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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lost My Happy

I can't find my happy.  I think it's at the beach.   Unfortunately, there is no ocean anywhere near here.  The Gulf of Mexico is several hours south, and there are no plans on the books to head that way.

I grew up in L.A. where the Pacific Ocean was a 20 minute drive.  I don't think if I truly appreciated that luxury as I was growing up.  Now, I miss it so much my longing is palpable.  The sound of the waves crashing against the shore, sauntering aimlessly at the waters edge, collecting sea shells, the cool breeze and the sunset. What made me think I could survive these hot summers in Texas without it? What the hell was I thinking moving here?
Taken in Manhatten Beach California, 2013
*cries at the memory of cooler days
This happens to me every summer since the boys have been teenagers. My anti-anxiety meds feel like they stop working.  I end up spending so much more time with them.  Me time is short. Everyday I decide what part of myself to give away.  Do I give them my exercise time? Maybe I'll give them my shower.  Here you go kids ...take my writing time.  Enjoy!

When they were little, we spent most of our days by our neighborhood pool.  I would catch up on my novel reading. I had other girlfriends with little ones.  We would meet up poolside and hang out.  The boys would be so worn out by the pool, they would come home eat, watch movies and play games.  They were much more easily entertained.  Hours on end talking about their worries and problems was not a part of the equation.  These days that takes up a lot of my time and energy.  Listening to relentless, repetitive, negative dialog is exhausting.

When they were younger, we also took regular family vacations with the whole family.  The boys actually got along long enough for us to travel together and have it not to end up being an absolute nightmare.  As they came into the teen years, we seldom take whole family trips anymore, unless we go to visit family and there are plans for the boys not to spend the majority of the time together.  Otherwise, we do separate get aways.  My husband and I traveled to Napa in March, followed by a trip for me to L.A. to see my dad.  We had plans to go to New York in June, for our 20th anniversary.  That didn't happen due to my mom being in the hospital and as of yet, it has not been rescheduled.

This summer there were no other trips planned due to Red working, and Blue going to summer school and volunteering at at Special Needs camp.  So, it's mostly just me toting them around from camps, to summer school, work, friend's houses, or local city pools.  (Dropping them off at the pool is actually kind of cool.)  Then I add my mother to the mix, taking her to her medical appointments, to the hair salon and nail salon.  Also, running back and forth to the grocery store for her.

I could say ending up in this situation is bad planning on my part.  I should never plan on being in Texas all.summer.long.  Never! The only trip on the schedule right now is St. Louis at the end of August for a family reunion on my mom's side of the family.  That should be fun.  But it's not the beach, and it's not exactly cool weather.  In my opinion, anytime I have the teenagers with me, it is not considered a vacation.
I need some kind of boost to change my sucky attitude and perspective.  It's really sad when you know you're perspective is off and you're thinking in the extreme negative.  Yet, you just can't shake it.  When you reach the point where people are grinding on your nerves for nothing other than being who they are, who they've always been, but somehow, their very being just makes you angry, bitchy and you want to scream! Just leave me alone! Please! I know it's not really them, it's me.

I've been in this funk for going on 3 weeks now.  I honestly thought it was PMS, but the P has come and gone and the depression is still lingering --hanging around like an unwanted house guest. So I dunno?  What is this? Pre-menepause, hormonal imbalance, a different flavor of crazy or just plain old summertime blues?

I am fully aware of my negative mood and my negative thought patterns. My usual patience are very thin. I've apologized to my husband a few times for frankly, just being a bitch.  He was really sweet about the moodiness for the first few days, but now I think he's just about had it with me and I can't really blame him.  I hugged him this morning for the first time in almost two weeks.  I felt pretty good when I first woke up. Suddenly, I realized that I miss his affection and I miss showing it towards him.

It takes an extreme amount of patience and energy to deal with my children when I'm feeling like this.  I fight with every ounce of my being to muster that energy.  Getting angry, impatient and showing them my ugly side only sparks their anger and behaviors.  Having to remain calm when someone is melting down, attacking your already heightened senses, goes completely against human nature.  We naturally feel that fight or flight instinct, but fighting or flying away is not always an option when you have two teenagers with autism and anger issues.

So for the adults in my life, who don't have Aspergers (or maybe they do ...lately it REALLY feels like my husband definitely does, but that's a whole other blog post). They certainly have quirks and idiosyncrasies that I have very little patience leftover to deal with.  When my kids are talking at me constantly, and I am consistently playing fire-woman to their inner angst which turns into outer meltdowns and fights, I just don't have a lot left to be a loving, social, adult, wife, daughter and caregiver.

In my head, I know that I am blessed to have my mom here, living with me,  but when she is pushing the boys buttons, making my job harder or asking me to do things for her that she could easily do herself, I get irritated.  Sometimes, she just wants my attention because she doesn't get out very much.  I'm sorry, but when I have both boys talking at me for hours, the last thing I feel like doing some days is sitting and chatting.  I just want silence.

There are moments when I don't feel like putting on the happy face and personality to hang out with other adults, being nice and polite, holding in how I really feel, because who wants to hear it really?  I don't even want to share these feelings with my husband.  He is really busy with work and has a lot financial pressure.  I don't want to add my whining and sadness to his plate.  Besides, when he's this busy, he will probably end up saying something I really don't want to hear.  So I hold a lot of it in.  Except here...I let go.

Again, I know this is bad perspective.  This is what depression does it steals your positive attitude and ability to truly count your blessings.  Depression reverses the truth.  Part of me knows that I'm just being a whiny baby ...kind of ungrateful in way.  But who am I kidding ...these feelings are real.  My tears are real.  They are effecting me, my relationships and interactions with my family.  When I give too much of myself away,  resentment builds. And really, who do I have to blame except for myself?

I am longing to go on an adventure.  I want to go out and see the world, ...the cooler part of the world, where nature is beauty and can simply and easily be enjoyed.  I miss my friends in California.  I also have this longing to get on the road to meet a lot of the autism mom's that I have connected with through my Facebook autism support groups .  These women, get me.  There are even a few wonderful guys who do as well.  They don't judge me.  Some of them feel like sisters that I have never met.  I have been blessed to meet a few of them.  I've also met one of my brother's from another mother, J from Find My Eyes.  We get to hang out every time I go to L.A. now.  I wrote about our meeting meeting J and his family here.  What an awesome feeling to be able to connect with someone else who has kids who you love more than anything, yet they are the biggest pain in the ass that you've ever had in your whole life!

I wish I could tie this post up in a nice shiny bow and say that I know what to adjust my attitude, to find some semblance of my happy again. I hesitate to even share this because it feels so negative.  However, these feelings are lingering they don't seem to magically disappear just because I want them to.  I always think, maybe someone else out there is going through the same thing, and by reading my thoughts, they will feel less alone.  So here you are!

I have some ideas to work on getting my happy back and helping me make it through this long hot summer.  I can only hope that they work.
  • I need to plan more simple pleasures into my days.  (I would love to get back to painting on canvas). 
  • Plan me time ...I mean really put it on the calendar and stick to the plan.  
  • Take my showers back every day!  I mean don't leave the house without one because one of these boys is rushing me to get them here...or there.  Besides, it's too hot to be smelly. 
  • Steal my writing time.  Even if I need to run and hide in order to do so. 
  • Schedule time for thought, meditation, yoga and other exercise. 
Last week one of my autism mama friends shared this post with me about finding respite.  Bec Oakley the author has some awesome ideas on little ways for us to find a reprieve from the madness here on Snagglebox.com. Check it out.

I do know this for sure.  I have to look for my happy ...proactively.  It's not going to just show up without me doing some work.