Friday, June 11, 2021

Unhappy Anniversary

I can’t do it. I can’t pretend that our 27th Wedding Anniversary was actually happy. I have a "thing" with people who post the “fabulous life” on social media as if life is all roses. This phenomena that has taken over our lives can lead to some of us feeling more depressed than ever. The reality of most of our lives has plenty of thorns, weeds and dirt.  


Yes. I posted this pic on social media of the two of us having our moment --dinner at our favorite restaurant. 

Yes. We were both smiling pleasantly. (I was acting, mostly. I haven't felt like smiling in weeks). 

*Get it together Karen! You're at our favorite place. This is fine dining. The food will be delicious! We can even afford this...sorta. We made it! Married 27 freakin years! Smile. Dammit! Be happy. 

My husband, Alan always has that dazzling smile. He’s so good-looking and such a charmer. His public persona is impeccable. Everyone says, “He’s the nicest guy they’ve ever met." He has a loving, giving, open heart. I love that about him.

Of course, there are two sides to every story and every Gemini. 

I know all truths are that are hidden beyond my husband's smile.  He struggles through this life like any black man does. He is always proving to the world that he isn’t your average black man. He's none of the stereotypes. He’s not your average man.period.  

How many men do you know who actually stay in a marriage for 27-years with the stress of providing for and raising three boys, two on the autism spectrum? My husband is human, flawed, with moods, inner struggles and insecurities just like the rest of us, despite his charm and dazzling smile. 

He’s a better actor than I am though. I am beyond the whole “acting happy” stage of life. I have very few fake smiles or f*@%s to give these days. 

We had a happy “moment” for our anniversary. I’m thankful for that. The food at Eddy V’s was beyond delicious. We shared a perfect crabcake, a Ceasar salad (which always brings back a memory of my dad. He always made the real deal Caesar with anchovies, from scratch.) Halibut topped with avocado, crab and Panko bread crumbs. 

My French 77 cocktail/s (with vodka instead of gin) helped me  smile and enjoy the moment. His perfect Old-Fashion cocktails helped him relax.  

When we got home and tried to wind down, the anniversary was not genuinely happy. The truth is, we have mental health issues in our home. Mental health or lack thereof,  can steal the glory of the actual “happy” like a shameless thief. It can ruin the party in the blink of an eye.

After this year of CoVid, pandemic, quarantine, social isolation, work-at-home, college-at-home, unemployment, and racial tension, my mental health is in the toilet, swimming in shit. Such a pretty metaphor, isn't it? 

I will not speak in detail of my adult children, but their mental health, or lack there of, impacts my mental health. It has been a shit-show of a year. I am holding on to life by my fingernails. 

The other day I wrote a journal entry that would scare most people if you read it, depending on how you interpret it. I cursed everybody out! I called out all of complete bullshit that has been effecting my life for years now. I have been living the stress for 4 other adults, problem solving, feeling their emotions, (empath) listening like a therapist who lives with her clients. It feels like they continue to ask me for more, and even if they don't ask, I give it. My letter was saying goodbye to that b.s. 

I don't want to end my life.  What I want is to actually start living it fully...in peace.  I’m mature enough to realize that life has really awful moments,  but you get up the next day and try to make it better than yesterday. You grow. You stretch. You say goodbye to what no longer serves you. You work to create the life you want, even though you’re exhausted. You don’t give up. 

You keep working through the pain and along the way, you encourage others to keep going; to take care of ourselves; to forgive ourselves for the places where we fall short. 

Back in high-school, I remember my English teacher called me "Florence Nightingale." He told me to sit down and stop helping everybody. “No one asked you to do that,” he said. 

You didn’t need to ask for my help, for me to give it to you. This kind of thinking can lead to a woman’s undoing. *Burnout and cumulative stress can end in physical and mental illness. Stress can lodge itself in your body as heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. 

