Moving on

Tempest has this knack of hiding laundry when her chore is folding. Every so often we’ll find this little stash of socks, clean diapers and pants stuffed in a corner somewhere, or just shoved back into the dirty clothes so she can avoid doing it. Every time this happens we make her fold another load, and every time she flips out about how unfair it is. It’s so fucking annoying. It drives us both insane, because we end up missing a bunch of shit that we really actually need (diapers in particular).
She hasn’t done this in a few weeks now, but last night as I was in the midst of the bedtime routine I found another stash of laundry shoved in the corner of a bookshelf in the hall outside her door. I called her over and confronted her about it, but she acted disinterested and not particularly phased. I was really angry, and yelled at her about how disappointed I was that she’d done this again, and said I was going to have to search her room for more seeing as we’re missing so much stuff. Immediately her demeanour changed from disinterested to terrified. She ran ahead of me into her room and locked the door, screaming, “You can’t come in my room! I don’t want you in my room!”.
I told her she had five seconds to unlock it before I did it myself (it’s one of those locks where you can use a butter knife or a coin to turn it from the outside), and she only let me in after I’d already finished the count down and gone to the kitchen for a butter knife. As soon as I entered and started poking around, she ran into the bathroom yelling, “I don’t feel good, I feel sick”. Immediately I felt bad for yelling at her… though she’s never, ever reacted that way to me having a fight with her. Generally she doesn’t seem to even care if I’m angry or upset, so this was really strange. I’ve never seen her like this before.
I searched her room and did not find any more laundry, but I did find about a dozen small caches of random objects: broken toys, scraps of paper, pieces of string, one earring, small pieces of lego. They were all hidden in little boxes, corners, and seemed to be placed very deliberately. None were bigger than a palmful. Tempest was so terrified I would find these caches and throw them away that she literally threw up.

I waited for her to come back, and showed her that I hadn’t touched them. She visibly relaxed, but was still nervous enough to start her chewing (she chews a lot: sleeves, hair, fingers and nails. This has gotten a lot better in the last while, and she only does it in the evenings on occasion now. It’s a really really common habit for spectrum kids).
I apologized for being angry and gave her a hug. I asked her why she hides these things, and she burst into tears.
“I don’t know why I do it. I just have to do it!”

She’s struggled with symptoms of OCD for years, and we’ve battled a few really intense bouts before… but nothing like this. She’s been hoarding this crap for months, and I never really put it together until now. I mean, I’ve seen her do things like this (though not quite so obvious) and I just… didn’t get it.

I gave her a hug and asked if she’d like us to check after she does chores, to help ensure she doesn’t hide the laundry. She nodded, but said nothing. I told her I loved her, told her again that I was sorry for being mad, and we sat together in her room for 20 minutes talking until she was tired enough to start drifting off. By that point it was 9:30 at night, a full hour after she usually goes to bed to read, and she was exhausted. Xan had fallen asleep waiting for the action to die down (missing his reading time completely) and Zephyra was passed out on my back. It was a horribly stressful evening, and while Tempest seemed calm and content by the end of it, I was really shaken up. I feel awful about being angry with her, I feel stupid for not seeing this sooner, and I feel anxious about facing this with Tempest and trying to help her through it.

I struggled a lot with OCD as a child, though it usually manifested in different ways. Nowadays I hand-wash, clean, and check. My symptoms are largely under control, and my rituals do not dictate my life nor interfere with daily activities… though it took a long time to get that much control over them.
While I know that my own experience can be a valuable asset to helping Tempest learn to control her compulsions, I feel a terrible surge of anxiety at the thought of involving myself in them, and I’m not sure why. The idea of her having bits of broken toys and scraps of paper shoved in corners makes me terribly anxious; I suppose it triggers my cleanliness OCD, and that probably makes our compulsions terribly incompatible. I want to get rid of it all, right now, while she’s not here, but I know I can’t do that without hurting her. She needs to work through it at her own pace with our help.
It’s not even that bad, it’s not like it’s mould or dirt or something: it’s just like bits of random stuff. Nothing that can’t be dealt with in a few seconds. The hoarding seems to be fairly recent, maybe a few months at most, so there’s not much there… that gives us an advantage to helping her get a handle on it. I don’t know. I know she’s had a few issues with hoarding here and there but for some reason I didn’t put it together as really serious, it was just a few seemingly unconnected events like when she would take candy from the cupboard and put it under her pillow.

