Monday, June 15, 2015

Oh my, I think I'm going to blow!

There are days when I feel like the slightest thing, the smallest inconvenience will set me off like a stick of dynamite.  Today was that day.  What was the match which ignited the explosion? Austynn, my sixteen year old autistic son waived his milk glass at me requesting more.

I lost it. I raged. Both my sons were sitting at the breakfast table at 6:07am MST and I literally went ballistic. NO ONE demands a glass of milk FROM ME! I'm not their cook and chief bottle washer! How dare he?! He can get off his lazy, self-serving ass and get his own glass of water if that's what he wants because after all, we're too broke for an additional glass of milk and he KNOWS this. Oh, and don't you DARE leave your dirty glass in the sink, MISTER! Place it in the dishwasher!! Did he just give me the "look"? Oh dear GOD IN HEAVEN! He DID just give me the "look".  I was holding a five pound bag of dry dog food which I was ready to hurl at his head but the only thing restraining me was that it was open and still relatively full. I knew I would be the one spending my morning cleaning it up. Ah the hormones of a 48 year old peri-menopausal, bi-polar woman under an incredible amount of stress.

Dear friends and blog readers, before you call social services, relax. I've already tried. There's no such gift. This family is God's practical joke until one of us goes insane, dies of heart failure or determines a practical way out by suicide. Last Thursday, Austynn came home in another rage from school. Ironically, Eric and I had a lovely meeting earlier at home with our personal therapists.

"How are things going?"

"Fine. We're hanging in there; however, we have a feeling the honeymoon period is about to end soon.."

You see, a couple of months ago, Austynn finally did what we were expecting he'd do when he got to this lovely adolescent age - he physically attacked me. The reason(s)? He's angry, he's sixteen, he has PTSD from his pre-adoption years, he's never been able to accept personal responsibility and finally everything - and I mean everything - wrong in his life IS MY FAULT. It's my fault that he goes to a special developmental school for cognitive disabilities. It's my fault that I signed a waiver allowing permission for staff to physically restrain him if he becomes aggressive (which he has). It's my fault that his glasses were broken during his last altercation in class. And the list goes on.

His battle with me was over something so silly that I as I look back on it now I shudder to think how it could have gone had the incident been over something major - but with my son, once escalated, everything is major.

The incident which I'm referring to was over a low score on his bus ride home. His culmination of scores from both school and his bus ride determine whether or not he gets an hour of PlayStation or Game Boy time as a reward in the evening. I realize this sounds strict but since he has severe discipline issues we need a reward system in place which will mean something to him. Well, that afternoon, he was caught shoving trash in the bus seats and had been suspected of doing so for some time; however, this particular afternoon he'd actually been caught. His score reflected it and therefore, he lost his one hour of electronics. He still had TV and other privileges. What I believe really annoyed him was that the bus driver told me personally which embarrassed Austynn. So, his anger escalated from the moment he entered the house. I was alone with him. My other son was told to stay out of the melee and keep the dogs safe in his room.

One of the house rules has always been to keep their stereos from hitting a certain decibel level. Once Austy got up to his bedroom, he decided to test the limits. Without a door - removed due to several fire incidents - he turned up the sound level well past our family's guidelines. From below the stairwell, I noted in a voice far louder than his stereo to, "Please turn your stereo lower". With that request, he turned it up a notch. He knew dad was gone. He knew he was bigger and stronger and he wanted to see how far he could push the rules.  Again, from the bottom the stairwell and in a much louder voice, "Austynn, if you don't turn your stereo down, you know the rules. You're going to lose your stereo. Now, PLEASE TURN IT DOWN!" He turned it louder.

This was it, my defining moment. I knew what I had to do. I was shaking. I had to stay calm and follow through even though I could get seriously hurt by a boy I spent the past eleven years raising as my own.

