Sigh…

So, my psychiatrist told me yesterday that I have C-PTSD.

PTSD is usually caused by a traumatic event, while C-PTSD stems from long-term, on going trauma.

It doesn’t really change anything. Everything is pretty much all the same. You just continue to work on healing, like I already am.

Yet somehow, finding out kind of fucked me up.

I found myself crying and sobbing. I’ve got to admit, I was kind of confused and surprised by my reaction. I actually apologized to the doctor, like I’d passed gas in front of him.

I’ve already started healing and processing childhood trauma. Mental illness isn’t something new to me. I’d been working on it for years, educating myself and practicing my coping skills for quite sometime.

I think it was just oddly validating.

I’ve been told to stop living in the past. I know I get looked at like I am victimizing myself. It’s always made me feel bad.

People think it’s a choice. I don’t choose to feel the way I do or experience life the way I do. Why would anyone? Why would anyone even lie about feeling this way? It’s not like it makes you look good. I’m already looked upon as crazy as is.

This is not fun. It’s definitely not when you’re looked at like an exaggerator. Like you’re behaving the way you do for attention.

Things now make a little more sense.

Flashbacks, relieving and thinking of traumatic experiences over and over again, avoiding certain things out of fear of crying and becoming emotional, being easily startled and triggered by things that others normally wouldn’t be, paranoia, loss of trust in people, difficulty regulating emotions, difficulty controlling anger, fixation on abuser/s…

All things I’ve been experiencing for years and all things I’ve been judged for. Do people’s opinions matter? No. It doesn’t make it any less painful though. No matter what, it always stings to know that people think negatively of you, no matter how hard you try not to let it get to you.

I knew about the depression and the mood swings. Others did too. So that wasn’t really looked upon as odd. At least not at this point.

I know people looked at me and judged me for still being in a state of pain because of things that happened long ago. Like I was making excuses.

I started to wonder if that was true. Was I choosing this? I didn’t think I was, because it honestly made me feel bad to be thought of in that “woe is me” way. It’s not exactly a good look.

Now, it makes sense

I wasn’t doing this to myself. It was something that was happening to me that I didn’t have control over.

Again, everything is still the same. Now, I just know. Now, there’s a reason why. Knowing the “why” and how something originated has always helped me figure out how to solve any problem.

I dont have to feel like a failure about the fact that the past still hurts me and has affected me in different ways. I know I’m not “crazy”?

I dont know…Whatever.

I write to make sense out of shit because my feelings tend to hit me like a fucking truck and I don’t realize what’s happened or what I’ve done until the dust settles. As my psychiatrist said “Shoot first, ask questions later”.

Now I know that how important it really is for me to continue the healing process and why it’s been so hard to begin with. It’s not just something I need to do because it will “help” me. Now I understand how crucial it actually is.

Things just make sense now.

As I said, nothing really changes. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ll probably read up on it, just to possibly help myself in ways that had never occurred to me before. New pointers are always good. Plus learning will help me, help you guys. I’ll be able to tell you about all my new found skills 😂

I debated sharing this. I was kind of embarrassed. But isn’t that kind of the problem in the first place? It’s the reason I started this blog. Things like this only become comfortable to talk about when YOU talk about them. Author Brene Brown teaches us that speaking about our vulnerability and shame is what connects us. Talking about our pain not only is healing, but it peels away all the superficial layers we’ve been hiding behind. It unites us because we can all relate to each others experiences.

So, let’s make it safe and comfortable for others to open up too. That’s the only way things in the mental health world will be regarded compassionately, seriously and respectfully.

Thank you for reading ❤️

Confession

I have been physically, emotionally, verbally and mentally abused.

I, then, went out into the world and physically, emotionally, verbally and mentally abused others.

I hate that I became what I hated the most. I emulated what I witnessed because I was taught that was empowerment. That was the way you showed other people dominance. Bullying, mean comments. It meant you were tough.

However…

I have NEVER embraced these behaviors as something that people would have to just “take or leave”

I knew that although these behaviors felt impulsive, that they were wrong. The whole “impulse” thing was not an excuse. That did not make it okay.

I have never sat here for one second and thought I have no faults.

To the best of my abilities, I’ve always tried to correct the behaviors I inherited that were hurting both me and others.

Even as a child, I knew something was wrong. Even if I didn’t quite understand what exactly that was.

I’ve gone to therapy for years. It’s helped tremendously but it wasn’t foul proof. I didn’t become who I was overnight, so it took a long time to literally reprogram who I was entirely as a person.

