thing — I do not know if someone does or not. Why are they looking at me? I assume it is because they think I am ugly because of past encounters and social confusion. I cannot say that I have always felt that I was ugly or that it was a concern to me. I do not think about it much. Have I wanted people to find me attractive, yes. Have I been surprised when I found out someone did find me attractive, YES! Does it feel good to be told that I look good, yes. However, I do not spent my time seeking after that or wondering about it. Mostly because no matter how hard I try I have no idea what I truly look like, it is just frustrating and I have many other things that I would rather spend my time on. The times when I was concerned with it has been when I had friends who primped and focused on their looks. I would adopt their perceptions and believe that I was supposed to feel and act that way too because I did not understand.

When I did not think about it or shared that I felt ok, I was corrected in ways such as, being told that is what “men want, you have to look good to keep a man.” 

I was led to believe that I needed to look a certain way in order to get and keep a man. This was the message I received through media and social circles. I would do it for a time, but I would grow tired of trying to figure it all out. It was too confusing. If I said that I was ok with myself then, I was conceited and full of myself. There is no winning. I can trace each of my body fixations on words that were spoken to me. I cannot give an exact statement for each of them, (I can for some) but I have visuals of events and people surrounding the moment when I began to notice a flaw. My birthmark is obviously the biggest one that led to many others; my family does not understand what it is like. When I bring up that someone was gawking at it or made a rude comment they dismiss it and say things such as, “I don’t even notice it.” Since I am thin and they consider me attractive they act as if I have no struggles in the area of appearance. Although, in a way they are correct. I do not put emphasis on it like some of them do.

I am not saying that is bad, they enjoy getting dolled up and looking nice every day.

I enjoy it on occasions, but I also feel fine without doing it. (I am speaking about the women in my family.) I like people more natural anyway, it is my preference. I used to think of ways to try to fix my flaws and make them go away. I have thought about getting surgery for my nose, laser treatments for my birthmark, a tummy tuck because I think the skin on my stomach is so gross. Those thoughts have come on my worst days. On my absolute worst days, I have researched the procedures to see what they entail and how much they cost. I decided in my teens to keep my birthmark and not go that route, but I still have my days. Sometimes when I go out and people make “that” face, the shocked sickly face that looks like they are saying, “What the hell is that?” If my anxiety is off the charts, I find myself fighting back the tears. There are days when I hold it in until I get to my car and the tears just fall.

Thoughts flood my mind from school being bullied, being told how ugly I was, I am that little girl all over again.

But that little girl is one tough cookie, so she cries, feels all of the emotions, and reminds herself how far she has come. I do the same when the others pop into my psyche, but the one that I cannot seem to triumph over is my stomach. I have struggled with it since I was a child. No matter how thin I am I see this huge bloated belly with skin, wrinkly skin! Even when I was 98 pounds my stomach looked so big to me. I hated it with every part of my being. I would look in the mirror, stretching it, poking it, pulling at it, clawing at it. I did workout after workout trying to make it go away to no avail. I kept a lot of my struggles with these self-images in my head because logically I knew that I was not seeing what others saw.

I was constantly being told how thin I was, but I could not see it.

It still happens, and I cannot see what others see. I am now able to look in the mirror, but I still do not recognize my face. My body feels foreign and unfortunately, on my best days I still look at my stomach in the mirror every time I go to the restroom. Most days I am ok. I contribute that to my new workout lifestyle. Since creating a workout schedule with various types of workouts, I feel more connected and balanced to my body, though I still struggle with that too. However, gaining muscle, stability with my vestibular, getting a handle on my anemia, and incorporating so many types of workouts has brought a new awareness and mind/body connection that I have not had in a long time, well ever like this really.

I am mentally more balanced and able to combat these irrational thoughts much better and recover sooner.

So last week when I found myself being bombarded with these obsessive thoughts and binge eating, I thought, I know this pattern — why is it happening. The binge eating threw me because I used to only binge eat when I was limited on funds or when in social settings where I could not eat in front of others so I starved myself until later when no one was around. Then, I would eat everything in sight! I am not an emotional eater as a matter-of-fact I am not a fan of food at all. It annoys me and if I did not have to eat I would not. It takes time away from the things I would rather be doing. I love to cook and bake for others, but for me not so much. Anyway… I took notice of what I was eating and paid attention to what I felt when my brain felt satisfied. It finally struck me, I was seeking some sort of sensory input. I wanted crunchy and I wanted meat –a lot of meat. So my body needed protein, but my mind needed crunchy.

