Sunday, July 11, 2010
We were cops and robbers, we were rock stars, we were doctors and vet's, we were astronauts, circus performers doing amazing acrobatics. We were invincible to all monsters, bad guys, boogymen, ghosts, and evil-do-ers. Yet, unbenounced to us we were the most vulnerable to real evil-do-ers and bad guys.
Things were simpler. It didn't matter where you came from. How you dressed. Race was not an issue unless it was one you were running in. And the friendships that were real and true, well, those lasted a lifetime (if only in memory.)
I learned so much from my childhood friends. I learned that the word "family" did not just mean people you were related to by blood or marriage. That to love someone didn't have to mean romantically or strictly for our said "families". I learned the importance of backing up my friends. And standing up for the "little guy" who didn't seem to have many friends. I learned that even though other people think they are "different" they should get to be included. I learned compassion, strength for myself, and for those who couldn't be strong for themselves. I learned to be giving and selfless for those who didn't have what I had. I learned a good friend can cure any bad mood.
I've lost touch with my "inner-child" so to speak, and many of her friends, over the years. It's hardened me. Which, unfortunately, tends to go hand in hand with growing up. I long for the days where I could run through the grass with arms open wide, pretending to be flying. No. I WAS flying. When summer vacation felt like it would never end, then always came to an abrupt halt, just when you felt like it was getting good. Where nap was a "four letter word". ;)
Talking to an old friend of mine made me see how much we've become the "grownups" we once thought were so cool. What were we thinking? How many of us are actually doing what we thought we were going to when we "grew-up"? She (my friend) is truly a wonderful person. She's talented, creative, smart, and strong. All things that drew me to her when we were kids. Talking with her helps me to see things, once again, through "children's eyes". I'm so grateful for the friendship we've shared. She, as with so many others, have made such an impact on my life. And I have not forgotten any of them. This is for all of you. I can only hope I've touched your lives in some small way. And I am eternally grateful to all of you who have graced me with your childlike wisdom, and eventual adult wisdom.
I remember when I found out I was pregnant for the first time (the day before my 17th birthday) I remember knowing, just KNOWING, that I was going to have a boy. I was anxious and scared and excited. I remember all the hopes and dreams I had for my little man, first day of school, HS graduation, college, marriage. I remember my father being in the operating room with me, crying when Triston was born, saying "he's beautiful" through a tear soaked mask. I remember the first time I got to hold that fat-pink-pig nosed-blue eyed beauty. I remember the way he smelled. The way he looked at me. I was so in love. For the first time in my life I KNEW what it meant to be in love. And yes, I remember how upset I was when he had cholic and was up screaming all night. And how I would question time and time again "Can I do this on my own?"
Triston always seemed like a difficult toddler. He tantrumed like nobody's business. Banged his head on walls. Screeching over and over for no reason. He did not speak (except he knew his alphabet, numbers to twenty, colors, and shapes all by 10 months old, and those were the only words he spoke until he was 3.5 years old) He was a very picky eater. He wouldnt touch fruit (except bananas) or veggies or meat. No matter how I tried to hide them he would find them and pick them out. I remember asking his pediatrician what was "wrong" with my son. In my gut I just knew something was wrong. Her response. "Dont worry, it's a phase, he'll grow out of it." She was wrong.
And I remember the day my world came crashing down.
"High functioning severely autistic savaant" The panel of doctors told me. After 18 hours over the course of 3 days in testing, they had come to their conclusion. "He will probably never learn to speak, or be potty trained. He'll probably never make any real friends, or have a normal connection to people." "Rainman! Oh my God NO!" That's all I could think. And the tears flowed. The panel got Triston set up to go to a special school for autistic 3 year olds. I remember being upset for WEEKS. My beautiful baby boy. Did I do this to him? Could I have done something differently? Will he ever have friends? Will he ever go to a normal school? Will he ever get married? College? Devastation cannot begin to describe the pain I felt. So I surrounded myself with library books. Spent hour after hour on the internet, researching, trying to find answers. Praying that there was still some hope. There HAD to be, right? What I found amazed and horrified me.
