What I would say.

Dear teenage self,

Right now, you are in such a hurry to grow up. You think that life will be so much easier when you are an adult and can make your own choices and decisions. Turns out making the right choices and decisions is a lot harder than you can imagine. You do eventually get it right, but not until after you make a whole lot of bad ones.

15 years

I want you to stop and try and work out who you really are, instead of thinking you are what other people tell you you are. What other people think of you does not define you, so please stop acting that way. If you can figure this out now, it will help you so much in the future, particularly with all those aforementioned  bad choices you made. You are a worthwhile person, and you do deserve to be treated with respect. You will waste so much time in bad relationships, as you don’t believe you deserve  any better.

You will marry a man that doesn’t respect you, that mentally and emotionally abuses you, and it will be one of the biggest mistakes of your life. You figure it out eventually, but waste a whole lot of money on a fancy dream wedding, and it takes you a long time to put yourself back together. Please skip this period of your life – You are much better than him, and deserve more!

You are not the person you’ve been told you are. You are worthwhile, intelligent and kind. You are not unlovable. The sooner you can believe this, the sooner you will be able to move past your childhood, and start building a positive life for yourself.

It wont be possible for you to go to Uni , despite receiving great marks and getting into the course you want. You will need to move out at 18, and get a job to support yourself. Please don’t give up though. Really try to get a qualification when you can, it will open so many doors for you down the track. You will regret not pursuing it when you are older. The more responsibilities you have, the more difficult it is to do.

16 years

Another factor that contributes to those bad decisions you make is alcohol. I know you’ve just started drinking now, and it feels cool and fun. However you do some really stupid things due to being drunk over the years, that are not cool or fun at all, just downright dangerous. Trust me, so many of the regrets I have now were fuelled by alcohol.

I know you well, better than you know yourself at this age. I know you wont take any of this advice, and will always choose the hardest paths to travel. It wont be pretty. However, this time will pass. You will get out the other side.  And in your darkest moments, your lowest of lows, know that you will make it. You will be loved by the most amazing man, who will see all the good in you that no one else has been able to. You will have a beautiful daughter, an amazing husband, and will at last have a real family. Hang in there. It’s going to be a rough ride, but you will get your happy ending.

Family

Love older and wiser self. xx

What would you say to your teenage self, if you had the chance?

Dear Milla…

Dear Milla,

Sometimes it feels that life goes by so fast. We jump one hurdle, only to be faced with the next one. There is no time to celebrate our victories, for worrying about our challenges.

I tend to dwell on the negatives, let them weigh me down. I think throughout my life, I have become so focused on the struggle, that I have stopped noticing the positives. For that, I am so sorry.  I want to take this opportunity to stop, and be grateful for all that you are. Because you are amazing.

You were born fighting. From the moment you entered this world, eight weeks before your due date, there was something about you. Something about you that captured the hearts of everyone around you. So tiny and perfect, so quiet, yet so alert. You were taking it all in, processing everything. Milla

As if preparing yourself already, for how you would carve out your space in the world.

Just before your second birthday, we began to realise that your brain works a little differently to ours, that the perception you have of the world, and your place in it, is unique. And so we began a new journey together.

It’s been such a learning curve for both of us. To be honest, you have adjusted so much quicker than I have. I seem to get stuck on the ‘Why?’ and the ‘What if?’, but you, you just get up every day, and soak up life . Milla

In just over twelve months of speech therapy, you have gone from simply repeating everything that other people say; to having conversations, making jokes, telling us that you love your family. Saying please and thank-you, bless you and pardon me. I am so proud of you. So incredibly proud, and amazed at what an intelligent little girl you are.

You have a thirst for knowledge that cannot be sated. You have transformed the phrase ‘You learn something new every day’ from a cliché to a fact.

Milla

You posses more courage than I could ever dream of.  You carry around an anxiety that no three year old should ever be burdened with, there is so much that frightens you, that you don’t understand. Yet still, you laugh and giggle and play. You let me hold you, and comfort you, and kiss away your tears. You trust me when I tell you that it will all be OK.Milla

You have such a vivid imagination, and a vibrant personality; people who have never met you, fall in love with you. You make me laugh every day, even when life is overwhelming me.

You have changed my world. One day, when you are older, I will tell you more about my life before I met your Daddy. I was very very sad, and very very lost. Your Daddy found me, and then you came along, and you loved me. You make me believe, for the first time in my life, that I am worthy of being loved. You make me want to be a better person, and every day I spend with you, I heal a little more.

