Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Coffee with Laura

It’s not often that I get to sit down to have a coffee and catch up session with a girlfriend. I don’t have many friends...locally...anymore. When you stop having the time and bandwidth to socialize with people, over time most of them forget about you. When things keep coming up, people that you don't have a lifelong connection with stop thinking of calling you and inviting you out for coffee, lunch or happy hour.

The majority of my closest friendships now have a healthy dosage of distance. For the longest time, I wondered why that is the case and it made me so sad.  As I do the work in therapy, I've come to realize that perhaps having distance between me and my friends is what I need. Maybe, for now, that's all I'm capable of giving.

My closest friend is a two-hour drive away. We have to be very intentional with our time together. Other close friends are scattered about the country, mostly in California.  Thanks to this blog and Facebook I have close friends all over the world, some of whom I’ve never met in person. Yet many of them are my biggest supporters. My online autism parent network is a lifeline for me.

I am however blessed with my local friend Laura and a few others who haven't been able to get rid of me yet. No matter how much time passes with Laura, we can get together to catch up and it’s like no time has passed. There are no penalties or guilt.

This time, I think an entire year has passed. She has been busy with her life --her daughter’s wedding, her mother’s illness and her own personal issues. I have been busy with being the beck and call girl for the people in my family and trying to get Kendal transitioned into the next phase of his life.

Laura was my yoga teacher years ago at the local Y.M.C.A. I felt a special connection with her then. I loved her energy --the genuineness of her being. She is authentic, funny, zen and laid back. I connect with people who let me into the realness of their lives. Laura did that in a yoga class where I saw her two or three times a week. This was when the boys were in middle and high school and I was desperate for local friendships at the time. I wanted so much for her to see me, this lonely girl, and maybe want to hang out with me. Eventually, we did connect, and though she stopped teaching a few years ago we have remained in touch. We still get together for lunch and the occasional coffee and chat.

On this sunny, late morning in May, we are sitting in Starbucks catching each other up on the happenings of our families over the past year. I’m bragging to her about how I’m in therapy now. She has been in for years and always encouraged me to do the same. I tell her about how I’m trying to take back my life and set boundaries with my now young-adult children.

“When I go out, I keep my phone on silent. I don’t go out that often so when I do, I refuse to take any calls.”
“That’s great!” she says. “It teaches them that they are capable of solving some of their own problems. It’s much easier for them if mama does it, but it doesn’t serve them as developing adults if we are always fixing things for them. Even though we love them and we want to.”
“Absolutely, girl,” I reply in full agreement. She has been through this a time or two with her own children who are older than mine.

Meanwhile, as we are enjoying our conversation I happen to sneak a peek at my phone which is sitting face-down on the table next to my cafe’ mocha. I have no intention of calling anyone back if there are any messages. I’m just curious to see if there is anything important that I missed. Whatever it is will definitely have to wait until I am finished socializing. Big mistake!

When I turn over the phone and look at the screen,  there are several missed calls from Kendal. Ugh! I punch in the gut. These rumbling butterflies are an automatic physical response from years of panic calls.  If the boys are not in a panic, they want some kind of action or thought from me and they want it NOW.  Everything is an emergency. There is always some problem to be solved,  a thought to process, a list of what-ifs to dispell, a pep-talk to be given.

If you look at the call log on my phone all of the names of my children, my husband, and my mother are listed in a rotation. They are the only people who actually call me on a regular basis. Hence, I have a love/hate relationship with my phone. I keep it on silent. The ringing makes me nervous and usually pisses me off. WTF do they want now? In fact, when I’m out in public and someone else’s phone rings, I feel my heart-rate increase. I jump. I want to ask them to please turn it down or off, especially if it keeps ringing over and over again.

I decided to ignore the missed calls from Kendal. I turned the phone back over, face-down and continue talking to Laura as if everything is totally cool. I figured he will end up calling the house. My mom will tell him that I’m having coffee with a friend, and he will stop calling. Ha! No such luck.

Let me stop here and give some background in case you’re new around here. A month ago, Kendal moved out of the group home. He moved to San Antonio to live with his older brother, Adrian. Adrian is my neurotypical (mostly) son who I raised from the age of five. He is now 30-years-old, has a great job as a Programmer and his own townhouse, that he is willing to share with his brother.  I didn't want to believe it would happen until it actually happened. Because, me getting a break from these boys is like, unheard of.

