I am not a materialistic person. I think it started pretty much from day one because I never really had anything of my own to get attached to…well, plus the whole attachment disorder deal. I didn’t really realize, until recently, that the disorder could affect my attachment to things as well as people. Of course it would apply though… So, thanks to that and other life circumstances, I am the opposite of a pack-rat. I used to hoard clothes from second hand stores … would come home with bags and bags of used clothing that I almost never wore. Of course, I was stick-thin then and just about anything fit me provided it was size small. I think that was just the novelty of having a lot to choose from, back then. Thinking back it wasn’t too long after I got off the streets that I started with the over buying of cheap clothing so it was the bag-lady affect, likely. When you don’t have much you tend to cling to what you can right? But back to the opposite of hoarding; I am one who will throw something away the moment no one is looking, if I don’t think we need it. I almost always have something in my trunk to drop off at a used clothing bin or charity establishment and when I don’t I start to panic a little, thinking about stuff clogging up my space at home.
Dayne is a pack-rat supreme. So is Colt. The two of them collect the weirdest things, just to have them. Dayne collects bits of computers, tools, fastening devices, keys, bottles, cords, cables and junk. Colt has bits of plastic, broken toys, cars missing wheels, lego bits and puzzles that belong to sets long since merged in with the rest of his pile, never to be together again. If there is a bin, bucket, canvas bag, or Tupperware container somewhere in my house, it will soon be filled to the brim with little bits of junk treasured by my men. I’ll put a dish on the microwave to collect Dayne’s pocket fulls of bits and within two days it’s full to overflowing. He keeps grocery receipts along with business cards, little metal fasteners and zip ties, lighters, McDonald monopoly tabs…..you name it and you can likely find it on top of my microwave. I’ll spend a weekend reorganizing all of Colt’s toys, legos, games (and game pieces scattered throughout), transformers (with their heads, limbs and accouterments missing randomly), cars….everything. I’ll sort them all in bins so he can find what he’s looking for and within three days it’s all undone. Any bins I’ve emptied for future use will be full of junk, paper, instruction booklets that belong to nothing, DVD covers, books with missing pages …just an endless supply of ‘stuff’.
Colt is a kid so I forgive him for his mess but Dayne….he gets a bit of attitude from me over the piles of junk he can’t seem to help collecting; especially when the mass starts to accumulate in common areas like the corner of the living room. He will put a box down, planning to sort his tools and put stuff away, but it never goes anywhere and soon becomes a repository for more things until we have a tower of boxes in the corner that never stops growing. It doesn’t stop at small things either….with Dayne, it can be anything. Once he brought home a giant tube style television that was so heavy he needed help putting in the back of his truck. When it got home I had to help him haul it into the house but we couldn’t get it through the doorways to any room other than our tiny kitchen. There the damn thing lived for over a year, for a while in the middle of the floor, then under the kitchen table we couldn’t get to because of all the junk. Eventually, I complained enough to get him motivated to move it, with my help again, from the kitchen to the dump. We had to pay a $50 disposal fee because of the tube…..god, these stories could go on forever….I think you get the point though. I hate clutter, mess, crap, junk and unneeded furniture taking up the little space I have and I strive to move it out of my house as fast as it comes in and faster, when possible.
(Wow that was a long lead up. I didn’t realize how much that annoys me. lol)
SO! Now for my story that explains why I just detailed all that info: I got a new car on the weekend. Every time I’ve bought a car, in my entire life, it’s been a great thing that I’ve welcomed with sincere thankfulness for being able to afford it but I’ve never cared what I drove. It could be a beat up truck, like the vehicle I’ve been driving since my Vibe died (*cries*). It’s rusty, old, the tail gate won’t move and the brakes are questionable, even though the pads are new. My vibe, although well loved, was falling apart too. Just about everything was falling off it, doors, mirrors, door handles, antenna, the trunk latch, gas cover…lol…she was crumbling to dust. I never minded though….it always started for me and was safe to drive and that’s all I cared about. When we started looking for a new vehicle to replace the Vibe I kept telling Dayne that I didn’t care what I drove, just to grab something cheap and working.
On Wednesday of last week Dayne sent me a photo of a car he was looking at. It was lovely, had a nice front end, looked nice and clean and it was only six years old. It was one we would need a loan for….for the first time since we’ve been together, Dayne went to a dealership rather than a shifty used car place, and applied flat out for financing. Apparently, all the hard work we’ve put into fixing our credit (thanks to a couple of poorly chosen ex partners on both of our behalves) is starting to pay off. Dayne has been relentless about not wasting money for ten years and I’ve followed his lead. Mostly, it was because being in debt and struggling to pay bills stresses me out so much I can barely manage it and he didn’t mind being in control of the payments and now, we not only qualify for a bank loan, we got a discounted financing rate….and I got my new car.
