Friday, June 30, 2017

About Canada/ Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow/ "All I want to do is to see you Smile, If it takes Just a Little While."/ Fleetwood Mac Lessons/Brilliance and Beauty in the Midst of Dramatic Life.

Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album is one I listen to any time my life feels overwhelming or dramatic. There are so many songs that are applicable to daily drama, probably because of the story behind the album, but the band was brilliant to start with.

Yesterday, my daughter forced me to watch Glee. She said that the episode, "Born this Way" was just what I needed. Turns out she was right. Glee has always expressed my soul. I go to certain episodes when I feel or need certain insights, inspiration, song love or friendship. "Born this Way" had me celebrating whom I was once again and taking back baby steps towards feeling good about myself. I Gaga'd up my game.

This morning we watched the follow up episode, "Rumours." The first time I watched Glee Rumours I was reminded of the Fleetwood album that I had not listened to in years. I downloaded all the original songs except the last two because for some reason, they don't speak to me. But the rest of the songs?  To say they were on repeat for weeks, is probably an understatement. It was the soundtrack to my life for a full spring and summer. It was when I was officially diagnosed with Autism and I had many conflicting emotions. I need these songs when I am feeling conflict. Critic Patrick McKay wrote, "What distinguishes Rumours —what makes it art—is the contradiction between its cheerful surface and its anguished heart. Here is a radio-friendly record about anger, recrimination, and loss." I love that polar opposite, raw, brilliant way of expression. Within those complex paradoxes, there is also optimism.

"If you wake up and don't want to smile, if it takes just a little while, Open your eyes, Look at the day, You'll see things in a different way. Don't stop thinking about tomorrow. Don't stop. It will still be here. It will be here better than before. Yesterday's gone. Yesterday's gone. Try to think about times to come, and not about the things that you have done, if your luck was bad to you, just think of what tomorrow will do. Don't stop thinking about tomorrow. Don't stop. It will soon be here. It will be here better than before. Yesterday's gone. Yesterday's gone. All I want is to see you smile, if it takes just a little while. I know you don't believe that it's true. I never meant any harm to you. Don't stop...It will be here better than before. Yesterday's gone..."

Tomorrow is Canada's 150th which has had me reflecting about the beauty and abundance I live within. In any country, there are troubles and issues, but with the focus on celebration, I have chosen to look at the positive. It's a bit easy for me because I adore Canada. From cheesy misconceptions of Igloo homes doting our vast landscape to the overused "Eh" or the symbols of Moose/ Beavers/ or the Canadian Goose to the more subtle beauties of a country young. The book How to be Canadian- Ferguson and Ferguson (CLICK) is a fun, sassy read on Canadiana.

This anniversary IS literally my tomorrow. But how does it apply to the larger picture of my life's landscape? The landscape of Canada is diverse, just like it's people. I love how a person could get lost in our country. I only have to travel two hours in each direction for a different landscape. Perspective is continually challenged and changed based on weather and geography. I wrote HERE (CLICK) , "The North has a way of giving and taking so suddenly. I believe this gives the many inhabitants a live or die mentality of savouring quick goodness and seizing unexpected moments quickly. Also installing resilience in those that manage to change with the seasons, or heck, the day to day...I am a 'Northern girl, wild and free with four strong winds to carry me'- Terri Clark...It's in me and I am in it. This is who I am and although I may complain at times, and it brings it's share of pain, it also brings great depth, freedom, raw strength and beauty. True, North, Strong and Free."

Canada calls for resilience. It also, in it's hopeful state, calls for compassion. Currently, there is drama heightened all over the globe. Pretty much everyone I know is struggling. There are horrendous stories in the news every day which is why I don't read the news. I choose to focus on only the issues surrounding me because it is there that I can make the most difference. Little ripples spread over the globe, if we all are the change we wish to see in the world, in our small parts of love and awareness. I am aware of the atrocities committed when I mention my daily issues, but I don't let these deeds overshadow my own pain either. That would mean I would be allowing the troubles of others to excuse my opportunity for growth. To say, "They have it worse than I do" is to neglect the soul work of actually addressing my own issues for a better world. It's a little lazy and wrong because anyone could say it to a degree. So, my own ideas are to process, allow the emotions, become the struggle and move through it with growth and sometimes even a bit of stagnancy. Sometimes we can only show up. Sometimes growth is not existent and out of seemingly nowhere a bud will bloom.

Yesterday is gone. Yesterday taught me something. There are pieces I will take with me on my journey, but it's also important to hold out for tomorrow. Even savour or get through today. It may sound selfish, but when I hear the lyrics that sing, "All I want to do is see you smile, if it takes just a little while..." I am actually singing to myself. I am being the friend to myself I would want someone to be for me. I have done this trick since when I was little and felt no one understood me. I became my best friend. Like Anne having a mirror friend, except my friend was a part of me. I felt that I had to be own hero and wait on no one to rescue me. Not even God, even though I believed in a conservative view of 'him' at the time. I thought even with my beliefs on redemption, that it was unfair to ask someone to come rescue me in my daily deeds. It was important to hope for rescue in certain circumstances, but it did not excuse my responsibility to make as much change for myself as I could. I still hold to that stance. When I forget it, I tend to do poorly in life. When I remember to be the friend and hero to myself that I would like, I am less of a burden on society, but I am also strangely more aided by society too. I begin to see 'help' in the strangest of places. Like Dumbledore says, "Help is always available at Hogwarts to those who ask for it." or "Happiness can be found in the darkest of places if one only remembers to turn on the light."

*DISCLAIMER: I have been depressed. I feel this does not apply to depression or circumstances when one requires help. There are times when I can not even help myself. Luckily, most of them have been shorter but some were years of just getting through and that was enough of an accomplishment. I am NOT saying 'suck it up princess.' My dad used to always use the phrase from Nietzsche that is often misquoted, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and I HATED IT. I love Nietzsche but that quote is not in context plus it's untrue. Not all things make one stronger. They can in some regards, but some things do WEAKEN the body or the spirit...forever. Acknowledging this is the first step to freedom. Plus, it helps no one in a state of brokenness to hear this. Thus, I am not encouraging my readers to take full responsibility for everything that happens to them. I believe in healing and therapy. What I am saying, is if you can, in the little things, it is good to try to turn on a light for yourself, if you can.*

What I am doing is asking myself to help. Then I can ask others if I really can not do it. Sometimes we receive not because we ask not. A little Jesus tip that does apply in life. We need to ask because people can't read our minds and the worst they can say is a kind NO and then we find someone else or ourselves...I am also simply remembering to turn on the light. Sometimes, the task of turning on a light, is forcing myself to put on a song even though I don't feel like it, that suits my mood. This can be work and usually I pessimistically think it won't help, but when I actually take the time to find the right song, it can sometimes turn my day around. Other lights are time spent in nature, a favourite show to watch even though others would deem it a waste of time (45 minutes to change a day? WHY NOT?!), taking extra time on make up, sitting on the deck and soaking up the sun in gratitude, steeping tea, nourishing the body, walking, hugging my children, focusing on what is good, asking myself the hard questions and coming up with a few applicable solutions, changing my inner attitude, making a change for someone for good, indulging in art, decorating...the list goes on.

