Essay #15: Dark Hour

I have been sharing personal essays on my journey with autism with my children, on mom life, grief and mental health. Most essays are from life in 2017 and 2018. WARNING: my essays contain cursing. Click on the Essays category to read previous ones. Some names have been changed for privacy.

I can’t breathe. I’m trying to catch air, just concentrate on breathing, in the nose, out the mouth, smell the flowers, blow out the candles, visualize it Janice. I am sitting in the parking lot of our elementary school, can’t drive. Marathon suicide is at a 5K. It’s OK, it’ll all be OK, breathe. My face is a waterfall of tears, my chest is pounding up and down. Why don’t we have any tissues in the car? I picked up Laurel’s evaluations from the school psychologist just now and I should have waited until I got home before opening the envelope. Another new chapter in my life has begun. The last nine months have had too many new chapters, I’m ready to slam the book down. What the fuck? I’m going from anxiety attack to depression to anger, in about five seconds.

My Laurel, my quiet ten-year-old Laurel, tested well onto the autism spectrum, social communication disorder and maybe some other things but I can’t quite make out all of this shit. The evaluations aren’t exactly user friendly. The team will hopefully be able to explain it all at the meeting we have in a couple of days. And how come when Olive’s test came back they brought Michael and I in with the psychologist before the PPT, looking for the first time at the evaluation together, but with Laurel they just handed me an envelope and sent me on my merry little fucking way, making me think it wasn’t anything I needed to worry about. The middle school team has a bit more heart than the elementary school team.

How did I not see this coming? Am I dumb? I must be really dumb and selfish. This feels like adversity causing thunderous storms overhead. I was hoping the results would just say she was a shy and sensitive kid. Done. She’s very different from Olive, who’s autism I see clearly yet they didn’t put her on the autism spectrum. Everything I know I don’t know. I called Michael as soon as I got in the car but he said he’s running behind on his patient schedule and we’ll talk later. I get it but I need someone to talk to RIGHT NOW. I’m never first and it sucks.

My babies. My special babies. I’m listening God, what are you telling me? I’m was running along in my life and you’ve given me too many walls I’ve collided with. I couldn’t find my footing before today, now this is making me stumble and fall and plant my face in the dirt. Do you mean to strip us down, down to our innocent pure souls and be rid of everything else? Take away everything that I thought I needed and remind me of what’s really important? Maybe that’s what I need to do, get rid of all the fluff in life and get back down to the very nature of our beings. Simplify for my kids. Stop running. Did I need to be running in the first place? Searching for that commercial of happiness everywhere instead of where I needed to be? I’m working it out in my head, here in the car in the parking lot of our school.

But why do I feel like I need to be working it out in my head? I don’t need to make sense of it and overthink it. Not everything in life has to be reasoned and rationalized to the death, shit happens. We deal with it, learn to change and grow and that’s that. Why do I feel like I need answers all the time? God doesn’t owe me any explanations. That reality doesn’t make me not question and wonder why and need justification for how my life is going. Two special needs kids that didn’t show themselves until puberty, that’s heavy to deal with here.

I always revert to being grateful and I’m blessed to have healthy children. They are healthy and even though divergent neurotypically, living, breathing, smart children. They’ll be OK.

Well the post-wedding high I was sailing on came down rather quickly. My sister-in-law is now married and it was absolutely a beautiful wedding. I thought the 1920’s wedding theme was glamorous. I mean, how often do we get to go all out in a majestic way; if not for a wedding of someone you love then when? Maybe it was God’s plan for me to find out about Laurel’s autism immediately after an outpouring of love and family. The highs lift up the lows, just as Gram told me last fall. If not for that I might just drive off a cliff right now as I think how a better mom would have seen the special needs of her children, would be more suited to these kids and do better by them. And be Betty Crocker. Fucking Betty.

Essay #14: Foxes At Night

I have been sharing personal essays on my journey with autism with my children, on mom life, grief and mental health. Most essays are from life in 2017 and 2018. WARNING: my essays contain cursing. Click on the Essays category to read previous ones.

