Log: Jun 23 – 29 (Tue – Mon) Grandma’s Death and a Bar Mitzvah

Jun 23 (Tue): @ Grandma’s
Jun 24 (Wed): @ Grandma’s
Jun 25 (Thu): @ Grandma’s
Jun 26 (Fri): Fly back from Grandma’s by 10a; Fly to Peter’s cousin’s place at night
Jun 27 (Sat): Peter’s cousin’s bar mitzvah
Jun 28 (Sun): Peter’s cousin’s place; Fly back home in afternoon
Jun 29 (Mon): Work 9:30a – 5:30p; Go to Uncle’s after work

Tue, Wed, Thu: With my grandma, my mom, two aunts, two uncles, and a cousin (briefly). I’m not posting TW’s because I think the title is clear: I was there again because my grandma was dying. I was there for my own sense of closure and saying goodbye as well as wanting to commiserate with my family and be of any support for them as possible. I suppose I won’t go into too much detail here but hospice was involved so we were able to help take away Grandma’s pain and take care of her there at my aunt’s house. My grandma was much more at peace there, and always surrounded by love. Some family issues came up; two siblings had a pretty severe blow-up and might not speak with each other for many years to come. Let me rewind. Also, my aunts and uncles helped me to pick out an outfit for the upcoming Bar Mitzvah, because I left all of my formal clothes back Home (with my parents and dog). I talked to my grandma or just sat near her, and each day I played some gentle piano music for her. She was in a state similar to a coma but not quite; she did respond in certain ways when we would talk to her and stroke her arm or forehead. Her eyes would blink although closed, and her mouth would close, and her breathing would steady a little. She could definitely hear us although there is no way of knowing what she could comprehend; the hospice nurses said her brain was also starting to shut down.

Fri: Left there in the morning, flew back here. Leaving there was hard. I did not want to leave. I would not have left but for the $600 plane ticket that Peter had already purchased for me. So I did decide to leave. I said my goodbyes to Grandma on Thursday night and reinforced them again on Friday morning before leaving. She’s been basically in a coma or maybe a morphine-induced fog, but there were things I wanted to say. So then I flew. Got back here, napped and packed for my flight with Peter and his dad for Peter’s cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. We left that night.

Sat: Arrived on Saturday morning. Met Peter’s paternal family. Everyone was nice. I rested a bit (hadn’t been able to sleep on the plane that night; my restless leg syndrome was being severe AND every time I started to nod off, I would jerk awake with horrible, horrible OCD intrusive thoughts). Then it was time to get dressed and ready for the Bar Mitzvah. It was really nice. I haven’t been to any before this, but I am sure it was a really nice one. The cousin’s speech was really interesting; I’d been afraid I wouldn’t be able to relate to it because I don’t know much about the religion, but he did a wonderful job and I felt very connected to what they were talking about. Of course, I didn’t know to expect a prayer/words for those mourning loved ones’ deaths near the end, so I cried and had no tissue for my snotty nose. Afterward, the reception/ceremony was pretty amazing. There was an open bar and catered food that was really good. There was mandatory dancing and I liked that. Then Peter and I danced to many of the rest of the songs anyway, although neither of us knows any dance moves. So we basically were just shuffling our feet in random ways, but it was fun. I hope a relative sends a picture so I can show my parents (pictures were allowed during this part). They’d LOVE to have seen it.

Sun: So, we left Sunday, early afternoon, after they had a bunch of family photos taken and more chatting and celebration. I got to talk with more, very nice relatives. Peter was asked to play piano for ambiance again. Then we had to leave. Flew back, said goodbye to Peter’s dad, dropped off our stuff at Peter’s place and went out to eat dinner. It was really good food. Then went to a store for a couple of supplies and that’s when my mom called me that my grandma had passed away.

