When good days go bad…

I’m an optimist. I know it might not seem like it sometimes, but I really am.

I remember reading a blurb from Elizabeth Taylor once, where someone had suggested that her long history of multiple marriages ending in divorce meant she didn’t believe in love, and she’d had to explain that the fact she’d kept getting married, absolutely proved that she did.

I often joked about my statistically unlikely history as “the curse”. Like most everyone else, I’ve had very bad things happen, and also very good things. Unlike most people, I can’t actually forget any of those events, no matter how much I may want to.

Well, technically I could probably whack my head with various blunt objects to try to give myself amnesia, but that sounds rather unpleasant… plus I’d run the risk of forgetting my goofball.

But something that those of us “blessed” with super-memory have to deal with is the occasional triggering of uncontrollable, info-dump style recall of traumatic past events. You could be having a great day, on top of the world, chock full of emotional spoons, then a smell or a song or someone’s choice in shirt brings the world crashing onto your head.

Then everything else dog-piles on top.

Some autistic folks will experience a meltdown at this point. I’ve worked hard to maintain the “low boil” state for extended periods of time. Today was one of those days for me, and I’m on my third cup of coffee of the six I’ll likely need.

My second marriage, which is where my son came from, ended in divorce almost six years ago, and I remarried last year to a wonderful partner who is patient and kind, and an optimist like me.

My son is sweet, and smart, and strange, and probably on the spectrum, but his father and I have never had him tested. His dad and I get along well, and we’re usually on the same page when it comes to parenting decisions, but recently, there has been tension due to the introduction of a new partner in his life, and her very different parenting style. I know this is a common story among divorced parents, but I’m optimistic that there will be a happier ending.

Nothing drains me faster than my son, but I’m not drained by his behavior. He’s actually a very good kid, and we never butt heads about anything. One benefit of remembering my own childhood is that I can remember everything that happened to me, how my parents didn’t understand my needs, and how they weren’t aware of my “different” brain. I am able to apply all of that memory to my son, and I’m able to communicate with him in a way I know we both understand. He doesn’t walk all over me, I don’t walk all over him, and it works out great.

Unfortunately, his dad doesn’t remember much of his childhood, only bits and pieces, and my son can tell there’s a difference. It frustrates him, and he keeps asking me to “tell Daddy” the things he can’t communicate. His dad and I will have little pow-wows every once in a while, where we’ll try to catch each other up on things that happened when our son was at each of our houses (he switches weekly…), but those discussions have become very sporadic since the new partner.

Yesterday, my son told me that she hurt him, and he didn’t want to tell his dad because he doesn’t think he’ll help him. Now, my first reaction to this news is to want to rip the woman inside out. My second reaction was to ask my son for as many details as possible. He gets overwhelmed (not surprisingly..), so this is a slow process, and very draining for me as well. My third reaction is the desperate fight to try to keep the memories from incapacitating me long enough to write a message to his dad.

The memories of all of the times I’ve warned his dad about his partner’s behavior comes flooding back. The memory of the ways his dad was abused by his parents comes flooding back. The way I was abused by my parents comes flooding back.

I’m helpless. I’m helpless to help myself. I’m helpless to help my son.

So now, I sit at a low boil. Waiting to see what his dad will do about it. Waiting to see if he’ll remember any of the things I do. – K

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