Sunday, March 22, 2020

Self-Preservation

Image of me from years ago -hiding 
I’ve been fighting against getting too caught up in the madness of the world right now. I conserve my energy to deal with the madness of my own private world.


If I start overthinking everything, that rabbit hole would get too deep. I might not make it back out. 


I already spend too much time to spend inside my own head with all of the thoughts. It gets dark in there sometimes. I have to compartmentalize --to decide what gets my energy. 

We’ve been working recently with my 24-year-old son on relocating closer to where we live. He is relatively high-functioning autistic. He has lived away from home for over 4 years. He has lived with his older brother over the last 2 years. As of the first of May, he will no longer have a support system in San Antonio. 


The other day I confessed to my therapist, “I know it sounds bad to say this out loud, but I’m more anxious about this change than I am about the Coronavirus.”
She wasn’t surprised. 


“Why is it that situations with him make me more anxious than a pandemic crisis?” I asked. 


She confirmed -- it’s trauma.  I have been dealing with the stress of this situation for years. My body and my brain are conditioned to it.  The amygdala in my brain is constantly on hyperalert. My body stays ready for -fight or flight.


I can’t deal with loud noise or aggressive speech without my body tensing up. The men in this family, can be very loud and um...passionate. Even when I try not to show my feelings outwardly, when I try to remain calm, the stress will show up in my body at some point. Usually, it’s at the end of the day when I am the most physically tired. 

What if the peace that I have worked long and hard for goes away? 


Because therapy isn’t long enough for me, I sat down the next day with my journal and asked the question, “Why do I keep taking his calls every day? Talking to him for more than a few minutes makes me nervous and more anxious. Why do I keep doing it day after day? What am I afraid of?”


Well, there’s a lot. He’s my son. I love him. I ache for him, and yet he is the most difficult challenge in my life. Our relationship runs deep. 


Fear —If I do nothing to help him, and leave everything up to him to figure out, he will do nothing. 
Where will he end up without my support? 
What if he ends having nowhere to go except here with me? 
I would lose my shit completely. 

It’s sad that I feel like I am the worst possible person for him to be around. 
My very being provokes negative behaviors that he displays with no one else. 
His proximity to me slows down his progress. It’s not healthy for either of us. 


My therapist agrees that his coming back home would be a signal that one, he has failed at independence and second, that he can relax and not move forward to the next goal. 


Why should he keep growing if he can have all of life’s comforts without the work that goes along with it? 


As it is, living with his brother seems to have signaled to him that there is no need to save money, even though he’s in a position to do so. 


He knows everything and nothing. 
His intelligence is high. 
His ideas are grandiose. 
He wants more out of life.
He wants a better job. 
He wants independence. 
He fixates on success and would love to become independently wealthy.  (Hell! So would I!
Unfortunately, autism affects his executive functioning which is the catalyst for making things actually happen. 


I write in my journal to reach further. Where are these feelings coming from?  


Fear -I will fall back into the black hole of anxiety and depression.  I am barely clawing my way out.


It feels like dirt is kicked back in the hole every time the phone rings with his anxiety on the other end of it. It makes me want to hide. Like I'm not human. Like I don't have a choice of how much of myself to give him.


(I don’t allow my phone to ring anymore. I keep it indefinitely silent because of years of this.)


I fight against my fear. 
I get angry with myself because I know I don’t have the time or energy for fear. Nevertheless, here it is! It hangs around like an uninvited, nasty, dark, cloud. 


I know that fear does nothing besides waste energy, of which I have none to spare. 
Haven’t I learned by now that half of the things I waste time worrying about will NEVER ACTUALLY happen? 
Of course, I know that.  
I know the smart things. 
It’s just actually doing the smart things and believing in the best outcome, where things get lost in translation.


He is relentless when it comes to me. 
He will go as far across my boundaries as I allow him to go. 
I have to be stronger than he is just to hold my ground.


He has so many new things to worry about with this transition and so many old things that he is compelled to discuss ad nauseam.  
  