She had been without food or water for a week already, and hardly eaten or drank for a long time before then. It hurts but at the same time, there was an element of relief for me. She died very peacefully, not like her husband, who struggled at the very end. My grandma’s breathing was becoming more infrequent and then at last she did not inhale again. She had waited until the family was back from a walk and they were all with her, and I’m glad for that. But it’s hard not to be there with them now. But I cannot go back right now; a coworker was getting anxious about my absence because of a large, important report that he needs me to print + bind shortly. I was hoping he’d give it to me today and then I could consider leaving again later in the week, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen today.

I had worried so long, SO, SO long, about how my mom would not be able to live on without her mom. I thought she’d be lost forever once her mom died. But it turns out, and so I think I needed to have been there and seen with my own eyes, my mom will pull through this. I saw it. She even helped with some of the night shift medicating. Reality turns into the New Norm and she is adjusting to it. I imagine it helped her too, to see Grandma during this stage of her decline. So there was this chance to see and to adjust and to live differently. I underestimated her. I guess we will all adjust to the New Norms as they happen, and I needn’t have worried so much for so many years. We deal. We handle it. We let our mental expectations change as the reality changes. We adapt.

Mon: I woke up in a pretty severe, serious mood. No joking, just taking everything very serious and saying very serious things. In contrast, I think Peter woke up in a light mood, and our conversation this morning was confusing and I’ve already written him for further clarification. I’m at work. I briefly saw my uncle. I’m going to go to his place after work today, and I’m going to watch a stupid movie with him (we’ve already planned it). He was one of the siblings involved in the blow-out and there are certain topics we’ll avoid discussing, but I’ll be glad to be with him. I talked with my mom for a while last night when she called to tell me the news about Grandma, and then I called my dad and talked with him for a while, although he and I mostly talked about my dog. I needed to talk with family. I texted with my brother some, too. ❤

UPDATE: I’ve been in a shitty, shitty mood all day today. I’ve just gone on a 2+ mile walk in the sun and I’m STILL in a shitty, shitty mood. That’s how bad it is.

It’s me. (Goals#010) (Journal#051)

I just did something really fun. I took my bicycle and Bailey down to a long, flat road, waited for the cars to pass, and then let her run with me. At first, she sort of kept by my side, just trotting along, and then a bit of a canter, so I sped up to keep up. Then it’s like she realized she could really let out some steam, and she started flat out running, so I sped up more to keep along side her. I’m pretty sure she’d report to you that she tasted some doggy heaven. You could see it in her whole body: WOOO HOOOOO!!!!!!!!! We had to slow down again for some traffic. On the way back, she was a lot slower. Finally, a tired dog! We went a little farther, just at a slow trot, and then walked back home. She did really well!! I’d say she only spent maybe 2% of the entire time trying to go in the wrong direction or toward another dog. lol 98% behaving as a perfect bicycling dog is pretty damn amazing, considering I have no idea if she’s ever done that before!!!

If I die tomorrow, have I accomplished anything? I made a dog happy for a brief moment in time. That’s something.

How will I feel good about myself? I want to help network sheltered animals to their new homes. I want to help the situation of people with no homes.

How can I do these things when I’m afraid to leave my home most of the time? What is within my walking distance that is close enough that I won’t get exhausted on the way? Why can’t other things feel as valuable to me personally?

I feel an odd urgency to get this started. Today. I wish an animal shelter was near me. Right next to me. I’d be there every day. I’ve only ever networked two animals to better places, but to me, that is what feels worthwhile in my life. All other moments, I feel are wasted away and wasting me away.

I grow more worthless by the day. I have to turn this around, Now.

Meditation Center and Solstice (Topic#038)

Autumn saucer magnolia tree

Autumn saucer magnolia tree

With the help of my aunt and cousin, I made it to the meditation center for the solstice ceremony! And I am sooooooooo glad I did. It was wonderful.

When I am there, my mind is calm, I feel accepted, my thoughts are acceptable. There is nothing too negative and nothing too positive for them. It’s probably the most wonderful place on the planet.

Because whatever is happening inside of you, there you are. There is nothing to judge. There is nothing unacceptable. You’re just there and your thoughts are just there. Or they’re not there.

