Nightmares

3.30am (Yesterday)

Dad I’ve had a nightmare. The Great Heathen Army came looking for me. They keep swarming over the hills towards us”

That time during the night is not the optimum time for my brain to discuss Norse Armies. Especially ghost ones. But parents find ways, especially when they are beyond tired. You just want the best for your kids. It’s tough when you see them distressed.

What weapons did they have.

Blood covered swords, hammers and axes

Ok now imagine them with some silly weapons. Something like sticks of rhubarb.

Bananas”

Perfect. What are they wearing

Viking clothes”

No make them wear something silly, sillier the better. The least scary thing you can think of.

Summer dresses”

Perfect. Did you see the Viking Leader.

Yes he was massive. A fearsome warlord.”

Would he be so fearsome if I was the warlord.

Your not massive or fearsome”

That’s the point.

Dad you will need a name. Your version of Erik the Red, Snake in the Eye, Forkbeard or Ivar the Boneless”

Ten minutes later much laughter. Some of the names are unprintable. But

  • Erik has lost the remote control
  • Halfdan Apple Crumble Slayer
  • Bagpuss the soft furry one with fleas
  • Ubba the demon cook
  • Sigurd my pants are buried in the garden
  • Sven Fork Lightening Farter
  • Ivor Big Arse

Tonight a bit of silliness quelled the storm (or to be more precise the Ghost Viking Army). Son found sleep again. But it’s tough. Tough on kids stressed out. Tough on the patents. My batteries seem pretty flat. But that’s what you get when you sign up to be a parent.

Sleep won’t come for me but at least I can have some bizarre daydreams about me being a Viking warlord, running over the Yorkshire hills in my finest summer dress armed with a stick of rhubarb and a banana. Now that is the stuff of nightmares.

Alpine sunset

This photo was taken on the last night my partner had in her beloved Switzerland. During a stunning sunset. Watching the moon rise over the Alps was just the most wonderful experience.

Little did we know that she would be gone 12 months later.

This is a photograph I can look at and still smile. Other photos bring tears but not this one. Don’t know why. In fact the more I think about it this was probably the last Swiss Photograph. It really should bring tears. Strange.

That night we racked our brains trying to work out ways of emigrating here to retire. Drawing up plans for spending all of our long life’s together. So many plans. In reality just pipe dreams with no chance of coming to fruition. The one thing we never factored in was an early death. You never do probably.

A few days ago I walked behind an elderly couple who had been shopping. They walked slowly hand in hand. Behind them a broken man walked sobbing his eyes out. In our pipe dreams that was us in thirty years.

I can’t tell how much that hurts.

Stress buster

I would love to claim that is my flower in my perfect garden. Sadly it’s next doors flower which is growing through a hole in our fence.

My Dad was a fantastic gardener. I’m sure he looks down on our garden and just sighs. He probably utters several words in Yorkshire including wasak, berk and hacky. Followed by wouldn’t grow my rhubarb in that mess.

Dad loved gardening. It was his go to hobby.

That got me thinking about the stuff which I enjoyed doing. My stress busters.

  • Playing football – stopped when son was born
  • Watching Newcastle United play and lose – seat now given up
  • Playing cricket – stopped when son was born
  • Climbing – stopped when the world changed
  • Walking with friends – stopped when the world changed
  • Going out for a drink with friends – stopped when the world changed
  • Astronomy – old telescope is not useable anymore and not done any serious star watching since the world changed
  • Going out for a meal – not been out for a meal since the world changed
  • Just enjoying being held by your soul partner – stopped when the world changed
  • Going to concerts – thankfully son will let me tag along with him still. So it’s not a complete wipeout

Need to do some thinking. Need to think about activities that will take some stress out of the system – which I am sure will help me become a better parent. Stress is building.

I really need to find more hobby time. I certainly need to find more time to sort out the outside mess. Unfortunately gardening stresses me out. Sorry Dad.

Kinda sad

It’s been one of those days. Slightly sad that those lovely Swiss Sunday Mornings are gone. Don’t get me wrong I am eternally thankful to have had those opportunities in the past.

Normally I try to keep the school holidays free to focus solely on our son. It’s the least I can do given what he’s been through.

But this Easter I need to get some cash in so I am going to have to work a bit. One day might be a 10 hour day. I don’t have any cover for our son so he is going to have to come with me. Yes he will still get time with me but it’s going to be so boring for him. It’s such a waste of his holidays. This makes me so sad and so frustrated. He deserves better than this. Will have to find a way of making this up to him.

Lost in the woods

Can’t see the woods for the trees.

That seems to sum up my thinking recently. So many things going on. So many things to sort out. Feeling tired. Feeling like a bout of depression might be heading my way. But not really sure the route cause. So it feels like I am aimlessly wandering around the wood of life, attending lots of trees but ultimately getting lost.

