Freedom..

You hurt me. Not with words, but by withholding them when I needed them most.

You hurt me when you walked away.

You took with you my dreams, my hopes and my passion.

You scarred me with the ill-chosen words you did choose to use when you allowed anger to guide you, and your eyes to be closed to compassion.

You turned your back on me when I needed someone to prop me up.

I needed to lean on you, and you let me fall and I struggle to believe that it wasn’t deliberate.

You knew I was treading water, yet you threw me no lifelines. You responded to my cries for help with anger.

Were you angry at me for being weak? Or angry at yourself for being ill equipped to deal with the onslaught of emotion that I bring to the table?

Some say that you were not ever able to deal with me emotionally, but I call bullshit. You always knew exactly what you were doing.

I know I’m pretty full on but you knew that from the very beginning.

This was always all about control, and power and winning no matter the cost. It was about arrogance and selfishness.

I want to hate you for this and for all the rest of the pain you have caused me over the years, but hate is such a strong force that I don’t want to allow it in to poison me. Because I know it will damage me irreparably.

Part of me wants to find out what I need to do to cause you the same level of hurt and pain that you’ve caused me, but I know deep down that revenge is never the answer.

Love is.
Forgiveness is.
I’ve held onto enough pain to last me a lifetime and it’s starting to make me physically ill so it’s time to let it all go.
It’s time for me to move on and allow healing to begin.

You’ve left me damaged, but not broken. Cautious but not so much that I’ll never be able to let someone in again.

You don’t deserve that much power over me.

Your neglect of our relationship, of our history and our connection hasn’t left me feeling as cold as it I would’ve expected.

It has pushed me closer to Jesus.  To the one who will never be disappointed in me.

The one who will never crush me with angry words, the one who will never abandon me.

So thank you. Thank you for teaching me that it was always foolish to expect a human to be what only God can be.

Faithful, true, honest, loving and kind.

All the things you’re not.

 

Silent chaotic prayer 

I am just so angry.
Where are you God? I know you won’t leave me, but right now, I cannot find you.
This hurt that is inside me is all-consuming. It’s overwhelming and frightening.

I struggle to join coherent thoughts together and the idea of completing simple everyday tasks seems so much more than I can possibly handle right now.

I wonder aloud whether there is more to life? There has to be. Surely this isn’t the best that life has got to offer? And I if this is in fact it- I want out.

Why aren’t you fixing this mess?

My mind is starting to go places that I know I should stop it from going. It’s been poking into dark corners that should be avoided and meanders it’s way along deadly paths and tracks that are all one way streets.

There is no coming back from some of these thoughts, but at the moment, it is what it is.

I’m so angry I can barely breathe some days.

Why have you let me get so low? Why aren’t you changing anything?

My current state of mind is a veritable quagmire of pain mixed with emotions that have no escape. They swirl around in my head and spin madly creating a series of out-of-control tornadoes that have the power to take me out in one foul swoop, and the energy that I expend trying to push them back under the surface is nothing short of exhausting.

Why aren’t you bringing the break I so badly need? Surely I deserve better than this?

Trying to keep this stupid mask glued to my face that presents a coping facade to the public and fool them into believing that every thing in my world is peachey is a task that requires enormous self-control and frankly: I no longer seem to have that in me anymore. My emotions torment me daily.

Where are you hiding from me?

These emotions hover on the edges of my sanity provoking me and passively aggressively eating away at my peace until I explode in a spectacular display of insanely refractory behaviour that paints me into a corner where I sit and rock as I try to wrap my head around what the hell is happening around me.

I am through pretending. When is this going to end?

Where is my escape?

Maybe I really have lost the plot once and for all. Maybe the end of my rope is the end of my life as well?
You know what? I don’t even care anymore. I’m done caring.

I know that YOU care, well at least I thought you did.

I am all out, I’ve got nothing.
Jesus: I need you.  More than air.


Psalm 10:17
You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.

 

 

 

 

 

Mind Jumble…

I’m constantly dreaming and wishing for things to change but still not even sure

what it is that I want – or even what it is that I’m feeling.