Today, we sat with a Koan: Branches of light are streaming from the darkness. (I do not promise exact phrasing.) My mind was amazingly clear and calm. It seemed to be the most beautiful sentence in the world. I listened to the wind coming in through the window, and the blinds banging against the window with each breeze. Birds and dogs barking, random people milling about outside the building. I repeated the Koan to myself and stayed with it the whole time. I pictured streams of light coming from the darkness but by the end, there was no more darkness and I could no longer picture the Koan. I was so joyful inside and it was a beautiful time for me.

When we discussed our experiences afterward, everyone had such profound things to say. People spoke of lightness and darkness in their lives, their struggles, the good and the bad, the sick and the conflicts in their families. I spoke of the wind coming through the window and felt somewhat foolish, but that’s why I spoke up. I figured, maybe the other people who were not speaking up felt inferior to those bringing up such profound topics.

Also during the sitting, I noticed that my body is in SO much pain. I ache from my eyebrows down to my thighs. I have no idea why. I hadn’t even known I was in so much pain until my thoughts were calm like that and I could feel/hear/see the things around me. Then it was hard to sit without massaging my eyebrow muscles and my shoulders and my thighs… why am I in so much pain?

Happy Solstice, everyone!

WHAT IF (again) (Journal#028)

What if I do deserve to be alive?
What if there is a god and the god did mean for me to be here?
What if there is something I can do?

What if not everybody hates me?
What if my negativity is okay? What if it doesn’t make me a bad person?
What if I’m a good person?

What if I’m just a person, neither good or bad or relevant or irrelevant?
What if I deserve this life?
What if I deserve all of the good things?
What if this isn’t some giant mistake, meant for someone more deserving? What if it’s for me?

What if I’m allowed to live this life? What if it’s okay?
What if the potential is all there for me? What if these opportunities are for me after all? What if I’m deserving?

What if I deserve to be alive? What if it’s okay that I’m alive?
What if it’s okay that I’m alive and do not suffer as so many do?

What if I could stop being so afraid?

Gratitude & Refocusing (Journal#016)

Autumn trees and sky

Autumn trees and sky  |  This morning

I feel so much gratitude and warmth right now. I’m not going to go into details (amazing, I know), but Thank You, all of you, for being there and being so accepting. Even when my words come out a little crazy and I FEEL a little crazy, there’s always somebody there who is accepting & not judging of it.

I feel a moment of peace, and that’s my only real goal in life.

So hold onto this feeling and aim for this feeling. When the thoughts turn crazy, try to remember it’s okay. Don’t judge your own thoughts. Let the crazy be as crazy as it wants to be and it’s okay. Just let it subside and keep on breathing.

I’m going to continue on this path because that’s who I want to be. This is where I want to head. Don’t judge, don’t blame. Just give yourself the time and move on when you’re ready. Don’t berate yourself for going negative. Don’t hate yourself for expressing negative things. It’s okay.

I’m mostly talking to myself here, but if it helps any of you, all the better. ❤

I had insomnia again last night. My thoughts were too busy to let me rest. And I felt so lonely and wanted a hug. So I sat up and tried meditating on a Koan I mentioned having just learned: “Can I bear this happiness?” At first, I couldn’t connect. I wasn’t feeling happiness at all. My thoughts scattered across the room. I would whisper the sentence and then a minute would pass with my thoughts all over the damn place. I’d remember what I was doing and whisper it again, and same thing. After at least seven minutes, I did start to focus, and the most amazing things happened. I felt warmth spreading through my body. I felt a little fuzz of joy inside. I smiled. I thought of positive things. It’s really indescribable and amazing. I am astounded that it could get beneath my skin so quickly and make such a difference.

Practice in Gratefulness (Journal#010)

Shore

Shore

I’m writing this out for my own self.

