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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Being Social

I’ve changed. The experience of motherhood, marriage and moving away from Los Angeles, where I grew up has made me a completely.different.person.  There are subtle traces of the girl I once was, but they aren’t clearly visible. 

I was the most social person you could ever meet. My phone was always ringing with an invitation for lunch, dinner or some other social gathering. 

I had friends from the neighborhood I grew up in, friends from school, friends through mutual friends and various places that I worked. I’m talking good, quality, friends who stuck with me through the different stages of life. I am blessed to say, most of them are still with me even if it’s from a distance.  When we see each other, it’s like no time has passed.  I treasure my friends, each of them adds a unique experience to my life. 

I still enjoy being social, jut not that often. I am selective with my time and who I choose to spend it with. Let’s face it, I don’t have a hell of a lot of social time available. My local friends are sparse, few and far between with the closest of them all —miles away in Houston.

More than anyone’s company these days, I enjoy my own. I love the quiet, my own thoughts, doing exactly what I want to do, not compromising with anyone. That’s because my every day is one big compromise after another. 

I spend my days having conversations that I don’t necessarily want to have. I try to minimize the number of conversations with Kendal. Our goal is one phone call a day, but sometimes he comes over …and it’s on. Talk, talk, talk rinse and repeat. And I mean repeat the same mindless words over and over again. He worries out loud and likes my undivided attention while doing so. 

Blue, my 18-year-old son, likes to process all social situations with me. It doesn't matter what else I'm doing. He wants my opinion. That is until my opinion doesn’t really agree with his or until things blow up in his life.  Then I can be properly blamed for everything that goes wrong.  He says to me everything he doesn’t get to say to his friends because then they wouldn’t like him anymore. The problem with that, is sometimes I end up not liking him. I love him always, but like…not so much when he's exploding on me.  

No matter how matter-of-factly I think, this is not about me. He’s upset and can’t manage his anger. This is a part of autism. Humanly, it’s directed towards me and it feels like it’s about me.  I end up absorbing a lot of negative energy and it’s draining. 

I love my husband and sometimes, I enjoy talking to him, especially when we are alone. He is the best part of my life. I love him unconditionally. But in the day to day, I don’t always want to talk. I’m spent.  And he can be like the kids with over-communication.

Maybe being a writer, makes me prone to want to communicate that way. In order to write, you have to spend a lot of quiet time with your thoughts. I love when I can work through my feelings and say what I want to say without interruption and quite frankly, without feedback and opinions. 

And then there is my mother —her feelings are hurt when I don’t feel like talking to her.  I love her and enjoy her company (mostly) but you know how mothers can be with all of that lovely unsolicited advice. Now that her mind seems to be doing well, she’s always adding to my “to-do list.” *Insert eye-roll here.  Honestly, most of the time it's not about her that I don’t feel like talking. It’s about my head being full of thoughts, worries and unsolved problems. Sometimes, I need silence just to process everything that’s going on in my life. 

The adults in my house say that I’m not very nice. I’m grumpy -always in a mood. 

You're damn right I'm grumpy! I have every right to be. Try being all things to four other people, two of whom have exceptionally high needs,  all the time, and see how grumpy YOU are! 

Last night was a family dinner to celebrate Kendal’s 22nd birthday.  I honestly did not want to go. It was my husband's idea and at first, I thought they were going to have a guy's night out.  Then he invited my mom so I felt obligated to do the right thing as a mother and go. *another eye-roll here.  To be honest, I didn't particularly want to celebrate his birthday since he barely acknowledges mine or my mother's birthday. He knows better than that. I always asked for a hand-written note or a handmade card when he was growing up. It's not about the gift, but the acknowledgment.  I'm a grown-up so off we went to a family birthday dinner.

Sadly, our quirky autism family does better with one on one situations than we do as a whole unit.  It's like, each ingredient of the casserole is great by itself or perhaps combined with one other ingredient, but when you put them all together in a dish, it's a disaster.

I didn’t want to listen to them all talk —at once. It’s not fun —everyone competing for the mic,  the debating, the constant correction, the talking to Kendal with condescension (my mom and my husband). I try really hard not to talk to him that way. When I talk to him, I try my best to treat him with dignity.  The key word is —try. I’m not always successful because he can wear through my last nerve. My few little patience are shot.  However, I think I am the best listener in his life, so he talks to me the most.