So many emotions all swishing around in my head – all of them unnamed 

and unable to be distinguished from one another.

*

Everything is just tumbling around inside on a continual spin cycle.

Sadness mixes effortlessly with happy memories,

joy wraps itself around pain and nothing makes any real sense at all.

Like a load of dirty laundry my head is turning over thoughts,

and trying to remove damaging stains in any way that I can.

*

But there is a strange comfort I can feel even in the midst of my turmoil.

A sensation of complete peace – a comforting blanket of protection

that settles me and causes me to believe that it’s all going to be ok.

I don’t know how. I don’t know when – I just know.

I know that my God will find a way.

Photo on 21-06-13 at 4.55 PM

I have love.

I’ve was sitting down at this computer for several hours this morning writing out whatever came into my head. I was trying to process some big stuff that’s going on here and writing it out usually helps me to make sense of it all. Heck – I stayed up most of the night trying to write it out and got nowhere.

And it didn’t work today either.  At all.

Words were looping in my brain and the solutions all seemed so far off. So I turned on some music, closed my eyes and tried to slow my brain down by forcing my thoughts to go elsewhere.

 I do wonder at times like this just how much aspie there is in me. Maybe I’m not as neuro-typical as I first thought? Or maybe this is a normal reaction to too much stress and confusion.  I just don’t know and don’t particularly care right now.

I turned off the computer and moved over to the lounge room to lay down on the sofa. I could hear the children playing in the background – the sound of the Ninjago app I recently downloaded was coming from the iPad.

My daughter was watching one of her teen shows on TV and the little one was rolling around on the rug piling cushions on top of himself because he was seeking sensory input. I looked at each of them and smiled. They really are everything to me. So different to one another – so unique in their own special ways.

Ella walked over to me and handed me a coffee. It was strong and black – just the way I like it and sat down beside me putting her tiny waif arm around me pulling me close and kissing the top of my head. The daughter was comforting the mother – so wrong yet so RIGHT. And this action in itself is HUGE because she is not a touchy-feely person at all. But my girl sensed that I needed to be held.

In that moment I thanked God for allowing me the privilege of raising her.  I love her so much and can’t believe that I have been trusted with so much.

I looked over at my big boy and noticed him reading his new Ninjago book intently.  He was engrossed and sitting on his haunches just like my Dad used to do. A tear came to my eye and I wiped it away quickly. I couldn’t afford to lose it, there was too much to be done.

My little one had progressed to doing laps of the living area. He had set up an obstacle course with toys, bean bags and cushions and was jumping, skipping and hollering with delight. My problems suddenly seemed so insignificant.

I closed my eyes and lay my head back down and drifted off to sleep because I had been awake for most of the night. When I awoke later I heard giggling in the kitchen and I crept out to see the three of them working as a team. They were making me the most disgustingly wonderful sandwich I have ever seen. And instantly nothing else mattered.

I realised right then that I have everything because I have love.

It may not always come from where I most desire it, and it is sometimes disjointed and awkward and usually messy, but I have love.

Thank God for love. Thank God He loves me more than any other human being could possibly love me.

Thank God that He sees me and not the mess I have made of my life, and He loves me still.

Have a great weekend all.

x

Yes - it's an old pic but the only one I could find with all 3 kids in it :)

Yes – it’s an old pic but the only one I could find with all 3 kids in it 🙂

Sneakiness has its merits…

20121206-215711.jpg

My friends are sneaky.

Not all of them, but some of them.

These are the friends who instinctively know when I’m off my game and don’t let me fade away because they know its not good for me. They know that when I withdraw it’s an alarm signal.

You know……

  • The email that states that I’m not required to respond but that they want me to know that I’m being thought of and prayed for.
  • The text messages that are innocent enough but have a deeper underlying purpose….digging for details on how to help me. Or even asking a mutual friend to contact me to check that I really am ok.
  • The phone call out of the blue just to say “Hi” .

