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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Perspective

"Be kind, for everyone you meet, is fighting a hard battle." -Plato 

One thing that having these special children has taught me is to always stop and think about the other person's perspective.  Because my children see the world from a completely different point of view, I no longer take things at face value.  They don't look like they're having any problems, but they are.  The battles that they are facing inside of their own heads.  They don't "look like they have autism, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, depression or a mood disorder.  Their challenges are not visible to the naked eye.  This does not mean that they don't exist.

The way that I see things is not necessarily the way that they see things.  The way that either of us sees things may have little to do with the way that they actually are.

Though my husband has no diagnosis, I think all of the men in this house actually have a perspective deficit. They just do not automatically think about what the other person may be thinking or feeling. I am often their barometer --the one who actually points out the different perspective.  When I do this, my husband accuses me of taking the other person's side.  I'm just pointing out that their actually IS another side. There is always another point of view.

The way that an individual sees and interacts in the world depends on a lot of variables. What is their life experience? Undoubtedly, it's different than yours.
What's going on with that person mentally or even physically?
Are they suffering from depression, some form of anxiety or some other heavy issue?

Lot's of people put on the bright smile and charm, even a great sense of humor. In truth, we have no idea how they're really feeling. Isn't the recent death of Robin Williams proof of that? O.K. I guess we should have known that he was often a bit manic and over the top, but I don't think most people had any idea how low his lows, actually were.

What looks all put together, flashy, shiny and successful, maybe a hot mess on the inside. Just because a person has a great career, is doing well financially, appears to have the happiest, most perfect family ever, does not mean that they are indeed, actually happy.  The truth maybe that that person is so spent from working so hard, that they have very little left over in their mental bank when they come home from work.

Just because that person has to be "on" all day in order to do their job, doesn't mean that they don't come home and want to hide because of social anxiety, depression or self-loathing.

A marriage that looks happy could be a source of internal anguish. We never really know what is going on behind closed doors much less, what is going on in someone's mind and heart.  The pretty pictures and happy smiles are not always what they're cracked up to be.

Some of the most successful people I know still have some kind of mental issues or insecurities.
You don't know what their childhood experiences were. You may not know what their relationship is with their parents and how that effects them now.
You just never know what battles that person is fighting, or what it really takes to maintain their life.

Before you form your opinions about another person, maybe you should try to really understand them.
Before you feel slighted, or angry or internalize something they said or did as a personal affront to you, perhaps you should actually communicate your feelings instead of making assumptions.

It could be that the influences and experiences in your life, have barring on your perceptions.  Whether or not we want to admit it,  deep inside we all have preconceived notions of certain people, based on race, sexual orientation, religion, economic status or level of education.  And most of the time we are DEAD wrong.

If there is one thing that autism has taught me, and it has taught me SO MUCH, is that if you've met one person with autism, you've met just that ...one person with autism. Each person on the spectrum is unique, special in their own way and they all face different challenges right down to the two-children that I am raising.

The same is true about most people. We're all unique no matter race, sexual orientation, neurological status, mental issues, economic status or whatever ...and we're all fighting something.

My own depression has taught me that my perspective may be skewed.  When I am feeling down, I have a tendency to take things that someone says or does more personally than it's intended to be.

Sometimes we sit in stew in our own juices, holding on to anger, or negative feelings.
We don't communicate because we don't want to be confrontational or offensive.  The only person that really hurts ...is you. The supposed offender is off living their life, probably completely unaware of the offense.

In the end, the truth just may be that the person in question is just an asshole.  And even then, there may be a valid reason why they're an asshole.

It has been said, that I'm a bit of a Polly Anna. I really do try to find the bright side in any situation.  I usually try to find the good in a person, instead of just the negatives.  It's not always possible, but most of the time you can find something positive if you're really looking for it.

Having children on the autism spectrum has taught me that even through what looks like rudeness or what may appear to be abrupt or insensitive, there is usually a deeper story --another perspective.  The writer side of me makes me want to find out what the story is. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Case of the Stolen Bacon

*Warning there is some pretty descriptive, colorful language in this post. If you're easily offended, move on.

Lately, in the afternoons when Red is about to come home from work or school start getting this anxious, dread that comes over me. I know that sounds horrible to say, but it is my truth right now. Whoever would have thought that it's possible to feel that way about your own precious child? The precious little baby that you gave birth too. Well, he's my own not-so-precious, adult these days and I am just plain old sick and tired of his behaviors.

When he comes home in the afternoon, I usually haven't gotten enough stuff done. When he comes through the door with his long list of complaints and arguments, my ability to think -to focus is cut down by half.  My focus level hasn't been on full for months, so it's really cut down to about a quarter of a tank, about to hit empty with a quickness.

He comes through the door just as I am about to eat the bacon that my mom has made for me along with a couple of waffles.

"I want that! Let me have it!" He is standing over me, totally invading my space. I refuse to give it to him. He continues begging, insisting really. I finally give in, just to shut him up. I give him a half of a slice. "No I want the whole thing!" He yells, and then grabs the other half and puts it in his mouth.

I took it as, fuck you and your feelings. I want this bacon and I'm taking it. What are you gonna do about it? Nothing.  It was just blatant disrespect. I...was...livid!

