So…We’ve all heard that old quote “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” at least once, if not dozens of times right?
I know that for me, it’s always been one of those cute little ditties that never really meant anything much to me.
In fact, growing up, I always used to take it literally.
As in, I wouldn’t necessarily NOT read a book because the front cover was un-interesting and boring but as I got older and (hopefully) wiser, I learnt that it can be applied to many different aspects of life.
Like for example……men!
I think my husband is spunky. (And to be honest, he thinks he’s pretty darn good too……can you say ‘conceited’ girls and boys?) LOL!
But I understand that men definitely ARE like onions! They have MANY layers!
Now……men are known for not being the most *ahem*….shall we say… “open” beings!
At times, I have had to peel off a helluva lot of layers of ‘macho’ to discover something even slightly resembling emotion in Mr Patient!
But here’s the great part….. I know it’s there now.
This past week where the two of us have been alone together whilst the kids have been having the time of their lives up at Grandma’s – has been wonderfully healing for both of us.
I ummed and ahhed whether or not to blog about this next bit, but I eventually concluded that I made a promise to myself that I was always going to be upfront and honest to my readers whenever possible.
I owe you all at least that…….So here goes…
Late last year, I had decided that Mr Patient and I were over…I was leaving.
I’d made plans, enough was enough………we were finished, kaput, separating, done.
I hated his job that took him away from us so often.
I hated the fact that I was left alone to raise “challenging” kids a lot of the time.
And I hated that he didn’t seem to notice how exhausted I was becoming spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically and that he really didn’t seem to care that he was adding to this.
I really felt like I hated him.
I was frequently caught up in damaging thought patterns such as:
“How dare he chose work over family”
“How dare he expect me to do this all alone”
“How dare he step down from his position as man-of-the-house.”
I teetered on the edge of mental breakdown every single damn day and was treading water for so long that I can’t remember even getting in the damn pool in the first place.
I was so angry. I was feeling hurt, deserted and over-stretched.
Then one day, I made a decision that autism had stolen ENOUGH from this family and I’d be damned if I was going to let it have my marriage as well.
It’s been written about numerous times over the years, that couples who parent a child with autism have a significantly higher divorce rate than those raising typical children.
I haven’t researched it fully myself but I can see why this would be the case.
So there is evidence out there that a strain is placed on relationships that deal daily with the ups and downs of parenting an autistic child, but what about when one of the adults is also on the spectrum?
There is a part of me that realised that because of this fact….. Mr Patient was unable himself to cope with the constant drain of these noisy, unpredictable and extremely high maintenance kids.
But a louder and more aggressive part of me didn’t care and wasn’t prepared to give him the same grace that I happily give my kids in the same situations.
After all….he’s an adult now. I don’t need 4 kids.. he should just man-up and get over himself right?
Well….right AND wrong.
Yes, he should have pulled his weight (being that he is the other half of the parenting team), but no, because he was completely ill-equipped to recognise let alone cater to mine and the children’s individual needs at that time.
He opened up to me and told me that he has struggled with the boy’s diagnoses from day one.
He chose to go into a state of complete denial because he didn’t know what else to do.
Men aren’t allowed to cry whenever the urge takes them, or have deep and meaningful conversations with their mates.
They rarely hug each other, they won’t admit when it’s tough and God-forbid they actually admit that they are feeling lost and hopeless – lest they have to hang up their crown jewels and be forever labelled a sissy.
This week, he told me that he had no idea that I was as close to leaping over the cliff as I was.
He acknowledged that he had in fact contributed to this in a very big way.
He said that he would watch me as I scoured the internet, books and papers researching autism constantly and regularly, he noticed that I was (seemingly tirelessly) running the kids between this therapy and that therapy and thought that I had it all under control.
I would often give him non-verbal clues that I wasn’t coping by huffing, sighing loudly, slamming down the receiver of the phone mid-way through a phone conversations with him, rolling my eyes at him or just dissolving into endless tears at in-opportune moments.
Turns out…..he didn’t read the cues at all.
His words when I exclaimed my exasperation with him one day were:
“Well Fi, did you ever actually SAY that you weren’t coping?”
Um……No, not really, I guess not.
This was the start of the next chapter of our lives…HEALING.
We just had the best week together since we were married way back in 1998 and I know that better days are coming.
It’s amazing how much better the human body copes with life when it’s rested, at peace and relaxed.
I am now able to focus more clearly on issues that need to be dealt with, without being so overcome with emotion that I can’t see sense, and I am a lot more able to “not sweat the small stuff” and take things one step at a time.
We were designed this way. To function healthily and calmly…NOT to live in a constant state of anxiety and emotional upheaval.
I know that this is all part of life and that we really DO have to go through a lot of hard, trying and testing times.
But the key word is “through“.
Not around the mountain, not over it, not under it, not beside it but through it.
Only then are we fully able to say that we made it through our trials.
And remember……It takes a lot of manure to grow a beautiful garden.
Happy 2011 everyone x