Other Thoughts from the Spectrum??? My Mom

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
Long part of the story short, I have multiple reasons to believe that my mother has high-functioning autism.

I moved about 10 miles from my mother when I was 25 because that area had the cheapest real estate in the state, not because I wanted to have a relationship with my mom. I'd spent most of the 13 years before that in a different state, not seeing her after she kicked me out when I was 12.

Shortly after I arrived, she broke down in tears, and apologized to me for “failing” as a mother. I decided to forgive her and for the next 14 years, our relationship improved. We talked daily and did our shopping, holidays, birthdays together.

After I left her area last year, I seriously injured myself and found out that I would not fully recover. Her phone calls slowed way down after my injuries.

I thought that she couldn’t handle my pain level or my disappointment/depression that came along with having the plans I’d made dissolve into one more sad mess. But I kept calling her and she seemed genuinely happy to hear from me each time.

In the last 3 months, her calls stopped altogether. I have called her much less frequently, too, to see if she would call. I ended up talking to her twice in the last 3 months.

This is triggering given our history.

Knowing that she can’t talk about her feelings, I told her last week that she could also call me once in a while and that it bothers me that I have not heard from her. She said with a strange chuckle that she would try and be a “good mother” and “remember” to call me.

Part of me thinks I understand and part of me is really hurt. My husband agrees that she is plainly coping badly, that she loves me but she’s just not equipped to handle how she feels.

I am trying really hard not to be angry but I have suffered a whole lot for how she parented and how she abandoned me (to deal with multiple birth defects and PTSD on my own in addition to normal development) and frankly, getting the impression that she doesn’t feel that she needs to reach out to me now has me just wanting to stick my middle finger up and be done with this nonsense. BUT I don't want to do that if this is about something she cannot control/doesn't get.

I am happy to get any feedback from anyone (spectrum or not), but I know that there are a few people on the spectrum in here and I am wondering if you might be able to possibly tell me if there is any way I can get through to her or if maybe I am missing something??
 
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Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
Your share is heart rendering, courageous and speaks to me. I applaud your perseverance hoping you find a peace within your Mom not being there for you.

Of course the above opinion is judging while based on biases, colored from my experience of the spectrum and Cerebral Palsy Momster. However, I do not wish to jump in on her lack but of mine. It was normal for me as a child to desperately need a family : it took years as an adult in therapy to come to grasp that I could not rewrite the past with the unwilling or unable due to- (fill in the blank). For me, it was almost an obsession to ‘make it work’ with Mom because I wanted to feel loved by her and for her to be a good Grandmother. So misguided, I was. We are powerless over others.

I hear your pain: I really do. Many of us here can relate all too well. Several wonderful members have triumphed over the soul aches of wanting a loved one to be available, dependable, or present. So please don’t carry the weight of your Mom’s negligence on your shoulders by taking on her inability as your fault. However, tenderly I offer perhaps take on a journey to acceptance that perhaps this is the best she can do while loving you the best she knew how or could. And my dear friend... it is sometimes sadly not what we need.

Sometimes we need to be our own parent to our inner child. Blessing for your search on balance for your heart.
 
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RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
Your share is heart rendering, courageous and speaks to me. I applaud your perseverance hoping you find a peace within your Mom not being there for you.

Of course the above opinion is judging while based on biases, colored from my experience of the spectrum and Cerebral Palsy Momster. However, I do not wish to jump in on her lack but of mine. It was normal for me as a child to desperately need a family : it took years as an adult in therapy to come to grasp that I could not rewrite the past with the unwilling or due to ... (fill in the blank).
Thanks.

I had an EMDR session yesterday that seemed to implicate feeling completely betrayed by my mother as the reason that I become volatile in hard situations with others and tend to push them away before they get the chance to push me away and so, I am a little raw, today. She totally blindsided me when she told me I needed a new place to live. I've spent my life refusing anyone else the chance to do the same which has made it hard to keep friends.

There will be much more work to do on this. Lucky for both of us, my husband really likes me and rarely gets moody. I never think he is getting ready to hurt me.

