Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Under the Bus

Play your cards close to the vest
Lock it safe inside
Be true to you and yours
Because no matter
How you try
To please them,
They'll find another reason,
To remind.
Under the bus
Black tire tracks across my back
Thin skinned, having to defend
To hypocrites like you
Trying hard, to keep perspective,
But the wheels keep rolling on through,
It's never you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Blindside

I've had almost a month of trying to figure out where I stand with this whole thing, and honestly, I'm not sure that I'm any closer to getting any sense of inner peace and resolution from the most recent turn of events. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I am spiraling the other way. Evolution is supposed to be about moving forward, is it not? Learning and growing are essential in life, in order that we might live to a ripe old age of peace and enlightenment... or so I've been told, something like that. My friends who can find the good in everything are probably not going to appreciate that, truthfully, I'm NOT.feeling.enlightened.

I'm not sure what the hell is wrong with me. My kid doesn't have a death sentence. He's not losing a limb. We aren't living in a cardboard box. He doesn't have an incurable... well, that's not actually true. And THAT might be the crux of my problem.

I can't fix this. I can't "fix" my son. How do I deal with the fact that as a parent, we are the saviors of our children's souls, their primary caregivers, the protectors, the ones that "fix" our children's "problems?" My son has Autism. My son has Autism and I can't fix it. I can't magically take Autism away from him. He has a stigma over his head now. He's going to be looked at differently. With sympathy. With discomfort from ignorant assholes who don't see anything but a title and a character in a Dustin Hoffman movie. With denial, because truthfully, unless you were told, or someone knowledgeable of Autism, you'd never be able to see it. My son is vibrant, joyous, bold, ferocious. He conquers life with the zeal of a kid on Christmas morning. He LOVES life and loves his family, and I swear to God, I've never been in love with any human being in my life more than when Ryan pulls my face down into his, looks me square in the eye and says, "I love you Mommy."

Perhaps that's why I missed it. I didn't know what signs to look for. Ryan's problems began to surface at about two and half years old. His speech is severely stunted. He can't "attend" (hold attention) for more than 1 minute. Yet, he can sit on the computer for hours if we were to let him do it, and hyper-focuses on things like his Thomas trains, songs or rhythms, numbers or letters. He has definite sensory issues. He is almost always peripheral, socially awkward, VERY rough and tumble in play times. The near constant need to touch or to be touched, makes him come on very strong and "weird out" some kids... and their parents. Truthfully, I can't blame them. Ryan is a very aggressive kid, (standing on his head, running into walls, groping our arms, head-butting, jumping in our lap pushing & shoving, etc.) Everything he does is with intensity, including his interactions with other kids, OR, he's either completely peripheral, living in a zone that we like to call,"Ryan-land." There's no middle ground with Ryan. Hell, he KISSES hard! That being said, know that he's NEVER intentionally hurtful. I don't think the boy has a malicious bone in his body. Every intention is pure and unfiltered.

My husband and I have no doubt that with the right level of education, Ryan will go on to rule the world someday. But there is so much to sort out. The well-intentioned advice coming from EVERYWHERE, ALL AT ONCE has taken it's toll on me, physically and emotionally. I don't see anything "wrong" with Ryan, just that he has to go about things differently than most people. If anything, I sort of wonder if he's is more evolved than the rest of us. Autism looks a bit like a gift to me. Ryan lives 100% in the moment. Everything he does is with love and pure intention. He doesn't stress about things of no interest to him, but puts his entire heart and soul into what IS of interest, like computers, or music. He's an innocent. The constant need of aggressive physical attention/stimulation can be exhausting and extremely frustrating, but his strengths BECAUSE of his Autism are those that I actually wouldn't mind having in my own life. Indifference to naysayers, focus, drive, perseverance... don't we ALL want these attributes within ourselves?

I know that we will have to make some concessions for Ryan's differences. However, because the world is an unforgiving place, fixated and rigid, Ryan is going to have to be like everyone else, only better, because NOW he has a handicap that folks will expect him to overcome. This, to be completely frank, PISSES ME OFF more that I can even put into words. I don't see it. The only reason that I bring it up is because I know the thoughts are out there. I've heard it. I've SAID it. I will never say it again.

That's all I've got for now. Evolution takes time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I don't remember my first Anxiety attack. I've had them several times a month and sometimes, several times a week for as far back as I can remember. Many members of my family battle with Anxiety in varying degrees. Every day dealings with Anxiety are more often than not, a nag of sadness, that punches through the mundane chores, like washing dishes, or pangs of worry in the middle of playing with my kids. Those are not attacks, but simply a symptom of the deeper condition of Chronic Anxiety that I live with every day. Usually, because of the Anti-Anxiety medication that I have taken since my early 20's, attacks are quick and can be curbed quickly with Vitamin B, a funny movie, taking a walk, or conversing with someone and just voicing that what I am feeling IS Anxiety and not necessarily rooted in cause and effect.