  • I am grateful for extended family that steps in to help so willingly.
  • I am grateful for parents who are willing to try anything to help.
  • I am grateful to have parents who love me.
  • I am grateful to have parents who love my dog and take such great care of him.
  • I am grateful for my aunt and uncle who cook for me, walk with me, keep me company, and more.
  • I am grateful to be able to feel sunshine so often.
  • I am grateful to be living in a household with two friendly dogs.
  • I am grateful that I have a job.
  • I am grateful that I can get to my job without driving myself.
  • I am grateful that one of the people I’m living with doesn’t mind cooking for me.
  • I am grateful to be living in an area where I can walk to anything business I want, be it a bank, grocery store, doctor, theater, anything.
  • I am grateful that I got to see the ocean this Saturday.
  • I am grateful that I have an iPhone and can take pictures.
  • I am grateful that I can share pictures from my phone.
  • I am grateful that I can write here.
  • I am grateful that anybody reads it.
  • I am grateful that I was raised to appreciate music.
  • I am grateful to be living in a time where I can find almost any music I want to listen to.
  • I am grateful to be able to avoid foods that I test allergic to.
  • I am grateful there is a plant in this office (and I’m grateful that I haven’t killed it).
  • I am grateful that my body is pretty much perfectly functional.
  • I am grateful that my hiking shoes are still holding together and that I brought them with me here.
  • I am grateful that I have warm clothes with me.
  • I am grateful to have access to Lynda.com and to have a bit of time each day, if I want, to study any software program I’d like.
  • I am grateful for having extended family nearby.
  • I am grateful that my brother gets to visit here now and then, and might even be moving here.
  • I am grateful that I have enough money to keep paying for my health insurance.
  • I am grateful that my friend is taking care of my pony even though I don’t know when I’ll ever get back to that state and I really don’t know what to do with her yet.
  • I am grateful that I have enough money left after paying health insurance to pay for my pony’s feed, dewormers and hoof trimmings.
  • I am grateful for my TaskRabbit who helps me wake up on most mornings.
  • I am grateful that my TaskRabbit is so upbeat and enthusiastic about life and tries to get me to see things that way, too.
  • I am grateful that my TaskRabbit made me go to a nearby park which is so beautiful and now I go there almost every day and take pictures.
  • I am grateful to be living in a place where there are so many other people and dogs walking around at all times of the day and night.
  • I am grateful that my anxiety levels have been pretty low lately.
  • I am grateful for all of the trees that are turning such beautiful colors and staying colorful for SO LONG.
  • I am grateful for the cactus I walk past every day, reminding me of where I now live and that I don’t need to prepare too much for the upcoming winter.
  • I am grateful for my parents who keep in touch with me and keep me updated on their lives, weather, and wildlife there.
  • I am grateful for pen and paper.
  • I am grateful for computer keyboards.
  • I am grateful that I called an old friend from high school the other day, and she introduced me to xkcd online comics, which I read every day now.
  • I am grateful for my online to-do and goals list (it’s a page up near my About page).
  • I am grateful that my bed is comfortable and I can sleep in a pile of blankets on it.
  • I am grateful for hugs.
  • I am grateful for all of you and knowing people who can understand.
  • I am grateful for all of the shops and bakeries around here that sell gluten free items (with good flavor & texture).

(I’m adding on to this as a I think of more.)

Autism spectrum disorder and fatherhood. (Topic#016)

Natural Beauty

Natural Beauty

My dad. [I’ve revised this post now that I’m calmer.] It is split into two main sections: First, I describe my brother’s current behaviors, hurt, and blame toward my dad. Then I explain my dad’s behaviors and how the two relate to each other.

The impetus for this post: My brother is currently unwell. He recently went through several major life changes. He moved across the country, changed jobs, had a very intense but abusive relationship that he put all of his energies into, got out of the relationship as it imploded but lost himself very much. His relationship had caused him to sever all ties with friends and be unable to connect with coworkers at the new job. So his support network was pretty threadbare, really. He’s become depressed and extremely, extremely unhappy with himself and his life (it does seem to be on the verge of a turning point, though. He has met a young lady who seems to be clicking with him, and he might have a new job offer soon in a better location).