Turning on the light for oneself does not mean the drama ends. It does not mean that suddenly I am physically out of pain, don't have Lyme, Anemia or Mono right now, or that I do not have struggles with Z.  It does not mean my husband and I are automatically recovered from our roller coaster year. It does not mean my children will always have good health. At the Dentist the other day, they refused to work on my daughter because they said she had Autoimmune sores in her mouth and on her tonsils. I remembered to mention Mono. They said she was having a regression and it would be dangerous to work on her. No wonder we were both getting headaches, sore throats and exhaustion again! We were still sharing drinks because we thought we were both over it plus we both had it anyway, and didn't realize we COULD get it again. Most sites say that one can not but the forums are another matter. Plus the Dentist insisted we could. So that also threw another curve into my summer, I wish I didn't have to deal with, on my table. I am truthfully, barely making it through each day, even when I get a good sleep, because of severe exhaustion on so many physical and mental levels. But shit happens.

When I tell myself, "All I want to do is to see you smile...if it takes just a little while..." I then ask myself, "What would that take? What would I wish for someone to do for me?" And I try to make it happen. Once I smile, I then realize, that it is time to share that sentiment with at least ONE other person. Be their smile. For myself, that usually involves giving into my quirkier side with those I love. It's fairly easy with them. With strangers, it takes more.

Today Fleetwood Mac will be going on the stereo as I clean my house. I will make sure we get outside at least once even though I feel awful. I will also find a way to celebrate Canada in small ways this weekend. I am determined to be a True, Northern girl, strong and free, in the ways I can be. This is my tomorrow. It's not promised and it may not even be feasible when the moment arrives, but it's a mindset for today. Because it matters to hold on to something that makes us believe in the good of all. Whether that entails god or some other form of hope or goodness. Hope can damage too in some ways, so the hope should not be the only aspect to get one through, but it is an important piece sometimes. What should be present always is a sense of gratitude, perspective or support. "It does not do well to dream Harry and forget to live."-Another Dumbledore, J.K Rowling bit of brilliance. Hope sometimes is a dream that stops us from living now. Remember to live. DON'T STOP living in love until your end is nigh.

All I want to do is to see you smile...if it takes just a little while...

Post Edit: AFTER I wrote this post I was listening to the radio and another favourite came on that really applies to this post: "If you don't like what you got - Why don't you change it, If your world is all screwed up Rearrange it. Raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell
Raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell. If you don't like what you see, Why don't you fight it? If you know there's something wrong, Why don't you right it? Raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell. Raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell. In the end it comes down to your thinking, And there's really nobody to blame. When it feels like your ship is sinking
And you're too tired to play the game. Nobody's going to help you. You've just got to stand up alone
And dig in your heels, And see how it feels, To raise a little Hell of your own. Raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell. Raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell If you don't like
What you got, Why don't you change it? If your world is all screwed up. Rearrange it.  Raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell, raise a little Hell"- Trooper 

Song choice: Fleetwood Mac Don't Stop (CLICK):

Northern Girl- Terri Clark HERE :

Never Going Back again- Fleetwood Mac ( HERE);

Also, this is so beautiful. The sun will come out tomorrow- Idina Menzel CLICK. Another song I belted out in my youth:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

PART:2 The Behind The Scenes Story of Being An Autistic Parent to an Autistic Child.

Let me preface with the fact that this is a follow up to THIS (CLICK) post. I also have another child who is autistic but they are pretty much a mellower version of me. They also have a natural ENFJ Mother Teresa sort of personality so they end up being probably the more stable presence in the household on most days. They also fall through the cracks sometimes because they are the most balanced. My point in mentioning this is to show that each situation is unique and sometimes parenting an Autistic child is easier, depending on all the varied factors. The ENFJ struggles are more involved in severe anxiety issues and feeling a general sense of "nerdy quirkiness" in the outer world, but they feel completely comfortable at home, with me, which makes life at home infinitely easier.

Birth order also plays a part as well as gender. There are MANY factors that play into all of this. I also could write another post about being a Dyspraxic parent to a Dyspraxic child which is a whole other ballgame. I find it something I can handle on most days, oddly, because Dyspraxia is actually more of struggle for me in the day to day disabilities. It is also probably because our dyspraxic child is a marshmallow of kindness, so it may be easier for me to help out? (Another post for another time.) I also want to state I adore ALL my children. I like parenting most days and unschooling for the most part. But sometimes it gets to be a little much. I am going to focus on those times below. I am also going to write like I talk when I am in heightened states of awareness and before I edit. Which means my post may take tangents and show some of my quirky tendencies more than usual. I am doing this for my fellow Autistics who parent autistic children. I want them to know that I DO have autistic traits and I DO struggle in varied ways...and I hope this can help in some way...And yes those dark circles have three layers of make up and are still showing...

I didn't tell you what I did while my Z's timer was on 15 minutes, before I went to check on Z. I ranted while I paced the house, I crouched in a corner, I tried to call my main three supports in the order I prefer to find them; Husband, Best Kindred, and Mother. When no one answered I ended up ranting a text message to Hubby about single parenting most of the year and how I am literally going to break into pieces of a fragmented self. Yes, he tends to chuckle at these texts with me in hindsight later but at the time I am very serious about quitting my entire life and becoming an Ostrich. Apparently, I am funny when I am distressed. Part of it is a coping mechanism. But yes, you heard right, I said an Ostrich. I will often picture myself as an Ostrich, imagining the joyous bliss of burying my head in warm, enveloping sand. Writing it out, I realize it's actually not that comforting of an image. Things I hold on to for years can seem different when I write them out, and suddenly I am realizing that this being an Ostrich is actually not appealing at all. Maybe I should change the image to something that will explain the feelings I had because it's actually a terrible image!

I didn't think the Ostrich theory through... Ok, the feelings I had when thinking of being an Ostrich are probably similar to picturing oneself in a cocoon of quick safety, able to escape the world at large with a quick action. Maybe I should have used a mouse burrowing into a cozy home but I dislike disease carriers so maybe a ...hhmmmm what animal doesn't carry disease?... I've got it! A HOBBIT! It's not an animal but it's not exactly human either. Yes, that is way better. I will picture myself a Hobbit, shutting myself into my Hobbit hole and bolting the bright yellow door, sitting by the fire and eating bits of yummy cheese, fruit and meat while sipping on comforting tea. That feeling right there is what I felt also when I was an Ostrich. That borrowing under ground sort of thing which a Hobbit does nicely at conveying. 

