Reasons I’ve been judgy; Jealousy

Last night, the baseball team here did real well at the sportsing. People were running through the streets for hours, yelling, drinking and generally having a great time.

It sounded like a rad party,

except that I don’t know how to be a part of it.

Sports from my POV:

Excited people everywhere are acting like they know the players personally.  I seriously doubt I would jump up and down even if the team were made of my cousins, so I really don’t understand the excitement at seeing strangers hit balls and things.

Tickets are expensive.

Sports games are longer than movies, and I can’t even sit through an episode of BoJack Horseman in one go.

And so I decided to do a little research;

“Some fans experience dopamine surges whenever their favorite team or athlete fares well. Psychology Today describes dopamine as a “neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.” It helps regulate emotional responses as well as movement.

Whenever a fan’s team experiences a win, that individual’s “pleasure centers” will be ignited.

Cells in the brain called mirror neurons activate when sports fans watch games. Mirror neurons help people understand the actions of others and allow people to put themselves “into another’s shoes” — in other words, to feel empathy. When it comes to watching sports, these mirror neurons cause fans to internalize the actions they’re witnessing on the field and feel the accompanying emotions as if they were doing the action themselves.”

Well holy crap! That sounds AMAZING.

The psychologist that diagnosed my ADHD and ASD tendencies last year told me that the feeling of being disconnected from mass events like sports games is common for people with autism and Aspergers.

Oh.

I simply lack the ability to feel like part of the experience.

As a child, I was extra especially judgmental about people watching sports.  In hindsight, I know it’s because I was jealous. My friends acted as excited watching a game on TV as I imagined they would if they were actually playing themselves, and all they had to do was WATCH?!

I faked it for awhile, to try and be cool, and because I hoped I could learn to be a part of it,  but it was easier to cover up my lack of understanding by being a bitch;

“OMG You don’t even KNOW those people! Are they even FROM the city you’re rooting for? Are they even from our COUNTRY?! It’s pathetic that so many people don’t have anything better to do with their time and energy then live vicariously through a bunch of overpaid little boys waving sticks around.”

I have to admit, I’ve said worse. Belittling others enjoyment of things I don’t understand made me feel bigger.  Better.

These days, when I get those judgy feelings, I take a long hard look at WHY. Jealousy, ignorance or assumptions I’ve made based on past experienced have all been justification for my judgements in the past.

And so instead of ripping on what I don’t understand, I would just like to say that I am quite jealous that I don’t know how to learn to share in what sounds like huge amounts of happiness.

GO TEAM.

sportsing

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How I overcame my Cleithrophobia!

It’s been a week since I was forced to face my last remaining fear; Cleithrophobia; the fear of being trapped.

I don’t know what made me follow that lady into our elevator with the kid last Friday; we usually take the stairs. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention…but maybe it was something more…

There are two elevators in our building;  Car 1 is small.  Car 2 is for moving furniture and such.

We got into car 1.

The elevator doors closed and we began to rise. We didn’t make it all the way to the 2nd floor when there was a noise and a drop that made my stomach feel like it wanted to jump out of my throat.

“MUM?”

Panic.

The woman started pressing buttons. She doesn’t speak English. The elevator blinks and beeps but nothing happens. The kid is excited but won’t stop shouting things like “Ropes broken! We’re going to fall down and die!” The woman looked increasingly panicked despite not understanding a word he’s saying.

A minute has passed.

We hit the phone button… it didn’t work. The call kept getting disconnected.

We hit the alarm.

3 minutes passed.

The woman started to hyperventilate.  She gestured for me to pry the doors open.

All I can think about is getting OUT of that tiny metal box.

I forced the doors open to see that we  midway between floors.

I let the inside doors shut again and my lungs feel like they’re in a vice.

No air! I shut my eyes and felt the elevator shrink around me.  I wanted to start swinging fists;  I needed less noise and more room!

But that’s not what moms do.

At least, not the ‘good’ ones.

And so, with my eyes closed, I tuned out the yelling and the alarm and I told myself that the first step, the only one that mattered right then, was to breathe.

Deeply and slowly…

What would be the BEST way I could handle this situation?