She is amazing. I have never had the pleasure of driving something so responsive, powerful, and fully loaded. It feels like a rental car and all weekend I kept waiting someone to take it away from me. It does everything I’ve ever wanted a car to do….power everything, sunroof, plug and play on my iphone so music and phone calls go through my stereo speakers (that almost made me cry, I was so excited when I found out!). It drives so nicely it feels like a luxury vehicle! The lightest pressure from my foot gets a response when braking and accelerating (holy smokes can this car accelerate) and the steering is so fine tuned I barely have to move the wheel unless I’m turning. I could go on forever about this too ! It’s a really beautiful, classy looking, powerful, full performance car and I feel so lucky to be able to drive it…much, much safer than my last one too. For the first time in my life, I’m a little bit (a lot) in love with my vehicle. Now I want to drive somewhere far away just for the fun of being behind that beautiful steering wheel.
This car is the nicest thing I’ve ever owned. The dealership gave us financing for four years so, if I can keep it nice and clean, they said they’ll take it back as a trade in if we want something newer when it’s paid off. With Dayne and Colt on board that might be a difficult mission but I’m willing to try. lol….I think I’ll invest in some seat covers.
That’s one thing down, finally. New car, check! Now I just need a new compressor for my fridge (that we just bought about six months ago!), a new stove (oven no longer works), a new washer/drier (last priority as they both still function as long as you don’t load them too full) and we will be fully functioning again! One day at a time though. Still need to get some money put aside for a mortgage one of these days. :)
I feel lucky. Rewarded. I feel like I worked hard and sacrificed a LOT but in the end….worth it!!! I let Dayne drive all weekend so he could enjoy it too but he’s going to be hard pressed to pry my fingers from that steering wheel for a while yet. haha…. (I love my car!) It’s also fun to wake up and realize it wasn’t a dream! That’s a new and entirely welcome feeling for me. Now I can’t wait until I get to go home so I can drive again!
I haven’t wanted to mention this because it makes me feel like I’m a slave to it, but…I’ve lost 10 pounds. !!!! I don’t really care what did it…stress? Likely…but whoot!!! I am a happy girl. If I can get another ten off me I’ll be at my (dream) goal weight and it’s actually starting to look like it’s possible. That little change helped my self image more than I’m comfortable admitting, but again, I’m not going to worry over it. Like the nurse who changed my entire perspective on myself said, I’m not focusing on what once was so much anymore, just how I can love who and what I am NOW. Work on improving what I have now so I feel more at home in my own skin. The change of direction did more than just make me feel better. :)
Because I’m happier with the way I look overall, my confidence is coming back…shining through. I can see the difference in the way people look at me, receive me, perceive me and accept me…..and I know, this time, it’s got nothing to do with the way I look physically. (Can you even believe I just wrote that?!) I feel more like me than I have in a long, long time.
Dayne, Colt and I went to one of our favourite time-waster flea markets on Saturday and I was dressed in my favourite boots (you have got to see these things. People on the street stop me to ask where I got them they are so different lol) a pair of leggings that fit again and a casual top with a sweater. I had my black and white scarf that has a very subtle skull print and my usual handful of silver jewelry on my neck and arms. I felt great…looked good, felt good, the pain was simmering in the background but wasn’t really holding my attention. People seemed to go out of their way to engage me and everyone I smiled at smiled back…it was a nice feeling, being in a place where I felt so exposed yet still in control and sure of who I was.
At home, later that evening, Dayne was looking at me with a goofy grin on his face.
“What?” I asked with a grin of my own.
“It’s just really nice to see you like this again. I thought we had lost that Grainne forever.”
“Sorry?” I responded, confused. “Have I been someone different?”
“Oh hell yes! After your divorce, when everyone turned on you and Harry ran around betraying you and your deepest secrets you just shut down. You retreated further back with every passing day until you were so isolated you shared nothing of yourself with anyone. Even me.”
I thought back to that time and knew exactly what he meant. After I left Harry he went nuts, running all over the city, calling everyone I’d ever known including bosses, coworkers, friends, and my family, to tell them all the things I might not have wanted them to know. Things about my past abuse…deep, personal things. He did it to hurt me, and it did the job very well. I pulled back and just hid away from the world until two things happened. One, I met M and two, I met Orlaith. Two people I decided to trust…to test the world with. M fucked me over so bad I nearly lost my entire sense of self, and Orlaith, well, she was the one who lied to me about her entire life, lied about a tragic car accident that almost killed her and her unborn baby, lied about the birth of the baby, lied about the baby getting cancer and then lied her little heart out as I cried with her and soothed her….I spent a good year being there for her as much as I could be. I felt so much pain and despair for that little one who never really existed. When I called her on it she closed all her email accounts and vanished from the face of the earth. I was never given an explanation or even an apology. Nothing. Just….gone. It broke me. I know I shouldn’t have invested so much but it didn’t even occur to me that she might be making it all up. I’ve tried to let it go and forgive her in my heart….I didn’t actually realize the impact it had on my overall ability or desire to trust. Dayne did though. It’s always amazed me, how quietly observant he can be.
