Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dear Elizabeth Gilbert

Dear Liz,

(Yes. I'll call you Liz if you don't mind. After all, you are one of my dear friends)

On Sunday morning, I woke up and grabbed my phone from my bedside table as I usually do. I checked the Facebook group that I run and then switched over to my personal page. I was pleasantly surprised to see a reply from you.
I wrote this…

Oprah Winfrey hired me to do
P.R. for my dear friend
Elizabeth Gilbert.
She will be on
Don't miss it.
"This is so beautiful! Thank YOU!
And you wrote back …

I’m sure you are busy in your life hanging out with Oprah and the gang.  Yet, of all the people who shared the post about you being on Super Soul Sunday, you took the time to reply to me! My heart smiled as I read your reply.  I did a happy dance. It felt as if you knew that my soul needed a gentle touch in that moment.

My heart has been heavy lately with a lot of tough decisions regarding my son. He is a young man with high functioning autism who is transitioning into adulthood and driving me completely bonkers in the process. I’m hearing this good whisper saying,  "It’s time for him to go."

The whisper has actually screaming at me lately. Oh wait a second …that was him. But anyway, the whisper has been saying, “Release him to the world so that he can grow into the man that he needs to be. He will not do that as long as he is with you.”

He shows the promise of being a wonderful citizen of the world. He will be a man with challenges and he will conquer them.  He will need support to make this happen, but what he doesn’t need, is to be coddled and protected by his mother. I just don’t think he will grow into a man until he takes some steps away from me.

The whispers have also been saying, “You can’t keep living this way Karen. You are giving way too much of yourself.” I can hardly make myself out in a mirror. My inner light is fading. The walls are closing in on me. This world that I have created is now suffocating me. I have spoiled them all, including my husband and my mother.

I too have been spoiled.  I have been given the gift of being a mother full-time for my boys. However,  in giving everyone so much of my focus, I have almost been erased. I think of them before I feed myself.  I think of them before I pee! I think of them before I exercise and subsequently, I usually put it off.  It’s become a bad habit.

What does this person need from me now? Here you go.  Slowly, I am giving away a small piece of my soul.

The whispers are saying, “You have given to them out of love and protection, but it’s time to let them fly. It’s time for you to start flapping your own wings and start living instead of just existing.” 

After I saw your message on Facebook, I flipped on the t.v.  and watched you on Super Soul Sunday on OWN.  You sat there chatting with my girlfriend Oprah, but you spoke directly to me.  It was like you were sitting there having the chat that I, specifically needed to hear.

“If you stay on this path you may literally die or die in pieces.” Liz Gilbert 

I’ve been feeling like I am dying a slow death. This life that I’m living is a part of my path, but it is NOT my path in total. I am called to do more.

“Good whispers scare you. They open you up.” Liz Gilbert

You’re a writer Karen. You have a gift to give to the world. Your family is a part of your world. They are not your ENTIRE world.
You don’t like Texas. This is not where you are meant to spend the rest of your life. Stop doing what everyone else wants you to do. Empower them to do for themselves. Get yourself in a position to pay someone to do the things you no longer want to do. They will probably do a better job anyway. You are meant to travel the world. You are meant to be in the places where you are loved simply for being who you are. You are meant to have a relationship with your husband. He’s supposed to be your lover and your partner, not just the dad, the breadwinner and the guy you share a room with.”

“The good whispers scare you. They open you up. Bad whispers shut you down. You can’t listen to them." Liz Gilbert

My good whispers say, “It’s time for him to move to the next step of his life.” The unknown variables of that scare the shit out of me. The good whispers say, “You are supposed to write a larger piece of work, that will reach farther and help more people.”
My bad whispers say, “You do not have time to write today. You don’t have time to exercise. You can never finish a long term project. You have too much on your plate.”

“Obstacles help you gain what you need for the battle.” Liz Gilbert 

The difficulties that I face right now are what’s making me stronger.  My destiny is to encourage others through my writing.  To tell them that they can get through these obstacles and and make it to the other side.  It doesn't really matter what channel that writing comes in on write now. The point is that it touches someone.

I made this and shared it on FB and Instagram

This was one of my favorite quotes.
The voice in my head says to me, "You’re not smart enough. Your grammar is horrible. You can’t focus. No one you know has ever done this. What makes you think you can?"
Who is that shit talker? She really needs to shut up! 

“Sometimes you have to shape the quest to the reality of your life.” Liz Gilbert  

As much as I'd love to run off to Italy, France, Bali, anywhere but here reality is that right now, I am a mother, a wife, a caregiver.  I write a blog that touches many all over the world.  My writing helps them and let’s them know that they are not alone in this difficult journey raising children with autism. What I’m going through each and every day with my boys, the good and the bad and sometimes hilarious, I share and someone’s life is touched. I make someone laugh. I help them realize they they are not crying alone.

