Anxiety

I need to write more about this, so I hope this is Part I.

I have always been odd. I have always been embarrassed by reactions to my oddness. I go over things I say to people, spontaneously, until later I am sure I have said the wrong thing. I feel as if I push people away, by my very self expression.

I was safe in a religion and culture where the greetings and rituals were nearly universal. I was judged by adherence, and I adhered well. But also my circle of acquaintances was small, as religion demanded. Now all that is gone.

I have one good friend. Who seems to like me no matter what I say. She has a beautiful heart and a fierce spirit.

But I miss community. I miss people popping in, hands full of oranges, to share. To see how the children are. To say nice things to me.

I am trying to fit in. I don’t think I know how. I am afraid to invite people in. They come once, and not again. I don’t know if I am missing a social cue, or if I am so casual with my invites that no one feels invited when in fact they are invited at all times.

I am embarrassed by my past. I am ashamed of my poverty, my disorganization, my lack of time. The professionals who work with us tell me how wonderful I am doing, how far I have come, that most survivors do not do so well, do not work full time with PTSD and thrive with it. But I want to be like other people. With houses and nice rugs and people who visit them.

I don’t understand how endless conversations with my husband about how to raise children and put them into piano lessons at the age of four ended like this. How they ended with the oldest at the age of four and myself without shoes and with bruises, walking hours to and from the store to get milk with coupons for the children. How a man who claimed family is everything would not buy food for his children, would deny them enrichment, field trips, education, his own attention. I don’t understand how planned children were beaten for laughing. I don’t know how I ended up a single mother, with planned children, in hiding from the man who demanded I bear them and then threatened us all.

I don’t understand how anyone can look at any child and put themselves first.

Didn’t they deserve better, even if I did not?

I need to get tested for Asperger’s. I want something to blame all this on. Something to share with my son, in the hopes he does not grow up feeling alone as I did.

I Don’t Even Know

My father tells me after my recent bout of illness that if sickness keeps coming into my house I need to do something about my kid’s diet. I don’t know what he is talking about, so I ask him. He means about me not eating meat. I tell him I cook meat for my kids every day. He doesn’t explain. I don’t know. My father sees me as deficient in every way, I think.

The newspaper last week says children get eleven colds a year. I know my younger kids get a little less than that, and my ASD child might be that or more. I have three kids in two different child-saturated environments. The first year that we left they were sick a great deal, having never been exposed. When we moved to a new area, it was the same. They had never had the local ills. That is what the pediatrician told me.

My father has always thought they were sick too much. Not behaved well enough. I get strep, he tells me their diet is the issue. The boys get diagnosis, he tells me they are normal after years of complaining about them. Because it was supposed to be my fault. Not their genes.

I don’t know why I try to please him. He cannot be pleased. Not by me.

Bathrooms

Every time I take a shower or a bath I hear children screaming. Sometimes they are crying for me, but usually it is a baby screaming. It happens if a fan is on, the shower, or if the water is running for a bath. I am used to it, so I try to just ignore it.

When my second child was a baby there was six of us in a two bedroom apartment. It was very difficult. I was not allowed to shower unless all men were out of the house, lest I sully my reputation and thus that of my husband.

One night I found myself alone with the children, who had been cleaned, fed, and put to bed. I hopped into the shower as soon as I could. I heard the new baby cry. He had colic. I did not know if anyone had come in while I was in the shower, so I needed to dress before I exited the washroom. As I was doing so, the door was flung open and my husband was there, raging at me. About how as he was coming in he heard a baby crying and knew it was not his baby, since his wife was home with the children there was no reason for his kids to cry, they were not neglected, not sad. Then realized upon opening the front door that his second son was screaming and not being tended to. I was lucky he did not beat me that night. Maybe he did. I don’t remember.

After that I could not shower unless my husband was home, and no one else. It was hard to find those days. And I have heard the screaming every time, ever since. For five years.

Run Down?

I got sick again. That was three bouts with fevers in five weeks. I told the doctor it must be strep and when the snap test took too long he got nervous and sent me to lab to give up my blood. He mentioned Lymes and he mentioned mono. I figured it was strep, because I haven’t time to have anything else. I cannot afford anything else.

So it was strep. I am on antibiotics and I am profoundly grateful. I could barely do anything, and I am sure the kids missed their vegetables at a few meals. I became very irritable on the third day of fever, and then it was gone. I apologized to the children. One of them came down with it, and though I am waiting, it seems to have since passed out of our home.

