Waiting for Sunshine and Roses

It’s been a tough week.

Somewhere there’s a list of life events that can bring you to your knees and if moving isn’t at the top, it should be. Moving into almost-finished new construction with only two adults, a pickup and a Hyundai wagon. In 90 degree heat. When one of the adults considers the other “a hoarder” for having stuff… Yeah, “stressful” is one word for it.

(Thank goodness for Poppy’s mad vacuuming and cleaning skills, and Grammy’s mad Boy-entertaining skills!)

And you’ve accomplished this monumental thing, moving an entire house in two days on top of constructing said paid-for home from the ground up, but you are surrounded by boxes and missing shower curtain rings, and where-the-hell-am-I-going-to-put-that stuff. (I swear I’m not a hoarder!)

Then comes an unexpected, HUGE bill in the mail to take the wind right out of your sails, and evaporates any semblance of excitement you had left, and you wonder how anyone ever gets a leg up…

Then one of The Boy’s best friends decides he doesn’t want to go to summer day camp anymore, and his absences begin to trigger meltdowns and anxiety every night and morning. The Boy lashes out and threatens not to go himself, even though he absolutely adores it.

And you’re supposed to go to work and do work things correctly when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over a week, you haven’t eaten since you opened that huge bill, and you’ve taxed your body to the limit. The worry and overwhelm seem to be taxing your brain even more.

Everyone around you is worried, too. Either about the same things as you, or about you, and there’s nothing to say or do. You just keep going.¬†There’s no time or money to do anything else. And crying gets old. Deep down, you know this too shall pass, so you just continue to be until it gets better.

My Reflection

This morning, pulling out after dropping The Boy off at Grammy’s, I actually thought, “Why do we always have rough mornings when I am the most stressed?”

I must be new here.

Autism knows no time schedule. It doesn’t take a break because I have a million things to do between now and this weekend, and not enough hours in the day to do them. Nor does it sit back and say, “Your right. This is completely irrational and poorly timed.” It is what it is, whenever the hell it wants to be.

But there’s more to it than that. The Boy doesn’t get upset and wound up in spite of my stress. He gets upset and wound up because of it. There’s no lack of empathy – that’s a complete myth. There is an overabundance of it. The Boy picks up on my stress, nervousness, anxiety, and mirrors it right back to me.

For some reason, this is a lesson I find myself having to re-learn again and again. Someday I’ll catch on.

stress by bottled_void

Not Enough Hours

Just a quick post to say that it will be a light week, blog-wise. We hope to move into the new house on Saturday, which means we not only need to get the house ready for us to move in (painting window trim, putting up a mailbox, installing closet rods, installing carpet, installing baseboards, and using lots and lots of caulk), we also have to pack up and organize the rental house (and the storage unit), all before Saturday, all (at least for me) in addition to the full time job (busy due to payroll taxes being due on Friday), and feeding and clothing my family…

Not complaining, just seriously leaves little time for writing…

 

Anyway, thanks for your patience and as always, your support.:)

And Then

Yesterday, I wrote about the huge meltdown The Boy had on Thursday night.

And then…

On Friday, I was a mess. After the boys left in the morning, I took a deep breath and then began to cry. I journaled, because writing usually helps. I cried off and on the whole time I was getting ready for work. And I can usually talk myself down, saying, “Ok, you have to go to work now, and you can’t cry at work, so time is up. Dry your tears, and let’s get going.” That did not work on Friday, and there were a couple of moments I had to use a paper towel on my desk to wipe my tears. I texted a friend about how awful I felt.

black-and-white-person-woman-girl

It’s like the hangover after a binge. It’s inevitable, you can’t control it, and you really can’t make it go away until it’s ready to go away.

This is why people say that parenting a chid on the spectrum is like having PTSD. I think in my case, it’s more accurate likening it to chronic stress. Either way, it’s not a good thing, and we who deal with it have to be real careful not to ignore it.