Milla

Together we will keep moving forward, we will keep jumping those hurdles. And on days when it’s all too much, and we just can’t keep jumping, we will stop. I will hold your hand, and you will hold mine. We will look back, and remember how far we have already come. And tomorrow will be a new day, and we will start again.Milla

Love always and forever, Mummy xx

Wordless Wednesday ~ Santa!

The thing I love most about Santa photos, is having a record of how much Milla has grown over the previous twelve months.

Milla had her very first Santa photo at two months old, however seeing as she was born two months premature, she was still teeny tiny, (2.6kgs, to be exact) and slept through the whole thing. I love this Santa, as he was obviously the real deal, not one of those poorly disguised ‘helper’ Santas…

The following year, she was not quite as relaxed…

Santa Photo

Last year, I got to sit on Santa’s lap… (not awkward at all!!)

Santa Photo

This year is my favourite Santa photo. We visited a special ‘Sensitive Santa’, especially for autistic children. It was in the morning, before the shops opened, so nice and quiet, with no lining up. We had a 20 minute booking, so Milla could explore the environment, and try and warm up to Santa. Unfortunately Milla was not keen on Santa AT ALL, so he had to make a sneaky appearance in our photo…

Santa Photo

 Merry Christmas!

Thank you for all the support throughout 2013. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday period, however you choose to celebrate and I will ‘see’ you again in 2014.

Jane xx

Suspending Reality.

You would think at 33 years old, and having lived the life I’ve lived, I would have more of a grasp on reality, and grown out of childish fantasies.

You would think.

Confession- I regularly ‘cyber stalk’ my ‘fathers’; both step and birth father. I wonder about them. I wonder what they are doing, where they are living, if they are even still alive.

To cut a long story short, I tracked down my cousins wife (from my birth fathers side) on facebook.  I saw from her profile picture that she had two girls, who only looked a little bit older than Milla. With the courage that only a few glasses of wine can give you, I ‘friend requested’ her. After she accepted, I bit the bullet, and sent her a message. Very polite, ‘I think you may be my cousins wife, I am Jane, A’s daughter, his brothers name is B, who’s son was called C, which has lead me to you’… With the beauty of facebook, I was able to see exactly what time the message had been read.

This is the part where I forget the reality of the situation, and allow my mind to skip merrily off to the land of sunshine and lollipops. I wonder if we will become friends? I look at the children in her picture, can I see any resemblance to Milla? These are relatives, real blood relatives! (of which I only have my mother, brother and sister) Maybe our children will play together? Maybe they will be like cousins, and we’ll have family barbecues together?

Then, of course, I imagine them telling my father. “Guess who found us on facebook!” I imagine them telling him how I’m married now, and have a beautiful daughter, his granddaughter. And I imagine him caring. I imagine him wondering if this could be his second chance at establishing a relationship with me. I imagine him wanting to be a part of our lives.

I await a return message. I wonder what it will say. I play out a thousand different scenarios in my head.

And then I realise she has ‘un-friended’ me on facebook.

There will be no family barbecues. There will be no tearful reunion. My father is not out there somewhere pining for his daughter.

I am such a fucking idiot. If he wanted to find me, he could. If he wanted to be part of my life, he has had 33 years to try. Why do I still get hurt by his indifference? This is not new information, he has never given me any indication that he has a desire to be in my life.

I put on a brave face. I say I don’t need him in my life anyway (which I don’t.) I say it’s his loss (which it is.) I don’t even know him.

So tell me, why does he still make me cry?

The Rules.

There are a lot of rules in our house. Everything must be done in a certain way. Things must be in certain places, at certain times. Certain words must be used, or not used.

We don’t make the rules. Autism does. If we don’t follow the rules, it takes hold of our beautiful, intelligent, funny daughter, and reduces her to a screaming, crying, mess.

My husband and I walk around on egg shells, constantly on edge. We snap and argue at each other, because we can’t fight with Autism. I get frustrated and angry at Milla, then hate myself, because I know it’s not her fault.

I don’t know if I’m strong enough. I know I don’t have the patience. I make so many mistakes. Sometimes I hate this life, and I’m terrified that it will always be like this.

It feels like we are alone, the three of us. Trapped in this crazy world, with it’s crazy rules. With a ticking time bomb, just waiting for an excuse to explode and take us all down.

Strong Enough.

Safety In Numbers.

Last week, I felt myself slide into the dark hole that is guarded by the Black Dog.

It had probably been coming for a little while. Sneaking up on me. I tend to ignore it, as if that will make a difference. Like if I can’t see it, it can’t see me.

Until I find myself lying in bed, crying my eyes out, and feeling just so desperately sad. It is staring me in the eyes, and I can’t look away.

But what the Black Dog doesn’t realise, is that there is safety in numbers. It can only take you down, and hold you there, when you are alone. And I am not alone.

