I mentioned in my previous post that David and I were rather disconnected during the time we were seeking answers about Daniel. One of the issues was that we were in a church that had a very dominant woman pastor who regularly spoke ill of her husband, the head pastor. They actually would make negative comments toward each other on the pulpit, in a joking way but I never found it amusing. They were constantly saying how marriages are hard work and rough. David and I didn’t feel that way but after a while of hearing it, doubt starts to trickle in.
We had miscommunication about Daniel and I consumed myself in serving at church.
I was also directly under the woman pastor’s leadership, in several ministries. I now know I was trying to escape what was going on at home. Women would call our house all hours of the day and say that we needed to pray or that “things” were going on that needed to be discussed. It would disrupt our entire household and cause chaos. Daniel and I both do not do well with ringing phones. David was trying to do work in an open room and I was spending my days full of anxiety trying to keep two, three yr olds and a 1 yr old quiet so David could work.
We really didn’t have time to talk about Daniel anyway, but then I started taking Daniel to therapy on a regular basis as well.
We didn’t really have time to discuss how either of us were feeling. I was in constant action mode. Try to do everything to keep Daniel at peace, try to do everything to keep peace in church, try to do everything to keep peace with my mom. Since we had just moved here my mom and I were trying to figure out our relationship. We had not lived near each other in about 10 years and our past experience was not a good script to go by. She also refused to believe that Daniel was on the autism spectrum at that time. Everyone in church was praying for healing and I was in the middle not knowing what to believe. Do I believe the doctors, do I believe the websites, do I believe the church people who said it wasn’t of God, do I believe David that he will grow out of it? So many questions and I was full of fear and misunderstandings.
I now know what David meant by “He will grow out of it”.
He doesn’t mean that this will all go away. He means that we help Daniel achieve success through helping him help himself. He means we need to educate ourselves and implement those things that will help Daniel. He means look into all kinds of resources and see which are the best fit and try them. Use the things that work, find Daniel’s special interests and use that as a tool. He means that Daniel will grow out of a lot of the behaviors that can hurt him or us if we understand how to help him. Not that he will grow out of autism. Had I understood what he meant then, I think I would not have felt so alone and disconnected from my husband. I would not have felt so fearful and hopeless. We actually were thinking the same things but with the outside distractions and constant chaos, we couldn’t communicate.
There were many distractions going on.
David was trying to work, we lost a lot of our income which caused a huge stress on him. The jobs he did have were extremely intense and consuming. We had additional medical bills that we had not expected. David lost work because of me being gone so much taking Daniel to therapy. The fact that our kids were so young is enough to take energy out of a relationship, no matter how wonderful they are, they take a lot of time and energy. Even though I felt that David was a great husband and father, the church atmosphere made it feel as if he was not a good spiritual leader. In prayer meetings, the women would complain about their husbands and I would always chime in how David doesn’t do that. Of course they assumed I was lying, I didn’t understand this until later. Why on earth would I lie about that? It didn’t even occur to me to lie about David. Whatever. We would end up talking me down off the ledge after every prayer meeting, not only because of what they said about their husbands but because they would bring up all of this weird theology.
I couldn’t keep mouth shut and would blurt out things, like the actual context of the scripture and the pastor would go off on me.
We spent what little energy we had on exposing the false information, how some people were bullies and the wrong understandings of the Bible teachings instead of on our marriage and kids. David has never told me what to do or think, he knows that I wouldn’t handle that well anyway, but he is not that kind of person. He does give me little bits of information and he knows that I will automatically go into research mode. That is what I did with autism, with church, with marriages, with whatever else that would pop in my head during that time to try to bring clarity and peace to our life. I should have paid attention to my kids, they never wanted to go to that church. Daniel hated it. He would have complete meltdowns before we would go and then he would have to leave class if I wasn’t in there. Many times even when I was in there. This church was a huge distraction to my faith, my marriage, my family and the focus I needed to put on learning how to help Daniel.
We decided that our marriage, unity and full support for each other had to take precedence over all other things.
I eliminated people who caused division in my marriage, we decided that the church we were in was not the best for us, we decided to discuss Daniel’s needs together. We decided that no matter what we would tell each other what we were thinking and if we did not understand one another we would find the best means of communication to help us to understand. We decided that if we were unable to have words to express ourselves then we would tell the other person and give each other the time to be able to gather the right words. David explained to me that I sound like I am yelling when we discuss things, I explained to him that I had no idea what he is talking about because I do not yell. Those kinds of things make a huge difference. I had no idea that I get louder and louder when I am discussing something. So now we know and I am more aware of it and it has become another one of our jokes.
That time was the breaking point for all of us and we knew something had to change.
When we left, I had what felt like a huge chain around me lift. While there David and I were constantly battling slides of truth, false information, and hidden agendas. The problem here was that I just wanted to help and my “help trump card” would kick in and override what I knew was going on. I can easily get sucked in if I see people in need or if church leaders make me feel like I am failing as a Christian. I do not believe this anymore, though there are times when it still comes up and I have to fight the words. We wasted precious time on nonsense and gossip and it brought division to our marriage because that is not who we are or what we do. Another form of escape for me is to obsess about people to try to figure them out. I have learned to stop that too.
Within in a couple of weeks we actually saw huge changes in Daniel.
We both believe that the constant stress and chaos that I was maintaining, Daniel was feeling and responding to. Ariel and Joshua did too but Daniel’s was much more apparent. We quickly regained our peace with each other, our kids and now after two years or so, I am finally getting some clarity with my relationship with God again. Some of our other family members have become more accepting in many ways, since I have shared and tried to bring awareness to what autism really is about. My mom has had a tremendous amount of healing for herself and understanding, she has changed a lot too.
If we had not stopped to take control of our miscommunication we would not have survived, at least not well.
We are now very protective of our time, our family, who and what we allow to be apart of it. Not in a freaky way but we are very cautious of how we do things now. We are open to new things and try but if we feel that oppressive or divisive feel, we do not stick around that place or people long. It is just not worth it to sacrifice our marriage or kids for the sake of making people feel good. The majority of time those people don’t even care if we are around or not. Besides David and I are the kind of people who usually say the wrong thing and make the situations very awkward or uncomfortable. It’s our gift.