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Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
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4:08 p.m. - 2013-04-08
The Unknown and Unacknowledged Puzzle Piece

It's Throw Out Your Big Garbage Week! YAY!!!!!!!!

For reals. As an event Big Garbage week falls somewhere between Mother's Day and Thanksgiving in terms of excitement and satisfaction. Mother's Day being on the low end of the spectrum what with its emotional baggage and familial obligations and that half of my offspring think I'm a worthless turd who did nothing but stink up the joint. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as I get to do two of my favorite things cook and eat. Thanksgiving is still apolitical too. Faux News hasn't come up with a War Against Stuffing yet. Hasn't found a way to drive a wedge between those who like pearl onions in the peas and those who don't. On the aggravation vs fun meter Thanksgiving still rocks the fun. And Big Garbage Week? It is a physical, thus psychological load-lifter. With Mick's help I drag all kinds of lumpy detritus to the curb. Clunky awkward broken stuff, sacks of discards, old dried up cans of paint, brush piles, all the junk clogging up my life. Mick loathes them but I find the curb shoppers funny. In my destitute youth I did quite a bit of curb shopping myself and decorated my house with many, many found objet du discarde. Nowadays I'm on the other side of the equation and it gives me the grins to think that my old worn rug or wobbly end table might end up gracing some young person's first apartment. As for the other pickers who sift and sort looking for cashable recyclables, well, good! Better than all of it going into the landfill. And though I don't do any picking myself anymore it's interesting to me to drive past the others' piles and see what they're getting rid of. "Oh, look! The Johnson's must have gotten a new living room set!" and "Wow, all the Little Tykes stuff is out in front of the Steadman's place. I can't believe their kids are in school already. Where does the time go?"

Speaking of which, the weekend just flew by. We did some fun stuff and got a lot of chores done and generally made the most of the time. Mick and I made a date out of the grocery shopping. There's a humongous fancy-schmancy Shoprite a couple towns over and we combined a trip there with lunch out at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a visit to Tractor Supply Store which is in the same plaza. At TSS we got the items we needed to fix our wheelbarrow. And I found a super cute peasant blouse. I know the Tractor Supply isn't first in my mind when it comes to clothes shopping, but this blouse is sweet. Something different for me. It's pin-tucked and gathered and the material is sepia-toned with a busy print of roses and vines. I never wear prints and have little use for smocking, but changing things up with my clothes might help blow apart this pall I feel about my looks. I wore the blouse yesterday and it did help. At least a little. I spent the winter hiding inside long droopy sweaters and my thigh-length black blazer. To step out in a fluffy, femme blouse tucked into my jeans- ass and less than sculpted waist on display felt weird. I also had to laugh at myself. If my body issues/wardrobe misery isn't a first world problem then I don't know what is. "OMG! They don't use fair-wage, zero-carbon footprint, humanely harvested cinnamon at Starbuck's! How can I ever have a soy pumpkin spice latte again!?!"

Trust me, I do have a grip about my 'problems'. I won't be on 'Real Housewives of Downstate New York' having a conniption fit because the dog groomer used the wrong shade of pink of Princess's toenails anytime soon. Promise.

Yet I do have a gripe that is extremely twattish. Akin to Kathy and her beef with being reminded of breast cancer all the time with pink ribbon walks and fundraising campaigns, it's also autism awareness season and I fucking HATE it.

Anytime I'm stuck behind some minivan with one of those damned 'Autism Speaks' puzzle-piece shaped magnets I end up gnashing my teeth and wanting to jump out of my car at a stoplight and dash up and punch the minivan driver in the head. I don't care if her kid is autistic too. I don't.

All I've done for the last 32 years is deal with fucking autism. Autism, specifically Asperger's Syndrome has made my life a hell.

I resent autism. I loathe it. It's all fine for Aspies like my ex-husband to live on their different planet, he's fine there. He's fine as fucking paint! Me? The emotional starvation, the gaping chasm of having ZERO support from my mate, nearly dying from the punishing deprivation of self and the endless nitpicking and chipping away at my self-esteem of living with that hyper-critical, cold-hearted bastard. Goddamn.

And what of my sons? I did the best I could with Alex. I did. All without even knowing what his deal was. All I had was my own desperate hope I could be a better mother than my own. And in the end it meant dick. What I wanted back, needed back wasn't his to give. But I didn't know that. So I gave and I gave and I gave. I talked and talked and taught and tried, tried, tried. Then, worn out with the endless suck-hole of providing for him and getting nothing but complaints and bitter recountings of all my 'failures' towards him in return I lost my temper and flat out told him how much he'd hurt me and how broken I was. Result? My son spat in my face, turned his back, and walked out of my life and never came back.

