Sunday, September 16, 2012

The grief ambush

I was reading a conversation thread in a group I'm in on Facebook, where people were sharing what they'd done on the weekend. Most of the comments were about how they'd been with family celebrating birthdays, or that they'd had a surprise visitor, or spontaneously gone on an outing. And they all said they'd had a great time, or enjoyed themselves.

And I realised something I hadn't thought about before.

I haven't truly enjoyed a family get together, a surprise visitor or a spontaneous outing for ..... ages. I mean, I've been in those situations and there have been moments of pleasure, or laughter, or contentment. But I am always super alert through the whole event- watching for cues that I need to intervene to support someone or make a quick exit- which is tiring and detracts from the experience because I am not fully focussed on the conversations in the room or the people there. I always leave feeling drained and tired. And sometimes wondering if it is worth the effort.

And realising this made me sad.

A little bit of the sadness was for myself, because I miss enjoying social situations.

A lot of the sadness was for my two ASD kids, because I started to imagine what their experience of life is like if their reaction to social situations has this effect on me. How much worse must it be from their perspective? I hate to think! I know a little bit of the theory of what it is like for them from talking with psychologists and adults with ASD. I don't really want to know exactly what it is like for them, honestly. I think it would be too distressing to really know. Whatever their experience is, they get to live with it for the rest of their lives. I can help them learn strategies to help them cope, with the help of the right people, but I can never make it completely better for them- it will always be coping.

I'm not sure yet what to do with this new realisation. It is making me uncomfortable. Sad. A bit angry. Mostly sad.

......many reasons to be thankful
I can feel a bit of the familiar recurring grief cycle creeping up on me. Tugging at me to sit with it for a while again, and feel sorry for myself. And this time, because I feel it coming, instead of it jumping up and grabbing me, I feel reluctant to give in. I don't want to grieve right now. I resent that tugging. I dislike the way that grief lurks in the shadows of my mind and waits for something as simple as a conversation about enjoying life to ambush me and cause me to stop everything to deal with it.

Maybe naming it and telling you about it will help me to walk by it this time. Maybe acknowledging that it lurks there will help to push it into the background again, without me having to spend time fighting it.

See, I think that while it is probably true that I have real reason for this occasional grief, that I have so much more to be thankful for. And that is what I'd rather be thinking of.


  1. Beautifully written. I can understand you have real reason for the occasional grief and I think it's a great thing that you feel there is so much more to be thankful for. Hopefully by writing this article in your blog and expressing your feelings here, you may be able to 'walk by it this time' like you want to.

    Don't be too surprised though if you come back to the grief cycle once again. ((hugs))


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