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Friday, January 20, 2017

Dear Obamas

Dear Obamas,

I couldn't sleep last night. I was thinking about you. I wondered how you're sleeping in The White House on your final night. You're probably ecstatic about your emancipation on this day.

As I tossed and turned in my bed, I wondered...

Have the girls tried out their new beds yet?
Where will you go on vacation?
How long will you be gone?
A month? 
A few weeks?

You deserve some rest and relaxation without the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Will Sacha get to go with you, or is she still in school?

She's a teenager now. She must love her friends and her school.  Your girls have become beautiful young women. They make me feel like their proud Auntie. I'm every girl's adopted Auntie since I only have boys.
Are you and Michelle as in love as it seems?  Your relationship looks like the real thing --authentic love, based on knowing and having mutual respect and admiration for one another. The love is palpable, like something you can pick up and spread around you like pixie dust.  I feel it when I see the way that you look at each other.

I realize it can't be all storybook and romance. Marriage is work. My husband and I have been doing it for nearly twenty-two years. It has been beautiful and inspiring for us to watch your partnership. May it continue to flourish for years to come. I have a feeling it will.

I can only imagine the mixed emotions you're all feeling today.  We are all feeling them too.

We are worried about the future, but even through that, we look to you and find solace in your reassurance that we will be alright.

This is a setback for a setup of progress. I pray that it is. I must admit, that I am really scared more than ever in my lifetime. I know, that this country has been through adversarial times before, and we have always survived as Americans.  I reassure my boys of this while trying to believe that this time, it actually will be okay.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your hard work, despite the challenges and opposition you faced at every turn. You were always a dignified example for us all, especially for our children.

Because of your example and all that is happening in the world, one of my sons who happens to have autism and a brilliant mind for science and math is now actually considering a career in politics or political activism. He may not run for office, but he definitely wants to do something that will have an impact on changing our society for the better.  There is obviously so much more work to do.

A funny little story...

He was in the third grade when you were running for office the first time. I remember one day I had to scold him while we were at our local swimming pool. "Stop talking about politics and go swim!" I wanted him to be worn out so he would sleep well that night.

We will continue to look to you and pray for your family. With sadness in my heart on this day. We will love you forever. You will always be my President and First Family.

Karen Wesley Weaver,
Writer, Mother, World Changer 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Thankful for the Memories

I could tell you stories about this girl.
She was living in L.A.
It was her world.
too naive to be afraid or cautious.
just out there living,
thought her life was flawless.
Building, making a living, by a string.
Never knowing how much the money pay day would bring.

These stories I could tell might make you blush.
Have your mouth hanging open,
your head would rush.
Like you had a cocktail.
Did she really do that?
Did she wear that?
No shame.
No sorrow.
No worries about tomorrow.

Between twenty and twenty-five
found a deep,
loving relationship.
made her feel more alive
than ever.
So much time together
they spent.
She hoped would end in engagement.
It didn't.
It was over.
He went his way.
She went hers,
with a broken heart,
wondering if she would ever find love again.
Would she ever stop dreaming of him?
Wondering why it had to come to an end.
It had been so right, for so long.
Until it wasn't.
What went wrong?
Exactly, she would never know.
Bad timing.
Not meant to be.
How could that be true
so in love was she.

Twenty-five to twenty-eight.
the party on pause.
She got her head on straight.
Found love again,
of the marriage persuasion.

Before she would settle down,
with the love she had prayed for...
There were adventures.
There were travels.
So many doors
to walk through.
There were lovers, some forbidden,
made them all the more fun.
Friends, jazz festivals, concerts...
always on the run.
Weekends in Palm Springs,
shopping sprees, girlfriends.
A career.
Her own business
making ends
It was cool, wild, free,
unerving at times.
A place of her own
-where she wrote her own rhyme.
Lonely days
-especially Sundays.

What there was not...
were any real worries.
Somehow, the rent would be paid.
Car notes would end, without aid
from anyone or anybody
Enough money for that weekend in San Francisco.
That trip to Mexico,
nights at the disco,
margarita drinkin,
glasses full with libation
would be carried out of bars,
into open air cars,
back to the hacienda.
There would be oceans, bikinis and waves broken.
Montezuma would have his revenge.
Oh, but the laughter, and the ocean.
It was worth it.
All of it was...

