Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Things That Might've Been...

I often get caught up in thinking what might have been. Generally these are sad or melancholy thoughts. I don't typically look back and think to myself, "Man, I nailed that! Wouldn't change a single thing I did in that situation." I don't really think others do this sort of reflection either. I suppose maybe if you did something really awesome you might, but still...

Having children with autism, I've become very acquainted with "what might have been". Essentially from the time I realized something was wrong and that I couldn't "fix" it, I've been re-imagining how life will be. And that often leads to what might have been. It also leads to what-ifs. What if I could just take my kids on a simple trip to the grocery store by myself without worrying that one of them will have a major meltdown? Or what if they wouldn't refuse to get out of the car, without me literally grabbing them by the feet and having to pull them out while they fight me all the way.

What if I didn't have to monitor them in the bathroom and clean up after them like they were much younger children? What if I didn't dread each night's bedtime not knowing if they'll go to sleep at 10 pm or 4 am? What if I didn't have to worry about them hurting themselves while doing the simplest of things like getting in the car, being around kitchen appliances, or being around common household cleaners?

What if we could do "normal" activities like dance lessons, sports, or having friends over? What if I could just hire and trust a regular babysitter without worrying about my daughters freaking that person out or being miserable because the person has no idea what they want? Or better yet, what if I could leave them home unattended for 30 minutes by themselves? (they turn 13 next month)

I get caught up on these things because living in the present with the stress, confusion, depression, and weariness is hard. So hard sometimes that I just think about what could've been or what might be.

What might be is even more painful than what if, especially as the girls get older. Will I be able to care for them as teenagers and adults? Will they be treated with kindness and respect at a living center if I find I can't take care of them? Will they be abused or neglected because the perpetrator knows the girls can't communicate what has happened to them? Will the girls think I've abandoned them if they no longer live with me?

 These are among the many things I think of on a daily basis. Then there is my life outside of my children. I don't have much of one, and every time I try to it seems to disintegrate rapidly. I am working out again, which not only provides stress relief, but also provides something positive to focus on. I'm trying to get my writing productivity up, but by the time I make enough money with freelance work I'm tired of working and feel unmotivated and uninspired to work on my fiction projects.

And there is heartache. I've become very cynical and hardened against romance over the past four years, as I've had lots of stressful failed relationships. Is it me, I wonder? How much of a factor do my children play a role in this? I'm not looking for a father figure for my children. I'm just looking for an adult that I can relate to and have an affectionate relationship with. Sometimes this seems like I must be asking for too much. Because I just can't seem to swing it. And getting over a broken heart sucks, no matter what. But when you have two high maintenance children to care for it really sucks because they don't understand that I'm sad or what that means. If they see me cry, no matter what the reason, they either ignore me or just stare at me confusedly. Or, as Celest likes to do, stare at me then start laughing like my tears are the funniest thing she's seen in ages.

This makes me feel like giving up on romantic relationships. I just don't feel like I have the energy. Is the reward worth the risk of the pain that comes when it falls apart? Right now I'm leaning towards no. But that's because I'm in the midst of a relationship problem. Give me a few months to heal somewhat and get really lonely and who knows? I might have willingly forgot how much it sucks.

Just another set of what if's and what might have been's for my collection at this point.

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