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Monday, October 9, 2017

Raising Adults

Excuse me while I think out loud. 
“This job is stupid.” Driving grown-ass people around all day. For free.  
It feels like a waste of brain power. 
It's a huge time suck and takes a lot of energy.  
I want to use my brain for more than this.  

I’ve had plenty of jobs throughout my 52 years of life and I’ve always had the privilege of walking away when I was ready to move on.  Turns out you can’t quit motherhood when you’re burnt out.  I’ve been a mom 24 years and I’m over it already.  I love my kids more than life, but I’m ready to love them from more of a distance. 

It’s hard to have a front-row seat to this movie that is transitioning to adulthood.  Autism makes it seem like it’s moving in extra, painfully, slow motion. 

The boys are technically adults now (18 and 22).  Because of their autism and anxiety, neither of them drive yet.
It seems like all I do is drive them, give them money, and supervise the spending of money. I’m just so over it.  Especially, since they don’t really want to listen to anything I say. 

When kids turn into teenagers, it's like your voice is on mute. You're constantly talking, but nobody hears a word you're saying.  Yet, they still need your help.

Kendal is 22 and would very much like for us to stay out of his financial business. 
“Don’t be monitoring my account and looking at my spending!” 
That is until he runs out of money and needs help. Then it’s...
 “You’re going to let me suffer?” 

Um …dude, I don’t have anything to do with your suffering. You make choices, YOU live with the consequences. You can’t keep screwing off your money and then ask us to fix it. 

The 18-year-old, Blue, is really just getting a taste of money management and budgeting. He's kind of a big spender for a dude without a job. He loves to eat out. He doesn't want to cook, although he knows how, because he doesn't want to clean up after himself. Right now it feels like all of those independent living skills I spent years teaching him are blowing in the wind. 

His executive planning is crap.  I must admit, mine isn’t much better. I am definitely not the most organized, methodical person in the world. But it's my job as his mother, to help him. Whose bright idea was it for me to help other adults manage their lives? I'm clearly unqualified. 

Blue seems to have no concept of cause and effect. I try to help him keep his life in order because his lack of planning ends up affecting my life —costing ME time and money.  

For example, he doesn't get up on time.  
Which means he doesn't have time for a proper breakfast. 
He ends up eating on the run (this costs money).
He doesn't take meds because he didn't eat and rushed out the door. 
He ends up not taking morning meds at all that day. 
He ends up having trouble sleeping that night and subsequently getting up the following morning. 
He has an early appointment the next morning and needs a ride, which includes a stop for breakfast (more money) so that he can make it to the train station on time.
This means I get up extra early to take him to the station (5 miles away) because I don't want him to miss the appointment with the Academic Coach. 

Of course, he doesn't want to listen to me when I try to get him to plan because I’m nagging him. 
Believe me, dude, the last thing I want to do is nag you. Please run your own life, so I don't have to help! Only you don’t seem to have any idea of how to do that. 

Sometimes I want to say f*#%-it-all! 
I want to run and hide…
One --so I don’t have to watch this bad movie anymore…
and two --so they will stop asking me to do stuff. 

I think that Blue would function better if he didn't have me around as his safety net. 

I don’t remember anybody teaching me budgeting, and planning or even driving for that matter. I learned out of necessity for survival. I learned by doing. I wanted to spend. I got a job. I wanted to go to college, I applied and figured out how to pay for it. Of course, I didn't have autism, but I'm pretty sure I had undiagnosed A.D.D. 

Maybe I coddled them more than I should have. I’ve always been here for them. The stay at home mom —their advocate, their beck and call girl.  Now I’m pissed because I’m ready to quit and they seem to be in no hurry to grow up and be independent. 

Wait a minute. That's not exactly true. Blue has been taught to advocate for himself. He has always set goals and gone after them, most of the time without prompt. He has actually always been VERY independent.  Maybe that's why this is hitting me so hard.

The past two years there has been a kind of regression with those independent skills. Part of that reason has been social dynamics, heavy on the male/female relationship learning curve. The other part I think, is that growing up just plain scares him.

Kendal has come a very long way in the past few years. Having him move out, to the group home, which I still hate, did kick him into grown-ass-man gear.  He's working two jobs and now looking at apartments. 

They both have their driver's permits, but neither is in any hurry to drive. Anxiety is the main culprit.  For Kendal, most of his anxiety is related to the actual cost of driving. He doesn’t want to pay for insurance, gas and, “What if I get a ticket?” 

They both use Uber until they run out of money or the ride is too far and too expensive to pay for. Then I become their personal driver for appointments and errands. Knowing how much Uber charges, I realize I could be rich from all the rides I give alone! 

There is essentially no public transportation in our small city (a suburb of Austin) besides Uber and Lyft, which is better than before when there was nothing. Some of these damn roads don’t even have sidewalks. 

There is a train and bus station about 5 miles from here that will get you down into the city of Austin. But you have to be able to get to the station on your own, via bike, a ride or whatever. 

If you’re on a limited budget, or you have a disability and you don’t drive in this little city, you're screwed. I don't even know why they call it a city. What kind of city has NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION?  

Of course, I also drive Ms. Daisy (my mother) to her appointments, grocery shopping and wherever else she needs to go.  I do all of her errands, picking up meds, doctors appointments, going to the post office and such. 

I know. I'm whining. I'm venting. That's what I do here sometimes...well, a lot of the time. But, hey these are my confessions. 

Driving is but a metaphor for my life. 

I could easily change it to cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, the care and feeding of adults who don't appreciate it. All of the ordinary things that I do on any given day, none of which, stir my soul or leave me with a sense of fulfillment. 

I am an age where I am longing for something more.
My authentic-self is screaming to come out from behind these layers of other people's crap.
I have some ideas about what I want.  
But I can’t help but wonder, is there enough time in between drop-offs and pick-ups to fulfill my dreams? 
It seems like there is always an interruption, a need to be met, that does not belong to me.
Is fear holding me back? 
Am I holding my self back? 

I am learning to say no more. 
I am learning that self-care is like water, essential to life. 
I am determined to feed my soul with more education, whether it be reading or going to listen to a group of women speaking about empowerment. I did this last week. I felt like such a grown-up woman. 

Together Live Tour
Glennon Doyle
Luvvie Ajayi
Abby Wambach and More! 
In my head I know, just do it. Take one step and then another —one at a time. I don't have to have a map. I just need to get moving.  

It's just kind of hard to figure out my life when I'm so busy helping my young adults figure out theirs.
Aren't their people you can hire for this?
There should be.
I have this feeling that it will never be my turn if I don't take it.
No one is going to hand it over willingly.

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?
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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.