Friday, March 19, 2010

boy, you're gonna carry that weight a long time.

"It also found that mothers of young autistic children suffer more depression and stress than mothers without an autistic child." no shit?

Up until last week I've felt kind of far away from everyone and very lonely- my close friends are not physically close now and for various and normal reasons we've all been out of touch. The other friends I have tend to endure my self-imposed distance (is that a proper phrase?) with niceness; they don't bother me when I'm in my room with the door shut and headphones on, or driving, walking aimlessly around. I'm either yearning for a talk or a hug that's familiar or rejecting of well-intentioned pleasantries. In a single hour I cycle through the intense desire for attention to the disgust I have (in that moment) with the world to the disappointment and disdain I keep for myself. Blah.

Anyway, I've basically had a month of this zero-contact thing, aside from this and that and my room-mate prattling on (stop hissing in my ear) at loud volume and high speed (I do appreciate her, but goodness...). Somewhere or another on this timeline I got to thinking a good deal about my family. I can't even go into my family, I can't begin to scratch the rim, there's simply no way of explanation because if you don't know you just don't know. But I have thought alot lately about how much sadness there is between my parents, and between me and my parents and my sister. The dynamic is just strange; I've never known anything like it. I see glimpses of familiarity in stuff like Little Miss Sunshine or Rain Man or What's Eating Gilbert Grape but... nah. Anyway, my young life after Dory was born (even somewhat before that I'm sure) was really sad, and I think it made me kind of a sad person. I mean, I could have fought that, I'm not a strong person so I guess I just gave in too easily, but you might have, too. I think it's because alot of those American Childhood Rights and Experiences were taken away from me. I say American meaning first-world type expectations, because obviously my upbringing wasn't dramatically scarring or traumatic, I would never say that, some kids just have the most incredibly painful childhoods I wonder how they survive as adults. However I would say that my life was depressing. It was monotonous and secluded in many ways, like we fell into a pit for 10 years.

After we moved to California I sort of climbed out of it, only to fall back in with other problems. My life now is an annoying pattern of hopeful spurts met with let down; all internal. I think, despite my old-soul quality that I had as a kid and my world-weary-for-a-homeschooler-attitude I was really hopeful and open and impressionable coming here because I thought it was the exodous, but it wasn't. I am still tied to my family's sadness, and that's the worst part-- being out here, "away" from it, I am so not away. This month I have realized what I've thought about for sooo long, which is that I must find a way to look after my parents and my sister, and relatively soon. Firstly, I want to save them from their lives before they're too near death to enjoy living-- and i mean, really living a pleasant life in their own ways. Secondly, I want to look after them in their old age. Thirdly, I want to give Dory a life, and take care of her. I realized something horrible yesterday--- I hope Dory dies before I do, because the only thing worse than seeing your sister die before you pass away is the thought that she will not be taken care of. There is such a weird feeling, too, because Lord knows in many ways I love Dory but in some ways I simply don't-- that's something people can't understand. Autistic kids are so rarely loving and affectionate. I'd like it better if she were just retarded, and could talk to me and be affectionate. As it is, she's just weird, and the most affectionate she's ever been was before the last move, when she was exhausted and cold and I was sitting with her, watching Hairspray for the 5000th time, and she reached out and held my hand for awhile. She kinda hates me now, and that's hard when she's not as small and cute and pick-uppable as she used to be.

Lastly, I feel the heaviest weight from my family to do well. This is ridiculous, my parents are the last people in the world to have high expectations or make demands about what I do with my life. They want to help me, they'll never make me feel like they're disappointed, and they'll probably always be proud. But I have to give them something, you know? I have to give them something. They are so tired, these people that I come from, and if I can't help them I at least want them to be able to tell people things about me. Or for them to know I'm okay and working and not broke or sad or lonely or confused or even just single. Sometimes I think I really would like a man around, someone to be things for me that I just can't be for myself, but more than even that I more often feel like it would be nice to have someone around so my parents could feel I turned out okay and not crazy or unlovable. I would really like to make alot of money and be filthy rich and all that, but I'm mostly okay with accepting the artist's life... except that my parents would worry that maybe I flopped. I want them to be able to tell their friends how well their daughter turned out-- not because I need the reputation or anything, but because they need to feel ok. I hear that some elements of this issue are typical for the siblings of the autistic etc, ie, as the normal one we are driven to be the "good" one, to excell, and that's somewhat true, but I doubt that whoever came up with that theory ever met my parents. it's so much more complicated than that.

I guess watching the movie Snow Cake triggered all of this. It made me start reading about autism again and families who deal with it. I caught myself talking outloud one night-- for a very long time, so I opened up Final Draft and wrote the beginning and end to a new script, using mainly the essential monologue I had just spoken outloud about my family. It will make for something very interesting or very cliche eventually. Which pretty much sums up how I feel about myself right now.


Laura Allyson said...

I'm not going to say I know what you're feeling exactly because I don't and there's no way I could; but no matter what, your parents won't ever think you're a flop. Please remember that you are incredibly loved, k?

Emily Gant McGuire said...

I didn't know your sister was austitic. I would say sorry, but that would sound incredibly contrite. What a sad blog. I have another friend that also has an autistic younger sister. And this next thing will sound contrite, but I will say it anyway. I can't imagine how painful that is, for your sister to be so cold and unaffectionate. I also think it's great that you are turning this into something artistic, and venting it, and sharing it. This is what is so beautiful about being a writer, about self expression.