I have a load of things to write about, a s*$%t load of stuff to talk about, but first, oh, do I miss David today. Lately, I have been thinking about all the ways that we were not perfect for each other, how we may have hindered instead of helped each other, how we could have been better, more supportive, more loving, more intuitive. How we had such potential and how we fell short for each other. Then, I had a bounce back and was very sentimentally lost in how lovely it was to have a true love for years and years and changes and changes. But today, especially after my first LEND meeting for facilitators, I miss the ability to just dump out my day for him. I miss the specific way that we were together. David was always the guy who when you ask how any experience was -- work, a party, a trip -- the answer was “fine.” To get more, I’d have to probe and question. I had to learn patience in order to deal with his brand of a thoughtful person.
Me. I was/am completely different. To me, true love meant never having to shut up! I’d walk in the door ready to talk about every aspect of my day -- the joys and the sorrows, what I had for lunch and what the Supreme Court wrote, and what I thought, thought, thought. David had much more information on me than I ever had on him. His comments were well chosen and considered, mine were like cleaning out a backpack after a long vacation.
And oh my god, do I miss that.
Some of this feeling is post-vacation. Spending the week with Lisa who has always been my excellent sounding board. Spoiled by having a week of deep talking with her. And I have been indulged by other friends and by Cheshire who let me go on and on regularly, but none of that is like having a live-in listener.
Sometimes I am very aware that I engage someone in conversation longer than they want, or someone like Julia’s therapists who don’t need to know what I want to tell them. I am not totally inappropriate but I can hear in my conversations the desperate longings of a lonely person. It is part of this new normal to remember to monitor interactions, make sure they are appropriate and timely, and keep conversations on track. Not always easy for such a one as me. Of course, there is glory even in this acknowledgement. As I kid, I was painfully shy and such a severe stutterer. So much of the time I said so little to anyone. If shyness and stuttering were my afflictions, I have certainly recovered. Remarkably cured?
So, now on to the content. We have been busy this week and I have been grumpy as well. It was hard to come down from vacation. Why is it that I always feel so on top of things on vacation? My balls are all in the air and I am doing a marvelous job juggling! But then, I get home and those balls are bouncing all over the street! My task list is as long as my arm and I have the cold, dark feeling that I have indeed taken on this next school year much more than I can chew. I am sure I will not finish those remaining fallow year projects before the LEND year begins and finishing the old before beginning the new is of utmost importance.
It was Thursday, yesterday, before I let go of all of that. I breathed, made a nice supper for Julia and myself, played some wii dance games, read some Harry Potter, and fell asleep over my first LEND reading of the semester.
I only need to know what to do with the balls in my hands. Those balls in the air will come down at just the right time. I can trust gravity.
And trust that following my heart is exactly where I should be as well.
Now on to content?
Julia and I went shopping. Underwear and shoes. We have been talking about growing up and changing for the whole summer. I have worn Julia down. She no longer says that she doesn’t want to grow up. I have assured her over and over that she can live with me forever (a real concern of hers) and that if she grows so tall that her head touches the ceiling that we will move to an appropriately tall house. Yes, I was being very careful about discussing body development and menstruation and she was worried about height. With all that assurance, on Thursday we headed for Macy’s to buy bras for her.
Julia has been developing this summer and in the last weeks she has said that shirts make her uncomfortable, but she was scared to death that I was going to buy her “big bras” and she didn’t want them!!! The woman in the bra department was an angel. She could not help us because the trainer bras and smallest cups were in the kids department, but she told Julia that they make bras that would fit her perfectly. Julia was being her less than completely appropriate self, expressing way more of her feeling than the typical 11 year old expresses, and this woman answered every question more than once in a calm and lovely voice. I do get more than typically nervous with Julia in a situation like this one. I want to her interact with other people and I also want to completely protect her from less than positive responses. This woman could have been a therapist! Or maybe someone who knows and understands autism. Or maybe just an angel sent by a micromanaging god. There is always that possibility.
We got to the kids department and we found the kid bras and we picked out some to try on. There was no one there to help us but then, maybe there was no one there to bother us as Julia tried on bra after bra first, for size and then, for style. We had to go to a second store because there was just not enough in her size in Macy’s. Julia had no problem with any of the shopping.
Talk about relief!! My shoulder dropped.
But then, we went to our favorite shoe store. There is a story behind needing to buy shoes immediately. Anyone who knows me knows that I am shopping challenged. I was getting anxious in Macy’s passing women’s clothes and thinking that I was really going to have to buy a few things for school. I have been living in jeans and black tee shirts for two years and I need to go up a notch, just a notch, for my Waisman days. (Not to mention that those particular black tee shirts look like I should only wear them around the house now). So, I was not crazy about extending our shopping once we found the requisite number of bras, but during the last day of girls’ club at Chautauqua, Julia’s shoes were taken by another girl. They were changing after swimming and some other kid had the same sneakers as Julia did. Just a size smaller. We had no idea who took them and no way to find out on Friday evening. And so, Julia needed something immediately when we got home.
So, I waited until Thursday to shop.
The nice guy at the shoe store measured her feet. She is now between a 4.5 and a 5. We went to the aisle that we usually shop in and Julia started looking at the Sketchers. She loves those fancy shoes, and especially because there is so little that she cares to pick, I indulge her preference. Lights and sequins and hearts and beading -- I let her buy the gaudiest pair on the shelves. She loves them. I love them.
But no more.
Gaudy kid shoes including Sketchers stop at size 4. There may be a few 4.5’s but Julia really needed a 5 and that is a women’s size.
So here I thought that we might have a tough shopping experience with underwear and we had it because of shoes! We had to have a discussion, which was fine. A bit sad. Giving up gaudy shoes was not easy. I felt a bit blindsided. Julia felt cheated.
So, we bought a very brightly color pair of sneakers and she is really fine with them today. I talked to some friends who had all sorts of suggestions and we will find or make some gaudy shoes to satisfy her longing, but really, that was a lot of growing up to do in one day.
We also visited her classroom after a last minute call from her teacher, Beth. Beth and the new special ed teacher and the teacher who shares students with Beth were setting up their rooms and thought that it would be great to see Julia. It was a good idea and I hurried over to school. Julia interacted some with Beth but did not even greet the other two teachers. She spent her time checking out the cleaned out classroom, every nook and corner. This is not exceptional or surprising behavior on Julia’s part. It reminded me so much of her hyper vigilant days when checking out the environment instead of focusing on people was the way she spent her day, every day. But what was surprising was that when we wrote in her journal that night, she wrote that she was unable to say Hi to the other teachers, that she was shy and was a little bit nervous (which means that she was very nervous). Julia was able to observe and reflect on her feelings in a way she has never done before. This comes after months of working on identifying her feelings and learning appropriate reactions -- like, identifying her anger and then saying that she was sorry. These observations were not prompted at all. She identified and she felt the need to write it down as well.
Another step for her.
Today, I went to a first LEND meeting for people who will facilitate one of the instructional modules. All those feeling of overwhelm flooded back in. There are three second year LEND trainees who are paired with regular faculty but the other two are grad students who have spent plenty of time in clinics. Those feelings that I am crazy for engaging in this process were front and center. Why? What possessed me? I still know nothing! The high waves of self doubt washed over me. I could have drowned right then and there. But no one spoke to me as if I was an idiot! They all assume that I can do it! Hell, these university professionals are sure that I will fit in just fine. And right now, scared out of my wits, I have to trust them. I have to believe that they see ability and potential. I have to believe them more than I believe my demons who want me to crawl into some hole. I need to harness they belief to my passion. At least until my own belief comes in.
And writing this, I almost believe that I can do that.