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Friday, May 29, 2015

A Brilliant Mind

"Boredom in teenage boys is a powerful motivation for chaos." -Wes Moore, The Other Wes Moore 

School is out next week. No more Transition to Adulthood classes. No more volunteering at the high school. Then last night, this...
"Mom...I got my hours from work and they've been cut to 10 hours a week." 
He's been averaging 20 hours. He could stand to do at least 30 during the summer. He needs to stay busy. Boredom for him means trouble ...chaos. 

He does have a 3 week summer film internship, which is awesome but he needs to fill the rest of his days with activity. And by activity, I mean things that don't include me! 

My immediate response was panic. Great! What in the hell is he going to do with all of that time on his hands?! 

"Why do you think they did that?" I say, trying to sound calm.  
"It's the summer. Some college students are back at work. We hired more people, so they cut everyone's hours." 

Thats's bullshit! That doesn't make any sense! 
"You've been there for over a year solid and they cut your hours to make room for someone new? Or someone who just came back? Does that sound right to you?" 
Either he needs to get this fixed this or he needs to work somewhere else. But how do I approach this with him delicately? 

"Well, what are you going to do for money? After you buy groceries, you won't have much left for entertainment, dates, movies, eating out." I ask casually, trying not to change my expression or the tone of my voice. 

He looks at me like I have 3 eyes. "I don't know! But I don't want to work Saturdays or Sundays. I need time to myself." 

"Time to yourself? To do what? You won't have any money." Still trying to sound calm. 
 He hisses at me, or maybe he growls, I don't remember. He definitely gives me that angry look. He's getting pissed! 

The conversation goes on. I excuse myself. I tell him it's because I don't appreciate his tone.  It's quite upsetting and it's the second time in one evening that he's used it towards me.

He finally decides to text his boss and tell him that he would like to have more consistent hours and that he would like to work at least 20 hours per week ...but hopefully during the week. (Because he doesn't want to work Saturdays.) 

WTF? You need to work whenever there are hours available! I think, but bite my tongue and do not say. 
What I do say is this, "Well, I will not be around on Saturday's and Sunday's to transport you anywhere. I plan on doing some traveling this summer. You won't have any money. So that "time to yourself may end up being here, alone with Nana." He really didn't want to here that! 

Cut to this morning before work...
"Is there anyway you can cut my rent down because they cut my hours?" 
Bahahahaha! You're kidding me right? Where's the hidden camera? 

"If you were in an apartment, do you think they would care that your hours got cut? Would they be like, Oh hey! that's cool. Just pay what you can.

"I know that but...you're not teaching me anything by making life harder for me." 

"Actually, I'm teaching you how the real world works.  If I make it comfortable for you to work less hours, what incentive would you have to work more?"
"Well, I need Saturdays to myself." 
"To do what? On Saturday mornings you're knocking on our door when we are still sleeping. Or you're out here on the futon flipping the wooden arms up and down to make noise. By the middle of the day you're bored and when you're bored, you start to get into trouble, arguing and fighting with everyone. Do you like money? Why wouldn't you want to be busy and make more money?" 
"I need time to relax." 
HA! 
"You know what son. I have to give it to you. You are really smart!" 
"What do you mean?" He asks with a half smile. 
"It takes a brilliant mind to come up with that solution. Cut your rent down? That's brilliant! It's not going to work, but it lets me know your'e really good at problem solving." 

Who do I look like? Boo boo the fool?  

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Questions

I have been plagued all day long with eight questions. Eight questions asked over and over again, in a loop. All.Day.Long.

It's Monday, Memorial Day. Here in central Texas it has been storming all night and all day. There have been flash flood warnings. There have been bogus tornado warnings in our direct area at least 3 times today.

Around noon Red asks me if his therapy appointment is on for today. I told him to call his therapist. His therapist calls back and says, "Yes. I'm working today."
Well, we have flash flood warnings and I'm not about to get into my car with Red to drive forty minutes to an appointment. I told him to let his therapist know we would not be coming due to the flooding in our area.  I  suggested that he ask him if they could just talk on the phone. That wasn't possible.

So then it began, the questions. The same questions that he has been asking for months. The same questions that I have answered backwards, forwards and upside down. The same questions that he has asked countless other resources and has received again, basically the same answers.

He followed me around all day long asking these questions.
I answered them once.
I hummed, "Kumbaya."
I wrote my own version of it:

Come on by Lord! 
Come on by. 
I'm about to 
start to cry.
Come on by Lord. 
Come on by. 
Oh Lord! 
Come on by.
Ain't got no secrets Lord.
Ain't got no lies
I'm about to 
start to cry. 
Give me peace Lord. 
Help me out.
I need you Lord 
Without a doubt! 
Come on by Lord! 
Come on by!
Oh Lord!
Come on by.