Things that happened:

  1. David was out of town.
  2. Prior to David leaving, he told me his schedule up to October. He shared the out of town trips that he will be taking, which are much more this year. This led me down a spiral of anxiety because it will disrupt my workout schedule and it will be during school.
  3. Daniel was upset all week; it was full days of meltdowns with him and Joshua.
  4. I was not on my regular routine.
  5. The kids were off schedule and were struggling with the change of David not being here. (Not sure why it made such an impact this time around.)
  6. I could not workout on my normal days, so I did not get several of the workouts that I desperately need to help with my stability and deep pressure that they provide.
  7. I began to feel invisible, like no one noticed that I was not around in real life and online.
  8. I was tired.

I suddenly, found myself consumed with chaotic thoughts, anxiety, and fixated on my stomach.

It was an eyesore. But I could not stop eating so I really was getting bloated and sickly. I had stomach problems all week too. I decided to look up binge eating and sensory issues and I found this link, What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

“When a person’s ability to tolerate certain foods is affected,SPD produces symptoms that are similar to certain eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia.” (From above link)

I have written things before about my eating disorder and how it wasn’t really like what others went through. I was anorexic no doubt, but not for the same reasons as most people develop an eating disorder. It makes more since that this is due to my SPD and sensory issues with food, my sensitive stomach, and my anxiety pulling me to be in control of something — anything, when my life feels out-of-control. Food and my body were the only things that I could control. I could not control people; they were too confusing and hurtful. I could not control my environment it was confusing, loud, and unpredictable. I could not control my mind, it would loop, get stuck, become fixated on something and starved for information, emotions, and/or understanding — never stopping or satisfied.

My pattern of controlling my food and focusing on a body part(s) has been with me so long that it can manifest before I know what is happening.

It is much like my relationship loop, something triggers it and the next thing I know I am utterly confused by all of the relationships in my life and I have no idea who cares about me. This one does the same thing, I am feeling good, comfortable in my own skin (As much as possible for being the alien being that I am.) and BOOM my stomach has become a foreign entity with skin that I find gnarly and it is GROSS! I feel ashamed to wear a bikini in my backyard afraid of the neighbors seeing me. I will not wear a bikini out in public, partly because of my stomach and partly because it makes me feel uncomfortable. At the beach it felt different, I was far away from people, but at the pool it feels too closed in. ???

I caught my thoughts and reminded myself that what I see and what others see is not the same.

With the mirror, I tried to not focus on my stomach. When I do look in the mirror I normally look quickly, I tend to focus on one area anyway because I cannot comprehend the “whole” of me. My face is always a surprise to me, I never know it, but at the same time it is familiar. I have no idea how to explain that. I do not like looking the mirror because I can get confused by my inability to recognize me or try to deal with the constant struggle of not knowing what I look like. My body always looks misshaped and odd too. The only gauge I have for my approximate size are the clothes size I wear, but those too are various so I really have no clue.

On a day-to-day basis my struggles are nowhere near what they used to be.

I do not spend time being confused like I used to be because, honestly, I no longer have people in my life who make me feel badly about myself. I stay away from people who give off that vibe. I feel really good most days too; my body does not hurt (usually, except my knee it is acting up, :-()and is not sickly a lot. I am not as fatigued, unless I have been overly social. My mind does not feel out-of-control like it used to either. I still have days when my thoughts and anxieties can get the better of me, but the majority of the time I am good. I take this past week, as a learning experience to help me for the next time. I am not making myself feel bad and I do not have shame about any of this. I admit that I did last week, and I did feel embarrassed too.I was wrestling with thoughts about why can’t I be over this? and why is this so hard? 

BUT these other things are huge in my recovery. 

I may always have these struggles, I may relapse into old patterns, but I came through this one with more answers than I had before and more understanding about myself. I came through this comprehending a little bit more that my eyes are not accurate when it comes to my body that is ok because I feel good about me anyway. If you struggle with any of these things please talk about it. Share your story with someone who you can trust, even anonymously online, if anything write it out for you. Do not feel alone in this because you are not. Find help if you need it, get the support that will help you. You have nothing to be ashamed of or to feel bad about. Feel free to comment if you too are struggling or have and can offer some insights! Each day is a new one, some are good some are bad, but you can learn and grow through all of them. Here are some things that I read and other resources.

Past posts that I have written about this topic. 

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Happy Autistic Pride Day!

 

I admit, I am not really in a typative or talkative mood today. I am social’ed out and this week has been rather exhausting; with David being gone it has caused too many ripples in our routine for the kids and me. However, I still felt like sharing in the celebrations of Autistic Pride Day! I decided to share some photos of art, and some of the things that the kids like to do and collect. I take pride in how they express themselves. I enjoy walking into a room and not knowing what drawing I will see, what has been created, what items have been lined up, or what stuffed animals will be occupying our kitchen chairs. 

