It’s been a tough week. Actually, it’s been a tough few weeks which has culminated in this crazy motherf***er of a week. Yes, I virtually swore then. That probably best highlights just how overwhelmed I’m feeling right now.
My motto this week has been “just keep swimming” as Dory chants in Finding Nemo. I figure, if I can manage to keep afloat and not drown or take on too much water in the process, it will be worth it. It has to be.
The craziness is centred on the number of commitments I have this week. The normal fast pace of my life has been forced into warp speed and I literally cannot keep up. I’ve attended five appointments already, with a sixth happening later today. All for Gilbert.
I’ve hardly been at work. I haven’t been able to rest at home. I haven’t been present for the kids. Instead I’ve been stressed to the eyeballs trying to make it all work. The irony, of course, being that in trying to make the unworkable work, I’ve failed in everything.
In one of the rare days I was able to spend close to a full day at work, I attended Resilience Training. It has been enlightening. Not necessarily for me because I am resilient already – if I wasn’t I would have raised the white flag and have given up long ago.
No, the course has been enlightening in showing me how much work I still have to do with the kids, to build and develop their own resilience. The focus of this week’s session was on robust thinking and recognising the times we fall into the trap of negative thoughts and self-talk.
I found myself thinking of all the examples of how my kids focus on the negative. Nearly every example of cognitive distortion, where our mind plays tricks on us and makes us see the world in a warped way, was something I could recognise in my kids, things they would say often on a daily basis.
Interpreting and re-interpreting and re-framing and trying to find the positive in amongst the relentless negatives, its exhausting work. And I do this, continually, every single day not just for myself but for three children, two of whom rely on me to help them navigate the social world.
Any other week, I probably would not have made the connection or felt so devastated by it. But after a series of massive meltdowns, after having to identify all the ways in which Gilbert struggles socially, after being physically and emotionally spent, this realisation has hit me hard.
It’s difficult to accept just how much we still have to deal with as a family. It’s painful to acknowledge that things will always be hard. It’s depressing to know that certain skills may never be mastered. The spectre of the future that always looms large in the corners of my mind is often best left alone.
I’ve written before about how autism sucks. I’ve also been open about having my own mummy meltdowns. Most of the time I do keep swimming, I let the waves crash over me, confident that we will get back on an even keel.
But weeks like these, weeks where everything falls on top of you, they suck you down and expose the very rawness of your reality. As strong as you may be, sometimes you can never be strong enough to withstand the brute force of such a reality check.
I just need to get through today. Then I just need to take it easy over the weekend. And then next week I need to be kinder to myself and make sure I begin to re-frame my own view to eliminate so much negative from my life.
In the end reality can be hard. It can suck. But you have to cling on to the hope that it will get better.
These are testing times but they will not last. Of that I am certain.