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War On All Fronts

Tired can be so understated. Even the word overwhelm.

When you are an autism of two children, who also happen to be coloured, Muslim, victims of domestic abuse, then words just fail to describe how much damage control is needed. And how does one train themselves to do this effectively? Is there some training to help lead such a life? The loneliness really sets. No one there to actually hold you, encourage you, explicitly say they believe your actions are right, that you can rest a while and they will take over. No one to take the tiring burden for a time just so that you can recharge.

It’s constant.

I have been remembering the film In Pursuit of Happyness a lot lately. I am not homeless, thank God, but I live in house neglected and in desperate need of repairs. The trauma, systematic racism, all there. But I have three lives to show up for, not one. We are three with autistic difficulties. We are actively being unsupported. Yet I have to show up for the business. Day shift, then home and kids shift then night shift. Just to pave the future.

What keeps me going?

Future pacing. One day, we will not be defined by our colour or autism. We will have calm spacious house with help. My own executive functions are self limiting. I wont have to do the all the house chores-I can use that time to recharge. I will have a voice, an impact because I will have grown out out my shell and made myself heard.

Struggling and fighting in silence, in nuclear capacities doesn’t help anyone. Systematic change is needed and will only when the system is challenged. This can only happen with strategic thinking, network, use of the power of social media, and a successful business behind you.

Regardless of the tears, these cries are part battle cry, part anger which motivates the fight. Sometimes its despair in a private moment.

I am forced to a fight a battle I did not chose. Yet I am all in without the option of defeat.

A Joined Up Approach?

I am shear knackered at explaining down various phone calls that we need help.

You hear of stories of runaways, suicide, domestic abuse, child abuse, sectioned, physical assault, and what not.

Did you ever care to think how long the story has been going for? What made the escalation happen? Where were the authorities with their ‘duty of care’ and the laws that are meant to protect the vulnerable?

I have suffered the whole rigmarole this week, left the waiting of various call backs.

Then I think to myself, no wonder those with disabilities or differences are left behind,

Those privileged not be coloured, disabled, and / or female, actually can just get on with achieving their goals. The ‘other’ group should be able to as well, in theory, except before they get round to completing that training, they must first:


Email school about lack of provision and understanding of autistic teen.

Email school about racist incident with the said teen.

Deal with his anxiety attacks about going to school, working with Microsoft Teams, losing previously saved work.

Find the right social work department who can assess our teen’s needs

Request statement of need from CAMHS, again, 10 weeks after initial request… for tribunal for DLA. DWP supposed thing that the teen does not have any extra needs compared another 13 year old. Try telling him that when he can’t tolerate his own siblings in the same room and then made to sit in a class of 30 and lunch hall of 200. Or when he can’t read his own handwriting because he can’t hold a pencil correctly. Or he has another pair of ripped joggers because he can’t stop falling over or tumbling, or ‘accidently’ poking his clothes. Maybe ask me how I feel trying to set up my business after being kept up all night with his ridiculously poor sleep.

Why is a joined up approach so difficult? Why is it so hard to believe and acknowledge another person’s difficulty by parking one’s own prejudice. I get it that we see the world through our own limited lens but why not just believe the frustrated mother down the line saying that the teen isnt coping?

How are we supposed to get on with achieving in life if the able-bodies, privileged-coloured don’t effect systems productively to allow for barriers to exist?

The shear exhaustion of dealing with their barriers is what hinders our progression. Not our lack of abilities. Did anyone ever think what toll it takes on a person’s mental health and time when subjected to any form of discrimination and abuse? Its a kick in face that takes time to get over and heal by which time the privileged counterpart cab get on with life.

What would also help, is not having the added difficulties induced naturally by our bodies. Men don’t have to deal with that on top the emotions of a banged up parent. Even better would be do things naturally and actually have two parents deal with the children, abled and disabled.

This is not a hot aired rant. This is a reflection of how society discriminates, how only the affected actually fight to make a difference, otherwise if its not broken (for you) why fix it?

If you can relate to what I wrote here, please share and leave a comment.

See the source image
Scotland’s Wellbeing Wheel for Children

Are we Getting It Right For Every Child?

She’s a Suicide Bomber

07/08/2020

I have never had it that direct before.

Usually it’s a comment loud enough for me to hear, but not for witnesses – “AllahuAkbar”.

This time, I had witnesses. Not ones I would have chosen.