I am sharing a couple of my recent paintings too.

When I find myself too jumbled with emotions and thoughts, I get in a stuck state. Sometimes it is so intense that I am unable to even write poetry, which is normally my way of expression when I cannot talk or write it out. When I am unable to do those I tend to draw repetitive type of  things, such as infinities linked together or a certain flower shape, swirling lines, all sorts of shapes really. Though Ariel has not been officially diagnosed, as she gets older I see more and more traits to indicate that she too may be an Aspie girl. It is not pressing at this point to get her diagnosed. She takes pride in being herself and embraces her unique ways. She embraces her brothers and likes that we are all so different — we fit very well as spectras being diverse in our own ways on the spectrum. (Not to say that it does not bring about interesting challenges, but all families have them.)  

Anyway, here is us taking pride in being Autistic and embracing our unique selves, hope you enjoy. 

Click on the image to go through slideshow or click [Show picture list] to see each image.

Some of Daniel’s Expressions

Some of Ariel’s expressions, she creates all sorts of image stories that can be found strewn throughout the house. 

Some of Joshua’s Expressions — he has a lot more, but he also has them scattered about the house so it was hard to keep it limited. He LOVES Sonic and has nick-named himself Sonic. 

A couple of my expressions, and a poem that came out as I was waiting for the images to load. :-)  