One of the things he is doing now, though, is blaming everything wrong with himself and his life on our dad. He’s doing this out loud to our whole extended family. He is poisoning our whole extended family against our dad. The worst part is that everybody is hearing his words and becoming quite upset with and full of blame toward our dad, but I don’t feel it’s entirely fair.

For starters, why can’t people look a little more closely at the source? My brother is a wonderful and amazing person but he is very depressed right now. With depression comes an inability to recall positive life events. I’ve seen studies on that before. Also, he is so desperately reaching out to find some kind of explanation for his feelings, some kind of meaning and validation. He’s decided it’s all his dad’s fault (with a little blame for Mom, as well).

But even besides the fact that it’s possible his extremely vocal character smears could be stemming strongly from his depression, at least consider the fact that this is all Second-Hand information by the time it reaches you. How can you know what is truth when you weren’t there and didn’t see it? There are two sides to every story. So don’t tell me to my face that my dad is awful when you’re basing your opinions on information you didn’t actually see for yourself.

It kind of sort of feels like my brother is trying to get my mom to divorce my dad. I do understand a little of where my brother’s blame has stemmed from. Our dad is not warm and fuzzy. He does not cuddle you or say the words, “I love you.” In fact, he expresses very little emotion verbally. He certainly won’t do it physically. He avoids conflict so he doesn’t set boundaries. In fact, although he often observes the situation, he will pretty much not do or say anything at all to influence it. He’ll leave the vicinity if voices raise. And yes, he is not “empathetic”.

My dad is on the autism spectrum.

How can I help people understand my dad better? My brother honestly believes my dad does not love him. I didn’t know that until recently, and it really shocked me. I mean, I suppose if you don’t understand the autism spectrum, and kept expecting him to behave the way “other” dads do, you could certainly misconstrue his behaviors and lack of emotional words as unlove or uncaring.

But look at what he’s done for us. Look at when he recorded your sports games and your track meets on VHS tapes. Look at when he took you and taught you how to dog mush. Look at when he read to you at night. Look at all the hiking trips he took you on. And the overnight trips and the backpacking trips (I was soooo envious). He spent special, quality time with you. Look at all the times he’d rouse us to go outside and watch the Northern Lights as he photographed them. Look at all the special times, the caves he built, the jokes he played, the long family car trips. Look at the computer games you guys used to play so competitively. You’d get a high score and he’d spend hours into the night trying to beat it, only to have you beat it again the next day. Look at all the times we trekked out to the cabins in the middle of winter and how special that time was. Look at the Tooth Fairy. Look at all the holidays spent together as a family. Look at all the skiing and beauty of the Natural world we have gotten to experience. All the lakes we’ve seen, all the streams, all the mountains, all the Northern Lights, all the trees and grasses and wildflowers. All the tents. All the card games. All the dry-sense-of-humor joking he’d do and say. He LOVED (and still loves) you. He CARES about you. He WORRIES for and about you now. He WANTS you to be happy.

How do I know? Because I lived with him for many more years than you did. I lived with them through my high school years and again after my college mental breakdown time period. I’ve SEEN how he expresses his emotion. And especially, I lived with them during my own Asperger diagnosis and all the research and therapy and even getting to see Temple Grandin at a two-day conference I attended on the subject.

Do you need me to spell it out? Even a single sentence sums this up about our dad:

“Two core features of autism are: a) social and communication deficits and b) fixated interests and repetitive behaviors.” (from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/asperger/detail_asperger.htm)

Yep. Need I say more?! Really?! Okay. I’ll list out a few of his ‘symptoms’:
(Chosen from this website)