To myself and others who deal with this kind of thing:

  1. Take the day off, if you can. It adds more stress to try to be “on” for others and shut those emotions out, and if you can give yourself a day to recover and process, then please do it.
  2. If you can’t take “the day after” off work, at least take it easy, and find something to take your mind off the meltdown. Replaying it over and over in your mind doesn’t usually do much good.
  3. Pat yourself on the back for doing the best you could under the circumstances. You and I both know people who would not be able to do what we do.
  4. Plan some sort of treat for yourself during the day. Something to look forward to, and something positive.
  5. When you have time, express it somehow. Journal, paint, talk to loved ones and friends who get it. Write a letter to yourself and send it, or burn it. Do something with all of that. If you don’t do this, it will fester.
  6. Make sure you are taking time for yourself somehow in your daily life. I know how difficult it can be, but even if you lock yourself in the bathroom for half an hour a week to read magazines, you just have to find some time for yourself to get away from the relentless needs of your child. I think this step helps us find strength when the big ones hit, too.

This is just my advice, from my experience. It’s not an exhaustive list, and frankly, I’m working on many of these, too. Meltdowns are difficult for the kiddo, and the parents, and aftershocks can be felt for days, weeks, and months afterwards. They’re not going going to go away, but we can mitigate the effects with a plan in place. That’s what we autism parents are best at, right? Planning?ūüėČ

Moving, Removing, and Limbo

We put our house on the market in June.  Two days later we had an offer.  We negotiated and agreed upon a price.

Since that time, we have been going through the process Рappraisals, inspections, etc.  All of the details that have to happen, be approved, and then to the next step.  This past week, we were supposed to close on Friday.

Monday we got a call that there was an issue with the paperwork, which could nullify the deal. Tuesday, we got another call that the issue had been cleared up, and we were all set to go with the closing on Friday.  Wednesday afternoon, we got another call with another issue, which could delay the closing, but were told to plan as if the closing was still going to happen.

I don’t know about where you live, but apparently here, the buyers take possession of the house immediately after closing.¬† This means if there is a closing, your house better be packed up and empty.

As a result, we packed up our entire house Wednesday evening so that The Man could move it all to the place we were supposedly renting on Thursday to be ready for the closing Friday.

Thursday, we were in limbo, but emptied the house.

Friday, we were notified that the closing would be postponed 2-4 weeks.

How do people do this? All of the professionals kept saying, “This happens all the time,” and the response in my head was, “Why? How?” I think my stomach was in perpetual knots the entire week.¬† I couldn’t concentrate at work.¬† The Boy was completely confused, staying at Grammy’s several days and nights so that he at least had some consistency in his life.¬† As it is, he is still confused, as am I.

limbo roomWe decided to move everything back to our house, and forgo any rental until the papers are signed, and the money has cleared.¬† It’s just too much to bear.¬† In my opinion, attorneys handling the closing should get their paperwork in order way before the week of the closing, so that if there are any issues, people are not having to rent another moving truck to re-move back into their own homes, hopefully they haven’t yet signed a lease on a rental, and they are able to cancel cable installations after they’ve already happened.¬† It’s insanity.

Apparently, everything is still going to happen, but we have some steps to follow to clear up an issue.¬† So keep us in your thoughts. The real estate rollercoaster is always aggravating, but this has been beyond the pale, especially with a young man with autism in the house struggling to understand what’s going on.

Here We Go Again

Last week, I posted about feeling very overwhelmed, and I thank you for your patience.

Most of the reason for feeling so overwhelmed is that my job just sucks.¬† It does every summer. It is our peak season, and things get hectic, and my boss does not handle stress well, yet simultaneously craves it. My job duties change daily, and sometimes are diametrically opposed to what I was told to do the day before. Everything is an emergency, his schedule is incredibly erratic, and he gives no one the power to make decisions on their own.¬† A project that is time-sensitive may sit on your desk for days because you can’t get him to talk to you for five minutes to make a decision, and then when it doesn’t get done, the blame is placed squarely on your shoulders.¬† And somehow, there is always time for blame.

I got a dressing down this past week about lunchmeat, people.  LUNCHMEAT.

I’m to the point where I cry before I go to work (ok, only when it’s that time of the month… usually), and that is a very real sign that something needs to change.¬† Meaning I need to find a new job.