What he wants or needs takes precedence over everything. 
Who cares about what I have to do personally. 
Other people that I need to take care of can wait. 
So what if half of the things I need to do would actually benefit him if he would leave me the f*@#  alone long enough to allow me to get them done. 


I don’t have the best focus, to begin with. 
I am perpetually trying to put together the ever-evolving puzzle.
Thinking is constant. 
I’m exhausted.


In the past several years, I have been working to find my new self. I work on self-love and self-care. I take care of my own mental and physical health like it’s a full-time job. I’m working on developing a career as a writer. I need something for me outside of my family. I have to find the woman who I abandoned years ago. Motherhood and marriage erased her. 


But alas, there is a new challenge to solve. 
It’s huge. He needs to find a new job and a new place to live. 
How do we tackle both things at once? 
Over the years, therapists have always recommended, only make one major change at a time.


I  can’t do this anymore. I can not allow him to give me all of his anxiety. If I become sick or die because my immune system has been compromised from stress, I will not be able to help him or anyone else!


He is much younger and stronger than I am. He has to carry his own anxiety or find ways to release it. I can not do that for him. I tell him all of this. It doesn’t feel like he hears me. Sometimes it feels like he doesn’t recognize me as human. 

I know I’m his mother, but he doesn’t push this far with anyone else in his life. He pushes, just not this far. This is probably why he is so alone in the world. If you don’t love him unconditionally, he’s a bit much to take. 

I exhale deeply…the air feels shallow. I close my eyes and imagine the bluest ocean. I take another cleansing breath.


Now, the world has closed down. I can’t go to the yoga studio to make myself remember to breathe. I practice at home.  I stream it from the studio. It’s not quite the same, but it helps. 


I love this child of mine. I love all of my children. One of them happens to be more vulnerable and alone in this world than most people. That makes my heart hurt. I want to support him, while at the same time, I have to prepare him for the day when I am no longer here. Who knows that maybe sooner than later?  


In the meantime, I give him the best that I can from a healthy distance. 


Loving myself at the same time as loving him is a new concept for me. 
Self-preservation is real.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Gentle Pushes

How much help is too much help from a parent when your child with autism becomes an adult?

First of all, the term “adult” is very broad. Reaching the age of eighteen or twenty-one makes them legally adults. However, for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, delays in development and maturity can be significantly slower than their typical peers.

According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine in November 2009:

“Because of delays in ongoing social development, some of these individuals may attain educational, independent living and relationship goals, but reach them a decade or more later than typical for the general population.”

In the journey with my sons, I found that too much help could be toxic (and I can be a real helicopter mom. I'm constantly working on it.) Too much help can delay them even further from becoming independent.

Think about it…
Why do things for myself if mom will do it for me?
Why do I need my own money if dad will give me everything that I want and need?
I will never forget the first time Kendal had to take money out of his own account, for his spending "wants." He was so angry with me! 

Blue's 1st Car! 
Transitions in life are hard for most of us. The responsibilities that come with adulthood can be overwhelming. Working, going to college, deciding what to do with your life, budgeting money, planning how best to spend your time. The call for a social life that looks like what your peers seem to have can be especially difficult for those on the spectrum.

I have also seen examples where not enough help can leave them sitting in the same place for far too long. Once you fall too deeply into depression, it gets even more difficult. Then because they are legally adults, we can’t exactly make them conform to get mental health services.

Let’s face it, often we (parents) are the last people they want telling them what to do. In their heads, they are adults and should be able to make their own choices. I get that. In our experience, the help can not always come directly from me or their father. We need a whole community of supports to get us through the transition to adulthood. Ideas sound so much better coming from a respected peer, a mentor, a cool uncle, cousin or aunt.

There is the school of thought, “Let them choose their own path. Let the cards fall where they may. It’s their journey.” I fully support their path, their choices. However, in our house choosing to do nothing is just not an option on the menu. Doing nothing exacerbates depression and anxiety can be incapacitating. An idle mind has too much time to fixate on negative scenarios. Also, having nothing to do means more time to bug the shit out of Mom. I am already over my limit.

I’m not autistic and yet, I’m pretty good at talking myself out of things that seem daunting. I usually dread the worst outcome. This comes from my own anxiety, which has increased on my journey through motherhood. It doesn’t serve me to think the worst. I’m getting better at not doing this, but I am a work in progress.