To make matters worse, my mom chimes in with her outrage over what he did. The two of them start arguing. "Nana! This is none of your business! It's just a piece of bacon!" "I made that bacon for your mother! You have a lot of nerve!" Minutes later, she wants him to be quiet because she's watching her soap opera. Really? You get him started by chiming in on a matter that doesn't  really involve you. Now you want him to be quiet?

I didn't engage with either of them. I ate my late breakfast while it was hot and then went upstairs, knowing that he would follow and that would break the two of them up.

Internally, I was smoking hot! He kept saying, "I'm sorry! Why are you so mad?  Really mom!  It's just a piece of bacon. What's the big deal? You still had some left."
This is not an apology. It enraged me further.

I explained to him it wasn't about the bacon. It was about the blatant disrespect. "If you did this out in the world, at work where someone has food stored in the refrigerator, or in a roommate situation someone may just decide to stab you with a fork for reaching over and taking their food." (Especially if it was bacon.)  In what world is this acceptable behavior?
His reply? "I would never do that at work or to anyone else!"  Wow! Just wow!

I explained that the bacon was just the last drop in the bucket, that made the water overflow.  It's about the way he has been treating me for years and the increased behaviors in the past few months. While being a very generous person to his friends, almost to a fault, he won't share a french-fry with me! This is  about how he made me cry over Thanksgiving dinner because of his rudeness.  Then he says to his dad, "What's the big deal? I've made mom cry before." 

It's about me being very literally at the end of my rope. I am stressed, depressed, pissed off and generally overwhelmed about the crisis that we've been living in for months. We have in this house the total ingredients for a divorce. There is enough stress and discord to totally tear this family apart. Luckily, hubby and I love each other and are determined to work through this situation to get Red out of here, thereby reducing the stress level.

Everything has been neglected.  Our marriage, our sex life.  The house is clean, thanks to my mom paying a housekeeper, but it's like a freakin ghost town as far as upkeep and decor. We need to paint, inside and out. Furniture is falling apart. Blue is walking around in pajamas are now skin-tight, capri pants. I haven't bought him any new winter clothes.  I haven't even shopped for myself! And I'm a shopping queen.  The pajamas I'm wearing are at least 5 years-old. No holes in them yet, but I'm sick of looking at them! I don't have time, energy or focus on anything other than how I'm gonna get this clueless kid out of my house!  The bacon is just really the straw that is breaking my back.

As I was steaming, I thought what can I do to get my point across to this boy. Should I take his food and eat half of it so that he can see how it feels?  What should I do? He has got to learn. I have to be firm.  I decided that the consequence for his actions was that I refused to take him to the camera store after therapy that afternoon.

He tried his best to muster up a meltdown. I told him, "Go ahead and have it. I don't care.  But if you don't get your shit together in the next half-hour, I will not be taking you to therapy either. I will just cancel or call your father and ask him to take you."
NO!!! Not dad!

Slowly he pulled it together. He apologized again and again, which I really didn't buy.  It felt like a manipulation to get me to change my mind about the camera store.

When we finally got in the car to go to therapy, he had reconciled that we would not be stopping.  He ended up offering to take me to lunch --to a sit-down restaurant.  I mean, as in actually paying for my lunch, which he has NEVER done.

Quite frankly, I told him I would think about it. I really didn't know if I wanted to sit down and have  meal with him. I was just so disgusted, I thought I might gag over lunch.  At the same time, I could really use a glass of wine to calm my fried nerves.

While he was in therapy, I decided to accept his invitation. We went to the Cheesecake Factory. I ordered my wine. He asked to use my laptop to look something up, which meant I didn't have to listen to him perseverate. It was perfect! Until my phone started ringing over, and over and over again.
My mom called. Blue called. My husband called. My neighbor called. With everyone calling I figured there was some crisis and I better answer.  Mom wanted to tell me that the smoke detectors were going off.  My husband was gone and she couldn't reach him. Blue wanted to ask me to bring him something to eat. So NOT happening. My neighbor was having what she thought was either a panic attack or a heart attack and wanted me to check on her boys if she ended up in the hospital.

I told mom to send Blue next door to a neighbor to help with the smoke detectors. I talked my neighbor down to a calm state where she decided, she just might be o.k. But of course, I would check on her boys if need be.

After that, I sent Red next door to Barnes and Noble and ordered a second glass of wine! I sat there alone, and tried to decompress a bit.

On the way home, we stopped by to check on my neighbor.  Luckily for her, she was resting and not up cooking for her boys.  Otherwise, I may have throttled her and given her that heart attack.

I came home and crawled directly into bed.  Less than 5 minutes later, Blue came into my room screaming because his brother was singing in the shower.  I screamed louder than him. Sometimes, you just have to out-meltdown your kid.  I also added in a few expletives. *Warning, this could turn out badly, but in the moment, it felt like a chance worth taking.

"Do you want me to jump out of that fucking window? Well, you better get out of here and leave me alone!"

After an episode of the Beverly Hills Housewives, my nerves calmed a bit and I felt horrible about what I said to Blue.  I apologized this morning.

These are the confessions of a depressed, lunatic mom.

Just one more thing, although I am pretty severely depressed these days, I want you all to know that I never consider hurting myself or others.  I do sometimes think about slapping Red silly.  Though I know it wouldn't do any good, other than making me feel a little better.  (That's humor for you literal people.)