  • Difficulty in expressing emotions
  • Insensitivity to the non-verbal cues of others (stance, posture, facial expressions)
  • Perseveration best characterized by the term “bulldog tenacity”
    [Well, if he has something on his mind, it’s not going to go away.]
  • Literal interpretation of instructions (failure to read between the lines)
    [Right. If you want him to do something for you, then spell it out.]
  • Difficulty in understanding rules for games of social entertainment
    [I’m not positive what this is referring to – he is certainly good with card games and board games and such, but if they’re talking about social-rules, then nah]
  • Missing or misconstruing others’ agendas, priorities, preferences
  • Compelling need to finish one task completely before starting another
  • Rigid adherence to rules and routines
  • Difficulty in interpreting meaning to others’ activities; difficulty in drawing relationships between an activity or event and ideas
  • Exquisite attention to detail, principally visual, or details which can be visualized (”Thinking in Pictures”) or cognitive details (often those learned by rote)
  • Concrete thinking
  • Difficulty in imagining others’ thoughts in a similar or identical event or circumstance that are different from one’s own (”Theory of Mind” issues)
    [100% truth]
  • Substantial hidden self-anger, anger towards others, and resentment
  • Difficulty in accepting criticism or correction
    [He’ll just ignore it completely 😉 ]
  • Difficulty in offering correction or criticism without appearing harsh, pedantic or insensitive
    [If you don’t understand something he’s trying to explain, his response is, “It’s easy! What’s wrong with you??” But even then, he has NO intention of hurting anybody’s feelings and would be shocked to find out it had.]
    [Related memory: Hahaha! The best compliment he ever gave me was to say, “You have more mechanical abilities in your little pinky than Mom has in her entire body.” He had NO idea he had just insulted Mom. I took it as a damn huge compliment, coming from him.]
  • Difficulty in perceiving and applying unwritten social rules or protocols
  • “Immature” manners
    [I thought the “Symphony of Odors” was a brilliant idea for a cassette tape]
  • Lack of?trust in others
  • Shyness
  • Low or no conversational participation in group meetings or conferences
  • Scrupulous honesty, often expressed in an apparently disarming or inappropriate manner or setting
  • Bluntness in emotional expression
  • Unmodulated reaction in being manipulated, patronized, or “handled” by others
  • Low to medium level of paranoia
    [I’m only adding this from all the conspiracy theories. Any family members that get his emails will know what I’m talking about.]
  • Low to no apparent sense of humor; bizarre sense of humor (often stemming from a “private” internal thread of humor being inserted in public conversation without preparation or warming others up to the reason for the “punchline”)
    [I’m putting this because so many people don’t understand his sense of humor, but I think it’s awesome. Except when he laughs when seeing dogs fight.]
  • Difficulty with reciprocal displays of pleasantries and greetings
    [HAHAHA that’s hilarious to picture!]
  • Problems expressing empathy or comfort to/with others: sadness, condolence, congratulations, etc.
    [BINGO! And I would bet money that this alone has hurt my brother a lot.]
  • Difficulty with adopting a social mask to obscure real feelings, moods, reactions
    [Absolutely cannot mask at all whatsoever. 🙂 ]
  • Abrupt and strong expression of likes and dislikes
    [Yup. Offend people much?]
  • Rigid adherence to rules and social conventions where flexibility is desirable
  • Difficulty in forming friendships and intimate relationships; difficulty in distinguishing between acquaintance and friendship
    [The former]
  • Social isolation and intense concern for privacy
    [Ooohhhh yeah]
  • Limited clothing preference; discomfort with formal attire or uniforms
  • Preference for bland or bare environments in living arrangements
  • Limited by intensely pursued interests
    [I wouldn’t say limited! His interests are awesome! But yes, they can be more important than other humans, if that’s what you mean. 🙂 ]
  • Difficulty with “teamwork”
  • Sarcasm, negativism, criticism
  • Difficulty in accepting compliments, often responding with quizzical or self-deprecatory language
  • Discomfort with competition, out of scale reactions to losing
    [He quit tennis because he was too competitive]
  • Low motivation to perform tasks of no immediate personal interest
    [Me too, Dad. Me too.]
  • Oversight or forgetting of tasks without formal reminders such as lists or schedules
    [Right, if they’re not interesting.]
  • Perfectionism
  • Reluctance to ask for help or seek comfort
    [I cannot picture him requiring comfort. Or help. Hmm wait. He asks Mom for help on the computer sometimes.]
  • Low sensitivity to risks in the environment to self and/or others
    [BINGO, BABY CAKES!!! Who doesn’t recognize THIS one?! Haha. He’s only almost gotten a couple of people killed on his backpacking trips (literally)…]
  • Stress, frustration and anger reaction to interruptions
  • Difficulty in negotiating either in conflict situations or as a self-advocate
    [Bingo bingo bingo]
  • Ver[y] low level of assertiveness
  • Reluctance to accept positions of authority or supervision
    [could have owned the whole practice at work, chose not to]
  • Often viewed as vulnerable or less able to resist harassment and badgering by others
    [Only viewed this way by myself and my mom; my brother has poisoned the whole family against him at this point and so I cannot allow him to come down and visit me here 😦 !!!!!]
  • Avoids socializing, “hanging out,” or small talk on and off the job
    [YUP]
  • Difficulty expressing anger (excessive or “bottled up”)
  • Bad or unusual personal hygiene
    [Does wearing a single pair of socks for skiing every day ALL WINTER LONG without washing them at all count as bad personal hygiene? Haha 😀 ]