As a caregiver, mother to adults on the autism spectrum, and wife of 27-years, I work continuously  to create and keep boundaries; to find mercy for myself. I practice self-love, self-compassion and self-care.  We keep practicing until we get it right.    

Some people will take your last breath if you’re willing to give it to them. My adult children will probably stand over my grave and yell, “but Mom I need…” 

I work hard everyday to say yes to myself. It’s not easy. 

Will you come on the journey with me? 

*"Burnout -The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle"  (Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. Amelia Nagoski, AMA,  2020) 

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Aspie From Maine

My friends on social media are real.  Recently, I lost one of  them. I met Kate Goldfield through this blog. Kate was a fellow blogger, the author of "Aspie from Maine". She wrote about life in her twenties, living with Aspergers.   She was one of my earliest readers when I started writing 12 years-ago. 

The boys were teens at the time. I was mostly at my wits end and would write like this was a diary of confessions. As my dad would say,  I would tell "the natural truth." Unedited. Especially, in the beginning. I had no idea what I was doing really.

Kate would comment and help me with insight into what the boys may have been feeling and experiencing from the perspective of someone living with Aspergers. We became Facebook friends. We were also in several autism support groups together. Support groups on Facebook can be a lifeline for the autism community. It can be one of the only ways we connect with people who really understand the journey we are living. 

Kate was always supportive of my blog which made me think,  maybe I'm doing something right. In fact, if you visit Kate's blog , I am first on the list of blogs that she likes. (Yes. That makes me feel like I was seen.) 

Kate was very active in the online Autism Community both with parents and other adults on the spectrum.  I think she would be delighted to know how many of us were touched by her life and devastated by her death.

Last weekend, she was having difficulty breathing due to asthma. We all knew because like me, she posted about everything! She was wrestling with the decision to go to the E.R. or not. Many of her online friends were encouraging her to go.  But she had a lot of anxiety about the medical system. It had failed her so many times. Over the years, there were countless doctors who did not believe her.  They would dismiss her symptoms and send her away with no answers. Which of course, made her feel worse. There were so many medications prescribed that did not address her needs, or didn’t agree with her chemical sensitivities. It was a major source of frustration. 

The family made a statement on her Facebook page on Monday, March 22nd, 2021.  

“Kate finally went to the ER today and while she was there she went into cardiac arrest and died. The doctors don’t know what caused her to crash so quickly and are going to recommend that the medical examiner does an autopsy.” 

Wait what! WTF? --my initial reaction. 

Personally, I believe there were many contributing factors to her cause of death. One was was a medical and mental health system that failed her. Case Workers who said she wasn’t bad off enough to receive help. A government that doesn’t prioritize marginalized communities and adults with disabilities. A local support system that wasn't enough for her many challenges. 

*Disclaimer (This is the picture Kate painted of her life through her posts and private messages. It is not my intention to blame any one party.)

The family’s statement made reference to her "looking so peaceful." As if that might comfort those of us reading it. In anger I thought, Hell yeah she looked peaceful! She was finally resting after an exhaustive struggle!  

I was sad, hurt, a little angry and afraid. Her early death made me think of my sons who are high-functioning, young adults on the spectrum. High functioning can be such a illusory term. Meaning well-spoken; often highly intelligent. Society often doesn’t see, or can disregard how much their skills of daily living can be affected, and how many challenges they face.

A young adult who is “high-functioning” may be able to get the highest of S.A.T. scores, and yet have tremendous difficulty managing day to day life as a college student. All of the deadlines, and projects must be time-managed in order to be completed on time. For the first time they may also be managing their daily lives without the support of their family. 

Another "high-functioning" young adult may function well in a work environment where there is a distinct routine or work that requires hyper-focus. And yet, they may find it impossible to navigate things like, living on their own, budgeting, and paying bills on time. Because of limited social communication, they can be highly vulnerable and easily taken advantage of.

(I personally know several “highly functioning” adults who have been scammed out of large amounts of money.)