But I tried.

Fuck, did I try.

I didn’t just go to therapy so some woman could sit there and hear me bitch about my life and play victim. I had to face a lot of truths.

Show me one person who likes to sit there and be told they have fucked up, time and time again? That shit is far from fun. It’s embarrassing and it’s painful.

I slowly incorporated what I was taught into my life. I did the exercises. I did the coping mechanisms. It was a loooooong process and my ass is far from done.

I’m sure that process was unbearable for anyone who had to deal with me at the time. I honestly didn’t know how to help myself. I had issues with emotional regulation and impulse control. I would cling to anyone who had ears to hear me vent and cry.

I understand now that that was toxic and I’m sorry if I put you in that situation. I’m pretty sure it was draining. Believe it or not, I was doing the best I could, at the time anyways.

I was expecting others to fix me, but I needed to do that.

I did learn. I’m in a healthier place. I’m happier and I’m emotionally more independent.

There is a part of me that empathizes with those who have hurt others. They are lost souls.

You know what I can’t take?

People who think they do no wrong. People who cannot apologize. People who REFUSE to apologize. People who do not self reflect. People who have no interest in empathizing with another person.

Don’t fool yourself, because about 90 percent of the time, these people know what they are doing. They know they are hurting you.

You wanna know how I know that? Because these are the same people who will flip the fuck out at the drop of a hat when they feel disrespected and boy is it a spectacle when they do!

They know they are hurting you. They just don’t give a fuck. People like that live in misery, so hurting you makes them feel better. Your happiness irks the shit out of them. I can’t respect that.

I’m done with dealing with people that behave this way. I’ve learned I leave with more pain than I do relief because these people literally do not give a fuck how much they’ve hurt you.

They would rather lose a relationship with you and never see you again than to admit the possibility that they might have hurt you and maybe, just MAYBE, they might have fucked up.

Everyone is very much “Love And Hip Hop” when it comes to confrontation. “Bitch, if you had a problem with me, why didn’t you say anything?!”

I’m sorry, but what in the fuck do you gain calling or meeting up with someone on a beautiful day to tell them how they made you feel and how they hurt you, only to be met with condescension, sarcasm, mockery, yelling, denial, invalidation, disrespect and insults?

What’s more important? Looking “tough” and being deemed as worthy by a person who could literally give two shits about your feelings, the quality of your relationship and well being OR you actually investing your time in people and activities that bring you joy and happiness?

Stop fucking with these people. Don’t waste your time worrying about their opinions, because they never cared about yours to begin with.

Focus on you, the inner work. Forgive yourself for your sins, because there is no going back. You decide who you are from this point forward.

If this does incite anger in you, ask yourself why? Is there a part of you that identifies with what I said? If this pissed you off, you have to have identified with it on some level.

There’s a great analogy YouTuber Nu Mindframe made (She’s awesome by the way, check her out)

I KNOW I’m not quoting this verbatim, but I thought the analogy was brilliant.

I am an average height, tanned, Hispanic woman.

If a stranger came up to me and said “You giant, pale Chinese bitch!!”, irate and foaming at the mouth…

I would laugh and think to myself, “This woman is insane”

Why?

Because my ass clearly is not Chinese, pale and far from being a giant.

What this person said is literally nonsense. It doesn’t apply to me. It doesn’t relate to me in the slightest. Why would it bother me?

But if it bothered you, why? Dig a little deeper. You may find the answer has way more to do with you and the way you feel about yourself subconsciously than this blog post.

Some of you may read this and feel less dirty, less alone, empowered.

Some of you may read this and really hate the fuck out of me, think I’m a hypocrite, I’m crazy

blah blah blah…

However,

I’m the one brave enough to own my fuckups, my shortcomings.

I’m the one brave enough to share them on a platform visible to the entire world.

While some of you will never look deeper than the bathroom mirror.

I’ll take my authenticity, filthy and flawed over the picture perfect shield you’ve created for yourself there any day of the week.

That’s all folks, until next time ✌🏽

The Death Of The False Self

I feel like I have nothing in common with most people and have felt this way for most of my life.

Truth be told, I never cared for casual hangouts. I only tolerated them in hopes of developing deep connections with people in the future and it didn’t happen.

For over 10 years, I made the effort to try to connect with others by overextending myself, throwing social gatherings, racking my brain to try to come up with shit to talk about. I would literally talk just to TALK.