Anyway, when the timer was up, I quickly rubbed my eyes, took a few deep breathes and did what I do when I am not safe enough to meltdown in places- I go into trauma emergency mode. I shut off. I shut down. I tell myself that I will process and feel the emotions later but that my child requires my unemotional attention. This means that later I am going to be a mess, but for the time being I am the perfect little robot. I can pretend to be in good humour, I can smile even though it doesn't reach my soul, and most importantly, I can get through the motions. Once I put on this pretend body armour of metal technology on, I walk into the room and press parent mode on my inner psyche. 

Next, I monologue. Monologuing is an important part of this equation because when I monologue I am in writing mode. My children know not to interrupt mommy when she is writing or monologuing. I will SNAP. If I am going to be harsh, it will be when I am interrupted in these two activities. Why? Because I am in FLOW, I am getting words and thoughts out that I normally have trouble expressing. The words that get stuck for days, that I know I am feeling but can't fully explain until the computer is in front of me, or I am in a verbal monologue flow triggered by some great insight, are suddenly there and I need to get them out. This is why I talk to my best kindred a lot on the phone. I hate the phone otherwise but with her, someone who is insanely like me but an INTJ, we both take turns monologuing and processing all of our thoughts on past, present and future. She is my sanity and also the reason why I tend to function at a higher level when I struggle...because I was able to express it to someone, on my own time, over two hours of phone time, and know if I need to talk some more I can call her again. It feels safe. 

When I snap, I am harsh. I use harsh tones and say quick cutting remarks like, "Get out of my space or you will forever regret that you walked in my door." or "I don't care what you eat or what you do right now children, just LEAVE ME ALONE!" or the simple, "GET OUT. We will talk later unless it is a dire emergency...." followed with an apparent death glare I have that works efficiently most of the time. My children love it generally when I write or talk to my Kindred because it means they can rule the house...My husband also knows not to interrupt when I write. He has not always applied this learning when I am monologuing but my distressed sounds or close to tear responses, if he does interrupt a monologue, is enough to shut him up for at least the twenty minutes of speaking I need to feel "normal" again. Truthfully, it usually takes closer to an hour...

This monologue ish way of mine serves me well in crisis situations with my children when I am expected to have a game plan. I have NO IDEA what the game plan is going into a situation. I did not know I was going to give my son three letters to write until I was halfway through my monologue about the situation. It's kind of like the Internet. I am talking but I am accessing all the stored information in my brain pertinent to the situation. In this case it was parenting books I had read, triggers from posts about autism, stuff I have written, and general movies I have emulated that all came together to focus me on what I wished to convey. I am often proud of myself after these moments because I DO tend to randomly parent effectively.

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. If I get interrupted or if I'm over tired or sick, I can't monologue. Which means, I will not be effective at communicating what needs to happen... Sometimes my children will literally be dealt with a FULL WEEK after an incident. Once I have processed effectively, come up with a plan and maybe been triggered into thinking about the incident again, I will seemingly out of nowhere suddenly "deal" with the situation. This causes some confusion though they say they are used to mommy's random musings, lectures, and out of the moment game plans. There is usually a collective "Uh Oh" when I utter the words, "Here is the deal..."

Yesterday there was another incident. I ended up actually sliding my child across the floor in their slippery socks, by force to my mother's room. I was lucky we were there and also that the floor was slick hardwood because my child is WAY stronger than me. I was DONE. I had done a favour for said child, and they were mad because I brought a book, just in case they wanted to read, from our house while they were being looked after. The book was thrown across the floor with, "I told you NOT to bring my book. I told you I am not going to read. Now I am not going to read that book EVER again. You are a horrible parent. You don't listen..." rant, rant, rant. I was tired. I was on my way out the door to spend the day with my husband and ENFJ child in another city. So, after squelching my great urge to smack the child- which I NEVER do by the way, but I have to be honest and say that the thought does seem tempting at times, I firmly said, "Ok let's go talk to Nanna. I can't handle this today." To which the child fought me so I dragged them by their sleeves across the floor to the room because my mother was not responding to my calls. Yup, not my best moment. The child was not hurt and in another circumstance they probably would have had fun sliding across the floor in socked feet. 

My mother mediated right away and immediately my child stopped physically fighting me, but the defiance was a whole other matter.  She explained that they were not the boss. Something I am uncomfortable with as I don't like being the boss or pulling any authority cards in general. I am a guide as a parent but I like to give my children freedom and equality whenever I can. Probably why my child thinks they do run the house...downsides and benefits to everything I suppose. SO I cringed at that statement but let her go on. The child interrupted with, "I said NO to her before. I said NO. She should have listened. It is MY book and MY brain and I don't want to read." To which my mother replied, "Sometimes parents get to choose activities for you that they know you will benefit from. I asked your mother to go home and get the book for you to have just in case. She went out of her way to grab it and it's simply an option. You should tell her thank you and let her go. You also need to say sorry for what you have said to her..." The discussion went on for ten minutes and blatant refusals to say sorry. I ended up leaving because I was fighting back tears and the child was clearly not in a mood to communicate. I left them in my mother's capable hands, muttered the obligatory leaving the house to go on the road, 'I love you,' and left.

My mom's texting conversation lasted the first ten minutes of the drive, and then my ENFJ child and husband had to hear my monologue for the last 45 minutes. That is how long I took to begin to "normalize" and not be in a heightened state of emotion. An HOUR. Even then, it takes all my self control to stuff it when my other child says, "Ok mom. It's time to move on. Z is not here. Let's enjoy our day and you can think about it later." Point taken.

Here is a snippet of my mother's texts:
Me: I've fantasized about boarding school so much lately . Z breaks me every day. Every day since January. I think Z can be ok sometimes but not usually with me ...
Mom/ S:
You've had good days too.  Remember when it's hard that you are seeing things through your autistic eyes and it seems it's always hard.Those are the times when you forget all the positive and good.Boarding school would break Z.  Z is ok with you too.This will pass and you will get through it.  However, it is also why you need breaks sometimes. Those times can even be Hubby taking the time when he's home to be with and talk to Z about growing up, respecting  mom and women in general, respecting those in authority, etc. all while spending time doing something with Z.  Sometimes with the other kids but sometimes one on one.. at a difficult age, starting to become a grown up yet still a child. Changes in body, emotions, etc. Those all affect more because of the autism.  You will get through this. You can do this. And you are doing this. Sometimes you may not always respond in the best way but overall, you're doing it with grace and beauty. You have a lot of that, you just forget sometimes when you're overwhelmed.

Remember, you are a great mom, you're doing a good job and you're entitled to times of frustration and breaks away.  You need that. All of us moms have times when we wish we had responded differently or we wish we could take back some words we allowed to escape but the good thing is that we are human. We recognize that we don't always have all the answers but we plod on doing the best we can. With you, the best you can is a pretty darn good job. So take a deep breath, enjoy your time away knowing Z is safe, you can relax and you don't even have to think about the issues that arise. You just have you time. What I meant to say was the good thing is our kids are pretty forgiving, they're not as fragile as we think and it doesn't hurt them to have time away.  It also doesn't hurt them to see how their words and actions can hurt and frustrate their parents and others as well.  That's how they learn."