Maybe we need a break. We haven’t had a holiday or extended break since 2015. In fact we haven’t had a night away in those 4 years. We are certainly not unique. Many have gone longer than that without a break.

It is not so easy. Holidays are expensive, especially when you take them during school recesses. It’s not easy for our son as he struggles with crowds and new environments. Causes him so much anxiety. I also worry (and Son does) about something happening to me while on holiday – no backup so son could be alone, stranded miles from family.

As a result I suspect 2019 will continue the holiday free trend.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it to sound like Home is a Prison. It really isn’t. Son almost sees it as our castle. A place of safety which can keep out the alien world. Plus Staycations can be really fun and very cheap. So how to fashion a break while Staying at Home. Maybe plenty of day trips to quiet locations. Lots of games and fun things.

I really need to think about this. Probably need to get out of the wood first though.

Sneaky Grief

Grief sneaks up on you. It often doesn’t attack head on – when you can brace yourself for impact. The big hits are the attacks from behind – the ones you don’t see coming. That song on the radio, an unexpected find, a hidden photograph, a surprise film scene.

In the U.K. Mothers Day is fast approaching. It’s not an easy day to get through but it’s no surprise. You have weeks to prepare. It won’t be fun but I guess it won’t be a complete meltdown. I suspect I will blog further on this again.

Taking the dog for a walk in the local Arboretum. It’s a lovely relaxing place. I was using the walk to get my head round a work problem. The mad dog was happy – a dog and an Arboretum full of thousands of trees …. Pup Heaven.

So I was in autopilot. Just following Captain Chaos from tree to tree. Starting to form a viable fix to the work problem. Then I stopped dead in my tracks. A sudden realisation of location. A sudden sinking heart. Suddenly hit by a sneaky grief attack.

In autopilot mode I had drifted into one particularly beautiful area. During autumn a place glowing with silver leaves. A place my partner would repeatedly visit. I can see her face smiling at the view. A place where she wants part of her ashes scattered. A flood of tears and complete despair. I feel very old and so very alone.

But thankfully for my sanity I have designated role. Our Son needs me. He deserves the best childhood possible. So I let the dog pull me away from the area to a particularly exciting unmarked giant Tree.

Put away the tissue. Breathe. Refocus. That wave of grief has passed but I know that the tide will return.

An introvert?

Building a snowman here while lots of people walked past looking at me as if I was crazy. Five yards to the right is a high street full of shoppers and tourists.

I know I tell a few tales that might suggest that I am an extrovert. I really don’t think that’s the case. After the all too many retreats into my protective shell I often here something like “I thought you were an extrovert”.

Extroverts don’t tend to

  • Have a nervous stutter when talking to strangers
  • Frequently wait for the coast to be clear before you leave the house
  • Turn in the opposite direction when you see someone who might talk to you
  • Avoid social and family gatherings
  • If I do go to a social event, be the awkward one stood in the corner behind the potted plant

So why the drastically opposite personalities. For the first time I thought about it during yesterday’s sleepless night.

Is because I am an Ambivert. A bit of an introvert and a bit of an extrovert.

Is because I am an extrovert permanently stuck in an introverts shell.

Is it because I don’t really fit into this world and occasionally I feel the need to do some grand action to confirm that I do fit.

Autism.

Is it a pressure release for my building anxiety levels.

Is it because I want to be extroverted and when I do find a group of friends I feel confident with I then act out my dreams.

Is it one or two too many sherbets during my younger days.

Is it because I am basically daft.

Is it because I too frequently switch off my brain.

Who knows. I do know that my extroverted moments are becoming very rare these days. Especially since the world changed. But at least I can look back at some interesting memories. Some reasonably funny, many extremely embarrassing. Most importantly no animals or other people were hurt in the making of these moments.

Ashes

This is another photo from Whitby. For some reason the WP app for the IPad refused to accept it yesterday. Maybe it’s my not new iPad but the app is becoming almost unusable. Anyway today the photo seems to work and it will get its moment.

My partners ashes are still in the house. We have a sort of make shift shrine in a room overlooking the garden. Now she has been joined by 3 energetic gerbils. She would like that. At some stage we will start to scatter the ashes but not yet. It just hasn’t felt like the right time (for both of us). My mums ashes have been scattered in a cemetery (with the help of a squirrel – see earlier post…)

I asked our Son about if he was ready to start the process.

“Not yet Dad. Dad do ashes go off”

Don’t think so. They urn doesn’t have a use by date on (don’t think badly of me, but I did check). But an urgent google check confirmed no safety time pressures. But it did reveal some additional factors to consider.