We have a family friend (lets call him Michael). He is 21 years-old. He just completed an Associates degree program. He is struggling, caught between a rock and hard place, desperately wanting independence as most young-adults do. Anxiety makes him hesitant to move into the career he studied for. So he remains in an entry-level position on a job that he doesn't like. He doesn’t have all of the skills for independent living. He’s impacted by depression,  fighting hardest against the people who love him most.  He feels a lifetime worth of anger, disappointment, restricted freedom (from his perspective) and a lot of social rejection. It can take a long time for someone on the spectrum to get over the nightmare of high school. Sometimes,  his perception can make his life feel even more difficult.  It is nevertheless, his reality. 

My own 25-year-old son on the autism spectrum can be “a lot” to deal with. He talks and asks questions incessantly. He used to blow up my phone every-time he was angry or upset about something. He complains about so many things. I think constantly thinking of something to be angry about has got to be exhausting. He has a flair for drama, which I have come to understand and can read. But, I worry. 

"Will he be believed by others in his life when something is terribly wrong?" 

He is the epitome of the boy who cried wolf. 

As he matures, his quest for constant attention has gotten better. Still he wants to be seen and heard. He doesn't seem to care whether it's positive or negative attention. Attention is like oxygen to him. As his mother, I try to give him the benefit of the doubt. I try to listen, but even with that, it is a real journey of setting and keeping boundaries for the sake of  my own mental health.  And I think, I am one of the most patient people on earth! (At least I used to be before they fried my nerves.) 

What will happen to him if I’m no longer here? Will the rest of the world have the time and patience to deal with his difficult personality?  A question many autism parents ask. 

I watched my very real, Facebook friend struggle this past year. She would write posts daily, practically screaming to be heard. The isolation of quarantine in 2020 was difficult for many of us. Those of us with mental health issues were heavily impacted by the level of isolation. 

Kate messaged me a month ago.  She asked, "Will it be okay if I PM and we could have a convo cus I feel like I could learn a lot from you? But if not that is okay you probably have your hands full."  

I had to level with her, ”I’m not always in a good place myself and I don't have all of the answers. But I will listen and respond when I have the capacity to give you a thoughtful reply.” 

At the very least I wanted let her know that she was both seen and heard, despite her extensive list of troubles.   

I told my 22 year-old son on the day that she passed, that people like Kate have been a large part of my purpose in this life.  Through writing our story, I met Kate and many young-adults on the spectrum who were struggling through the teen years and young adulthood. Some of them had parents who from their perspective, were not supportive. They write to me when they are facing a challenge, or just want to be heard.  It's one of the things I'm most proud of in this life. 

I hope and pray that someone reading this will reach out to a person who is struggling, no matter how difficult their personalities may be. You can have boundaries and still support someone with autism or mental health issues. See them. Hear them. 

I see you Kate. I will never forget you. 💔😢


Thursday, March 18, 2021

On Pages



Inside my head 

Absence of sun

Swimming in murky water  

Upstream where there's light

Self-help by the ounce 

On pages

Writers -friends

I love you

Thank you 

You nurture me

Comfort me with optimism 

Speak to me in silence

Remind me what I know

Take me on journeys

As I sit in stillness

You are therapy 

On pages 

Life’s prompts and prose

Sun, earth, moon, eclipse

Self-love cultivation 

Reading is water

Water is self-care 

Writing words 

On pages 

Elicit kindred souls 

Fellow travelers 

on my perpetual journey

Perpetual -sexy 

Everlasting 

Neverending 

Incessant  


 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Not Amanda Gorman



I walk outside my front door on a crisp, January, afternoon. The fresh air and the Texas sun envelop me. 

“This feels so good,” I think to myself. It’s amazing what fresh air and sun can do for the mood. 

I play in my garden for a few minutes, cutting overgrown Big Blue Lilyturf plants, and pinching back golden pansies with a splash of purple, hoping to make them stand tall and appear fresh. 