Other times, less often, but occasionally, attacks can last days.

As I've grown along in life, I've learned to distinguish some of my triggers and keep my distance from them. A negative person, who can't seem to find the bright side in anything, will set me off every time. Other obvious triggers include unfinished projects or missed deadlines, Mud Season, checking my bank account balance, a messy house, or fighting children. These are obvious, rectifiable triggers that can be minimized (although mud season and the bank account are kind of tough to avoid) by staying ahead of the game and well organized. If things become unorganized however, forget it. I'm a basket case.

The worst attacks however, occur out of nowhere. Just last week, while nursing the baby, the monster reared its ugly head, and while damn near hyper-ventilating, I had to call my husband home from work. That kind of attack is rare, but it does happen. Twice, once in my early 20's, and once during a Senior year choral concert, being taped for cable television, I simply passed out. I brushed it off to my friends as being too hot under the camera lights. But the truth was too embarrassing to explain. My nickname in high-school was MANIC! I did not was any more stigma attached to me.

The most physical manifestations were late in high school and throughout college, when I suffered through fetal position level stomach cramps. In fact, on three different occasions, I visited the E.R. in distress, convinced that my appendix was rupturing. Finally a Dr. explained that, because the extreme level of mental stress that I placed on myself, my upper and lower intestines were actually stretching and contracting. The pain I was feeling was actually the release of pressure from my intestines on my stomache and other internal organs. He prescribed mild medication and holistic therapy (Meditation, herbs like St. John's Wort, Vitamin B complex,) and over time, the attacks, in this form anyway, ceased. Increases and decreases in medication dosage, and alternative methods of therapy have helped me to deal with the periodic depression that can arise with Chronic Anxiety. Whether this is a disease of the mind or body, I don't particularly care. I'll let the experts debate that one. However, I have come to accept that it IS a disease, a VERY REAL CONDITION, which I will deal with for life. I can choose to either let it cripple me, or do what I can on my end to push through the attacks and live in the sun as much as possible, despite the clouds that occasionally loom on the horizon. It's not always easy. In fact, at times, it's next to impossible. But like any illness, you make adjustments for your condition and the most of your situation. Nowadays I embrace my Manic nickname as an old friend, even using it occasionally as an alias. ;-)

It is extremely irritating, those who brush this illness off as an attention-seeking ploy for drama. Until you HAVE an attack, it's easy to make fun of it. Understand, that truly, I am not a sad person. Especially in my support of others, I'm an Optimist, and work very hard to keep above the depression. The hard part for some seems to be mustering compassion and understanding that everything is not quite so black and white. Everyone does not come in cookie cutter shapes and sizes, and that goes for the mind as well. I would give anything in the world to live a life free from the pallor of constant worry. Those days that I DO wake up without the cloud over my head truly feels like the best day of my life! While I do understand that some people do allow it to cripple them and expect people to simply take cater to their handicap, I know that is not me. That is not a lot of us. Like any other disease, there needs to be a certain level of understanding and patience. I am a strong human being, but I battle a strong illness. You wouldn't fault a person with high cholesterol for needing Lipitor, don't fault me for needing Zoloft. I hope that I have brought better understanding to those of you who've had the great luxury of never experiencing an Anxiety attack and DO want to understand. I suppose I could say that I wish you could experience it, just to understand what one is like, but I wouldn't wish an attack on anyone.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back & Forth

“You have to go forward to go back" - Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, 1966.

It's a cycle that I've repeated, over, and over and over throughout my life, though I recognize the need for it to be immediately rectified. I am a self-sabotagist - I don't care if it's not a real word, I'm using it.

I try. REALLY. It is NOT a 'gift' that I want. Here's the problem: How do I alter a personality flaw that I've have practiced for so long that the act of it feels INNATE? Usually I wake up with the outlook, "Today is a new day." Unfortunately, my new day usually turns into same shit, different day, by Noon, and I end up back at square one.

Self Sabotage is a nasty little sickness of the mind. It will allow you to justify, ANY negative thought that comes in. "Obviously, if you WANTED to change, You'd do it. Or are you lazy?" "You don't deserve a good life, your kids, your husband... They deserve so much better..." These are legit thoughts that plague my mind... OFTEN. For anyone who follows the mantra that "We are happy because we deserve to be," Yeah, I never got that memo. I haven't earned it yet.


Every time I kiss my daughter, I look into her eyes and I realize that she is brand new. And she is happy. She's not happy because she's earned some RIGHT. She's happy because she is loved and feels love within herself. She is content. And I’m starting to realize, that it is NOT what you ARE. It is what you’ve LEARNED to be. And if it IS a learned behavior, than it can be UN-LEARNED.

Some days are easier than others. The days when 3 children are screaming and two have a bad diapers and I still haven’t sent the thank you cards from my daughter’s baby shower and she’s almost five months old, or the blog that I intended to write in every day and can’t make it happen more than once a month… Some days I want sit in the middle of my living room and just cry.