The party became a wedding.
The girl became a wife,
a mother, a woman no longer waiting
for true love.
Carefree days
became carefull days,
of nurturing,
and the sweet smells of the most perfect baby
she ever would see
The tiny human
How could she ever love him

Days would come when she would ponder
and wonder
what happened to her?
Where did that girl go?
Who is this new person
she has become?
Is the girl still there,
somewhere deep inside her?

The memories alone would give her smiles for years to come.
Glad that she had them
to reflect on
The distance of those days of fun and freedom
would sustain her.
She smiled at that young naughty girl,
and then she exhaled.
Thankful for the memories.

Monday, December 5, 2016

I was just thinking...

Inside my head 
 there is light 
to-do lists that never end
   simple things 
become complex 
the complex, unfinished 
celebratiion of mastery
open your eyes
you will see it
it's there 
I promise 

 Who am I? 

How did I get here? 
Where am I going? 
 I live here? 
What do I want?

Where are you old friend? 
What happened to us?
Thank you new friend
illumination in a dim world
grateful, true friend
 lifetime friend 

is there 
Wake up! 
Pay attention!  
He's playing music
thinking thoughts 
he didn't think before
washing linens
developing relationships
making a life
simple things
are huge 
if you watch
you will see
It will rock your world
if you let it

Hold up
I hate you 
let it be
the universe is doing it's thing 
without my help
wait a minute
there it is... 
accomplishment in minutia
grace in action
and then some
behind peers here 
light years ahead, there 
 mind -overflowing
 heart generously given
he is me 
the best
 the worst 
a mirror
 a reflection 
I wish not to see

And then there is marriage 
all encompassing 
all in
promises kept
we are one 
and yet, two
growing together
falling apart
giving our all
keeping inadequate pieces
he wants me 
he needs me 
so does he
 so does she
there has to be me 
before there can be we 
without me
 there is no us 

I love you 
I am in love with me too

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Only Way to Walk

I confess  ~I am glad that I was 180 miles away from Blue this weekend. The distance betwen us allowed me not to fully take on his anxiety the way that I normally do. He was overwhelmed with his research paper and other homework assignments. Of course as always, I felt guilty for leaving, but once I did, I was happy with my decision.

I went to an adult party Friday night at my friend's house in Houston. Well, it wasn't exactly all adults. There were children and teenagers present, but not mine.  It's difficult for me to socialize at a party if my children are present. Who am I kidding? I'm so out of practice, it's hard for me to socialize period, these days. I've reached the point in life, where I don't like small talk. It feels like a waste of my already limited energy. If we're not going to connect --if I'm not learning anything real about you, your life, your world view, or sharing something real about mine, I would rather sit in a corner and play with the animals and small children. Children and pets are always authentic.

But of course, I digress...

During the party, I started getting a texts and missed calls from Blue. He was freaking out about his research paper that was due on Monday. He had gathered so much information and couldn't sort through it all, to narrow it down to a reasonable size, in order to complete the paper. He had already used extended time over the Thankgiving break to get it finished.

After several panicky texts. I called to talk to him. It ended up being a waste of energy. He wasn't listening to anything that I said. He was just venting and spriraling himself up into oblivion. When he finally stopped to take a breath, I redirected him to some of the resources of help that he does usually listen to (his mentor Kylie, his Language Arts teacher and his therapist)  and then I hung up.

The next day, I talked to him one more time where again, he would hardly let me get a word in.
Okay, I get it. Lesson learned. It takes me a while sometimes.

Talking to him is a pointless energy drain when he's like this. After this conversation, I decided that we would only have text communication for the rest of the weekend. This way, I could temper my reactions and empathize with his feelings, instead of being compelled to offer advice that he wouldn't take anyway. I would give short, concise responses that would not translate my heightened state of emotion. Hopefully, therefore, not increasing his emotion.

He continued to rant via text about not having enough time to do everything and feeling pulled in too many directions. He came up with objections to all suggestions given to him by his support system.

Instead of getting upset and emotional, I texted responses saying things like...

"When you're ready, I'm sure you will take one step at a time. It's the only way to walk."

"I know you will get through this."

"A lot of people have issues with procrastination. I know I do. Sometimes, I have to force myself to start working. I just do my best.."

"I can't afford to be a perfectionist when I need to get things done. I have to relax my high standards, because I just want to finish."

