I had a meltdown last night. A bona fide nasty meltdown. I’ve been debating within myself about whether I should write about it. I’ve told myself not to write about it for several reasons. I don’t want people to think that Aaron is all that bad, you know…….because I write so often of his uniqueness and his humor. And then my pride is involved. What will people who think I have it all together think about the fact that I fell apart? But then there are more compelling reasons to go ahead and admit what happened. I thought of my friend Brittany, whose blog post about the reality of living with her special sister so touched my heart just a couple days ago. http://www.specialneedsiblings.com/bring-the-rain/ If I’m going to be honest, where do I draw the line? Will I be totally honest, or just partially so?
I received a call yesterday afternoon from Barb, one of the managing staff at Aaron’s day group. Aaron loves Barb and trusts her, as do we……….and we know that she loves Aaron. As I listened to her, I could hear her heartache for Aaron. It seems that Aaron was irritating a client by poking on him with his foot while this client lay on the couch. It ended up going from fun to chaos, and Aaron came home with his glasses all bent and impossible to be worn.
Aaron and I talked about it when he came home, but he didn’t want to dwell on what happened and I knew better than to push him. These incidents take time for him to process and to share. However, it was very heavy on my heart. Barb is so kind, and she and I talked about some ideas to help Aaron. He hasn’t been participating with group activities at Paradigm like he used to do, and it’s worrisome to all of us.
Aaron and I sat down at 6:30 for our regular Wheel of Fortune date. He had put on an old pair of glasses that we had saved for times like this. He got all comfy in his chair, which takes some doing, but before I saw it coming he had jammed his silverware down on the end table (no marks on the table, thankfully). This was his way of expressing the fact that he was very unhappy about not having his regular glasses. These old glasses didn’t fit right, so he said as I just stared at him. He took them off, but became even angrier because he couldn’t see the TV very well without them. Why, oh why, can’t he just talk to me about it? Why must he instantly erupt? And though I know why, I don’t appreciate the answer sometimes…….and this was definitely one of those times.
My mind was already saturated with many things, chief among them being my worries for him. As he continued to escalate, I could feel myself getting ready to boil over. Gary was outside mowing the lawn. I had no buffer and no stabilizing influence that he so often gives me. And I did it………I blew my top. I knew as I stood up and began yelling that my escalation would only escalate Aaron further. I didn’t follow my own advice from years of experience with these situations, but instead I gave in to my anger and my worry and my tiredness. We ended up with chicken strips on the floor, and a shattered bowl that Aaron threw on the floor, and tears from both of us, and more words than either of us needed to say.
I was exhausted and defeated and riddled with guilt as I cleaned up the mess. I wished that cleaning up our emotional mess was as easy as cleaning up the shards of one of Aaron’s favorite blue bowls. Finally I pulled myself together enough to ask Aaron if he wanted to go to Wal-Mart and see if the vision center there could repair his frames. Aaron kept trying to talk as we drove, but I was numb and fairly unresponsive. I wonder what the woman there thought of us as she took his glasses and tried to fix them. She probably dreaded coming back out to tell us that she couldn’t do anything with them. I tried to smile and be myself, and Aaron’s eyes filled with tears as I said something to her about him having a bad day. She was kind, and I felt like crying………..and I was very happy to walk out of there before I ended up in a heap on her floor.
“Mom?” Aaron said as we drove away. “Do you think I can get a pizza from Papa Murphy’s?” So we stopped and got his pizza. I had to laugh as the clerk stepped out to hand the pizza to Aaron, who was walking toward him but who totally ignored the clerk as he sailed right past him on his way to examine a grill that was in the corner. The clerk looked confused and then laughed with me, and Aaron was oblivious as always.
After the pizza had cooked and as I sliced it, Aaron was sitting at the table and said, “Mom? Do you want to be nice to each other tonight?” Oh, his childishness! It either drives me crazy or it just melts my heart. He continued, “Do you want some pizza? I’ll let you have some pizza.” And then, “Are you gonna sit by me, Mom?” I knew this was Aaron’s way of making up, so I sat at the table with him. There he sat…….say it with me………..with his two knives and his two spoons and his two forks and his toothpicks and his napkins and his drink with his straw. I listened to him chew loudly and suck in the cheese that was stringing off the pizza with each bite and try to talk with his mouth full. I wanted to be anywhere else than sitting by him for several reasons, but I knew that beside him was where I needed to be. This was part of our healing from the wounds we had inflicted upon each other. Aaron needed me there………and I needed to be there, slurping and all.
“Mom,” he said as cheese dangled down on his chin, “I’ll do your back tonight. You don’t have to do mine. I’ll just do yours.” He was telling me that he would tickle my back with the back scratcher. Not asking me to tickle his back, which he dearly loves, was a sacrifice for him. He wanted to give me that gift with nothing expected in return. Though we didn’t have time to do our backs, I thanked him for such a sweet offer. And the ice around my heart was thawing.
Before he got up from the table, he opened the comics from the newspaper and he said, “Mom! Look! Read Speedy Bump!!” I laughed as he said “Speedy Bump.” Then I looked down and read that day’s comic.
Aaron loved the toilet paper comic. Anything with toilet paper is funny to Aaron! And I smiled, too, but for more reasons than Aaron knew. Toilet paper was pretty appropriate, I thought. He and I had some mess to clean up between us……some things to talk about and to say to each other. It might take awhile, as the moment must be right for Aaron. It might even take a few days to sort it all out………for me to have the strength to deal with what had happened………for Aaron to have the time to sort out his emotions and his uncomfortable feelings.
Today has been a new day with new insights that I will write about later. Life goes forward, not stopping for our disappointments and pain. It’s important that we…….that I………continue to wipe up the mess, to forgive, and to be forgiven. To move forward and to not live in the yesterday, to not live in guilt or in the tendency to point a finger at Aaron.
Maybe tonight I’ll take out the back scratcher and tickle Aaron’s back for a good long time.