Her support helped the situation but I needed more processing time. That night, after a long day, Z came up the stairs and apologized for being unkind. Then Z started arguing with me again about why Z was right and I smiled and said, "Let's just drop it for now. I'm sure you have points but that would defeat the moment of peace right now. I actually was just bringing it as an option and not requiring you to read it but for you it's about the fact that I dared to bring it out of the house at all. It's bed time kiddo. I love you and you are special."

And then I stayed up till four in the morning stressing about life. You think I'd just take the apology and sleep peacefully but NOPE. I wrote on a safe place I have with a few close friends, " I don't know how to be a mom anymore to one of my children. Sometimes I don't even know how to be a person. Actually, generally I feel I don't know how to person properly. I can't sleep or eat right, talk appropriately or posture correctly nor do I express normally or act accordingly or normalize to the masses. Some days I celebrate this alien status. At nights I tend to torture myself with them. But really, I know when I feel empty that I'm fighting burn out, sleep depravity or depression ... and I fight every day for perspective that I think I'm good at and also gratitude but that doesn't change the fact that on some days or nights ... I don't know how to be a person ..."

That is how I have felt lately. I don't know how to be a person. Of course, I received some lovely support from a core group of ladies which I will leave in the comments below because their wisdom is crucial to my well being and I believe it may benefit some readers who struggle with the same issues. Because sometimes, the inner dialogue in our heads can be created by the outer world. My blog is called the World We Create from that sociological concept. We create in part what is around and in us...what we adhere to and what we choose not to do...we also sometimes are innocent bystanders or victims of circumstance but in everything there is a bit of ability to be our own change. Most of the time anyway. Not all of the time. I have no complete answers today. I still feel like I don't know how to be a person. But I wanted to write out my experience behind the scenes, to show that these struggles can come with even parenting milestones. I said most of the "right" things when dealing with Z last week. I often will come up with great game plans...only to face the same situation again and again. It's part of life. In disability and in ability. I wanted to show that side of angst even amongst victory.

Not feeling like a person or knowing how to be another matter for another post or maybe I will forgo that one all together and deal with it on my own or in therapy...Dear therapist, when you read this remember it for our always growing list. Ha ha. Anyway, I have some moments to celebrate and I am grateful. I love my life and the comments will show other aspects of the equation once I get them transferred do read them for other's wisdom... But it also is a glorious mess. A tough struggle in the midst of wonder and beauty. Alice in wonderland. Complex and full of dangers and mystery but also fantastical experiences and forever friendships and smoking caterpillars. Yup, my life. Also, the song choices complete this post so do scroll below for explanations.

Song Choice: When I was defeated after one of these moments I put three songs on repeat to a few silent tears. The songs were:

Blackbird sung by Sara Mclachlan (CLICK) "Take these sunken eyes and learn to see...Blackbird fly until the light of a dark, black night. Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly...." I feel like my eyes are sunken most of the time lately and I am the blackbird in the dead of night hoping to learn to fly again. And I know this is my life to be broken, learn to fly, and break all over again...I think we all have this in a way and people with disabilities or minorities may feel it more acutely.

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac (Click) This song I cried the most on because the lyrics are SO accurate. "I took my love and took it down. Climbed a mountain and I turned around. And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills till the landslide brought me down. Oh mirror in the sky what is love? Can the child in my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides. Can I handle the seasons of my life? ... Well, I've been afraid of changing because I built my life around you. But time makes you bolder even children get older, and I'm getting older too. Took my love and I took it down..." These lyrics are exactly how I feel in poetic terms. Can the child in my heart rise above? A question I constantly ask my child life self. Can I handle the seasons of my life? Aspies especially struggle with change and this lyric inspires both fear and comfort in me. If a musician asks it- I can ask it. "Even children get older..." A reminder that this too shall pass and I will miss most of it. In fact, I can't think of it ending or I feel like I am suffocating. I adore my children even when it's tough. "I'm getting older too..." I felt this lyric when I was 19. Sometimes I feel SO OLD. Being an Aspie is an odd mix of Old soul and Child forever. Sometimes the old soul and the chronic illness makes me feel an age that does not even exist...Maybe it does in Elf years...

And Hey Jude by the Beatles (Click HERE) "...Remember to let her into your heart. Then you can start. To make it better... Hey Jude, Don't make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better. Hey Jude, Don't be afraid, You were made to go out and get her. The minute you let her under your skin then you begin to make it better. And anytime you feel the pain, Hey jude, refrain. Don't carry the world upon your shoulder. For well you know, that it's a fool, who plays it cool, by making his world a little colder..." I have always been comforted by this song since my obsession with the Beatles in Junior High. Heck, the Beatles and Lennon (and Elvis) got me through Junior high! This song in particular has showed up every time I have struggled with someone else. It is my reminder to step back and let the pain and the person into my heart in some way or form. Because then I can start to heal and get better. I also find the lyrics about the fool who plays it cool comforting because I will NEVER be a person who can be "cool and collected." I am passionate and moody... and this song always made me feel better about my odd, sensitive self. I often think that part of my processing is to allow myself to feel so deeply and to express that into the world the way I know how...which is usually writing. Taking a sad song and trying to make it a little better... "Don't carry the world upon your shoulder little miss INFJ" ( that is what I say to myself because I have a tendency to do this when I don't implement boundaries.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Being An Autistic Parent to An Autistic Child- The Surprising Miscommunication that Happens even WITH Understanding, Meltdowns and Executive Functioning Issues

To keep this child's identity anonymous to those who may not know whom it is, I am using the verb THEY when referring to them to keep gender neutral and I will use the random initial Z in place of a name for the use of this post. I also will admit that if I would have written this post after an incident it would be a lot more emotional which is why I waited. I have struggled with this aspect of life sometimes on a different level and I am beyond exhausted, however, I wanted this post to reflect more of the facts, actual outcome and words involved and brainstorming for hopeful help to others in similar circumstances. I also wanted it to benefit Z by giving the most fair assessment without my feelings of frustration or upset, while still being honest about my struggles also. I hope I achieved that goal.

One of my children is particularly verbal. They have been since month nine of their existence. Sometimes because of this factor, they seem more able. They seem wise beyond years at times, and sometimes they really are. An old soul. But in life there is always a double side, and with this verbal prowess comes the tendency for those around Z to think Z can handle more than they can. Myself included.

I try to remember that Z may sound old, but has the same struggles I do, in varied ways. I try to remember that their pre frontal cortex is still developing at their age, so even if they sound like a grown up, they may still struggle with accessing their reasoning side of their brain in a more grown up way. Z thinks because their arguments sound good, that they must be mature, but sometimes they clearly forget about putting relationships BEFORE issues, with important people in their life.

Z has a way with words. They can both heal and wound. Unfortunately, because of age, meltdown mode, sensory issues, and OCD anxiety, Z utilizes their words first hand. Often it can be brutally raw and sometimes cruel. Z, like their mother, knows how to cut to the heart of the matter and see things in people they do not see in themselves. But Z's delivery does not have the maturity of restraint. Z knows  Z has partial truths but does not realize yet that there is always another aspect of the equation.