His reaction...

"Nothing is going to work!!! I can't do anything! I'm too slow at everything!"

My response...

"You sound upset. I'll be glad when this nightmare is over for you."

"I know that there will be a resolution in the end, and I'm willing to bet it won't be death."

 "As Dory says, "Just keep swimming!"

His reaction...

"What if I can't complete it? What about this other assignment? What about the other project?"

"Feeling like I will never finish, makes me want to shut down and do nothing."

My response...

"It must suck to feel that way. Well, all you can do is your best."

Then, I started sending messages about chunks of time that I would not be available at all --where my phone would be on do not disturb.  This would give him chunks of time to choose to do the work or not.

I was in Houston with my husband visitng my girlfriend. I needed this time. I don't have much adult socialization (other than online) when I'm at home.

I texted statements like, "I'm going to take a nap now. I won't be available for a while."

Or, "I'm going to brunch. I will not be able to respond for the next three hours."

And then finally, "I am going to dinner and a concert. I won't be able to respond for the rest of the night."

Finally, Sunday night while I was at the concert (Barbra Freaking Streisand, by the way! And Yes. She was phenomenal! It was the concert of a lifetime, that I will never forget. Thank you bestie for getting tickets for us! I love you more than cookies!) I received this message from Blue...

He said, "I know you won't read this tonight, but I took the rest of the day and finshed my final paper. Ms. A. (our neighbor) will be picking me up early in the morning so I can finish my test review then."

Ah yes! He has risen to the expectation!

At the intermission, I responded, "I am so proud of you!!!"

He didn't finish everything he had on his plate, but he did finish his paper. One of the reasons it was so difficult for him, is that he such felt deep emotion for his subject, which was Racism in America.  He wanted to put everything in that he had learned in the paper, but he was out of time and it was only supposed to be a 5 page paper.

Here is one of my favorite lines that he wrote.

" order to eradicate racism once and for all, we primarily have to face the discomforting battle of defeating implicit bias, along with peacefully advocating for racial integration, reform the criminal justice system, and most importantly, remember to fight oppression with love instead of hate."

Has he been listening to his mama, after all? 

I think we both made progress this weekend.
His was putting together a brilliant piece of writing, despite his challenges.
Mine, was letting go just a little bit more.
The distance between us allowed us both to grow.
I knew he could do it.
One step at a time.
It's the only way to walk.

Monday, November 21, 2016

In the Darkness of Morning

The first phone call came in at 6:30 a.m. "Mom how did this happen? What are we going to do?" On that Wednesday morning, we woke up to the realization that we had a new President. My boys were scared. I can't remember ever feeling literaly scared for our lives because of who became our President.

Editorial Note: You don't have to agree with the feelings that I have shared in this piece. 
 I am an African American woman, a mother,  of 3 boys, 2 with  hidden disabilities. I am 
writing from the point of view of my life experiences.
 Yours may be different. I honor and accept that.
 I do ask that you be respectful, or chose not to read. 
I'm good with that. 

Sometimes, I don't know where the words come from when I'm trying to keep the boys calm, especially, when I'm not.  I heard my voice say, "We're going to go to work and to school. I tell you what we're not going to do. We're not going to argue with others about their feelings. We're not going to respond to racist or bigoted comments with negativity. We're going to keep living our lives as we always have."

Kendal (Red) loves to argue with people, even when he has no basis or knowledge for his argument.  He won't actually read anything about the election or the candidates. He just listens to who ever is talking, the loudest. (Kind of like a lot of Americans did in this election.) Apparently a lot of  people listened to the loud mouth liar's stories of gloom, about how horrible everything is in America. How he is going to be our savior. How? I'm not sure, because he did a lot of double talking without saying anything of substance.  He changed his story as often as he changed his clothes.

Kendal voted for the first time.  I'm not ashamed to say I dragged him to the polling place and told him that every vote counts. "But this is a Republican state," he said. "We still have to vote. We have to make our voices heard. Some of our ancestors died so that we would have this right."

I couldn't help him in the voting booth, but I know that he went with his heart, and against racism. He knows that only one of the candidates had plans to do anything to help people with disabilities.

That Wednesday morning, I hoped that he wouldn't go to work with an angry mentality, looking for an argument where ever he could find one. It could get ugly, real fast.

