Tonight, for the first time in years, an old temptation arose within me. I reached the apex of my struggle, my inability to be able to live up to my own expectations of what my autistic son requires me to be, has lead to the first silent thoughts, a portent, to the shadow of suicidal thoughts.
I have no desire nor will to act upon those thoughts, lest anyone be worried, they are a part of my decades long struggle with depression, yet I pay them no heed, for my thoughts are the inane ramblings of my own mind when distraction is not found, or when I feel as if I have failed in something.
Tonight my failure was complete once more, I found myself unable to cope with one of my autistic son’s meltdowns, and although this has not been the first time that I have felt that I have failed, it is however, the first time that I have felt truly worthless and deserving of my own contempt.
In many ways, my son is a mirror image of myself, both physically and in personality. As a child I was hot headed, ill tempered and quick to raise my fists at a moment’s notice. These three things alone are common in an autistic child during a meltdown. I would have presumed that due to my experience in having to deal with and control those three aforementioned things during my youth, that I would have been in a position to be able to help him do so as well, and to be able to calm the tempest that swirls within him.
Yet I find myself so ill-equipped at times when it comes to being able to help my son. There are times wherein I feel as if I am the greatest parent on this entire planet, wherein I’ve felt a hero to my boy, wherein I’ve been able to calm the tempest within him during a meltdown, and bring a smile to his face. Tonight however, I felt the absolute worst of the worst, I felt worthless and useless, a complete and abject failure.
All I’ve ever wanted to be to my boy, was his hero. The quintessential SuperDad that saves the day, yet tonight I was no hero at all, if anything, I was the antagonist, the villain. When I was young, I had always thought I’d be the fun, relaxed parent that every child adored. Life however, had other plans and I have found myself in the role of disciplinarian. a role at times, I feel ill-equipped to fulfil.
Tonight my mindset was an erroneous one, I walked into the situation in the role of a disciplinarian, hoping to ensure a quick and quiet return to bed for my son, instead it resulted in a meltdown. Instead of calming the tempest, I fueled it and added to the ferocity. It is this failure, this inability to be able to perceive and understand the reaction and role required in time, that makes me feel an inadequate father, and of little use to my own son.
My children are my pride and joy, and my son, my dear son truly amazes and astounds me daily. We have so much in common, so many similarities in both our mannerisms and in our forms of entertainment. Looking at my son allows me to have a mirror image into my own childhood, to be able to see wherein the mistakes and failures of my parents lay, and learn from them. Yet I find myself making mistake after mistake, I find myself failing constantly, failing myself, and more importantly, failing him.
My eldest daughter has struggles at school, and is currently in the midst of a referral to see whether she may have similar difficulties as my son, or other possible difficulties as well, and with her as well, at times I feel an abject failure. The same applies to my youngest child as well. At times it feels that her intellect is far beyond mine and that I will not be able to nurture those capabilities to fruition.
These feelings of inadequacy are not at all uncommon for me, I’ve felt pathetic, worthless, useless and an abject failure since the moment I developed cognitive memory as a child. However I find it now that they impede my ability to be able to be the parent that my children need. These feelings seem to cause me to enter into a frame of mind wherein I have to fulfil a certain parental role for my three children. By this I mean that I seem to enter a frame of mind wherein I have to be either fun Dad, silly Dad or Disciplinarian Dad. I seem to lose my flexibility and instead enter a predisposed state of mind wherein I react almost without thought into filling the role that I initially thought appropriate at the start (eg being a disciplinarian) but which was ill-equipped for the situation at hand.
This is something that I must put some serious thought into, to ensure that I am able to approach any situation with a flexible and mouldable state of mine, so that I may be the parent that they truly need. My struggles to enter this frame of mind, I fear, will cost me a close relationship with my children in the future. They see me as a hero, it is damn near time that I started acting like one, and became the hero that that they need and desire me to be.
Until next time,