Something Bigger

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
Oprah Winfrey

 

Things happen for a reason.  And this week I think even more so.  The series of events that happened made it so that instead of a 30 min call, I ended up with a private 1 hour call to my daughter’s therapist.  She had to make a sudden change to the schedule, her dad was en route to the Cayman Islands so he had to give his time to me.  Most informative, bittersweet and enlightening Mother’s Day gift I think I’ve had in my life as a mother. But one full of new insight, understanding and perhaps even compasion.

J had her psychiatric evaluation this week on Monday. The doctor shared her dad’s responses and my responses with J’s therapist.  The therapist has been meeting with us for five weeks now. We write letters, we tell our stories, we listen and on a sidenote, she asked me for insight as to my relationship with her dad. Our inner workings. Our past history.

Part of that story is that he has three children with autism- specifically, Asperger’s.  Funny thing is that all three look exactly like him.  Her dad confessed to me one day that one of his ex-wives who is in the medical field told him he was autistic; that he showed all the markers for it and that he should attend therapy to work through some issues.

Coincidentally, J looks just like me. Nothing of his on the exterior. Thankfully, J dodged that bullet if I may say it that way. But what came to light made it all click. I had my suspicions especially in the last 6-10 years as he has gotten older because his behavior is textbook Asperger’s but never thought anything else of it even though I did mention it to the doctors who are now with my daughter.

Yesterday without confirming a diagnosis, she said after knowing what she knows, especially his history as a teen, how he talks to her, how he acts with J, and how he relates stories, he sure appears to be someone who would and could be classified as someone who could be within the spectrum.  A diagnosis that at his age, would be difficult to accept and since he’s highly functioning and succesful in business, not worth the angst it would bring him but instead to teach J and I to better understand and work with what we have.

To say that the confirmation of this information crushed me a little is an understatement.   Even though I had thought it, it was hard to hear someone else actually say it. But it would explain a lot and it made me incredibly sad and glad. Sad that my daughter has lived this long feeling pain when had there been understanding maybe things would have been different.  Glad his mother never knew. He was by far her favorite- and she would have been crushed by the news.  But now I sit here with this information in my head- does the sadness ever go away? Sometimes I feel yes, but then something new comes along and brings me back to a place where I don’t want to be. I’m able to enjoy some moments of happiness and joy but just little reminders that my daughter is not with me, hurt.

I can’t wait until my daughter’s absence stops hurting; I still haven’t visited her room.  Our letter writing has been therapeutic to me and I’m finally in a place where I’m ok as to where she is.  But the circumstances still seem unreal as to why she’s there or how she got there. I see prom pictures, college tours,  and it all hurts. A constant reminder of what’s missing in my life. I know I will be ok. I know my daughter will also be ok.

So this week, my daughter and I both have to read The Way I See It– a look into autism and asperger’s.  And I also have to read Not By Chance which is actually quite interesting so far.  It’s about how to transition after coming out of wilderness therapy.  Lots to digest this week.  And hopefully turn a new leaf.

Peace & love

Defining our Future

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”
Rick Warren

Days get a little easier but the pain doesn’t go away.

Last week’s letter sent me back about a thousand years.  Reading my daughter’s words, I cried- actually I sobbed. A lot of pain that could have been saved if only I had known what I know now.

Recently I sat down with her dad to talk about what’s going on. I asked him specifically about something the family always ‘laughed off’ and trying to respect their privacy I never really dug for more information.  I asked him if he could really explain to me the whole thing about him being sent off as a teen.

After a brief pause the floodgates opened. I heard ‘treatment center’, ‘pushed my mother down the stairs’, ‘broken arm’, ‘anxiety’, ‘aggressiveness’, and ‘repeat visit’.  When he was 13 and his hormones/testosterone in full swing, he developed issues exactly like my daughter developed at exactly the same age.  Things he said I was making up, he simply refused to acknowledge were coming back to haunt him.  He pushed his mother down the stairs and the next day he ended up at a treatment facility, and then a residential treatment center (RTC) for a couple of years.  In all, he was gone for 3 years the first time.  One year the second time.  His levels stabilized around 19-20 and he went on to have a ‘normal’ life.  College, law school, work, family, everything just like everyone else.

But I got so angry. Things I should have known, and had I known, I would have pushed harder for some resolve or for him to take real notice and help us sooner rather than end up at the point we are now.  I would not have let her father’s past come back to haunt us. Or at least I would have gone down fighting. I wrote to my daughter in not so many words, that I felt I had failed her and I apologized for my mistakes in this journey of ours.

I’ve always told her, despite all our troubles, to lead with her heart and with kindness.  And in her letter to me she caught this really subtle message and wrote to me:

‘ You didn’t fail me. Not at all.  You loved and cared for me and that’s really all you could do.  I’m sorry I used you as much as I did.’