The picture above is my cute, outdoor, office set-up for the day.  Harry, my dog is sitting peacefully next to my colorful pouf, and teal-blue, painted, Adirondack chair. It was my Instagram picture of the day. I used it in my “story” with no description. Just “prettiness.”  

It may have reached seventy-degrees, on this beautiful day but the intense Texas sun made it feel at least ten degrees warmer. 
I think to myself, “How lucky am I to be able to create out here?” 
*This is the "trying to be positive and grateful me."

Then I think, “It sure would be nice to have a more private outdoor space in my backyard?” Which is currently a train wreck. 
*This is the real me. 

The real story is, I need to escape the noise inside the house. I need to escape these people in my house (my family). 

#workathome 

My husband, Alan, works from home as he has for several years now.  Except for this past year, there is zero business travel. Zero as in nada! Business travel has been the saving grace of our marriage for 26 years. Absence keeps you from killing each other. Isn’t that how love works?

During this 27th year of marriage and pandemic togetherness, our success tool has been banned. My loving husband is here having one boisterous conference and Webex call, after another, from the time I crack my eyes open in the morning, until well into the evening. His “office” is right outside my bedroom door in our open-floor-plan family room, which allows his voice to carry throughout the entire house, all.day.long. 

Can you feel my eyes rolling out of my head? 

#collegeathome 

Cole, my 22-year-old son is doing college classes in my kitchen, which is adjacent to my Writing room where there is also no door to close as of yet. My writing room is actually our dining room,  which was converted into my mother’s “temporary” bedroom, for ten-years!

As of this summer, I converted it into my Yoga/Writing/Happy Place (only so far it's minus the happy).  It's happy when there is quiet in the house, which is rare, or when I’m wearing my noise-canceling earphones. 
(Feel free to send donations to the Get-Karen-A-Door fund. See the link below. Kidding. There is no link below, though perhaps there should be.) 

There is an advantage to college-at-home. He gets to class on time every day. I get to hear how brilliant he sounds during his Philosophy class discussions. I see and hear his leadership and fearlessness up close. I would never see this if he was on a college campus or in a dorm room. (Dear Lord, why isn’t he in a dorm room?

This is remarkable for the boy who dropped out of college because of anxiety after the first year. The deadlines, the organization, the waking up in time for class, was all just too much for him right out of high school at 18.  

The disadvantage to college-at-home? Way too much family togetherness. We are a family unit of three #athometogether all.of.the.time! My son has become the second husband, I never wanted.

Everyone is constantly, consistently, aware of what the other person is doing, saying, eating, drinking, and using the bathroom. There is the uninvited personal commentary to go along with all of the minding each other’s business all.day.long. Every.day. For almost a year now! 

#createathome 

I am a writer who creates at home. Well...who tries to create at home. When I’m not working on healing and my mental health. Occasionally, I do write something decent. 

I have this successful blog, which is ready for a re-vamp and re-launch. (Help!) I’ve published stories on countless websites about parenting, autism, and mental illness. 

I am a writer, with a terminal compulsion to string words together and tell stories. (Lately, most of the stories are only on Instagram and Facebook.)

Yesterday, I discovered that I am not Amanda Gorman.  I was so inspired by this young, black girl and her poem at the Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on January 20, 2021. I have listened to her recitation more than once and thought, “I can do that. I can inspire the world with my words. That is my purpose! That is my journey!” 

Only, that didn’t happen in the pretty picture setup of my outdoor writing space yesterday.  I sat and I wrote six-pages of what felt like total crap, otherwise known as a shitty-first-draft. 

Will I try to publish it as a personal essay? 
Will, I ever put a complete book of my stories together? 
Do I have enough focus and drive to make that happen?
Is my fatigue from trauma, PTSD, ADHD, lack of focus, and self-sabotage, standing in my way? 
I won’t bore you with all of the negative self-talk that runs through my head when I write. 

