I have to admit that I have struggled since I wrote B the letter I shared in my last post. In this letter that I wrote to him, I told him exactly what I needed to hear from him…love words. I have yet to receive a comment from him about what I wrote nor have I heard the words that I long to hear. Frankly, it hurts and it has been bothering me for the past few days. Instead of enjoying what I have been given here in Michigan; I have been ruminating on what I don’t have back home.
Luckily, I woke up this morning to find something meaningful on my Facebook wall and it was exactly what I needed to see. It read:
“If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow.”
What wise words! Suddenly it took the sting out of this disappointment that I had been feeling for the past few days. I realized that by allowing the hurt and disappointment I was feeling to cloud my day; I was indeed suffering and I was creating this suffering of my own accord. In fact, I was suffering more as every hour went by wishing for some sort of something from B…anything. So instead, I began to focus on the lessons I might find through this instance and found that there were many lessons that I could learn from if I chose to do so.
- The first lesson I discovered was that by acknowledging my feelings and then casting them aside I didn’t have to urge to carry them around with me like a suitcase stuffed full of heavy negative emotions. Yes, I was disappointed. Yes, his lack of response made me feel abandoned and scared. Yes, his withholding something from me that I plainly laid out that I needed from him made me feel anxious and wonder if he would still be there when I got home. Yet, by learning to view these feelings dispassionately; I was able to put the suitcase down and walk away from those hurtful actions and the resulting feelings I was experiencing. The lesson was much much valuable than the suffering could ever be.
- The second lesson I thought about was that I didn’t need B to acknowledge my heartfelt letter to be happy. Instead, I went about my day appreciating all of the people and things that I found around me. I was happy and didn’t need his lack of response to elicit any sort of reaction one way or another within me.
- The third lesson I concentrated on was that B will never be able to give me what I need because that is not who he is and that I have to learn to find happiness in what he can give instead of what he cannot if I want to stay married to him. B saying loving words is about as probable as a frog being able to bark like a dog…it isn’t going to happen.
After these discoveries I spent the day with my 82 yo father and 92 yo aunt. We went down to Lake Michigan and enjoyed the water, the waves, and the boats as they cruised through the canals.
I really treasure spending time with these two when they are together because they bicker like little kids. Nothing long and hard but just snippets like from when they were children. The things that they gripe about tickle my insides and I always break into a big smile as it happens. Why, I wonder, is it easier to listen to them than to my own children when they go at it?
As I watched the two of them it occurred to me that my aunt has gotten to the place where the small hurts no longer effect her. She realizes that we all have flaws and for the most part she recognizes that we all do our best with what we have within us at the moment. But she wasn’t always like that and that in itself gives me hope that I can still change into the person I envision myself being. Someone who is at peace with the world and more importantly herself. Someone who grants grace rather than find fault. Someone who does not expect things from others and is disappointed when they don’t appear. Someone who wakes up each day grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow some more.
So as the day winds down I am counting my blessings. Glad that I am here with two people who are willing to share what they know and the love that they have for me willingly.
So Be It!
Sometimes my house is pure 100% chaos. Sometimes it is as quiet as a lamb. Most of the time it is somewhere in between. But then there THOSE TIMES; the times when Andre digs in and NOTHING I can do will change the trajectory that we are about to embark on.
Change for Andre is difficult. It often is for those on the autistic spectrum. Sometimes that change is as small as using grape jelly as opposed to strawberry on Andre’s PB&J. But more often it is something along the lines of telling him to do his chore.
“Andre you need to empty the dishwasher!” (for the third time)
“I dun’t want to”
“There are lots of things I don’t want to do either but they must be done so empty the dishwasher. NOW”
“I dun’t want to”
This I dun’t want to would go on 100 times if I permitted it. Usually at this point the conversation will escalate to one more warning. Then I head upstairs (with him trying to stop me…pulling on me or poking at me) and take all of his electronics and tell him that he can have them back when his chore is done. This is followed by ten minutes of attempted manipulation, threats (I’ll put your phone in the sink if you don’t give me back my stuff) and flat out increased defiance. Finally, Andre will realize that he has gone too far and then resorts to such things as:
“Tell me you love me mom”
“I need love. Give me a hug NOW.”
I want a kiss NOW”
Along with all the demands he begins hanging all over me DEMANDING a hug or a kiss by clawing at me.