Okay, does this give you a better understanding? Getting closer? 🙂 Here are a couple more select traits from this website:

  • average or above-average intelligence
  • difficulties in empathising with others
  • problems with understanding another person’s point of view
  • difficulties engaging in social routines such as conversations and ‘small talk’
  • a preference for routines and schedules which can result in stress or anxiety if a routine is disrupted
  • specialised fields of interest or hobbies.

That website also explains:

“Emotions of other people

A person with Asperger syndrome may have trouble understanding the emotions of other people, and the subtle messages sent by facial expression, eye contact and body language are often missed or misinterpreted. Because of this, people with Asperger syndrome might be mistakenly perceived as being egotistical, selfish or uncaring.

These are unfair labels because the person concerned may be unable to understand other people’s emotional states. People with Asperger syndrome are usually surprised when told their actions were hurtful or inappropriate.”

Dad LOVES you. He’s INTERESTED in you. But when you two speak over the telephone, and you ask him questions and he responds, but never asks you a question, it’s not from lack of interest. He WANTS to hear, he WANTS you to tell him, he asks Mom for the details later when he realizes he still doesn’t know them. He just doesn’t know how to ask for them.

He worries about you. It eats at him. You have no idea but I have seen it, touched it, felt it, heard it. It’s as real as anything, just expressed differently.

So how about those childhood abuse stories you’re telling our family?

  • Child: He shoveled out one entrance to the snowcave, put you in it, and then blocked it off and shoveled out the other entrance but it was more difficult than he expected and you’re now saying it took hours. And when he had put you in there and blocked it off, he said, “Bye M!” Like he was leaving you there forever.
  • Child: How about when he left you in a tent to go for water, and the wind picked you and the tent up and almost blew you off a cliff?
  • Child: How about the time he put you on a sled and you started to pick up speed going down the mountain, until you were just a dot and headed straight for an open river?
  • Teen: How about when the black bear was following you guys down the mountain and he left you at one point to go back for his camera equipment, and the bear continued to advance on you?
  • Adult: Because he was obsessed with the stock market, lost a TON of their money, including having pulled from sources he wasn’t supposed to have touched, and tried to hide it from Mom?
  • Adult: Because he sent you a very rude email once, basically demanding you repay the school loan now that you had the money? And he was drunk when he wrote it, it was apparently VERY hurtful and rude, and he called you immediately to ask you to delete it without reading it, which was one of the only two times he’s ever called you on the telephone.

I get it. I’m not saying your points are invalid. But I’m sorry you take all of this and find he does not love you. He STILL talks about how awful he felt about the sledding incident, and how scared he was watching you get smaller and smaller. Additionally, his eyes bug out when he tells it and the skin along his neck flushes. He laughs while telling it until he almost cries. But it’s not his comfortable, humor laugh. Don’t you feel the difference? It’s the horror of it all. It’s the emotions he doesn’t express to you. It’s later that same evening of telling the story when he drinks alcohol and expresses to us how it haunts him to this day.