The younger two kids were sat at in the car in sweltering heat, desperate for ice cream. I found a store and took a turn looking for parking. The window rolled down, passing three females. Two teens and their mother.

“That’s an asylum seeker”, female one

“She’s a suicide bomber”, added female two.

My son turned towards her, confused. I questioned my hearing as I have been become accustomed to when ever something like this happens. But this time these two reinforced my short term memory. I made a snap decision to pull but there was so space. So I made a impromptu stop at the side, on the kerb and jumped out, looking back.

“OI, WATCH WHAT YOU SAY! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TALKING TO?!”

That’s all that could come out. They were too far away as they made a hurried escape down to the main road. A lady walking by, a worker from the store, stopped in her tracks and my face must have given away what happened. That was the first time I have received explicit, unconditioned validation from a white person. A cyclist coming in the opposite direction also stopped. And acknowledged the wrong. The power of supporting a victim of abuse is underestimated and actually not used enough.

A wave of emotions swept me, crashing in my face, catching my breath. So many tjoughts all at once.

Hold on, I am more educated than you, my existence benefits more people than you. I teach the likes of you. I have a position of respect and authority unlike you. I am better than you in every respect as a citizen of this country. I WAS BORN IN THIS VERY TOWN. I GREW UP HERE. THIS TOWN WAS MINE BEFORE YOURS!

Then

F is watching. Is this going to be her perception of high school? Being abused for her headscarf?

The next day I processed A’s feelings about the matter.

“What did you think and feel when this happened?”, I questioned.

“I was confused. Like, how can you be a suicide bomber is you are still alive? How can we attach a bomb to our car? They would have been dead too then. How can we be able to make a bomb? Why did she say that? What’s an asylum seeker?”

He goes to ask Siri. Siri promptly gives him information.

“That’s not us.”

See the source image
https://www.mend.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/islamophobia_in_the_press_composite.jpg

My Faith Isn’t Weak

Too much uncertainty affects everyone.

I hear that. Especially in lockdown, everyone got a taste of being disabled. But not many actually acknowledged this.

Introverts and anxious folks know what I mean. These are just part and parcel for most autistics. Obviously I cannot comment on behalf of others, but from the people I have known and read from, I can firmly use Set Theory to describe as follows:

All autistics suffer anxiety but not all anxious people are autistic.

I don’t know why this is hard to understand.

I am writing right now as I sit on my bed feeling despair. A very important religious festival just came and went that did help ground me somewhat. A realisation came to me as I had a short burst of emotion.

My faith is not weak. My brain is just made differently.

Anxious and depressed Muslims are normally told that their mental health issues are caused by lack of firm belief in the plan of Allah. I have firm belief. For example, I know just as dawn happens every day, that if I give in charity, I will get more in return. I have never been disappointed so I use this as a strategy to invest when I know income is insecure. Works a treat. See? Belief in the ghaib, the Unseen.

So how come I have this anxiety? It’s not because I am not confident that a result will come. It’s because I don’t know what it will be, when I will get it, what it will look like. I can accept those outcomes when they come. Like, will I get work as a supply teacher? Will I get more terrorist type comments when I wear a face covering? Will I have SWAT images going on in my head if I wear a visor? Which school? How long? Fixed term? Finances? Business? Caring? Moving? Selling up? Separation agreement? Financial settlement? U’s diagnosis? DLA tribunal? Wee one’s SLT referral?

I don’t have new clothes for work. I have the same wardrobe with very few additions from the past few years. Will I go back with the same? But I hate shopping! Kids still haven’t been kitted out for school!

I will leave by sharing a piece of writing I spontaneously conjured up few weeks back on a mental health Zoom for autistic women :

With the wind blowing, even the mighty trees bow to their Creator. Who are we to stand rigid? In our superior intellect, we still shrivel with the smallest of change out with our control. The grace of nature in it’s ability to adapt and accept what’s not in our control, should humble our ego. How can we not take change in our stride? How does the world continue to revolve, when mine has been turned upside down?

Tangled Emotions

29/07/20

Yesterday I managed to flush out the stuck feelings. Even if that meant picking a hallow argument about unmet motherly needs with oldest.

I still don’t feel much lighter. Maybe it’s pms, as the sister picked up on. And the snapping doesn’t help. Everything just tangled together. I am back to being unable to communicate with neurotypical adolescent daughter because her snarky voice is painful. The tone, pitch, the backchat. It’s the same theme I complained about to all three. Lack of respect. How are they to find respect when their father done such a good job of portraying me as the weak, mentally incapable and unstable parent, with whom their life will be a failure?