By 7 a.m. Blue was standing in my doorway, in the darkness, his head hanging down, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and boxers.

"Mom. How am I supposed to go to school and face these people today? I can't do this.  I can not listen to all of those ignorant kids, who will say idiotic things, and gloat about the fact that he won. Most of them have no idea how we will be effected!"

Without the right to vote because they are only seventeen, a number of his friends are politically passionate. They've been debating for months as this ugly election cycle unfolded. Blue's mind is completely open to all points of view. In this Red state of Texas, you can bet he heard the views on the from those who support the Republican Party. As an independent thinker, he does not simply follow the political ideation of his parents. He's more academic about it. He reads. He does research. He even goes back into Presidential, American and World history to evaluate what has happened in the past, so that he can assess what may happen now. He is no fan of Hillary Clinton or a fan of any particular party. Still, because of the racist rhetoric that had been spewed during the election season, he was disappointed and even frightened by the person who was elected.

To be honest, he would have been frightened in another way if Hillary had been elected. He questioned her position on Syria. He made me start doing research on the current situation, so that I could have a half-way intelligent conversation about it with him.

My emotions were all over the map that morning. I went from denial, to disbelief, to dissappointment, anger, fear and profound sadness.

I was the person who told Blue a year ago, "Don't worry. It will never happen. There's no way in hell, the majority of Americans will vote for that guy!"

Well, the majority did not vote for him, and yet, he was elected.
Ha! Never say never. 
America has a President Elect who used hatred, racism, and sexism as a part of his platform.
America has elected a President who publicly made fun of a man with disabilities. What a horrific example to set for the children of today.
We have a elected President who spoke of sexual assault against women, and then casually dismissed it as "locker room talk," as if it was no big deal.
We have a President Elect who appears to be all about people who look just like him, white, male and wealthy.
We have a President Elect who talks about not allowing people into our country who are Muslim, and having the ones who are here be on some kind of registry. Sound like any other fascist leader in world history? 
He talks about deporting thousands of Mexicans, breaking up their families and building a wall to keep others from coming in.
As far as I'm concerned, America bought a lemon from a used car salesman. He played on working class people who feel disinfranchised with our government for various reasons.
He double talked about helping the working class, while is life has demonstrated that what he cares about, is making and keeping as much money as he can for himself and others who look like him.
He talks about more tax cuts for the wealthy, when he doesn't pay any taxes.
I pay taxes! A lot of freakin' taxes!

The big question I am asking myself is, what will this mean for our family?
I have three black sons.
What will be the climate of this America be, since we have elected a leader to the highest office in our country, who used racism to incite violence at his rallies during his run for office?

On that Wednesday morning, my boys were scared and frankly, I was too.  I didn't have the luxury of wallowing in all of my feelings. My boys have autism and high anxiety. When their anxiety is high, I have to appear to be calm. I have to figure out a way to explain the unexplainable, even when I am as confused and upset as they are.

As people of color, we have always had no choice but to face the music. Racism and descrimination is not new to us. The boys have been sheltered from a lot of it. They have never lived in the hood. They have always lived in a house, in the surburbs, in a racially diverse community.
They have never attended schools where the population is so poor that they don't get the same learning opportunites and access to technology, that everyone else does --a school where their special education resources are minimal. We have worked hard to give them the best possible opportunities, despite our challenges.

Sure, they've received strange looks when walking through a store.
Sure, they have been the ony black kid in their class.
They been called the N word, more than once. We all have.
They have never NOT been hired, or not promoted when they were more qualified than a white counterpart. I have. Their Father has. 

Still, they are cognizant enough to see that black men are being killed and incarcerated by police at a disproportinate rate.
They are fearful about learning to drive because they may be pulled over for driving while black. Their father has, and he has the nerve to drive a fancy car. They've seen it happen to me. They've seen me pulled over, detained and given a warning for something I did not do, while in a predominantly white neighborhood, while also driving a fancy car. 
Because of their autism, their facial expressions may indicate nervousness or even anger if they were pulled over, which could be interpreted the wrong way and their life could be ended in the blink of an eye.
They know this much about racism.