Since January Z has had three full peaceful days where there was not some sort of incident. To say that our life has been full is an understatement. But there is a reason for this that we all understand. To date, this has been the toughest year of Z's young life. Z may be a quicker processor in some things, but emotions take more sorting out. Chaos is not welcomed and creates distress in their brain. I understand this because it's my life story too. I am constantly applying understanding of my brain to their brain. However, even being an Autistic myself, and applying this knowledge, we end up mis communicating. Z has had the toughest time with me this year. Partially because I am a safe source for Z to act out against. A mother's love and all that.

Last week we had a breakthrough. It was after a yogourt container was thrown across the room when Z was mad at a trivial change in plans, and it exploded all over the kitchen. Z was beyond control at that point so there was screaming, hurtful words thrown all over anyone who was in the room, and finally a running down the stairs and slamming the door of Z's room with the sound of the lock click as I followed quickly behind to make sure Z was safe. The screaming probably disturbed the neighbours this time...For myself this is also very hard because screaming insults my sensory needs as an Autistic. A normal mom would be bothered but for myself, it triggers my crisis center and it takes all my self control not to meltdown myself. In the past, I will admit, that there have been about four times when I have started to simply cry or plug my ears and yell over the noise for Z to go to a safe place to scream. Generally, I try to keep it together until after but my face flushes and my heart rate is high.

This time I was extremely distressed. I called my husband at work because often Z will not come out for hours and may spend them all screaming. My husband and sometimes mother are often the only ones who can cut this time down by force. I can't. Maybe because I understand and also partially because my mother and husband are NOT autistic so they come to the situation with another perspective. Sometimes I need to do damage control for some expectations of behaviour I know can not be met during meltdown that are expected from non autistic individuals. I have to mediate, but generally, because of my education, they understand Z too and mostly are in tune with what Z requires in these moments.

My husband was unavailable so I was on my own. I took a few deep breathes, stopped my teary eyes from thinking about the words that were spoken to my soul, and reminded myself that I was the adult with a bit more regulation. I knocked on the door and said loudly over Z's noise, "You can have 15 minutes to finish melting down but then you must unlock this door and once you get to a point of calm we need to talk." I timed the 15 minutes and came back to a calmer Z. They surprised me by unlocking the door right away and running to the bed to put their head under the covers. This was a big step that I did not have to wait for my husband to force the lock. I sat down and said calmly, " I understand that you were triggered into meltdown. You were distressed about the small change in plans and I should have seen the signs that this would bother you more today. However, while I understand your behaviour, I also am unfortunately both your teacher and parent. Some behaviours you would be expected to learn at school are skipped at home. I need you to learn some regulation for not just others safety but for your own. I know you can understand what I am about to say but I want you to ask any questions if you do not. Here is the deal. In grown up life, our goal is to enable you to have a safe life the way you wish to live it. But in grown up life, if you are working and you break something, you have to offer to pay for it and clean it up."

At that point Z said, "I know, I already thought to offer to pay for the yogourt." I replied with, "Good. I am proud of you for that. And it was a full container. It can come out of your allowance because this is an important lesson to remember. You will also be cleaning it up though your sibling cleaned up most whilst crying. The things that were said to both me and your siblings were not exactly kind. I know you didn't mean half of them and some of them were probably half true, but the delivery needs work. On top of the natural consequences of life, where as you make a mess, even accidental, you are required to offer to pay for it and clean it up even if the other person let's you off the hook - you still offer, but besides those consequences, I will be giving you an additional one to fit the crime. Here is the deal- you used an object and just missed your sibling. You grabbed the closest thing in front of you. What if that would have been a hammer or a knife or some sort of weapon? In your haste you could have done something that you would forever regret. I know you. I know you have one of the sweetest hearts in the world but you need to learn regulation. There are people in the justice system or jails that do not deserve to be there. That did nothing out of malicious intent but out of lack of control. I know you would never suit a place like that- it would kill your soul. Part of my job is to teach you how to regulate enough to be able to avoid situations like that. Unfortunately, the world is full of small minded people with enough power to make your life a living hell. You need to keep your inner circle safe. I'm not saying this to scare you but because I think you are wise enough to realize that as you get older, you will need to be aware of your emotions and control if you can. I am not saying you have to stop melting down. I still meltdown. I am saying you have to learn safer ways or places of doing this."

Z replied with sobs breathing of, "That makes sense I guess. I was soooo upset. I still am."

"I know honey and I am SOOOO proud of you for unlocking this door and letting me talk to you so soon after you were upset. This shows how your regulation is actually a source you can use. More than the physical, you also used the emotional and said things that maybe should not have been said. Hurtful borderline cruel things because of a change in schedule. I understand that this was more than a change in schedule to you. I understand this year has been so hard on your little soul and you are still processing...but we also, if we can manage to understand this much, have to understand or at least be aware of what words can do. Words can heal or hurt. It's ok to use them to wound sometimes. It's also ok to be human and make mistakes. Words sometimes will cause a change that is good even if they hurt at first. But try to remember to say them also with some restraint at times. Try to also say the good. With that in mind, I have come up with the consequence I think fits this situation. You will write three letters to three different people. Anyone you wish with any subject you wish. They can be as short as two sentences. I would prefer them to be towards someone you think may need some encouragement or gratitude but if you can't think of that, even your siblings are fine. I will give you a full week to do this but I want you to see the power of your words when they are also used for good. I think it will make you feel good as well as others."

"The thing is sweetie that you have a writer's soul. You are not a bad person. You are not even fully in the wrong here. You basically just have a little bit to do we all. Heck, sometimes I respond completely wrong. My regulation after thirty plus years and 12 years of therapy still isn't up to speed at times! SO you are actually doing pretty good! But this is a situation, as not only your mom but your teacher, that I am required to somewhat address. And you know what I think? I think it is neither good nor bad but neutral. I think you have a writer's rebellious soul! Which means that you can be a great change maker or a creative thinker or a natural society challenger. Your words can end up making the world a better or easier place for someone out there. And also yourself. The first thing a writer changes is themselves. Writing is healing for those who have it as their gift. I have seen your lyrics- they are better than some I have heard on the radio and you are less than half the age of those writers. You can cut to the heart of the matter if you wish. So in this regard, I look at the words you just yelled at all of us upstairs, and I see a lot of creativity, some truth and a bit of exaggeration. Not in a bad way per se. Your exaggeration was true to your heightened experience at that time. It was your truth but you need to remember it may not be your audiences' truth. I was hurt. So were your siblings but we also know deep down that you didn't mean all of it or your delivery of it and we are ready to move on. Now, I have given way too much information for your developing brain to chew on so I will give you half an hour of quiet time before I require you to come finish cleaning up the yogourt...if it dries it will just require more water....see you in a bit and I love who you are."