And then there was today. Today a friend took me out for lunch. And the fact that I can boldly say that it was the best gluten-free meal I have ever eaten to date is not the most meaningful thing that I took away from our little rendezvous. The wonderful quaint little gift shops that we browsed in wasn’t it either. And believe it or not: it wasn’t even the amazing coffee we had. No. It was “where” she took me. She knows me and what I love the most.

Remember in previous posts where I have written that sometimes I need to escape to the country to find my balance again? That there are days when I just need to get away from the stress and hectic pace of my life and clear my head?

Well….she took me there. To my favourite little country getaway with the beautiful people and the incredible landscapes and cute little churches.

She’s clever isn’t she?!

But I didn’t work out her plan right away.

Sure she mentioned that she’d noticed that I sent her a picture last night instead of writing but I didn’t think too much of it at the time.

I savoured my lunch. Well no, actually – that’s a complete lie – I wolfed down my sourdough chicken burger like there was no tomorrow! But what I mean is: I was content in my surroundings and relaxed and happy, I was laughing, chatting and absolutely in my element. And I haven’t been in that place of contentment for quite a while now.

My friend asked me if I could picture myself sitting outside on the verandah with a coffee listening to the bell birds with my iPad in front of me writing. And even then, I still didn’t realise what she was doing. I’m not even sure if it was deliberate or not but it worked.

I turned a corner. I was able to quash the feelings of inadequacy and standup to that voice in my head telling me that I’m a waste of space and mentally yell back at it: “What I think and write and who I am is important so SHUT UP!”

Giggle ….giggle….I like feisty Fiona …

My friends know that writing is what works for me. It’s how I process my thoughts and work through emotions. But lately I have shunned writing. It has all been too hard and I really wasn’t keen on facing any of my challenges head on.

I kept my head stuck firmly in the sand refusing to face up to anything.

There has been a lot of stress here lately and the fact that our house is currently on the market hasn’t helped. We have had a low offer which we refused and another offer of the exact amount we were hoping for only to have the buyer change their mind and withdraw their offer 2 days later. At this point it looks like we’re staying put and I’m more than happy with that right now.

Also: it is the last week of school next week and the exhaustion and frustration is evident in all of the children but especially Harley. He is tired. He has mentally signed off for the year and is coping by tuning out everyone and everything. (Hmmmm. wonder where he got that from?) hehehe

There have been challenges in our marriage and struggles in our family dynamic and its all gotten on top of me.

But my friends haven’t deserted me. Even though I know I’ve been difficult and aloof lately, the emails and texts have been constant and kind and caring. I have needed them . They are truly what have kept me going.

That and the reminders of where I need to get my strength. I admit that lately I have stopped laying all my cares at the feet of Jesus. I have tried to do it in my own strength and failed miserably. But just like my friends here on earth He hasn’t forgotten or forsaken me. And for that, I am truly thankful.

I have learned that unlike my husband and sometimes my boys; I need people. I need to chat, to hug, to be hugged and to do life alongside others who get me. Some people do well by limiting their interactions but I’m not one of them. I crave human contact and start to nosedive whenever I choose to isolate myself.

And tomorrow night: I hope to write more about the past few months and the awesome progress that my boys have made.

The clouds are clearing: the sun is peeking through and the curtain of lethargy and depression is lifting.

And even though I was raised in a Pentecostal church – I am still partial to the odd old hymn. Like this one because it just sums it all up perfectly.

It is well with my soul.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Unsent letter

To the person who has hurt us,

You do know who you are,

I want to tell you here- right now,

That you have gone too far.

.

I want to let you know that we,

Still love you just the same,

But it hurts me when you judge our ways,

And give me all the blame

.

You know my life is not like yours,

And it will never be,

I do the best with what I have,

So please don’t bad mouth me

.

My children know that they come first,

And have my full attention,

So forgive me now, if you’ve to wait,

And I am not perfection

.

I feel that you just inward look,

And make it all about you,

But in THIS house, we’re not that way,

You never seem to approve

.

I’m sorry if you feel that I,

Have been a dreadful pain,

I have no time for childish rants,

It’s puts me off my game

.

My days are filled with ASDs

And everything that includes,

So give me grace when I am not,

Always in the happiest moods

.

