Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Autism Answer: Frustration Dreams and Picture Frames

Writing down my dream.
I had a frustration dream the other night.

Feelings of frustration are rarely waiting for me when I sleep, but I know when they are it's a good idea to acknowledge and explore them. This particular dream, however, needed very little exploration and I had already been acknowledging it. There was little in the way of subtlety.

THE DREAM: My family and friends were all around, coffee flowing, children playing, teenagers dancing, grown-ups gabbing, life was glowing. I was taking a moment to SEE them, to LOOK at them, to paint a portrait of the chaotic spectacle of spectacular togetherness in my mind.

Brilliantly, (or so I thought at the time) I decided to snap a true photo for posterity.

Pulling out my camera I attempted to put all the people in frame.

It. Was. Impossible.

There were too many people hanging out in too many places, one style of fun wasn't coming through the lens with the right mood if set beside the other style of fun, the inclusion of everyone was impossible and so was the inclusion of the absolute joy in the chaos. I moved back to get it all in, but it still wouldn't fit in the frame and now it had no mood other than a mess of people, and closer in I could only isolate small parts of the picture if I wanted to capture any true version of what was happening around me. And now it was happening around me without me because in my attempt to put it all in one frame I had taken myself out of the picture almost entirely. Not entirely, of course, because I was there, trying to put it all in one frame, in one place. Trying to force it to fit.

I woke up as I felt my dream-self fall completely away and give up entirely.

Now, I'm not at a loss or at all unsure of the meaning or timing of this dream. Oh, no. Not at all.

In fact, this dream was almost inevitable.

Physically and emotionally right now I am trying to be and see and feel too many of my people in too many places.

It. Is. Impossible.

Without giving away too much of my family's personal stuff (which they are absolutely entitled to and which I am surprisingly rarely tempted to borrow for my own purposes, considering how addicted I am to sharing my own personal stuff with you!) here is where I am: In California at my sister's house, living temporarily with her family while they work at building a new kind of life due to recent events - including my son, his wife, and their new daughter moving in with them and dealing with their own unexpected and scary life events - while my mom lives a few hours away with two of my brothers, two of my sons, one of my daughters-in-law and two of my granddaughters who are all pretty much navigating newness and change, while my husband is home in Texas, alone for the first time in years because our youngest son started University in August and lives on campus, two hours away from our Texas home, and he (our son) is without a car, while my youngest brother deals with lonliness bigger than usual because I am not at my usual post in my Texas house ready to greet him with coffee and conversation at a moments notice, while my best friend is struggling with a new job and her children are dealing with new adulthood and unexpected health issues while her husband is out of state making money and unable to get home. So *breath* all my people are doing new things and living lives of change and reaching out for me while I reach out for them but I am one person in one body with minimal money for travel.

Clearly, the dream did not surprise me.

It did, however, give me an answer.

My Answer: My situation is frustrating and that's okay. As long as I do my best to be where I am when I'm there, and to find MOMENTS for the things I miss and want to be part of. As long as I remember to have faith that I am not necessary for the success of these many new shifts, but I am wanted and that's nice. My absence, however, leaves room for other people and opportunities. I am not in the way of them if I allow myself to be gone. This is a gift, too. 
I can waste my time struggling to frame it all in one picture, or I can appreciate the bigness of our fragmented fun. I can gather myself together and stay where I am. I can look where I'm looking and trust in where I can't see.

This is what it is to parent. And I have done it for years. Keeping an eye on what is in front of me so we can learn skills and grow together from the place where we're at, not the places I've heard or read we should be. I've always tried to be with my kids when I'm with them and trust in them and their world when I'm not. This is what it is to parent. Turns out, this is also what it is to let go as a parent. Which is still parenting. 

And I'll be doing it for years. Might as well start getting good at it now. 
Phew! Problem solved. Maybe now I'll have room to dream up the answer to life's biggest question: How is it possible that some people are not lying when they say they don't love coffee? How?

Happy Tuesday, friends! May your dreams bring you answers and your friends bring you coffee! (Unless you don't like coffee. In which case, are you sure you aren't lying? Giggle!)