My husband and I are talking about returning to the area where both of our families live after he finishes his teaching license (1 year) or all of grad school (2 years) and that has also been in some process in my head. Most of his family is healthy for me to be around and since he has an enormous family, it was really cool for me. Plus, since they are family I feel a little less apt to be tossed by them (though I am not sure why).

I wish I felt I could have a real conversation with my mother about how I could have used some support through all the bad news of the last several months but I know how it is and/or I fear that I will get more of the same which is oblivious and awkward. As much as I do try to be understanding, I tend to be impatient with those sorts of responses. I'm not sure that I have been oblivious since I was 12, so it's hard to imagine that my mother is being real when she expresses total shock that another person had a feeling.

Expectations are a bitch. I may be processing points very slowly today but thanks again for your input.
 

Eagle3

MyPTSD Pro
See, this is a major reason why, as an adult on the Spectrum, I refused to have kids...I know I'm not capable of being emotionally present or socially savvy enough to be a proper parent.

It's true she may not be capable of giving you what you need, and it hurts like hell, I know. Fairly certain my parents are both Spectrumites, too, and I know the pain that causes. It doesn't excuse their behavior, because as humans our job is to grow past our programming, but the fact that someone doesn't even TRY to be better is unconscionable to me.

At least you know what to expect from your mother. It may not be pleasant, but it is what it is. That means you have to fill your needs somewhere else. Sucks.....hugs if you accept them.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
this is a major reason why, as an adult on the Spectrum, I refused to have kids.
I love this. Having made the same decision because of trauma and the cycle that has followed my family since the beginning of time, I think it was the responsible thing for me to do. I am sorry, though. It is a hard decision to make and live with.

as humans our job is to grow past our programming, but the fact that someone doesn't even TRY to be better is unconscionable to me.

I am toying with the notion of suggesting that my mother go to therapy. For some reason, that's never been a thing. What she has managed to create in order to avoid coping is pretty damned impressive - 60 acres, off-grid, just outside of a township of 1,000 and she hardly leaves her chipmunks, greenhouse, and piles of rocks. It seems likely that she is so opposed to coping that she probably never will but considering that her husband is a 77-year-old combat vet diabetic who just stopped smoking a couple of years ago, she will probably be forced to sink or swim at some point. She is 64.

She probably won't go to therapy. I recognize I am being stereotypical here but I say she owns too many guns to go to therapy. Either way, I feel like someone ought to say it.

I think she was trying with me to some degree while I lived nearby. Since I left, she has stopped even driving to a real grocery store, so I think she must have some stuff going on but it's anyone's guess what precisely that stuff is.

That means you have to fill your needs somewhere else.

Hubby and I have been discussing this a lot. I am a part of his family and I am close to two of my sisters-in-law and have a reasonably good relationship with his mother and a couple of my brothers-in-law, too. I often think I need his family more than he does. We moved out of the area where everyone lives for multiple reasons but now he's working on his teaching license in another state. I think we will both benefit from going back after he finishes school. I felt better when I felt like I had a family I could rely on to at least be predictable and stable.

hugs if you accept them.
🤗 🤗

Thanks! And much respect for the parenting decision.
 

Friday

Moderator
So... you know I’ve moved around my whole life?

I’d say -rough estimate- 2/3s to 3/4s of the population only calls you when you’re nearby. Of the remaining 1/4 to 1/3? Still only expect 10% of the calls/texts you’d get, as if you were 5 minutes away. I really don’t get it? I’ve just accepted that’s the way it is, for very nearly everyone. I’ve had a grand total of TWO people calls/text me with the same frequency as when I lived around the corner from them, in my whole life. One of them happens to be on the spectrum, which is kind of quirky, per this Q... but it was an occasional topic of conversation. They didn’t understand why our mutual friends weren’t still including me in their lives, had I done something wrong? Nope. This is just the way most people behave. Were THEY wrong to keep calling me, were they disturbing me, should they adjust their behavior to be like our friends, and being weird to call me? Nope! Love your calls, Chica. Call me as often or as little as you like. We’re good.

Sure, sure, some of this “what most people do IME” is old school long-distance charges. People simply couldn’t afford to call if you weren’t a local call. And, given your mom is from that generation? Those decades and decades of habits probably inform her actions, even though long distance charges have -virtually- vanished in the past 10-20 years.