I’m sorry that I sometimes get,

All tense and non compliant,

But all this stress has turned my woes,

Into a towering giant.

.

I’ve never claimed to be immune,

To snapping under pressure,

But bringing up the past to us,

Just brings us such displeasure.

.

So instead of focusing on yourself,

Why not offer to shoulder our burden,

And walk a mile in different shoes,

Before just spurting your poison.

.

I work so hard but still you want,

To criticize me and complain,

You won’t believe in ASDs

So it’s always just the same…

.

I’ve tried to tell you all I can,

But you don’t want to listen,

So saying that I am “not right”

Has been your latest mission

.

If I’m “not right” then why do I,

Do most of this myself?

And manage to raise gorgeous kids,

With barely any help?

.

The things that you’ve complained about,

Weren’t done to tick you off,

My heart was right, and full of love,

But now….I’ve had enough

.

I can’t go on pretending that,

Everything is now okay,

I’ve tried my best – but it’s not enough,

I’ve nothing left to say

.

I truly hope that you get to,

The place where you find peace,

I pray that God will bless you lots,

And that this tension now will cease…..

Tidal waves.

I find it disconcerting to say the least when my child has a bad day, because a bad day round here doesn’t look the same as a bad day anywhere else.

No.

It looks like an angry tidal wave that is threatening to wash away everything in its path. You can’t escape it and there’s not a lot to grab onto to steady yourself anyway.

Everything seemed to be sailing smoothly this week until yesterday when Harley came home and flew into a rage that was completely unprovoked, unpredictable and unexplainable. As he ran through the house pushing things off shelves, kicking doors and walls and banging his own head repetitively on the cold, hard tiled floor, we stood by watching him helplessly knowing that we had to let him ride it out.

We knew that it was something big that had caused him to react this way and we also knew from painful experience that the underlying reason may not be something that would be discovered easily.

Although he appears to be in the fight response when he is like this, his inability to form coherent words when he is in this distraught state of mind causes him to cross over ever-so-slightly into flight mode. He mentally shuts down and his eyes glaze over as he searches frantically for a safe place. He needs to escape his own brain and he cannot rest until he does. He has been telling me in the days leading up to now that his brain feels fuzzy and that his head is telling him to stop spinning. I should have heeded this warning….

Because his cognitive functioning skills are non-existent at times like this and he lacks any hint of social appropriate behaviour when his brain overloads itself, I cannot do a darn thing for him.

He just needs to “get it out” and does so however his mis-firing brain tells him to do so. Appropriate or not.

But there is ALWAYS a trigger. It’s all about the three R’s. The rumbling, rage and recovery stages.

I failed to recognise the rumblings and was punched in the metaphorical face with the rage cycle instead and waiting until recovery arrived was my only choice. The only thing I could do was ensure that he was safe in the process and that his siblings were also kept out of his path until the storm had passed.

Eventually he fled to his bedroom and lay down on his bed thrashing and kicking until his body was so exhausted that he fell asleep. I went and laid down beside him and stroked his sweaty forehead and prayed over him until his body stopped fighting and surrendered to rest.

As an autism mother it is one of the most difficult parts of my job. It is draining, it is heart-breaking and nothing makes you feel more helpless than not being able to comfort your child when his thoughts are attacking him and he literally rips and scratches at his own head trying to get some peace.

But also as his mother – one of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing him breakthrough and make progress.

He only slept for a very short time. Just long enough for his brain to process whatever it was that had triggered the tsunami and allow him to return to the world that confuses him so much.

He woke up and found himself in my arms and gave me a weak smile. His tiny voice shook as he shared with me his heartbreak.

And right then – my heart broke all over again.

He is being teased: He is being called a “baby” because he claims that his best friend is his teddy bear. He is being called a “Mummy’s boy” because he flew into my arms at school excitedly yesterday and gave me a big kiss and told me that he loves me. And he is being told that he plays silly games and talks funny.

Um yep…

 Socially inappropriate behaviour not in line with his biological age??   Can anyone say “ASD”?