When I did, it was to mainly gossip. Surface level, toxic shit that now seems so irrelevant and silly. I did not understand how detrimental it all was.

I would tell people everything about my life to seem relatable. I would talk only about what was wrong with my life and I even went as far as discussing the less desirable parts of my marriage in an attempt to look cool, while omitting all the wonderful parts, taking it for granted.

You want to hear the funny part? I hid the good because I thought if I talked about being happy with my husband or being happy in general, I would annoy people.

Yup. I didn’t discuss my happiness out of fear that it would get on people’s nerves.

I look back now, and knowing what I know, if speaking about your happiness annoys others, are you really amongst the right people?

I was disloyal to the one person who has always shown me unconditional loyalty for the sake of being again, more likable. I valued the opinions of others more than I respected the privacy of my marriage and wish I could take it all back.

I don’t really drink anymore. I’m not saying I’ll never have one again. I just now understand I had an unhealthy relationship with it (I don’t understand what a healthy relationship with alcohol is considering the shit has no nutritional benefits or benefits in general but whatever.)

I would drink to calm my nerves to get along with people and rid myself of social anxiety. To be considered entertaining and fun.

One of my biggest goals is to learn to be completely confident, comfortable and have a good time without the help of alcohol. Self love and acceptance basically.

I don’t care enough anymore to consume something that’s bad for me for the sake of having fun with someone else.

Think about it.

Would you need to drink if there were a real, healthy connection there to begin with?

It’s feeling like there’s something wrong with you as a person that makes you want to do anything to alter your personality.

Since when is being liked worth risking your safety, health and even dignity?

I’d wake up to find out that I’d made a fool out of myself the night before. The people who heavily encouraged drinking the next time we hung out were usually more interested in laughing at me than with me.

Today, I care most about whether I like myself and how my husband and son feel about me.

My energy is now directed towards myself and my family. It’s really just that simple.

If we have shit in common and things just flow organically, cool.

If not, it is what it is. That’s life. It’s nothing personal.

I know how this all sounds and I understand it may come across as holier than thou, pretentious, rude… maybe even nasty.

But when you put effort into trying to connect with everyone the majority of your young adulthood and you’re only met with apathy…

You reach the point where you just get tired of the lack of reciprocation and if you’re lucky, learn to make yourself the focal point instead. Forcing myself to relate to others always came to my expense, whether it was mentally, emotionally or even physically.

I chose to live a life of solitude in 2018. I didn’t understand why at first. I just knew I was unhappy and that my life needed to drastically change. Although difficult and depressing, I knew intuitively I was doing what was best for me.

As a result, I got to know myself. Being by yourself, you have no choice but to be exactly that. YOURSELF. It becomes addicting. You learn what you like, love, and hate without anyone’s opinions and criticism. There is no one to impress.

By living a life true to yourself, you become happier and healthier. You develop new hobbies. You become independent. Self sufficient. Easier decision making from listening to your inner voice rather than seeking external validation. You’re finally comfortable and capable of keeping yourself entertained. There isn’t a better feeling.

It comes with a price though…

When you become used to being true to yourself, it makes you HYPER aware of those moments where you feel the need to suppress or change your character.

Being something other than your authentic self feels intolerable. You lose ability to people please. The capability to endure discomfort to fit in now feels like putting on a pair of 5 inch heels for me. Sure they fit and they look good, but they hurt and give you blisters. I’d much rather throw mine in the ocean and run around barefoot.

You can never go back to being the same person again.

I’d say it’s worth it.

I’m not coming from a place of bitterness, but from a place of true desire to achieve genuine fulfillment and happiness.

I write everyday about everything because it’s therapeutic. The act of writing played a huge part in this process and still does. I learn more about myself and it helps me make sense of the world around me. I find solutions to my issues because I have a better understanding of them.

Through writing, I confront myself and you need to confront yourself in order to grow.

This blog forces me to write about things that make me uncomfortable and that’s the only way I’ve seen any positive changes in myself. By facing what brings me discomfort.

I share because you might relate too.

Who knows, maybe I’ll meet someone going through the same thing?

Maybe you’re behaving this way and need to know it’s unhealthy. Maybe you needed to read this to learn to focus on yourself more than others.

Look into codependency, because that’s what that experience was. Thankfully, I understand that now. I might blog about codependency in the future. It’s a painful yet very common issue that many people struggle with and probably don’t even know is a thing.