I sang.
I colored in my coloring book.
I ignored.
He continued for hours.

Finally, I made him write the questions down. I answered each of them in writing.

1) How can I buy equipment if I have to pay gas and car insurance if I had a car?
You can only buy equipment when you make extra money. Your job and disability can help pay for your life, including a car or transportation. 

2) Can I still save up to buy equipment if I had an apartment and a car?
If you have an apartment, you can only buy equipment if make extra money from video editing or working more hours. You can only buy things when you have extra money after all of your life expenses are paid. 

3) Do I have to pay insurance if I had a car when I’m living with you guys?
We will only help you with car insurance if you don’t have enough money to pay it yourself from your job. We will only help you when you have no other resources for money. We will not pay your bills so that you can keep buying equipment. 

4) What number can I call when I’m having problems at home?
I don’t have a number for you to call. You can ask your case manager if she has a number for you to call from home.

5) Do you like to push my buttons?
I use jokes and laughter when you are trying to push my buttons. I joke around when my nerves are shot to hell, instead of yelling at you. 

6) Do you hate me?
I do not hate you. I HATE YOUR BEHAVIOR!

7) Why do I have to have a hard life and not get along with my family?
You cannot continue to stress me out all of the time and live here. I am no longer obligated to have you in my house if my health and sanity are in danger.  

8) Do you want my life to be horrible and to ruin my life?
I want your life to be good. I want you to be independent. I want to live in peace. Your life being good does not depend on THINGS that you BUY such as equipment. THINGS do not make you happy. You are never happy even when you buy things for more than a few minutes. What makes you happy comes from your relationship with God and from helping others. You also seem happy when you are with friends and your girlfriend or anyone other than this family! You are NEVER happy when you are in this house unless your friends or girlfriend is here. I can not make you happy.  

The END

Ten minutes later, he was back at my bedroom door.
I need to talk to you.
I need to see you.
He knocked, louder and louder.

I get it.
Anxiety.
O.K.
I can not help him anymore.
It feels like he is trying to drive me crazy and he's doing a bang up job.
It's 9 p.m.
I have heartburn.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Autism PTSD

In my constant state of self-observation, I have noticed a lot of changes in myself lately.  In other words, I'm always trying to figure out why I am so crazy. 

There are so many things that I used to enjoy that now...I just don't. Some things are simple like, talking on the phone. When I was younger, I lived for the phone ring to chat or make social plans with my friends. Oh, and the single days of waiting for a particular fellow to call.  Makes my heart flutter just to think about it. (Honey ...I'm totally talking about you.) 

Now, there is a slight sense of dread, maybe even panic when the phone rings. Most of the time, it's Red wanting absolutely nothing other than to repeat himself.  Otherwise,  it's Blue or my mom requesting services from me.  The other minority of the time, I just don't want to talk.

There are a few people who are an exception to that rule. I still have girlfriends across the miles that I like to catch up with occasionally. It's just so rare that I have moments quiet enough for lengthy conversations.  With one of my best girlfriends, I usually make an appointment for us to talk if we haven't seen each other in a while.  It sounds crazy and weird, but hey, that's my life.
A big part of the reason I don't like to talk as much, is that after listening to my kids talk, all.the.time. I got nothin left! My mother gets her feelings hurt because I don't come down to small talk and chat when the boys are not home. Sorry, but I am busy trying to decompress from the constant noise! 

I used to love to go to parties and socialize. Now, unless it's a very close friend, I  look for excuses not to go.  This past weekend, I attended one with my husband and his friends. I tried to avoid it.  In my head, I made up all sorts of excuses. But since hubby has been traveling a lot, I ultimately decided to be a good wife and go with him.  I ended up having a pretty good time. Plus, there was cake! Deep, dark, decadent, chocolate, chocolate cake. Totally worth the trauma. 

The thing is now; I find myself taking these sensory breaks at parties. I hide in the bathroom for just a bit of quiet for a few minutes.  I look for places to sit quietly alone so that I can stop smiling and being pleasant for a few moments.  I need time to collect my thoughts and clear my cluttered head.  

I have also noticed that I find myself dreading holidays and all of the pressure that comes along with them. I used to be the queen of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and oh my God, birthdays!  I have written about our last disastrous No Thanks Giving and many others in years before.  I've written about our family's Christmas insanity many times. (You should read those posts if you haven't). If you're an autism parent, you will identify. If you're not, you'll probably cry for me. 

