It’s been a difficult week on the spectrum for this chick. I thought I’d talk about some of my triggers since I’ve been soothing myself an on the verge of meltdown for days. So here are the things that cause me to say things I don’t mean, wring my hands and scratch myself, and of course wail in the bathroom.
- Failure or perceived personal failure. School work has always been a struggle for my son. He lacks organizational skills and the desire to just “get things done.” He also gives up on classes if he can’t comprehend the material on the first try. Therefore, Middle School is kicking all of our asses. This makes me feel like a failure as a parent. My own mother never really pressured me about homework or studying and I would lie about school work because there were other things I wanted to do. I hated school because it was full of people that I couldn’t connect with and I always felt like an outsider, even on those rare occasions I was included. My son says that he hates school, and right now he specifically hates Algebra. I can help him with the math, but he’s really fighting me every step of the way. He, like me, does not like to ask for help. He, like me, sees asking for help as a two-part problem: first, it is an inconvenience for other people to take time out of their day to help us, and second… it is a sign of weakness to admit that we are failing to understand a concept. Every quiz, piece of homework, project or test that my son does not get an A or a B on feels like a very personal failure. He lies to me about schoolwork because there are things he’d rather do. He is exactly like I was in school (with the exception that he has a social life) and unfortunately school isn’t like it was in the early 90’s. He has more homework and classwork that counts in his overall grade than I ever did. I got by in school because I retained the material for the test… but I rarely bothered to do any homework. It did’t hurt me because homework was a much smaller percentage. All of this leads to one conclusion on my part- I am a bad parent because I can not help my son overcome personality traits that I share so that he will be successful in life, go to a good college, get into the High School specialty program in which he’s interested, etc. I’ve yelled at him. I’ve bribed him. Currently, my husband has taken all of his recreational activities away so the boy can focus on school. I feel like a complete and utter failure as a parent because I can’t personally change my son’s attitude and work ethic. He’s exceedingly bright so he’s in all Advanced classes, but he won’t do the work to prove he’s exceedingly bright. I cannot accept that my son is an average performer because I was not an average performer. It is very difficult for me to separate my experience in school from his. I have been riddled with anxiety all week simply because he’s struggling with concepts in Algebra. I am convinced that I am a bad parent, that I did something wrong in the past that has led him to be this way, that my genetic contribution is hindering an otherwise awesome child.
- Being lied to. Granted, I have become something of an expert on my husband and son’s body language simply because I’m obsessed with understanding them… but I still can’t tell when they’re lying. I catch my son on occasion, but typically he confesses out of guilt. My husband is a different story, because he genuinely feels that there are things about him I have no business knowing or no need to know. When I discover one of them has lied to me I feel foolish, as if I am to blame for their lies because I failed to be trustworthy or a good wife or a good parent. I feel at fault when they lie, but I also feel very angry very fast. Being lied to rubs that part of me that cannot handle injustice on any level. Lies throw my world out of balance. If I sense that I am being lied to but cannot determine why I feel I am being lied to or about what, my stomach hurts and I get a feeling in my chest that won’t go away until I discover the truth. This has caused me to invade my husband’s privacy in the past. It makes me fly off the handle at my son. There is no end to the temper tantrum/meltdown possibilities in the lying arena.