But take all of these things and forgive him, for your OWN sake. He loved and still loves you and only ever wanted the best for you. HE ISN’T GOING TO BE THE ONE TO REACH OUT TO YOU TO SMOOTH THINGS OVER. HE DOESN’T HAVE THAT SKILLSET. ONLY YOU HAVE THIS ABILITY. IT IS UP TO YOU WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO NOW. He’s something around 65 years old and has lived his life the way he’s wanted to live his life. He’s not going to change now. I choose to enjoy any time I can get with our dad, and love every moment of it. I feel there is not enough time in the world to spend with our parents (but that’s just me). ❤

(((Additional quote from this website, for how my mom potentially could be feeling (I did not hand-select bullets as I did above):

“Some common issues for partners of people with Asperger syndrome include:

  • feeling overly responsible for their partner
  • failure to have their own needs met by the relationship
  • lack of emotional support from family members and friends who do not fully understand or appreciate the extra strains placed on a relationship by Asperger syndrome [Instead of support or understanding, she is now getting blasted with the family members my brother has vented to, telling her how awful her husband is!! That’s not support or understanding. It’s actually stressing her more and making her feel more responsible and more like she needs to protect him from the rest of the family. He already suspected that the family thought of him as an oddball. Imagine if they knew how much they hate and blame him now. 😦 ]
  • a sense of isolation, because the challenges of their relationship are unique and not easily understood by others
  • frustrations, since problems in the relationship do not seem to improve despite great efforts
  • doubting the integrity of the relationship, or frequently wondering about whether or not to end the relationship
  • difficulties in accepting that their partner will not ‘recover’ from Asperger syndrome
  • after accepting that their partner’s Asperger syndrome cannot be ‘cured’, partners can often experience emotions such as guilt, despair and disappointment.”)))

I think it is important that you talk with someone about how you feel and work through things, but I think it needs to be a professional, rather than the entire extended family. We are here for you and we love you and we support you, but please get help so you can start to feel better about yourself and your life again.

Inherent Beauty (Topic#002)

Image of neighbor's flower

Image of neighbor’s flower

I. Don’t. Understand. People. Who. Find. Other. People. Ugly.

I don’t get it. I never have. I have walked down streets before and marveled at how physically beautiful people are. Person after person looks amazingly beautiful. The weight doesn’t matter, the clothes don’t matter, the skin or hair or eye or tooth color doesn’t matter. People are amazing and beautiful.

For me, the change comes when a person opens his or her mouth. When a person laughs at another person’s pain. When a person says nasty things about others behind their backs. When a person complains about others’ ugliness based solely on their weight. There are infinite examples of what makes a person “ugly” to me.

When that happens, their physical features morph for me. I can then see the eyebrows and the slant of the mouth and other features in a way that appears uglier. I can see a cruelness in the eye.

But even then, it can still be softened. I’ll never forget your cruelty, but I can learn to appreciate other things you might say or do. Maybe you say mean things about people, but yet always jump in first to lend a helping hand.

I think everyone has something absolutely beautiful about them physically. I wish more people made a habit of looking for that. But I also think everyone has something special inside, too. I have met just a handful of people in my life who challenged me on this:

  • One person I knew was exceptionally judgmental and hateful, but took in stray cats.
  • Another person was a terrible, terrible boss and used extreme psychological manipulation to make the employees mistrust each other and turn only to her for support. Yet she was a good mother.
  • Another person grew up as a bully, got into drugs and raged against his family and terrorized some people. But he had a soft underbelly and his writings were amazing and beautiful and profound and expressed so much inner torment that all of his other actions fell into a different context altogether.

Can any of you think of any person who is 100% ugly in all respects? I cannot imagine it. I just know there is something good and something beautiful in there somewhere.