I am also called to write a larger piece of work. Perhaps that hasn’t happened yet, because I’m still walking the path of raising these boys. My journey with them is not complete and it does require a lot of focus. And remember Karen, you don't focus all that well. 

You reminded me however, that even if I can’t do things exactly the way I want to do them today, I need a plan. I need to set up my "coffee can plan" and put something away in it every day toward my goals. I will write something every day. What I’m living and what I’m doing right now, is a part of my spiritual journey.

“Grace says I don't care what you do, you're splendid, magnificent and I'm here. I'm right beside you and we're gonna get through this.” 

Thank you Liz, for helping me to give myself a little grace.

And guess what?

I will see you and my girlfriend Oprah next weekend in Houston at Oprah's The Life you Want Weekend. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Village People

I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason. Every person enters your life to teach you something.

This morning I had breakfast with the Transition Coordinator for special education in our school district.  She is also the Principal of the Adult Transition program that Red is in now. Feeling desperate for answers for moving into the next phase for Red, I messaged her last week and asked her if she could meet with me privately, before our next meeting with him.

We first met years ago when Blue did a presentation at our school district's teachers conference, on why students should participate in their I.E.P.  (individual education plan) meetings. You can read about that experience here on my blog. Yep. That was my kid!  

She was the teary eyed administrator attending his presentation. In that moment she made me realize that there are administrators special education in our district who are in it for the right reasons. She is one of the special ones who really cares about the lives of the students she touches. She genuinely wants to see them become successful and independent.

Since then, this wonderful woman helped me put Red on the right path by mapping out his future through a process they call a V.I.S.I.T. meeting. Together, we got him out of the high school where he was not thriving at all. We placed him in another high school program, that although not perfect, worked much better for him. We got him through high school a semester early even, and into adult transition, because we could clearly see, that the high school environment was just not the place for him.

She runs his PCP (Person Centered Planning) meetings here at our home. Where a group of mentors, including teachers, job coaches, and his Pastor come together periodically to help him work on personal goals for his life.
I took her to breakfast today, so that we could talk one on one, about the next steps with Red and the possibilities for him finding a supported living environment.

What an excellent resource, friend, and the example of an Administrator who truly wants to make the lives of those with disabilities better.

They are out there people! Get involved and get to know the powers that be in your area. We need all that the resources and help that we can get. I am a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child.  Even more so, when they are children like mine. We are so blessed to have her as one of our village people.   

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Little Light

Here in my reality, I am not always able to find the bright side of the story.  Lately, there hasn't been much light to be found in the shadows and darkness.  Yesterday, was different.  The sun was shining and I definitely saw a bit of light.

I had a rational conversation with Red, in which he finally took some responsibility for his recent behaviors.

"I just can't do it.  I don't know what it is ...but I can't get along with this family."
"Do you think there is anything that can change that?"
"No. Honestly, I don't."

Wow! I wish I had recorded it. He seemed to be reaching a point of acceptance that he is going to have to move out. He still thinks he's not ready and that he can't afford it.  He doesn't think he can handle everything on his own and neither do I.  I assured him that I would make sure that he has the support that he needs.  We talked about a post-production film program in California for young adults on the spectrum.  We talked about supported living environments both here and in California.

I illustrated how well he is doing in all environments except for home.  He saw the picture. I told him that I think he will grow into the young man that he needs to be if he gets away from me.  He's a mama's boy and he knows it.

I have been his anchor, his voice and his advocate for so long.  Maybe I have over-mothered in attempts to protect him from himself and from the horror that was middle and high school. He was so sad, depressed and felt so isolated.  I knew that he was in deep pain in those situations and I tried to compensate for that however I could.  I fought for the best possible scenario available in a sea of  bad options for a kid like him.

However, I feel like at this point, I'm stunting his growth. I can't be his lifeline anymore. I just can't do it. The more I give, the more he takes, leaving nothing left over for me. He needs to stand on his own.  He will continue to need support, but he will get it from other adults who have high expectations of him and he will rise to the occasion, just as we've already seen since he left high school.  Being away from me will force him to grow up.  I think he'll be happier.  I told him that during our rational conversation. It may not be all roses. There will be some thorns.  There will be some setbacks but ultimately, he will thrive.

It's not like he's someone with absolutely no drive and no initiative.  He was that way in high school. But since then, he is on point with his job.  He hasn't missed a single day and hasn't had one, single issue there.  He has the drive and initiative to work on his own business, even though he still has a lot to learn.  He is motivated to make money! I think that getting some distance from me will be the spark that puts him into overdrive.