Other days, like for example, the day that I was driving home from a wedding gig in Newport, with my windows down and the music blaring, the sun slowly tanning my forearm as I drove, I took a look at my life from an outsider's perspective and said, "Yeah... this ain't so bad at all. It's pretty great, actually." Felt good. Felt very good.

But that is what life is. A series of steps forward and backwards until you eventually get to the point of destination. It might take me longer than I expected, but I will always keep trying. I don’t know how not to.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ode to Joy...

Yesterday I took a walk through "Paris."

The Essex Street Pedestrian Mall is an outdoor area of shops and businesses in Salem, well manicured and heavily traveled by tourists. One dance studio in the area will occasionally run its afternoon lessons with the second floor windows flung open to the street below. Beautiful music floods the street and the ears of passers by. One day might find you listening to a beautiful fluid Satie or Chopin composition, the next, an upbeat Django Reinhardt or Gershwin adds an extra spring to your step. I've never been to Paris, but every time that I get this rare chance to pass under the windows of the ballet studio, I am literally frozen in time for just a brief moment. I breathe in, make note of the color cast on the buildings by the afternoon sun, the softness of the air around me, and listen and look at the people, going about their day to day lives, sitting on benches,  walking their dogs, gazing into jewelry store windows nearby. Although, I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting, in that brief moment I imagine that this is how it must feel to be in Paris. And I am filled with joy.

It never ceases to amaze me, the people who pass by this moment, completely oblivious to its charms. Perhaps, the rush to complete their errands is what brings swiftness to their step. Maybe they just don't like French music. Either way, it is interesting to see what brings joy to one person, while another is completely unfazed. Also amazing to me is the knowledge that this ONE PARTICULAR circumstance stops me in my tracks every time and holds me there in rapt attention, yet I pass by a million moments like this every day and pay it no mind whatsoever, or worse, find myself bothered by it's intrusion. How many of us live each moment of our lives with that level of joy, with the full appreciation that it deserves? How many of us, in our rush to get from point A to point B, would rather bypass the scenic route in favor of the undefined highway?

What IS Joy?

According to Websters, The definition of Joy is as follows:
a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
c: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
d: a source or cause of delight

What constitutes JOY? How do we achieve it for more than one occasional moment in time, and keep it in our hearts, learning to live within that joy continuously, so that these random "Paris moments" are not so few and far-between? Is joy learned? Are people just BORN with joy and appreciation, while others are born negative? It is certainly not a conscious effort on my part to miss these joyous moments, so why are there so many half-full moments left unexperienced? How do I get to a place of commonplace joy, without waiting for the other shoe to drop? That is my main goal in life - to get to a place in life that I can find joy without having to look for it,  eventually enjoy a life of gratitude and pureness of heart. I do not expect anyone else will get anything out of this, other than the entertainment of my periodic rants. However, if my words affect your life for the better, PLEASE let me know, and in return, know that you brought an extra moment of joy to mine.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Someday I am going to be "that" lady. The one that ages into her Septuagenarian status with grace and poise, wears loose fitting, lightweight clothing, perfectly coiffed hair and an over-sized sun hat and sunglasses. The one who sits in her bamboo chaise lounger sipping home brewed iced tea and reading “Olivia” to her granddaughter in her lap while the late day sun begins it’s descent back into the earth.

Someday I will have a green thumb. There will be an overflowing English garden in the back yard and fresh flowers in antique vases all over the house, just picked vegetables on the kitchen counter, washed and ready to be prepared for dinner, and gigantic planters filled with exotic greens in every corner, especially in the garden room, off the dining area, where I will retire every evening before bed.

Someday I will travel the globe, seeing Greece, Rome, London, Paris, Ireland again, and Disney. ;-) I will indulge my fun side, my sense of adventure and need to try new cultures and take pictures in my minds’ eye, so that I can show God what I got out of this world he has made for us. I will make friends all around the world, have pen-pals in Thailand, and a vacation villa in Fiji, where I visit twice a year because we loan it out to friends and family the rest of the time. My husband and I will fall in love again and again in every new town that we discover, learning something new about one another every day, even then. Our children will see our childlike zeal with adult eyes and new found respect, and realize that there exist, actual “individuals” that raised them.

Someday, I will knit afghans. I will sip Chardonnay and play cards on Thursday evenings with my girlfriends and  reminisce about our youth, back when I was a scatter brained, foul mouthed, occasional lush, with 3 small kids and a husband with a law practice in it’s fetal stages, living in a 900 square foot apartment and borrowing money from our parents every other week. I will don my rose-colored glasses and remember that it was an easier time, filled with laughter and growth, while conveniently forgetting the lesser moments, when self-doubt made me it’s constant companion and stress tied my stomach in knots. I will bask in the glow of a full life, living in the present, healthy and preparing for the many great moments ahead.

Someday, I will be "that" Lady. For now, I’m just "that" aspiring broad.