I kept writing, going at it for hours because the sun felt so good on my skin.  I had so much to say, or so I thought. I was translating from a journal entry, which the day before was an awesome spark. Only once I started typing, it all felt forced and disjointed. I worked to make it make sense. I don't think it ever did. 

Finally, hours later, I walked away from it. I got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face brushed my hair and gathered groceries to take around the corner to my mom’s apartment. 

My mother  (my employer who does not pay)  calls with something she “needs” from me every.single.day. Even when she doesn't really need anything.  It’s attention-seeking behavior. Every adult in my family does it.  They are constantly seeking my attention. 

Yesterday she needed paper plates from my pantry, chicken wings, from my freezer, frozen taquitos, and forty-dollars’ worth of quarters, from the bank of my husband, for her elderly neighbor who can not easily get to a real bank. 

(Tootie, mom's neighbor, needs the quarters to wash her clothes in the coin-operated laundry room in their Independent Living Senior apartments. She washes her clothes in the laundry room, where three out of four lights are burned out, and nobody (the management) has done anything about it because according to Tootie, “No one cares about seniors.”)

My privileged mother,  (otherwise known as Employer, who doesn't pay, but always in dire need of services rendered by me) has her own, personal, washer and dryer inside of her apartment. She also has a wonderful,  paid caregiver, who comes in to actually "do" her laundry.  (I digress.) 

I crawl in bed last night.  I swear I will not write another word tomorrow.  Nope. I'm definitely no  Amanda Gorman. 

In fact, there are days I don’t know who I am or what it is that I’m doing and feeling.

Is this a mid-life crisis? Do women have those? 

Last week I wanted to leave my family. I mean seriously...divorce. All of them. 

Is this p.m.s.? Is this perimenopause? Menopause? It’s hard to tell because the periods haven’t completely gone away. They taunt me. One month it’s here. The next month? Maybe. And then...bam! Here the mother f*#%er is again! 

Whatever it is, that I’m going through, half the time I feel crazy, confused, and moody. I hate everything and everyone, especially the people I love. 

Is this pandemic/quarantine blues? 

People aren’t talking so much about it anymore, but it is still the elephant in the room that is making us all lose it. My house has become increasingly smaller because of this god-dammed, pandemic, elephant taking up space, squeezing me closer to these people I live with. 

This is happening just at a time when I hoped to have an empty nest. I thought I might have a little freedom from the responsibility of taking care of adults, deciding what they will eat and how it will all magically appear before them. 

Today I woke up thinking, I will just take care of the laundry list of boring as f*#% to do’s. Maybe I can be successful at the laundry,  grocery shopping, and hunting down a CoVid vaccine appointment for my mother. 

But alas,  I woke up inspired to write this lovely blog entry for those of you who may also be feeling a little bit of pandemic, quarantine, p.m.s., menopausal, compulsion to divorce your family. 

I love you,
 ~Karen 
Not that Karen, 
Not Amanda Gorman
The one & only Karen Wesley, Writer 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Sunday's Dance

Nothing makes me dance on a Sunday morning like being alone in my own house. 

As my husband leaves to go to my mom’s apartment I yell, “Stay extra long! Will ya?” He doesn’t see the humor in my snarkiness. 


Bless him. He has it within his heart to go to my mom’s apartment every Sunday morning, so that they can stream church together.  I do not have it within my heart.  I no longer do things out of a sense of obligation, if I can choose not to. I did that for too many years to count. I have the scars of resentment to prove it. 

 

They started watching church together when my mom lived here in our home. It’s a Baptist church out of Baltimore, Maryland where my husband’s family lives. During the week our house would be filled with screaming, arguing, and constant talking. The last thing I wanted on Sunday morning was to have someone screaming the gospel at me. 