Yet, it took me five months to find this one, and I’m not exactly a shlub…

So, I look. I do the job search dance. I count the minutes and hours down during my work day. I take solace during the times when the boss is not in the office. I dream of walking into his office to give him notice, and have even toyed with the idea of simply walking out and not going back. And I hope for something better.

I really hate to wish the summer away, but this is really just too much for too little in return.

When I go, I'm taking my red stapler.  Because it's mine...

When I go, I’m taking my red stapler. Because it’s mine…

What Stress Does to Me

I’ve mentioned how stressful the fall has been. ¬†Know what happens when I get stressed?

First is my back-shoulders-neck-head. Mostly shoulders-neck-head. Tension-soreness-headaches-migraines happen to my shoulders-neck-head. ¬†It can get bad, where I need to consciously lie on back at night (normally, I’m a side sleeper, curled into a fetal position), take too much tension headache medicine, be in a darkened quiet room, etc.

Second is my stomach.  Polite way of saying I need to run to the bathroom every two seconds.  Again, not fun, but uncontrollable, and a sure sign that something (or someone) has me stressed out.

Third, I begin to shake. ¬†Somewhere between a shiver and a quake. Deep breaths help, but again, it’s uncontrollable.

All the while, I worry it, shake it like a rag doll in my brain. ¬†In other words, I get a bit obsessive about whatever or whoever it is in my brain, and I can’t let go. ¬†Probably one of the reasons, “Don’t worry about it,” sounds just as awful as nails on a chalkboard to me. It’s just not even practical, not even a realistic goal. Shut up.

Why do I know this much about how stress affects me physically? Because I was a teacher for over 17 years. ¬†No, that was not a sarcastic answer. It’s the truth. And I’ve paid attention to my own body.

What helps alleviate some of these? Regular yoga (oops, need to get back on that wagon, too). Me-time. Deep breathing (goes along with the yoga). A massage now and then. Reading (to some extent). Being able to vent to someone about my source of stress (but not too much, because that can get me ramped up again). And a realization that This Too Shall Pass. I forget that a lot. Maybe I should get it tattooed somewhere I’ll see it all the time.

What does stress do to you? What do you do to alleviate it?

Sometimes You Just Need a Walk

So much has been new and different since our move to the South.  Right now I am dealing with a job that I used to love turning into a job that I absolutely dread going to each morning.  Suffice it to say that I am experiencing things at work that I have never encountered at a place of business, and it is mind-boggling the amount of drama, backbiting, and just plain nonsense that occurs daily.

So I have begun the job search again, and because I am who I am, I am often preoccupied with thoughts about either my job, or the desperation to get away from it way too much.¬† It’s soul-crushing sometimes – I turned to The Man at one point today and said, “There were a lot of things I didn’t like anymore about teaching when I left, but at least I was respected.”

This is when I am so, so thankful to have The Man in my life.¬† I tend to obsess about my worries, and I let them overtake me physically.¬† I tend to be sedentary anyway, much more so since I took my current job, and when I am stressed, my first instinct is to curl up into a ball and shut the world out, thinking, thinking, and over-thinking the problem.¬† The Man, however, will not let me do this.¬† And it makes me cranky sometimes.¬† “No, I do NOT want to go for a walk right now,” I think as I sulkily get my shoes on and follow him out the door.

But it helps.

It helps to be outside, with my boys, looking at the houses in the neighborhood, dreaming about what our next one will look like, making jokes, feeling the warm air, and enjoying the sunshine.  Enjoying real life, as opposed to stewing in the what-ifs.

I can rely on him to dose me with the perspective that I need to get over the toxic thought cycle.¬† And I’m so thankful.

sunset

Tightly Wound Today

I’m aggravated.¬† Today was A MONDAY at work, and the boss was aggravated, making everyone else aggravated.¬† And I keep spelling aggravated wrong… seriously.¬† It has been A. DAY.¬† I am so glad it is almost over.

So how do you let go when you get wound up?¬† It’s not fair to your family to sit and seethe all evening long.¬† The whole reason we work is so that we can support our families, but if we don’t also get to enjoy them, it isn’t worth it.

