Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all
And sweetest is the gale is heard; and sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm...
~Emily Dickinson

Friday, February 12, 2010

The D word...

Let's start out by saying I am SO NOT a relationship expert:)
But I do want to touch base on my divorce, as I know a lot of families go through divorce who have children with Autism. This is just my story and experience with it.

Kannon's father and I divorced last year...
Before that we were separated for a year and a half.
I moved out of our home and about an hour away, took both the kids, and that was that.

I never thought immediately about how this decision would affect my kids.
They were both pretty young when we separated...Kannon was about 4 and Kalena 1year and a half, just a baby really.
At the time all I knew was I had to "save" myself.
I had to be happy, because this current situation was not that.

I know people thought I had lost my mind completely when I separated from Kannon's father.

It wasn't like I didn't have enough going on already.

Bottom line: the environment your child grows up in means everything to their happiness and YOUR success.

Having an autistic child adds so much more stress to everything...
You are constantly moving, constantly worrying, and constantly having to watch them.
So, when your spouse is not on the same page as you are...it just is not going to work.

Let me get this out there first:
I am not bashing Kannon's dad. He is a good dad to Kannon. He loves him. He provides for him. He is a good person.

Then let me say this:
That is not all that is required when you are a parent of an autistic child.

I am not saying anyone was right or wrong....or that one person was a better parent than the other.
I just know what worked and what did not work for my situation.

I went into a serious depression after my father died...for months I was completely worthless.
I had no energy, ambition, and sadly I just went through the motions as a mother to my kids.
I should have been proactive in looking for services for Kannon...
I should have laughed with my kids when they were laughing.
I should have done whatever it took to get my sanity back, so I could be a better mom.
Depression does some scary things to ones mind and presence. I was literally absent for over a year. I decided to call that person a different name, since no one including myself recognized who she was....
I should have done a lot of things different...but I didn't.

But I learned to change.
I slowly pulled out of the dark. I slowly started to gain my clarity back.
I started accepting life. I let down all my walls and let myself be vulnerable.
I will also credit my small group of closest friends for their tough love and support...without them I wouldn't have pulled my head out as soon as I did.

I'm not talking perfection here either.
I am NOT perfect.
Never will be, don't want to be.

I have learned through trial and many many errors that Autism takes a whole new bag of parenting tricks. It has also showed me every day just how not perfect I am.

This is where you need to change and adapt....ACCEPT what has been given to you and move forward.
Laugh things off when you want to cry.
Make different choices in how you react to situations....but god is it difficult.
Communicate with everyone in your life what you need and don't need from them.
Cut the crap, because you have to.
Being overwhelmed 100% of the time is an understatement.

You have to be on the same page with your partner. You have to remember why you are doing all of this to begin with. Somewhere along the way that was lost, and that is a big reason the divorce happened.
You have to open parts of your heart and mind that you may not want to...
That is where problems start. At least that is where they started for me.

I have forgiven myself for not being the best mother during my dark times.
I was also not a perfect wife. Who is? I forgave myself for that too.
We do the best we can with what we have internally...that is why we must evolve within so we have more to work with...

I do know that it takes a team effort to raise kids, especially ones with Autism.

And I do know that at the end of most days I found it easier to do this journey with Kannon without his father as my partner. After all, it takes a partner to be one...

You can't change people, they way they react to things...how they view life...
You can only change your path, so that is what I choose to do.
I know that the decision I made was the best one for ME.
I can only hope that Kannon will be "o.k" with how things panned out.
I always hear how divorce messed up a lot of kids, and they carried the anger and hurt into their adult lives...so I am a bit anxious about that.

I have no idea what the right answer is in this situation.
I do know that even when I had 2 crazy kids running around screaming, making messes all over the house, pooping on the floor, dumping juice all over their beds, cascading baby powder all over my room and the floor, putting clothing in the toilet, using toothpaste as some form of a hair gel.... you get the point :)
I didn't want my partner to step in, give me a few minutes...give me a break from my own kids.
I wanted a friend, someone who was my equal in all of this. Someone with compassion, understanding of the situation and someone to talk with.
This is what will save you... Vulnerability, Understanding, Compassion, Communication.
Not a referee or a "babysitter".

Relationships are a choice we make, so are children. They didn't ask to be here, we bring them into this world.
As adults we are forced to make so many decisions every single day.
This was just one I made in hopes of a better future for myself and my kids.
I can only live each day knowing it was the right one for ME, because at the end of the day that is all I really have.


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