1 out of 150. You've got to be kidding me. How did I not know more about this (other than rainman) if there are 1 out of 150 children being Diagnosed all the time in this country with Autism. 1 out of 94. My jaw dropped. 1 out of 94 boys are diagnosed with Autism. How do doctors, teachers, parents, miss this stuff?? How did I miss it? There are more children born with Autism every year than AIDS, Juvenille Diabetes, and Cancer COMBINED!! Yet scientists STILL cannot positively determine the CAUSE!! Some people blame it on Mercury contaminating childhood vaccines. Some people believe it is because of preservatives and chemically altered sweetners and foods. Some believe it's genetic. Some believe it is a little bit of everything. And some just dont care WHAT caused it, just give our kids the services they need. The services are not cheap. There's speech, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, physical therapy, etc.etc. the list goes on and on and on and on and on.... It could cost in excess of 3 million dollars in just therapies ALONE to care for an Autistic person. And to find services in some areas is a JOKE!! Not to mention you still have to QUALIFY! Just because you have a Diagnosis of Autism DOES NOT GUARENTEE that you will receive the services your child NEEDS. IT IS WRONG! AND SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE!
My dreams have recently been restored. Triston will be graduating Kindergarten next week. He is at the top of his class. He is the only Autistic child in his classroom of 25. Next year they want to put him in a combined class of 1st and 2nd graders. Their reason for this was the work was too easy for him this year. Next year 1st grade work will still be too easy for him. So with the mixed class he can still be with his friends, but he can do 2nd grade work to keep him challenged. This from the toddler they said would never talk, or have friends. THEY were wrong!
I am so proud of the progress that he has made. Between all of his therapies and how much he has to go, there are times that he works harder than most adults during a work week. He is one of the hardest working kids I know. And it's PAYING OFF!!! He and I have been through a lot with this Autism thing. It's been no cakewalk. But we are winning this battle.
I have children with Autism. And I could not be more proud!
I am a headstrong teenager that moved to a different state, all alone, to make it on my own.
I am a performer.
I am a friend.
I am a therapist.
I am a mother.
I am a domestic violence victim that fought back as an adult.
I am divorced and re-married.
I am the protector of my siblings and my children.
I am the oldest child.
I am a young, pierced, hair coloring, loud mouthed, woman.
I am not afraid.
I am not intimidated.
I am a mess (sometimes)
I am tired.
I am silly.
I am an advocate.
I am not afraid to ask for help.
I am unstable at times.
I am willing to admit when I'm wrong.
I am forgiving.
I am (sometimes too) trusting
I am not a push-over.
I am able to see behind people's "masks"
I am in love.
I am the haircutting, "dont hit your brother"-ing, let me kiss your boo-boo-ing, cartoon watching, fingernail clipping, potty training, sword fighting with plastic baseball bats, wife and mommy.
I am NOT a mother to mess with when it comes to people not treating my kids right.
I am a lioness with my cubs.
I am faithful in the Lord my God.
I am a baby Christian.
I am strong in my faith.
I am indecisive AND a decision maker.
I am a recovering drug addict.
I am NOT my mother's child.
I am hopeful.
I am forgiven.
I am a competitive dancer (or used to be)
I am a teacher.
I am a best friend, sister, wife, daughter, grand-daughter, stranger, niece, auntie, cousin, companion, and partner in crime.
I am no longer broken inside.
I am not beaten.
I AM triumphant.
I am NOT a victim.
I AM A SURVIVOR.