But even amongst the FaceTime/Skype/nationwide free log distance generation? Most people STILL only call/text regularly when you are close enough to meet up. Even when you don’t. So the proximity thing goes even beyond phone bills from hell (we used to make $10 a minute calls stateside, from Japan. But my understanding is that most people are less tolerant of any extra charges). Gamers are something of a breed unto themselves, but I suppose for gamers? You’re always “nearby & close enough to meet up” (in game).

So whether or not your mom is on the spectrum? Simply living too far away to meet up, places her smack dab in the “Yeah. Most people do that.”
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
So... you know I’ve moved around my whole life?

I’d say -rough estimate- 2/3s to 3/4s of the population only calls you when you’re nearby. Of the remaining 1/4 to 1/3? Still only expect 10% of the calls/texts you’d get, as if you were 5 minutes away. I really don’t get it? I’ve just accepted that’s the way it is, for very nearly everyone. I’ve had a grand total of TWO people calls/text me with the same frequency as when I lived around the corner from them, in my whole life. One of them happens to be on the spectrum, which is kind of quirky, per this Q... but it was an occasional topic of conversation. They didn’t understand why our mutual friends weren’t still including me in their lives, had I done something wrong? Nope. This is just the way most people behave. Were THEY wrong to keep calling me, were they disturbing me, should they adjust their behavior to be like our friends, and being weird to call me? Nope! Love your calls, Chica. Call me as often or as little as you like. We’re good.

Sure, sure, some of this “what most people do IME” is old school long-distance charges. People simply couldn’t afford to call if you weren’t a local call. And, given your mom is from that generation? Those decades and decades of habits probably inform her actions, even though long distance charges have -virtually- vanished in the past 10-20 years.

But even amongst the FaceTime/Skype/nationwide free log distance generation? Most people STILL only call/text regularly when you are close enough to meet up. Even when you don’t. So the proximity thing goes even beyond phone bills from hell (we used to make $10 a minute calls stateside, from Japan. But my understanding is that most people are less tolerant of any extra charges). Gamers are something of a breed unto themselves, but I suppose for gamers? You’re always “nearby & close enough to meet up” (in game).

So whether or not your mom is on the spectrum? Simply living too far away to meet up, places her smack dab in the “Yeah. Most people do that.”
Thanks. These are really great points but I failed to mention that I know that she talks to her sister weekly and her mother every damned day. My aunt is further away from her than I am.
 

mumstheword

MyPTSD Pro
As someone from a family of spectrumites as well as those with "traits" and being on the spectrum myself, I'm gonna be a bit blunt here, excuse.

One of the driving motivations, I suspect, of maintaining connections, is the pleasant release of oxytocin, which is that hormone that drives connection, in large part. Our bodies make it, in large doses, as a result of orgasms, loving touch, breastfeeding, childbirth, also hugs and I guess communicating.

For those of us with Autism, it's not so forthcoming. We have a compromised system, that deprives us of the pleasant and somewhat intuitive effects of this "social connection" hormone. Sorry, I can't remember the scientific study and article that details this and I can't provide a link, but, to me, it makes perfect sense, from a personal experience point of view.

It's suggested that it's a genetic anomaly to safeguard our species from being too herdlike and compliant and to ensure that we make technological, creative, intellectual and cultural leaps via the contributions from spectrumites which are, or can be, highly specialised; specializations that are highly unique and innovative.

However, there's a downside. We are, typically, not so motivated to reach out to other's. Often, reaching out, even to our loved ones, and believe me, we still love and are capable of deep care, but, it's not expressed in "normal" or expected ways, by those judging us through more "neurotypical" lenses... Often reaching out can be exhausting, awkward, stressful and, even, sensorally overwhelming and kind of painful. Reference the "intense world theory" for a deeper neurological understanding of how our senses are "tweeked up" to, often overwhelming levels. Being social, even with people we deeply care about, can be like that.

In my last post of my journal ~New Beginnings, I have a link to a very informed and articulate spectrumite, who's blog is called trauma geek. She has a great (and very science-y) way of describing some of the ways in which those of us on the spectrum differ from those not, as well as some fascinating trauma info re polyvagal theory

Can I suggest meditating on the sentiments suggested in St Francis of Assisi's prayer?

