Not the weather, me.
Not the weather. ME.
I hate admitting to struggling.
I hate feeling the storm brewing in me, the internal tornado...the sense that I'm about to fly off, scatter into pieces, shatter beyond repair.
Even more, I hate that to a degree I can contain that tornado so that most people are unaware that anything is amiss.
I feel like it's unfair, not to me, necessarily, but to those around me, so I bottle it up, let it trickle out in the purchase of things I don't need, animals I shouldn't take in, books I may never read, shoes I may never wear.
And so on.
The biggest issue is the crippling anxiety, the certainty that I am in over my head, that I simply can not do another single day. And yet, I've survived every day prior, so I know I will get through today too.
The obsessions distract from the anxiety, from that slow, sure sucking away at my soul's reserves, the strength I keep having to find. It costs, this continuing, in ways that people who have not lived with all day every day anxiety cannot imagine.
Oh, sure, we all worry. Yeah. True. But every single second of your waking hours is spent replaying every possible scenario in your head? All the possible harm, all the possible damage, all the bad things that can happen?
I know I'm in trouble when the cutting images come. I once, when stuck at basic training for six agonizing, brutal and abusive months, cut. It was the only thing I had control over. There was no escaping the drill sergeants and their total control over my body and my life. My profile buddy and I would steal the keys to the building we lived in on the nights the worst drill sergeants had overnight duty. It was our way of saying no and making sure we were safe. They never told on us, so they knew what they were trying to do was wrong.
It was a victory of sorts, to hold those keys over night, listening to the door handle rattle and know they weren't getting in, at least not that night.
We'd pay for it in other ways, but it was worth it.
That's 27 years ago and it feels like now.
I don't think we escape our pasts. I think we can hold it hostage, lock it away, but it can outsmart us and steal the master keys when we least expect it.
And this wasn't even the issue this morning--the news with the young college student hauling her mattress around everywhere simply added a fun dimension to a day I was already struggling with...
At some point, even the most navel-gazing writer realizes telling his or her story involves other people's stories, too, and then we realize maybe we shouldn't, maybe it's not okay.
That happens for a lot of us when our kids are teens and we realize we aren't the main character in that scenario any more.
And when it comes to autism and adult children on the spectrum who are entirely dependent on you, it's a betrayal at a fundamental level to talk about that relationship outside of the wins.
It's not always wins, though. And being multiply challenged and disabled as my adult son is means a fair amount of difficulties he faces each day, and that we as his family face with him. Those aren't mine to talk about. It's not the end of the world, nor are things bad. They are just challenging, for all of us, as we work to accommodate and facilitate a life based on what he wants for himself.
It's not all bad, either...Most of it's good. And so when I struggle, in part, over the hurdles, I feel like I'm not honoring him and everything he overcomes every single day.
And here's the kicker...my issues take up and make up more of the challenges I deal with than my children's challenges do. I'm not perfect--I'm incredibly flawed and dealing with the depression, the anxiety, the obssessive behavior, the apparent need to save every body else...well, that causes far more difficulties than autism ever has in our house.
And if I don't own that, speak that truth, I deny myself, my husband and my children the chance to leave some of my baggage behind.
Except I don't honestly believe it can be left behind. I can rationalize all I want. I can go into therapy repeatedly and have, but this is as close to touching the issues as anybody is ever going to hear or read.
I'm not sure what value there's been in writing this other than the images of engaging in self-harm have retreated, so I know I've boxed some of the garbage up again and I can walk out of my office and no one, short of those who have read this, will have any idea what's going on behind my eyes.
So, just remember, just because someone is functional, funny, and caring and to all appearances okay--that doesn't mean anything other than the mask is on securely for the time being. That's all that means. Nothing more.
*Here I would do a disclaimer and say I'm fine, blah, blah...but seriously...I can honestly say I am in no danger of self-harm, that I see my primary caregiver tomorrow and will discuss this, and that your reading this has made it easier for today for me. And that, Rose, I'm tugging the red string and feeling better knowing you're at the other end.