The wedding and the week at the lake house were wonderful but not without snags and challenges—challenges that have continued into the new week.
On Friday afternoon at the lake, Julia had a melt down. It was not about anything in particular and it was not the worst she has had but it hurt me pretty deeply. We had spent the week with Cheshire’s new in-laws and they were lovely to us, to Julia. We’ve been with them for holidays and the long weekend over the Fourth of July. Their interest in Julia and kindness towards her cannot be faulted. Even their children are kind and loving. It was precisely for those reasons that Julia’s behavior hit me so hard. She was making the situatin difficult and uncomfortable. All I could see at that point was that I had brought a very difficult family to the table. Quickly my hurt devolved into self-pity. Everyone else was coupled, I was alone. I could not even deliver Cheshire’s father to the wedding. Okay, that was not my fault. At least, I knew that rationally, but rationality had no place in that dark space. My aloneness and loneliness, that I fought against all week, reared its ugly head. I saw myself as a taker and my move to Boston as a mistake. If I was far away, Cheshire could, for the most part, engage with her husband’s extended family without the challenges that Julia brings to every event. Of course, when I voiced some of this to Cheshire, she disabused me of the ideas.
Now, as I write this, tears spring to my eyes. I can almost see the emotional cliff’s edge that I stood and still stand upon. Wildly, I could write that I don’t know where I will find the strength to go on, to raise Julia to be a good person, to be strong alone, but that would be hyperbole. I will, of course, go on—go on, trying and failing, falling into wells of self-pity and climbing out, blowing my nose and righting what I can in my very small world.
And back to Julia.
On Saturday morning, Julia was still angry at me. She got into my computer files through her iPad (up to Saturday, we had a shared apple account and she could get into any of my files), took my apple password, and charged $100 of apps to my credit card. This is the second time she has charged apps without permission, and although all I did the first time was to change my password and have a few stern conversations with her, this time I felt the need to protect myself. I put controls on her iPad. I initiated her own apple id and account that cannot access my account or information. (It is not easy to set up an apple id without a credit or debit card, but there is a work around and it can be done.) I also put locks on the files that could help her get into my account. For the last two days, Julia has been trying to figure out how to change what I did to her iPad. I know she has spent almost all her iPad time doing this because my email is the default email for her account and I’ve received many apple codes for reseting her account. (Codes which she has no access to as it is on my computer.) She has been getting up at night, last night at 1 a.m. and again at 5 a.m., to do this. This morning a bit after 5, she called 911. The police came to the house, explaining that they were called to reset an iPad. The officers could not have been kinder and much later, I called the precinct office to apologize again and offer some explanation. The officer I spoke with was again very kind. He offered to take my contact information, put a note for officers on my address and to have dispatch call my phone number if they got another 911 about my address. He said Julia’s call, our situation was not novel and they could handle it.
When I asked Julia why she called 911, she told me she was angry about the iPad restrictions and she wanted to embarrass me. She also told me that she thought that resetting her iPad is a real emergency.
How do you teach an impulsive adult with autism right from wrong? How do you teach consequences? How do you teach what a typical adult knows from simply moving around in their world?
And back to me.
When we got home on Saturday, I found the ceramic plaque of the tree broken and on the kitchen floor. During the heat, the Command products that I used last fall to hang pictures have failed. The adhesive behind hooks peels away from the wall or the velcro pieces come loose from picture frames. I’ve lost little things hung on walls and put pictures on the floor until the fall.
The tree was a gift. I’ve thought of it as “roots and wings.” The person who gave it to me is no longer a friend, and what struck me on Saturday was that it was with this person that I had the only plan for Cheshire’s wedding. A plan conceived when she was a very little girl. This person was to be the officiant at Cheshire’s wedding, and although we have not been friends for years now, somewhere deep inside, I assumed or maybe just imagined that it would be this person who would be standing under the chuppah to greet Cheshire and her groom. This thought had not reached my consciousness until I saw the ‘roots and wings’ broken on the kitchen floor. In that moment, I saw it as another failure, another person who should have been at the wedding who was not. I felt how little I had contributed to the gathering at the lake house.
Yes, yes, I know on reflection that none of my self-pity has firm ground to stand on, but these feelings of not being enough and of failure and being nothing but a taker are the opposing side of my coins of strength and bravery. In someway, maybe just by the writing, I need to honor them. In the past I have tried to deny them, to rise above them, to hide them from view, but they are as much a part of who I am as the nobler, more appropriate sides of who I am. I need to be able to sit with them, invite them in and ask them to tea.
How do you teach an old lady who has been living in her world for a long time that coins always have two sides?