The whole letter summed up in those words. I have never loved a soul as much as I love this child of mine but yet somehow I feel I could have done so much more. I could have saved her sooner. If only I had a bigger bubble right? I know deep down we all try our best and now knowing this piece of her father’s past, can I only move forward and think that throug all those tough years, I was able to do it by myself.  Maybe this is the way it’s supposed to be.  For now anyways.

 

Peace  & Love

Still I Rise

Digesting a few things this week…but this poem? This poem just says it all for now.

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 19282014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Realizations

“…fool me once, shame on me…fool me twice…I deserved to get fucked over.”
Derekica Snake

 

As the time ticks away, I become more and more accepting of what has happened.  Acceptance however, doesn’t mean I’m embracing it. I still feel as though I’m watching some family drama on tv and this is really not happening to us.

These last couple of weeks I’ve had a couple of realizations.  The first one is who my real friends are.  Only three people in my day to day life know where my daughter is.  The rest don’t really ask ‘where’ my daughter is, they ask how she is, I say she’s doing well and we move on.  But those friends. Oh boy.

I had dinner with one of these friends who I consider a true friend mind you (for reference let’s say: L, Y and C- C found out during a weak moment knowing full well she’s the town’s most negative and gossipy person in the town).  L then informed me that one of the women in this trio had taken it upon herself, despite my requests to keep it private, to want to openly discuss my situation with others.  Not only this, but she proceeded to also pass judgment: “How could I send my child away?”, “No self-respecting parent would send her kid off to be handled by someone else, if you can’t discipline your child, you’re doing something wrong,” “She’s got a boyfriend now, I’m sure she sent her away so she could have time alone-she’s so selfish!”  That one was the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I immediately knew who the source was because I’d caught her before repeating information she shouldn’t have been, but trying not to jump to conclusions I was going to reach out to both.

I proceeded to send a text to Y and C because L would not tell me who said this and knowing my options were only two- I sent the same text to both:

“I heard through the grapevine that someone is saying I sent my daughter away selifshly and to be with my significant other.  Have you heard this or is this your sentiment about this?  Because it would be the shittiest judgment anyone can pass on someone else, ever.”

Then apparently C was struggling with our decision because my daughter and I were always so sweet together, and she’s trying to wrap her mind and how to deal with HER struggle around my family’s issue which is why she was talking about it.

Slap my ass and turn me upside down!

This woman has been my ‘friend’ for about 8 years, spent maybe a total of MAYBE 5 days clumped together with my daughter- over the 8 years.  The days she’s been sick she hasn’t brought her a bowl of soup, or anything (not that it was needed, but) And SHE is struggling with this and feels the need to ask for support?  I was truly blown away but I learned some things.

I learned that some people call themselves friends for convenience. But truly most are fairweather people who want to be around during the tough times just so they can get the dirt on you.  So now she earned the Heisman Award of friendship:

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 3.17.40 PM.png

Which also stands for, back the hell off of me. You are not outside of the circle!

Peace and love

 

 

Musings

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
George Orwell,

 

It’s May 1st, and as Mother’s Day approaches I’m back to the cry at stop lights or parking lots and God forbid a sad song comes along. I can’t handle it. I can’t handle sad movies, movies about mothers and children (saw Lion, bawled my way through) and well it’s hitting me hard that I won’t have my daughter for Mother’s Day.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. A lot of ‘what if’s’.  I was with someone for two years and this someone had two grown children. They were 20 and 23 and they treated and talked to their father like absolute shit.  My daughter was witness to this and even though we’d had our fair share of discord, she didn’t start cursing/swearing around me until she heard his children tell their father to fuck off or call him names.

When it comes to others I’m able to see things a mile away.  When it comes to me I can be the biggest idiot.  I should have ran, because why in the world have this type of influence around my daughter? And I know this is why it eventually ended (along with a hundred other things- compatibility being a huge one) but I just wonder what if.  What if they’d never come into the picture and that influence wouldn’t have been around?

And then I think I’m making it all up- looking for excuses, trying to find that one lightbulb moment to try and make sense of my new found world.

I went over to my daughter’s dad’s house recently to speak with him. Some references had been made in the past in gest and I wanted more information on these comments. His mom and siblings always made fun as to how ‘crazy’ he was while he was a teen and how he was sent away to a boarding school.

I asked him to be straight with me and to not make it a joke. I’d lost my kid. I wanted to know if he had ever gotten lost also because at least I knew he came back.  His answer shocked me.  Stopped me in my tracks.  Turns out at 13 he had been sent away for two years because of anger and violence issues within his home. At 16 he was sent back for one year because he pushed his mother down the stairs.  He lived in a similar facility except it wasn’t outdoor therapy- and it wasn’t a ‘find yourself’ program, it was more of early 70s shock therapy until you got it right. He eventually was sent off to boarding school and even though he’s a fully functioning member of society and now the least aggressive person I know, just knowing this ahead of time would have been a huge eye opening moment for me.

