Readers of this blog have told me that they like it that I am honest. I do always try to be honest, but I also try to not be constantly downbeat. I've been wanting to write today, but resisting, as I feel like I've been too negative lately. I tried hard to wait until I felt more positive to write, or to filter out the negative and write only about the positive---how Janey went to the respite house for 6 hours on Saturday and seemed to do fairly well, how there was slightly less crying this weekend, how today she got a good report from summertime school. However, I'm going tonight to one of my reasons I wrote about recently for blogging---to be a sort of diary, to use when I am needing to write it all out. So here goes---
I'm feeling incredibly trapped lately. Not trapped in the way that I want out of my life, or marriage, or any of that. Trapped literally in the house. This trapped feeling comes from how incredibly hard it is to take Janey anyplace, at least on my own, and how her needs keep me from getting away for any significant time. I am feeling like the walls are closing in, and a lot of factors are working together to make it near impossible to kick that feeling.
Part of it is it being summer. I grew up in Maine, where summer is the glory of the year. I even then wasn't a summer person, but I spent nearly all my time outside. I walked in the woods, swam in the ocean, read in a cluster of tall grass, went on little trips to the beach or to get ice cream (which living on a peninsula meant usually a drive to Rockland, a good half hour to get there), walked to the candy store 3 miles away---I was on the go. That is the kind of summer I wish my kids could have. My boys do, in the urban way. They are very good at using public transit, and they can get wherever they want by bus and train and subway, and they do. But Janey? Taking her anyplace is so tough. Today after school, I wanted so much not to just go home. But Janey has been in screaming mode, and thinking of a place to take her was an impossible task. Sometimes she will tolerate the grocery store, but we didn't really need groceries, and quite frankly, that wasn't what I had in mind. I considered a park or playground. Playgrounds just don't work, as Janey is now considerably bigger than playground age, and with her noises and lack of ability to socialize, it turns into a starefest, and Janey doesn't enjoy herself anyway---not worth it. Boston has a lot of nice parks. The problem there is dogs. A nice park attracts dog walkers, and Janey is terrified of dogs. Quite a few times, I've tried a great park near us, and wound up just dealing with a screaming Janey or a paralyzed with fear Janey. Most of the dog owners are nice enough, but many of them also ignore the leash laws and let their dogs runs free, and if a dog runs up to Janey, despite how many times the owner might tell us that Sparky wouldn't hurt a flea---Janey doesn't understand that. Restaurants on my own with Janey---ha. We don't do restaurants. Stores---almost never good. And so we came home and for the hundredth time, went into the back yard. Where Janey does fine for a bit, sometimes half an hour, but then she screams, or decides she wants her clothes off, and that is over.
Part of it is also the social isolation that autism brings. When the boys were little, I often got together with friends and their kids. The kids would play, the friend and I would talk. It was great. But Janey has no friends like that. And I feel like I've gone from having friends that I could spend time with to having friends that I rarely see, because both the friends and I understand that a visit with Janey involved is not a visit. It's a shared child care time. Janey will destroy their house, find anything non-childproofed, scream, wet on their floor, grab food---I wouldn't have me over either. I talk to friends on the phone, but the long leisurely get-togethers---they never happen. I miss them.
And part of it, I need to admit, is me. I don't feel up to the challenge of taking Janey places. I am tired all the time, from her not sleeping. I can't run fast enough to catch her if she got away. I have a very hard time with the stares, and the stares always happen. It is easier, at least physically, to mostly stay home. But mentally, it takes a toll.
This afternoon, I felt I just couldn't stay home another minute. I begged Freddy, who wasn't working, to go with us someplace, any place. Freddy wanted to shop for shoes. So off we went. As soon as we got in the store, Janey started crying and screaming. I tried hard to ignore it. I walked her around, had her look at mirrors, talked to her. But the screaming got louder and louder, and it was impossible for us to shop, to say nothing of anyone else in there. We left within 5 minutes. In the car, I opened up to Freddy more than I usually do about how discouraged I felt. I try not to do that with the boys, ever. They need as close to a normal life as they can get. But I felt bad for him, not being able to do such a basic thing, I felt bad for Janey, being so tortured by whatever demons torture her that she couldn't tolerate a normal store and I felt bad for me. I mostly, at that moment, felt very bad for me. Which I'm not proud of.
I long to put Janey in the car and drive---drive to some faraway place. My fantasies don't allow me to drive away on my own. I can't do that. But I wish I could take Janey and escape this house, this life, even for a day or two. I wish the autism was something I could leave at home, not for good, because Janey's autism is part of her. But for a few days. I wish I could have just a little, little, little vacation from the autism, for Janey and for me.