Again, with the guilt. If there is anything that is consistent in this autism experience, it is that guilt is a constant and a given. This morning, I awoke to the screaming (that’s becoming a constant, as well). My feet hadn’t even met the floor before the chaos began. I walked into the living room to see my partner, my beautiful partner of infinite patience, trying to calm the fireman. To no avail. Yay, it’s Sunday!
I contemplated going back to bed, but it would mean two things, well three actually:
1. I would actually be giving up.
2. Bruno would have to make up for my lack of help- something that is completely unfair.
3. The fireman would see me getting back in bed and would understand that it had something to do with him.
So, I chose to focus on making it through the day.
Last night, we went to the store and while we were on our way there, the fireman threw a fantastic tantrum and I lost it. I told Bruno, “I can’t do this anymore.” That was all I said. I left out the words that were polluting my head, because I knew that they would be hurtful and cause irreparable harm. It turns out, the five little words that I did dare to utter, well, they were pretty hurtful, as well.
“Is it because of me?” wailed the fireman before completely breaking down in tears.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
When I tucked the fireman into bed that night, I told him that we were all going to see a doctor very soon so that we could fix what is broken in our family. I told him that all three of us need help. Not because he’s bad, but because everyone needs help once in while. He thought that was a good idea. He agreed that we need help.
The fact that the fireman knew that we needed help seemed like a very positive sign to me. It gave me a sparkle of hope, that maybe, if he could identify a problem, then we were on the right track to healing. Or at least closer to learning how to deal with all of this.
The screams that jolted me out of of my restless slumber this morning erased all of my hope and replaced it with anger and resignation. While Bruno tried to calm the fireman, it didn’t work. We brought the dog to him (the companion dog that we adopted for just this reason) and the fireman tried to hit him. With a balled up fist. This was Bruno’s breaking point. So, we locked the bedroom door and listened while the fireman threw everything that he could find in his little bedroom at the door. I silently calculated the cost to replace the door and tried to let go of the stress of explaining it to our landlord.
The pounding, the banging, the screaming, the obscenities went on for 20 minutes before the tears set in and he started crying out for me in terror.
When I finally got to him, Bruno was already there, stroking his face while the fireman sobbed. ”Daddy, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know how to stop.”
The most heart breaking words a parent could ever hear.
Hours later, we had relived this scene no less than 3 times and I need to get out before I exploded. Without showering for at least two days (I’m not good at taking care of myself during these times), I washed my face, pinned back my hair, pulled on my jeans (but left on the same shirt that I’ve sported to bed for a week) and went to the bookstore. I’m sure that I looked like a junkie (if fat junkies exist). And if junkies drive Passats.
I don’t know what I was in search of, but I found the autism month display and grabbed every book there before settling into a seat by the window. One by one I went through them- all dense with words and studies and pages and pages of “do this, not that” kind of advice. It was overwhelming. If I don’t have time to color in my graying roots every 4 weeks, how am I going to read an encyclopedia on autism? Those books would just sit in the bathroom drawer with every other well-meaning literary purchase I’ve made but never read. As if, just by buying the book I’m one step closer to a resolution of depression, or weight loss, or inner peace or veganism. (I’m no closer to any, by the way. I may need to move the books to my bedside, to encourage osmosis in my sleep.)
The last book that I found had an ugly cover, which is why I almost didn’t even give it any attention. I judge books by their cover. I can’t help it. I’m that person. Thank god that I was desperate enough to look past the graphics and actually read within. The book is written from the perspective of a child on the autism spectrum and describes what they are experiencing and why they react in the ways that they do.
And now I feel like a bigger a-hole than I thought possible. I’ve totally lost sight of what the fireman is experiencing and have focused in on how hard this is for ME. Meanwhile, the fireman is living in hell and will be until I figure out a way to help him navigate through this world that he lives in. My poor baby. Sigh.
See what I mean about the guilt?