If you want something from another, try giving it and see what happens. Expectations that are not realistic often act as pitfalls and set us up for disappointments.

I don't ring or text my chidren often, it's complicated. One I do, because I know she needs my support, but, my other's, it's awkward and I resist it, more often than not. But if you read any amount of either of journals - Articulating the rollercoaster of my life, or new beginnings, you, probably, cannot help, but, see that I love my offspring deeply.

Have you tried asking your Ma to ring you? Or telling her that you need that from her?

We are, often, VERY not good at cognitive empathy (knowing what people are thinking or what they need from us, thus we need things, clearly, explained to us) but we are overendowed and overwhelmed with emotional empathy (emotional mirror neuron-ing), as you and I have discussed in another thread, which, often, kind of hurts, deeply, on a "soul" level and thus we need lots of alone time to disentange our energies.

I know that, for me, I don't know what my kids need from me unless they ask me, but, when they ask me, I will bend over backwards and/ or (metaphorically) crawl over broken glass to do what they ask of me.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you @mumstheword . As usual, your knowledge and insight on this subject is extremely helpful.

Often reaching out can be exhausting, awkward, stressful and, even, sensorally overwhelming and kind of painful.

I saw some of this while my grandfather was sick a couple of years ago. I KNOW she wanted to see him but she was making every excuse in the book not to go. It came down to me sitting her down and saying, hey Mom, we have studded tires and AWD, and my husband and I are going to visit your father in the morning whether you come or not.

She knows the family thinks she is selfish and I played on that a bit but since he ended up dying, I know she would have hated herself for not going. She and I have done this dance quite a lot over the years when I see that her overwhelm and anxiety are getting the better of her. So, I know how she gets. But, I will admit that it is harder when it is me that she is avoiding.

And while I am now confident that she is on the spectrum, I never imagined there was anything truly abnormal about my mother until the last few years. My sister said my mother and I had autism while she was raising her autistic boy (who is now 21) but I did not see any of that being a real thing until I was doing well enough to spend some time thinking about it.

My mother and I were very close right up until she kicked me out and that experience did mean that I was probably 30 before I had a strong bond with her, again. But because maybe I am on the spectrum and because I had severe cPTSD for a million years, my mother's behavioral patterns were not at all accessible to me. Also, we did get fairly close between me being 30 and 39 and so suddenly not having her in my life in any meaningful way surprised me.

If you want something from another, try giving it and see what happens. Expectations that are not realistic often act as pitfalls and set us up for disappointments.
Have you tried asking your Ma to ring you? Or telling her that you need that from her?

I called her at least once every two weeks for the first nine months after we left. This seemed to have no effect. I told her then that I really would like her to call me but it rarely happened.

we are overendowed and overwhelmed with emotional empathy (emotional mirror neuron-ing), as you and I have discussed in another thread, which, often, kind of hurts, deeply, on a "soul" level and thus we need lots of alone time to disentange our energies.

I know that my mother is this way. It's why she isolates as she does and it really complicated my upbringing since she was deeply hurt by the way the world treated her little girl with the facial deformity. How this treatment hurt her little girl came close to ushering in homicidal rage but when met with two underdogs at the same time, my mother became paralyzed to do much of anything, as in the situation where she had two girls and a cocaine addict husband. She genuinely hurt for that man and it overshadowed everything. She thought the world should be more empathetic to him because, at that point, he was the broken party.

She was, in no way, an abusive mother, though she was often an absent mother in situations like this because her empathy was focused on the real damage that was in front of her face right then. She deeply empathized with this abusive pedophile because his pain was hers. As children, our pain had not yet begun to surface in any obvious way and so, she had to be basically forced to divorce this man. I would not be the least bit surprised to find out that she maintained contact with him because her empathy for broken people is immortal. I do not hate that about my mother and I have a similar trait/problem.

But seeing any of this from the vantage point that my mother is not neurotypical is still new enough to cause a lot of confusion. I am thinking that it may be time that I do a better job of educating myself on what appears to be happening. Whether she ever develops the balls to go get a diagnosis or not, it seems pretty obvious what is going on.

