Yesterday, I met with my dad and we had a late lunch together. He had a few phrases that he shared with me to help bring home points that he was making, one of them was a suggestion. It was in hopes of offering help with Daniel in the area of unexpectedness. While, I do agree I can stretch him, Ariel, Joshua, and me more in this area, it is not a good thing to create an atmosphere of unexpectedness.
This will increase anxiety in the kids and myself.
We need routine and constants in many areas. I have seen how much it helps Daniel and myself progress, and I have watched how the anxiety in the kids and myself become less by maintaining routine and keeping things as predictable as possible. I did not misinterpret, his suggestion was based on me telling him about Daniel having hard times with unexpected sounds or changes. For those who do not know much about autism, it may sound like a good idea to “spring” unexpected things onto an autistic in hopes that it would help them become more comfortable with the unexpected. Personally, I think it could go either way.
I share a few resources below that may be helpful.
I do understand that this world is full of unexpected things, but for the autistic person we try to control that as much as we can. In fairness, my dad was not suggesting to make an atmosphere of unexpectedness, he was only saying that maybe I should try to do some unexpected things to help Daniel become more comfortable with disruptions. I do think that there could be some benefit in doing this, but I also know that if it does not go well that an entire day up to a week could be filled with meltdowns and recovery. It is something to work on no doubt, but our lives have felt so unstable for so long that I would like to have a while of the predicable.
The words have stuck with me, “expect the unexpected.”
I realized that it is a positive thing as well. I can apply this to relationships, if I maintain a routine and stable home life I am much better at the unpredictability in my social life. I had been preparing myself for this the last few weeks by reaching out to people and trying to push myself to be more social. I reached out to family because I no longer wanted to be bound by the thoughts that had been causing me fear and anxiety.
I decided that I needed to reach out and get answers, find support, and share what has been going on with me.
I was nervous about meeting with dad because I have not been alone with him in over 10 years. I also, have had decades of old scripts of our relationship collected throughout my life. I had no idea what was going to happen. I knew that I had nothing to lose at this point just being completely honest with him, but I had not planned on pouring out things either. I did not realize that the day before when my emotions hit and I went through some major healing it had stripped away certain expectations.
My desires were very simple.
I wanted to spend time with my dad, and I needed to know how he felt about me. I received something so special that it was completely unexpected. I met my dad, but he was a new man to me. He was the father that my sisters have talked about and boasted about all over facebook. He listened to me, he accepted me, he talked to me, and he apologized to me. He shared things with me that made me feel as though I was little Angel, receiving all of the love that had not received as a child.
I told him that I had no idea how he felt about me, or what he thought about me.
I shared about my diagnosis of depression and PTSD, hinted about my anxiety, but I did not tell him about Aspergers. Strangely, I felt perfectly fine with that. I no longer had the need for his approval with my diagnosis. I broke down and told him that I felt unlovable and unloved. I shared how alone I felt.
I saw my dad look heartbroken, but something had changed in a huge way. In that moment, it was not turned around onto me. I was not given scripture references throughout the whole conversation, or told that I needed to devote more to God. (Though there were some things talked about, I will share in a moment.) There were no excuses; he told me that he assumed that I knew how he felt about me. He apologized for not expressing it verbally and he told me how he felt about me.
I felt safe around him.
I do think that it had a lot to do with my mindset though. I did not go in with the anxiety or fear of being hurt; I had been in so much emotional pain for days that by the time I saw my dad it no longer mattered. I did not feel what I had felt in the past, but the main thing that changed was that in my desperation I no longer allowed fear of rejection to stop me. I shared more about what has been going on with me in the last 10 years.
Especially the five, which have been some of the toughest that I have gone through.
I was honest with him about where I was at with my faith. There were moments when I felt as though I was being judged, but he pointed out that I was being on the defense. He was right; I have become so accustomed to defending all of my actions that I automatically did it with him.
At that point, I spilled out how I felt as though no matter what I do it is never enough.
I told him that I cannot live up to all of the expectations that I felt others had for me, but I also had no idea what they were and I have spent my whole life trying to do everything right so that I would finally, one day “get it.” He told me to let all of that go and start to be the person I was meant to be, be Angel forget about other people’s expectations.
He encouraged me to speak up and start using my voice.
He did not say those exact words, but he built into me and gave me support. We were in a Chinese restaurant for about two hours. In those two hours, I received the gift of healing with my dad. I felt decades of hurt, shame, and fear melt off me. I felt as though something inside of me connected.
I saw a visual of both my parents coming together as a whole.
Not as in their marriage, they have been divorced since I was around 3 1/2 years-old. It was as if my inner me was connecting parts of me that had been disconnected for my whole life, if that makes any sense. I acknowledge that much of this had to do with me because I did not stay quiet. I spoke up when I did not feel heard, but since my dad was so open, I was able to listen to him with new ears as well. Not many people get to hear their parents admit when they have done things to hurt their child, I consider this somewhat a miracle that I have now had this healing with both of my parents.
My dad confessed his behaviors and actions that he did when I was a child.
He even shared how he has not been the most compassionate person throughout the years. I am not sure what has happened over the years, but he has thought about the past. He has thought about the choices he made during my childhood. He has thought about what it has done to me. For years, I took on all the blame. There were years when after I talked to my dad that I would leave confused, hurt, guilty for bringing anything up, and like a failure somehow, but could not explain why.
I did not feel any of that yesterday.
My dad made it very clear how he feels about me and that he and my step mom love me very much. I know that there are some things that I am unable to share about myself or about autism because of differing views. However, my dad made it very clear that he supports me and he listened to my current struggles and situation with open ears and let me know how much I am loved. I am beyond words and incredibly thankful.
The other day, I felt as if my spirit had hit bottom.
I felt that physically, about a month ago – it seems that my emotions caught up with me this week. My inner voice, crying out all of my hidden emotions made me push through reaching a point of accepting fully that I am the only one who can help me. I knew this, but I was not able to grab hold of it.
I still need the support of others.
I need to know that there are people that I can rely on. I need to know that I will not be judged or condemned. I am very pleased to know that I can look to more of my family. I was not sure what to expect yesterday with my dad, but I was unexpectedly surprised. I discovered an unexpected new me, and an unexpected new start with my dad.
I will be a little more open to the unexpected. (So I can expect it. Hee hee)
Transitioning Back to School: 5 Tips for Parents (I think you can use these principles with anything new or to help introduce change.)