Thank you, for the beautiful comments left here on the blog, and on the facebook page.

Thank you to my friends; who messaged me, text me, checked in on me.

Thank you to my always amazing husband, who understands and loves me, even when I don’t understand or love myself.

The darkness has receded. I can smile again, and mean it. That Black Dog is no match for me and my people.

Thank you.

Smile

Disposable Daughter.

The prompt for this post is “What do you miss?”
may

I miss having a father. My mum and biological father split up when I was two. Although we had contact on and off again over the years, we were never close. We lost contact altogether a few years ago.

My mother married my stepfather when I was four. Old enough to know better, yet I always thought he was my ‘dad’. I took his last name, (though not legally till I was 16), I called him ‘Dad’. He was, and to be honest, still is my ‘Dad’. He was far from perfect, but he was the only father I ever really knew. He had a ferocious temper, and was very strict, but he also had a soft side, and a great sense of humour. We’d often muck around, teasing each other, play fighting. He was my dad, I was his daughter.

When I was 15, Mum and Dad separated something that had been on the cards for a long time. However Dad and I stayed close. I would still see him, go out for dinner with him, and stay there some weekends. He was my dad. I loved him. I love him.

The divorce between my parents was not particularly amicable. I think Dad was pretty bitter towards my Mum, which sometimes put a stain on our relationship. Dad started dating someone when I was about 20, a woman that already had 2 young sons, 2 young sons who called him ‘dad’ despite having their own father, who they saw on weekends. The distance between us began to widen.

They got married when I was about 23. The man that had always been my father, suddenly began to look like a stranger to me. They never asked me to be in any of the photos. A few people asked me how I knew the ‘happy couple’, and looked shocked when I said that he was my step father. (a term that I had never used, he had always been just my Dad) Something I will never forget, and brings tears to my eyes as I write, is sitting at the table, whilst his best man made a speech about Dad, and his life, and never once mentioned me. It was like I had never existed. I excused myself from the table and went and cried in the toilets. Where had my dad gone?

The distance grew, though was never spoken about. Until I left my husband, about six years ago. My dad had always liked my husband, (they were startlingly similar) and after I rang him, and told him that I had left him, he never spoke to me again. He rang my ex, to see if he was OK. He invited him to Christmas, to his 50th birthday, to other significant events. But never rang me again. I wonder if he thought I was how he perceived my mother to be? Just throwing a ‘good man’ aside? Except my husband was not a good man. Or not a good man to me anyway. Dad never knew the way he treated me, the things he said to me, the life that we lived.

But I think, really, he was just looking for an excuse. An excuse to walk away from me. Because he had been edging away from me for a long time. I rang him, about a year later, and asked him to talk to me. He said No. Said he had nothing to say to me. And hung up. A little while later, I spoke to his mother, my step grandmother. At this time, I was pregnant with the twins. She said she wanted to see me, that she wanted me, and the babies, to be part of the family. I never heard from her again either. I found out later that my dad had proposed a ‘vote’ to the family, about whether they would ‘speak’ to me. Apparently it was ‘outvoted’. It was decided that they would not speak to me again.  I know how ridiculous that sounds. Who the hell does that? But, to my knowledge, that’s what happened.

He was my dad for so many years. Despite everything I still see him as my dad. And I can’t understand how he could turn his back on me. He wasn’t like my real father, who walked away before he ever knew me. He knew me. He chose to be my father, and still walked away. Did he always see me as just his stepdaughter? Just the kid of the woman he married? How could I be so disposable?

I miss having a Dad. I don’t know if I miss him, because maybe he never really was my dad? I miss having a person in that role though. I find myself tearing up at stupid things; Dads on reality singing shows being proud of their children, wedding scenes in movies where the fathers give their daughters away, corny sitcoms that have ‘Daddy and daughter’ dances.

I wish I had a Dad. A Dad that was proud of me for getting my life together, for marrying a good kind man, for having a beautiful child. Instead I have two fathers, neither of whom loves me like a daughter, or wants me in their lives.

Wordless Wednesday ~The Girl We Call Moo.

Lately I have felt like my blog has been a bit depressing and negative. So today I thought I’d show you another side of my daughter Milla, who we affectionately call Moo or Mooie.

So far you know Milla was born two months premature, and that she has been recently diagnosed with autism. She is so much more than that. My daughter is honestly the quirkiest and funniest little person I have ever met, and even on our worst days, she manages to make me laugh at least once. I hope her antics can bring a smile to your face too.

 

moo2-300x300
Busted.