In the fog, I said to Blue, "Our country and our people have been through times worse than this. We lived through slavery. We lived through the depression, through the Civil Rights Movement. We lived through Presidents who took us to wars we should not have been in.
We survive.
We get through.
We get up.
We go to work.
We go to school and do our best.
We build our own life.
We take care of each other, and try to make whatever small changes in the world around us that we can make."

Blue's response, "People died going through all of those things."
He is right.
Some did die, but overall, our nation survived.
I sensed his dispair, his vulnerabitlity.
His anxiety wants him to live in a world that he can control.
It just became more uncontrollable.

Photo Credit to Someone other than me.  Found it on FB. 
I tried to bring these astronomical feelings and worries down to a size that he can handle. "The one thing we can do on this day, is show someone love and compassion. Show people that some of the hate-filled perceptions they have about us, are dead wrong. Go to school.  Kill them with kindness and your intelect, as your dad always says. You can control that."

That's all I could come up with in the moment. I don't know if I totally believed what I said, myself, but those were the words that came out in the darkness of morning, after not having slept most of the night. I had awakened at four a.m., unable to go back to sleep until I found out the results of the eletion. Once I found out, sleep eluded me.

Blue was still too upset to start getting ready to school. He ranted for a while. I listened, and then asked him, "What choice do we have? Do we just lay down and say the world is over? That's not an option. We have to keep going."

He didn't want to go to school. Part of me didn't want to send him. If he was half as tired, sad and pissed as I was, I didn't know how he would make it through the day.
He's younger. He had slept. He has already missed too much school this year.
I sent him.

It wasn't an hour later, after I dropped him off that he texted me.

Him -"I can't be here surrounded by these people. F*@% them!"
Me -"Love them. Meet ignorance with love. That's how we win,"
Him -"That's useless. They're arrogant! I can't change any of them!"
Me -"Never give up. You're generalizing all of them.  We don't want people to do that to us. Probably more than half of your classmates feel the same way you do."
Him -"But now one of the most arrogant racists in the world, is now the face of America! People all over the world are going to hate us!"
Me -"There is still more love than hate in the world. Today, you are surrounded by the same people you were surrounded by yesterday. You can do this."
Him -"Maybe if they hadn't LIED to us and said America is about freedom!"

I decided to share with Blue the words from a friend of mine, another autism mom, an Advocate and a champion for others. We have become friends through my online autism network. She volunteered many hours for Hillary -for equality during this election. She also served on President Obama's transition team when he was elected. She has young children with autism. She is a warrior for them and many others in the city in which she lives.  She is a total rock star!

My friend Anna wrote on Facebook and I quote, in part,

"I know many of you are devasted and afraid of what yesterdays election results mean for women, African Americans, Latinos, AAPIs, LGBTWIA, and people with disabilities. My son doesn't understand why Hillary Clinton is not President and a bully like Donald Trump, is. It's hard. I'm sending my love. We will get through this together...when you have nothing to lose, when you have always been the underdog, you get used to fighting back. I'm not giving up on our dreams and our vision for an inclusive and just society --not today, not ever... Stay positive!"

After I sent her words to him via text,  I didn't hear from him for the rest of the day.
Coming home from school up, giving in, was not an option.

Worried, I called the school to see if there would be anyone on campus to talk things through with those who may be upset about the results the election. I guess I forgot where we live for a second.  We live in Texas. We live in a school district that asked parents if they wanted to "opt out" when President Obama wanted to address the nation's children in school, about the importance of education. I will never forget the racial undertones in that note they sent home. If you don't want your chidren listening to this black, Harvard Educated, Democratic President, sign on the dotted line. 

Most of the people who live in this community are not upset. They didn't lose anything.  62% of the county that we live in, voted for this outcome.  Most don't have anything to fear. They don't have to worry that racism is more acceptable now. Most don't have to think that people who have disabilities or differences, were mocked by the man who was elected, thereby making it more aceptable for others to do the same.

My sons live surrounded by people who are oblivious to their challenges. Most people are voted thinking  of their own situation and what will help them. How others who don't have their privilege are affected, is probably not even be a blip on their radar.

I realize that the 60 million people who voted for this candidate are not all racist. There are many good people who voted for this outcome. They had their reasons. Some voted for change. Some voted for an outsider, a strong leader who they believe will shake things up in Washington. Some voted for jobs that we are losing to other countries. Some voted against a political system that they feel has ignored them.

