Today was a rough day filled with many emotions and sadly I think the negative ones took the lead for too much of the day. Today is one of those days where my Al-Anon program and sponsor saved me from my worst enemy, the committees in my head. Although this is part of my recovery program for the “isms” I have faced throughout my life, I also find this particular method very useful in everyday life as a wife, and SAHM to two amazing, strong-willed, crazy girls. I actually find I can apply a LOT of my program to Autism and the world of challenges it brings as well. This particular method is called HALT, which means whenever I feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, I need to HALT, identify this need and address it. I would like to give you an example of HALT, by explaining what it meant for me today.
Hungry – I am horrible at remembering to eat, and today was no different. It was our Autistic daughter’s FIRST field-trip with her Early Childhood Education class, and I was so excited getting her and daddy all packed up to go, I did not eat breakfast. Once they were on their way, I got busy with a few chores that needed to be done before I could take my other daughter out to play at the park. It was not until the baby fell asleep on me, while I was putting her shoes on (lol) that I realized it was 10am and I had yet to eat, even though I had been up since 5am.
Angry – We had a VERY close call while waiting for the bus today. I was playing with Beth on the front lawn, doing our normal morning silliness before school, when out of nowhere she bolted for the parking lot. As many of you know, Autistic children have an extremely poor safety awareness, and can get so focused on something they don’t hear you calling them. That is exactly what happened she saw the bird we were “talking” to fly away and went to chase it. Unfortunately, I had let my guard down and was not right next to her. I saw the van coming and could not breathe. I was running and SCREAMING STOP over and over again. Finally, in what seemed like an eternity, I grabbed her and pulled her back right as the van passed us, the driver missed hitting her by a few inches. I was Angry at the driver for not stopping, she obviously heard me and was looking at me, but kept driving. After she realized what almost just happened she sat at the end of the driveway for a few moments before driving away. I was VERY ANGRY with myself for being so careless and I was DEVASTATED at the thought of how horribly different this incident could have ended.
Lonely – I was sad that my husband was out with Beth on her first field-trip with all her classmates and friends, and I was missing it. When Anne fell asleep on me, and slept the entire time they were gone, I grew even more sad and lonely. I also thought that we would have a family day once they returned, then perhaps a Date-Night-In after the girls went to bed, but was informed that he needed to meet-up with some friends tonight. I grew even more sad, felt even more lonely and was very hurt because I had expectations that were not being met.
Tired – Although Beth takes melatonin to help her sleep, we still have bad nights once or twice a week. Now she appears to have some allergy/sinus issues that are causing coughing spells at night as well. Plus Anne is teething and not sleeping well. Therefore I rarely get a good night’s sleep that contains both quality and quantity of sleep. Well last night was a bad one. I did not get to bed until almost 1am; Anne was crying and fussing shortly before 3am. Beth started having nasty coughing spells at 4:30am and finally got up for the day at 5am. Exhausted is the best way I can describe how I felt. I was even drifting off while Beth and I were cuddling I the recliner watching her favorite movie of the week. As the day went on I felt like I was walking through a fog.
Now that you have a picture of my HALT for the day, I can tell you what I did to address those needs.
Hungry – When I felt the headache and faint/hot spell coming on, I solved the Hungry by eating and drinking lots of water to combat the dehydrating effects of the coffee.
Angry – The Angry was not as easy to solve and honestly I am still praying and trying to overcome it. I forgave the driver almost immediately, it was not her fault and she meant no harm, she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. If only I could forgive myself so easily! Thankfully I have an amazing Sponsor who helped me get closer to forgiving myself and accepting the fact that I am human and did nothing wrong. With the help of my Sponsor and emailing with my best friend, I came to the conclusion that it was just a situation that took a bad turn. It was out of my control, and I cannot keep beating myself up. All I can do is THANK GOD that no one was hurt, Beth is safe and I have learned a valuable lesson. It also helps that right after it happened; I was trying to explain to Beth why she had to listen and be more careful. I picked her chin up and said “Baby look at me, you HAVE to be…” She cut me off, grabbed my chin, and said: “Look at me, no pushing, be nice!” All I could do was smile and hug her, because that is what I do/say when she knocks Anne down. In her own way she was letting me know she hears me. I LOVE that girl so much and she teaches me how to be a better person every day.
Lonely – The Lonely was solved by being open and honest with myself. I made the choice not to go on the fieldtrip, I wanted Henry to go, and love him for the intense desire he has to be involved in every aspect of our children’s lives. I am very blessed to have such an involved and loving man for my husband and father of my children. It is also not his fault that he made plans, because I never told him my expectations of the day. As my sponsor reminded me: “Expectations are Predetermined Resentments” and if I don’t tell people what I want, need, am planning, etc… they can never meet my expectations and I will always end up disappointed. Instead of wallowing in my self-pity, I let him get the girls to bed while I cleaned up. Then he went out and I am writing, which is exactly what I needed to do.
Tired – The Tired was solved by being open and honest with my husband, and asking for help. I was losing my composure, and becoming short-tempered. Finally, I admitted that I was exhausted, sad, and struggling to function. This was VERY hard for me to do, because I feel I should be able to do it all with a smile, and should never need help. I am really trying to work on this faulty thinking through my program, and today shows me that I am making progress. In response to my confession Henry gave me a hug, told me to feel better and sent me off to bed for a nice 2.5 hour nap. When I awoke, I did feel better and was able to spend the rest of the day/evening enjoying my family.
It was a rough day, but tomorrow is a new day, and it will be blessed and fantastic. I am not sure what tomorrow holds, but I know we will be okay because Love, Hope, and Faith live in Our home. We may stumble but God, all the wonderful people in our life, and my program are there to catch us and help us find our footing. Thank you for letting me share this piece of Our Story with you.
Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.