I know that a lot of people would disagree but I feel like us getting back into the area where she lives in the next couple of years will be helpful to both of us. I miss my mom, she's hard to get to from a distance, she needs help with some things, and I am worried that if she isn't forced into certain situations on the regular she's going to decline cognitively a lot quicker than she ought to and that will be a big problem for both of us because I am not planning on throwing her into a home if I can at all help it.

I know she loves me. Astoundingly to most, I know she always did. What I don't always know or understand is what the hell is going on or how to cope with it.

However, there's a downside. We are, typically, not so motivated to reach out to other's. Often, reaching out, even to our loved ones, and believe me, we still love and are capable of deep care, but, it's not expressed in "normal" or expected ways, by those judging us through more "neurotypical" lenses... Often reaching out can be exhausting, awkward, stressful and, even, sensorally overwhelming and kind of painful. Reference the "intense world theory" for a deeper neurological understanding of how our senses are "tweeked up" to, often overwhelming levels. Being social, even with people we deeply care about, can be like that.

This and everything else makes sense and seems to really shed a lot of light on the current issue. I suspect I am an extrovert who happens to suffer from social anxiety to the point of often behaving like an introvert. Not having people reach back to connect with me causes me a lot of distress. My mother?? Worse. Suddenly having 1,500 miles between us, I didn't know there would an issue with our communication but there is. I think she understands why we left and is not particularly hurt over that but I admit that my situation since shortly after we left is something that would be distressing to any mother. I'm suddenly limping around with a cane and need new hips??? She also knows that proper medical care in my teens could have prevented a lot of the problems I have dealt with over the last few years and she has a lot of guilt over that. I suppose a "normal" mother might be avoiding talking to me right now.

Thank you for the clear and helpful information. As we are getting older, I think it will be helpful for me to get better educated on autism and accept that she isn't going to follow the patterns I want her to, sometimes even when I ask her to because, frankly, I don't think she thinks much beyond calling Wendy = HURT.

She doesn't get that from her chipmunk herd. The worse they do is beat each other up and she can stop that.

Thanks again.
 

mumstheword

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you @mumstheword . As usual, your knowledge and insight on this subject is extremely helpful.



I saw some of this while my grandfather was sick a couple of years ago. I KNOW she wanted to see him but she was making every excuse in the book not to go. It came down to me sitting her down and saying, hey Mom, we have studded tires and AWD, and my husband and I are going to visit your father in the morning whether you come or not.

She knows the family thinks she is selfish and I played on that a bit but since he ended up dying, I know she would have hated herself for not going. She and I have done this dance quite a lot over the years when I see that her overwhelm and anxiety are getting the better of her. So, I know how she gets. But, I will admit that it is harder when it is me that she is avoiding.

And while I am now confident that she is on the spectrum, I never imagined there was anything truly abnormal about my mother until the last few years. My sister said my mother and I had autism while she was raising her autistic boy (who is now 21) but I did not see any of that being a real thing until I was doing well enough to spend some time thinking about it.

My mother and I were very close right up until she kicked me out and that experience did mean that I was probably 30 before I had a strong bond with her, again. But because maybe I am on the spectrum and because I had severe cPTSD for a million years, my mother's behavioral patterns were not at all accessible to me. Also, we did get fairly close between me being 30 and 39 and so suddenly not having her in my life in any meaningful way surprised me.




I called her at least once every two weeks for the first nine months after we left. This seemed to have no effect. I told her then that I really would like her to call me but it rarely happened.



I know that my mother is this way. It's why she isolates as she does and it really complicated my upbringing since she was deeply hurt by the way the world treated her little girl with the facial deformity. How this treatment hurt her little girl came close to ushering in homicidal rage but when met with two underdogs at the same time, my mother became paralyzed to do much of anything, as in the situation where she had two girls and a cocaine addict husband. She genuinely hurt for that man and it overshadowed everything. She thought the world should be more empathetic to him because, at that point, he was the broken party.