What they did not vote against, is racism.  Racism was not a deal breaker.  That is a hard pill to swallow. I'm choking on it.

I could be angry with the so called good people who voted for him, despite his personal failures, depite the freedoms that are at stake.  But what does that anger do for us?  When I'm angry, I can't see clearly. I've decided to try my best not to be angry, but to be motivated. More motivated than ever to fight for those who are being marginalized because of their differences.

The question we should all be asking is, "What can we do that will actually help our country, given our current circumstances?"

We continue to live our lives.
We continue to do our best in our jobs, and in school.
We become the change we want to see in the world.
We can't run.
We won't hide.
We get involved.
We fight -just as I have fought for my children's rights to a fair and appropriate public education.
The fight isn't new. It's just more blatant, and impossible to ignore. We can't sit back, and just wait and see what this guy is going to do, and hope for the best.  I hoped for the best outcome of this election. That didn't work out so well for us.

As I try to find something positive in this situation, I have come to realize that there are more people who are in this fight for equality. As I browse through my Facebook newsfeed, I see more support for the fight, than I ever have before, from people of all races, politcial backgrounds, sexual orientation and religions. I'm one of the lucky ones I guess.  My friends are racially and culturally diverse, but very few voted in a way that could compromise the freedoms of others.

It is my prayer that this new dialog will lead to us banding together in action. I pray that more of us will actively stand up and fight for the rights of everyone in this country. That we will not sit back and say, this is happening to those people. It doesn't affect me.  When one group of people starts losing their rights in this society, it's only a matter of time before there is another group, and then another. This effects all of us.

When we see the President Elect filling up his transition team with more faces of White Supremacy, we have to ask ourselves, what the hell have we done?
We can not remain silent.
We must be vigilent.
We have to actively stay on our leaders in the Senate and in Congress, to make sure they do not allow our country to be further divided.
WE MUST work together.
We can't sit back and just watch it all happen.

It is my prayer that we work together and keep the dialog open about what's really going on. Maybe then this election will be the catalyst for the real positive change, that we've all been looking for.

For the sake of my chidren, I remain hopeful.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Stepping Away

Stepping away from my life is imperative to my sanity. There needs to be some distance between me and my reality to take perspective.

It's impossible to look at the big picture of your life when you are immersed in it. It's just like you can't see the entire beauty of an ocean while you're swimming in it. When you're swimming, you can only see the parts closest to you. You can only think about what you need to do to survive. There is no time for figuring out how to make things better. There's no time reflect or set goals for the future. You are just living from one moment to the next, and maybe, just maybe, you may get some rest in between.

You have to get back in your boat and sail away. You may not need to go far. Just far enough, so that you can take it all in from a distance. Feel the breeze and the sun on your skin.

When you step away, the good stuff happens.
This is where you gain insight...
~in the quiet.
~in the stillness.

That's what I am doing this weekend ...stepping away, having some fun, sitting still, and looking back on my life.

The last several months have been taxing. I haven't even been able to write about everything that has taken place because of my son's privacy. Also, there's the fact that when something heavily emotional happens in my life, I usually have to get some distance from it before I can write about it.

I'm learning a little from my early days of blogging, where I would totally let it all hang out, un-edited, as I was living through it.  This blog was my only release. It was my life preserver.  Now, I have a real therapist, besides my community here and on Facebook. Since the kids are older, I think more carefully about what I am willing to disclose here on the blog.

What is really funny, is when someone reads and makes assumptions about our lives, in an obvious attempt to read between the lines. And then they decide to offer unsolicited advice. I just laugh. Sometimes, I roll my eyes and give them the finger.  As I've said so many times before, you can not know the story in it's entirety unless you've lived it.  I realize that receiving critique and having people feel they have the right to weigh-in on your life, is all a part of the package that comes along with putting yourself out there. The benefits I receive and that I give to this community far outweigh the comments from the peanut gallery.

I write for parents, just like me who are struggling, and maybe afraid to say it out loud. Everyone else, I hope you get some form of education or entertainment from reading, but you can keep your advice. Actually, you know what you can do with it...

I digress. 

If you follow regularly, you know that I've written about the anxiety of my 17-year-old recently. He is now a Senior in high school.  It's difficult to begin to describe anxiety and the way it shows it's ugly face.  To the naked eye, a written description probably doesn't come close t0 describing it in totality. There is nothing about anxiety that is rational or makes any sense.