Lately at night I have been hearing a sound like a baby screeching, coming from the woods around our house. It’s ear piercingly loud and makes me jump out of bed and want to run outside and comfort the baby; mommy instincts spring into action. After two or three nights I searched online for what could be making such a raucous. My best guess is a fisher cat or a fox, it’s a mating call. This is something no one tells you when you move to the country. A fox mating call sounds like an infant dying. I laughed because this is an exact metaphor for my life at this moment. Sleep eludes me while I deal with the foxes at night.

Olive’s weekly social worker sessions are helping her it seems. She is learning ways to help drown out the world. We are understanding the extent of her sensory processing issues. When she was in preschool in San Diego her teacher suggested getting Olive screened for sensory issues and I of course didn’t think it was warranted at the time. Life lesson, always listen to the preschool teacher. ALWAYS. I see it now as a director of a preschool, parents don’t always listen to us concerning their child, or like me, don’t know they don’t want to listen to the advice. Preschool teachers see a lot of kids, they know. I never knew what it fully meant to have sensory processing disorder and how it can be a spectrum. Now I know and see it. Maybe we just need to educate more. Olive is deeply affected by sounds, something I think any one of us who doesn’t have this issue will ever know, and it sounds horrifying. Her world is different from mine and she’s tried to function in it all this time not knowing she was experiencing life and hearing the world in a divergent way from everyone else around her. Holy cow, drown that shit out baby girl. I wonder what the foxes at night sound to her?

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Two in the morning headache, should I see a doctor? Stress? Just lack of sleep? Sleep is unobtainable from work tension, Ella’s wedding this coming weekend and Laurel’s special education evaluation results screeching in next week, all translating into my brain wired for fight or flight all hours of the day. Those foxes won’t go to bed. Yesterday I took down the picture frames I had around the house of Gram and pulled her obituary off the refrigerator and stuck them all in the cabinet in the dining room. Why did I have her obituary on my refrigerator?! So morbid. I noticed these last couple of months as I would move around my house, going about my day, I would see Gram’s picture, stop breathing and feel as though a sword pierced my chest. I would have to stop in my tracks with my hand on my heart and take deep breathes until the pain subsided. I never knew grief would cause physical pain like this. Hiding the memorabilia helps me continue to push the grief down into the abyss of my soul to avoid panic attacks. Hey, whatever works right?! Why didn’t I do this sooner? No piercing pain felt today as I went about my afternoon around my house, not seeing reminders of the death of one of my favorite people.

Usually when I can’t fall back to sleep I’ll stay in bed, not wipe my eyes and pray to fall asleep. I’m going with something new and writing out what is on my mind in hopes to swipe my brain clean so it can relax and slide into slumber and I won’t fall asleep on Michael on the couch early in the evening the next night. Sometimes I forget he needs me too. The person I want to give most of me to is the person who sees me the least. When he was in training we had a few years of him having to work overnights and it was especially hard when we had babies. I am thankful Michael sleeps next to me every single night now.

One reason I can’t sleep, I’m dreading yet another PTO meeting going on tonight that I have to attend. Is this midlife? Wanting to choose pjs, the couch and a glass of wine over adult responsibilities? Maybe it’s childishness. Maybe it’s a grieving, stressed out with a special needs kid (maybe two), PTO president, matron of honor, I run a business, life crisis. If I’m the one bringing that phenomenon into existence then my apologies to whomever comes across this affliction after me; I imagine no one else will come across these exact circumstances in their life but right now I feel like I know nothing. When I get to the end of the day I feel like I deserve pjs and a glass of wine because I made it through without wishing I was dead or packing to run away. The creed of an alcoholic I’m sure, or the mantra of an anxiety ridden suicidal adult. That’s sad but makes me giggle so I’ll allow it.

I think I’ll show up unprepared for the meeting, like most of the other adults who come do anyway. Joining the club.