Then I went to my room, took some stabilizing breaths and let a couple tears fall. I can not touch Z even for a light hug, when Z is in these moods. It would feel like an intrusion. They will hug me usually hours later. I have to wait for them but as a mom, sometimes that is hard.

I wish I could say the next day went a lot better because of our conversation. The rest of the day went well. Z did remember aspects of our conversation. But it has been two weeks since that meltdown and though they have been less violent, we have had every day incidences since. However, I see that Z is wearing winter socks, pants and sweaters in plus 25 Celsius heat. This tells me that Z is in a OCD anxiety phase. Everything feels like a threat to them. They are on high alert. Most days I let the meltdowns take their course and carry on. I also sometimes ignore them when I am terribly tired. I am not mother of the year.

The other night I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what I was missing...I still felt like Z and I were mis-communicating on some crucial level. Then I read THIS and felt a shock at, " I feel their frustration at being expected to conform to a standard of normality that is unattainable. I get that they are tired of trying to communicate and being unheard day in and day out over and over again. I know that it is soul destroying to be forced to comply with instructions you don’t understand the reason for or the actual steps that need to be taken in order to comply. See, the reason autistic kids are seen to be a problem is that they don’t comply. They can’t comply."

Oh my word!!! Was I being like all the people who have misunderstood me??? Was I suddenly akin to the teachers in this regard to my own child? Was I expecting a level of conformity that may be unattainable? IS Z communicating and being unheard? AM I HEARING Z?  This made me pause for quite awhile and triggered a memory of a four part post I had read from Musings of an Aspie on Executive Functioning. I went straight to the article and read all four parts ( FOUND HERE.) Then I read them to Z.

This is when we had the major breakthrough. I realized that the areas I mainly struggle in Executive Functioning are generally stronger areas for Z like Memory, Planning, Organization and Attention. But the areas I am generally stronger in are weaker areas for Z like Inhibition, Problem Solving, Cognitive Flexibility and Monitoring. Of course we will both struggle in all of them depending on how uncomfortable we are in a situation. At home, where we feel safest, we will have our strength areas.

 For some reason, because Z is so good at planning and organization I missed that their executive functioning was misfiring. I assumed they were just better in this area than I. Add the INTJ personality type into it, which is good at planning and organization but quite rigid in beliefs and thoughts even if it is a intellectual and researching brain mode, and we had a recipe for extreme inability for flexibility...especially at Z's age level. Finally, we found another layer to the issue. Z understood most of the four parts of executive functioning and we had a great conversation about the material.  A few days later Z melted down at another change in plans but it was a small meltdown. I was able to actually say, "Look I'm sorry. Remember that EF article? Remember that my weaker areas are planning and organization? I am not going to be the stability you crave in schedules. I try because I am the adult and your mom and a teacher...but I'm also HUMAN. That means I will make mistakes that WILL affect you. I am sorry this affects you so much. It's an area I work on but it's also a disability which means that I will NEVER fully get it and should not be expected to. I will try where I can try and that's all I can promise you. You need to have grace for me and I need to have grace for you. I'm sorry. Also add my INFJ bohemian personality type and I WILL rub you wrong in this area at times, but I am also a good match for you if we can work together. We both have opposite areas of strength and weaknesses but we are also perspective taking personalities. This is where we both agree. We are future orientated and enjoy literature and wisdom. IF we focus on what we DO agree on and try to work with what we don't and allow for each other's disabilities, do you think we can find a way to navigate at least maybe two days a week in peace?"

Z was quiet during my whole monologue. I am lucky my kids sit through and understand most of my long communications. I also do not talk to them on a child level so I am also lucky that they try to understand some of the words I use. Z responded with a hug. A HUG! I tried not to weep or make a big deal of it. I tightly hugged Z back then let Z go with a light smile and, "Ok, since I changed the day what is one activity you can't live without? What made you upset? Let's see if we can work it in somehow and meet in the middle..."

 Being an Autistic parent to an Autistic child or children in my case, though there are massive differences in gender, personality ect., can be both easier because of understanding and tougher because of the same understanding. I think in general it gives me an advantage with my children, but there are times when, if I am in sensory overload or EF fail myself, that it requires even more for me than I can sometimes give. Every night I go to bed thinking of how I can do better or where I went wrong. I am learning to let this go and remind myself the same thoughts that I told my son...I am HUMAN. I am not Wonder Woman, no matter how much I desire to be so. I am not and should not expect levels of perfection from myself or from anyone else. It starts inside. It starts with my willingness to accept my own disabilities and flaws and normal human frailties....and then I can go on to celebrate my strengths, my beautiful messiness and my gorgeous quirky moments. This is always what I end up going to sleep with. Then I wake up and try all over again.

Oh and here are the beautiful notes we ended up with that Z thought up without any help. Z is behind  on the actual physical act of writing on paper (dysgraphia) but typing on the computer Z can sound like an adult with their Lyrics which unfortunately I am not allowed to share but here are the notes. Z picked three adults that had a tough year too. Auntie D has stage 4 cancer- she wept when my mother sent her a picture of the card and said " Mom told me to look at my iPad cause I haven't been on.. brucie and I are weeping! You tell auntie Donna is fighting hard and that is is the most beautiful card I ever got in my life! And tell Z it has lifted my heart and soul to the heavens 💝💖💞🌹💕❤️💜🌺Tell all 3 how very much I love them".  I told Z to enjoy the beauty the words created in another person. Grampy just lost his wife last year. Nanna's sister and mother got diagnosed with cancer. Z came up with thinking of each of them. I also did not correct any spelling or grammar mistakes because this was about heart this time and Z wished to be alone to write without any guidance.:
Above: "Dear Nanna; Thank you for buying us groceries and letting us sleep over at your house. You are the best Nana I could ask for. I hope you are doing Ok. Love Z"

"Dear Auntie Donna: I love you Auntie Donna. You're such a fighter. I hope I become just as much of a fighter when I grow up. You are such a good example to be strong. Love Z."

"Dear Grampy: I love you Grampy. You are such a brave and strong person. Especially considering the last year. I love the suppers we have shared through the last months and the board games we play. I love you Grampy and I hope the next few years are easier. Love Z."

I was misty eyed reading them. This child, like all children, is so complex, layered and beautiful. I am honoured to help guide when I can and witness what I am here to witness.

Also a reminder. AUTISM DOES NOT CAUSE VIOLENCE. Read this for more:

Song Choice: James Morrison- I won't let You Go ( On a personal note I watch this video every time I am depressed and see myself lying on the road with those I know love me and it brings so much comfort;
Love Hurts- James Morrison

I also wrote a follow up post to this HERE:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Depression and Comfort. Why Anne with An E Cannot Compare To Kevin Sullivan's adaptation of Anne of Green Gables and How Anne is a Part Of Who I am.

