Sunday, September 22, 2013

Getting Back to Me

As the parent of an autistic child, how well do you take care of you? If you're anything like me, you're allowing yourself to fall by the wayside. You keep a smile pasted on your face, crack jokes, and drink wine, but you're not taking care of you.

You skip your doctor's appointments (including the really important ones) because you don't have the time. Or the babysitter. Or the courage. 

Sometimes, or all the time, you might feel as if you're losing your mind and you don't know where to turn. You might actually go to the doctor, explain that you have OMG stress, and the doctor gives you pills, a pat on the back, maybe a pep talk, and sends you on your way. You get a momentary shot of confidence, of "things are good." But what about after? What happens then?

Something is missing.  I've been missing.

I've been pretty cruel to myself and those around me for quite a while. I've allowed myself to get caught up in the autism and life gauntlet of worry, worry, and more worry. The stress of trying to sell a home from 800 miles away and the financial implications of that have tapped me out. I worry all the time.  I've stopped taking time for me. It's okay, we all do it. But at what cost?

Due to stress and other nonsense issues, I've stopped creating things I enjoy. The thing is, those used to be my stress relievers.

I'm considered a creative person. Yet, I don't do many creative things anymore. I stopped making sea glass jewelry, hair pretties, and getting excited over finding "just the right color" of paint or finding a deal on a canvas.

I've been angry. At what, I cannot tell you. I just know that I've been incredibly angry for a very long time. I have a lot in my little large Pandora's box of secrets to be angry about. Anger hurts so many people around you and it hurts you worst of all.

This week, I found out that I've been back in surgical menopause for a while. I had a hysterectomy three years ago, so without the right amount of hormones, this is always a possibility. I have not been on the correct amount. At all. My doctor was wonderful and put me on a new dosage plus a lovely sedative.

Nearly instantly, I could feel a difference. I didn't hate people! I started a yarn wreath for fall. I began making plans for more crafty things that I know I can finish. I wake up feeling, if not refreshed, excited for my day to happen. And, TMI, but I want to have sex again. Granted, I get a bit weepy from HRT charges, but whatever.

I've ticked more things - both tangible and mental - off my to-do list in the past four days than I did in the past month. Some of them were completely frivolous. Most of them involved taking care of myself or doing something for me.

I've spent nine years now as someones mom. Ten as someones wife. I love those roles. But I feel sometimes as if the things which make me, well, me have been pushed onto a back burner. The person really pushing those things back there was me.

People don't really know me because I keep myself bottled up tightly. Those who do know me are sometimes surprised when they find out little factoids about me. Sometimes this weirds them out and has, depending on the subject, hurt feelings. For as much as I do say, there is much so more that I don't.

People know I'm snarky, they know I can be funny, loud, love to drink wine and coffee. But how many know that I'm a complete bookworm? Or that my favorite colors all revolve around the shade of teal? Or that I love, love, love to create anything pretty? Or that I once spent 24 hours nearly straight carving pumpkins for the kids because I love doing that (also, everyone knows that the pumpkin is one of the neatest mediums for carving, period.). Or that, every year, I buy unfinished porcelain ornaments and nutcrackers around Christmastime and hand paint them?

I never finished my college degree, yet I'm far from stupid. I'm a survivor of sexual, mental, and physical  abuse. I believe passionately in the death penalty in a lot of cases for the reasons I just stated.

When I said, "I don't live out loud," I meant that I'm not very honest with myself and, as a result, others. I love helping people. But how am I to do that if I don't even help myself?

How am I being a good mom, wife, and person if I'm not being good to myself?

Are you good to yourself? Do you take even a few minutes for yourself at least once a week? Have you given up something that you love doing? Do people know the real you?


  1. I <3 you! I'm so glad you have found yourself again. It can really make all the difference. :)

  2. Love this. It's so easy to get caught up in taking care of the kids that we lose track of ourselves. (Case in point: I haven't been to the gym since fall baseball started!) Thanks for sharing your story! So glad you're back!

  3. Oh how true. I am a Taurus to a fault. This includes creating I haven't felt beautiful in quite sometime so why would I bother creating something beautiful. I've been angry...depressed... The past four years have been particularly hard. In those four years: I've had two kids, found out both were on the spectrum, nursed my mother through a broken marriage and eventually divorce, burried 3 family members and 2 close friends, nursed my grandmother through chemo for her colon cancer... Needless to say, myself has been put on the back burner for awhile now. I usually get 1 day a year where I shed every "hat" except "myself" and head to my local ren fair, but not this year. Got rained out.

    Last night, however, I needed something. I needed MY music and I wrote something that was fiction..that wasn't a blog entry or an article (I am a paid freelance writer) or a description for something on ebay. I dusted off a persona I haven't thought about in years, and wrote about her. It may not have been good or publish worthy, but it was MINE and something *I* wanted to do.

    What did I do after I wrote it? I cried because I felt guilty I put off time I usually spend with my NT kiddo to write it.

    *sighs* I'll get this right eventually. I'm still a work in progress.... I guess what I am saying is thank you for sharing this. At least I'm not crazy feeling like this and I'm not suffering alone.

    1. I don't think that any of us are truly alone in this unless we allow ourselves to be so. By saying this, I'm trying to acknowledge that I close myself off a LOT. Even by writing this, I'm admitting that, while I have been working on myself and am getting back to "me," I'm still a hot mess thanks to this HUGE surge in estrogen.

      You're never alone in this community. Please believe that. Take care of you.

  4. :)

    Thank goodness for good doctors and occasional introspection.

  5. Thank you for sharing. You have so much going on, I am glad you are looking towards creativity to nurture yourself. Posts like this are hard to write. <3

    1. It was incredibly hard to write. And your words are so true, Lori. Thank you so much for commenting.

  6. OMG...a serious comment from Jim! This is awesome Jess. And so freakin' spot on!

  7. This is such a vital truth for so many of us. We only show so much and hide the rest away until we are crumbling. Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself here and for the timely reminder of why I need to do some of these same things for myself.