I seen how his ploy was working so well. I am the emotional mess and he is the calm. I just shut myself out from all three and let it out. For the past week those images returned in my head.

Get a knjfe to the arm.

That’s exactly what he wants. But it’s a release. No one sees how even while not living with us, he seeks control. His mind games mess with the kids. Oldest had to have a non-human contact day last Friday because he was so exhausted. He laster told me that he had a cry that made him feel lighter. I told him I was proud that he recognised his emotions and let himself cry it all.

Interestingly, the boys were not in a hurry to go back for another week. It took them a week to recover from the last one.

I have regressed to my poor focus and motivation, becoming addicted to Bubble Shooter, finding it relaxing. Actually playing that helped me listen to business coaching last night. Pen and paper to hand and playing the game then stopping to take notes. It reminded me of narrowing teachers expectations on autistic pupils.

After the blow of emotions, today, both of were trying to make sense of what happened. I managed to explain that I also have needs of wanting to feel respected and valued and my children weren’t showing this at all. This actually enlighten oldest son.

“Oh, I thought needs were one way in parent-child relationship. The parents tends to the child’s needs.”

Then he went to realise, “that what a spouse is for.”

A big shrug from me followed.

“Well I don’t have one. He didn’t exactly fulfil that need either.”

and then I pointed out, which may have been provoked because of a recent (painfully long) phone call with my father, who I would call estranged, and just very strange.

“I don’t fair well on the male relationship front. No father, no brother, no husband. Just two sons. But the difference is that I raised you two, I have some control on your influences, values and behaviour. I want to shape you to be caring, empathic, self reflecting and able to keep good relationships.”

What’s hurt me so much is the thought of going to court to settle child contact. I have had enough waiting. Some may appreciate that autistics hate waiting . It’s torture. I have been good waiting out for negotiation but not that I have move forward, just to hurt me, he wants to argue in court. It’s the waiting to get a settlement done that’s hard to swallow. The stress of not being able to demonstrate that I am their best option, the fear of not being believed. Not many believe me. I refer to those with power to do something. They never believe me. Whereas he can so easily push my buttons, set off the reactions and say “told you so, she is incapable of being a good mother.”

I leave with one fact, as that’s all I use to reassure myself.
The social worker pointed out that in May, during lockdown, the oldest was doing well and we didn’t require their support.

“Oh that’s because he didn’t visit his father and I helped him with understanding the online learning systems (well I was his PA writing out his diary of to do and he calmed down hugely.

…oh, school and his father caused the meltdowns. I am the one constant that doesn’t harm him!”

Holding the Strings

Many people think that once the you have separated, that the abuse is over.

The taste for control is so addictive that the addict will do anything to get a hit. Whether that means hurting their own children, or even blocking their own future progression. In the rage of vengeance, they are blind to the damage caused around them. Just to spite the freed spouse.

Live in peace, or part in peace.

He used to quote this throughout our marriage, every time he wanted to threaten a divorce. Now that it’s finally time, why hold back? Why deny our own beliefs. Doesn’t his faith dictate this? Isn’t he a part of a religion that means peace?

In an abusive marriage, the hurt continues, but in a distant way. This time the children are the means in which to control the spouse. It’s very common, and clever. More so with autistic sons. No boundaries, routines, infiltrating their head space without them even knowing. Drip feeding ‘propaganda’, as oldest described once, so that when they return home, I get the emotional outbursts and meltdowns. All the crap that was being held in is spewed out.

Then, any single minded observer would see how happy and easy the boys are with him (similar to how schools perceive them), leaving the blame of the messy emotions and struggles on me. It must be her. She can’t handle them, she doesn’t look after them. She is the bad mother.

Why don’t you just go away from them?

I was almost fooled to believe that I was parenting them wrongly. I did walk out for sake of my mental health when he pushed me out before. Not this time. I stood firm this time. I couldn’t let him in my head. I am the dumping ground for them because I am the safe person. I am forgiving. One man telling them and me that I suck at mothering, isn’t going to change our beliefs.

So as much as he tries to hurt me through them, with hidden threats to take them away, even from their sister, he can’t do anything but make horrid offensive noise. It’s hurts as a braying sound would and nothing more.

He doesn’t get the strings anymore.

.

