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25 Apr

Sometimes I peg a post here as being Unspoken. Those things we don’t talk about. The hidden thoughts, the pictures that evoke emotion too deep for words. Today’s blog (ah, this A to Z Challenge is difficult…and deep sometimes) comes from an overheard conversation.

I won’t tell who the players were, only that I’m sad it was said.

“I feel guilty sometimes.” The pause was painful. “I don’t feel happiness in my marriage.”

There should have been a hesitation. Maybe if the words had been thought about they never would have been voiced. But in a rush they tumbled out, shocking speaker and listener alike. “I don’t understand. What does happiness have to do with marriage?”

Is everyone hiding a secret pain?

Picture taken from Wikimedia Commons. Tiago Lima photographer.


B is for Blue

2 Apr

autismToday is World Autism Awareness Day!

The day itself is kind of self-explanatory. After all, with an ever growing group of people found to be on the spectrum somewhere, it seems more than ever we need not just awareness, but education. And a whole lot of patience and understanding.

My experience with autism seemed to begin back several years (almost 18) when I knew that there was something about my toddler son that, well, didn’t look like what I’d seen other toddlers saying and doing. Back then I had nothing to compare by except what I saw with other parents at church or in stores. I hadn’t been around babies growing up, and none of my friends had children yet.

But his intense desire to line up toys, the tantrums that led to him crashing his head into the wall, the inability it seemed for him to hear his name…these things worried me.

At the time my family doctor brushed off my concerns. “Be thankful he plays so well by himself”  he said, seeming to be oblivious to the fact that my son ONLY played by himself…

As the years passed and children were added to the household with a certain degree of regularity my life became wrapped up in not only caring for the children, but understanding them. The thing is, I saw a lot of myself in them. I also saw a lot that didn’t look quite…typical.

I almost typed ‘normal’ but I’ve come to dislike the term. What is normal exactly? What right does anyone have to say who is normal and who isn’t?

But typical…yes…this was a problem.

My son was 12 when nearly a week at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN gave us the answer of autism. High functioning, Asperger’s Syndrome they said. So classic they asked if we could come back for another week for them to make training films for them to teach doctors how to spot and diagnose Asperger’s. We agreed and so our son was immortalized.

This was only the beginning of our journey with autism.

That year they also diagnosed our second son. PPD-NOS – Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. Meaning he too was living on the autism spectrum…somewhere. This is a frustrating diagnosis, but the best they had to offer.

Then it was my turn to spend time with doctors and psychologists and we found an explanation for my own social ineptitude growing up, the sensory issues, the strange habits…yes, I too fit on that spectrum, every bit as Aspie as my oldest son. Just…functioning better with age and practice, and a whole lot of therapy.

That was several years ago. Since we’ve had it confirmed that two of the daughters are most likely autistic to some degree as well. I have the doctor’s order to have the youngest evaluated but I’m unsure if I’m ready to take that step with either of them. The second youngest…well…today the psychologist told me she is every bit as aspie as me. I knew it inside, but I hadn’t had someone else say it to me before. Someone… official.

You’d think by now I’d be used to it, but every day still remains a challenge. Not all of the kids look autistic, sometimes they do. I homeschool so we have the freedom to be more ‘ourselves’ and maybe worry a lot less about learning all the ‘normal’ behaviors that society demands.

It’s not easy to talk about these things but today is a day for awareness so I thought, “why not?” I think that’s the point of the day, isn’t it? To show others that autism is closer than they think. They they likely DO know someone who is autistic. Or someone who is struggling to help someone who is autistic. Or maybe just loves someone who is autistic (which deserves mention because that’s perhaps one of the hardest things in the world to do.)

Right now we’re about to take off for Build a Bear where some of my kids can’t wait to get their hands on the Autism Speaks bear. They asked if they could tell the people at the store that they’re autistic. They wanted to know if it’s ok if they’re PROUD of being autistic.