(Upon seeing that my eyes are closed and that I am somewhat panic stricken myself, the kid starts to freak out…)

“Just give mommy 2 minutes, baby! I just need to breathe…” I heard myself shouting over them, my voice cracking with fear, tears in my eyes.

And then everything went silent for a moment.

I am not afraid to die. Not at all. I’ve been close to death and have lost so many people that I embrace death as the only inevitability in life. I’m not religious but would (only in the past 2 years) consider myself spiritual, so I have no fear of what comes ‘after’.

I don’t like being hurt but we’re unlikely to die as we’re only about 10 feet up!

There’s plenty of air.

The elevator is the same size it always was.

I’m ok.

I can help them.

I will help them.

And just like that, I wasn’t afraid anymore.  The feeling of tightness in my chest disappeared. The overwhelming urge to rip my way out of that box by any means necessary totally evaporated.

I felt calm. I felt happy.

I was me again.  Just me, trapped in a box with two hysterical humans, one who can’t speak English and one with very limited speech.

I opened my eyes, took a deep breath and smiled.

I reassured the kid that everything was fine.  I stroked his hair and said soothing things while looking into he eyes of the woman.  His fear turned into excitement again.  I tried to communicate with the woman but the language barrier and the fear factor made that incredibly difficult.

She managed to mime that she was scared  that we would use all of the air. I smiled and shook my head no to try and reassure her. I took deep breaths and showed her that the door opened. “There is airflow!”

She looked calmer.

6 minutes have passed. I suddenly remember I have my cellphone! I don’t always carry it.  Isn’t that lucky?

I called Dream Man and asked him to call the building manager.

7 Minutes…

8 minutes…

The elevator phone rang several times but we couldn’t make out what was on the other end.

I get a call on my phone from the building supervisor.

“Are you ok!? We can see you n the camera! We’ve called the repairman! H should be here momentarily… maybe 15 minutes? Tony [other manager] is trying to see what he can do in the meantime! Don’t worry! Don’t panic, ok?!”

She sounded scared.

“No problem. I’ve got this.” I hung up the phone.

15 minutes passed.

The lady sat on the floor. The kid demanded she get up but neither one understood anything the other was saying so it was all good.

I hear shouting up the elevator shaft.

I remember that I have a phone and offer it to the lady.  She is so thankful, I try to apologize for not offering it earlier but it’s a lost cause.

She shouts hysterically into the phone for 3-4 minutes before hanging up, smiling sweetly and saying “thank you”.

20 minutes have passed.

The woman is picking at her toenails and occasionally moaning.

I hear shouting outside the door.

“Can you open them?”

“YES!” I shout.

One of the tenants who happens to be an elevator repairman was there with one of the building supervisors. Their feet were at my chest. They bent down.  I sensed fear.

The kid tried to run for the gap, hoping to be lifted out but I grabbed him just in time.

“No!” They both shouted.

“We can’t help you out. I’m so sorry. I tried to do what I could but I’m not authorized to touch this elevator. I’m so sorry…”

“Just stay calm.  We’d take you out of there now if we could but it’s far too dangerous with it being between floors.”

No kidding. I just read a Cracked article about elevator accidents like 2 weeks ago.  Metal coffins.

“Ok… so how long will we have to wait here?” I asked.

“Maybe 20 minutes? They’re usually pretty fast and it’s already been awhile…”

Two and a half hours.  That’s how long it took.

It didn’t go by quickly but I’ll save you most of the details.  Sufficient to say that the kid and the woman suffered waves of calm and waves of sheer panic.

I smiled and cuddled, hugged and reassured.

Do you know what happens when you spend 2 and a half hours in an elevator with a full bladder, a large coffee and a kid with a full bladder?  YOU DRINK YOUR DAMN COFFEE AND USE THE CUP LIKE A TOILET FOR YOUR KID AND YOU NEARLY BURST YOUR BLADDER.

When they finally pulled us up and out of that thing, I had to hand the nearly full coffee cup to the repairman who stupidly assumed it was still coffee. “Wow, must have been hard not to drink your coffee but good thinking!”

I was already running for a toilet.

I peed for 137 years.

True story.