The Outlaw

“When a [wo]man is denied the right to live the life [s]he believes in, [s]he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” Nelson Mandela

It’s sad that I see the plight of many single mothers in this.

I was called out for being an ‘outlaw’ yesterday.

I woke up this morning, heavy and bruised. Morning after of an emotional beating. I don’t get why I have to be badmouthed when he had an issue with his daughter. What’s this got to do with my sister ‘being a home wrecker’? Like she was involved in our marriage, right? She made you scream at me in front of the kids over the course of 16 years. Was it her who taught you that you own me?

Only in recently is she beginning to learn what happened behind the closed doors all this time. I was denied sharing my feelings and experiences to anyone out with these four walls. I was denied choice of spending my own time and money. Even choice over my body because that was yours too. Her name was dragged in because she became an outlaw two years earlier, after 8 years of tolerating abuse in the name of family honour.

it’s too easy to blame, discredit, and badmouth the ones who take away power from your… when that power wasn’t yours to begin with. Believing that your are the victim.

“Allah loves woman more” that’s why we should be putting up with ill treatment? It’s nonsense like this that make woman believe they have no agency, no voice and are wrong to call out narcissistic behaviour. I did just that yesterday and this is what I got. It’s a shame that such beliefs are still being peddled by some in our next generation. I was accused of being “ill”, that’s why I have/had marital issues. The only illness I suffered was depression resulting from ableism, sexism and narcissism. When it came to seeking the cure, I am the outlaw?

FYI- men and women are equal, all of them, and the only thing that differentiates between them, are their actions. So I will tell every woman here, Muslim or not, autistic or not, Pakistani or not… you have every right to call out narcissistic behaviour. Anyone stopping you is the problem. Move past them to get to your solution. There is no burden of responsibility to tolerate abuse in the name of keeping family together. What people don’t understand is that living together isn’t family, loving is.

A few things I had to teach my daughter the night before she was to face her father-

  1. Don’t wait for your place to be given to you because it never will be; you have to show up and take it.
  2. To be heard you use the magic formula of partial agreement.
  3. You can take down illogical and abusive beliefs respectfully, just don’t accept them and never let those nasty words sink in,
  4. Weak men are afraid of strong woman.

The hardest lesson for her, though, was to learn from her mistakes instead of calling herself an idiot and unlovable.

If outlaw is a label that received for being happy and relieved from abuse, then it’s one I encourage everyone to wear.

Why Am I Not Crying?

My brain has been super distracted this week.

I have this undercurrent storming below with a mellow sunshine glistening on the surface.

I dare say it… do I miss being sad?

Was I supposed to cry on Monday? 13th July marked two sad events. The day I married and the day my aunt suddenly died. I sat at the PC pretending to get on with business but my brain was like a ping pong ball. I kept swinging and swirling on the chair, the usual 12984 browsers and apps open on all possible devices available. My eyes managed to only find relief looking at numbers in the accounts. Something factual, easy to follow and easy to complete. A false sense of productivity that didn’t actually satisfy me. Then I would switch to another spreadsheet and online forms. Two in fact. Let’s do some of the charity admin instead.

I was sad but happy. Happy that I am finally emotionally free (not legally, yet) but sad that I had predicted this outcome literally from day 1, yet I ignored my gut feelings. Did anyone else ever consider divorce as they signed their marriage contract? I know I had to go through with it in the name of family ‘honour’ and it really was my own doing.

My aunt, although not blood related, was the only extended family I experienced on a genuinely caring level. With her death, all the flash backs of each and every crises my family went through flooded back. But not this year.

Then the following day Facebook kindly reminded me of another death anniversary of a cousin. With him, I have childhood memories of my time as a 8 year old in Pakistan. A time when I believed I had an extended family who cared for us. A time of great fun in the sun with my older siblings whose companionship I lost in subsequent years. Yet I couldn’t react.

I feel like the storm needs to surface, but I would rather it didn’t. Bit of an inconvenience really. I am in my new life now, where strangely enough, I don’t feel stuck anymore. What will help process this so that I can focus? Am I insensitive?

I prayed for the departed souls and for my legal freedom. I took stock of my course in life as a result of ignoring my gut. I have to be grateful and at each point say, alhumdulilla, all praises are due to Allah, the Exalted.

Another Perspective

This one isn’t about me.

Today I listened to my dear friend cry, but I was smiling.

I couldn’t express the full extent of my understanding of her experiences she retold over the phone: I could predict them. I was chuffed I had analysed the problem correctly and now my brain was on the search for a solution in the background as she spoke.