I made the choice not to accommodate anything that makes me feel less than or bad about who I am anymore.

If there’s no love, integrity, emotional support, concern, sensitivity, acceptance, encouragement, or inspiration…

It ain’t for me.

Confrontation Is Pointless

I’ve realized in my life that unless you’re trying to find a solution to an issue with someone who has demonstrated and reciprocated emotional investment and you know by experience is honest and has the ability to self reflect…

OR

Involves you cutting a check…

Confrontation is POINTLESS.

Point. Blank. Period.

It will bring you to high stress levels capable of impacting your body harmfully.

What you tell them could be completely accurate and they will STILL look you dead in the eye and tell you you’re wrong, that it did not happen, that that person is lying, so on and so forth.

It’s super common to be gaslit during confrontation. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where a person straight up lies about factual information (many times regarding situations you witnessed with your own eyes) to give you the impression that you cannot trust your own senses, leaving you questioning your own sanity.

Do not be surprised if you leave that situation enraged, red faced, bamboozled, and ready to commit a crime.

I highly suggest everyone, especially those of you who came from abusive homes or abusive relationships to learn the definitions of emotional abuse, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, manipulation and to research manipulation tactics. This could save you in so many ways you don’t even realize.

But, back to the topic at hand.

People lie. All the time. To each other and to themselves.

The truth is too scary. It’s easier to point the finger at you and make you the villain than to look within and confront their demons. To admit that you are right would mean coming to terms with the fact that they are not perfect. That they, like everyone else, fuck up from time to time. That they have some sort of emotional wound that still remains open, raw. infected and untouched.

That’s too painful to face and most people refuse to go that deep. Despite rare exceptions, people do not change. They rarely will for their own healing and they most certainly will not do it for you.

Instead, pay attention to action. Pay attention to your gut. When you feel you aren’t being told the truth, pretend you’re listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Pay attention to the face, the body. Pretend you’re deaf. Do they look sad? Remorseful? Emotional? Pay attention to the actions. Are they demonstrating their claims through their behavior?

If they don’t, distance yourself and work on your own healing. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Your mental and emotional health should always precede another person and their needs. That is their responsibility.

If you really feel the need to tell them off, do so in a note and don’t send it. Delete it, burn it, throw it in the ocean. Whatever. Do it in mirror and pretend that’s them you see in the reflection. Curse them the fuck out. Scream, point your fingers, jump up and down, punch your mattress. Get that shit out of your system and walk away.

Please make sure you’re home alone and there’s no one around to hear you though. Don’t end up with the cops at your door because the neighbors thought you committed a murder when you were actually assaulting your pillow.

Make yourself the focal point. That’s your job. There’s a reason why you’re told by the flight attendants on a plane “Put your own oxygen mask on first.”

What do you love to do? What are your goals and aspirations? If you love doing something, do it more. If you hate something, do it less or avoid it all together. (I am not referring to necessary responsibility)

When you learn to love and accept yourself, the company of others is only optional.

Love yourself the way you would your child. Would you encourage your child to play with children who are mean and make them feel bad? Nope, you’d protect them. Why wouldn’t you do the same for yourself? Shield your heart the same way. You come first, choose yourself first.

Sending you all much love always ❤️

Soul Revival Tip #2: Laughter

One day, my husband and I had a disagreement. It was safe to say we were not each other’s favorite people at the moment. I was home and upset. I decided I needed to get my mind off of the issue. I wanted to shake off those negative emotions. So I decided to watch a stand up comedy.

As I watched, I laughed and laughed until my belly hurt and I thought I was going to piss myself. I had a moment of awareness in that instant. I scanned my emotional self and realized that although the problem with my husband and I had not been resolved, I felt better. My mood lifted and I felt lighter. I felt more at peace and joyful.

I came to the conclusion that the laughter that was induced by the comedy I was watching was responsible for this. I felt happier from laughing. Intrigued, I decided to perform sort of an experiment.

I played the stand up from the beginning when my husband arrived from work. I knew he was not going to sit down, let alone with me, and watch the film willingly. I raised the volume loud enough so that it could be heard from the other rooms while simultaneously keeping the neighbors from losing their hearing.

I could tell he was still pissed off at me. I greeted him hesitantly and let him be, giving him time to cool off. I noticed as the film played that although he was not watching it, it caught his attention and he was listening.

I watched his stiff, rigid body soften before my eyes. He gradually began to unwind. His breathing slowed. He would turn to the screen periodically and eventually, sat right next to me to watch.