As I'm getting older my indifference is fading. I never cry anymore. I hate weekends. I'll be in the basement by myself with nothing to eat or drink. And that's if I'm lucky and you decide not to take out your frustration on me. I'd rather be alone. I found a box of matches and I've considered setting this whole place on fire. But I won't. My brother and sister are up there with you. I'll put up with you ONLY for their sake. But know this, if you EVER touch them I'll take them and run. I'll burn you down with this house. I will finally fight back. I swear it. My teachers send me to the school councilor 3 days a week now. They won't tell you the truth. They think I'm in here because my parents got divorced 2 years ago. But they know there's something else wrong. They see when I flinch if someone near me makes to sudden a move. My clothes are too small. I'm always bruised. And did you know that every day this week I've come to school with a busted lip? How long do you think they will let this go? I'm still waiting to be saved. But I'm starting to think nobody's coming for me. As more time goes on what little hope I've mustered has diminished entirely. I don't care anymore. People are stupid. Why should I care about them? My friends are discovering boys. The thought sickens me. It's your fault. He's now joined in. I'm his punching bag now too. I'm more than that. I laugh to myself when I hear him beating you. You deserve it. Now you know how it feels. But it doesn't last long. One or the other of you will leave and the one that stays home will take out tonight's fight on me. I've learned how to step out of my body now. I think about other things. Books mostly. I don't even notice when you've worn yourself out and walk away. I don't look like you. I never have. Maybe that's why you hate me? I'm still small. I have to be careful at school. There's a couple of girls there that like to hit me. But I won't fight back. Then the school would call you.
I've found new ways to feel. My wrists and arms are scarred up and down. I've started a new group of wounds. There's 360 on my left arm today. All fresh. Covered with gauze and long sleeves against prying eyes. I try to feel. Any emotion at all would be refreshing. But this is the only way. I'll substitute emotion for pain. Pain is easier than emotion anyway. It's instant. It hurts immediately, but it fades much quicker than sadness. I'll bottle up whatever I'm feeling from now on, until I can release it through pain. You complimented me on my dance recital. You cannot believe how talented I've become. Inside I laugh. I drank a bottle of Pine-Sol last night. It didn't work how I had planned so I drank 2 pots of coffee before my recital. My punishment for being caught would have been far worse than if it had worked. It was a dumb idea anyways, now every-time I clean I want to vomit. And it just re-affirms my previous thoughts that I'm just meant to suffer at your hands, until You decide when my life is over.
Don't underestimate me. You think I'm weak. I am not. Just because I was silent for years does not mean I was afraid. I am not afraid of your hands. It doesn't hurt me as much as you think it does. I will calculate and lean into the blows. It hurts your fists more than it hurts the back of my head. Go ahead, get in my face. Scream at me. I know that with enough crocodile tears you will lose interest. Although, honestly, I'd rather you just swing at me. Your words cut my heart, they make it cold, dead, and hard. I don't feel anymore. Once I had pity for you. Now there is nothing. It's empty. You are dead to me. You'll push me to the ground, beating me until I can hardly see anymore. I wont give in to the darkness, then you will think you have won. You'll kick me when I'm down. But I keep getting back up. If I wear you out first than I am the one that's triumphant here. The sweetened-stench of alcohol fills me with rage. But I can't hate you. Indifference is all I know. It's how I've survived this long. All that keeps me going is knowing that you'll not win. I have no hope. No dreams. No aspirations. You've taken it all away. But I'm still here. Still enduring the pain you inflict. Why? Is this my purpose? Why do you hate me so much? You're my mother. You're supposed to protect me. Mother? Are you listening?...
I don't usually write poetry, it's not my thing. But I couldn't get these words out of my head.
Your face, your smile.
Transcend space and time.
It takes me back to another place.
Which now seems like a distant dream.
When future had no meaning.
And we could live in the moment.
Such peace and tranquility.
To live without grownup fears or responsibilities.
How I long for those days.
And, how you can, so quickly, take me back.
With a glance,
a flicker in time.
I am young again, and so alive.
No weight left on my shoulders.
And, though, it's only for a moment.
Once again I am free.
At total peace.
How I wish I could stay here forever.
Living as the memory of who I was,
that you, still, hold so dear.
Long past, tucked away,
safe in your heart and mind.
Where I am to stay, evermore.
What joy I have knowing I can come back
and re-visit this place.
Every-time I see your smile.
There wasn't really an "AHA" moment.. I always knew something was different about my son... In my heart I knew.. Some mothers feel as though their child reached a certain age or certain milestones and was "taken" from them by autism. My son was not like that. He didn't suddenly regress. He was born this way. It wasn't the result of the MMR shot, or any other vaccine, as so many mothers have experienced (Due to thimerisol and mercury) He was born different. Not broken. He doesn't need a "cure" nor does he need to be "fixed" he's just different. I just hope I can get more people to understand and be accepting that these kids don't all want to be "cured" since there is nothing "wrong" with them. Life would be easier? Maybe. But does a left handed person want to be "cured" so that they can learn to write and cut like right handed people? No.. They can do the same things as "rightys" they just do it differently...