I walked calmly into his room. He started screaming for me to leave. He was so close to my face, I could feel his spit. I started to unplug his speakers. More screaming. I said nothing. Inside I was horrified. I wanted to let it go, let him win this battle. No, he knew he was wrong and this had to be enforced. I managed to get the big speaker unplugged and as I picked it up, he jammed it into my stomach. I felt the sting of it dig into my waist. I told him calmly not to touch me. He continued screaming. As I started to take the first speaker out of the room he grabbed it from me. At this point everything became a blur. A cord hit my leg, blood was streaming somewhere on my body, more screaming. He pushed me full force against his closet taking the door off its hinges. I told him if he laid hands on me again that I would call 911. I went towards his dresser where the main stereo console was to unplug it. As I did this, he bent me over his dresser, pushed my right arm over my back and started twisted it up. Now the screaming - I realized - was my own. I felt my bones starting to give way under his weight. I screamed for my older son to get out of the house, take the dogs and call 911. I was begging Austynn to let go of my arm before he cracked it. At some point I left the house. I didn't look back. I sat in my car with the dogs and hyperventilated between tears of rage and disbelief. Austynn was taken away by the police. He was placed in a residential treatment facility for over two months. He came home about three weeks ago. I live in constant fear of Austynn having a another bad day.

Another stress. My house is literally a wreck. The home builders sold us a piece of junk. This additional anxiety is tearing me apart and I want to scream one moment and cry the next.  This once lovely neighborhood, this group of people, has been torn apart over this issue.  We've been separated into the "have" and "have nots". The folks who had either the wherewithal or the knowledge of what to do with these sorts of problems got them fixed and those of us who were first time home buyers and trusted we bought a quality house didn't know the questions to ask or have the bankroll necessary to repair the shoddy workmanship to begin with. Let me explain.

This house was going to be our retirement investment.  Now, 8 years later, there are so many things wrong with it - determined to be the home builders fault, that we'll be spending thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars making repairs to it. When I've spoken to my neighbors, many of whom have had their houses properly repaired, their response is, "complete the warranty form and submit it". Great. From what I understand, I have to submit a check for a ridiculous amount of money to have an inspector come out to see if my claim is even admissible. AND, laughable as all of this is, I've been told that this process can take upwards to a year and a half AFTER my warranty expires anyway.  Some weeks I don't have $20 to fill my gas tank much less $500 to submit an arbitrary claim which may never be accepted. No, no thank you.

So, I'm furious. Not only by these big corporations who build half-ass, shoddy American Nightmares but by the people who tell me not to go public with this heart wrenching story because if I do - dear God in Heaven - THEY may have a hard time selling THEIR houses. When I considered taking this story to the media, I considered this angle and my first thought WAS my neighbors. They can sell their homes by ensuring that they have signed affidavits assuring that their homes are BETTER than when they were first built. No, instead I've been told I would just cause more trouble for them. To Hell with the fact that so many other owners, like Eric and myself, will never afford to fix the damages or sell. We're young families struggling to get by. So thank you friends for your support. Even if I don't get anything out of my fight with the home builder, hopefully I'll keep another unsuspecting family from buying a new home from this horrible company.

There are other things going on in my life. Things so ultimately personal that I've shared them with only a few close friends. I'm not ready to go "there" yet. Maybe in a few months, perhaps never. The grief and humiliation is still too raw. Just know my friends that I'm surviving. Some how, I'm getting through it.

Hang on, Bri. Help is on the way.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mama, mama, many roads I have traveled...

My roads traveled have been many; far greater than ever imagined. I'm only 48 years old. I suspect I have at least a few more years ahead of me. I tease my husband, Eric on a daily basis that when my "Life Journal" is complete; a cloth-bound book filled with magazine clippings, famous quotes, candid pictures and miscellaneous thoughts - when this tome is lovingly tied closed with a ribbon, I will very poignantly take my last breath and say, "Adieu my love".  Of course, I've never been accused of being overly dramatic so I'll try not to upset my dearest too much by announcing it ahead of time.