Back to the freakin’ neurotypical teaching drawing board. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.

Urgh…

Understanding and working through guilt.

Mum introducing baby Harley to a horse 🙂

In just under 2 weeks time – Mr Patient and I are going away overnight to attend my cousin’s wedding. The venue is a couple of hours drive away from here and rather than try to drive back later that night, we have decided to stay in a nearby hotel instead.

I’m actually finding though – that I’m having the exact opposite emotion to guilt (whatever that’s called) whenever we leave the kids with friends or family these days.  Instead of feeling guilty that we have left them…..I feel guilty because I’m NOT missing them….How twisted is that!?

But it hasn’t always been that way.

For many years I carried guilt and shame related to leaving my children and it’s only been recently that God has set me free from this burden and I’ve been able to see that in actual fact – in the particular circumstances that I have lost sleep over I didn’t even do anything wrong. It can all be traced back to the different brain wiring of my son and the fact that we didn’t know anything about it.

I clearly remember way back to in late 2003 when Ella was almost 4 and Harley was still a baby.

None of us had slept more than an hour at a time on any night due to Harley’s constant screaming and crying, but my parents knew that we were absolutely exhausted and needed a break.

So they offered to mind the kids for us up at their place (in the country) for 5 days so that we could escape over to the coast to stay in a gorgeous little bungalow on a lagoon that they had booked for us. We were SO excited at this idea and knew that we desperately needed this break and looked forward to it for WEEKS.

Prior to this – I had been having headaches and facial numbness for months but it had gotten a lot worse in the weeks leading up to this escape so I went and saw the seventh Doctor in two years and listed my symptoms for the 7th time expecting to be sent away being told that I was a hypochondriac again. But this time I demanded that the Dr do an MRI because I wanted to put my mind at ease once and for all so that I could enjoy this holiday with nothing to encroach on my peace.

But of course the MRI revealed the brain tumour that I had been accused of inventing symptoms for, and our little couples escape never happened.

On the night before I was due to go in for my surgery – my baby Harley came down with the chicken pox and wasn’t allowed to come and visit me in the ICU or even after I was transferred to the brain injury ward until the spots had disappeared.  On the morning of my admission to hospital, my Mum clearly remembers standing on my front porch waving her daughter off to have life-saving brain surgery while her grandchild itched and cried for his Mummy. His little arms reached out to me but I had to turn and walk away. THE hardest thing I’ve ever had to do to date.

When he did finally get the all-clear from the Dr and was allowed to visit me in hospital – he didn’t seem to know who I was. He was only 14 months old and Grandma was the only person he responded to. This was my first introduction to mother’s guilt.

Fast forward almost 2 years and 2 major surgeries later and we finally took that well-deserved holiday on the coast and by then – we were even more in need of a break than 2 years earlier and couldn’t WAIT for the day to arrive.

So we drove the kids up to Mum and Dad’s and jumped back in the car and drove to the coast to r-e-l-a-x!

But do you know what?  Once we got there – we didn’t know what to do with ourselves!  We didn’t know how to just stop and we were unable to relax much because we continued to be consumed by guilt.  After our first swim in the pool, dip in the spa, stroll along the beach and dinner and movie date – we were all outta ideas! And this was all done in the first day!

We weren’t used to having so much time alone together and didn’t how to spend it! We phoned the kids several times a day and actually ended up going back a day early to surprise them! We had clued Mum and Dad in and asked them not to tell the kids.

And to this day – I’ll never forget Harley’s reaction.  Even as young as almost 2, he showed signs of being very distressed by changes in plans.

(And recalling all of this now – I can’t believe that we missed the “A” word for so long).

 So we pulled up in my parent’s drive way and walked around the side of the house because we could hear them playing in the back yard. We didn’t call out to the kids – we just stood there and waited for them to spot us.

Ella saw us first and immediately came running over exclaiming “Mummy, Daddy! I’ve missed you!” But Harley burst into tears and clung to Grandma’s leg… He was confused and wouldn’t come anywhere near us. Me particularly. I remember how devastated I was by this but I think I did a fairly good job of disguising my hurt. We’d only been gone 4 days and I already felt as though I’d abandoned my child and his reaction to me just magnified my guilt. It took me a very long time to stop blaming myself for going away and leaving him even though deep down I knew that we desperately needed the break.

