My beautiful son was born on a September afternoon in 2005. My OBGYN said it was the most uneventful delivery he had ever witnessed. He actually sat on the side of my bed and we watched as #3 just kind of magically glided out into the world. Three times IS a charm and I was proud to have mastered the painless birth. I had managed to control the uncontrollable. Score.
My nickname, besides Sistah, is Controlee. I like to be in charge. I find comfort in leadership, not because I like to boss people around, but because I am calmest with my decision-making skills. I seek teamwork and ideas from others, as long as I have the final ruling. I believe I have a fear of trusting responsibility to others and that I’m better off when I manage all situations. Let me tell you, it’s exhausting and not always productive. Wow, not really a newsflash.
My story begins with this revelation, much to my shock and disbelief: I can’t control autism. I could manage how my son came into this world but not remedy his developmental delays. My child has a challenge which I cannot fully solve? This is way out of my element. The fear crept in and quickly turned to terror. I turned that terror into action and became the best damned autism advocate this side of Chicago. Still, when I lay in bed at night, I felt like what I was doing was never enough even though #3 was thriving.
You see, I have always been the person others rely on to make all things better. I have a meticulous record as “The Fixer”. I inherited this gift (or curse) from my mother. This autism thing… I can fix this too. Mom, the “Super Fixer” was by my side along with my husband and together, we would work tirelessly for my son. We would make everything okay. I declared myself Super Autism Mom, but still so much work to do.
Then, my Mom gets sick. Now, I must achieve superior knowledge about liver disease so that I can “fix” her. I must be able to stay one step ahead of her doctors so I may have a complete understanding of the problem at hand. After all, it’s just a problem and that’s my specialty. Sure, I’m 850 miles away, but I can handle it. I can live in the hospital room with Mommy from M-F, then fly home and see my children and husband for the weekend. Yes, it’s the worst winter on record and I find myself sleeping in several different airports, unable to get home, but I’m okay. I’m Super…
She’s getting worse. Dad is so frightened that he is rendered helplessly unable to make a decision. He gets sick. Now, I’m between the hospital, dad’s house and airport. Apple pie has become my only solace. I don’t even bother to use a plate. Just a fork. If there has ever been a poster for depression, it would be a woman sitting in a hospital room, next to her dying mother, in the dark, eating a whole pie.
She dies. I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t save her.
I can’t cure my son. I can’t cure my son.
I can’t. I can’t.
I didn’t want to get out of bed. When I finally did, I over-compensated to make up for what I considered my failures as a daughter and mother. So, I over extended myself even more than what was normal for me. I had to save someone, find a cure, rescue a shelter dog.
Next step, anger set in. I am running into more obstacles that I cannot “fix”. My son, who is hypersensitive, cries when I cry, yells when I yell. My daughters and husband are getting caught up in this hurricane of crap. This is no good. I am beginning to spiral out of control and feel like I’m drowning in uncontrollable failure.
I need help.
I got help.
Therapy has been the saving grace for me. I’m coming back better than ever. I was never suicidal. Homicidal, yes. Definitely homicidal. You could even say Medieval Shit homicidal. One of the first assignments from my therapist was to make a Pros & Cons list of all the people I wanted to see dead and how it would really affect my life. It took several months before the Pro side was shorter than the Con. My therapist talked me out of that tree and every other twisted shrub in this crazy forest that grows in my mind. We have had a few good laughs in session, even though her chuckles are usually combined with lots of writing in her notebook and eyes darting left to right. I don’t know what that’s all about, but I think I’m Chapter 6 in her book.
I also take a little medication to keep my moods from swinging like Chris Brown on a date. It’s not a cure-all, but probably the best assist to keep me out of lock up. I am learning that relinquishing control, especially to others that are perfectly qualified to take over, isn’t such a bad thing. I don’t have to know everything, fix everything. I have to let go and let the Universe catch things. I make my hands in the shape of a little bowl and recite this often.
I’m learning that I need to put on my oxygen mask and help myself first so that I can be a better me, wife, mother, daughter and friend. Oddly enough, no one wants an oxygen deprived maniac attempting to lead during an emergency situation.
Hopefully, this little story has motivated you to take better care of yourself. Hopefully, this story has given you a better understanding that you or someone in your life may be struggling. Hopefully, this story gives you peace of mind that there is no shame in asking for help, even when you are everyone else’s sunshine.
Put on your oxygen mask first, breathe and let the Universe do Her thang.