**Side note: Eric, my funeral wishes are written down and located in the closet under my jewelry box.  Yellow roses, not red and definitely not carnations! Carnations are CHEAP for Pete's sake.  If anyone makes a stupid speech please cut them off mid sentence because I hate, hate, HATE stupid speeches and so does everyone else with half a brain. And finally, if you know who from you know where has the nerve to show her ugly, nasty spiteful ass at my service please kick her ugly, nasty spiteful ass right back to...well, know what to do, babe. Thanks.

Now where was I?  Oh yes, I hate big, dramatic spectacles being made over me and yes, so many roads I have traveled...

I suppose I'm stuck on this metaphor of "roads traveled" because I've literally just closed the door on a part of my life which I hope never to see again.  The mid-life crisis stage which so many 40-somethings moan over but which I believed would never happen to me. It did, dammit. It happened with a crash. I hate to admit being wrong but darn - I was terribly, terribly wrong.  I was too caught up with feeling sorry for myself to even notice it was happening.  Before I knew it, I was in intensive outpatient therapy recovering with ten other men and women suffering from various stages of drug dependency, depression and/or attempted suicide. One incredible lesson here; it's extremely awkward being the only extrovert in a room full of introverts. No one liked my hugs! Why it that?

So much went into my 40's and yet they're not quite over. I'm still slathering on Oil of Olay by the gallon. I'm actually considering buying stock in the anti-aging cream. The more I buy of the stuff, the more women I see squinting over their bi-focals trying to read the fine print on the bottles (as if losing our eyesight isn't bad enough, the bastards have to print the information in size 3 font to make us feel that much more decrepit and in need of it).

The 40's has also been a road of self discovery; a chance to branch out on my own and find out just how amazing a woman I happen to be. You see, my dear friends and blog readers, since the age of 15, I've been part of a duo. I've always had a man beside me. Even during my separation from my ex, I immediately became engaged to my current husband, Eric (how brazen)! I've never been alone. These past few years Eric has given me an amazing gift - he's allowed me the space needed to figure out who I am as an individual. Having Eric in my life has never been in question. He's the air I breathe, the ground beneath my feet, the hand which keeps me steady. What he's given me was the ability to leave home when  necessary and seek out the time to discover who I am. Because of this, I've found that I'm funny, emotional, somewhat unstable and extremely outspoken AND I like who I've become.When he's with me, I'm part of Eric and Bri - part of an amazing relationship. I'm still all the things mentioned above but I'm also his wife, lover, friend of nearly 30 years and mother of our two adopted sons.

Cowardly Lion - Wizard of Oz
Since my self-discovery tour, I've attempted stand up comedy (the catch word is "attempted".)  I've also made a cross country trip with a friend and discovered that the northern dairy farmers believed we were a lovely lesbian couple. Now THAT was funny! These last few years I've come into my own - meaning, I won't take nonsense from people anymore. I don't have to. I realize that life is too short to put up with rude and nasty people. I've had 48 years of crap served to me on a hot plate and I hate the way it smells. I'm done with it and I'll throw it right back in their faces with some of my own tossed in for good measure. I won't be bullied and I won't stand by and watch others get bullied either. I'm fed up with the bigger and the stronger and the richer and the better looking folks breaking the rules. I'm fighting back now. I will say something and I'll say it loudly. The Wizard of Oz has finally pinned on that elusive medal of courage to my tie-dye shirt and it feels so good. Bring on the 50's! Well, not quite yet...I still need more Oil of Olay.

Dorothy: Your Majesty, if you were king, you wouldn't be afraid of anything? 
Cowardly Lion: Not nobody! Not nohow!
Tin Woodsman: Not even a rhinoceros?
Cowardly Lion: Imposerous! 
Dorothy: How about a hippopotamus? 
Cowardly Lion: Why, I'd thrash him from top to bottomus!  
Dorothy: Supposing you met an elephant?
Cowardly Lion: I'd wrap him up in cellophane! 
Scarecrow: What if it were a brontosaurus?
Cowardly Lion: I'd show him who was king of the forest!