The conversation then, turned to a change I’ve been noticing at work in how people receive me. Last week, several times, coworkers commented on my outfit, jewelry or boots. Lol…god I love those boots. I was standing in the reception area chatting with a therapist when a few others came by.
“Oh Grainne! Those boots are SO you! I love them!” They nodded in agreement as they spoke.
It stopped me dead cold. I smiled and thanked them, of course, but inside I felt like someone had just peeled the skin back from my body and exposed my entire being to the world. I went back to my office and tried to locate the source of the discomfort when I realized what had just been said. Somehow, these people who I’ve only known for a few months, whom I’ve barely spoken to on a personal level, were able to identify something I was wearing as being a good fit with my style.
This may all sound innocuous to most, but the thought of people knowing that about me was terrifying….and elating. It meant that I was finally able to be ‘me’ in a true sense that I’ve not experienced in a long while in my life. It meant that when I decided to let go of the past troubles, let go of the worry and picking over what everyone thought of me to establish ‘who’ I was in the world and decided to just be ME…the me I used to be (and always was)….it worked. Or, it’s working, at least. I have allowed the people around me to peek into who I am, what I like, and what makes me feel good. As I explained this to Dayne, he noted that it was an obvious change. He said he was proud of me for letting myself show more to the world. I’m pretty proud of me too.
The world is coming back into focus, a bit, and it’s really exciting. I hope there’s not too many hurdles in my way at this point so I don’t lose my footing, but really, this change is deep inside me…I can’t see very many things reaching it. I feel magnetic and in control, not of everything….but I don’t need to have everything in my hands, just my own self image, respect and self acceptance.
What an interesting day it is today. I’m tired, but not exhausted; in pain but not so much I can’t enjoy my day, stressed but accepting of my busy, never-ending job, and I feel like I have Colt’s school issues well in hand. It could all fall apart in a moment, but, for now, I’m going to relish this, even if it only lasts a few more minutes. (She says as the phone starts ringing endlessly….)
Dayne was an angel and left work early yesterday to drive all the way home to get Colt. They turned around and came back to town just in time to meet me at the Psychiatric Institute where Colt sees his psychiatrist. This man is amazing, let me tell you. We lucked out so huge when we found him.
Way back when Colt was 3 we started our campaign to get him onto one of the doc’s caseloads. It’s a self referral service, of course, because GP’s cannot mandate psychological testing (well, they can, but not directly to the institute…they’re the higher care body who is linked directly to the Ministry of Health which governs all of health care in Canada. Dayne and I nearly lost our jobs, we took so much time off rotating shifts at the Institute with envelopes bursting with medical notes and test results from Colt’s first three years. We begged, literally, for help and finally one of the docs agreed to take Colt on as a patient.
We only go a few times a year at this point but there is zero pressure from them to make appointments. They’re so busy they can barely handle what they have….but this wonderful doc, Dr. Rob, we’ll call him, went out of his way for us, again, and arranged to see us at 5:30 to make things easier on us. 5:30! The entire hospital I work in clears out 4 (aside from the nursing shifts) so a 5:30 appointment on a Wednesday is unheard of. Dr. Rob also sat with us until nearly 7:00 pm and when we left he wasn’t even almost rushing us out the door.
Sometimes we forget how good it is for Dayne and I to meet with Dr. Rob, thinking of his as Colt’s doc, not someone who will help us achieve our goals. He always starts by chatting with Colt about kid things…school, sports, superheros, whatever he can remember as being of interest. Then, he will ask Colt a series of questions and observes him as a whole, watching his tics and gestures, movements, eye contact, flow of though, logic…it’s really interesting to watch it happen. Colt responds well, tries hard to be personable and polite; it makes me love him so much too see. My biggest fear for him is that he stops trying. Then Dr. Rob will start discussing things with Dayne and I, asking how the school year is going and how Colt is doing. We generally relate all the BS we’ve endured from the school since our last appointment and he sits there and bats away the nonsense
“So what are they considering his behavioral issues to be?” He asked. “Does he scream or disrupt the class by throwing physical fits or items across the room at his peers?”