So today, I am a couple of hundred miles away from my life, visiting my best friend and her family. I left on Friday afternoon. I wasn't sure exactly how long I would be gone when I left. Maybe I would come back on Sunday. Maybe, I would come back on Monday morning, preferably the latter. All depending, on how well I sleep while not in my own bed, and what activities I would participate in, while I'm here.

What I didn't anticipate was how difficult the drive would be this time. I was in a pretty traumatic car accident several weeks ago. So, I wasn't as comfortable with driving at high speeds, being surrounded by large trucks, and being pinned in between both, with no outlet, on a two-lane highway.

Normally when I drive here, I zone out with my music, singing, and car dancing. (Have I told you what a fabulous car dancer I am?)  But this time, I couldn't just relax and enjoy the time alone in my car, listening to my music, with no one to ask me to turn it down or change the station.  This time, I was pretty tense. So I'm not looking forward to hitting the road again to head back home.

The amount of discussion that I had to go through just to get out the door was enough to make my blood pressure rise (and I'm not talking about my children). It was my mother. "Why are you leaving this early? Why would you stay that long?

Since I've been here, there have been phone calls from both my husband and my mother with little digs built-in about my point of return. It makes my heart rate go up just thinking about going home.

My everyday life is boring...busy, but boring. The highlight of my day is usually, my first cup of coffee in the morning and my first cocktail in the evening. Oh! Yes. Let me not forget, climbing in to bed everynight. That's my absolute favorite! In between is busy work, taking care of the details of our lives, the house, and the meeting the needs of it's inhabitants. There really aren't any days off from my job where I get to totally decompress. I have to take them, or they will not be given.

The biggest, most heart wrenching and exhausting part of my job is being a listener.
I listen to my son attempt to get a few of the many thousands of things, that are running through his head at any given moment.
I listen to him try to make sense of a world, that doesn't make any sense.
I am the live-in, on-call therapist, constantly walking a line between active listener, and advice giver.
The fine line that I walk is like a tightrope.
I'm trying to allow him to grow up and be independent...
at the same time, he is begging me for advice that he doesn't really want.

Sometimes, that rope feels like a noose around my neck that I'd like to hang myself with. Most days I feel like  running away leaving it all behind for a while, letting them all sink or swim.  They are lucky that this runway trip is only for 3 days. I could use three months!

The truth is, they all actually function better when I'm out of the picture. Which makes me think, I need to be out of the picture more often.

For example, there has been a meltdown every.single.weekend, for the past several weeks. This weekend, I'm away, there has not been one-single-meltdown. In fact...he made it to Kung Fu for the first time in weeks, and he actually earned his yellow belt!

Hmm...maybe I should get an apartment here. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

My Invisible Job

This morning I woke up tired. Once I got my head on half-way straight, I realized that I was pissed off. This weekend sucked, royally. Saturday morning I woke up and thought to myself, Shit! It's meltdown day. I got that sinking, queasy feeling in my stomach.

There has been a meltdown over homework, or time-management, in general, every.single.weekend. Like clockwork over the past few weeks.

Anxiety is a nasty bitch. It can't be explained. It doesn't make sense. There is no magic formula or protocol to follow to get  rid of it.
We are tweaking and attempting to manage it, with meds and therapy but it's slippery like a soapy, wet dog during bath time.
He melts down about being late, or not making it at all to Tai Chi and Kung Fu class. The irony here is that the meltdown either makes him later, or it completely depletes him of energy to go at all. 

Does he really want to go? He says he does, but he keeps sabotaging himself. 

He has managed to fall behind in Kung Fu. He should have tested for a yellow belt weeks ago. This is really no big deal, but to him, it leads to more feelings of failure. It's just one more thing that he isn't completing.

The meltdowns are not as severe as they were over the summer. He is more measured. He knows the lines not to cross. However, they are still disturbing, disruptive, and emotionally draining for him and for me. They effect the whole household.

The concerted amount of patience that I give him leaves me with nothing leftover with the adults who live here, my husband and my mother. The tension in the house is thick and mucky. It's definitely not exactly conducive to romance. We can barely tolerate each other.

There is little energy even for myself. Yoga hasn't seen me in the studio in months. I absolutely will not miss my therapy. It's the one thing I make sure I reserve for me.

