I just wrote an email breaking up with the church group that I have been meeting with (almost) weekly for FOUR years. It formed as a small group of married couples who hung out and talked about our marriage issues. This feels like an especially huge loss because it was my last social activity. It was just too tough to manage. We were meeting after the kids bedtime. But lately, bedtime has not been going smoothly. I think it is probably because the sun is still shining and even our blackout curtains don’t trick the kids into thinking its time to sleep. In any case, if M is still awake when guests arrive to our house, it throws a huge wrench into our bedtime routine. This makes for a 3 hour battle for bedtime and a rough morning.
It now feels like I don’t have any friends left. I’ve never really had a ton of friends, but I did have a social circle. When you have kids, you definitely lose many of your friends that don’t have kids. When you have kids with special needs, even your friends with kids can’t relate and you lose your parent friends. When you have kids whose special needs include ugly aggressive emotional meltdowns whenever they are our of their comfort zone (read: when around other people), you lose all your friends. Of course, that makes it sound like my friends are the ones who don’t keep contact. It really is the opposite. For instance, if I get invited to a kid birthday party, I should say “no” because M can’t handle the excitement. But I want to badly to keep some social ties, that I often say “yes” and then face the aftermath. And then I feel guilty. I know that I shouldn’t make M do things that are going to make him meltdown during or after.
This last month has been full of, almost entirely preventable, crushing defeat on M’s behavioral front. We’ve had too much change and too many activities to keep his brain from being on overload all the time. I just keep saying “no” to social invitations and keep focusing on trying to accept my new normal. The new normal that is being so intertwined with your child’s life that you give up your own. My needs are no longer important, my self-care goal has turned into self-preservation. I know there will be a shift in the tide soon, but until then, I am just hanging on to the side of the lifeboat.