No thanks. I would rather talk to God, quietly through prayer and in my journal. I don’t need the constraints of formal Christianity, which comes with side order of  hypocrisy for many Christians. My relationship with God and my spirituality are not for world consumption or approval.  I admit there is still  a bit of a sting leftover from the over-saturation of a childhood consumed by organized religion. There was no freedom of choice until I turned 18 and had enough. 


I was my mother’s primary caregiver while she lived here. She came to live with us “temporarily” during the height of the teen and adult-transition years for my sons on the autism spectrum. Temporarily turned into ten years of me being so overwhelmed with keeping my children alive and mentally healthy. I didn’t have time to think of ulterior living solutions for my mother. 


I feel the heart palpitations when think about what a nightmare it was when everyone lived here together. I’m still in therapy trying to get over that trauma. 


I had to have my son, Kendal move out when he was 19. He just could not be contained within this house, along with 4 other adults. He moved into a situation that I wasn't all that comfortable with at first. However, it served a purpose. It was healthier for us to live apart. 


Thankfully, he moved to San Antonio to work and live with his older brother 18 months later. Now, he lives in Los Angeles with my niece. The fact that he has a soft place to land  is on my gratitude list every.single.day. 


Late last summer,  I was doing the happy dance after I was able to orchestrate everything so we could move my mother around the corner into a senior-living apartment. She took the last of the Sunday morning noise along with her, along with the landline phone that would ring all living day long. The calls were mostly solicitations or Kendal calling back home to report every tragic life experience and emotion. You know, like frustration over missing the bus or overcooking the chicken to the point of extreme dryness. My heart rate would go up every time the phone rang. A trauma response from years of phone calls with bad news on the other end.


When Mom lived with me, it turned out that the more I did for her as her daughter and caregiver,  the more she wanted me to do, and the less she was willing to do for herself. It wasn’t mentally healthy for either one of us. I felt constantly overwhelmed and stressed. Sometimes, I would hide in my room just “not” not to be asked to do something when she laid eyes on me. I would go to a bar after yoga so I didn’t have to come home to work. I didn't want to answer the questions, as an adult in my own home, “Where are you going? What are you doing? What are you eating? What are you drinking?” 


As fate would have it, my mother reached a point where she could no longer climb the stairs to get to the shower in our two-story home. The  arthritis in her knees had become progressively worse. Anxiety made her believe that everything was impossible.


I hired home-health therapists to come in and help her build her strength and confidence. I knew her days were numbered in this house. 


I was finally able to  find her own, fully-accessible, apartment.  She has a friend/caregiver come into her apartment to help with cooking, cleaning, and bathing.  She now has her very own, private, quiet,  space where she keeps the temperature around 80 degrees.  


She doesn’t have to stumble over our stuff or be inconvenienced by my disorganization. She doesn't have share the guest bathroom with our son’s friends, who just might pee on the toilet seat when they come to visit. 


She is happy with her space and I am thrilled about the doors that close between us. 


The burnout from years of caregiving for my mother and my young adult sons, left me with no choice other than to draw strong boundaries between myself and my family.  The experience of over-giving had kept all of us from growing.


I reached a point where my body would not allow me to do it anymore. I had neglected my own needs in order to take care of theirs for far too long.  The of damage to my soul turned to anger, rage and resentment.  


It took a lot of years of therapy to figure this all out. When everyone was here together, I didn’t have the wherewithall to address how my own mental health was being affected. I continue to work to hold my boundaries as my dependents work to encroach upon them. I’m still responsible for them, but from a healthy distance.


Our family has  lived in this house for over twenty years. Most of those years were extremely loud, and incredibly close. As in, too many of us with too many agendas, opinions, feelings, and emotions, all living within earshot of each other


For me it was like being on-call 24/7,  living with some very needy, non-paying, clients. It was like playing whacamole, putting out one fire, and then the next, with very little time to catch my breath inbetween.