Not to say that people are wrong for wanting what is BEST for THEIR children! I do not look down on ANY parent that is trying to help their child! If Chelation, OT, ABA, Epsom Salts, Speech therapy, medication, etc, etc ,etc is what you want to use to help your child then BY ALL MEANS HELP YOUR CHILD!
I'm not an "end all, cure all" type of person. I don't believe in ANY one cause or solution for Autism. That is what I, and I emphasise I, believe. I'm not saying I'm right, wrong, or indifferent. Nor would I EVER say ANY parent is wrong for what they believe. We're all in this together REGARDLESS of the path we took to get here. We each have to find our own way to our destinations as well. From time to time our paths will meet. We'll have the same obstacles to overcome, we'll share in the same joys and sorrows. We must remember that we're walking side by side with each-other, we shouldn't step on each-other along the way.
Just my thoughts for tonight.
What does the word "mom" mean to you? I've never had a "mom". I have a "mother", she's the evil that spawned me. That might sound a little harsh, but my "mother" beat the hell out of me my whole childhood, turned the savings bonds my grandparents got for me into alcohol and drank them, is schizophrenic and just all around CRAZY. In a word she's EVIL. When she and my father divorced it was all MY fault. At least that's what she would scream at me while beating the crap out of me. But that's another journal.
All my life I never knew what it meant to have a "mom". I didn't miss not having one, simply because, you cant miss what you've never had. Twenty-four years, I didn't have anyone to confide in, to tell me when I've done a good job. Nobody was there to help me figure out my problems in an adult and rational way. Nobody helped keep me accountable when I would screw up (at least not rationally and without anger, judgement, or abuse). I had nobody to look up to, nobody to guide me when I was lost. Nobody to tell me 'it's all going to be alright' when I felt like my world was falling apart. But don't pity me. I'm not sad about this, it was just the way things were.
For years I tried and struggled to have a healthy relationship with a 'mother' that was toxic. I tried to get her sober, I tried to get her help. Nothing changed. Still crazy, still drinking, still emotionally and verbally abusive, still evil. I resigned to the fact that I would never have somebody to call "mom". And that was ok with me. I'd rather have no mom than call the piece of work that birthed me 'mom'. In my mind anyone can breed and call themselves a "mother" but only really special women can EARN the right to be called "Mom". Mother is a noun, it's a label, it describes something you've DONE (giving birth). Mom is a verb, it's an action, it describes what you DO.
When I least expected it, that's when it happened...
I found my mom on the internet. LOL, I know what you're probably thinking, it is kind of an absurd statement. At the very least it's humorous! But hear me out.
It started off as a friendship. A woman that graduated highschool the year I was born, and I, both have autistic children. So we met in an autism group here on cafemom. We had more than just our kids in common though. We joked, we laughed, we were drawn to each other's personality. After awhile she started calling me, just to giggle and chat, we enjoyed each other. I don't know exactly when it happened. I think it was a gradual process. But I found myself really opening up to her. Asking her advice and opinions on things. It was to the point that I'd post something in a group feigning a good mood. And she'd call me because she knew something was wrong. After more time had passed I would, just, call her if I had an issue, for guidance and support. I didn't really notice that I was seeking her out to fill this role. I just knew that she was smart, had more life experience than I did, and could look at my issue objectively and help guide me to solve my issues myself without "fixing it for me".
At some point it finally hit me. She was my "Mom".
We got to meet in person this summer at a mutual friends home all the way across the country. (She lives in so-Cal, I live in nor-Cal, we met in Boston, go figure? lol!) We spent a week together with a close knit group of girls (all of whom met on the internet), laughing, crying, chasing autistic children around, it was a beautiful thing. It was only this June, but already it feels like so long ago. I miss it, I miss my friends, I miss their children, and most of all, I miss my Mom. I can't wait to do it again!
Anyway, I'm getting sentimental and straying off my point.