It may not be right, but I carried him in my uterus and I spend more time and energy with him than anyone else on earth. I've earned the right to lose my patience with him.  I just hate when other people do it. It may not be politically correct for me to feel this way about his father and my own mother.  It may not be fair, but it is what it is. I like what I like, and I don't like what I don't like. 

Anyways, I say all of that to say, that the girl who was once the most social person you could meet —who was the one out of my family of five siblings, who was the glue that held them all together, who made sure that we got together frequently for family dinners and parties now,  can hardly stomach having dinner with my own immediate family. How is this my reality? 

Yes. I've changed. I'm not as social as I once was.

It's a difficult thing to admit.  A simple dinner with my immediate family makes me want to pull my own hair out. But hey, these are my confessions... 

I did survive dinner although I was thoroughly irritated by my husband by the end of the night. I won't get into the details of that. Insert eye-roll here. 

I celebrate that my son has made it through 22 years of life without being physically harmed by his mother.

I still love my husband and I still have my sense of humor. 
Happy Birthday my complicated boy. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Mental Health for Mom

I’m 52 years-old. Some days I wake up thinking, I would sell my house and all my earthly possessions just to pay someone to come and take over this mom gig for me. I'm sure someone else could do a better job. 

Well ...I wouldn't sell my bed. I love my bed. 
Or my down pillows. 
I would also keep my mala bead collection, and my laptop, and maybe my phone and well...I don't know, but mostly everything else, I would sell.

My last child just graduated from high school. My two older boys are both out of the house, slowly moving along with their lives. My 21-year-old has autism and mood dysregulation disorder. He will probably always be high maintenance and need help with managing his life, but at least he is working. He keeps a job, and right now he has two. Maybe, just maybe I will get lucky and some day he will find a lovely woman to marry and finish raising him. I am done. Mostly. Only he hasn't finished growing up. 

I must have been delusional to believe that this stage of my life would be a time of celebration and freedom. Maybe not total freedom, but at least more freedom. I finished raising children. I can finally have a life, right? I can build my web site, write my book, launch my t-shirt design business, travel with my husband, travel alone, and maybe never come back. 

Maybe I could finally feel a sense of purpose beyond the care, feeding, and therapy of other ungrateful humans. 

Only none of that freedom has happened. And it doesn’t feel like it’s close to happening.  

The 18-year-old also has autism, mood dysregulation and a ton of anxiety. He is not launching as expected. He is brilliant and has all of the potential in the world. However, right now he is a nervous, anxiety-ridden, self-sabotaging, bundle of hot mess. We’ve been putting him through all kinds of thousands of dollars in therapy. Our goal is to get him to the point of being able to somewhat regulate his emotions. 

Between transition from high school into adulthood, starting community college, friends moving away for college, and other social situations, it turns out that this is not a straight shot. It doesn't matter how high his S.A.T. score is if he can't manage the responsibility of college life. 

One would think this would be an exciting time for a young adult, but for someone who doesn’t deal well with change, it is an onslaught of, gigantic, scary looking, changes and challenges. 

When his anxiety is high, it sometimes turns in to anger and it's not cute when you're a big old 18-year-old boy. I happen to be the safe person that gets to see and feel the brunt of that frustration. 

So last week, I found myself in the office of a Psychiatrist. Talk about depressing. I’ve been in Psychiatrist's offices many times before --for other people. 

I never liked Psychiatrists or the process of dealing with psychotropic medication for mental health. When your back is against the wall, and someone you care for about is not mentally healthy, you do what the hell you have to do, just like you would if they had any other illness. 

I’ve been on anti-anxiety medication for a while. It was prescribed by my Primary Care doctor. She had the nerve to move away in January to take care of her own parents. Damn her for having a life. I loved that woman. 

She left me with a script that by May, was no longer doing the job of keeping my anxiety in check.

Years, months, days and countless minutes of hyper-vigilance, living in this stressful, chaotic, war zone I call home, has conditioned my body to be on alert for something bad to happen even when there isn't anything major going on. It's the infamous, waiting for the next shoe to drop. PTSD from hundreds, if not thousands of meltdowns, fights and phone calls with a bomb on the other end of it. I get butterflies in my stomach and my heart starts racing every time the phone rings or any time voices get raised above a certain level in this house.  