I was more optimistic before I had children. Experiencing so many traumas with them (the diagnosis, meltdowns, the constant calls from school, interactions with mental health authorities). All of this changed me. Before kids, I was willing to try anything, to ask for any job, more money. The experience of raising these children, in particular, has changed me beyond the point of recognition.

For our boys, once they hit 18, the choice was either school, work, volunteering, or some combination of these. In Kendal’s case, I sometimes “voluntold” him because I  refused to allow him to be bored. Having nothing to do made his behavior intolerable.

Unfortunately, at the age of nineteen, we found ourselves making the decision to gently push Kendal out of the nest and into another living situation. I can barely say the words group home out loud. It just doesn’t sound like a place that a child of mine would ever be. I had put everything I had into raising him and getting him the proper supports and therapies, from the pre-school program for children with disabilities when he was three-years-old, to the school district’s Adult Transition program until he was twenty-two. Not to mention all of the therapies and camps we put him in over the years.

By the time he was 18, I was on the edge of a breakdown mentally. It felt like full access to me made his behavior worse, and his motivation to grow up, stagnate. Living in our home was disruptive and effected everyone, including his younger brother who was in his junior year of high school. Blue could not even do homework in our home without disruption and explosions.

However, Kendal being in a place that he did not love as much as home, motivated him. I think he felt more like an adult. He actually became a leader in that environment. Most of his roommates were not functioning as highly as he was. He was cooking, shopping, preparing his own meals. He had begun to work on weight loss and ended up losing over 100 pounds. He was motivated to acquire the adult living skills so that he could move to live semi-independently with his older brother.

I am proud of the steps these young men have taken towards adulthood, but none of it came without gentle pushes.

The most exciting news is that three weeks ago, we helped Blue buy his first car. He just reached his 21st birthday this month. He has been working and saving for over a year.

His driving journey started at age 16 when he took his first Driver’s Education class. He did well, passing at 95%. However, the whole ordeal caused him quite a bit of anxiety. The mere fact that the class was something additional added into his schedule between school and homework, was enough to throw him off. Nevertheless, he emerged with his driver’s permit.

There wasn’t a lot of driving practice afterward. Anxiety slowed his roll forward. Eventually, in his senior year, we got Vocational Rehab to pay for some behind the wheel lessons. We thought it was better that he drove with a professional instead of us (his parents). He was pretty oppositional and argumentative with us because after all, we “know nothing.” He was less agitated and more relaxed by driving with a professional. Both of the boys behave better when we are not around.

After his first year in college, I gently pushed Blue again to move forward with driving. He decided to take a refresher driving course. After the behind the wheel practice, he finally initiated taking and passing the test his adult license. Still, for various reasons, there was very little driving practice, though continued to save towards a car.

When word got out that Blue got his adult driver’s license, suddenly his older brother was motivated to take more lessons and obtain his license. To date, he’s still working on saving for a car.

Blue has mellowed out so much since he stopped classes at the community college and started working. Working made him feel successful. He is well-liked by his Managers and his peers. He even hangs out with some of his adult coworkers.

His demeanor has made it easier for us to ride with him for driving practice. At least now, he will listen. More so with his father than with me.

Now he’s driving himself to work and to his favorite spot to hang out and write —Starbucks. He has taken himself to the grocery store and Target and of course, out to eat.

We still drive him or ride with him if he has to go across town. There’s no highway driving yet. We are absolutely thrilled that we aren’t paying for Uber or driving him everywhere anymore.

His next goal is to possibly get an internship or apprenticeship so that he can increase his earning potential. Driving gives him more access to the world.

