Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Musings Of An "Old Lady"....

So I turned 40.
And I have a lot of mixed feelings about this.

There is something *disturbing* about leaving my third decade of life behind and entering my fourth. For one, the realization that there is a good chance I won't be adding another four decades to my life, that from here on out every day lived is one day closer to the end. On the other end, there is liberation in that. The waiting for *life to really begin* is over. The here and now MUST be the here and now, life needs to be lived NOW (and not later, at a more convenient time). No more wishing for do-overs and second chances. No more holding my breath for things to change or get better.

The past 6 years (well, really the past 10 or so years), have been *challenging* (understatement.. LOL). A little over 11 years ago, less than a month away from my 29th birthday, I gave birth to Salamander. And oh, was I clueless. I was so arrogant, so self absorbed, such a *yuppie*. I was simply gonna fit this child into all the other oh, so incredibly *important* stuff I was doing. Really, how hard could this whole working woman with child stuff be, right? After all, I was gonna have daycare right on site where I worked? And all little babies do anyway is sleep, right?

WRONG. As I said.. clueless..

My pregnancy with Salamander was easy.
Labor, delivery & the aftermath? Not so much. I truly cannot remember much of the first 3 months after Salamander was born. And sometimes I think I'd like to forget the next 10 months after that. Eighteen hours out of every 24, screaming bloody murder, *colic* (looking back? sign of much worse things to come...).

Raising and loving Salamander has been more rewarding, challenging, frustrating, depressing, exhilarating, life altering, exhausting, more "sending me from the highest ranges of bliss to the deepest bowels of hell in a split second", than I ever imagined possible...

Potatey entered the fray about 1.5 months shy of my 34th birthday. Poor kiddo arrived at a time when things were escalating with Salamander.. and not in a good way. Potatey, in so many ways, has been my anchor to sanity. My benchmark, if you will, that whatever was/is going on with Salamander wasn't due to my inept parenting, wasn't due to some maternal defect or deficiency, wasn't due to me 'doing it all wrong, being all wrong'.

Over the past 6 years I have fought an all out war (overt, covert and frequently guerrilla style, one friggin' little *landmark* at a time) for Salamander's soul and well being (and for the past 3 years I have fought for Potatey's well being just as hard).

And I can now, with some confidence, say that I am winning that war, that Potatey will be just fine, that Salamander is ever so slowly moving towards *remission* from whatever it is that is ailing him.

I recently wrote a summary narrative for Salamander - where we were in August of 2006 (in another crisis), and where we are now. It truly is amazing how far he has come. I cannot yet share that narrative here as it is being considered for inclusion in a book (and that is
all I can say for now).
Both boys are doing well, they are doing really well.

It's been a hard fought war. It's taken well over $130,000, countless hours of treatments and therapies, many sleepless nights, many hours of research, and much blood, sweat, poop, pee, vomit, screaming, heat butting, high fevers, biting, spitting, kicking, face slapping and so on to get to where we are now. And I DO consider myself lucky. There are many folks out there who spend twice, no three times as much, have done three times as much, and who haven't been able to realize even a third of the progress my boys have made.

So my 40th birthday finds me blessed, blessed beyond measure that my boys are doing well, that things WILL work out for them.

This birthday also finds me exhausted beyond measure, a bit cynical, and more than a tad disheartened and disillusioned. I have learned the hard way that for many people "for better and for worse, in sickness and in health" are just pretty phrases.. things that just roll out of your mouth, but that don't mean a damn thing. And while trust and patience have always been hard for me, they are most definitely NOT my strongest assets anymore.

Not many of the people I celebrated my 30th birthday with 10 years ago have stuck around. I'll admit that I pushed some away - out of self defense and self preservation perhaps. But many more ran, no sprinted, for the nearest exit - goes right back to that pretty phrase I just mentioned. On the flip side, the folks that stuck around, and the many new friends I've made while riding the Roller Coaster Ride from Hell, are in my life because they truly WANT to be.

A dear friend wrote me a few days ago: "Remember, babe. Life is what you muck'n' fake of it." Well, I've done a lot of muck'n and fakin over the past decade, and I'm prepared for having do to plenty more. I do think however there needs to be more room, that there now IS more room for what -I- want.

As to where to go from here? I truly don't have a (mucking..LOL) clue. I am obviously at a crossroads of some sorts - I am involved (both professionally and personally) in several things that could turn out to be life altering. But contrary to my usual "jump in, take over and wrestle this thing to the ground" approach, I am choosing to *hang back, float along and see what happens*. It's a very different way of being for me, but I find that it's agreeing with me.