Except I missed one very important bit.   The young man who came to retrieve the older lady said, “She says to thank you! She doesn’t know what she would have done without you with her!” The lady was kissing her fingers and blowing them towards me with tears in her eyes.

I nodded, blew a kiss back and ran for the loo.

It’s been a week.  I can’t tell you how incredible it feels to know that I am a person with no fears.

I used to say thing like, I’ve conquered all my fears, except my fear of being trapped. Sometimes I worry that if I got stuck in an elevator, I’d just start swinging fists!  I’d totally freak out!”

NOW I can say, “I am fearless!”

I don’t think I believe in fate.  I’d prefer to believe that I create lessons in situations rather than the lessons being provided by the universe or god or whatever you call it/him/her/us.

But this situation feels a little different.

Not only did I learn a life lesson, not only were we there for someone who needed us, the BEST bit to come from all of this was watching my beautiful, autistic son deal with all of this. The excitement turning into fear, turning into panic.  The drama that went through his head and then the decision to make it all into a fantastic experience.

He didn’t come out of that elevator traumatized or scared.  He decided that it was one of the most exciting things to ever happen to him!  He told people about all the best bits.  He took an emotional experience and digested it properly. What was left was pure joy.

It took me YEARS to learn how to do that!

Somehow getting trapped in an elevator ended up being a fantastic experience for both of us.

Who’da thunk it?

How do I discipline my child without judgement?

I got a call yesterday to say that my 9 year old son hit another child at recess.  This is the third time in 2 weeks my son has been physically aggressive at school. The fact that it had been years since he has behaved that way in front of me made me think that this has very little to do with his autism and sensory needs and everything to do with piss poor behavior.

A little back story; Evan was diagnosed with autism at age 3.  He was mostly non-verbal until the age of 6 and still struggles with language. He was a happy, gentle child but could be prone to bouts of anger and violence, both of which seemed to dissipate with the development of new language skills.

In fact, it’s been years since he’s been physically aggressive towards me and in that time, my parenting style has changed drastically.

And so I was left to wonder, how do I discipline my child without judgement?

Evan is a very large, thick child with more muscle then fleshy bits. He is solid and because of his ASD, he is a bit numb physically. Evan loves deep pressure, hard hugs and squeezes; they help to keep him aware of his body.

Evans father is 6’4″ and was 6′ by the age of 12.

The way I see it, I have a short period of time to change this behavior before my child is bigger than me.

Because it has been a long time since I’ve had to deal with this behavior, I found myself falling into old patterns of thinking; I imagined how angry I would be in advance of seeing him, to show how much I disapproved of his behavior.

But then I remembered this whole non-judgement malarkey and had to have a serious re-think about how I was going to handle the situation.

How do I show my partially verbal son that his behavior is unacceptable without showing anger or frustration?

I decided to stay calm. I would talk to him, I would discuss all the reasons why being physically aggressive is negative, how that behavior affects others and why he wouldn’t be seeing his ipad for a week.

I met him off the school bus. I was so cool. He was apprehensive at first; if this was last year, I would have acted VERY angry in this situation.  Instead, I let myself feel all of the love I feel for him (instead of hiding it behind a mask of anger) but clearly spoke to him about never hitting, about the importance of learning to keep your cool and make yourself happy by thinking happy thoughts instead of lashing out.

“When you are angry or sad, it’s up to YOU to remind yourself of all of the things that make you happy before you act out.”

“I’m sorry mommy! I won’t be hitting.”

“Ok…but can you tell me the kinds of happy things you’re going to remember to think about the next time you’re angry?  What kinds of things make you happy?”

He sat and thought for a moment and then replied, “Mommy makes me happy.”

NICE TRY, KID!

He spent the time after school on his bed, contemplating life, the universe and everything (Hitting = bad stuff. Not hitting = Good times),  ate dinner at 5:30 and was tucked up in bed by 6:15, 45 minutes earlier than usual.

The first thing he said to me this morning as he crawled into my bed for a cuddle was, “I’m sorry I hit, mommy. I love you.” which I took as a sign that he’d been thinking about it.

I sent him off to school with instructions to apologize to the people involved. his teacher sent me this: ScreenShot

#NailedIt