As the film went on, he watched and listened intensely, even allowing a chuckle to escape his lips from time to time. Before I knew it, he was not angry anymore. He turned to me and I’m pretty sure said “Okay, what do you want to eat?” kindly. We made up after that.

Laughter, although induced by the film, made us feel better. It lifted our spirits. It took our minds off of the issue at hand. It calmed us and brought us to a more rational, relaxed state. That tranquility provided us with the clarity we needed in order to realize that our dispute was not a big deal. Not only were we able to carry on with the evening, but we were both in better places mentally and emotionally.

There are many studies that show laughter has the capability to trigger endorphins (the “happy” hormone), relax the body, stop distressing emotions, help you reenergize, calm stress hormones, as well as ease anxiety.

As for physical benefits, laughter can bring down blood pressure, burn calories, raise the production of immune cells and infection fighting antibodies (improving resistance to disease), renew the lungs, as well as relaxing the muscles relieving tension.

Laughter is so powerful that different establishments have been created in order to receive those benefits. There are laughter clubs, which is defined as a group of people gathering to practice laughter. There is laughter yoga, which is basically yoga and a laughter club combined. There is even laughter therapy, where patients in the hospital are presented with humorous activities to revitalize their bodies and spirits. Some medical professionals also make the effort to make their patients laugh because they know that it will improve the patient’s well-being.

So the next time you’re not feeling so hot, laugh. Find reasons to laugh. Watch a stand up comedy like I did that evening. Watch a funny video on YouTube or play your favorite comedic film. Call or hang out with a funny friend. Go to a comedy club. Play with your pet, tickle your kids (don’t kill them in the process). Your mental, physical and spiritual self will thank you for it later.

Soul Revival Tip #1: Audiobooks

I’ve always loved to read but recently, I’ve become obsessed with audiobooks. My favorite books tend to be self help/self improvement related. I find that listening to a soothing voice teaching you how to care for yourself in a time of emotional and psychological need can be powerful and incredibly impactful. It feels like someone is sitting right next to me, comforting me in my time of need.

Best of all, it’s available at all times. This means you can receive a boost of love and encouragement anytime you need it. This could be in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. It could be on the train or your drive in to work as you mentally prepare for the next shift. It could even be when you’re going through a very difficult phase in life.

Audiobooks have been life changing for me. I do see a therapist once a week but sometimes it’s not enough. Sure, talking to other people can help. However, realistically we will not always have someone else around to help us. Therefore, we need to master the art of helping ourselves.

Telling other people your struggles can be a huge help but I’m sure you’ve also experienced times where it has backfired. Sometimes, you are met with judgement and criticism. Other times, you’ve just been given bad advice. There might have even been occasions where you find out someone told another person about your issues without your consent. You leave the situation feeling worse than you did before you told anyone. Who needs that?

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t rely on anyone else as a source of support. If it’s a safe and confidential source, sure. I am saying that it’s absolutely necessary to learn how to help yourself alone. Even if you have the greatest support system, talking to someone else may not always be an option and you have to be prepared for moments like that. You are your own responsibility, and it’s ultimately up to you to take care of yourself.

Audiobooks are an awesome form of self care. I recommend that everyone try listening to one at some point, you may be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards. I get my books using the app. Audible. I love a lot of Louise Hay’s books. She was a world renowned author and metaphysical teacher. Her self esteem affirmations helped me learn to embrace and accept myself for who I am. In “How To Love Yourself”, Louise discusses her 10 tips towards achieving self love and self acceptance. I found this to be very eye opening and learned some life long lessons from it. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz is one of my favorites and a very popular and well known book. Ruiz shares 4 powerful beliefs to adopt to transform your life for the better. I own the paperback, but decided to buy it in audiobook form. I actually prefer the audiobook and have bookmarked my favorite parts to listen to whenever I need an extra boost of love and encouragement.

Now I understand some people really don’t care for self help/self improvement books. That’s okay too. Fiction based audiobooks/books are an effective coping mechanism as well. Reading gets your mind off of whatever it is you’re stressing. It’s entertaining, increases your vocabulary, strengthens your imagination and is a healthy distraction. Your brain gets to take a well deserved BREAK. We ALL need that, whether it is you’re depressed or not. Coping skills are not only for those who are struggling with mental illness. Coping skills are healthy hobbies and habits to integrate into your life, for the rest of your life. The more you have in your life, the better.