The problem is exactly the reason why I write- to raise awareness of the existence of brown autistics. Yes we exist under a blanket of ‘genius’ or ‘gamer’, ‘just unsociable’. For females, it’s a life of being forced to conform, to be ‘proper’, stop asking questions, stop being awkward, abrupt, rude, moody, difficult, bossy.

For the males, the brown parents bow down and accept the autistic tendencies and therefore they don’t see any other way of being. The are just fed their interests and closed them off as just being boys. The need for emotion intelligence is alien. As long as they are good spirited, there really is no need to accept or teach the diversity.

And this was the issue. In the 10 years I knew my friend I seen her husband as being extremely technical, a geek in his own gaming world and no more. I didn’t see much more because his wife was so giving and accommodating. She was blind in her love and hope. Hope for companionship and emotional and social interaction. I was nowhere near beginning my own journey of discovery either. But now that I undeniably accept my own and my sons’ autism, with the curses and blessings, I totally see exactly what she experiences! She experiences an adult version of my teen, who would have grown with no accountability or self awareness. Thankfully I highlight my son’s differences, teach him to love himself with his limitations and enable him to own his autism. What I also do is actively teach him his sister’s point of view or spell out her feelings, and help translate the world around him.

I genuinely didn’t know what to do to make her feel better other than listen, acknowledge her experiences, tell her she is trying her best and it’s not her fault. This didn’t come out years ago because she had the energy and hope but now her mask was falling off.

Normally, it’s us neurodiverse ones who suffer the neurotypical world, but today I seen the other perspective. The only way I can help is by helping her understand the autistic brain, which is unique person to person, so even that is limited.

The biggest issue is his denial of neurodiversity. How do you get a person who doesn’t even acknowledge mental health or states because of his deep rooted misbeliefs stemming from subcontinental culture, to even discuss autism?

We are failing as a community so seriously and dangerously to acknowledge how diverse the spectrum is. For Asians an autistic is only the one who cannot speak and has learning difficulties with obvious behaviour problems. What about the other end of the spectrum? How can I complain about Asians who shun depression when I still struggle educators to shift their mindset about my own offspring.

I don’t want my future daughter in law to cry in despair like my friend did today. All she asked for is empathy, human touch, emotional connection. Unfortunately for her, her spouse isn’t wired like that. Being an Asian wife, she feels she can’t even take a break (yes in 2020) for fear of being blamed because he doesn’t do anything wrong. It would be understood that she is out to ruin her marriage because she takes a stand (oh do I know that feeling).

This experience she gave me highlighted how the world is so different for high end spectrum Asian men than women. (I know this is true for all cultures but more so for Eastern.) I bet if was born a boy, my mother wouldn’t have blamed me so much for my strangeness, apparent rudeness or angry outbursts and meltdowns. My gaming and screen addictions would be normal, my inability to be flexible would be accommodated. Imagine if I stayed in that state all my married life (and I obviously did have my difficulties and meltdowns, but they weren’t tolerated), I wonder if it would have lasted as long as it did.

Self Worth

It’s weird how throughout our life we pass many people. It’s like a bus where passengers hop on and off but some stay longer and others don’t leave.

It also depends where the bus is going which determines which kind of passengers get on board. We are the driver but not always in control of who we attract.

This week I faced the question of how do I present myself as to not attract the wrong people. Why are my loved ones so cautious of who I gravitate to, or vice verse. What vibes am I sending out?

Available to take advantage of”

“Keen to please”

“Seeking self worth”

Imagining my marketing boards right now!

I need to become more aware of how I bring people to me by looking at what I do in my initial reactions. When I give myself value, then, and only then will others attach value and respect to me. Easy, right?

I wish! It’s about stepping back and reframing my mind. Stop seeking validation in end results but being happy with myself. I suppose I have always chased results as a way to prove myself to myself and my two closest relationships. It just didn’t happen so I went on doing more and more until burnout. I don’t know any other way of being other than being busy and achieving.

What if I allowed myself just to be content with me? Independant of benchmarks and standards, forgetting a lifetime of comparisons which I fell short of?

I have low self worth because I failed in other people’s standards, namely, my mother, husband, and recruiters. When it came to academics, each lecturer in four universities were amazed by my work, which I dismissed!

Time to take control of the bus, get the route map out for an adventure and only allow passengers on who want to guide, sing along, or learn with me.