That afternoon, Harley stayed close to his Grandma for hours and eyed me suspiciously from afar.  He lay on Grandma’s knee and drunk his bedtime bottle that night and she was the one who laid him in his cot. Not me.  He didn’t want me. I remember how much my heart broke that night. It stayed with me for years but I didn’t know then that this was one of the early signs of his autism causing confusion, and anxiety in him.

~*~

I was only thinking about all of this today and for the first time I actually GOT IT!

I finally get that these incidences of Harley’s over the top reactions to change were nothing at all to do with my parenting (or lack of). I can now see that they were both just very early indicators of a little boy who is wired very differently to me.  I understand that his response to these events can be attributed to the fright response that is common amongst ASD children when they are confronted with a situation that didn’t go the way that they expected. Harley was simply reacting to change and clung to that which made him feel safe.  And in both of those circumstances – It was my Mum that was his safe place.

It has all become crystal clear to me this week exactly WHY Harley has such a closeness with Grandma.

I now understand completely that she was the only constant in his life every single time that things have gone belly –up.

She was not only someone who was there for him when he needed it most.  Someone who knew he was special and knew that he was different but chose to love him unconditionally and without judgement.

Thank God for my Mum.

And thank you God for healing my hurt.

Surviving on Fizzy Pop.

image via graphicleftovers.com

I was thinking about the difference between ‘coping’ and ‘surviving’ last night as I sat and chatted with a close friend that came over to visit me. I used that phrase to refer to how I am feeling personally at the moment and I realised that lately I have been a lot more in survival mode rather than actually “coping”.

But this post is not going to be about me.

My friend Valerie was the first place that I’d heard use these terms and she used them to refer to the way that children with autism are in a classroom setting amongst other children, and how they can often ‘appear’ to be doing quite well even though that’s often not always the case.

I wrote on Wonderfully Wired’s Facebook page recently that I always know when it’s going to be a difficult afternoon whenever Harley’s teacher tells me that he has had a great day. In fact, when I hear this – I inwardly cringe because I just KNOW that he’s saving it all up for me. (oh joy). I know that this is quite common in a lot of aspergers children (but by no means ALL of them) and I always thought the reason was that they are intelligent enough to know what’s required of them at school but once they get home again, all bets are off and the pressure cooker valve is finally released.

Well – this is true but my friend (an adult aspie) Lisa explained it to me in a different way. One that had never occurred to me before.

She commented on that observation of mine with these wise words:

A little Aspie nugget here: a good day from a teacher’s perspective means you did your work and behaved yourself. From my memory of this it also meant that I was shutdown, in daydream mode and holding back all day. I’ve been told by an Aunt that I’m like a bottle of fizzy pop. We all know what happens if we shake fizzy pop then take the lid off.

WOW!

I’d never thought of it like that!

So what the teacher was interpreting as a ‘good’ day meant that he was behaving ‘like all the other kids’. But what this required for him was to completely shutdown his natural tendencies and conform to be something that he’s not. I can now understand why we always cop the brunt so badly when he gets home. It’s because he just spent the better part of the day being something that he’s not and pushing his real self down and squashing the elements of his personality and nature that make him who he really is.

For him to be able to present a front of ‘coping’ – he was actually just operating in ‘survival’ mode.

And survival mode is hard slog. It is exhausting, it is mentally draining and it is something that no-one can keep up for extended amounts of time.

I was thinking more about the difference between the two and came up with this:

Imagine that your car breaks down in the middle of the desert and you are hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town. You have a trailer on your car that was filled with a months supply of food and water for you and your friend and all the camping gear and necessities that you will need to last you for weeks. Inside your vehicle, it is equipped with a GPS system and a radio.  So you find out your exact location and use the radio to send out an SOS call.

