Smiles Again

For the past three months, I’ve been under more strain than I’ve been in . . . years, or ever maybe. It involves finances and protecting my children. So I’ve been stressed and more “mentally absent” than usual.

Yesterday my neighbor gave me some of her old art and craft supplies. In that was a bag of colored needlework floss, the kind I used to make friendship bracelets with. This morning I showed my oldest son, the one diagnosed with Asperger’s, how to make bracelets. My plan was to show him and then get my computer/finance work done.

Turns out it was difficult for him to do it on his own. He could do it, but two sets of hands were much more effective than one set of hands. I’m soooo proud to announce that I made the difficult decision to sit with my son. It was more difficult than one might imagine to sit and spend time with my child, with all the “stuff” to do . . . ya know. I went and got my coffee and sat with him and held each string as he knotted it around the next twice. I sat while he got fidgety and said, “I won’t let myself talk to my conscience because if I do, then I’ll be able to take a break, and I don’t want to take a break.” I sat with my son and took the most important thirty minutes of my day to be present with him. My other son is an incredible pianist, so while Michael and I were weaving the bracelet, Mason was creating a piano piece depicting a three-series Pokemon battle. His music soothes my soul for sure.

I’m smiling right now feeling great about my decision. I’m smiling right now thinking about how even after three months of worry, thirty minutes can shift my state of being. I’m smiling right now because my son has moved on to another type of weaving and is almost done with his next project. I’m smiling right now and it feels like it’s been way too long since I’ve smiled like this.

Yeah.

 

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Tangled Again

He’s tangled again. Tangled is when his OCD is off the charts and moving a shirt twelve inches can cause a thirty-minute screamfest. I’ve talked to him this morning about the ways he hurt other people yesterday.

“Do you understand that your words hurt them?” I ask.

Tears. “But I need—”

“I will listen to what you need later. That’s not the question I’m asking you. Do you understand that they were hurt by what you said?”

“I need—”

“I know you are hurting as well. That’s so clear, sweetie. What I need you to know is that the words you used when you had your breakdown yesterday caused hurt feelings. I believe you can learn to use kind words, even when you’re hurting. What do you think?”

“I think I’m going to remove my existence from other people so that my OCD can be happy. I don’t think I’ll be happy, but my OCD will be able to control what I need to be controlled.”

And that’s a snapshot of what it looks like with my son’s self-awareness and my continued need to provide safety for everyone in my life. This journey with these different brains is baffling, difficult, ongoing and . . .

Love to all of us, including the different brainers, on this path.

Sad Happies

My son was an epic fatalist. Nothing was right it seemed, and at that time in my life (about eight years ago) I was a disillusioned and eternal optimist. That position has shifted drastically since. Now I consider myself a paradoxical realist, trying to hold the joy and the grief of the world together (Lesson #2,512—see below).

At that time, though, Michael was really jacking up my way of being with all of his “waah-waah” business. Nothing was right and everything was wrong and he was only two years old. I was NOT going to allow this small being to bring down my sunshiny world. So I came up with an absolutely BRILLIANT plan. My plan was that each night before we went to sleep, we would say our “happies.” Happies were explained as anything that went well during the day or something (ANYTHING!) that you felt happy about. ANYTHING, I say! The inaugural night came and it was Michael’s turn to share his happies.

That kid screamed and cried at the very moment it was his turn to do his happies. He proceeded to shout through his gasps for breath, “I only have sad happies!”

What the fuh? Are you freakin’ kidding me? My brain flared up and I thought, but hopefully did not say, “OH NO YOU DON’T, LITTLE BOY . . . OH NO YOU DO NOT! You will find something happy to share and you will find it now! I am your Mother! There, THAT’s happy!” My memory is that it possibly, may not have been one of my finer moments. Sigh.

Happies got renamed on the very first night to happy happies and sad happies, with every emotion allowed that anyone felt. The rule then became that there had to be at least one happy happy, which during those early years was sometimes hugely difficult to find . . . for all of us.

My former spouse and I were in marital counseling at the time, and we shared the story of happy happies and sad happies with our therapist. Our counselor was thrilled with the fact that our son was “holding the paradox” of life and smiled a huge smile at the brilliance of our child. Life lesson with Michael #2,512 became something about paradox and releasing expectation of your therapist always agreeing with your way of seeing things.