I tried all summer long to avoid taking the step of seeing a Psychiatrist. I’m in therapy. I tried walking. I did yoga. I transferred some of my responsibility as Payee and Problem Solving Consultant for Kendal, to his father. These things helped, but there was still lingering depression and relentless anxiety. Every time, I felt like I made a step in the right direction, something would happen to knock me on my ass again. 

I can’t tell you why it is that we as moms, put ourselves last on the list in too many ways to count. When something is wrong with one of my kids, I’m in a doctor’s office in a heartbeat. 

Over the summer, my arthritic knee was killing me. It took months before I finally gave in to go see a doctor. When my anxiety and depression was flaring, I tried all kinds of band-aids before I gave in and visited a Psychiatrist. It kind of felt like admitting weakness. Like, I just can’t handle my life. 

I asked myself, is this anxiety organic? Is it something I’ve always had, or is it just situational? Yes. I have been living under stressful, circumstances for a long time. It was getting to a point, where I felt somewhat incapacitated in growth and forward movement in any area of my life. Like the faster I go, the behinder I seem to get. 

Having to see a Psychiatrist made me feel even more depressed. I wallowed for a few days after the visit --not moving ahead with her suggested line of treatment. Until I realized, it was a necessary step for my own mental health. Just like with my boys, I have to use every possible tool in the toolbox. Otherwise, I may find myself in a position where I can't take care of anyone.

When you visit a mental health professional, they always ask, "Do you have any thoughts of hurting yourself or others?" Hah! That's a trick question. I think of knocking these boys silly all the time. I have no thought of harming myself tho. I have too much shit to do.

My name is Karen. I needed mental health treatment and I chose to get help. I hope that you will too if you need it. 
Don't let the stigma stop you from getting healthy. Take care of you. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Avoider, Protector, Fixer

Hi. My name is Karen. I am a recovering, hovering, control freak, bubble creating, autism mom.

I can't do this anymore. I mean seriously. I'm losing it. For real. This is not a drill.

A couple of weekends ago, I went to visit my best friend at her home in Houston. The invitation came right on time because earlier that week, I had been plotting a getaway. I was thinking about telling my kids that I was going to a mental hospital so they would leave me alone.

I know crazy, right? Desperate times...

I didn't really want to go to the looney bin. I just wanted a freakin' break. Like, not one phone call or text message from anybody about anything.

That weekend while I was away, I tried my best to stay off social media and actually, away from my phone altogether. I needed to totally relax and decompress.

To occupy myself in quiet moments, like when I went to the nail salon, alone,  I decided to finish the book "Love Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton. I had started it months ago but you know, I allowed life to get in the way, so I had a couple of chapters left. I turned right to a passage that basically said this.

It hit me right then and there, I have to stop trying to fix everything. Unhappiness, pain, challenges are all a part of their journey. It will make them who they are supposed to be. I am not God. I have no power to change anything.  They are eighteen and twenty-one-years-old. At this point, I am simply supposed to be here to let them know that I love them.  I'm here to listen, but not fix their problems. I have laid the proper foundation. The rest is up to them.

Besides, they are far beyond the listening to me phase. They have moved well into the blaming me for everything phase.

The ability to protect them is an illusion. They are young adults. I can not change the trajectory of their lives. I can not stop them from making mistakes. I'm in a no-win situation here. I do, however, have something to lose, like apparently, my mind.

So here's what I decided to do on my road to recovery...

First step:
  • Ask for help
Let go of control over everything and give their father a bigger role.

I'm mentally exhausted from years of trying to control everything when it comes to everyone in this family.

My husband works hard at his job. He is in charge of our finances. He's a black man, in Corporate America, who has to work extra hard just to stay on the field with his peers. Black people only make up 4% of his company's entire employee base. Although he loves his job and is an admitted workaholic, his work and the primary responsibility for our finances is a big source of stress.

I admit it. I have shut my husband out of a lot of the parenting of these boys. One, because of my own need for control.  And two, because of the stress from his job, I felt like he didn't have the energy or the patience to deal with our high needs, emotionally intensive, children. His interactions with them could become explosive in a heartbeat, especially when he felt like he was trying to protect me.

I was always on hyper-alert, trying to prevent things from escalating.  As result, I created a black hole for myself. I have taken on everything in order to keep as much peace in the family as I possibly could. I've been the circus master, the referee and the peacekeeper at the expense of my sanity.

I can't do it anymore. My body and my mind have been trying to tell me this for the longest. The depression and anxiety were so bad, I finally had to listen.