She was, in no way, an abusive mother, though she was often an absent mother in situations like this because her empathy was focused on the real damage that was in front of her face right then. She deeply empathized with this abusive pedophile because his pain was hers. As children, our pain had not yet begun to surface in any obvious way and so, she had to be basically forced to divorce this man. I would not be the least bit surprised to find out that she maintained contact with him because her empathy for broken people is immortal. I do not hate that about my mother and I have a similar trait/problem.

But seeing any of this from the vantage point that my mother is not neurotypical is still new enough to cause a lot of confusion. I am thinking that it may be time that I do a better job of educating myself on what appears to be happening. Whether she ever develops the balls to go get a diagnosis or not, it seems pretty obvious what is going on.

I know that a lot of people would disagree but I feel like us getting back into the area where she lives in the next couple of years will be helpful to both of us. I miss my mom, she's hard to get to from a distance, she needs help with some things, and I am worried that if she isn't forced into certain situations on the regular she's going to decline cognitively a lot quicker than she ought to and that will be a big problem for both of us because I am not planning on throwing her into a home if I can at all help it.

I know she loves me. Astoundingly to most, I know she always did. What I don't always know or understand is what the hell is going on or how to cope with it.



This and everything else makes sense and seems to really shed a lot of light on the current issue. I suspect I am an extrovert who happens to suffer from social anxiety to the point of often behaving like an introvert. Not having people reach back to connect with me causes me a lot of distress. My mother?? Worse. Suddenly having 1,500 miles between us, I didn't know there would an issue with our communication but there is. I think she understands why we left and is not particularly hurt over that but I admit that my situation since shortly after we left is something that would be distressing to any mother. I'm suddenly limping around with a cane and need new hips??? She also knows that proper medical care in my teens could have prevented a lot of the problems I have dealt with over the last few years and she has a lot of guilt over that. I suppose a "normal" mother might be avoiding talking to me right now.

Thank you for the clear and helpful information. As we are getting older, I think it will be helpful for me to get better educated on autism and accept that she isn't going to follow the patterns I want her to, sometimes even when I ask her to because, frankly, I don't think she thinks much beyond calling Wendy = HURT.

She doesn't get that from her chipmunk herd. The worse they do is beat each other up and she can stop that.

Thanks again.

I feel for you @RussellSue, I really do. My own ma is very "not there" for me, is highly avoidant and declining.

My Aspie Dad is declining rapidly. I spoke to my uncle, his younger brother, yesterday, and he filled me in, on just how declining my dad is.

My parents both live interstate, Ma is now in Tasmania and Dad is in Melbourne, Victoria.

I'm pretty relieved, to be honest, that the brunt of care for them, isn't falling on my own shoulders, also because they failed me, pretty miserably, as a young person and my life has been, often, excruciatingly difficult, as a result and with my unwitting parenthood from a very young age and a very large brood of offspring, I have my carer responsibilities already threatening to overwhelm me at any time.

I'm struggling so much with my own condition and trying my best to be there for my own children, probably failing miserably, I wouldn't know, maybe not, not sure. It varies, offspring to offspring.

I enjoy my time with my kids, for the most part, these days, but, need plenty of down time between spending time with them.

I would love it if any of my children reached out to me, indicating they wanted to spend time with me, actually they do sometimes, and I'm very touched when they do. I don't have very a very good sense of social worth, and so it's often difficult for me to fathom people valuing spending time with me, although my SO is clearly thrilled with me and very in love with me.

I wonder if my ma is dealing with the same; calling me=hurt, for similar guilt reasons.

I know I have hurt with my kid's, related to them seemingly "siding" with their, machiavellian, father, who behaved very textbook narcissistically towards me, throughout my 20 years with him, and then, more overtly, in terms of triangulation with the children when my health utterly failed me and I had to get out of there.

Quite a few of my adult children are still living at their dad's and I find that very difficult.

But then, the two children who have moved out, I often have to force myself to reach out to and it's not because I don't enjoy spending time with them, it's just because I am, by default, socially avoidant, a lot of the time and I'm so underconfidant about my social skills. .

It is easier for me to contact them than the other's, though.

We are very habitual creatures too, once in a habit, things are so much easier, it's creating those positive habits that can be very challenging.
 
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