- Injustice. This is a huge one, not only because it ties in to the previous two triggers in many ways, but also because I feel it the deepest. I’m different. I get that. I don’t think like many people. I get that too. I’m repetitive and I hold on to past injustices for just about ever. I don’t understand why people are mean to other people. I am often told I am mean, but really I’m just being honest. I suppose being overly honest can be interpreted as being mean. I don’t think that people who bully other people are being overly honest and it hurts my feelings… I think they just want to hurt someone’s feelings. I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I want people to be happy all of the time. When something is done to me or said to me that is hurtful and unfair I either run away and cry and rock, or I get very combative. If someone calls me fat, that is an instance in which I’ll just wander off and cry. I am fat. That is something that is true. I don’t like being fat, and for other people to think I’m fat, but it’s true… so there is nothing to dispute. If someone tells me I did something I did not do, or ascribes motive to my actions that is inaccurate I will fight tooth and nail until that person acquiesces to the truth. Unfortunately things like personal motive are not obvious like being fat. How can I prove to someone that I did something for Reason A when they think I did it for Reason X? I can’t. It’s entirely subjective. There are no facts with which to work so I only have my word. I understand that life is not supposed to be fair, and that that applies to all areas: love, death, friendship, etc. This does not mean that I can accept what I consider to be unfair treatment. A sense of injustice will throw me in to a whirling tirade of truth-seeking madness. Injustice = meltdown.
- Inequitable treatment. One would say that this would fall under the Injustice topic, however I think it’s a separate issue. Injustice is a personal feeling that someone else is wrongly accusing me, inequitable treatment is fact-based (although slightly subjective given how the facts are interpreted), observed inequality in how I am treated versus other people. This one is difficult to explain because there is a lot of complicated relationshippy stuff tied up in it due to the nature of my marriage. I’ll try my best to give an example. My husband has a great many rules. These are rules that I have come to learn, not because he has said, “This is a rule, you cannot do ABC,” but through his reaction when I do ABC. If ABC makes him unhappy, then I should not do ABC… as a rule. My husband would tell you that all of this is ridiculous and that he doesn’t have rules, he just expects me to behave reasonably. I suck at that… so I will continue with my example. If I observe my husband doing something with or for someone else, whether it was strictly out of politeness on his part or not, and it is not something he would do with or for me… I get the crazy feeling. The crazy feeling is the pre-meltdown feeling. When I am trying to navigate a relationship full of rules and it suddenly becomes apparent a rule is true for me but not for others, it throws everything out of whack. Why would my husband let someone else read him their poetry when he has no interest in reading my own? Why would my husband let a friend slap him on the shoulder, but get angry with me if I perform the same act? Why would my boss write up someone for not doing their job when I have consistently shown that I am also horrible at the same task? These things are extremely confusing for me. Yes, people are inconsistent, irrational bags of flesh… but can’t a girl try to make some reasonable deductions here? NO? Oh… okay… well pardon me while I lose my shit because I feel stupid, disconnected, and lost. People are so confusing.
There are tons of little things that send me a’wailing, but those three categories are the big ones. All of this is very hard on my family because the things that fall into those trigger categories are also things about which I am utterly insecure. Can you imagine being married to a woman who has trust issues? Can you imagine how difficult it is for my family to deal with my rigid version of the world when they are floating around freely in reality? Can you imagine the lengths to which people walk on eggshells around me? Can you imagine how crazy and abusive my family thought I was before I was diagnosed as autistic?
The week has been bad. My son’s attitude about school is an affront to me. My husband just wants the yelling and crying to stop and told me to take the boy out of advanced classes, but I refused. I also refuse to accept that my son doesn’t care. I think he has a crippling inability to ask for help, because I do. I also think he means well but evidence piles up against him, like it has all my life. Every C, D and F makes me cry. I’ve been having nightmares about being back in school and not knowing the material on tests. I’m an utter wreck. W R E C K.
I know there has to be a solution out there, but with my mom gone, I don’t know where to turn even though she was worse at this stuff than I am. I just want my son to suck things up and get them done, but I can’t force him. I don’t want his life to lack fun either. I don’t want to take things away from him. It doesn’t work. He will make bad decisions regardless of whether or not he has his cell phone. He’s thirteen and his social life is the most important thing to him right now. His priorities are out of whack.
I’ll just keep praying and trying to help him as best I can and hope that some day he sees that I just want the best for him. In the meantime I’m trying so so hard to keep my emotions in check, but it’s been an awful head week and my temper is as short as a temper can be.