Gee, 'autism speaks'? Not in this house it doesn't.

Wolf? Again, I operated in the dark for almost 10 years. Confounded and exhausted by this child. Humiliation on top of humiliation. The hell of his pre-school years when I never got a break. Not even a trip to the toilet on my own without being punished for it by yet another mess to clean up, another near-disaster as he ran into the road, climbed out on the roof, stripped off his clothes, tried to strangle a cat, tore another of my best books to shreds, cracked yet another dozen eggs in the fridge and dumped the shells on my chair in the dining room. The sheer terror of catching him trying to drown himself in a bucket of water. How he'd put his hands in the flames of the stove and laugh while his skin bubbled and cracked.

School. The shame and weary humiliation of the daily phone call from the teacher. The meetings, the counseling sessions, the sneers and the scorn from the educators and the administrators. Treating my kid like a simple discipline case and throwing their own inadequacies back onto me and my supposedly neglectful parenting. Trying to get my son in to see specialists I couldn't afford. Doctors who refused to see us because we had no health insurance. Being cut off from friends because I couldn't take my kid to their homes and risk the damage he'd do to their furniture. I couldn't let my kid play with theirs because of the filth he'd spew and the weird shit he'd pull like asking them to set him on fire or run him over with their bikes. Wolf's eventual expulsion from third grade and being left on my own with him- alone, broke, scared, and so very sad because not only had my kid been bounced from public school, my marriage was disintegrating, my elder son had turned his back, and after 25 years of abusive neglect I had nothing left of myself except an overwhelming sense of shame, confusion, and humiliation over my 'failures' as a wife and mother.

Autism awareness? What has my life been but being morbidly, horribly, endlessly aware of fucking autism?

And the myth-building? The movies and books about how 'amusing' and 'charming' Aspies are? John Elder Robison can kiss my ass.

I am sick to death of hearing how the world needs to understand and appreciate the autistic. How they march to their different drummer. Yeah? What about the ones who arrange for the permits, set up the street barriers, wrangle the horses and build the floats? What about the people who have to clean up after their fucking parade?

What about us, eh?

I spent a long time (far too long) loving my ex-husband. I cleaned up his messes and smoothed his life and made it possible that he freaking even lived to be 52 years old! Mike with his smartass mouth and knack for taking shots at the egos of those who could hurt him the most. I saved his goddamn worthless life. Calling in favors. Begging my Pop for protection from the thugs my idiotic mate had pissed off. Job after job. Paying off his debts. Trying to hang onto our home and our credit rating. There's not a single aspect of our lives that Mike hadn't managed to screw up. Including our marriage.

Alex? I gave my elder son everything I believed a mother should give. Time, love, attention, tae kwon do lessons, a stable home, Cub Scouts, Little League, a trumpet, several Nintendo systems, trips to museums and zoos. I decorated Christmas trees and filled Easter baskets. I gave him a home-cooked dinner 6 nights out of every 7. We went to Disney World. I taught him to use a boomerang, a lawn mower, a catcher's mitt, and a nine iron. I sent him to summer camp and went to every single one of his band concerts, art shows, and parent-teacher conferences. And still, thanks to the 'wonderful quirky gift' of autism he thinks I did him a dirty and he had this deprived awful childhood.

Wolf? A lot of our battles are over. I think he's truly a good guy. He has more compassion and awareness of others than any other member of the paternal side of his family. And this is no small thing. But I am still aware of how limited my younger son's understanding is. I acknowledge that despite the best he and I can do Wolf might have to live with us well into his adult years. Taking on a job and a landlord and driving a car and paying bills might always be beyond him. Will he ever marry and be a dad? As yet unknown. I do have hope that someday Mick and I might be able to take a vacation and leave Wolf in charge of the house and the pets without it coming to disaster. That's about as far as I let myself think about the future.

'Autism Awareness'? I am aware of it every single day.

So, no. I don't want your magnet for my car. I don't want to participate in your walk-a-thon. I couldn't give two shits about your fundraiser at the county park down the road from my house.

As selfish and dumb as it sounds nobody was ever there for me while I dealt with the harsh lonely truth of autism. And as yet those do-gooders are still gnarring on and on about the 'victims' of autism ie: the ones who have it! And not a single word or dollar is offered to the caretakers, the ones who've been here fumbling and stumbling along, exhausted and ashamed, alone and heartbroken from having been married to and are raising the autistic all on our own and totally under the radar of the do-gooders.

You want to throw a fundraiser for someone? How about us? I'd be up for that. I could use some respite care, a massage, or hell, even a cold beer and a hug.


Yet another unsung anonymous one, ~LA

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