Second step:
  • Turn over the role as payee and manager of our son's finances:  
I admit I am more of a pushover and that was not teaching him a damn thing about financial responsibility.  My husband is "hardline." He is no-nonsense and excellent at budgeting and financial matters. There will be no emotion in his decisions, as it should be. Having his father managing his money will cut down on the power struggles between the two of us. The result will be less stress for everyone.

My husband sent this message to our son a few days ago.

"You can't get over on your dad. I am going to teach you how to be a real man. How to take care of your responsibilities. How to make smart decisions. How to manage your money. How to protect your money. All you have to do is listen to your father and not every person you meet at the gym and on the internet!"

Hercules! Hercules! In my mama Klump voice. 

And guess what? So far, there have been no issues or complaints. I am super thrilled with my husband and I swear I'm going to try my best to stay out of it.
Well, as much as humanly possible.

Third Step:
  • Create and stick to clear cut boundaries
Red had been bulldozing all over the boundaries I previously set, regarding our phone calls. He would call multiple times a day and sometimes end up screaming at me about his problems and of course blaming me. Never listening when I talk --just talking right over me. Even when I didn't answer his calls, he would text relentlessly.

I was buying into the whole his-world-is-falling-apart, bullshit.  Accepting his calls has not prevented any disasters from happening. I can not control the everyday madness of his life. He has to learn to clean up his own messes and use other resources besides me.

What I have been doing is increasing my own anxiety. I am realizing this has to stop before I seriously have a nervous breakdown.  I was always on edge waiting for the bomb to drop. It finally hit me, I can not stop any of the bombs from dropping.

We set a clear schedule for phone calls.  I will accept a call from him at the time he designated each day. Any calls outside of that time will be ignored. In fact, if he continues calling outside of the designated time, or starts calling around on our house phone, or his grandmother's phone, I will not speak to him at all on that day.

Fourth Step:
  • Create less availability and more "Me" time. 
Despite the objections (mostly from my mother) the first step on this list was going away for the weekend and refusing to accept any calls.

Blue and my mom were here with Dad and they had no choice but to deal with him or use other resources. You can bet this meant them all doing more for themselves.

I also have Yoga penned in on my schedule during which time, my phone is off.

As a result of these little changes, I am already starting to feel better. My anxiety and depression are not completely gone, but it's not as persistent. Yoga seems to help immensely. Turns out that most of the time, I forget to take deep breaths. No wonder I feel so tense?
Facebook Post
Follow me there!
I'm a hoot. 

My husband? I don't know if I've ever loved him more than I do today.  He is stepping up to the plate big time and somehow he seems less emotional when dealing with the boys. In fact, he and Blue have been hanging out and talking a lot more together.

I think he could see just how close to the edge I was getting. He has been trying to get me to step back for a long time. I just couldn't do it without his help.

Now, of course, all of these things are easier said than done. A life time of bad habits will not completely change overnight. I am however, determined to create some space between me and my adult children.  It is beyond time for them to fly. And I need to spread my wings too.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Just Pretend I'm Dead

Just Pretend I'm dead.

It may be wrong. So many things I do as a mother are.  I'm doing the best I can with what I've got which frankly, isn't much. Sometimes, I feel like I'm pretty close to death.

Twenty-one years of parenting Mr. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (Yes. It is a thing and so far it hasn't gone away.) and I am spent.

"Help me! Help me! Help me!" 
"No! Not like that."
"You don't get it Mom!" 
"Yeah. I know but..." 

How about this instead -Help me, help you. Get out of your own way. I swear this boy would argue with a rock!

Just pretend I'm dead.

What a horrible thing for a mother to to say. It isn't the worst of what I've said or thought, by far. These boys bring out the Hollywood (my late father) in me. They make me curse.

I haven't said it ...out loud, but I think it everytime the phone rings with the next episode of "OMG my life is ending because I hurt my toe and I can't lift heavy weights now."

Just pretend I'm dead.

-Is how I want to respond every time they come to me with their latest life dilemma.

The group home drama.
The friend who is full of drama and always sucks you into it, as if you don't have enough of your own -drama.
The girlfriend (or lack thereof) drama.
The friend-zone drama. (This one is a BIG HIT this year!)
The friend who is using and taking advantage of you -drama. (Yes, parents. That kid in middle school who was pretending to be his friend, so that he could use him for something is still around. Only now, that they're adults and he wants to borrow one-hundred-fifty dollars, which your adult child can NOT afford to give. And the so-called friend has no intentions of EVER giving it back.)
"But why would he lie to me?" he says. 