Nothing that I ever suggest on my blog will ever substitute receiving professional help. If you feel there is something seriously wrong and you have it in your power, please seek professional help. However, the tips I share may help you endure life’s struggles and get through them in a healthy, safe and non destructive way. In therapy, that is what you are taught. Granted, the therapist helps you work through your problems objectively, but ultimately, they will teach or recommend different coping skills for you to use when you’re feeling angry, depressed, anxious, etc…

I know there are a lot of you that may be struggling mentally, emotionally and psychologically. I know how it feels to deal with that pain alone, to feel misunderstood or the fear that you will be looked upon as crazy. You’re not crazy. You’re just struggling. Believe it or not, those are temporary feelings. You just need to learn how to ride them out in the safest way possible. That’s where me and my soul revival tips come in. I’m sharing some of the stuff I know has saved me, and I really hope can do the same for you.

Fighting The Good Fight

So, I’ve been silent for a bit. I mentioned that in my last blog post. There has been a lot going on here at home. Things have been a struggle, I have been struggling.

Being the mother of an autistic child is difficult beyond anyone’s understanding, besides a person in the same boat. That’s that all children on the spectrum are different from one another.

We started potty training Ethan. Me and two of his teachers camped out in the bathroom for three days. It was exhausting. Days after, he had a week off. Whole days with Ethan are tough. They are intense.

He requires a lot of attention. I am still changing diapers, still dressing him from head to toe. He has many needs. He needs to be watched vigilantly. I’ve seen him move our 50 inch television by himself. Let’s keep in mind, he’s only six years old. He’s broken his dresser which was nailed to the wall in his room, causing for the tv to come crashing down to the floor. I’ve found nails randomly in his mouth.

It’s traumatizing. I feel like I cannot keep him out my sight because he might hurt himself. There are nights where he will wake up as early as 3-4am, banging things, jumping on his bed, dropping things on the floor because he enjoys the clattering sound that’s made.

The stress from this has triggered my anxiety, a depressive episode, it’s robbed me of my ability to sleep restfully for an entire night. I wake up and lie in bed thinking about how the morning will go, creating fear and worry. Becoming apprehensive that things will be completely chaotic when it’s time to get ready for school. They usually are, my anxiety comes from not being in complete control over a situation that simply can’t.

There are things that I no longer enjoy that I used to. I used to sing regularly, I used to read tarot, I used to write frequently and now cursed with writer’s block. I always had something to say and here I find myself quiet. Just trying to stay afloat. Just trying to get through each day, day by day. That’s become my new hobby.

It’s hard. I cry a lot. It’s overwhelming. I try to keep in mind that this moment wont last forever yet it’s hard to imagine that when I feel the way I do. It’s easy to feel like a bad parent when parenting makes you break down. I’ve had moments where I feel like a weakling for not being able to handle what’s been given to me as I’m constantly struggling. It’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough. Like you aren’t enough. Like everything you do is wrong.

So, that’s where I’ve been. I’m still in therapy. I’m still working through these issues and it’s helped immensely. I’m sharing because I know there are moms who feel the same way I do. Know that you’re far from alone. You’re not a bad person, you’re not a bad parent. If you were, you wouldn’t be concerned about being one. Hang in there.

Autism Is A Gift?

Before I start, I need to state how hard this was to write. I cried all through out. I share this because I know I am not alone and I would love to meet others struggling with the same. If this offends you… I can’t help what I feel and I won’t apologize for it. I refuse to suppress anymore.

My husband and I decided to have our child. It was a mutual decision. One that made sense to me at the time. I wanted the experience of motherhood earlier in life. I was with someone who I knew would be an amazing parent. It felt perfect.

When expecting a baby, we tend to wonder what the child will be like. We imagine pigtailed princesses, tomboys, tiny all star athletes and the semblance of yourself somewhere in this little being.

None of us realize that having a child does not guarantee that he or she will be healthy or even disabled. It isn’t in our wildest dreams. Actually, it’s something that’s tucked away somewhere so far beyond your conscience, you might even feel it’s impossible. At least that’s what the experience was like for me.

I gave birth to a son. Ethan. His name brings a smile to my face. I fell in love with everything about him, from head to toe. I loved everything about being his mother. It brought me joy and pride to watch him grow. It created a curiosity in me that resembled a hunger. Who was he? Would he love video games and baseball like his dad? Would he hate small talk and crave discussions of our existence and conspiracy theories like his mom?