Here are some things that work for me:

  1. Breathe.¬† You think you are, but you’re not.¬† You are taking little tiny shallow breaths that don’t even come close to filling up your lung capacity.¬† Try it.¬† Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.¬† Amazing how much better you feel, huh?¬† Our brains need oxygen, and they feel better when they are getting a good and steady supply.¬† Those tiny little breaths we slip into just don’t cut it.
  2. Take a moment to un-clench.¬† Many, many times when I do this, I can only imagine what I looked like before taking deep breaths and un-clenching – my shoulders must have been up around my ears!¬† No wonder I get killer¬† shoulder/neck/headaches…¬† I read somewhere to think of yourself as an unwinding spool of thread when you want to unwind – go figure!¬† Try it.¬† It works for me.
  3. Laugh.¬† Go back and look at the photos you’ve taken with your phone, go to a funny website that has been proven to make you laugh out loud (damnyouautocorrect or cakewrecks work for me!), or watch something light and funny like AFV (America’s Funniest Home Videos).¬† After you’ve been giggling for a bit, you will find yourself naturally breathing deeper and un-clenching, i.e. letting go of the stress.
  4. Treat yourself well.¬† Tell yourself it’s OK to be aggravated (nope, still spelled it wrong) or stressed, but that whatever’s on your mind can wait until you get back to work (or the aggravating situation).¬† And then eat a piece of chocolate, give yourself a mini-hand massage, or close the door and be by yourself for a few minutes (always a treat in my house!).¬† You work hard, and you deserve to be rewarded for it.
  5. Talk about it with your spouse or a good friend.¬† Getting support from the people who mean the most to you will take the sting out of your stress, I promise.¬† But don’t dwell on it.¬† Let it out, and let it go.

These are already helping me, tonight.  What works for you?  Let us know in the comments.

Yes, please...

Yes, please…

Managing My Own Anger

Yesterday was a doozy of a Monday.¬† I felt like Alexander in the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (a favorite when I was growing up).¬† There was an ant in The Boy’s juice, the cable box went wonky again, a co-worker lied to our boss and threw me under the bus for a mistake that was very clearly hers and hers alone.

And mid-afternoon I get an email from The Boy’s principal saying perhaps he could start on trumpet this week because he doesn’t meet the “criteria” to play the tuba.¬† Yeah, that just happened.

There were no “criteria” to play the tuba even mentioned at our last meeting.¬† That band director is discriminating against my child.

boy with tubaLuckily, I didn’t get the email until about 3 or so, because truthfully, I couldn’t concentrate on work after that.¬† I was extremely preoccupied, and downright pissed off.¬† Heart beating rapidly, I left work right at 5, and drove to pick up The Boy, planning my evening around the big, long response I was going to write.

The Boy was in a great mood, and I faked a good mood for him, as well.  I shared the happenings with my parents and strategized about next steps with them.

When we got home, I began to type all of the phrases that had been rolling around in my head for three hours, constructing my three-page response.¬† And I began to shake uncontrollably.¬† Not with rage, but with anxiety.¬† I also made several trips to the bathroom, which I have had to do when stressed since my mid-thirties.¬† When The Man came home an hour later, we talked, and strategized some more, and I continued to write.¬† I spoke with The Boy’s autism teacher on the phone to gain some insight, and then I continued to write.¬† The Man knows that getting all of my thoughts down just right in my response was the key to my calm.¬† Until it was a finished draft ready to send, it would be on my mind.

And of course, I couldn’t sleep last night.¬† I knew it would happen, but there’s nothing I can do about it, so I just roll with it, going over things yet again in my head for several hours.

My draft is now complete, and it is a killer letter.¬† I have a plan in place, no matter the response.¬† He will play the tuba, and will not be switching to anything else.¬† I’m still angry and anxious, but I’m managing it, thanks to my outlets: writing and planning.¬† The key is knowing yourself enough to know how you are going to respond to anger, both physically and mentally, and to have something accessible which calms you… A bit like our kiddos, huh?