I intend to always be honest in this blog about my struggles. And life can be a struggle. I often feel that I’m in a dark night of the soul experience with a genuine glimpse of the light ahead but with a little way from fully embracing my existence as a spiritual being.
My life has been about loss. I grew up in a dysfunctional family where secrets and divisions were the norm, as were isolation and loneliness. I turned to God as a coping mechanism and thereby started my spiritual path where I never felt truly alone in the world, even though I very much did in my family.
As an adult I married young in the hope of creating the family unit I had always craved. Unfortunately my ex husband was also a product of his own wounded upbringing (as are so many of us) and our marriage was painful and abusive. We had our son very early on and loved him dearly but by the time he was three he had a diagnosis of autism and learning difficulties, which would turn out to be severe.
I loved being a parent in so many ways, but it was desperately hard. I had already fallen very unwell at university in my teens, and my health deteriorated as I tried to cope with my son’s challenging behaviour and hyperactivity. Our marriage ended as I realised I simply couldn’t stay with someone who treated me as if I was worthless. It was the first sign that I was starting to respect who I am, despite everything.
Life as a single mum with severe health issues and an autistic child was very tough and lonely. I fell into a deep depression. I felt fluey and weak all the time. I tried my very best for my son and was grateful for support from a very good social worker (yes, there are such things!) but my ex lacked empathy and understanding. He had our son at weekends but turned up and brought him back to his own timetable. He couldn’t see things from anyone else’s viewpoint.
To cut a long story short, my health got worse and worse, both physically and mentally. I was housebound. Carers came to take my son out to activities that I couldn’t manage. I tried to give my son a good life. On the few times I managed to take him out, such as for a meal, it was a disaster. He ran around the restaurant grabbing food off people’s plates as I desperately tried to control him. People looked at me as if I was scum. I went home crying my heart out. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I’d envisaged being the mother I’d never had and setting the boundaries I’d never experienced. An autistic child wasn’t part of the deal.
When my son was 10 I ended up in hospital with my POTS and from that point on my ex took over. And when I say took over, I mean took over. He dictated when I could have him and for how long, and as I was so unwell and completely within his control, I agreed to anything to see my son. Eventually he stopped me seeing him completely. It went to court and from 2015 onwards I began to see him at a set time at his mother’s house. Finally, for the first time in my life, I had some sense of peace. I could see him for a length of time I could manage, with the support of someone else, and away from dealing with my ex.
Now to the present day. After a brief period of my son coming to my home and myself trying to manage but realising for many reasons that it was not safe to do so, my son has been moved into accommodation with several other young autistic men who are supported to achieve the independence they can but with the aid of 24/7 carers. I can visit him without answering to anyone else. I do not see my ex anymore.
It has been a long hard road. I am still unwell but since 2015 my health has started to pick up. I am still picking up the pieces mentally as well. I drew on my spiritually for the many years I was caring for my son and sick, but I always hoped it would make things better, which it never did (false assumption on my part). However, it gave me strength and without it I know I would not have survived. I trusted that there was some purpose in my experiences even though I couldn’t understand it. I knew my son was teaching me so much about love and I knew that some day it would all make sense.
My life is peaceful now. I live alone, I am starting my own business, I am improving health-wise, I have good friends, my dog, and I have proper access to my son. But I am still sifting through my life and wondering what the hell happened and how I move forward. There has been SO much loss. But maybe it was to prepare me for the realisation that who I am is so, so much more than all of that and I cannot rely on external circumstances to provide the validation or love I crave.
I believe this part of my journey is about continuing to grieve the losses, especially of a family life, both as a child and a parent, because I wanted both so badly. But also to let go and surrender to the light of who I really am. I can’t bypass my pain or my life to date – nor should I want to – it all happened. My son is a beautiful soul who helped me trust in my own worth rather than relying on acknowledgment from him that I was doing okay.
Maybe my journey has always been about trust, no matter what is taken away. And that I’m strong and resilient. Despite everything I have myself, and my own love.