You reach someone in a town 2 days drive away who tells you that they can’t get someone out to you for at least 3 days due to staff shortages.  This situation is a total inconvenience to you and has thrown a spanner into your holiday plans right at the very beginning of your trip but you instinctively KNOW that you’re going to be ok.

You set up camp, boil the billy for a cup of tea and put your feet up with your friend in front of the blazing campfire and wait.

This is an example of ‘coping’ with an unexpected situation. Annoying – yes – but not the end of the world.

Now……

Imagine that your car breaks down in the middle of the desert and you are hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town. You only have enough supplies on board to last you both until you reach the next town. You have a radio (just like in the earlier scenario) but it isn’t working properly and is unreliable.  You can’t read the map that you brought because it’s written in Spanish and you have absolutely no idea where you are so wouldn’t be able to tell anyone even if you could reach them.

You do a mental inventory on the food and water supplies and work out that if you both eat and drink sparingly that you may be able to make it at least 2 more days. But after that- if you’re not found, things will be touch and go.

You rig up a makeshift tent beside your vehicle by tearing up the skirt that you are wearing and you drain the water from the window wipers just in case. Next you take the car seat covers off and use them to make a flag that you tie to your car aerial with the words “help us please” scrawled in lipstick from your bag and cross your fingers and hope , all the while not letting on how frightened you are to your friend so as to not alarm them.

This situation illustrates ‘survival’ mode.  Frightening, unpredictable and, and seemingly inescapable.

***

Miraculously a convoy of tourists drive past only hours later and you are rescued.

***

Now……In which scenario do you think that you’d be more likely to burst into tears of relief and vent all of your pent-up frustrations and fears onto the rescuer?

Certainly not in the first one because in that one – you were fully equipped with what you needed to get through (much like NT children) and whilst you were pleased to be rescued earlier – you were never all that concerned in the first place. You knew that you were going to be fine because you’d already sent for help and had the necessary coping strategies in place.

But in the second scenario (like our precious ASD kids) it was terrifying. There didn’t look like there was any foreseeable way out. Everything looked hopeless, you felt completely useless and you had to keep your brave face on for the sake of your friend. You were running on pure fear and survival instincts and not much else.

***

Your bottle had been shaken vigorously, the effort that you had to put in JUST TO SURVIVE took every last bit of control from you, your anxiety levels were sky-high and something had to give.

BANG!!!!!!

It’s no wonder my little fizzy pop boy explodes!

Is coffee really the answer?

If you read this blog regularly, you would know that coffee is one incredibly big crutch in my life. It is usually the first thing that I look for upon waking in the morning and something that I crave many MANY times throughout the day.   

Yes….I do believe that I am addicted and I also believe that it’s going to be quite a large hurdle for me to overcome but understanding the “Why” of my excess caffeine consumption may be the key to understanding my somewhat insatiable desire to pump myself full of the toxic liquid daily.

I noticed something very interesting today as I reached for my 5th cup at only 10am.

I realised that there is a very obvious link between emotions and coffee with me.  I guess you could say that it is a similar response to that of emotional eating.

I have been incredibly down for the past few days and spent a couple of hours this morning talking to Mr Patient about it. I sat with him in the sunshine on our front lawn and watched the neighbourhood children riding their scooters and bikes and kicking footballs in the cul-de-sac.

The next-door neighbours were hosting a BBQ (a frequent occurrence that we have NEVER been invited to) and had several cars in their driveway and we could hear the laughter and fun emanating from their backyard.

So….where were our children?

Inside.

With all the blinds closed and the heater on. One was on the laptop. One was on my iPad and the other was on his Nintendo DS. None of them were interested in socialising with the neighbour’s kids and none of them cared to leave the sanctuary of the house.

We realised that we were actually enabling them by allowing this to go on so we made a decision to go and turn all of them off and make them do outside to enjoy the beautiful day that God had given. The tears, tantrums and moaning started and we were told repeatedly that we were “horrible parents” and that we are “SO mean”. Harley even chipped in with “When I grow up and have kids – I’m NEVER going to be THIS awful to them!”.

Cue parental eye rolling.