As women, mothers, daughters, and wives, we are conditioned to give from the time we are in our early teen years. Do the things that you are asked to do.  Go to church. Get baptized because it’s time to give your life to God. Please the Elders in the church. Everyone is watching. Give your time in order to please others. You want to be well thought of in our community.  Follow the example of Christ. Don’t embarrass your mother. And what does your happiness have to do with anything? Your job is to make others feel comfortable, so that they will like and accept you. 


Growing up, my children were not happy most of the time. They were socially isolated in school, had issues with anxiety and depression. They had challenges that I could never have imagined in my own childhood. I thought it was my job to protect them, to be their voice, and give them as much happiness and comfort as possible. That was my job for a long time. Only I didn't know when to draw the line. 


The same was true with my mother. Make her comfortable and happy, as you have done your entire life.


Only the weight of all of that was impossible for one person to carry. I was living the way I had been conditioned. The sacrifice of my happiness, was inconsequential. 


That is, until I woke up and realized that my happiness is essential. You can only fake the funk for so long before your body and your brain give way to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and hopefully not heart disease, or some other illness.  


When we become burnout, our bodies internalize our pain and begin to break down. 


We have to take care of ourselves.  It’s vital to take care of our own needs.  It’s the infamous, put on your oxygen mask first, that I heard that a million times. I probably even wrote about it here on this blog.  And yet, I would only take just enough oxygen to barely keep breathing. Everyone else had as much as I could humanly give them.. 


These days, when I wake up on Sunday morning and I am alone in my house,  I dance. I don’t even need any music. It’s in my soul. 

Sunday Chillin in my swing chair.
No makeup. Alone.



Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Boundaries


 

Last night I received your demanding e-mail. 

"Unblock my number or never talk to me again."

First of all, you can not threaten me into talking to you.

Secondly, we have an agreement. We talk once a week. 

It’s been going great until…

-You blew past boundaries with your dad by calling repetitively during his work hours. 

-You knocked over boundaries with your brother, Blue, killing the "Do Not Disturb" on his phone while he was trying to sleep. 

On Sunday after our pleasant conversation, one of the hundreds of pep talks that I’ve given you about autism and the superpowers it brings. The ability to hyper-focus on what you really want to focus on. The ability to self-teach, as you have done with roller coaster design software, professional video editing, changing your diet, meal prepping, and exercising in order to lose over 100 pounds. The ability to learn in unique ways, and see the world differently than most people. 

After we talked you began messaging me, asking questions about one subject, and then another, and then another...problem. I was on my way to have dinner. I refused to continue the exchange after several messages. 

After a warning, “the block" went back on my phone until the next time we are scheduled to talk again. 

I can't stay angry with you. That's not how I'm made.

I know that autism, mental illness, and self-loathing are the culprits underneath these behaviors. 

I can and must, however, maintain my boundaries for the sake of my own mental health. 

It is tenuous these days. 

There have been too many years of this.

I have allowed you to run all over my boundaries to the point where I became depressed and full of anxiety.

I reached a point of almost not functioning. 

I can not do that anymore. 

I can not continue this trajectory. 

I can not be the answer to all problems. 

The plethora of resources that you have in our extended family must be used unless, and until you get to a point where you can actually be the independent, self-reliant man that I know you can be. 

Saying, “No. Not anymore,” is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. And when it comes to you, I have done some very difficult things. 

It takes energy and strength to say no when your own heart is bleeding. 

Deep down I know that someday I will not be here. 

I can not be the solver of all problems. 

I will not always be your soft place to fall.

You will have to seek help from other sources or you will fall...hard. 

The first source you need is yourself. 

You are the key to your future.

You will come out of this stronger. 

You will have the strength to fix things yourself.

I love you.

And yes. I am sure you can do this.  


Friday, August 14, 2020

Conversations with Depression

 

It’s me against you.

I know I’m not alone in thinking that I can negotiate with you.

There has to be a way to outsmart you --beat you at your own game. 

I can do hard things. 

I can figure this out. 

I’m a badass! I’m a mom. I helped my kids survive autism in their teen years while taking care of my mom as she tried to lose her mind. 