I was feeling discouraged and messaged my good friend Paul yesterday.  I met Paul through this blog and my Confessions Facebook community  (See...Social media is good for something!)

Paul wrote a little about his Aspergers story on my blog last year. (It's a really great piece of writing.  You really should check it out.) Paul had had a difficult childhood not knowing that he had Aspergers.  He is now a successful business owner, excellent father and a husband.  He has friended Red on FB and always has encouraging things to say to him.

I love him for who he is as a man and the way he treats my son with such dignity.

Paul wrote the following...

"I have this gut feeling that I've never been able to shake...but I have always thought there was something very special about your boys. I mean that with all my heart, and I've probably even told you that before, but I absolutely cannot shake the feeling that, despite the frustrations and challenges, God is cooking up something extraordinary in Red's life. I swear to you, it's just feel it as real as the air I breathe. 

You've always inspired me so much just in the way you live your life and carry yourself through these struggles. It doesn't seem like much of a consolation, but it takes an extraordinary person to raise kids like that, and it's pretty clear why God picked you. Gee...thanks, God! Right? 

Maybe I just relate to him because I was like that too, and I was blessed enough to have a dad with the same heart you have ...and he never gave up. It wasn't like he said "I'm done with you" but instead he was saying "I love you too much to let you keep living like this". And because he was a parent with the same heart as you, he saved my life over and over and we have a great relationship now. He's my hero and always has been. I would bet my life Red sees that in you too when he looks back 5 or 10 years from now. 

You are all amazing people and I count myself blessed to call you friend. Please hang in are doing an amazing job!!"

This brought a tear to my eyes and joy to my heart. Everything he said made absolute sense. It's almost like Red is pushing me to push him out and that may be a God thing too.

Again, thank you Paul for being there for him and for me. I appreciate your support more than you'll ever know.

It is a daunting to think of my child moving away from me, out there into the big, bad  ugly world. I know it's scary for him.  It's scary for me. Ultimately, it will be for the best for both of us.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Confession #999

I confess that I no longer enjoy cooking.  It's become just another huge chore. It takes my appetite away for various reasons. There's the whole tasting-as-you-go thing, which is not really a major issue.  It's usually just exhaustion that turns me off.  By the time I finish cooking, I'm just worn out. I end up eating just enough to take the edge off my hunger and then I have a glass of wine. Wine for dinner! Yay! The lack of appreciation from the boys does not help my enthusiasm for cooking one single bit.

I cooked a big dinner last night. Half way through the process, I was sorry that I began. I marinated a lot of chicken in teriyaki marinade and spices the day before. The plan was to put it on the grill.  Mom was to make a big salad and I would make some quick macaroni and cheese.

As I'm prepping to go out back to the grill, I hear the boys talking upstairs.  It sounds like a decent conversation at first, until it gets louder and louder. I start to cringe as the debate turns into quick anger.  Then I hear, "Get off of me...!"

I yell up the stairs to basically disburse ...go to their perspective rooms. I get zero response. It's like my voice is mute. Yeah. Big surprise.

I have to march up there to get them apart with threats of course.

"Do you want to lose the Ipad for tonight!?" I yell at Blue.
"Do you want me to cook dinner? Because I can't do it if I'm up here pulling you two apart!"
"I'm sorry mom, but he..."
"He my ass! It takes two to fight!"

I turn to Red, "I guess you don't want me to help you with the video editing tonight!"  (We've been working on the family reunion video together.)

I made Blue go out for a bike ride and sent Red to his room.
I am sick.of.them.both!
Hubby of course is out with colleagues at some fun spot downtown. Yeah.

By the time my head hit the pillow, I thought to myself ...Why do I do this? Why do I cook for these heathens? Why do I do anything for them? I should just let them fight it out.  What am I supposed to do when two gigantic wild animals are attacking each other?

I really just don't want to be here. 

This isn't fun anymore. 

I wish I could just enjoy my family. 

(There is this family across the street from me.  Their daughter is grown of course, and out of the house, but she's there visiting like every day.  They are always having family dinners and going out together.  They seem to really enjoy each other. What is that about?  It's kind of weird and wickedly cool at the same time.) 

My weekend get-away-high is gone.  I'm back to feeling as low as a rock.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I need for somebody in this equation to be absent, because my heart is not fond right now.

My home is not a haven. It's the storm.

*My friends reading this ...

I will get through this. This depression is situational.  I need to change the situation and I know what I have to do.  It will take time, but it will get better. I know it will.