I have had some weeks of late with nine appointments scheduled on top of my work. I think I might be doing too much. The receptionist at the physical therapy clinic, when trying to schedule an appointment for my son’s OT asked me, after numerous days that did not work ¨Did you see someone else?” Implying that I am neglecting my child by not getting him his OT on schedule. But I have to stiff Peter to pay Paul. He has other appointments every week. He has three different kinds of therapy and I am trying to add skills into it. I did not get offended. Two missed OT appointments will not hurt him. He is not trying to heal a broken limb, it is not time sensitive, this is an ongoing thing. It is an autism related issue, his poor motor and trunk. Probably he will have OT for years to come, it has already been two years. I just told her I had no one else. I did not explain that I have to work, and she knew I was booked up on all free days. It should be obvious. I have no help.

Last year I started taking my cancelled appointments (the ones the doctors cancelled on me) as free time for myself. I realized I was using all that free time to shop for my kids. So now I am using it to organize the car, the house, the schedule. I am trying to keep an afternoon free twice a month to do this.

My mother had my brother and I clean the entire house and make dinner twice a week from the age of seven. I cannot see having the kids do so much. I want them to do their homework. I am trying to teach them to keep their things picked up. When I was a child, I did my half of the housework, then my brother’s half, and my room was a pig sty. I mean not messy, beyond- layered. Just nightmarish. I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to desire a clean space in which to play and work, as it keeps them happier and healthier. Asperger’s does not lend itself well to natural cleaning. I have to set up a system of rules so my oldest understands to clean up after himself when he moves from one activity to the next. So far he complains less, but is not more instinctive about it.

I suppose I mention it because I feel like I cannot keep up. I have places for everything, but not everything gets to it’s place. The children are always depositing things in my room for safekeeping. Pictures and Lego creations, stuffed creatures that need naps. I am flattered that they trust me, I am. It does clutter, though. There are no toy storage places in here. I suppose I need a basket.. or a cabinet.

I am sleeping more, which is good. I am trying. Today we did not leave the house. The kids did well. I cooked a lot of good food for them, dropped a cake on the floor and laughed it off. Better to bake a cake and lose a cake than to be stressed out. I tried to tend to all their requests for attention today. I think I did pretty well, with the laundry and the cooking and their naps and baths. I don’t know if our house is too small, or if my organization is too poor. Probably both. I don’t know if we will ever be able to get a house with a yard instead of an apartment without even a balcony. I don’t know if it will help as much as I think it would.

I just think it will get worse, the time commitments, as they get older. Not better. I want to be ready. Not tired and feverish. I should have had children when I was younger.

Sorry, but…

¨I hope you feel better, I suppose I should have called, sorry, you could have used a call. But my favorite show is on right now.¨

I never asked him to call me. Why would anyone bother explaining to another person the thought process that led them to choose a television show over a conversation with them when they think that other person needed cheering up? TEVO? You have it!
How does this help?
I feel insulted.
Please, why not just say you are watching your show and leave the priority selection process out of the message? Why do you have to explain that I do not qualify for the use of TEVO? That television is more important?
Don’t call me in your spare, spare, nothing to do time. I am worth far more than that.

PTSD

The psychologist has reversed an earlier diagnosis for my oldest son, and stated he does still have PTSD. We had thought the oldest and the youngest were free of it, as symptoms had disappeared.
In his case, he had just stopped verbalizing them.
Now it is harder to deal with his outbursts, are they about transition issues, or is he triggered? Luckily they are usually short, he nearly always comes round very quickly.
My father and his wife do not believe in PTSD or psychologists or psychiatry. People looking for excuses will find them, they say.
My brother, a career military man, has told me PTSD, in his opinion, happens to those with a weaker mind, a flawed personality, and would not be so prevalent in the military right now if it held applicants to more stringent standards.
This is why I don’t call them anymore. My own diagnosis and all the struggles that go with it are not conversation I can broach with them. I call enough to be polite, I hope. But not to talk about myself.
PTSD took over my life. I don’t want to hear about how it is all in my mind, or how deeply flawed I must be to be susceptible to it in the first place.
If anyone reading this wants to talk about PTSD in the comments, I am all ears and I am ready to have a dialogue on it and on trauma. I am tired of not talking about it. If I talked more about my trauma in the first place, I might not have ended up with any PTSD at all.