Sunday, March 22, 2020


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.