"How are you?"
"I'm fine", I will most often reply with a smile. I'm fine, I really am. I just like to omit the second sentence which is supposed to follow, which actually depicts more of the reality.
"I'm fine. But, my life is complicated".
My life is complicated. I just don't tell people. I want to be honest with you. Having an autistic child is not easy. It's far from easy. It's like having the stress and exhaustion of raising a toddler, but multiplied by 10. Just multiply everything by 10; patience, strength, effort, time, energy. As a family, our dynamics are completely different. Our routine is different. We cannot do what other families do. We do what other families don't do. When it's summer and everyone heads to the beach, we go to the mountains because we will always look for a place where no one is around. It's a quiet life far from others, but very noisy within our very own. Our son is very loud, always screaming. And so I learn to be quiet, to balance the noise. Our son turned 7 this year, and yet we still do the exact same things since 5 years ago. He still eats the same food, watches the same cartoon, likes the same toys, and for us parents, we relive these moments every single day like a loop. It's very repetitive. I wish there was a "Stop" and "Next" button in our lives, but there isn't. So I learn to accept that this is my story. Our story.
As our son's screaming becomes louder day by day, the noise in my head has too. The volume levels are just so high my head hurts. They say it takes a village to raise a child. But where is that village? I don't see it. I am certainly not in it. In this whole wide world, there are only two family members who actually care, support and help us in dealing with our life-with-autism struggles. Said two people are my own mom and dad. The others just look at us, as if their stares help moreover make us feel any better. There is no village. It's a very small circle. The definition of 'family' has been redefined in my head.
My life is complicated, but I'm fine. I have learned to compartmentalise the things in life so one does not affect the other. I don't let our complications affect me in being me. I'm still my old cheerful self who loves life. I still get up excited for Mondays (new week woohoo!), I still get dressed, I still work, I still create, I am still grateful for all of it. I am learning to untangle this tangled ball of yarn that is my head, and perhaps writing can help. Just remember: never let your struggles defeat you.