Proper Pride

hearts too delicate,

fragile in the face of our

world, but resilient -

steadfast, worthy, valued,

in the quest of change -

a path paved by those

who once were silenced; now SHOUT!

~~~

A couple of things that I read/watched today. 

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First Week For Daniel At Summer Enrichment Program

I thought I would give an update for the first week of Daniel’s summer enrichment program, that way he and I could have written memory of it. Keep in mind the week before my mom was in town and we not only socialized much more, but we also did several new things. In the past, for our family trying something new had the potential of taking anywhere from one day to three weeks recovery. A constant flow of socializing caused hours of Daniel being overwhelmed leading into nonstop meltdowns no matter how much he loved it or enjoyed himself. Though I admit it was (and is when it happens) tiring and taxing on me, my concerns for him trumped what I was going through. I will say it over and over again and I do not care how many times I repeat myself, it brings such joy to my heart to see him be able to enjoy himself and be happy before and after these things.

After saying all of that, the first day was intense to say the least.

Intense is the best word I can come up with to describe it because it was not a bad experience, but it was a rough one. Daniel and I have never been away from each other for that long of a period that was not a family member’s home or our own home. I had never left him in the hands of teachers or therapists. Have I been overly protective, yes. I felt it was my responsibility because he was unable to tell me if anything was wrong or had happened to him. However, I also did not have opportunities to do things like this for Daniel either. Had there been options that we could afford or been qualified for I probably would have tried them. (Cautiously and wisely) He has been able to communicate the things that are affecting him or causing him stress so this makes me more comfortable.

I also, trust the staff and the facilities so I feel this is a perfect fit for him to try such a big adventure.

I digress. I have a lot stuck in my mind. We prepared as much as possible for several days; they sent an email with pictures of the room, staff, and teacher. He had already met the teacher so that was a bonus. We discussed that I was leaving him for three hours, but then I would be back. We picked out the snacks he wanted, packed his backpack, and picked out the clothes he wanted to wear. I made sure that his morning went as peacefully as possible without any glitches. He was excited, happy, a bit anxious, but willing to give this whole unknown thing a try. He was still doing well when we got there, but then one of the boys happened to be loud. There were several who used loud vocal stims, which I expected and had already told Daniel about to help prepare him.

However, that being his first experience set the tone for him.

I watched his happy face turn to panic and fear. I did everything I could to help calm him, he wanted to leave. He was begging me to take him home. I couldn’t. I ended up staying in the room, but trying to let them guide him and help him. I knew that he was on the verge of full on meltdown, but I also knew that he had continued to try things and looked interested and curious. He was still watching the other children and I felt that he really wanted to participate. It was the sounds that were too overwhelming. The loud, unexpected sounds sent him into panic, but I listened to my “gut” and decided that it would benefit him to stay. I felt that I was making it worse by being in the room so I told him that I was leaving and walked out. I knew that the environment was a positive one and felt that they knew how to help them. It was hard though.

I heard him crying, and then after a little while he calmed down.

I tried not to look, but I was a mess so I checked on him and he saw me. Urg! He got upset again and calmed down. THEN, I thought I heard him crying and I could not control myself I went to check on him — he saw me and lost it again. I didn’t think he saw me though, but he did. :-( It was one of the hardest things I have had to do. I questioned my decision the entire time. I sat in the hallway almost in tears and panic myself. I fought the urge to bust open the door, swoop him up, and save the day! I wanted to comfort him, tell him that it was ok, and take him home forever. I knew that I could not do that. I knew that Daniel needed this and so did I. He needs to learn from others. He needs to experience independence. He needs to learn how to be with his peers without me around. He needs the experience from other adults who care about him too.

With about a half an hour left the teacher came into the hallway and told me that he needed to use the restroom.

She said, “He gets upset every time he sees you.” She was kind and did not tell me to go — she could have. :-)  I knew that I needed to get out of sight, so I hopped up and ran out the door to my car. I sat in the parking lot for the remainder of the time and just kept hoping that my gut was right and that he was not traumatized or anything. I went to get him, his little brown eyes were puffy, his cheeks were red, but I could tell that he had not been crying for a while. I was so proud of him for sticking in there. He did try some things, which in my book was amazing because I knew how overwhelmed he was. We had gotten a solar-powered owl for him and decided to give it to him when he got home to help establish a positive trigger, just in case. There was a slight moment where he was getting upset again because his solar-powered flower was missing.

Solar-powered owl and me saying, yes, to going to the Dollar Tree helped bring some peace.

I could not say no. I knew how much it took for him to try all of that and to keep going. He worked really hard. I did not care if it felt like a reward or not. He deserved it! When we got outside, my fears and anxieties diminished. He was smiling and happy in an instant. I got him to the car; he took his headphones off and said, “Ok, we can go to the Dollar Tree now.” I was a little taken aback. I asked, “Are you ok Daniel?” He said, “Yes, I was just overloaded in there.” I asked, “Did you like it?” He said, “I don’t know.” I dropped it so he could process. I knew he would talk to me later, but I also knew that he did not say, “I am not going ever again or I do not want to go back.” If he does not like something it is done. There is no going back and he will have nothing to do with it. I let it go until later, when he was in a peaceful and jolly state I asked him about everything and we talked a little more.

He was proud of himself for staying and trying new things.

During our discussion though, I asked him why he had gotten so upset whenever he saw me. He said, “Because I wanted you to come get me. I thought I was going to live there.” Oh, my. I asked him why he thought that I would leave him there to live because I had repeatedly told him that I was coming back at 12 pm. He was not sure, but somehow in the midst of his panic state he had concluded that I was leaving him there to live and he would not be coming back home. Poor guy, that had to feel terrifying! I reassured him that would NOT happen. The next day, I fixed his noise reducers to muffle out even more noise. I went over the schedule; I told him that I would not be staying, but that I would be back at 12 pm. I told him that I would not go into the room with him anymore either.

I asked him what they did and went over that to help him become more familiar with the routine.

I explained different types of stims. He had a lot of questions about the vocal and noise stims so I answered all of his questions and reminded him that he too has some loud vocal and noise stims. He said, “Oh, yeah. I do.” :-) I explained to him that they are doing what he does with his stimming and that helped him to understand. He has not experienced being with Autistic peers, some of them are verbal some are nonverbal in his class. They vary on the spectrum, I am pretty sure they all have some sort of language or communication delay/challenges. I reassured him all day long and the next morning that he was going to do great, have fun, and now that he knew what to expect he could feel more comfortable. He agreed with me. The next day of his class, I took him earlier so he could see the other kids arrive to help him prepare. He sat on my lap and watched them come in.

He was smiling at them and had a genuine enthusiasm to go.

I took Ariel and Joshua with me this time too for additional support and comfort for him. When it was time to go in he got up, said good-bye, and went to class. I had a feeling that he was going to do great and have a wonderful time. I was right. He did fantastic! He still has not decided if he “likes” it or not, but he is willing to go back and seems to be quite happy to be there. He will tell me when he is ready. This was only the first week; I am sure by the end of the eight weeks he will be upset that it is over. I will share more of what he is doing and learning as the weeks go by. This was a lot of emotions and growing for the both of us. I am very happy for him and excited to see how much more he does. I am not sure about this coming week, it could go either way because David is going out of town so my schedule will be off which makes the household routine all off. Plus, daddy being gone is always a change that takes getting used to.

I think it will be ok though, I have a lot of fun things planned — swimming, the splash pad at the Y, parks, training for their marathon, maybe some artsy stuff so I think it will all be ok.

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