I am extremely proud!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Blind Love

Sometimes love is blind
We convince ourselves that the person we think we love is perfect
Unable to recognize their flaws
Unable to see what is at stake
We are stubborn and ignore everyone’s warnings
Someone can tell you how things will never work out
How the person isn’t right for you
That it isn’t meant to be
Even if you concede and agree with that person
Love is a force
No matter what anyone says
You can’t let go of this person
It is not until the day comes
Whether it be rejection, betrayal, or revelation
When you’ve been led on long enough
You finally, wake up
You find out the hard way
It hurts like hell
You feel an emptiness inside
Believing love is not real anymore
That no one could ever desire you
But then
After overcoming this pain
And learning from your mistakes
You find that love is not just a heart-fluttering feeling
You realize that you must see someone for all of who they really are
Both the darkness and the light within
Become aware of everything
Understanding that they are not perfect
Despite their flaws and darkness
You choose to accept them
To embrace them
To cherish them
It is when you finally make this conscious choice
That we know true love

~Anonymous

This was written by a self-aware, insightful, old soul, inside of a young man of 21 years. He hopes that this will help someone understand love a little more. 

Feel free to share it. 

Love,

~Karen 

Friday, January 31, 2020

Job Corps is a "No"

At this point in our lives, with one son age 20, and the other age 24, I try not to freak out every time something happens with them.  Every time they call or text me in a panic --which is sometimes at the exact same moment, I  play it cool.

My self-talk is, “Somehow, this will work itself out. Karen, you have been freaking out their whole lives about everything. The truth is, things usually do work out...one way or another.” After the heart attack. 

For months, I have known there are major changes coming down the pipeline for Kendal (my 24-year-old). Kendal is on the autism spectrum. He also has a laundry list of co-morbid diagnoses. He has been living in a townhouse apartment with his older brother Adrian, for nearly 2 years now. He has remained employed the entire time. In fact, he’s worked steadily for the past 5 years. He is happiest when he is busy working.

It turns out that life is taking a different path for Adrian.  He will be relocating in the  Spring. He is going to become a father. (Yes. I will be a grandmother. I have all kinds of mixed emotions about that.) I’ve raised three children.  I am very much aware of how much it changes your life. Having a baby will be the biggest joy, the greatest love, and the most difficult thing he will ever do in his life.

Once the baby arrives, Adrian will not have the time to dedicate to taking care of his brother, nor should he have to. He has been helping Kendal out with transportation, managing his finances, personal hygiene, and self-care. He has been a constant sounding board and top advisor. Adrian will need to focus on his new baby son and the family that he will be building. He has been incredibly patient with Kendal --helping him take many steps towards manhood and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Instead of freaking out and going into helicopter-fix-it-mom, I thought I would sit back and see what plans Kendal would come up with on his own. At first, he said he was determined to stay in San Antonio, which I thought was awesome! He started working with a Life-Skills Coach through his employer (Goodwill) to help him figure out what's next --looking at housing options and better-paying positions.

When I didn’t see much progress, I suggested that maybe he look into Gary Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas. It’s located just between here and San Antonio. Job Corps is a free structured, living and training, government program to help young people develop skills for a career. Kendal has been talking in circles about possibly going into a trade for the past two years in between his delusional get-rich-quick-and-easy, entrepreneurial solutions.

Kendal was excited when he checked out the Job Corps website. Still excited after starting the application process and talking to the recruiter. It was great! Until it wasn’t. That freakin’ anxiety crept up and took over.

I woke up one morning to the message, “Job Corps” has bad reviews. He also sent a link with some horror stories about things that have happened at the San Marcos location. Stories of drugs, violence, filthy accommodations, terrible food, horrible, health and safety concerns, uncaring staff. Mixed in, there were a few stories of success. Of course, Kendal’s anxiety is drawn to the worst, possible case scenarios.

“I’m not going to Job Corps.” was the follow-up text.

Well, there goes my simple solution to just nudge him in the right direction and let him figure it out for himself. 

Since then, there have been weeks of extremely high anxiety (mostly him). I’m playing the role of the cool, namaste, mom --acting as if I have no stake in this game.

“It’s your life. You’re an adult. Whatever happens next is your choice. After all, the Job Corps only wants people who really want to change their lives. Not people whose mamas want them to change their lives.”

Most of his alternative solutions have no realistic workable plan. They are mostly a non-plan, where he’s going to become an entrepreneur with no money to invest in himself or a business, with no formal training or additional education. Somehow, that’s going to miraculously work out to him being able to live on his own and pay his own way through life.