Of course, by this time I am worn out and tired of the CRAP. I try to remember where this is coming from inside his head (fear of abandonment/fear of being unlovable/anxiety) and react accordingly. But there are times when giving him what he needs (a hug) feels so ugly and disingenuous after all the chaos and manipulation that I find it hard to wrap my arms around him. I find it hard to find a place in my heart to grant him the grace that he needs. Most of the time I manage to dig it up from G** knows where but there are times it is almost impossible to find and it is at those moments when I feel like I have been swallowed whole, the best parts of me ripped out and flung far and wide. It is at these times when I start crucifying myself for not being able to give my son what he needs because it is such a little thing that feels so big.
Luckily, most of the time I do not get to this place of self torture because as I start to fall down the rabbit hole; I get ensnarled in the tree roots and find a foot hold to make my way up again. But there are times that I would like to keep falling down that rabbit hole just to feel the impact upon landing. To feel the brokenness that results. And when that happens it makes me realize that is probably what Andre is feeling (the impact) and then I find I can go over and give him that hug. A hug that will ultimately mend us both. A hug that that tells him that I love him and he loves me and that we are in this thing called autism together. Forever.
Several months ago I wrote about the chandelier that has been sitting in my garage for the past year. You can read about it here Assigning Meaning To Things
The fact that B knew the emotional significance to me about having this hung and it never was done still stings a little but for the most part I have let it go. He is busy. We are busy and he hates doing electrical. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt that not hanging the chandelier is not an indication as to the depth of his love for me or how he feels about our relationship. It is all I can do.
All this week B has been up at Boy Scout Camp with the boys. He takes a week off of work every year to make sure that they have that experience. It is hot. It is dusty and he has to work very hard to make sure that Andre’s autism does not get in the way of him having fun and building memories. It is a fun week but an emotionally tough one too. Sleeping on cots in tents is no longer my idea of fun so I am grateful that he does this because he loves our kids and wants them to experience all that they can.
While B has been gone this week, I decided to make myself happy. I decided to take a chance on the goodness I see in our relationship and where I think it is headed. So I called out an electrician and…HAD THE DAMN CHANDELIER HUNG!. It looks beautiful. It is shiny and looks perfect in the room. And it makes me happy which is the best reason of all to have hung it.
So there you go…happiness in a box; happiness within me. May it inspire me to sparkle and shine everyday as it does. For it no longer matters to me who put it up; I am just happy that it is there.
Lately, I have been contemplating forgiveness and what it means to truly forgive myself and others. It’s often one of the hardest things to do. Yet, practicing forgiveness is often the most important thing we can do for our own mental/physical/spiritual health for it helps reinstate a positive outlook on life.
Forgiving someone is often problematic. It often is needed at a time when emotions are high and feelings of wanting to hold onto the righteous anger we are experiencing are at their peak.
So what is forgiveness? The best definition I have heard is that forgiveness is a shift in thinking that allows us to stop wishing harm on the wrongdoer. Instead we focus on feelings/actions that allow us to restore good feelings with that person who has inflicted pain. It means we begin to strive for unity with that person and search for understanding/meaning in what has happened.
Sometimes forgiveness is impossible but the majority of time it is doable. These are the things am reminded of as I work to practice forgiveness in my own life.
- Don’t keep bringing up the past. What’s done is done and it can’t be changed. Admittedly, I do not do this as well as I should.
- Give the benefit of the doubt. Believe that your partner did not set out to intentionally hurt you. Hard to do in the midst of pain.
- Accept an apology when offered. It doesn’t mean you have to be “over it” it just means that you are working towards that end.
- Don’t wait for the other person in your life to apologize. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. Choose to forgive so you can move on and because ultimately forgiving benefits you.
- Be kind instead of right. In doing so you allow for faster healing between you and your spouse. You also set a positive atmosphere for future discussions with your mate. When you are kind it is noticed and kindness often comes right back to you in return.
- Try to remember that we are all humans. As humans we all make mistakes. Remember how when you make that next mistake you want to be forgiven in a kind and loving way.
- The harder it is to forgive someone, the more I am responsible. Letting go of hurts/anger is difficult but can be done. If you continue to not let it go you have to look at those parts in yourself that won’t and figure out why. Does this inability to let go truly stem from this incident or are hurts from your past keeping you stuck.
- Sometimes you just have to remember that they are responsible for their own wrongs. It doesn’t always have to do with you even though you might have caught in the crossfire. Let them own their actions so you can let the anger/pain go and get back to being you.