I know that I'm not alone. A lot of autism parents feel the same level of hatred for holidays.  It's because of how our children may or not behave with the extra pressure and anxiety.  It's a part of this thing I call Autism PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  PTSD is an anxiety-based disorder that happens when a person has experienced trauma or has repeatedly been exposed to traumatic events. PTSD can occur to soldiers who have been in a war zone or to a victim of a crime.  Autism PTSD is when you are consistently experiencing traumatic events in your home or out in the community while raising your child with autism, who may fall apart emotionally, act out physically and have a meltdown at any given moment. 

I've read several articles about it lately.  Jess at Diary of a Mom wrote about it. A few weeks ago I read an article titled "Stress PTSD and Parents of Kids With Special Needs." It was a huge aha moment for me. I was like, YES! This is my life! 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, One of many the symptoms of PTSD is Avoidance. 
  • Staying away from places, and events that are reminders of the experience (I want to stay away from home all the time. I have to take a moment to gather myself in the car in the driveway before I come inside). 
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry. (Check! Constantly!
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past. (Talking on the phone, having parties, attending parties.) 
  • Feeling emotionally numb (Check! Check!) 
Hmm...sounds eerily familiar.  Avoiding talking. Avoiding socializing. Avoiding holidays -no longer enjoying them because of the many traumatic experiences in the past. Feeling numb -no desire for the enjoyment that used to come along with these activities. 

When our kids are diagnosed, we begin living a new normal,  which is anything but normal. We are pretty much in a constant, heightened sense of stress ...always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the phone to ring with the school or the kid on the other end of the line with some major issue.

Lately, in our home things have been a little bit better. Red is not melting down and ranting quite as often.  He's still a stick in the mud and negative, but things are ever so slightly better.  Of course, where Red slows down, Blue speeds up. So even the slightest progress can be difficult to celebrate and enjoy.  It can be perfectly quiet. I am sitting here reading, but I'm waiting for screaming to start, for the argument to begin or for the actual physical fight to break out between teenage brothers. Autism PTSD! 

I am constantly diffusing, trying to keep my mother from pulling a trigger --to just stay out of everything or not scream at the boys. I flinch when I think my husband is about to blow a gasket and set one of the boys off. I usually jump up and try to deescalate it. I feel like a puppeteer trying to control all of the strings so that the puppets don't end up saying the wrong things and end up all mangled together; the house destroyed, another hole in a wall or a door in the process. 

I am, by the way, working on that need to control all interactions at all times.  I just can not do it!  I can not control the kind of relationship my husband has with the boys. I can not control their every interaction.  It's impossible, and my husband resents it.  I'm sure my mother does too, but hey, she lives there by her choice, and she is not their parent. I realize that especially when it comes to my husband and the boys, I have let the chips fall, and the dust settle. It is super hard for me to let go. But again, I am trying to keep control to avoid explosions, like a soldier, in a war zone! (PTSD)

For Mother's Day weekend this year, my husband did take the boys out of the house on Saturday to see a movie. It was heaven ...for me.  I did nothing.  I just absolutely relaxed with no guilt of, I should be doing this or that. It was torture for my husband. Red spent most of the day complaining, and asking his father, "Why do you have to be so military?" Nothing was enough. Nothing his father did was good from his perspective, not the shopping or the meal that he gulped down in 15 seconds flat. 
My Mother's Day Gift
Peace, Quiet & Sweatpants
Sunday the actual Mother's day, was mostly good.  I tried to relax. I did not cook. Hubby picked up Italian food. The boys were mostly home and mostly bored, so you know how that goes. Red did go to church, but he came home complaining about the fact that he couldn't see his girlfriend that day. She was busy spending it with her mother, seeing as it was Mother's Day and not Red Day.  Her mother deserved her daughters' full attention without any extra drama or distractions. Red complained all.day.long.
  
However, there was no screaming.
There were no major fights or major meltdowns.  
That does not mean that I didn't spend the entire day waiting for one to happen. 

***

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Imagine a Life

Image by fanpop.com
Imagine a life
complete thoughts
my own discretion
focus
writing
traveling
passion
living
dreams

Imagine the child who is still being raised
attention
less battle
peace
thriving
reaching
potential

Imagine a life living in relative peace
no judgment
less debate
home
sanctuary
peace

Imagine a bedroom
open
unlocked
silence

Imagine a couple
dates
travel
sex
relaxed

Imagine his life
a man
finding his people
living his dreams
providing for himself
making his way
finding love
positive
prideful

Moving toward reality
prayer
meditation
hope