Back to my mantra, ”Somehow this will work itself out.”

There are moments when I absolutely buy into my mantra. Where I’m all self-care, yoga, meditation, inner peace, namaste, and the law of attraction

In between those moments I am freaking the hell out while trying to pretend that I’m not.
-I can not do this again!
-I don’t even know where to start looking for resources. (It’s like I’m new here.)
-He will not cooperate with me.
-He is oppositional and works against me. It’s mostly the same with his father.
-I am just not the one-size-fits-all solution anymore!
-We need a resource and a workable solution, as in --yesterday.

Does one ever finish raising an autistic adult?

I's tired. So tired. (In my Shug from 'The Color Purple" voice.)

The other day he texts me. I could actually write a whole book about our daily text conversations. He texts me whenever a new thought runs through his mind. (Insert eye-roll here.) It would be un-freakin-believable.

“Why do older women seem to be attracted to me more than younger women?”
 My answer? “I don’t know, but can you ask one of them if she wants my job?”

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Guardian of Peace



You think I’m changing?
You’re right.
I am changing every.single.day.
Shouldn’t I be?
Should you be?
I feel sorry for people who exclaim things like, “I will never change! I am who I am.”
If you’re not changing you’re not growing.
Personally, I hope to never stop growing.
I will never stop seeking knowledge and doing the work on myself; looking at myself critically; forgiving myself for not being perfect; trying to have balance in my life.

I’ve been working on myself for a few years. You know...after forgetting to work on me while raising our very high maintenance children. Raising three children (two who are autistic) is pretty much all-encompassing. Self-love and care are now a top priority for me.

Maintaining a 25-year marriage isn't a walk in the park either. I still find it amazing that we made it with no one being harmed physically in the process.

I saw to it that our children received all kinds of therapy during those years. Therapy for them was like another career for me. Ascertaining therapies, researching medications, putting together educational accommodations and plans to make sure their needs were met.

When they were teenagers, taking care of their mental health and basically, trying to keep them alive was a huge part of my invisible job.

Now, the work I am doing on myself is starting to pay off.
Remember when I was depressed and anxious all of the time?
I was walking around here, tired, angry and resentful, feeling very much unappreciated.

I was overwhelmed and hopeless.

Talk about being trapped? Trapped is an accurate description for feeling like there is no way out. It felt like there was no way out of all of the responsibility for my children. They became teenagers and then young adults who still have needs. Added to that was the responsibility of caring for my mother whose needs seemed to grow with time.

My psychiatrist and therapist called what I have "Caregiver Burnout." It’s really a thing. It’s a thing that happens when you ignore your own needs in order to take care of other people. When you’re trying your best to make other unhappy people, happy. It feels like an impossible job because it is. What made me think I could make them happy?

When it’s your children who are suffering from depression and anxiety, a mother will give anything for them to have an ounce of happiness.
I admit that I got totally caught up in this work.
I had no balance.
I was all in...over my head.
Drowning.

That's okay. Thankfully, I lived to forgive myself.

You know how it is when you’ve been working on a job for too many years. You’re not getting any raises or bonuses for a job well done. You don’t receive any recognition. You find your self working all of the time. You can’t catch a break.

Imagine that you actually live and work at home with your employers. Every time they see your face they ask you to do something for them. You have your “to-do” list all set in your head and someone else is literally adding things to your list continually.

These people you work for constantly attempt to make you feel responsible for everything that goes wrong, including how they are feeling. They behave as if you are their savior only without the glory. While you’re trying to save them, they are actually sabotaging themselves. You are losing yourself. Rinse and repeat for years and years.

After a while, you might want to run --to bolt the hell out of there without looking back; no forwarding address.

I have not been able to quit this job. There is no total escape.  What I have done though is to create boundaries between myself and my little non-paying, energy-sucking, employers.
I’m doing my best to maintain these boundaries, which actually takes a great deal of energy within itself.

I have created this little world for myself with pockets of peace. I put some space in-between me and my mother. We are both better for it.

