Because nothing sucks worse than feeling alone, no matter how many people are around.— JD, Scrubs
This quote really hit the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned. It really is so hard to be surrounded by people that you know yet feel so alone and lonely. I had one of those experiences today and it really was hard I’ve got to say.
This morning, Lucas had a birthday party to go to for one of the little girls that he goes to school with. This is only the second party he’s ever been invited to so he was really excited and couldn’t wait to get there. I arrived and walked him inside and watched him deliver the present to the birthday girl then happily run outside and onto the jumping castle with the other kids. I said a silent ‘Thank you’ to God that Lucas is my sensory seeking child unlike Harley’s sensory avoidance because the chance of a meltdown happening with Lucas were far far less. He was in his element today – crowds, noise and fun.
I spoke briefly to the little girl’s mum and she asked me if I was going to drop him and leave or stay at the party. I glanced around at the other Mums all standing around talking and I recognised most of them from school and my decision was made so much easier. I opted to drop and run.
(This might surprise some of you reading because most autism Mums wouldn’t dream of leaving their child in a situation like this. And I do understand why you might be questioning my decision, but let me say that if it were Harley at this party and not Lucas – you wouldn’t have been able to get me out with a crow bar. Lucas is far lower on the spectrum than his brother and doesn’t have anywhere near the anxiety or sensory issues that his brother does. Lucas’ biggest social issue is that he just talks at people non-stop without reading any clues or knowing when to stop).
So yeah. I left.
I got back to my car and sat there for a few minutes chastising myself for being such a wimp. I knew the reason I’d left but I didn’t really want to admit it to myself. I used to be a naturally very sanguine personality who loved to be around people and loved chatting and making new friends – but lately – it’s just all too exhausting. Nowadays, I struggle to be around groups of mothers who aren’t dealing with special needs kiddos because I’m jealous.
That’s right, I admitted it here. I’m jealous. It’s not that I want what they have – and I’m NOT saying that I don’t appreciate what I do have, but sometimes – I get sick of struggling with the basics which seems to come so much easier to other families.
I find it really hard to listen to them talking about their weekend plans, their kid’s latest sporting achievements and share their cute little antics with each other. My heart sinks a bit when I hear them chat with each other about how well their kid is doing at school, or about the play dates they’ve all had with each other recently. And I know that it’s not that these ladies don’t like me. No, it’s not that at all. And I’m sure that they are lovely people with kind hearts, but when you know that you have to go home and back into the war zone that is your daily life – it’s hard not to get a little down.
I rung Paul to let him know that I wasn’t staying after all and we decided to meet up at a coffee shop to pass some time. I arrived soon after and met up with Paul, Ella and Harley and it became pretty clear as soon as I’d arrived that this was indeed the entrance to another war zone…sigh…Harley was overcome by the crowds, the noise and the bright lights and we pulled pretty much every trick out of our bag in an attempt to have a scene free rendezvous without success. I glanced around at the other patrons in the cafe and my heart became heavy again. Some were staring at us, others were a little more discreet but the things that really got me was seeing how care free and relaxed everyone else seemed to be. It was the exact opposite of what we were feeling and at once I felt so alone again.
The stress was starting to show on Paul’s face too so we cut our losses and he took the kids back home, and chalked up yet another failed family event.
I got back into my car and went to pick up Lucas and he ran excitedly into my arms the second he saw me and started talking my ear off about what a great time he had. The mother told me how beautiful his manners were and that he was an absolute delight. She giggled as she told me that he became the rubbish monitor following everyone around with a garbage bag and freaking out if anyone littered! I smiled at her and thanked her for having him and smiled down at my little boy as we headed for the front door. He sung a little happy song to himself as we drove down the street before suddenly bursting into tears that lasted until we got home and beyond.
I’m not sure what triggered it or why he got stuck in a loop but Lucas screamed consistently for the next 3 hours until bedtime. He was distraught, he was inconsolable and he was a complete basket case. Bathing him resulted in me being kicked in the nose and covered in water. I had to wear an ear plug just to get near him because the screams were deafening.
Maybe it was the junk food and sugar overload that did him in? Maybe he is more sensitive to crowds and noises than I had thought? Or maybe I should have pushed past my own personal discomfort and stayed at that party regardless of how being around other mums made me feel. I suppose I’ll never really know for sure. But what I do know is that I am aware that this is “MY” problem and no fault of any of my friends or aquaintances.
So please don’t read this thinking that I have some sort of vendetta against those women who are blessed with neurotypically wired children because I’m not vindictive like that. And I’m not saying that parenting typical kids is easy either, I’m just saying that although I know that I am incredibly blessed with my own children; sometimes I long for a little bit of normal. For my sake and for theirs.
Thinking ahead all the time is mentally exhausting. Trying to be one step ahead of everything is draining and sometimes I just want to go out for a coffee without the drama. I love to be around people but it’s hard to feel so alone.
And this is where I am thankful that I have God in my life. Without Him and His promise to never leave or forsake me – I’d be a goner.
And that’s telling it like it is.