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.