Part of the conversation that I had with Mr Patient earlier included me asking him what he envisioned weekends would be like when we had a family. His response was surprisingly very similar to what mine was. It included: taking the kids to their various sporting activities, maybe going on picnics, spending it with other families or going for drives to sight see or visit friends.

But of course-our reality is VERY different.

Sure – we could do these things. We COULD arrange something fun every other weekend but we both know that whenever we have ventured out of the “norm” that we pay for it severely over the following days.

Our kids HATE socialising, we don’t have any “family friends” (meaning other families that we socialise with) – they’ve all moved away, and we are not involved in anything that could introduce us to new people therefore allowing for invitations. Sporting events usually end in tears because most ASD kids simply don’t possess the ability to handle losing. We have spent countless hours trying to teach this foreign concept to the boys with limited success because to them – failure is a blemish on their incredibly high self-standards and perfectionistic natures.

Going to church on Sundays is such a major melodrama that it hardly seems worth the hassle and the aftermath of taking our children anywhere different is always so explosive and ridiculously hard that it’s easier to just stay in our little autism bubble and keep to ourselves.

Sounds great right? Just stay home and it will all be fine and dandy?

Well – yes it’s easier on the children and causes less dramas but it’s absolutely KILLING me. I get so depressed when I hear other people recount their weekend activities to other friends and hear about the exciting things that have planned for the upcoming one.

The stories about their adventures and social gatherings that were spontaneously organised.

My weekends are always exactly the same.

Housework. Refereeing sibling arguments, housework, figuring out reasons for meltdowns, housework and trying to keep the peace amongst children that can’t seem to co-exist in the same 4 walls, and you guessed it…more housework.

Surely this isn’t as good as it gets?

Is it?

But back to the caffeine/emotions link.

This afternoon, right after we took the electronics off the children and arranged for us all to go for a walk in the sunshine, and the tears flowed and the anger surfaced – I reached for my favourite coffee mug.

As soon as that hot black strong espresso shot was making it’s way down my throat, I instantly felt the rush of adrenaline that it provided and was ready to tackle the meltdown head on.

I carried Lucas to his bedroom and Harley to his and told them both that crying wasn’t going to fix anything and that I wasn’t going to change my mind. The crying eventually subsided and they dressed themselves (well …kinda!) and as a reward for myself, I went and pushed the button on the coffee machine to deliver another shot of emotional comfort.

I was just about to put it to my lips when I suddenly remembered something that I had read years earlier. It came back to me as clear as a bell and it knocked me for six. The phrase that I had remembered related to the link between emotional eating and weight gain,:

“The worst part about emotional eating is it actually causes your problems to multiply. Eventually, instead of avoiding the issues you’re stuffing down with food, you’ve created another one altogether — weight gain, guilt about eating, worsening health … and then it starts all over again.”

I stopped dead in my tracks as I realised that I was self-medicating with caffeine. And the bigger problems that it creates are: headaches, irritability, heart palpitations, mood swings and dehydration to name just a few.

I didn’t particularly “need” that cup of coffee. Sure-I still love the taste and I do believe that I am very much addicted, but the bigger problem is that I usually just drink it to avoid dealing with what is really upsetting me at the time.

It gives me a rush of control that I desperately crave and takes my mind away from whatever drama is unfolding at the time.

I noticed that I rarely drink it when I’m home alone on Lucas’ pre-school days and I drink the most coffee before and after school and on weekends.

And what is usually the thing that upsets me is the perceived loss of “who I am” and “what I think I need to feel happy”.

The sheer stress of the constant tears, meltdowns, fighting, complaining and rigid/frantically obsessive behaviour that the boys exhibit just makes me want to poke my eyeballs out.

But of course it’s much easier to press the espresso button on the coffee machine than it is to endure the excruciating pain that one would experience with the poking out of ones eyeballs! Not to mention the inconvenience of not being able to actually SEE the melodramas unfolding 😉

Ok….Link recognised and understanding established. I just need to figure out the best way to tackle this one.

.

Oh , who am I kidding! – it’s all too hard…. now -where did I leave that damn coffee mug?…….