Family secrets are funny.  Everyone has them one way or another.  Maybe had I asked more questions or paid better attention I would have been better prepared.  Or maybe not.

Peace & Love.

Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll

“No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.” -Patrick J. Kennedy

Well ok it wasn’t that with us.  Not yet anyway.  At 14, she found Minecraft. That became her world and the beginning of my nightmare.  It was then when I started to worry- I saw signs of self-soothing and possible addiction just because of this stupid game.  Everyone around me thought I was nuts. They all said, let her be a child! they all play those games!

Stupid me, I listened.  But pretty soon her life went from being jovial and sweet to being downright addicted to being on the laptop, playing this idiotic game and surviving on fake relationships created with the people playing that game. Her school work suffered, and her social life did too- she would hole up on the weekends and just play. She’d stay up until 3am and just play. She’d be at school and be interacting with these random strangers, ‘just playing’, because they ‘got’ her.  And this is when our fights started which led to our introduction to family therapy.

I had to figure out how to access my modem to turn the wifi off at 11pm. Fights ensued. Name calling, throwing things, you’d think I’d just took the meth from a junkie. It was that bad.  For months we fought. She had some access because her school required a laptop so it was a double edge sword. She’d come home and claim to do homework but instead she was creating a cyber world. I noticed she’d log in during school hours. I went to the school and asked for them to create firewalls so kids couldn’t log in to those chat rooms and games. Their answer was ‘we’re preparing them for the future, we can’t make it simple for them because barriers won’t exist in the real world.’  Whether that was true or not, you cannot tell me that paying what we were paying a year into that school (which is a middle income salary for most) you were telling me that the mind of a 13 year old needed to learn to self-regulate despite of inherent dangers looming ahead. That was her last year at that school.

And that June, when she finished school, her laptop was taken away (for some time).  Thanks to therapy and swimming her attention was re-directed into swimming once again and the laptop became a thing of the past.  Her new school didn’t require laptops and frankly she realized she’d gone overboard with the mind-numbing game. We were good but mostly because she had spent most of the summer away from home. And I was tired.  In 8 months I saw a new side to my daughter and realized that addiction could be part of our vocabulary even though I kept pushing it back and living in denial.  I was exhausted.

Later that year, she found an affinity to rap.  Thus started our ‘talks’ about self-respect, about not swearing and ‘what the hell are you listening to? TURN THAT SHIT OFF!’

Peace & Love

Shifted

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today I had a call with the counselor. My calls have gone from one hour to 30 minutes because the counselor quickly realized that her father and I could not listen in together without discord- he always insists on blaming me for something and then I go defend myself so she said ‘enough’ and this week was the first solo week of my daughter’s update on her well being.

Thirty minutes is not enough but I wanted to hear as much as possible and we started with her letters to me.  Her letters this week were different and I will try to explain how.   She seemed receptive to my letter and asked me questions about how I was doing or how was I working on myself.  She spoke about her food (not bad at all she said), her duties as a cook on some days and her relationships with her girls and said they are more like sisters and she likes the feeling of that community.  She understood my concerns about her behavior and her explanation of it – ‘To be honest, I just wanted acceptance.”  

She only asked how long she’d be there once in all of her 18 hand written pages compared to about 2-3 times per page and then multiply times all the pages, well she was asking this question a lot.  There was also a lot of self awareness. In the beginning I thought to myself: “she’s learning to play this game”, but the counselor said no. Indeed she has ‘shifted’.  That’s when I lost it. I cried. A lot. I may actually get my daughter back one of these days.

She told me about a book she read (twice) because it touched her so much and asked that I read it and tell her my favorite parts; she shared her favorite parts with me.  It is called Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book that Changes Lives and having read half the book in one sitting, I recommend you read it too.

Words ranged from a to z.  Her attitude has changed for the better- still not all there but something shifted. She’s more verbal. More emotional. More present and all restrictions have been cleared.  She joined her counselor ready to work this week and even took on extra assignments- mostly because she was bored but she did it anyways.

The counselor shared that my daughter admitted to her that she needed help. That she didn’t know how it got to be the way that it was but that yes, she needed help. And that was huge.  Between noticing a change in her letters to hearing what the counselor said I finally felt 100% confident that this is where my daughter needed to be at this specific moment in time.

I’ll share some of my daughter’s favorite quotes from the book because I really liked them as well:

“It is better for you to take responsibility for your life as it is, instead of blaming others or circumstances for your predicament.”

“As your eyes open, you’ll see that your state of health, happiness, and every circumstance of your life has been in a large part, arragend by you- consciously or unconsciously.”

“Stop being proud of mediocrity”

“Anger is a powerful tool to transform old habits and repalce them with new ones.”

“To rid of yourself of old patterns, focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new.”

Peace & Love