I am seriously worn.out.

I try my best to deflect their situations back to them. After all, they don't really want my advice. They do however want to barrage me with each and every feeling and emotion that I can do absolutely nothing about, besides worry and absorb it into my own consciousness. Even the constant deflection and trying to use the right words, to not advise, but turn it back over to them, takes a ton of energy.

Just pretend I'm dead may be a bit much.

How about --How would you handle this situation if I were not around? Like if I ran away to France ...permanently?

I really do not have the brain cycles to deal with every single situation in life that comes your way.

My young friends, guess what? This is only the begginning of your lives! It's not the end. I hate to be the one to tell you that your life will be full of difficult situations and problems. Sooner or later, you learn to solve them yourself or ask someone to help you, other than YOUR MOTHER!

One would think, neither of them have any access to therapy. One of them is even in intensive (dialectical behavior therapy -DBT) on top of his regular therapy.

Don't take life so seriously. Put your problems on hold while you go out and have some fun! Relax! Take a deep breath. Come back to them the following day when your head is clear. Your problems ain't going nowhere! (Totally improper English, but truth.)

The most infuriating thing is, my 21 year-old NEVER listens to me before he creates the problem, because I can see them from a mile away. Yet, he wants me to bail him out of the mess he created.

Dude! It's not happening. This boy is going to have to learn everything in life the hard way. Like arguing with the doctor's medical advice.

Okay! Go head now. When you make your injury worse with your hard head, don't be pissed when he puts you in a cast instead of the removable boot, that you think is SO inconvenient! 

Okay ...Just pretend I'm dead is harsh.

How about  -The number you have reached is not in service at this time.

How long can one survive while being an extension of another human's brain, and in my case --four other people's.

The saddest thing is, they seem to have no concept of how taxing everything is for me. No one can see beyond their own needs. They can't see that I am responsible for more than just them and that maybe, just maybe I deserve to have a piece of life of my own.

Mood today...

On edge

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Sadness

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don't know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

As summer creeps around the corner, my depression and anxiety rise alongside the temperature. The brighter the sun, it seems the darker thoughts.

I am tired.
I hate this heat. 
I have nothing left to give
and giving to these needy people is my fortune.
Where is the exit for this fucking roller coaster?
I'm done. 

Negative thoughts go on and on and on, including a few thoughts that feel true, but are probably grossly exaggerated. Depression makes everything feel bigger.

I look in my closet and suddenly I hate everything. I want to just throw it all away and start over.

Let's not even discuss bathing suits.

What's really sad is, you know that little "On This Day" history application on Facebook? I read mine every morning. I have been making the same complaints around this time year, for years! What is more pathetic than repeatedly having the same problem and not changing the situation?

Well, some things can't be changed. I can't just snap my fingers and sell these kids to the circus.

There are some things I just haven't figured out yet. How can I fix my own life, when I'm so busy holding everyone else's together with glue and paper clips?

Maybe this depression is a sign that I am so fed up, so sick and tired of my life that my body is literally screaming ...if you don't change this, you are going to die! 

So it turns out Summer Depression is really a thing.  I looked it up. If' you can Google it, it's real, right? 

According to Mayo Spring and summer SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) sometimes called summer depression. Symptoms may include:
  • Depression (well yeah. Check) 
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)  (who can sleep when your brain is busy problem-solving in the middle of the night? Check)  
  • Weight loss (I wish! This is a NO for me.) 
  • Poor appetite (Who feels like cooking in this heat? Food feels like  a necessary evil. I'd rather drink my dinner. Check) 
  • Agitation or anxiety (Ding, ding, ding! If somebody asks me one more stupid question ...I'm gonna scream or punch them in the face. Except that's illegal and I like my freedom. Check! ) 
That's a four out of five for me. Check, please.

I have been experiencing this summer sadness for years.
Summer means a disruption in our schedule.
There is a little more time to think and being inside my head too much is dangerous. 
I am spending more time with the boys than usual.
And of course, there is this ungodly Texas heat

My sadness is a real chemical change in my body. I can't just shake it off or talk myself out of it. I wish I could. I want to knock myself upside the head tell myself to snap out of it! I am blessed.
*Insert huge eye roll here.
My heart still feels heavy.

