parenting

Unmotivated = Overwhelmed?

Note about the title: I am not saying that being unmotivated always equals being overwhelmed, just that it seems to be a large factor in my recent experience of my own life.

I posted the other day about how my motivation seems lacking lately.  The more I think about the situation, the more I think I have been shutting down because there are things in my life that seem overwhelming and it’s easier to retreat into myself than to face them.  When I get stressed, my default mode seems to be finding ways to escape and isolating myself from others.  While alone time can be a good thing for the right reasons, it’s generally not helpful for me when I’m using it to avoid the unpleasant or difficult aspects of life.

So, what am I overwhelmed by?  Several things come to mind:

  1. Adjusting to being married again (it will be a year on October 2nd)
  2. Continuing existing friendships while being married
  3. Getting used to a new church and trying to make connections there
  4. Trying to participate in group conversations at lunchtime (can handle 1 person or maybe 2, but more than that gets tricky)
  5. Parenting an autistic 14-year old boy

While all of these situations worry me at different times, the biggest one at the moment is parenting.  I remember feeling very overwhelmed when my son was little, and especially following his autism diagnosis at age 2, but somewhere along the way, I started to feel more confident about how to be a good parent to him.  I handled meltdowns and introducing new situations and kissed and cuddled him a lot and advocated for him everywhere he needed it.

Then he became a teenager and everything changed.  He started talking about wanting to make friends and not being able to and about feeling useless and hopeless sometimes.

Here’s where it all breaks down.  I feel terrible for him and worry about him, but I don’t know what to say or do to make it all better.  I know that my life is better now in a lot of ways than it was when I was 14, but I also still deal with a lot of insecurities and miscommunication problems.  I want to project confidence and give strategies that he can actually use, but all I can think is that I also want to make friends and feel useless and hopeless sometimes too.  Then I start to question my own life, as well as my ability to be a good parent, and I just shut down without really responding to him.

I talked with my therapist about this and she had a couple of thoughts.  One was that perhaps it would be helpful to him just to have me listen and validate what he is feeling instead of only focusing on trying to fix things.  She also commented on the fact that I seem quite isolated, and that reaching out to other people, perhaps in a support group with other parents, would help me be in a better place when it comes to relating with him.

I think both of these suggestions could have some merit, but I’m curious what other people think as well.  I would appreciate any comments on the situation and how you think I should look at it as well as how best to deal with it.