A week ago, I had a very painful and difficult interaction with my teen-age, Aspie Son over the ordinary chore of putting away the washed dishes. This escalated quicker than normal into a rather violent outburst. He screamed unkind and terribly disrespectful things in my face, then turned to stomp around the kitchen screaming and pounding his fist on the counter-tops. It felt as though all of his frustrations in life poured out over me and our kitchen.
While I wouldn’t say this is a usual occurrence, it is also not unusual. It frightened my two younger daughters, ages 5 and 6. It upset his 12 NT brother, The Bear. Afterwards, The Bear asked me, “Do you ever regret having Daniel?”
Yesterday, the following statement was made on a Facebook Group Page of which I am a memeber:
“I met a mum recently who told me she “hated” her son with asperger’s. To me, I was very sad for him and for her…her hating her own kid – of course that’s wrong and horrible – but I wonder how many parents out there do feel that way.”
There is a dark side to raising a child with these challenges. My son’s honest expressions can be downright mean. He will say that I am lazy. He will say that I don’t ever do anything. He will say that I am selfish or a hypocrite. Of course, he is a teenager and I am sure from his narrow perspective what he says is truth.
Meltdowns are more frequent now than in the past. The physicality associated with his meltdowns now reminds me of when he was 3, more than when he was 10. These meltdowns are more disturbing and scary in the body of a 5’11” young man than they were in a small child. The glimmers of the sweet boy I remember are few and far between.
There are a lot of aspects of life that we as humans do not include in the stories we pass down. We don’t talk about the messier and darker aspects of common life occurrences. A great example is our tendency to remain silent on the terrifying nature of postpartum depression and psychosis. We don’t want to admit that even the most joyful parts of life can come with a dark lining.
As a parent of an Apsie child, I live in a strange world. Strangers do not understand and even from friends and family there can be a lot of judgement. I have been told that I am not consistent enough with my son. I have been told that I am not disciplined enough. Even when there is no overt comment, there is the change in body language, tone of voice and the distancing by people who are affronted by my son.
On the other hand, my son judges me as inadequate, unfair, lazy and hypocritical. He expresses hatred for the help that I sacrifice to give him. I stand in the middle making the decisions as best I know how. This is an emotionally draining position.
My NT son sees all of this and so he asks if I regret having my Aspie Son.
“No!” I responded without hesitation, “Raising [my Aspie Son] is challenging and there are times that he can be such a jerk but I have learned so much about myself and life through this process. I have learned to look beyond the external and set aside a lot of my preconceived judgements. I have learned to make my decisions based on who I am and who I want to be, not based on what that decision will get from others in the way of approval, acceptance, etc. It has made me so much stronger. I am proud of the person I have become and if this is the road that it took to become this person, well that is fine. I love him because he is my son, not because of what he can give me and I believe that he is an amazing person traveling his own tough road.”
That statement reflects the decision I have made. I don’t always feel the feelings that would inspire that statement therefore I don’t despise the mother that said she hated her son. I am thankful that my NT son didn’t ask me 20 minutes earlier. I don’t know that I would have regained my balance enough to answer the way I did. Just because I don’t act on the dark moments doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Do you ever feel dark moments? Do you have a safe person you can confide in? How do you regain your balance in those moments?