When you make yourself get up, take a shower to go out to dinner with your husband to a restaurant that is usually to die for, but you feel yourself holding back tears. Something is definitely wrong.

When the tears finally come flooding down just before the Banana's Foster, rich, buttery, most delicious cake I've ever tasted is served, a la mode, and I can't start eating until the ice cream nearly melts. I compose myself and begin to think, yeah, something is definitely wrong with you.

One would think that things would be a little different now with the boys being adults. It isn't. It's re-calibrated stress on a whole different level. It's a different set of complicated problems that have real-life, sometimes life-changing consequences.

I am driving them through their transitions. I'm still teaching them life management.

They need the help but, they are now young adults, who are really still oppositional children, so they fight me all the way and that's totally normal. The average young-adult doesn't want to be told anything by their parents.

The past two summers of transition have exacerbated their anxiety, depression, and anger. I'm talking traumatic behaviors that led to traumatic consequences.

I wrote about Red's most difficult summer two years ago (2015).

Last year, (2016) Blue had his own epic summer of madness

Henceforth, I may have a little PTSD from events in summers past.

This summer Blue's anxiety is still high --kind of close to what we experienced last year. Between leaving high school, registering for college and social situations with friends, explosions have become a norm, not an exception. Self-loathing, low-self-esteem, cognitive distortions and catastrophic thinking play a major role in his thought process.

Somehow I end up getting sucked into everything that goes wrong. Because everything that has ever gone wrong in the history of his time on this earth has somehow always been --my fault.

This leaves me with the question, how am I supposed to support him when my own depression and anxiety is not in control?

Every time he comes to me with an issue and he starts spinning up, it spins me up, but I'm the mom. Years of training and practice in dealing with autism has taught me to remain calm when he is not. But the truth is I'm not feeling calm. I'm only acting calm. I'm stuffing down my emotions, which leaves me feeling like I'm going to implode. I know that if I keep doing this, I'm going to end up with a freakin heart attack. So sooner than later, something's gotta give. I've only been saying that for years.

I crave the sun when I'm feeling down, but the sun in Texas is so intense the heat during the summer is literally unbearable

Summers leave me longing for home (Los Angeles) and the beach. I spent most of my life within a twenty-minute drive to the Pacific Ocean. I don't think I ever realized just how much it meant to me until I moved away from it. Here we are twenty-years later wondering what in the hell I was thinking moving to Central Texas.

Last summer I was lucky enough to get to step my body into the most wonderful ocean I've ever experienced --the Mediterranean on the French Riviera. France was the trip of a lifetime. However, shortly after I returned home, Blue completely unraveled.

So this year, seeing him start off the summer in the same pattern has made me too anxious about making any extensive travel plans. So far ...there are none, which is adding anxiety on top of anxiety and depression because it feels like there is no escape.

Thankfully, I do have the benefit of therapy to help get me through this. I will survive this summer as I have all of the ones before.

I'm sure that will learn plenty about myself in the process. After all, it is in the darkness that we must go looking for the light.

Experiencing these feelings is making me dig deep into my psyche to figure out where all of these emotions are coming from. What do I love about my life and what do I need to change?

Everything happens for a reason. I am a writer and this pain definitely gives me stories to tell.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sometimes You Cry

When you're caught in the crossfire of his despair...
Sometimes you cry. 
When you get beaten down verbally because he doesn't know what else to do with his pain...
Sometimes you cry. 
When you're walking uphill all day long and you're still in the same place you started...
Sometimes you cry.
When you feel lost in a familiar place...
Sometimes you cry. 
When it seems like you just can't do enough, but you're giving your all...
Sometimes you cry
When you want to see a smile and all you see is sadness...
Sometimes you cry. 
In moments when you should be happy ...
sometimes you cry.
When you want to run, but you can't hide...
Sometimes you cry.
When it seems like there are no answers, only more questions
Sometimes you cry.
When the people who are supposed to help are making matters worse...
Sometimes you cry.

And then you wake up in the morning and try again.
And then you kick some ass.
And then laugh because you have no more tears.
And then you see progress...
And you cry tears of pride and joy. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wonder Woman

We are lying in bed on Tuesday morning.
Me -"What would you like to do for your birthday?"
Hubby -"I want to see "Wonder Woman,"
Me -"You're looking at her. Lucky you, you're married to her."