San Antonio is a ninety-minute drive away from me. Can you hear me smile when I say that?  Kendal can no longer just show up at my door unannounced, come in, drink all of my coffee and be knocking on my bedroom door before I can get out of bed. (Insert eye-roll here.)

So far, for the most part, he is acclimating to his new life. He is working full-time, over-time even, on a contract through Goodwill Industries doing Grounds Maintenance on Lackland Airforce Base.

There have been kinks to work through and I  am still helping him manage the details of his life. There are still several phone calls to me every time he wants to process a thought or work through a challenge. I take some of them, not all.

As crazy as it sounds, a part of me misses him. It's not easy letting go of a pain that you've had in your ass for 22-years. Transitions are tough for most humans.

At the same time, there is also a part of me that just can’t do it anymore. I’m burnt out! I don't want to be the instant human listening machine. The fixer of all problems. That shit stresses me out.

Keep in mind, I am still dealing with the stress of transitioning my 19-year-old into the idea of adulthood. He isn't taking it too well. It's like nobody gave him the memo that adulthood was coming, and I no longer have to do all of the things for him. He is now responsible for his life.

Thanks to anxiety, he's fighting me on everything and has the suckiest attitude. He's just about right up there on the Richter scale where his brothers were at this age, which is why they had to MOVE!  I'm ready for him to get out of my house, like yesterday. Only we don't have a viable exit plan for him yet. To say that everything is not going as I predicted it would is putting it mildly.

Cut -back to my coffee date with Laura 

Phone calls turn in to texts, “I need a ride.”

I refused to call him back, but I did  excuse myself briefly and text him to ask, “Why do you need a ride?”

It’s 12:30 in the afternoon. As luck would have it, he got off from work early. Mind you Adrian (older brother) had given him cash money.  He had $10.00 to eat lunch and catch the bus to get home. He went to Wendy’s and spent $8.25, which left him with $1.75 to catch the bus. The bus costs $2.00.

So what does he do? Borrow a quarter from a stranger? Of course not!
Tell the people at Wendy’s he needs to order something else, so he has enough money for the bus? NO!!! He panics and starts blowing up my phone.

Why didn't he use a credit or debit card for lunch so he would have the cash for the bus?

Well, a few nights before he went on a dating website and was convinced to put in his credit card information. Then the site proceeded to wipe out all of the money in his checking account. Subsequently, we had to shut the credit/debit card down and attempt to get the fraudulent charges refunded to his bank account.

One bad choice leads to another problem and then the domino effect kicks in. Now he has no emergency credit card. He can’t get home from work. It’s 100 degrees plus humidity in San Antonio. He’s hot, frustrated and agitated and probably pretty damned tired after working in the heat all week long.  And who gets to deal with all of that attitude? ME!

I ignored the calls and texts as long as I could, however, a part of me envisioned him exploding in a public place, the police being called and his entire life is shot to hell in an instant. I had to at least navigate him through a way to get home.

I ended up leaving my coffee with Laura after we had been there for over an hour.

She gave me a sample of some DoTerra Essential Oils.  She is now an Advocate for them. She gave me a “Chill Out” blend and a “Shield” blend which is supposed to help protect you from taking on someone else’s negative energy. Lawd have mercy, do I need that!?
I used the “Chill Out” blend before I could even put the car in drive because my heart rate was extremely elevated and it actually worked! I love my friends!

I helped Kendal navigate through getting home to the apartment that he shares with his brother.

His brother Adrian, by the way, has been extremely supportive through this transition and he's a hell of a lot more patient with him than me or his dad. Adrian does, however, have a full-time job and can’t drop everything when Kendal panics.

By the time Kendal made it home, I was completely spent for the rest of the day.

Do you think he learned his lesson with the whole, impulsively putting your credit card that is attached to his bank account information on the internet, after all of the dominoes that fell afterward? I can only hope. I am trying to put some safeguards in place to hopefully avoid this kind of fiasco in the future.

But dear Lord, just when I  think things are getting a little more peaceful around here, I discover that Kendal still has the ability to give me an instant headache from miles away.

I am one burnt out mom.

Never give up on your child, they say. I don’t think they ever met these children of mine.

Kendal, Myself, and Adrian
Good news! Just as I got ready to post this, I got a phone call that the application we put in for paratransit was approved. He will now have curb-to-curb transportation! I am so relieved!