 

I don't want to alarm anyone, but I think Milla may be planning to rob a bank...
I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I think Milla may be planning to rob a bank…

 

Fairy wings? Check. Box as a boot? Check. We're good to go.
Fairy wings? Check. Box as a boot? Check. We’re good to go.

Just hanging out in her room, listening to music, sitting in a dolls pram and trying on dress ups. As you do.
Just hanging out in her room, listening to music, sitting in a dolls pram and trying on dress ups. As you do.

What?!
What?!

 

Fairy dress with a Milla twist.
Fairy dress with a Milla twist.

 

Just chillin' with my pig.
Just chillin’ with my pig.

I can totally still fit it my block basket.
I can totally still fit it my block basket.

Linking up with Twinkle in the Eye and My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday.

Diagnosis

As we sat in the small office of the psychologist and she told us our daughter had Autism Spectrum Disorder – mild to moderate, it wasn’t a surprise. It was what I had been expecting. But still. The reality of it, to see it in writing in the report, the knowledge that this was something our beautiful darling daughter would have to deal with for the rest of her life, broke my heart.

I’m so sad, and so angry that this is her fate. She is so amazing, so strong, born fighting. She has her whole life in front of her. I want her to have every opportunity available, I would give her the world, on a platter, if I could. She deserves the very best life has to offer.

I understand that we caught it really early. I know she will have the the best chance with early intervention. I know there are so many services, so many resources out there to help her. I get that. However, right now, right this second, I am so pissed off. It’s not fair. I don’t want her to have hurdles she needs to overcome, I don’t want her to have to struggle to ‘fit in’. I don’t want her to be in this bubble that she is in, that we have to learn to penetrate.

I worry about her future. I worry about whether she will be able to make friends, will she be picked on? Will she need an aide at school? Will it be obvious that she is different, that she thinks differently? Will she be able to live independently as an adult? Will she fall in love? Will she even understand love? So many ‘what if’s’ that no one has the answer to right now.

So I go through the motions. I contact all the different agencies that she will need to access for assistance. I fill out all the different forms; for funding, for early intervention , for wait lists. I follow all the steps that I am told, take control of the only things I have control over. I nod and agree with people when they say how great it is we got it early, how fabulous early intervention is. And I do agree. That doesn’t make it better though, it doesn’t make it easier. It doesn’t take away the worry, or the fear, or the guilt.

Just like knowing that she has ASD doesn’t make her behaviour any easier to deal with. Until we start therapies I am flying blind, metaphorically hitting my head against a brick wall as I struggle to communicate with her, to get through the copious daily meltdowns. The guilt I feel when I lose my temper is intensified, as I know she can’t help her behaviour. I struggle to get through every day, twelve hours without a break, without any help (apart from my husband, but he is at work through the week) The stress and the worry, the fear, wears me down. I love my daughter, but she is relentless, both of us frustrated that we can’t be understood. It’s overwhelming and exhausting, and most days end in tears.

I know this is not our ‘forever’. We will get through this, we will get help, we will learn. We will break down these barriers between us and our child. It has only been a week since diagnosis. We are still struggling with this new chapter in our lives. I know we will move forward, with hope and strength.

In this moment though, I am exhausted. I am sad, I am angry and I am scared.

children

Not waving, drowning.

November has been a really hard month for our family.

We have been in the process of moving house, our family car died, we experienced a crisis with a family member, another family member has become quite ill.

I had further laser therapy on my eye, with the specialist admitting that it was not guaranteed to work, and could cause more damage than good.

My daughter has continued to be assessed for autism, with the final report from the psychologist next week. My impression from the last appointment is to prepare ourselves for a diagnosis.

We are exhausted, overwhelmed and anxious. Each day seems to bring a new stress. Our finances are stretched to the limit, paying double rent for the last month of our lease, and all the added costs of moving house.

I’ve had so many ideas for blog posts, but when I finally have time to myself, the urge to just lie down and close my eyes outweighs the urge to write.

We are just treading water, getting through each day.

The end is in sight, we will be completely done with the old house by the start of next week. Thanks to a very generous loan from a family member, we will have a new/old car by the end of the week. By the end of next week, we will have a better idea of what is going on with Milla, and how we can help her.

We just have to get through November, and then some of our load will lighten.

For all my moaning, there have been some happy moments in this blasted month. My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary yesterday. I would be completely lost without him, he is my best friend.

I had my first post published on The Bub Hub website, so that was very exciting.

Still, the overwhelming pressure is weighing me down. It’s hard to keep my head above water, when it feels like I am drowning. I just need a moment; to catch my breath, to regroup.

It will come. Until then, I will just keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing what has to be done. Just keep walking towards the light at the end of the tunnel. xx

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