Sometimes, this new world means spending time alone, in quiet solitude, writing, doing yoga, eating sushi and drinking wine. It may even mean occasionally traveling by myself, creating the ultimate boundary.

One of the other things that my therapist says that I have is P.T.S.D. from all of the years of stress and explosions that went off in our house. The loud fights, the constant noise, the aggressiveness, the threats of self-harm, the calls from school, the calls to 911, the mental health hospitalizations. Not to mention playing referee between all of the males in this house, in hopes to keep more explosions at bay.

Who in their right mind would want to keep living and working in an environment like this?

I survived it all. I still constantly push away feelings of sadness and fear for these children of mine, who are now grown, men. They are still behind in their development.  I ache for the dreams I still have for them. I just want them to have the fundamental things --love, basic happiness, comfort, friends, purpose, independence.  I can not provide any of these things for them. At this point, it's difficult to guide them. I can only try to connect them to the resources and tools that they need. They have to drive their lives forward.

I’m not depressed anymore.
Am I cured?
Am I where I want to be in this growth cycle?
Nope!

I will, however, keep working to maintain peace and boundaries in my life. Eventually, I will create a world in which I can be happy more than I am sad. I will not allow others to dictate my moods and control my energy.  I will protect myself from things I don’t want, and procure more of the things I do.

I had almost completely given myself away.
I’m back.
Not only am I back. I am new.
I am determined.
I am the guardian of my peace and happiness.
I will work like a mother f*#%er to protect it.
Namaste

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Spinning Wheel

When I close the door behind me, I feel a strong sense of relief. I lean against the door and take a deep, yoga breath. I want to cry but tears will not fall. I think I’m physically too tired to cry. 


My sense of relief that my son is on his way home is followed by guilt. How could I be so relieved to say goodbye to this boy who I love so much? He is a part of my heart. Intrinsically, I feel his feelings from day to day when he’s not here. I ache for his struggle and pain. My mind spins just thinking about his brain and his thought processes. I want nothing but the best for him. And yet, I find him exhausting. 

I want to help him help himself. His oppositional defiance does not allow for my help, even though he screams for my help every.single.day. Keeping up with him is like running on a spinning wheel. The more I run, I find myself completely exhausted and yet in the same place.


I am so glad that his father is driving him back down south to the half-way point to meet his brother so he can take him home. They live together ninety miles away from here. I thank God for the distance. 


I am equally pleased that I am not riding along. The house is empty and beautifully quiet. Finally, there is no talking.  


Having him home for the weekend triggered all of the feelings I used to feel when he lived under this roof. I was constantly in sensory overload from listening to the talking, debating, repeating, arguing. He would follow me around as I moved throughout a room as if I would not still hear him if I step a few feet away.


He is 24-years-old now. He lives in a townhouse apartment with his older brother. They constantly talk about what it means to be a man (which I think is mostly a load of bullshit.) Still, when he is home with me, he reverts back to that insecure little boy who can’t stand to have his mama out of his sight. 

When I step into the laundry room. He follows me. I step into my bathroom to brush my teeth, he follows. I move from one side of the kitchen. He moves towards me. 


Dude! Back up! I don’t need you standing over me in order to hear you. The neighbors can hear you. 


After they pull off with the door closed behind me, I climb the stairs to my bedroom. I want to escape into the chaotic world of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” I don’t want to think about my life. I want to be distracted. 


When the show is over, I leave the television on and turn down the sound. I have no desire to hear any more words. There’s an awards show on. “E People’s Choice,” I think. Watching celebrities congratulate one another feels like a huge waste of energy. I have no energy to give them in their fancy gowns with boobs hanging out, just short of showing us all a little nipple. Why is fashion?


The compulsion to cry still lingers, hanging around like an uninvited dark cloud. 


How did I live this way for so many years? 
How did I ever get anything else done? 
The stimuli from his barrage of words limit my thought process, which is not all that great, to begin with. 
How did I actually write a blog during those years? 
No wonder I could never put together an entire book to seal my fate in the world as a successful writer. (At least this is everyone else’s idea of a successful writer.)


