parenting

A Motivation Update

I sometimes find it interesting to look back at what I have posted here and see how things have changed. In September 2016, I posted Unmotivated = Overwhelmed and shared about how life was basically kicking my butt.

Things are much different now, partly because of the progress I have made with my medication and therapy, as I posted in My Journey with Psych Meds a few days ago.  Here are the things that were overwhelming me back then with an update on where I am now:

  • Adjusting to being married again – Joe & I have been married for 2 1/2 years now and have bought a house.  I have really settled in to the relationship and feel much more comfortable being myself around him.
  • Continuing existing friendships while being married – Of my three close friends, I still have two of them and those relationships are going very well.  I seem to have lost the other one, who stopped responding to my attempts to connect a few months ago.  I was really upset about it for a long time, but now I am moving on.
  • Getting used to a new church and trying to make connections there – We are now going to a life group connected with our church that meets every other Wednesday night.  There are two other couples in the group, and we have really bonded.  We are all friends on Facebook, and we have good conversations when we are together.  Currently we are reading the book The Purpose Driven Life together and discussing it.
  • Trying to participate in group conversations at lunchtime (can handle 1 person or maybe 2, but more than that gets tricky) – I work from home now so almost all my communication is through email or Skype IM.  I rarely have to talk to anyone at work, and then it is always one-on-one.  I still find group conversations difficult and mostly stay quiet during them, although I am comfortable speaking at the life group I mentioned.
  • Parenting an autistic 14-year old boy – Michael is 16 now and just about to finish 9th grade. We spent 8 months in Family Based Mental Health Services, and it was very helpful in dealing with his depression and anxiety (along with medication that took a while to figure out).  Now he is back in the regular services and sees a mobile therapist once a week.  I feel our relationship is a lot stronger – we talk more and play games together.  He is also more sociable – going to Smash Bros tournaments and having a friend over to play video games occasionally.

All in all, life is good. We are talking about getting a dog sometime in the next few months. Joe & I are going to Boston for a few days this summer, and next year we are planning a trip for the three of us to Illinois to see both my parents and possibly some other family. We have a few unexpected home repairs to deal with, but Joe is very handy and will probably be able to take care of them himself, which is a huge blessing.

So, how are you feeling these days – motivated or overwhelmed?

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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.