Ethan was 6 months old when his pediatrician told me he wasn’t hitting his milestones. She recommended that we contact early intervention to have him evaluated for any sort of delays or disabilities. I declined. I was told by every mother I knew, that all children grew at their own pace. That’s what was happening here. That was all.

Ethan learned to sit and crawl later than was expected. He took his first steps when he was a year and a half. Still, I believed this was normal. What kept me up at night was that he wasn’t talking. No phrases. Nada. I would attempt to play with him at home or I’d take him to the park. He no longer made eye contact with me. He no longer smiled or interacted with me. He didn’t respond to his name, to my voice. I was a ghost. It hurt. God did it hurt.

I told myself I’d contact early intervention if he turned two years old and was not speaking. I found myself making that phone call shortly after his second birthday after seeing no signs of improvement. The process went rather smoothly and Ethan was to be evaluated by a psychologist.

The psychologist was scheduled to visit with us at our home. She turned to me in under five minutes of her visit and told me my son was severely autistic. I felt like I’d received a hard punch to the stomach. Autism. My son? I didn’t know anything about it. It didn’t run in my family. It didn’t run in my husband’s family.

All these thoughts and fears ran through my mind. That’s it, his life is over. He’ll never lead a normal life. He won’t grow to become a man who will get married, go to college, have the ability to support himself.

In that moment, I wanted to die. I’d recently found out I had a life threatening Illness that I didn’t know I’d survive from. Hearing this broke what was left of me. I was doomed. My son, who hadn’t even begun to live his life, was doomed. I cried and cried until I thought my body had run dry. But…I couldn’t allow my emotions to paralyze me. I folded away that pain and put it away. What was the next step? What could we do right NOW to help him?

Ethan went on to receive at home, multiple hour long therapy sessions with ABA therapists, speech therapists, OT specialists, and PT specialists 5 times a week. Any service he qualified for, we made sure he got.

He began attending a center based therapy daycare, where he received all of services. He rode his first school bus at the age of 2. Once Ethan aged out of the first location, we worked closely with a social worker and with her help, got him into the best preschool that provided the services that Ethan required.

Through out this process, I didn’t allow myself to fear. I didn’t allow myself to cry. I didn’t allow myself to be human. I struggle with anxiety, which usually has a lot to do with panicking over the future. I couldn’t even feel that. I couldn’t help the diagnosis, but I could help how much I did to help my son. So I immersed myself in that.

I was sick and Ethan needed me, so I became a stay at home mother. It wasn’t where I ever saw myself in life, but my body needed to heal, and even if it didn’t, my son needed me. I would have never forgiven myself if I hadn’t done everything humanly possible to help my son progress. In my eyes, who my son would become in the future would be a result of the parenting he received. If that meant I needed to be home for him to receive his services and for me to learn teaching/therapeutic tactics to help him as well, that’s where the fuck I was going to be.

So, this is my life. I’m a stay at home mom to an autistic child. He is six years old now. He loves cars, anything Minion related, counts, sings, requests things (food especially). All on his own terms, of course. His room becomes a jungle gym during sleeping hours. He doesn’t eat anything unless it’s crunchy. He is unable to dress himself. He needs help with most basic things, including using the bathroom. I currently change his diapers.

It took me a long time to muster up the courage to talk about this. Why? I didn’t want people looking at my son with pity. I didn’t want people finding out about his diagnosis and automatically viewing him as the poster child for autism, without even getting to know him. I didn’t want unsolicited advice from inexperienced parents who hadn’t even heard of autism. I didn’t want my parenting bashed. I didn’t want to be incriminated by other autism mothers for not pretending this was a breeze or being unhappy. For not using the correct terminology. I didn’t want to hear the asininity that comes from crude people who glamorize having a disabled child, like my strife was invalid and an exaggeration.

Worst of all, I did not want to hear the phrase I loathe the most: Autism is a gift. A gift to whom exactly? When my son is crying out of frustration because he can’t verbalize words he knows and understands, do you think he feels this is a gift? Do you think he feels it’s a gift when I have to change his diaper with cold wipes in the early morning? Don’t you think at this point he feels it’s intrusive? Is it a gift that he has to be held down by five people in order to be examined because he’s scared of being bound down? Is it a gift that we use a high chair and a stroller at the age of 6? Is it a gift when he can’t enjoy a movie at a cinema like the typical child can because this disability doesn’t allow for it? Is it a gift that he has no sense of danger and could kill himself if not consistently monitored?

