Finding Ourselves on the Autism Spectrum

Coming back into focus

I get overwhelmed a lot.  By events, personalities, sensory input, illness and injury, too many responsibilities, too little time  – even sometimes by a single thought that goes round and round in my head.  Mostly it’s the thinking that gets me.  When my head is in a good place, I cope with the other stuff. 

I’ve  tried to start several different posts since my husband’s truck accident.  I can’t seem to get my thoughts organized around any one topic.   We’re both functioning fine and grateful for how things turned out, but we’re also still processing some things, and for me that takes the form of having trouble concentrating.   That’s not a new experience for me, but trying to write and stay in touch with people when I’m feeling that way is new.  Isolating myself has always been much more my style.

Here’s a picture we took at the junkyard the day after the accident, btw :

The force of the impact was all on that driver’s side door.  Amazingly enough, my husband made it out of this with just a sore foot and one scratch on his head, neither of which is bothering him now.   And the other driver was fine and didn’t require a trip to the hospital, which is also a great blessing.

It could have been so much worse.  We got through the crisis of the day, and now we continue to manage any difficulties that arise as a result.  We continue to add little bits to the pile of stressors that’s been built up over the past few years, and we keep moving forward.  There’s a lot of stuff in that pile.  Deaths in the family, business difficulties, financial worries, his experience with cancer a couple years back (he’s all clear now), and all the stuff that falls under the heading of spectrum-related issues.  Some things are mostly difficult for a while, and some are always with us.  And every time it feels like it’s a bit too much to manage, something new gets piled on top.

I spent so much time early on in our marriage weathering problems big and small and waiting for things to get better.  I kept thinking we would get to some point where there would be a big light at the end of the tunnel, and we could breathe a sigh of relief.  I really thought we were there for a while when Simon was in kindergarten, verbal and bright and functioning reasonably well in the safe little world that existed there.  He had overcome so much.  Then came the next tunnel – first grade – which was much longer and darker than anything we had experienced before.  We’ve come through that, too.  And on to the next, and the one after that …

I had to switch metaphors somewhere along the line.  Now to me it’s more like riding waves.  When things are good, I enjoy the ride thoroughly and for as long as I can, because I know it’s only temporary.  The bad stuff is only temporary, too, which makes it easier to tolerate.   I think what maybe constitues my own version of a mid-life crisis is that somewhere in these past couple years I let go of that idea that someday everything will get better, and I think I’m still grieving a bit over that.  I’m not devastated, but it makes me sad.  Some things will get better.  Some will get worse.  It will all keep changing, and the only thing we can do is choose how we respond to each thing as it comes.   My parents are in their seventies and have a good life, but it isn’t anything you’d call better – it’s just different.  The problems are different, and the enjoyments are, too.  For better or for worse, I think I finally feel like a grown up. 

OK, that was kind of a depressing thought.  But now that it’s out there (instead of rattling around in my head), I don’t really feel terribly depressed.  I’ve been to this place in my mental processes before.  This is the point I have to reach just before I finally decide to take charge of my thinking.  Once I can see what’s going on, I get to choose where I go next, and that’s empowering. 

There’s some kind of story my mom got from her Alanon experience that I’m probably not going to get exactly right here, but I think it’s still worth sharing.  (I realize this is yet another metaphor, but that’s how my brain works, so please bare with me.)  It’ something along the lines of a person walking down a path and falling into a pit.  Eventually somebody comes by and helps them out.  I’ve heard different variations of the story.  Sometimes the person who falls in repeats the experience enough times that eventually they learn how to find their way back out on their own.  Sometimes the one who comes to help jumps down into the pit, too, which turns out to be OK, because that person has been there before and knows how to get back out.  Sometimes the person walking down the path has fallen down enough times that they remember and learn to avoid the pit altogether. 

(If I was being at all unclear here, the pit is supposed to be a metaphor for a negative behavior or way of thinking. 🙂 )

I’m not so good at avoiding the pit, although it happens every once in a while.   Mostly I’m better than I used to be at climbing back out on my own once I realize where I am, but that can sometimes take a long while, and the effort can be exhausting.   It just seems to work a whole lot better when there are people around to remind me that I don’t have to stay where I am if that’s not working for me.  It’s hard to reconcile that knowledge with my lifelong instinct to run and hide within myself whenever I feel stress, so I’m trying  a different approach. 

I’ve been catching up on reading some other blogs over the past couple days, and I’ve started Rudy Simone’s Aspergirls book, too.  Reading other’s thoughts and experiences helps me to remember that I’m not alone in mine.  And whether this post makes any sense to anyone else or not, writing this and other things I’ve shared with family and other friends over the past couple days is helping to bring things into focus for me.  Thanks for listening.  

 Aspie boy just finished his midterm exams and came home early, so he and I are enjoying some peace and quiet while we have the opportunity.   The kids are all off school tomorrow for a “records day”.  I finally feel clearer and ready to move forward instead of staying stuck.  That’s not a bad way to start into a long weekend .  🙂

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Comments on: "Coming back into focus" (17)

  1. If you can come from all that you’ve been through that to your present state of being ‘ready to move forward’ it speaks volumes about your inner strength. You explain things really well. Good luck.

  2. Aspergirl Maybe said:

    Seeing that photo is very sobering. It truly seems miraculous that he wasn’t severely injured, given how damaged the driver’s side of the truck is. I can imagine the accident and all the surrounding details is a big shock to everyone’s system.

    Glad you were finally able to write down some of your thoughts and clear your head a bit. For me, just being aware that I am getting near the edge of the pit helps me focus on not going in (or at least not so far in without reaching out for help from someone).

    • Good to hear from you. Yes, that ‘s been a big deal for both of us to process. The writing does seem to help. Writing on a blog also has this extra benefit of resulting in helpful words coming back to me from others 🙂

  3. What a blessed relief to read your piece! It’s so affirming to hear someone else talk about accepting that the difficulties are not going to one day disappear. I’ve been dealing with that realization a lot these past few months, and it’s really life-changing. I feel like I’ve spent a good deal of my life working toward that elusive day when all the difficulties will disappear, and it’s like turning a barge to start dealing with the fact that they won’t.

    I’m wrestling with this issue mostly around the increasing severity of my auditory processing disability, and all the isolation, and frustration, and sadness that it engenders. But there are other things, too, like the continued resistance of one of my stepkids to my marriage to her dad, and all the heartache that’s caused to both my husband and myself these past nine years. I think this is part of mid-life, and nothing in our culture really prepares us for it. Everything is geared to being young, to what you can do to make life easier and more fun, and to how every solution comes in a package. Those really aren’t tools for grownups.

    • Hi, Rachel.

      It’s very helpful to hear that you can relate so well to this huge change in my view of life. I find that I’m looking differently now at other people – especially people who are older than I am – wondering how much of this they have experienced and how it affects them. I think this is something that will take a long time to process.

      Thanks so much for sharing your own experience with this. My hope for both of us is that we grow enough in our strength and understanding to be able to be at peace with whatever life brings our way.

  4. Finally- another blogger who loves metaphors as much as I do!
    It sounds like your experiences have given you a great deal of strength and coping skills. That photo is shocking- he is so very lucky.

    • I find myself communicating in metaphors a lot. It seems perfectly natural to me, but I sometimes wonder how I come across to others – especially when I keep switching from one to another 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words. Our experiences certainly do help us to grow – whether we want to or not 🙂

  5. Diane,
    You and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers this week. Seeing the truck definitely reaffirms that it is a miracle that he wasn’t more severely injured. Worrying about expenses and everything life throws at us can be draining enough without the added burden of an accident.

    Illness and even aging can take a toll on us, but it can also be freeing. Most of us somehow get through the difficult times, and this helps us place everything else in prospective. I’m not sure how old you are, but remember that hormones may be making things worse. I went through menopause while dealing with the challenges of my mom’s death, my daughter’s diagnosis, the bullying, and family dynamics.

    The best advice I can give is to take care of your health so you have the energy to deal with whatever life throws your way. Now I am grateful for every good day and most of the time I am able to work through whatever life throws at me.

    God Bless!
    Sue

    • Thanks for the understanding and encouragement, Sue. It sounds like you’ve gone through some difficult experiences very close to one another. I have started to appreciate over the past year or so, – having some health problems that really did affect my ability to handle my responsibilities for a while – how important it is to take care of myself. My family really does need me, and they need me strong and healthy.

      BTW, I’m 42 🙂

      • Diane,
        I’ll be 53 ina few weeks, the really hard times seem to be over for now thank God. Hang in there! 🙂

  6. The truck is frightening looking; I’m so glad your husband is okay.

    Riding the waves is a good metaphor, as is the pit. ((()))

    • Thanks, Kim. Glad you like the metaphors. I seem to think in those a lot.
      I think looking at the truck picture over again helps me to process that this actually happened. With all the real drama being over before I ever made it to the hospital, it still feels a little unreal.

  7. OMG! I’m so effing late to this! First of all {{{hugs}}}. I’m so glad everyone was alright. The truck looks awful! Ugh. {{{hugs}}} (I kinda do that a lot when I don’t know what to say).

    I DO know what you mean about the pit, and the cycle of negative thinking, and what it takes to break it and climb out. I REALLY.DO.KNOW. I think it says a LOT that you’re able to climb out, but I think it says more that you’re willing to come on your blog and be vulnerable. Oh, man {{{hugs}}}…it gets better…ups and downs..that’s what it is.

    @Rachel: {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} I love you. I’m sorry things are shitty. Crap! I love you!

    • Thanks, Laura. I really do appreciate the support. And I know that you “know”. It helps having other people around who get it.

  8. Hi Diane,

    Just want to let you know that I’ve left a very silly award for you on my blog. Come by and pick it up!

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