“Oh gosh no!” I answered while Dayne chuckled and Colt looked so bored he was about to pass out in the chair. “Basically, he refuses to do what they ask him. In the afternoon, the only expectation of him is that he remains physically present in his classes and they’re not even managing to do that.”
But does he swear? Spit? Get into physical fights?” Dr. Rob looked a bit surprised.
“No no, nothing like that. He refuses to do his work. If they push him he threatens to swear at them and then he’s sent to the office and I get a call to redirect him and his behaviour.”
“Well that’s ridiculous!” the doc said and all three of us smiled in unison. Isn’t it though? We get so emotionally invested in the school and the goings on there that we get lost in the issues and bogged down with policy and punishment (remember the times they suspended him for swearing on the playground but wouldn’t give him a student mentor to help guide him while outside in a huge crowd of kids? Dr. Rob was actually angry about that.)
We talked about the presentation they wanted to do for his classroom about autism. Dr. Rob asked me how that was going to help Colt. After several moments though, I answered that it wouldn’t. The kids in his grade and class are kind to him. They all know he’s autistic…..a presentation for them won’t help Colt in any way, in fact, the doc worried that it might make Colt feel under the microscope, like people are telling all his secrets to the whole class. I wrote an email this morning halting that presentation….I can’t believe I almost put him through that. I don’t think he would react too badly but really, what’s the benefit? Nothing aside from the school getting to say “We’ve done all we can! Look at our efforts!” Screw them. It’s been ME who drives this entire thing and has been me alone from the start. Even Dayne can’t be counted on to behave rationally.
Anyway….things went along like that and Dr. Rob told us to stand strong with the school. He said that if they threaten to take away his EA support (which means he’ll do nothing in the morning and nothing in the afternoon) to tell them we disagree, first, and second, that we hope they have a great plan B in place because Colt will be there until grade 8, regardless. There are no other places for him to go…
Oooh and the ASD placement they’re pushing to get Colt into…haha…we asked about that and Dr. Rob nearly jumped out of his chair.
“NO! No don’t allow them to push you into that! The programs are good, I’ve been over to see four of them in the last three years, but the kids who go there seem to be the ones who are a physical threat to themselves or other students or are extremely disruptive to a regular class or school.”
He says the minimal distractions, army-like structure and padded cool down rooms (closets with no window, just bean bag mats and a tiny little closet they lock the kids into when they freak out) are in place for a reason. Like us, he agreed that Colt spending time around children who are fall less socially functional than he is will only serve to pull him down and will teach him absolutely nothing about self coping or regulation. I nearly cried with relief at the sound of someone agreeing with me.
So we will not allow an application for the ASD classes. The doc said he has rarely found if effective for kids like Colt and I can stand on that, regardless of the pressure the school puts on. He also recommended that we have him reevaluated and have a new IEP designed. His hasn’t really changed since grade 3.
Then he asked about the swearing from last year. He did a few quick psychological test and pushed Colt (a bit) into answering more difficult questions than he is easily able. This caused an immediate stress reaction and his twitches and tics came out everywhere. I don’t think there was a single part of his body that was still throughout the session. At it’s conclusion, Dr. Rob announced that he believes Colt has Tourette’s Syndrome (it’s rather often found as a co-morbidity of autism, especially at Colt’s level of function). It’s not severe and could get better or worse with time, but he wants to add it to Colt’s overall diagnosis. He smiled when he said that it might help him keep his EA support through grade 8, at least.
After hearing that I very nearly cheered. I know that must sound so odd to most people, but the fact that maybe the swearing and strange behaviour that started last year was due to the Tourette’s starting up in his messed up little system. Knowing it might have a root cause relieves me of the fear that Colt is turning aggressive, surly and entirely lacks empathy for his fellow man. His frustration levels make much more sense that was too…..but that poor kid. Can you imagine the struggle he faces each and every day when he tries to “behave” the way everyone expects him to? I hate so much that he suffers that way. Any way.
We came away feeling a little happier, more empowered and refocused entirely on what matters most: Colt, his education and his happiness. It puts Dayne and I on the same page immediately.
As we were walking out Dr. Rob pulled Colt off to the side and got on his level.
“Hey Colt? I see a lot of kids here who need my help at school and at home. I’m really glad you come to see me too because you are a really nice kid with a great heart. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re better than you, because I can promise you that they’re not. Okay buddy?”
Colt offered a ‘fist bump’ and Dr. Rob happily bumped him back. I couldn’t have been more moved. Everything changed in that moment, settled down and refocused. We’re ready for the next hurdle now, whatever they try to throw at us, we’ll be ready.
Thanks Dr. Rob. I hope you know how much your help means to these kids….and their parents. :)