Saying autism is a gift is dangerous. Its divisive. It doesn’t allow for authenticity. It’s the reason mothers like me isolate themselves from the world. We cannot relate to parents with typical children, and we can’t relate to the hard core, sanctimonious, politically correct autism parents who claim to do it all like it’s effortless. We feel there is no support for us. I don’t want condemnation for not acting and feeling like our world is fantastic. I don’t want criticism for confessing that this isn’t easy and that it’s painful every single day I watch my son struggle.

If we could choose a world where autism did not exist, that’s the world we would pick. That’s the cold honest truth. To hear autism is a gift is like a slap in the face. It undermines the struggle both parent and child experience. It dismisses the agony I STILL hold so heavy in my heart because I am still mourning. I’m in mourning for the child I idealized while I was pregnant. While I love my son, while I would do everything in my power to make sure he’s taken care of, I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.

What I want the most someday? To sit with my son one day and have a long, in-depth conversation with him. To bond and learn about him. To find out what’s going on in that little head of his. If I never get that, that’s okay as well. I will always love him unconditionally. He’s my breathing, walking and talking heart. I just wish more parents were talking about this. I just wish more parents were honest about how hard this is. We could use the support. I know I could.

The Trend That Is Pessimism 

Ever notice how people will complain about their lives while often excluding the good that is also occurring? We cry and moan about all that is wrong, and either turn a blind eye to the good or choose not to talk about it at all. Like a lie of omission, almost like happiness is something to be ashamed of. 

Somehow, at some point, it became really cool to be super apathetic, cynical, and negative. Bitching has literally become the preferred method of bonding amongst peers. 

If you post photos of yourself on social media out of confidence, you’re considered arrogant. This really bothers people. Why? Maybe you love your body and have accepted the skin you’re in. Maybe you’re proud to show that off. Where is the crime in that? 

You talk about that promotion you got, you’re bragging. You probably worked your ass off for that position but may feel reluctant to talk about it to avoid bothering others. Have you ever wondered why it annoys others? Why do we care about what people think enough to bury our happiness and join the pity party? 

You mention how well your relationship is going, you’re full of shit. Why? Why is it so hard to believe that two people may actually be delighted and satisfied with one another? 

Talking about the good in a relationship doesn’t mean it’s perfect. It means you respect your partner enough to work your disagreements out only amongst yourselves. It means you honor the privacy and intimacy of your relationship. It means it’s not anyone else’s business and you don’t owe anyone additional details. 

So, don’t feel pressured into joining the commiseration club. Even if everyone you know is a member. People can’t believe in another person’s capability of bliss because they don’t allow themselves to feel that way. 

You don’t need to be amongst those who pick apart every aspect of their lives and only concentrate rough patches while neglecting every blessing. You also don’t need to be around someone who cannot be happy for your happiness. They don’t love you. Simple as that. Why? Because they don’t love themselves. That energy is cancerous. It will stunt your growth. Run as fast as you can. 

You are responsible for your own happiness. If you’ve found that, good for you. Wear that shit like a badge of honor, even if the glare is too blinding for the energy vamps. 

Dear Self, 

You washed the dishes. That’s a big fucking deal. You HATE washing dishes and you pushed through. You didn’t want to brush your teeth, you did. You didn’t want to shower, you did. Didn’t want to wash your hair and you did. You pumiced your feet. You watched numerous things to laugh to lift your mood. You practiced self care. You’re even journaling. All while being fucking depressed. It’s a big deal. You’re doing a good job. Don’t beat yourself up for what you couldn’t or haven’t done. Give yourself credit for that. Be proud of yourself for that. 

This is what you’re supposed to do when you’re depressed. You’re supposed to take responsibility for yourself. You’re supposed to identify what’s wrong, and try to help yourself. You’re supposed to practice your coping skills. You did that. You’re supposed to try even though you don’t want to. You pushed through it. 

I know you may not feel this is a big deal, but if someone else told you this, you would congratulate them. You would tell them to be proud because they could’ve chosen to do nothing and they chose to fight. 

If you had chosen to do nothing, well, that’s okay too. Our best does not look the same everyday. Staying in bed could be your best one day and that’s fine. You’re doing your best today. I love you. I’ll always look out for you. 

Remember, this isn’t you. This gloom and doom you’re feeling. The sinking in your gut? That’s depression. It’s a disease. You’re going through the symptoms and you’re fighting them. I’m proud of you. 

Love, 

Self