Life on life’s terms is a saying that I have learned, but am not ready yet to apply. I like to control, I realise. I don’t like to Let Go and Let God and I am definitely not very good at Easy Does It. These are sayings that I see every time I attend an AA meeting. I read them, but I am not sure I comprehend them.
With 27 days of sobriety under my belt, I learned that no matter what the affliction, the world does not stop – life goes on and if we are to survive in a world without alcohol, we need to accept life on life’s terms. It is hard.
This week, we learned that our youngest DD, whom had been diagnosed with ADHD/ODD 6 years ago, actually does not have ADHD at all, but a high functioning form of autism called Aspergers Syndrome. He is entering high school next year and we decided that since the original diagnosis was so long ago, it would be prudent to get him re-assessed, just in case there were any special considerations that he may need. What we were told was so far left field of what we were expecting, we were dumbfounded. We stood quietly as we were told that although the results of his re-assessment have to be finalised (through consultation with a panel of psychiatrists and other medical professionals), all indications point to Aspergers. The implications for him are enormous. The dreams we had for him – university, love, marriage, a family of his own, whilst not impossible, do seem further away. With a diagnosis of ADHD he had a shot at a normal life, with medication perhaps, but still a shot. We have a couple of friends with ADHD who have successful marriages and relationships. People with Aspergers are autistic. It is a form of autism that means they are lacking in social, communication and language skills. They also lack empathy, as they cannot read facial cues that let you know when someone is hurt or annoyed.
At the moment, all I can see for my DD is a life of difficulty negotiating the soft intricacies that make an intimate relationship possible. I know little of Aspergers, but what I have read has said that adults afflicted with it have difficulty maintaining long term romantic relationships and find staying in long term employment difficult due to the social skills required to maintain relationships of any kind.
Apparently, social skills therapies do help as does cognitive behavioural therapy. Obviously, these will be made available to our wonderful, beautiful DD. My heart is breaking today. I want to be one of those parents who fiercely says that their child is different and they are proud of it, but right now I can’t. I am mourning the future I saw for him. I know that there is nothing to say that he won’t have a wonderful future and find the cliched love that I want for him, but I also know that life is hard and that having a disability, no matter how mild, makes it even harder. I am mourning and for now, I am going to wallow in it.
Amongst all this, I am having to still deal with my own alcoholic demons. This is a shock that in the past would have me reaching for that glass of wine, to help ease the pain that I feel for my child. I would have been sitting in my chair, wine glass by my side, telling myself that this is okay; that we can deal with this. Together we can do anything (I felt a lot of bravado when I drank). Of course, the drunker I got, the less motivated I became to move, let alone do ‘anything’. Now, I no longer have that option. I have to face the realities of life in the cold light of sobriety. I have to admit the pain is excruciating. The noise in my head is louder than ever and I cannot say that I am not tempted to crawl into bed and opt out of my life for a while. Life on life’s terms – damn you!
I am wallowing in self pity – I know it. I know the positives in my life and the stuff for which I should be grateful, but truthfully, right now, I am not grateful. In fact, I am pretty pissed off. Does the universe imagine that I haven’t been through enough? More importantly, does the universe not think my youngest DD has been through enough? I have a thousand questions and no answers.
This may all seem a bit melodramatic to someone on the outside looking in. After all, I am lucky. I have a wonderful DH, a wonderful home with two beautiful children. The disability could be worse – it is fairly mild compared to others. Yet, I feel wretched. Luckily for me, in AA they know exactly how I feel. I sat in a meeting today listening intently as tears rolled down my face. They didn’t judge or tell me how lucky I should feel. Instead, they comforted me and told me not to be so hard on myself. They totally understood that I could just do without this unexpected turn in life. I just needed a bit more time to come to terms with my own affliction. It sounds selfish, doesn’t it? It is. Alcohol is selfish. It consumes you and seduces you into wanting it more and more, regardless of the people it is harming along the way. I just needed a bit more time to gain the energy to start living life on life’s terms.
There is a lesson here, of course, that life does go on. It doesn’t stop to let you get better. You have to negotiate, and heal, around it. You are forced to face it head on and say ‘I can do this, without alcohol, I can do this.’ I am trying, but I am not going to say that for me, right now, it isn’t hard, because it damn well is. I know that I should be saying ‘Let Go and Let God’ and perhaps that is the other lesson the universe has thrown my way. Living life on life’s terms is all about Taking it Easy, Letting Go and Letting God as well as Just for Today. Someone once said to me that God doesn’t give you anything in a day that you cannot handle, and since I am here writing this at 4:40pm, there has to be some truth to that. It doesn’t make it any easier I am afraid, but then again, I’m pretty sure no-one said it would be easy, it is just is what is – life on life’s terms.