I blogged whenever the boys were at school, at work or when I could escape from the house for a few moments. The fact that any of the writing it is coherent is a miracle. I used to publish back then without a lot of editing. My mind was too cluttered to find my own mistakes. I wrote mostly stream of consciousness, sometimes under the gun of limited time. 

Should I shower or should I write? 
Should I wash my hair or should I write? 
Should I take a freakin nap, because I feel like I got my ass kicked last night, or should I write?

The most important thing for me was to get my thoughts out -to release pent up anxiety and frustration. To maybe have someone read my words and feel less crazy and alone in their own world. For that, I am successful. I’m not the author of a best-seller. I am the author of this blog and thousands and thousands of people have read my words over these crazy years. Some have been helped and changed by our story. This is success. 

I have to continually tell myself about my success, because if I listen to the people I work for, I would believe that I have never accomplished anything. I don't have a "job." Dad earns all of the money. I certainly have never done enough for them. Even my husband sometimes reminds me of the entrepreneur and career woman that was when we met.

Well, you and your children changed all that. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into until I was already swept up in it.


Somehow, I managed to take care of all of the things and all of the people. It all feels like a kind of impossible dream, or maybe a nightmare, in hindsight.


This weekend was a reminder of how overwhelmed I felt for so many years. The more we were all together in this house, the more cross conversations and conflict. I still don’t look forward to the times when we are all together. I’m shocked and amazed when it actually goes well. And the holidays are coming. I can hardly wait. (Insert eye-roll here.) 


When we were all living here together, my husband with his loud reactions and tendency to inflame most situations, instead of ignoring them. My mother and her unsolicited, non-editorialized, commentary on everything. The boys -with their constant questions about everything in the world. They ask only to let me know that I don't know anything.


As a part of Kendal’s weekend visit to see us, I took him to visit with my mom at her apartment around the corner. Their interaction triggered the feelings I felt about my mother when we all lived here together. Her inability to stay out of any given conversation that did not involve her. Her unfiltered insults to Kendal as if he has no feelings, and was undeserving of basic human respect. It was like, she thought, ”He's disrespectful, so why should I respect him? He’s clueless! I can say whatever I want to him. He says whatever he wants to us.” I think she thought somehow she was standing up for me because I chose not to fight every, single, battle.


There was always a definite difference between the way she spoke to Kendal as opposed to the way she spoke to my more sensitive, younger son Blue. I think it was because Blue’s feelings would be easily hurt and then he would want nothing to do with her for days. Also, he could really blow up from zero to one hundred in nothing flat. Kendal, on the other hand, would forgive and forget easily. And if he didn’t, I don’t think she cared. 


I’ve always had this thing, whether it’s right or wrong, that I am the only one who has the right to talk shit to my kids. When my mom did it, I would be pissed. I don't even like it when their father says something that I deem as negative. Does he have a right to do so? Well, technically yes, but I don't have to like it.

Maybe I feel like, I give them the most unconditional love. I fight for them every day. I work the hardest to understand them. I see how they struggle out in the world each day. Also, they treat me the worst, so I have a right to get angry with them.


The more dialogue and crosstalk in our house, the more sensory stimulation for everyone. The more sensory overload, the higher my anxiety became over the years. I was always about trying to end every conversation without getting to a point where the boys would become aggressive and angry. It seemed as though my mom and my husband didn’t care if they set the boys off. 


I constantly felt like a supervisor of the circus. 


With all of these triggers, no wonder I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time Kendal moved. No wonder I have turned into this person who craves to be alone. I fantasize about living by myself, having to please or answer to no one; not being on twenty-four-seven call to meet my family’s needs.

I used to always tell my husband, "You can be my boyfriend and come visit me in my secret-hide-away." We are great together when we get away from the stress of this life. Sadly, most of the time we had to leave the house in order to enjoy each other as man and wife.


I am completely traumatized over how most of the last ten years of my life have gone. The boys in their teens and then transitioning to adulthood. My mom living in the center of our lives. Someone always wanting something from me. Constantly feeling like whatever I did was not enough for any of them.


Until the spinning wheel finally slowed down, I didn’t even realize that I had forgotten to take care of myself. 

I’m making up for the lost time.
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