Yesterday morning, I felt invigorated. Well-rested. Eager to end the holiday weekend with a relaxing, well-spent day.
And then things happened. $#@% happened.
My brother, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age, usually does pretty well now that he’s in his twenties. But when he does have an episode, boy, does he have one. Yesterday was one of those days. And it reminded me not to get comfortable, not to forget that this is something that will never go away, that it’s something impossible to run away from. The moment we let our guard down is the moment it happens again.
My brother has his routine. He MUST go to the gym whenever we can take him. But yesterday, he also wanted to watch a movie. We didn’t want to go too late because any later, and I wouldn’t be able to go, as I had work early the next morning. As a result, we were in a rush after the gym to go home, shower, and get lunch. We decided to get something fast, but my brother didn’t want to go inside a restaurant before showering because he was all sweaty and his special ed teacher in high school had taught him that it wasn’t proper to be sweaty and sloppy when eating around other people because it’s unhygienic. However, since we were in a hurry, I made the stupid comment (unthinkingly) that he should be flexible and eat at a restaurant since it would save time, rather than going home to shower and then coming back out. And that’s what set him off—my comment that he was being inflexible and ridiculous. Even despite getting fast food to go, that one comment was enough to ruin the rest of the day.
One tantrum later, I was ready to have my own little meltdown. My brother spent the rest of his day listening to rap music because that’s what he does when he’s in his mood. He thinks he’s rebelling against us by listening to cuss words.
My parents, bless their hearts, tried to make the best of the situation. My dad and I went out to clear our heads.
Unfortunately, I met with a few other disasters within the next few hours.
- As I browse a store, some spoiled brat runs around while his parents stand there doing nothing. Next thing I know, he purposely smacks my ass. Not only do I feel violated by a five year-old, but I am seething because he did it ON PURPOSE. So I turn to him and say, “Hey kid, don’t do that; you’re being rude!” He runs to his parents, who still do nothing, and they just stare at me. So I bite my tongue and leave the store because I know if I tell the parents off, there definitely will be a fight, and I do not want an altercation when I’m already in a bad mood.
- Some old guy assumes that I don’t speak English just because I’m not white.
- Some old lady in front of me takes forever buying face cream because she’s trying to barter the price and get even more free stuff than she’s ALREADY getting. Meanwhile, all I needed was to pay for one item.
- Some crazy driver runs a red light and smashes into the car in front of us. It could have been us if we were one car ahead. Thank God it wasn’t. I suppose that’s something to be thankful for.
But still, after all of that happened, I was pretty much ready to close myself off from the world.
When I become a hermit, though, one of two things happen. Either I cool off and forget everything, or I dwell on things and pout even more.
I must admit, since I’ve had a rather Grinch-like spirit this year to begin with, the latter began to happen. I know, I know, I should be ashamed and try to be more positive, but sometimes, life hits hard, and no matter how much I try to climb out of the depths of despair, something keeps dragging me back down.
I started thinking about all the spoiled kids out there and how society sucks and the entire world sucks.
I started getting annoyed with past conversations in which people gave me their advice on things like relationships and my brother and life. I started wondering what the hell do they know anyway? They have no idea. Who are they to tell me that my family must be special and that’s why God gave us an autistic child? Who are they to tell me that I should go pick up my brother from school when I get off work so that he doesn’t have to take the bus because that’s just being a “good sister?”
I started getting pissed off at people who comment about my life choices. People who say I’m too picky and that’s why I’m still single. Friends who tell me I’m not making myself available or that I should/shouldn’t be dating so and so because (fill in various reasons here). Guys who say things that hurt me even though they probably have no idea they are.
I started feeling sorry for myself. I started feeling alone. I started wondering if I had any friends at all because at that moment, I didn’t feel like I could call anyone or talk to anyone. Nobody would understand anyway, and they’d just get annoyed at me for complaining.
And finally, I thought about how I didn’t have anyone to go to the movies with. (Which was a ridiculous thought since earlier that day, before “The Tantrum that Ended it All,” I had been willing to watch a movie alone while the rest of my family saw a different one).
But don’t ever try to talk sense to me when I’m in a mood, or I will claw your eyes out like a cat being forced to take a bath.
So at the end of this thought process, I went to bed early.
I’d like to say I woke this morning feeling refreshed and revived and ready to take on the world once more. But no, I had a sore throat, and I was freezing, and it was 4:30 am, and I had freaking work.
And I was picking at frozen black bean puree, trying to make a product sample, just as in real life, I felt like I was chiseling at the frozen heart of someone who could never like me enough no matter how hard I tried.
Like any other sensible person with an addiction to social media, I posted something on Facebook about how horrible I felt. Right away, friends showed their concern.
But what really cheered me up was when my friend who is pregnant with her first child emailed me her daughter’s name. It cheered me up for two reasons. One, I realized the future world won’t be composed of ALL spoiled brats because there will be parents who will teach and discipline their kids to do what IS right and to have manners.
And two, the name of this baby girl is also a shortened version of a name I chose to name one of my characters and my darling kitten as well. It’s a name that means “Dawn.” A name that makes me remember the sunshine. And hope.
My mom tells my brother that he needs to learn to let it go. Yes, just like the Frozen song. Let the crappy thoughts go. Stop dwelling on poison.
Guess I should do the same.
In the words of Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Yes, I know there will inevitably be times when I’ll have to go to the movies alone, but it won’t be all the time. Most of the time, I will have friends and family to go with me. Even when I don’t, I won’t truly be alone because God will never leave nor forsake me.
There will always be those people who say offensive things (even if well-meaning), people who will never understand nor choose to try to understand how it feels to have an autistic loved one.
But there will always be the people who WILL try to understand. And those are the people who matter.