No Spoons

As I was typing the word ‘failure’ on a report that I’m doing for work, I was in my head at the same moment thinking about how much of a failure I am feeling like today while also yelling at myself for being so pathetic and pitiful. Sucking it up, buttercup, is easier said than done.

The timing of the two words, one physically in front of me and the other in my head, was remarkable. So much so that I had to stop and double check that I was typing out the correct word. I thought maybe I had just gotten lost in my thoughts and it was bleeding out into my work. Sometimes that happens.  This time was just ironic happenstance.

I just feel like an all around failure today. As a mom and as a wife. And now as an employee who has been crying all day long and is now typing up a post instead of finishing a task. And a failure as a friend, as all I could reply in regards to a friend’s ear infection was “Oh damn..” No spoons.

I have no more spoons today. I just want to get home before I embarrass myself any further but I still have work, baby sitter’s, grocery shopping and then dinner and a movie with my husband. I’ve forgotten that it was our anniversary. No spoons.

It’s Not My Party But I’ll Cry Even Though I Don’t Want To

I lost it today on the school property and by lost it I mean all the water in my body and by that I mean I couldn’t stop crying.

By some small blessing my anxiety got the better of me this morning. I know, I said blessing. Hear me out.

I chickened out on bringing in the classroom snacks that I had bought over the weekend into the office and decided to do it later on my lunch break. The first couple weeks of school are insane. There’s new kids and new parents and questions and confusion and the mornings seem to have the most of this. So I decided to avoid it.

I know that doesn’t sound like chickening out – it sounds smart. Except that the night before I swore I would do it in the morning. I would be brave and I would go into the crowd. I would get the snacks to the classroom and I would ask when was the best time to come in tomorrow to celebrate my daughter’s 6th birthday. I knew it was crowded and crazy and confusing but I was still going to do it. But I didn’t and here’s why that’s a blessing this time.

Right about the time I would have been in the office about to ask about my daughter’s birthday, I got a text from her teacher. She had noticed the calendar and wanted to make sure I knew that birthdays were no longer allowed to be celebrated.

Yea. You read that right. Birthdays are no longer allowed to be celebrated.

My daughter is only six. Well, she will be tomorrow.

The one day at school where I felt like I mattered – where I didn’t feel like a complete loser – where I was ignored less, was always my birthday. And some times it didn’t even fall on school days. Depending on when spring break happened there were a few years where I didn’t even get that day. And now, my daughter, will never have that day.

Of course I pray every single day that she turns out to be so much stronger than me. So much more confident and decisive. So much more of her own person than I ever felt. But, if she ever doesn’t feel that way, I would have liked for her to have been able to have that.

I’ve decided now that she can her birthdays off from school. I was never allowed to do that, but then again, both of my parents had to work and I couldn’t be left alone. My husband and I both have full times jobs as well but I am able to bring the kids in. As long as I am able to do that, she can have her birthdays off from school.

But this calm decision wasn’t the initial reaction. As soon as I read the message my throat closed up, my eyes started to blur with tears and I couldn’t force my lungs to expand to bring in more breath. Once they did cooperate they didn’t breath in, they pushed out any remaining air and as my lungs did so, the tears came with it and I sat sobbing in my car. Really, truly, sobbing. Here comes the blessing: That could have easily been the school office.

No one saw what had just happened between my daughter and I before that moment. It was the first Monday of 1st grade. School had started last week, but on Wednesday. She was still nervous. Her lip started to quiver in the backseat, right before drop off.

To reassure her and lighten the mood I reminded her that her birthday is tomorrow and all we had to do was get through today in order to get there. Tomorrow was going to be a good day. I would come in and bring cupcakes, we’d sing happy birthday and have fun, just like last year, and the two years before that. “Oh yea!” she said. She was excited again. She got out of the car, there were no tears and she smiled and waved as she went through the double doors.

Now I feel like a shit. A straight up shit. A shit that not only couldn’t stop freaking crying as if it was my own birthday or something but I also feel like a shit for bringing her up only to eventually have to let her down later. That is if her teacher doesn’t happen to spill the beans to her today that her party won’t be tomorrow. That would just be awful.

And even though all these thoughts were going through my head – The disappointing news I will have to give my daughter later. The state of our country, that this is even a thing. The realization that last year was her last school birthday I would ever get to celebrate with her again. The knowing that unless people go out and vote that these sort of things will continue until there’s nothing left. All of this swirling through my head and out my eyes and nose, falling onto my shirt, leaving trails of tears and salt over everything. All I could text back was, “Thank you for letting me know.”

I’m not even sure where I was going anymore with this post. I’m sad. I’m sorry.

I’m afraid I’ve got no more spoons and it’s only half past twelve.

Taking The Mask Off

By now you may have heard of the #TakeTheMaskOff campaign that’s been going around here on the internet. It’s meant to bring awareness on the impact that masking can have on an individual. Masking is considered the ability or the need to adjust to certain social situations or change your behavior in order to appear as “normal”. Everyone masks to a certain extent but a lot of people on the spectrum do it in almost every aspect of their lives,  mostly to make the lives of the non-autistic people around them easier.

A lot of autistic individuals are sharing their stories in a variety of ways on how their masks come into play with their daily lives. It’s quite a big deal as a lot of us work really, really hard to never let that side of show. For me, and I imagine quite a lot of others, it feels downright humiliating. There are things about me my husband doesn’t even know, so I suppose that’s why I’m here.

Kieran Rose and Hannah Molesworth are the creators of the hashtag and they run the blogs The Autistic Advocate and Do I Look Autistic Yet?. Not only was the goal to help autistics feel more confident but they also hoped to raise awareness so non-autistic people can be more mindful of environments they create and how autistics might feel in them. Masking is hard. Masking takes a toll.

A lot of adults who were diagnosed later in life don’t even realize they have been masking until they start going through the therapy process. I am speaking from experience here. I found out I had been masking for almost my entire social life and the knowledge of that haunts me constantly. It makes you wonder, who are you? Who were you ever? Try having a husband and two kids and finding all this out. I’ll write up a post about my feelings on that later.

But as Rose explained:

We shouldn’t need to so totally suppress who we are, to the point where late-diagnosed people literally fall to pieces after diagnosis, because they realize much of their life has been spent holding themselves in; where autistic children can’t cope in school because the environment is like torture, so they end up burning out and self-harming or committing suicide; where autistic people can’t get jobs, or get pushed out of jobs because they disclose that they are autistic.

So, I suppose that’s where I am now. The hashtag did inspire me. It’s given me some confidence. I’ve read and watched countless stories of autistics who were diagnosed as an adult, sharing their own experiences with #TakeTheMaskOff and I don’t feel so alone.

I’m not sure I ever could, or would truly want to, completely remove my mask. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like. I tell myself I’m not missing out in that case, but every time I do come out with something, it is like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

So perhaps this is a road to mental weightloss if you will.