  • The Vatican has issued guidance that Catholic remains should be buried in cemeteries rather than scattered or kept at home. However this clearly doesn’t apply to Quakers.
  • Ashes containing bones don’t decompose so they shouldn’t be scattered around plants.
  • UK Law is fairly easy going when it comes to scattering ashes. Nothing specifically exists to prevent scattering. You only need to secure the landowners permission.
  • In Germany cremated MUST be buried in a cemetery. Switzerland are quite relaxed as long as it’s not for profit. France does open up a few scattering options.
  • In the U.K. it is legal to scatter ashes in water or the sea. The only restriction being that you need to get the permission of the water stretches owner. In the US you need to scatter ashes at least 3 nautical miles out (and inform the EPA)
  • Currently you can take ashes out of the U.K.. The Tunnel and Eurostar are the most relaxed. However Brexit may change all this.
  • In the U.K. it is ok to bury a pet in your garden if you own the property, it has domestic use and (if I’m reading the legal stuff correctly) the pets have not been declared as Hazardous Waste.

So for the for the time being I suspect my partner won’t be going too far. So I can give her the daily updates about our son. As my partner was so very organised I strongly suspect that if roles had been reversed then I would have been out of the door within months not years.

I hope this all doesn’t sound a bit too matter of fact or flippant. This post could so easily have been extremely dark. I vividly remember driving my partners ashes back from the crematorium. It’s burnt into my sole. I was fine until I got back into the car. I put the urn on the front seat and quietly said “time to go home my love”. Suddenly the Dam broke. I completed collapsed into a deluge of tears and despair. Didn’t stop for hours. My lowest ever point.

Deep down I am worried. I am not sure the brittle foundations that my new self is built on are strong enough to cope with another one of those final car journeys to scatter the ashes.

Anxiety

Anxiety is far too often an unwelcome visitor to our house. I have suffered from it since childhood. It got so much worse after the world changed. Never ending road. Virtual all the worries now focused on our son. Not sure I am that bothered about myself these days….

This morning I woke to that unwelcome guest again. So many voices in my head. All saying the same thing … son is due a anxiety meltdown. Unfortunately that was the truth.

Anxiety and Depression are real inhibiting factors for so many in our society. Research clearly indicates that the risk of suffering from these awful conditions are increased for those living in the world of autism. At least a two fold increase is often reported. Yet from personal experience this was never identified in any of the briefings or guides we received during our journey. It is just not addressed appropriately by society. This can and does have catastrophic results. In our case it took several years of pushy parenting before our son started to get some help.

It’s so difficult to unpick the anxiety for our son. Is it Aspergers related, is it Dyslexia related, is it bereavement related, is it human life anxiety, is it all four….

With our son we have a frequently returning swirling mix of worries and demons. They recede then they blast back. On really bad days they all materialise at the same time. He has many repeating spectres.

  • Dyslexia and it’s unwanted consequences.
  • Friendships and social interaction.
  • Not understanding this strange, alien world.
  • Fear of death (his, mine, his pets, his remaining family, the people he cares for).
  • Related to the fear of death is his fear of illness. Everything is catchable. Everything can be a risk. Every sneeze, every ache, every speck of dirt is a potential harbinger of a health disaster.
  • School. Homework, rules, punishments, no support, cold and scary environments.
  • Feeling different, feeling inferior, fearing the finger pointing, fearing being laughed at.
  • Running out of money, going broke, losing everything.
  • The climate, wrecking the natural world, world politics, Brexit. World is going wrong.
  • Being alone.
  • Having to fit into large social groupings.
  • Fear of being long term depressed.

This is someone so young.

Today it is the return to school and fear of illness. The anxiety vortex is building strength. The bag of tricks we try only helps take the edge off but doesn’t fix today. All we can do is just be busy. Constant activity. Try to stop the mind thinking. These apply to both of us. My world is full of anxiety today as well….

Sun sets.

We took the dog for an evening constitutional. This was three nights ago. Lovely sunshine then as the sun sets – suddenly the light was transformed. Not day and yet not night. The colours just so dramatic against the advancing black. Then just a few moments later – all gone. Just blackness. But no surprises, we know exactly when the sun was going to set.

Fast forward 3 nights.

That evening scene is etched in my brain. It’s such a metaphor for life, well my life. Happily walking along the path of life – so much light. Then suddenly a dramatic transition and everything changes. Within such a brief period of time the light is replaced with darkness. The big difference is that in life we just don’t know when this is going to happen.

I wish I had understood this a few years ago. We had plenty of time. We had years. So much time to have a second child, visit New Zealand, take our son to Lapland, spend every available hour together……. So wrong, so very wrong. So many unfinished dreams.

Please don’t make the same mistake. Seize the day before the sun sets…..