Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Math in the Things I Don't Like to Talk About

That will most likely be the only thing funny about this post.  And it's basically because any time I get ready to talk about anything serious, in my head I hear the words "On a very special, Xena: Warrior Princess".  I tend to handle things that make me uncomfortable with humor.  But in the end- some things aren't funny.

I've been Sunday Scooping for the past few weeks- but I had told myself I was going to do a Math is Real Life post.  And I should do that before I scoop.  And I don't want to lump all of this together in one big post, because it needs to be on its own.

You ever have those dreams where your all teeth fall out?  Or you've got, like, old gum stuck in them and you keep trying to pull it out and it just keeps coming out in long never breaking strings?  Even if you haven't- it's a thing.  Apparently, according to dream psychology, it means you have something to say but you aren't saying it.  Surprising, I know, but there are some things I don't say out loud. Often.

This past Tuesday my chickens died.  I went out in the morning to check on them and found them dead.  Killed by a cat or something during the night.  I'd say my reaction was intense.  My parents worried a bit that I might have been having "an episode".  But I wasn't.  It was just a moment of terrible despair.  I had a lot of emotions wrapped up in those two girls.  I buried them yesterday. My dad helped quite a bit, and now they have a very lovely spot in the back yard.  I won't be getting any new chickens any time soon.  I suppose I will try to hatch some eggs with my class again next May, but we'll see.

 Statistically speaking, Grief happens to everyone.  People work through the stages in different ways and at various rates - all depending on the situation and background of the individual affected.

In the following two infographics, you can see how children experience grief slightly differently than adults:

Now, I am not saying that the death of my chickens is comparable to huge moments of life crisis.  But grief is wrapped up into the things I don't talk about much.

The first being autism.

My oldest son has "moderately severe" autism.  He is not in public education, but goes to a private school.  He will never be a candidate for mainstreaming.  Thus far, he is not capable of learning a trade skill either.  So the reality of my situation is that I can choose to place him a residential home, or he will live with me the rest of his life.  I'm not someone who is comfortable with a residential program.

And why would that have anything to do with grief?

Honestly, because the day they diagnosed him when he was three - the son I thought I had, died.  I had already imagined his whole life by then. I had decided what he'd look like riding a bike, and playing sports, and getting his first car, and dressing up for Senior Prom. The ideas of going to college and meeting a woman and getting married and having children of his own- all gone.  I can remember being in his bedroom watching him sleep that night that they decided.  Just watching him sleep.  Not really realizing it yet, the inevitability of it all, but sensing a great loss.

There was, of course, a period of time where not only I remained hopeful- but also received tons of encouragement from friends, family, and church people on how my son would be healed by God.  Either by miracle or scientific discovery, my son would be "free from autism" by the time he was out of elementary school (note: he's in his last year of middle school now).  I can remember doing two different 40 day prayer fastings for parents of children of autism. I can remember a few different church speakers known supposedly for great healings praying over him. I can remember being told that perhaps I wasn't faithful enough. I can remember being told that God would never help a woman like me.  I haven't taken him to church for years.  And I can't say I much care for going anymore myself.

And not because I feel like I was not faithful enough.  Or that God wouldn't help a woman like me.  I don't have an issue with God at all.  I have an issue with people that pretend God speaks to them.

The math of autism:

Click to go to website and better view of infographic

I don't talk about it because people make this weird face if I do. A mixed face of feeling bad, but happy it's not them, and not even knowing what to say.  And actually- no one has to say anything. I'd be glad if it wasn't me either.  I've actually found myself jealous of women whose children "only" have Asperger's.  But it's all perspective- because they're going through something too.

My second source of grief being wrapped up around my youngest son's father.

The relationship was abusive.  For the last five years up until this past May.  And I have struggled quite a lot in the grief aspect of the failure of that relationship - because I had wanted it to have been the real magical thing I thought it was in the beginning.  And I have a lot of anger at myself for being stupid and letting myself stay in that situation.  But that's because I never understood the math of abusive relationships myself.

Every single one.

#1, #3, #4, #5, #7, #10
This occurred in my thirties- but they say that teenagers in high school and the college years are going through this right now and their parents don't even realize.  Their parents think everything is fine.  It's worth educating yourself about if you have any contact with teens.

And the math behind why I finally got out:

Some folks think it's terrible that I don't want my son to ever see his father again.  And I agree that it's an ugly thing to do.  It causes me a lot of turmoil to have made the decision.  But in the end, I love my son too much.  I don't ever want him to change because of being exposed to domestic violence.

I'm willing to be ugly to save my son from this.

Yesterday, when I buried my chickens, I realized that in five months, I received more love from Peep and Ruby than I had in five years from this man that I lamented the loss of.  And why was I going to cry myself to sleep over someone who can't hold a candle to a chicken?  So, at the moment, I'm feeling peaceful.  Not over it, mind you.  I still have PTSD because of the relationship and will deal with that for some time- but I don't feel like I need to cry.

And why talk about any of this anyway?  Why even open my mouth since I haven't much wanted to?  I'm tired of being a prisoner, I guess.  And I also believe I'm not the only one. Teachers tend to have a nurturing personality.  We take on fixer-uppers.  We have a belief that we can help and change someone through the power of love.  So I think, yeah, there are other women out there still holding on to tomorrow- believing that he'll change, he'll see the light.  Like a child who finally makes progress in reading.  But it's not like that.  And it's not going to be like that.  And you're killing yourself waiting on tomorrow.  And you don't have to wait.  You could start healing and living today.

Teachers who aren't experiencing this- your students might be.  And it's worth researching so you can identify signs.

I didn't write this post at all for comments.  If you'd like to leave one, that is fine.  If you'd like to send me an email, that's fine too.  But I don't need an "I'm so sorry."  Really, I don't. Even though I appreciate the love and encouragement I get from so many different people.  I wrote this because I needed to. Maybe I'll be able to keep my teeth in my dreams for awhile.  And because I think there is someone who needed to read it.  And I hope it helped, whoever you might be.


  1. "Someone who can't hold a candle to a chicken" said it all for me. Love this, you brave girl!

  2. Goodbye Ruby and Peep - you'll be remembered with love. Hello Healing and Living - something we are all on the road towards. Sending virtual hugs from Downunder.

  3. Eff'n amazing post. Gonna share it from the rooftops (figuratively speaking, of course). Brilliantly written!

  4. I know I've said it before but I love how real you are.. And I'm so so sorry about the chickens

    1. Thanks, Caitlin. It's good to have my realism appreciated.

  5. Bless you Ruby and Peep! You'll be missed.
    Awesome post, Heather.
    Hugs to you!

  6. Love that you shared this post. RIP Ruby and Peep! Heather was so blessed to have you in her life. Love you girl... So glad you were able to put your feelings out there. <3

  7. Wow. You are courageous, a survivor, and so real. Thanks for your transparency, how lucky your son is to have you. And ever the teacher. . . tying in the math on hard statistics!! Although I don't know you personally, sending you hugs!