Context: Usually I do not write reviews, comparisons or critique most media. I could, because I do have opinions and hold my choices of movies, shows, and songs to high standards, but I am also able to enjoy something cheap for the sake of cheese or to respect a piece of art without enjoying it. However, there are a few timeless works of art that are a part of my soul in which nothing can compare. Toping that list is the 1985 adaptation of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables The Sequel. That series is entwined into my soul and fused into the core of my being. Thus, when I heard that yet another adaptation was coming, and it caused more of a stir than the previous other attempts, I dreaded the fact that I would have to watch it and give it a fair chance. I also knew I would be writing about it because Anne, to me, is more than a story. Anne is part of the fabric of who I am.

Anne has always been a heroine of the daily. Her escapades and stories were rooted in the explorational themes of home, comfort, love and belonging. As this critic reviewed HERE, "Anne of Green Gables endures as a cozy story that reveals the resiliency of the human spirit through small-scale, domestic victories and setbacks, as well as the mundane, everyday tragedies of human life." Anne is, and has always been, about the little moments in life that make up the larger aspect. Sure, L.M. Montgomery wrote about tragedy and insinuated hardships from Anne's orphaned past, but she focused more on the little details that make up life, friendship, death and love. In that, it was a story that almost anyone could relate to.

Anne with An E took this and instead created a jarring and gritty version of trauma after trauma. I will not go into detail but you can read all about that HERE in an article titled, "Anne of Green Gables, Netflix's Bleak Adaptation Get's it So Terribly Wrong." I actually respected Anne with an E despite it's tried affiliation with the source material of the more cozy, comforting story. I wish it could have been a story on it's own. I understand a certain amount of PTSD from sensory trauma, though my childhood was NOTHING like Anne's in this story, so I recognized that the Anne in this version had it severely. It could possibly make those who have suffered such ills feel less alone, or maybe trigger their trauma...I don't know. But I DO know that, right now, I have been struggling with depression, and this newer tale DID express feelings that I could relate to. I have been feeling that depressive numbness and have been searching in vein for anything to trigger feeling within. Wonder Woman brought me the closest moment of feeling I have had recently. 'Anne with An E' actually triggered me to cry within the first act, and for that alone, I am grateful however my Anne of Green Gables can do that, even when I am most depressed, simply by encouragement. The acting was well done and the child who played Anne was delightful in expression. However, I could only enjoy it up to a point because while it did have the memorized lines from my childhood show, these phrases would show up jarringly in the context given. Dark and gritty isn't whom Anne IS in the books nor in the amazing 1985 adaptation. Anne is sunny, cheerful, headstrong, stubborn, and imaginative. She is also the platonic love of Mathew's life and the match for Gilbert because she does not slow down for him or give him reasons to be complacent. Anne is born from GENTLE books. There are other stories that should give the grittier aspects of life, but this tale was never supposed to go there.

“Dear old world', she murmured, 'you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” 

This article HERE titled "Why the 1980's Anne of Green Gables is such a Hard act to follow," highlights all the reasons why women and men everywhere fell in love with Megan Follows version of Anne (Kevin Sullivan's adaptation.) I re-introduced my husband to Anne when we were dating and he still asks to watch the show every year. My sons adore the films just as much as my daughter. The series is timeless and classic, endearing and beautifully ordinary in a romantic, comforting way. I have the entire film committed to memory. When I hear Hagood Hardy's 'Trip to Green Gables' music I STILL tear up. The teariness I feel stems from a deep well of stored inspiration and inspiring lines uttered during walks through sun dappled trees with Ms. Stacey or on grassy fields with Matthew. Wisdom that was installed by the daily deeds of ordinary people who defied gender stereotypes and became a crucial part of Anne's life of love, was what encompassed the entire series. It pulls at my heartstrings in a way no other media has yet to do. Yes, I have cried and been pulled into story lines that run a close second in my heart, but none have yet to move me time and time again and become such a crucial part of me as the 1985- version of Anne of Green Gables.

I used to cry to my mother in Grades School that there would never be a man in the world who would love me like Gilbert Blythe loved Anne for her brains, hot temper, big heart, imagination and quirkiness. I knew I was like Anne and I had no intention of waiting for the man of my dreams because he already had lived and died as Gilbert Blythe. At one point, I amused my mother by pointing out that even Jonathan Crombie, who played Gilbert, was too old to go after. I thought, in my child imaginings, that he would run a close second since he did play Gilbert perfectly. I was around ten years old and he was older than twenty which seemed an insurmountable age gap at the time. I actually grieved over this. Heart wrenching, gulping sobs. 

“Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Looking back, I think that at it's heart, Anne of Green Gables is about acceptance, love and building a family out of people that one may not have originally belonged to in the first place. I never felt like I belonged. I always lived in my imagination in a different time. Anne's time of the early 1900's mostly. On each holiday we had, I would search out the vintage shops and spend my hard earned money on button down lace tops, musty 1900 paraphernalia, gloves, Judy Garland recordings, or teacups. For Christmas, I had my mother fashion bloomers for me to sleep in.  My playhouse was decorated exactly like a 1900 home and my dress up clothes contained similar pieces. I emulated the women I watched in my shows, but with Anne I didn't feel I needed to emulate because I already WAS. I didn't know my fashion choices were out of style as I had no concept of time. My time was based upon the films I watched. My film choices often stayed in this time period like Little Women, On Moonlight Bay, By The light of the Silvery Moon, My fair Lady or Meet me in St. Louis. My other favourite time period was the 1940's period (which often would go back to early 1900 story telling) of Gene Kelly and Audrey Hepburn with films like Roman Holiday, Singing In the Rain, Philadelphia Story ect. My mother tried her best to keep me somewhat accepted while also acquiescing to my begging for bloomers, plaid long skirts, lace gloves and button downs.

“There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I knew, even in my younger years, that I was quirky, headstrong, imaginative and sensitive. I had a huge heart but could cause a lot of harm with my words quickly. I understood Anne deeply. The Anne of Sullivan's adaptation was a girl that most viewers understood at some level. She was for the outcasts, the different, the strong, the ordinary, and those longing for a place to call home. She was the perfect feminist hero surrounded by progressive women AND men. Her story held nuances of hardship but these were wrapped in a warm blanket of cozy familiarity. Each character in the 1980's version had a principled morality yet progressive growth of attitude.

My 'family' has some blood relatives, but mostly, it has always been built out of characters similar to Avonlea. Some of us travelled through the school years and beyond together while others have flitted in and out of life or travelled beyond, but yet each shaped me. When I was a teen I would often express that my friends WERE my family. Especially the few I allowed in my inner circles. Because I took off more of my coping masks when I was with them. I mostly kept my thoughts to myself like little treasures that could not be picked apart or laughed at. With very few, I could be a bit more true to my progressive nature. It was a nature that I had no words for at the time, but didn't fit in with most of the conservative views around me. Not only did I feel at my core that I was not in tune with the majority religiously, politically or socially but I also felt deep inside, that generationally and emotionally I was a little bit 'defective' because my stances or expression were often only portrayed in the media I consumed (songs, film, art, books) or the brief pieces I wrote. I did not yet have the agency to fully BE who I knew I was. It was pre internet, because our corner of the world was always a decade or two behind, thus I did not know that there WERE other people like me. As the years went on I found them, the kindred spirits, some authors, which are listed on my library page HERE (funny enough Anne is the only video link in my books) as well as musicians, lyricists, actors, screenwriters, artists and ordinary people. But Megan Follows' Anne was the first to enter my world and sing into my soul the epiphany that I DID belong. Even if it was another place and time. I had a family of kindreds, some to still discover and others hiding in the past. She had me look at mundane moment's and see the beauty in them. I learned how to cope with hardship and heartache alongside her. I realized that I would never settle for less than what I wanted out of life.