A quick, witty response is my automatic mode of communication. I get it from my daddy, Ward Hollywood  Wesley. In our house, it is referred to as Wesley humor and it is not meant as a compliment. Personally, I think it's so much better than biting someone's head off, although, I am known to do that too on occasion. Luckily for my family, I chose humor more often than I choose violence and yet, they still don't appreciate it.

I referred to myself as Wonder Woman in jest. It just kind of danced out of my mouth as the perfect response.

I've had friends and people who read this blog who actually see me as this superhero kind of mom.

"You are such an awesome mom. I admire your strength," they say.
I'm all like, Who are they talking about? 

I feel like a fake and a fraud --so weak and beaten down --like I'm barely holding on. Most days I'm inches from running away and changing my name because I just can't do this anymore.  And yet somehow, I'm still here trying to survive each day.

We were supposed to see "Wonder Woman" over the weekend. We didn't make it because Saturday morning I got one of those phone calls.  You know one of those heart-stopping, double palpitation -calls, where the world is turned upside down in a moment's time.

Even when things seem to be moving along --progress being made every single day.  You can still get one of those calls. As a mother of African-American sons who have autism and mood dysregulation, which clouds their thinking and judgment at times, I am always just a little on edge, waiting for that shoe to drop.

My boys live in a mostly white, somewhat alien world filled with all kinds of landmines that can easily make their path more dangerous. I never know when everything could suddenly go wrong. Have you seen the news lately? Are you aware of how high racial tensions are in the United States of America right now? And we live in Texas...very white, primarily Republican, Texas.

Things go wrong every day. So many small things that happen become heightened by their anxiety. They worry constantly. They worry me constantly. Stress on high is the norm around here. Their anxiety is my anxiety.

After this particular call, I jump into action, sewing open wounds, putting on anesthetic and Band-Aids to stop the bleeding.  I jump to help minimize and problem solve however temporarily, until the next time they fall...backward, onto a bed of nails.

The boys are adults now.  Means nothing --besides parenting harder because they think they know everything, but they are so clueless when it comes to many things. There are still so many intricacies, nuances, and things about this adult world that they have yet to learn.

Yet, the world sees them as adults who must play by the same rules that everyone else does, even though their autism is an obstacle that makes the road more difficult to navigate.

We are parents who live by example.  We consider ourselves to be upstanding citizens of our community. We've been married twenty-three years. We are hanging in there a string.  Dad is working incredibly hard to provide. I put every ounce of my energy into advocating for them and making sure their needs are met, giving up all kinds of pieces of myself in the process. We give them every ounce of support and opportunity that we can muster to give and still ...they fall.

And when they fall still knocks the wind out of me. Yet, there is no time for attending to my own wounds or catching my breath.  I immediately move into action --problem-solving, advocating, teaching the additional lesson we've been dealt for the moment.

After the marathon of action to stop the bleeding, there was no energy for going to see a movie. Instead, I tried to catch my own breath from the gut punch that had been thrown. Dad can compartmentalize this stuff much better than I can. I sit in a stupor for a few days wondering what the hell just happened and what the hell is going to happen next? Will I ever be able to just fucking exhale and live like a normal human being?

But on this Tuesday, it is my husband's birthday. I have to pull it together. I have to put away the mom-to-the- rescue-advocate face and put on the loving wife face. The husband has been neglected over the past months of exacerbated stress with the one who just about killed me getting through his senior year.  If I don't water the garden,  our marriage, the relationship dies. It has been on life support for weeks now.

So, I go with him to see "Wonder Woman" for his birthday. I am not feeling witty or the least bit excited by the action of the film. I can't focus. Everything that happens in the movie somehow reminds me of the fight that I've been fighting for so many years. I am exhausted.

My mind drifts. In one scene, Wonder Woman takes a lick from an ice-cream cone for the first time and I think of my boy --the first time I watched the joy on his face as he licked an ice cream cone. I miss those days of innocence. I ache for them.

I wonder if I will ever be able to truly relax again in this lifetime?

How many more lessons of life do we have to support these boys through? Right now, the list feels infinite.

I made it through the movie and dinner.  Afterwards we walk the promenade of a popular dining and shopping area. The summer wind is blowing in the breeze from the south.

In this moment, I am grateful that I have this man by my side.  Thanks to him and champagne cocktails, I exhale.