My Mom is a beautiful, smart, strong woman. She doesn't think she's strong. She says she "cries a lot". Well duh! She's human! She admits when and where she's wrong and she's never too big to apologize. She's a teacher, a shrink, a compass. She always has a joke or a story to brighten my mood when I'm down. She teaches me that it's ok to be strong but it's also ok to let yourself cry. She calls me on my bullshit (like when I try to blame a fight between me and dh solely on him lol.) She always knows what I need to hear (whether I know that I need it or not.) She teaches me that life just sucks sometimes, but you don't dwell on it, you push through it, and no matter how bad it seems you're going to make it. She shows me that I'm loved with her actions and words. She appreciates me as a person, as a friend, as a daughter. When she hurts, I hurt (or depending on what's going on I totally FREAK! lol) By being the wonderful person she is, she's teaching me how to be the Mom I want to be, how to be the Mom I need to be. I truly believe that it is because of her, I am more emotionally stable now, than I have been my whole life.
So, what does "Mom" mean to me? A Mom is someone like Teri. A Mom is someone I respect and look up to. A Mom is kind of like toilet paper, it needs to be soft AND strong! A Mom is someone that will love me, no matter how badly I screw up. A Mom will let me fall on my butt, but will walk by my side while I'm trying to find my way. A Mom was something I never knew I needed until she walked into my life. A Mom is something I'll never have to be without, ever again. A Mom can find humor in any situation. A Mom is allowed to be afraid, and need a break from time to time. A Mom can buckle down and get things done.
Let me first just say... I'm a genius. :) SO.. I bought me suhmma' that "Sally Hanson Spa Body Wax Hair Removal Kit" stuff.
I know.. I might be crazy, but I also have a VERY high tolerance for pain, especially when it's self inflicted.
ANYWHO.. So.. I read the instructions.. Microwave 30 seconds, stir... microwave in 10 second increments until it is warm, but not too hot.. need to be easily spreadable..
mmkay.. Got it...
I take my purple tub of goo into the bathroom...
I'm trying not to chicken out.. Go big or go home weenie.. So I think to myself "Self, we're gonna start with the inner thigh.. Not a whole lot of hair there, it's all going the same direction, it's a little on the longish side, and we can gauge the pain level there..." Ok..
So.. I take my little stick. I scoop some purple goo on it.. I apply it to the inside of my thigh (right next to bikini area) Take my little cloth strip thingy.. I rub it on in the direction of the hair growth 3 times (as per the instructions), I grab the little 1/2" strip it says to leave yourself, I pull the skin nice and taught, and I RIP quickly in an upward movement!
What's this? No pain?...
I look down...
NONE OF THE WAX CAME OFF ON THE STRIP!!!
Now I have purple goo STUCK to my thigh and hand! Great.. I hobble over to the counter to try and figure out how to get this shit off.. Now my thigh is sticking to my other thigh AND my girl parts... I look like I had sex with a Giant Grape!.. friggin awesome.. My hands are sticking to everything I touch..
This is just beautiful.. I read through the damn instructions like 20 TIMES!! How the HELL DO I GET THIS WAX OFF!!!!!
Ok.. My mind is racing... Rubbing Alcohol!!!! That breaks apart the goo right?!?!?
So... I douse my hands with rubbing alcohol, then I start trying to rub the goo off my thigh.. Well... It took some of the purple color out... but it's not coming off, and now my hands have EVEN MORE WAX on them!!!
SO.. Again.. Review the instructions.. sloooowly... finally, hidden in paragraph 852 after diagram 343A... There it is.. In the smallest imaginable font..
Use Azulene finishing oil to moisturize skin, reduce redness, leave skin soft and smelling beautiful and remove any excess wax.
I grab the bottle and dump half the contents on my hands, scrub them together, then start attacking my nether regions... It works well on some parts, others (the more sensitive ones) I have to oil my hands and SCRAPE the excess (or should I say ALL OF THE GOO THAT DIDN'T COME OFF WITH THE STRIP BECAUSE THIS BOTTLE OF CRAP WAS A GIANT FUCKING RIP-OFF!!) off with my FINGERNAILS...
Toweling myself off after my experience.. I hugged my bottle of veet and my venus razor and took a bath.