I am trying to give Blue every support possible. He's seeing an excellent therapist who is working with him on strategies, time and anger management.  Last week we had a Person Centered Planning meeting, where his Facilitator helped him with time-management brainstorming. He has a personal mentor who is also working with him on breaking down assignments, time chunking, and coping skills.

His anxiety...his black and white, all or nothing thinking, seems to keep getting in the way of the application of these skills in heat of the moment.  If there is a plan, and something happens to throw it off by 5 minutes, it's over! Can't do it! Can't fix it. Can't change it. Can't move forward or even sideways.

I try to coax him into the mindset that the plan is more of a guide. There has to be a degree of flexibility in order to use it.

He is blessed with a teacher in his Advanced Placement Calculus class who has been more than accommodating and willing to work with him after school. She is even willing to break down assignments. He does fine at school,  but at home...nada! Nothing seems to help.

He won't consider dropping the class. In fact, he was highly insulted when I brought up the possibility. That would mean that he failed. Mind you, his counselor told me that he doesn't need this class for college unless he plans on being a math major.

I usually give him the benefit of the doubt. I am always trying to find the bright side of a situation. My first instinct is optimism.

I look at autism and anxiety. I study it. I turn it inside out, trying to figure out answers.
What is the motivation behind this behavior? 
How can we help him? 
What is this mental block that's in his head? 
What has him so traumatized that he is almost immobile? 

Yesterday, my optimism flew out the window. Fatigue can do that to you.  I found myself doubting the authenticity of his meltdowns. I started feeling like he is doing this on purpose.
He is trying to drive me up a fucking wall! 
He is being lazy! 
He doesn't really want answers. He wants to just sit there on his god damned phone, texting and watching videos!
He is avoiding responsibility! 
He begs for solutions, only to meet each of them with objections! 

This morning as I drove him to school, I wanted so much to just lay into him.
What is your problem? 
Everyone is willing to help you. 
Why are you unwilling to help yourself?  
This is bullshit! 
I need to take away your phone and your privileges! 
I need to drop you off at the library and not pick you up until your work is done! 

Last year, the library totally worked. If not, then he went to Starbucks or Panera. Why isn't any of this working now? 

I'm a grown up. I didn't say of any of the vile things that were in my head. It would only upset him more and start his day at school off in a downward spiral. I kept my thoughts to myself. After I dropped him off, I drove to Starbucks to buy a cup of energy to help me face the day.

Once again, I stifled my anger, which I know isn't healthy. But, what choice do I have? There is no one's ass that I can kick, legally. And if there were, I would probably be too tired to do it.

It was bad enough yesterday when he told me that I was embarrassing him by walking outside the house during his meltdown, because I didn't want to give him an audience.  I actually said, "I don't really give a shit that you're embarrassed! I'm tired of listening to you scream!" 

I have moments when I feel like a failure.  I've never had to ground him or take his phone away.  I start thinking, I did it all wrong. I should have disciplined him more. I start to question everything I'm doing and have ever done.

Then again, he has always handled his business. If he didn't, he dealt with the natural consequences without completely falling apart. Now, it just seems stupid to have to resort to taking things from him. He is seventeen. He wants to go to college. He is going to have to learn to discipline himself.

I won't be in college with him, telling him to put his phone away so he can get his work done. He has to do this if he wants to be successful.  The best way to learn is to fail a few times, to feel the sting of your choices. It's a painful process for a mother to watch.

At this point, any way that I insert myself into the process of helping or teaching him these life lessons, only seems to create more of a power struggle. He has to take ownnership of his life.

So, he works with his therapist,  his teachers, counselors and mentors. He wants to be seen as a mature, serious student to them. He can be a baby with me. There is no need to impress.

There comes a time when as a young adult, you have to remove your own mental blocks. You have to take the advice of the professionals and peers that you respect. Your mama knows nothing anyway, right?

Once upon a time, he was fully capable handling his schoolwork and even managing a great part of his daily living skills. I don't know what happened. I don't know if it's fear of becoming an adult, or fear of leaving high school and transitioning to college. It could be unconcious, self-sabotage. Lots of seniors in high school go through that when they are afraid of the new life they are facing.

I don't know what else to do for him, or even if there is anything for me to do.

I just know that I'm exhausted.