Time will tell eh? Will be interesting to read back over this blog post 10 years from now...



At 2:27 PM, April 28, 2009 , Blogger K Fuller said...

You sound like you are in a really good place! Congratulations on entering your fourth decade, take care of yourself and you will see at least another four.
It is good to look back at all you have done for your boys and be able to see and recognize success.
Good for you.
As for your list of physical wounds...you left out scratching!

At 2:59 PM, April 28, 2009 , Blogger Petra said...

Yeah, I kinda am in a *comfy* place right now. Can't explain exactly how that happened. I think my recent dietary changes have something to do with it. Another part is that I am finally getting to a point that I no longer let a certain person *gas light* me.

And you know I have to live to be 125.. at least.. I told my boys a few days ago that I plan on living long enough to scare their children's children - they both thought that was funny..

I left out lots from the *wounds* list.. Maybe, one day, I'll put the entire list out there for the whole world to see...

At 7:05 PM, April 28, 2009 , Blogger Navywifeandmom said...

Happy birthday, Petra! I can relate to the friend issue. I have lost a lot of friends since autism came into my life and I honestly do not have time to make more in real life because I just cannot handle being burned again like I have been before. I am quite sensitive and it really hurts me a lot when I lose a friend.

I hope you got to do something nice for your birthday. My own is coming up and dh got us tickets to Fleetwood Mac so I am scrambling to find sitters.

At 7:06 PM, April 28, 2009 , Blogger Navywifeandmom said...

BTW, check out my new blogspot:


I cannot post here without using my own blog login unfortunately.

At 2:47 AM, April 29, 2009 , Blogger Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

I love your outlook - and your friend's quote is great!

At 10:05 AM, April 30, 2009 , Blogger Petra said...

Tanya - thanks!! Yeah, this friend is an interesting character. Time will tell if this person is gonna be the 'stick around' kind, or the 'run for nearest exit' kind..

Navywife - sorry about the posting challenges. I had to take the anonymous commenting option down and in the process seemed to have blown the 'quick, just use any name' option up too. Haven't figured out yet how to fix that.

Ah, making and keeping friends.. it's an interesting challenge isn't it? I certainly had the 'can't handle getting burned again' thing going on for a long time. But somewhere along the way I've become 'less attached to outcomes' - I learned to take people and relationships for what they are, not for whatever emotions I insert upon them. For me, that's the great lesson that raising a child with autism has taught me. Relationships fading out or disappearing is NOT personal.

To clarify, having so many old friends simply 'disappear', having extended family members treat me like I am some crazed, maniacal, 'Munchhausen by Proxy', voodoo priestess hurts like hell. Finding out that the SO(B??) in my life, whom I assumed would have a vested interest in doing whatever it took/takes to get the boys well, had/has only one interest which was 'how to get off the crazy train as fast as he possibly can' broke my heart. And I am still recovering from that & it'll probably be a lifelong process as there are constantly situations where the boys' dad really needs to be involved & he'll promise the boys that 'he'll board the train', only to not even 'show up at the station' or 'immediately jump off the train again'. He can't hurt ME anymore directly, but by burting the boys he's hurting me INDIRECTLY. Which just sucks..

But as I am 'getting over' having 'lost' friends, extended family members, the SO, etc., I am learning that them exiting had little to do with ME or the boys, and had everything to do with THEM.

The folks that have since come into my life, especially these past 3 or so years, all ride a 'crazy train, roller coaster ride from hell, carousel that never stops spinning' of their own. So there's a common understanding that not hearing from a person for a while doesn't mean I did anything wrong. It means that the other person is just really busy/overwhelmed/going through a rough patch. Period. And I keep the lines of communication open within my current circle 'without expectations.' People get back to me when they can..

I have learned to not apologize or make excuses for what I think I need to do. I lay it all out there right from the start whenever i meet somebody new - take it or leave it. I also no longer apologize or try to justify why my boys are first, front and center to everything I do. And always will be. And if that's a problem, well.. too bad. That certainly separates the 'faint of heart' out right there and then. I simply don't have the time or energy to be dragged into relationships that require a lot of one-way nurturing on my part.

Fleetwood Mac. I LOVE Feeltwood Mac. Last saw them in concert when i was 7 months preggo with Salamander. And as I was a pretty skinny biotch during that particular pregnancy until I was a good 8 months along (definitely NOT the case with Potatey... Oy), I danced and sang my ass off. Have a great time!!

At 2:36 PM, April 30, 2009 , Blogger Charlie said...

See? WWPD? THIS is what I'm talking about - NICE POST! :-)


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