It's dark, and early. Early for me, anyway. It's not even 10pm. I'm exhausted - getting 3 hours of sleep every night is not good for anyone. I'm determined tonight to do it - come to bed at a reasonable hour and try to string together 5 or 6 hours of sleep.
It's dark and it's quiet. Maybe that's part of the problem, though Joel can't sleep with noise. All I can hear is the fan and the dishwasher. And the dark. For some reason tonight it's almost as though I can hear that too, closing in on me; settling over me and pressing down on my chest. I close my eyes and try to shake off a feeling of foreboding, deep inside of me. I open my eyes and it's too late. My mind's eye sees his - golden brown and framed by those enormous eyelashes. Not shining though. They never shine in my head at night. No. They're glassy, there are tears threatening to spill over those lashes and make their way down his beautiful face.
Mine follow. Big, fat tears that I can't hold back. They escape the corners of my eyes and fall onto my shoulders and my chest. I'm scratching again, and my toes and fingers won't stop moving. My body's compromise, somehow, trying to do this without waking Joel. It takes just minutes to know - it's useless tonight. Again. My mind isn't going to let me go anywhere else tonight. It's going to torture me with conversations I've had with him over and replayed a thousand times. Scenarios that have played, on a loop in my mind every time I leave him. And dreams that now plague my nights leaving me physically aching to wake him, just to make sure he's not thinking the same thoughts. Ask him, beg him to tell me he's happy. That he's ok.
I dont' know that he is. This incident rocked us here. But there has been another. Not quite as serious, though that's not saying much. He was pushed over, punched and kicked. Because a child did not want him to play on the same equipment. There have been more of these. Just a couple, but incredibly difficult for him and for us at the time. All similar in nature. Sam finally pushes him a step too far and he lashes out. And we're towing such a fine line between letting him express how powerless and frustrated he feels, but teaching him that we will absolutely not stand for him expressing it in a violent manner.
I'm not coping. I know it probably sounds like I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. For thousands of years children have been bullied, grown up and survived it. I get it. I was bullied myself. But I'm hurting, and I'm having difficulty knowing how to channel the anger and fear and heartbreak and frustration. I'm struggling not to take my anger out on the wrong people, and more than that, how to let him know that I understand and I'm trying to deal with it, without projecting my feelings onto him.
But I lay there, in the dark and I see the tears in his eyes. As he tries to tell me there's nothing wrong, he's not afraid to go to school. He'd just rather not today, if that's ok. Because all he wants is to be close to me today. And that those 6 hours are too long to be away from each other. And still reeling from last night's horrendous dreams, I am unable to deny him. I know it's wrong. I know (though he was legitimately unwell, just not enough to stay home) that I need to enforce him going. It's important to me that school be important to him. But damned if I'm not finding it harder every day in the past 6 weeks, to part with him.
I find it hard to entrust him to anyone else. His teacher is beautiful and hardworking and is trying so hard to be everywhere at once. But she is one set of eyes and one set of hands. Bound tightly by rules she must follow and guidelines that dont' always work. And he is my child and my heart and my responsibility. And I want to protect him.
But I want to protect him from everything. The other day, he was misbehaving and lashed out at his brother. Joel intervened and was dealing with it. And for that moment, I hated him. I wanted to physically harm Joel for raising his voice at my son. For in any way appearing intimidating or makign Alexander feel bad. I reacted badly, actually undermining him in front of the children.
This is not rational. Joel is their father, and an incredible one. But when Alexander is in my presence now, my eyes always know where he is. I can feel, almost a thread between us that tugs if I can't see him. I'm aware of who is talking to him and what they are saying. I'm aware of the expression on his face and what he is saying. I'm reading body language and my heart beats furiously as I will my body to calm itself. I'm experiencing a real fight or flight response, ready to scoop him up and take him home where he is safe with me. In my dreams, I lean toward fight, and I roar profanities and threats to faceless 'threats'. In my dreams the attacks from him come from all directions and I am frightening in my defense.
I dont' know how to nip this in the bud. It is unnecessary and irrational. But it is very, very real right now. Tonight, I lay in bed and I can't get the conversation out of my head from his last incident. "He said that if I tried to play he would punch me. And then - it just happened!" The surprise in his voice is what gets me every time. Alexander is so gentle (I know I say it over and over again, but those who knwo him all say the same, this is the gentlest, sweetest of souls) that he simply can't fathom anyone baring any malice to anyone. He can not believe that this child actually hit him. Actually carried out his threat. In his mind, this makes no sense? Why would someone do that? In his own mind, he 'explained' away the first, more serious incident. Deciding that J must have wanted to look out the window and that is why he made Alexander get down on his hands and knees, and that he didnt' mean to stomp on him or threaten him. But this one just leaves him befuddled. Why on earth would someone just straight out hit him?
He can't understand it. Which means that so far, he can't predict it, and he doesn't seem to know how to read body language (common amongst ASD children). Often, he will see children posturing and being agressive, and assumes that they are joking. Literally. He will say "You're joking", as though he has worked out the punch line of the funniest of jokes. Because to him, why wouldn't they be? Why would anyone really hurt anyone else?
I want to homeschool him. I know, logically this isn't a great idea for him or for me. And I know, I probably won't actually do it. But if I could find a way to keep him with me, protect him from everything, I'd do it in a heartbeat.
I've drifted. I had a point and it has vanished.
I'm not sleeping because my mind takes me to terrible places. I replay moments (not just about Alexander) until I can barely stay still. I can't seem to shut my mind down. So I give in, take a tablet, knowing I have to get up in a few hours. My dreams are vivid, frightening. Always either me, or someone I love under attack. Not usually physically.
I'm exhuasted. I can't make it stop. My head has been going at a hundred miles a minute all day today, stuck on the same things, playing them over and over again. Trying to change the outcome each time, but it's always the same. I'm always left breathless and so horribly sad.