“Anne always remembered the silvery, peaceful beauty and fragrant calm of that night. It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Anne gave me the courage and spunk to be able to announce over and over in teenage hood that I wasn't going to get married NOR have children. Ironic I know. I lived in a religious community where marriage was often toted as the ultimate goal for a woman. I wasn't interested. However, I was interested in romance and epic tales. I wanted a heart pounding romantic epic that was not a tragedy but everlasting. At that time, I just didn't want the institutional commitment of marriage attached, which was basically proclaiming I was a harlot in the circles I ran in. It was audacious. I seemed traditional to most because I liked to belong, but on the inside, I was anything but conservative. I had principles which is another reason why the stories from Avonlea struck such a chord in my heart, but these principles were based on individual context instead of a one size fits all.

“It's delightful when your imaginations come true, isn't it?”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables

It would shock my childhood self to know that I was married at 18 and had three children by 25 and that I love that this was my choice. I stand by the beauty of a young marriage which grows together, however, it came with costs. PTSD from the early child rearing years which I admit-tingly mostly hated. (Stories for another time.) I can honestly say, that for the most part, my spouse is my Gilbert. He is amused at my quirks, admires my brains, respects my choices, and is completely in love with me. I don't even have to question his love, though this year, I DID question mine. It was a tough year and marriage has moments or years of loving without being IN love. We have made it through two of these years before, taking turns being the spouse whom loved but was not IN LOVE, and we will make it through again. Overall though, he is the one who will stand in a crowd and applaud me when no one else will. He gets my weaker aspects of sensory overload but he does not think that these diminish my strengths. In fact, he often calls me his super hero BECAUSE he knows what I hide and suffer and yet what I choose to live through. I never dreamed of the possibility that real life would give me a Gilbert, but indeed, I have had some hot, romantic and dreamy moments. Which is another reason why I love the 1980's version of Anne so much. It captures these feelings in a gentle, yet realistic, yet rosy sort of way. 

Most of all, Anne taught me that it's not what the world holds for you- it is what you bring to it. A lesson that has enriched my life in so many ways. I have exactly what I want. I echo Anne's statement, "I don't want diamond sunsets or marble halls...I just want you." That is how I feel about my life. I have always wanted a rooted home. A place that I could create any way I chose. A place where I belonged and was allowed to read anything I wanted without sanction or listen to without disapproval. I could not relate to Belle when she expressed having "adventures in the great wide somewhere...I want it more than I can bear." I understood her love of reading, feeling different and wishing to be understood, but I did not want that type of freedom. I wanted the freedom of the mind. To engage with atheist material if I wished and not have it judged, listen to language because the material within the language was thought provoking, or pick up an Astrology book simply because I think it's fun and it has NOTHING to do with what I believe. I wished for a place to tuck away from the world and control every aspect of the sensory with my own soap smells, cleaners, materials, clutter, or any other matter. And I wished for ONE person who would get me or at least be willing to hear my perspectives continually enough to understand.

I wanted a gentle legacy of ordinary moments. I never wanted fame or riches or even a job that spoke of some great title. I only wished to engage in things I enjoyed like writing or watching, working on my little corner, and loving whom I loved. I wanted a Gilbert. I wanted an epic love story in the sense that it would be ordinary, everyday and long lasting through the normal trials of life. I was determined to stay true to my self and write about whatever I chose to a small group of people who would appreciate these musings. I wanted to be a woman who could inspire the following lyrics in at least one person. Just one:"... She will still torment me, Calm me, hurt me. Move me, come what may...Now I know she'll never leave me, Even as she fades from view, She will still inspire me...Be a part of everything I do"- Lyrics by Alan Menken (Evermore) 

I already struggle with darker themes in life, thus 'Anne with An E', did not give me the needed balance I require. 'Anne with an E' on Netfllix, did actually help me process a bit more of my PTSD and depressive episodes in a sense, but I stopped watching because I realized that my heart felt heavier and heavier. Anne of Green Gables does the opposite. I watch and I feel lighter or encouraged or at least hopeful. I catch the beautiful phrases she says, hear the uplifting music, watch the grass sway in the sun dappled trees of Green Gables, and witness the love of Kindred Spirits and I feel beauty and comfort. Even if I am depressed, there is some level of ordinary coziness that sweeps towards me and encompasses me in a virtual hug. I cry and cry and cry when I feel depressed while watching Anne of Green Gables because it seems a bit unattainable yet also hopefully just around the corner. If I numb, usually one tear will still leak. When I am not depressed, I still cry with inspiration and happiness that I have had some of these moments in life. Anne should be, above all, about hopeful belonging and comforts of the everyday in hardship. 

It's the moment when Anne runs to Marilla after her time at school. I weep every time at the blatant love and homecoming involved, as the music swells. (image below)

Or when Anne is in the 'depths of despair after dying' her hair green or when Anne heartbreakingly loses Matthew and he says to her in the scene below found at 3:36 " I worked hard all my life. I'd rather drop in the harness. I got old. I never noticed..." And Anne responds, "If I would have been the boy you sent for I could have spared you in so many ways." Matthew then says, "I never wanted a boy. I only wanted you from the first day. Don't ever change. I love my little girl. I'm so proud of my little girl." Hearts break. And I bawl every time. Even watching the clip and typing it out, I am a mess. This is what Anne of Green Gables should be...the ordinary love in hardship. The contrasts of beauty and pain. I suppose I am partial because of how this show formed me in every facet of my life. My father played Matthew in a local play and while I went to support him and the play was well done, I had to force myself to sit through it because it was not my beloved 1985 version. Sullivan's Green Gables is the ultimate series to portray L.M. Montgomery's heroine.

If you have not watched the four part series of 1985- Sullivan's version of Anne of Green Gables I highly recommend it. Especially before you watch the new 'Anne with an E' series if you must. I would try to disassociate it with the true L.M. Montgomery's Anne if possible. You can find the classic, official Anne of Green Gables site HERE. The dreams dearest to my heart are right here. Even in grief, self criticism, depression, and hard moments, I know that still I bring to the world what I can. That has to be enough. In that there is great comfort. When I can, try to boldly live the mundane with appreciation and imagination...just like Anne.

Song Choices: Hagood Hardy - Theme form Anne of Green Gables and the Trip to Green Gables: