Friday, 26 April 2013

Being Kind To Myself.

I read this on one of my many facebook postings today. It was written by a Mum of a Special needs child. I hope she won't mind me using it for my blog. Wherever she is, I salute her.  

"I yearn for more time with friends and family. I have an authentically positive attitude and most often you see me smiling. I may even have this Super Mum thing down, am super busy and have enough help. But I am lonely. Being a special needs Mum doesn't leave me time to nurture and maintain relationships I really need. I could get super detailed here about the hands on caring for my child. (Do you remember when your kids were toddlers? That hovering thing you had to do? It's that plus one). The plus-some includes spreading my Mum love around to my other child and husband, who on a daily basis are put on hold, waiting for my attention. I don't have much time to call or E-mail my friends and even family.....and if they don't call or E-mail me, well I feel massive guilt about the time that has passed. More negative stuff that I pile on my shoulders. Getting out is tough. I miss the days when I had playgroups with other Mums, open-house style, dropping in and drinking coffee at a friends kitchen table with my child playing nearby"

I read this with teary eyes. I could relate to it completely and wholeheartedly. I didn't even realise that I was lonely until I read it. I thought that I had got over the whole "Normal" thing. I live with my "normal" whatever that is. It is my world and I live it just like everyone else. But it's true. I am indeed lonely. To those people that know me, I am a chatty person; a "people person". But my time and energy go into my boys, my husband and myself. There is so little left for others. As this Mum above does, even Stephan does not get my full attention.

 I have one very dear friend who calls me, E-mails me, makes the effort to come over for dinner, calls me with her news, shares her good times and bad. We make the effort to have a cuppa together at least once a week. She understands if I can't committ to something; she has taken the time to know me. I hope she can say the same about me. I know she will read this, and I want her to read how much I value her, and appreciate her and our friendship.

On the other hand, I am on first name terms with the Indian lady at our local dairy, she enjoys a good chat. I look forward to chatting with the Mums at school pick time. I miss those easy, open door friendships. I miss the person that I was. I'm learing to embrace the new Jenny, and mostly, I like the person that looks back at me in the mirror. Or maybe I am learning to like her. The person that looks back at me has more strength and determination that I ever gave her credit for. I am the queen of dusting myself off and starting the new day. I have learnt that patience can be learned, it is not innate. I can honestly put a positive spin on anything! Well, maybe on a good day........Another one of the things that I have learnt from my dear friend who smiles in the face of adversity all the time! 

The Guilt. I live with this gray feeling that has taken root inside me. I started to go to the gym, at least 5 times a week, sometimes doing gruelling gym classes for two hours. It was punishing. I didn't lose weight. I felt this insessant need to push myself harder, and harder. There were times during a Combat class that I would be crying for reasons I didn't understand. I recognise it now as guilt. Punishing myself for an act or omission. For shouting at James when he couldn't do something. For not giving Stephan enough time for himself or our relationship, or not protecting Ben from this volatile environment he is growing up in. For not maintaining or nurturing relationships with my extended family. For not calling friends. For not doing enough. Period. I beat myself up looking for reasons how I could have caused my kids Autism, how I could make it better and take away the things that make life so hard for them, make the whole damn world a better place for them to live in. For the whole damn unfairness of  it all.  I wonder how many of you reading this can make a list also? I suspect that I am not alone in these feelings. I suspect that we are all pretty good at guilt. I think the difference is that for me, it is literally like a grey cloud that I have to work hard to blow away. At times it consumes me and I become toxic. My weight watchers leader (inspirational woman, a serious force to be reckoned with) tells me that I need to be kinder to myself. I don't do gruelling gym sessions anymore. I run outside instead with some some good tunes on my phone. Or power walk. I make time to sit down for my lunch. OK, so I sit down for lunch and worry about whether my poor Stephan is sitting down for his lunch, and hope he is OK because he has been up since 5am, or whether James is getting his sensory diet at school, or if Ben is playing with the other kids or "going around my tree because the other kids are too rough". But, Rome wasn't built is a day, right?

My hope is that by learning to be kinder to myself, it will make me a better parent, more able to deal with the challenging behaviours that I have to be able to deal with. More able to forgive myself when I am not a saint. And I am no saint! I hope that my friends and family that are reading this will understand why I don't call or E-mail or drop round for coffee with the kids, or without the kids for that matter. Chances are, my head is already too full of guilt and I am working at being kinder and more forgiving of myself instead of punishing myself. I am sorry for not calling, or staying in touch, or forgetting your birthday. Spare me a smile when I do!!!

Stephan thinks that this blog is depressing! He thinks that people will read this and think that I am seriously depressed! My sister thinks that ALL parents can relate to The Guilt in some shape or form. The truth of it is that this blog is about what it is like to live with Autism, and this is my truth. It's not meant to be depressing, it's just my reality. My boys teach me things about myself all the time; I look far deeper into myself than I ever thought I ws capable of. I work hard at making myself a better person, not just for them, but for me too. I don't think that that is depressing. In fact it is one of the positive things about my life with Autism!   

1 comment:

  1. I don't think this is depressing at all. I find shallow, forced positivity far more depressing.

    I understand the guilt issue too. We all feel it. Perhaps it's because we feel the need to blame something or someone for the bad things and so we often end up blaming ourselves. But in reality we have so little control over the things that happen in this world that it's futile to point the finger.