I told my kids it’s more than ok to be proud of who you are. And to be proud of the the things that make you who you are. There’s nothing wrong with being autistic.

Who knows, maybe some of you will see us out and about today, wearing bright blue – the official color of Autism Awareness Day. Here’s a secret though – if you observe us in passing, for just a moment, at the mall, you’ll probably think that we’re just like you.

Guess what….In all the things that matter we are.

Your man, when he cheats…

21 Mar

I had my day planned today. I LIKE planning my day. I’m autistic so I get this happy little squee of delight when I see a nicely organized To Do list with everything neatly categorized and ordered by priority.

Then SHE called.

She was so sure it was me. That her husband / boyfriend / fwb was sexting over Facebook that the Kristine Pratt that she saw in the chat column just HAD to be me.

She did the logical thing I’m supposing, starting with a search for Kristine Pratt on Facebook. I’m usually the first one people get pointed to, or at least in the top results. I have 3,500 friends, I’m very active, visible. So of course, to her thinking, it was me.

She did her homework. She INVESTIGATED me, a word that means much the same thing “stalking” does but with justification for bad behavior added in. After all, I’m the ‘Other Woman’ and that gives her the right to find my home phone number or middle name.

Which then led to the phone calls, one of which I finally answered, ready to tell the telemarketer on the other end (because I don’t know anyone in California anyway, the reason why I hadn’t been answering these calls to begin with) to bug off. Nicely of course.

Except she threw me a curve.

“I know you’re married so of course you’re going to deny everything…”

Excuse me?

What ensued was a bizarre phone conversation where the tale came tumbling forth. I could hear her trembling over the phone. Breathy and insistant, wanting so much to get answers I could not provide. Because, of course, I’d never heard of this guy before in my life and had no idea what she was talking about.

So in short she had the wrong Kristine Pratt.

There’s a lot of us out there. There’s a newscaster somewhere, and an athlete, and a lawyer and bunch of others I’m sure. In one town we lived in, there was another Kristine Pratt who went to the same used bookstore I did and used up all my credit I had on file before we discovered the mistake of there being two of us.

It’s a common name.

And a common story.

By the end of the phone call, I was upset right alongside of her. “What can I do to help you right now?” I asked. “Can I pray for you? I’d like to pray for you.”

The wind was clearly out of her sails. I’m not sure if she was convinced ever that it wasn’t me that she was looking for. But what could she say? I wasn’t giving her what she wanted, and honestly the mention of God seemed to throw her a curve she couldn’t recover from. She instead hung up.

So what was there left for me to do? I was rattled. Not just annoyed that she had so much personal information about me, but that she’d gone through such lengths to get it. This was a woman scorned, and her anger was directed (wrongfully) at me. I honestly was frightened enough by the experience to contact a friend I have in the FBI and ask their advice.

“Just stay hyper-vigilent and be careful.”

Not what I wanted to hear.

Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy camper today.

I don’t like what this did to my day, what it did to me. But more than that, I don’t like what this kind of thing is doing to that angry yet oh-so-frightened voice on the other end of that phone call.

Now that I’ve had time to think, I wish that the frantic girlfriend/wife/lover would hear these words right now:

You’re going about this all wrong. Much as you want answers from Kristine Pratt, you need to get them from him. Making the ‘other woman’ go away isn’t going to make the problem that led to the ‘other woman’ go away. Talk to a counselor or member of the clergy or someone who specializes in helping women in bad relationships. Get safe. Get happy. Don’t let anyone take those things from you.

And to you, Jesse whatever-your-lastname-is who is cheating on your woman with some OTHER Kristine Pratt:

Grow up. Grow a pair. If you don’t want to be in that relationship be man enough to say so.  If you do, then what the heck do you think you’re doing sexting some other woman? You can’t have it both ways.

I’ve got enough things to derail my day for me on a regular basis. I don’t need this kind of drama on top of that.

So dear readers: What advice would you give anonymous phone caller if it were you who’d gotten that call?