I can do anything!


Those things did exhaust the hell out of me though. Years on top of years being in fight or flight. Now my body and my mind are not quite sure what to do.  


The days go by. I feel numb. I’m sure and then unsure. I have plenty of time to think about it all. We’re in this pandemic! Life is slower than slow although, I’m not sure what happens to all of the days.


Negotiations:


Maybe if I just buy this thing... 

A new bike. An adult tricycle. Bikes are for exercise. Exercise is good for me.

That will do the trick. 

I will feel better after that. 

 

If I just do this thing…

When I set up my outdoor oasis. 

Sitting outside in the fresh air always makes me feel better.

I’ll be more content then. 

(Only now, it’s hotter than hell. And the mosquitos love me more than any boyfriend I’ve ever had. Fuckers.


If I could just move back to California…

The weather is so much better. 

There’s a beach. There’s an ocean, a breeze. 

How could I ever have left the beach?

Why didn’t I realize that I need a beach in my life?

How could I be depressed when there’s a beach? 


In California, I would have my friends. 

My oldest friends. My dearest friends. The friends I’ve had my whole life. Friends I can count on. Friends who I don’t have to figure out. They’re just there. Always. Friends who won’t abandon me and disappear.


If I just ...pray, meditate, do more yoga, keep busy enough, read more, distract myself, follow all of the therapy, and self-care accounts on Instagram.

Then. Maybe then, anxiety will not seep into my bones and refuse to leave.


You know...I don’t have time for this. 

I have things to accomplish. 

Just get over it already.


Therapy is great. 

I finally feel validated, seen, and heard. 

Finding my therapist was my saving grace. The best thing I’ve done for myself in the past 20 years!

  

Why do I have to be one of those people who needs therapy? 

I can live without therapy. 

I’m going to skip it next week.

It’s ridiculous that I spend this much money and time on therapy.

Do other people spend this much time trying to feel good? 

Happy people really get on my nerves. (Insert eye-roll here) 


Why can’t I just think positive thoughts? 

You attract what you focus on, right? 

Change your thoughts. Change your life, right? 

Manifest happiness damn it! It’s easy! 

Don’t worry. 

It will come. 

Why hasn’t it come? 


And then the rationalizations…


Is this even real or are you just feeling sorry for yourself? 

I’m not taking any more medication. 

Fix your life, not your medication.

 

Wait a minute...you fixed your life. You made some space for yourself. You have more peace than you have had in years. You should be happy now.

You’re not happy now? 

What is wrong with you? 


The truth... 


Life is difficult for many of us walking on this planet. 


Circumstances in my life are better. 

I have created more peace. 

However, peace doesn’t look the way I expected it to because there are new challenges.


I thought racism was better. We had a black President. I have tons of white friends. We all want the same things. 

Then I find out, the entire history of our country has been set up to on the concept of white supremacy 

And right now, they want their country back. 

They hate us. They are literally killing us. 

It’s sanctioned and promoted by our current administration. Every time I hear his lying, cheating, hateful voice, I want to crawl out of my skin.  

 

I am not alone in these anxious thoughts and feelings. 

We’re in a global pandemic. 

Many of us are feeling trapped.

Our normal has completely changed.  

We feel we’re being punished because our neighbors won’t behave and do their homework.

Everything is tenuous. 

Each day we wake up to more devastating news and death. 


It’s okay, not to be okay right now.

It’s okay to feel all of the feelings. 

It’s okay to be a complex human, thinking and feeling one thing one moment, and another in the next. 

 

There is no magic thing ...magic answer. 

There is no bag of tricks to outsmart these feelings or rush them away. 

Sometimes, we just have to live in discomfort. 

Discomfort is the spark --the key motivation for major change. 


So I don’t have to buy the thing --the adult tricycle, that really would be so cool.

Or do the thing --that would make everything better. 

I just have to keep moving.

Keep swimming.

Never give up.