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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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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