Archive for January, 2019

Sanctuary

“Going home is my sanctuary,” a doctor once said to me. “I doubt it’s the same for you.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. Home was not my sanctuary. Home was where I was my most tired, stressed, and unauthentic self. I would lose myself in fantasies of being alone in a cabin, alone on a beach, alone in a jail cell, alone in my car. None of these were things I really wanted. I knew those fantasies were simply my brain’s way of reminding me I needed a break. But I never seemed to get one.

It was strange, because at that time I couldn’t imagine any life other than the one I had. I knew I was simply where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do. I struggled with the feeling that I no longer had my own identity beyond the one given to me the day C was born. Still, I couldn’t imagine my life being anything other than exactly what it was.

Fast forward many years and enter a combination of things – C being gone, having a new job in which I thrive, and some hard therapeutic work on my part. I have grown to love my life in a way I haven’t since C was born. So much so that when C called the other night saying he was being released early (a mistake on his part, that’s for another post), I cried, and not in a happy way. Yes, in a Mother of the Year moment, I cried when my kiddo told me he was coming home. Granted, there were other things going on that contributed to that reaction, but nonetheless, there it is.

It took me a few days to fully process these feelings, but it boils down to this sense that peace is swirling around me now, and I want to protect it. Fiercely. What I have realized, however, is that sanctuary is not necessarily something around me, it’s something in me. Amidst the chaos and total discombobulation that revolves around C at times, I need to find my calm and live there regardless of what’s going on around me. Fortunately, I have two more months to continue to cultivate that skill.

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” ~ unknown

 

 

January 27, 2019 at 3:01 pm 10 comments

Clearing the mind

I am not a huge fan of “stuff.” I don’t own 100 pairs of shoes, tons of make-up, or hordes of purses. Hubs is similar. We each have our collection of things, though…I have lots of tennies (comfort is important to me), and Hubs has lots of camping gear (his days as a park ranger aren’t that far behind him). Relatively speaking, we don’t own a ton of possessions. However, we differ in a way that I find interesting: Hubs likes a clean surface and I like a clean drawer. I like to think we complement each other in that way.

In my mind, my desire for organized dressers and kitchen cupboards was always a metaphor for what was going on in my mind. I would clean a drawer in an attempt to clear my head of its figurative clutter. It never really worked all that well…my restlessness and general melancholy were only relieved in small doses.

I often think C’s brain is just so full that he can’t settle enough to experience peace. Whether it’s autism, teenager-y, or his general personality I’m not sure – probably it’s all three. In my journey toward mindfulness, I have come to recognize how difficult a skill that would be for C, and he in fact struggles with it greatly. Not that I always find it easy, but I have calmed my inner clutter enough and have experienced enough reward for it that I want him to get there too.

Enter Marie Kondo. I have been familiar with her concept for years, but only generally. Lately, however, I have been watching her show on Netflix, and to say the connection between outer and inner clutter has become more clear to me is an understatement. I spent many hours yesterday Kondo-ing my closet, and despite my comment above that I’m not a girly-girl with lots of clothes, I managed to get rid of at least half of what was in there. The sense of relief has been palpable. I can’t wait to get to everything else.

For me, it seems I needed to calm some of the inner clutter before I could tackle the outer instead of the other way around. I am not sure what the key is for C, but I find myself hoping that his months of living without all of his stuff while in residential treatment has aided in his ability to experience inner calm.

January 13, 2019 at 6:12 pm Leave a comment

Make new friends, but keep the old

If you have kids, you know that a lot of the time you make your friends through your children. For us, that meant we didn’t have a lot of friends when C was growing up, because he didn’t have a lot of friends. I can count on one hand the number of close friends I have had since C was born, and two of them I have been fortunate to see while visiting my parents this holiday.

J was C’s habilitation worker when he was in early elementary school. She was often the only other adult I would interact with in a given day besides Hubs, and C would get jealous when she and I would chat for too long. Even though we moved away long ago, J remains a light in our lives.

The other friend I met online before we moved to this town I am now visiting. R was the head of a special needs group that I contacted before we arrived. We happened to be standing next to each other on the first day of school pick-up, both anxiously awaiting our boys’ faces coming down the hall. We chatted for a moment before somehow figuring out we already sort of knew each other, and a friendship was born.

Our boys, both on the spectrum, are to this day quite different. We tried to make them friends, but I suspect C’s boisterousness and constant chatter annoyed the heck out of B (believe me, B, I get it). There were times R and I said to each other in the same moment, “I can’t believe they have the same diagnosis.” Still, we managed to find common ground. Years later, when I am fortunate enough to see R, we pick up right where we left off. Most of the time we are talking about our boys, and while their challenges are different, there are random little similarities that bring us together in our understanding.

Being back in this little town always makes me nostalgic. Had we stayed past C being in 4th grade, would he be attending the local high school or would we be driving him to the big city over the hill to a different school? Would C have a level of comfort he does not have now? Would he, with a support system we have not had since we left here, have experienced things differently than he has? Would we all have?

I guess I’ll never know the answers to those questions. But what I do know is that I will always miss those two friendships I have not been able to replicate since we moved away.

January 6, 2019 at 4:15 pm 5 comments


It’s all autism, all the time.

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