We’ve put together our dispute package and had more conversations with the agency. The more we communicate with them, the better I feel. This is an easy case and I know it, I just hate the stress.

Curtis found a few listings for places and we’ve visited a couple in the last 1-3 days. One townhouse looks really promising: we’d be one of 120 buildings, there’s a fuckton of space, the units are great and they allow pets. It’s also a tiny bit cheaper than where we are… but it’s far. Curtis would only add about 10 minutes to his daily bike rides to work, but I’d have to drive the kids to school. The drive is only about 6-7 minutes, so it’s not bad, but… I don’t know. I so badly wanted to stay in this area. I love it so much. I don’t want to leave. I really, really hate that the landlady is doing this and it’d be nice if she played by the rules (ie. communication of any issues and attempts to resolve them). I’m so flabbergasted by how out of the blue this came.
The lady who runs the complex gave us an application, and was very nice. We’ve filled it out but are timid about handing it in. I don’t know. I really expected that we’d be here a lot longer. And I really fucking hate moving.
We continue to search for rentals in the area, but 90% of them are out of our price range and the remaining 10% don’t allow pets.

Curtis went over to the neighbour’s house this afternoon and asked if they’d ever had any problems with us and they said, “No. No noise, no problems, no nothing… why?”
Curtis told them we were being evicted and one of the reasons was problems with adjoining tenants. They reiterated, “No we’ve never had any issues!” and legitimately seemed confused by the idea that we were being forced out. We’re going to get it in writing and add it to our evidence package when the court date comes up. Because seriously.

On the bright side:

1. Tempest went to her first figure skating class this afternoon. She had her try-out either last week or the week before, I can’t remember, and she did really well. They placed her in the second level for her age-group.
Mom took her to her first real class, and has offered to pay for the course as well (it’s not that much, fortunately), which is really wonderful of her because Tempest absolutely adores it. It’s considerably more challenging than the “skate 1” class she finished, and she said that she fell a lot more and got her elbow pretty good at one point, but she isn’t discouraged and has a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for the upcoming classes. I’m so extremely proud of her.

2. I started a conversation with a woman on the playground at Xan’s school after noticing that his best friend had an older sister who had very obvious symptoms of Aspergers. The woman wasn’t their mother, but a friend of their mother, and we talked for quite a while about the challenges and the isolation that comes with being a mom to a spectrum kid. She wrote down my information, saying she’d pass it on to their mom so we could talk. I didn’t hear anything until picking up Xan on Friday, when the children’s actual mom approached me and we started talking. It’s so fucking relieving meeting another person who really gets it: the weirdness, the challenges, the tantrums… her eldest is almost the same age as Tempest, but is not as stable as Tempest has become. The last few years of therapy have been extremely kind to her, and she has done so much better lately. But a few years ago?… she was really in a tough place, and we struggled often. Bedtimes were a nightmare of tantrums and anxiety, we didn’t have the right combination of meds, she almost never slept a full night, her behaviour was often inappropriate and we were all very stressed out. This is where this mom seems to be with her daughter right now.
We lamented the changes in BC’s funding for autistic spectrum children, and how difficult it is to get a diagnosis (and then how fucking useless it is seeing as they cut literally ALL the support and funding for therapies and programs that make a difference). As I left for the walk home, she asked to meet up for coffee sometime to talk more. Our kids are almost exactly the same age, and would get along well. Her youngest is in the same class as Xan (I’m not sure if she’s in Kindergarten or grade one, as it’s a split) and they’ve become best friends. They have an absolutely adorable thing going on where they trade stuffed animals every few days and have “stuffy sleepovers”, then bring one or two to school and sit out in the field having imaginary tea parties with them. It’s so sweet it makes your teeth hurt.
Xan’s been dying to have a play date with her for a while and I keep forgetting to call her up, so at least now I have an excuse to motivate me out of my shy, introvert bubble.

3. The weather has been absolutely beautiful and hot the last week. It’s like the middle of summer, except it’s early May. I love it so much. So long as my pain levels are within tolerable limits, we can go for walks every day and sit outside and soak up the warmth… I actually managed to get a few seedlings in a mini-greenhouse that LC brought over when she visited last month. One of them seems to be growing. A bit. Though I have a horrible history of black thumb so we’ll see how it goes. I won’t’ be doing any transferring of successful plants, for obvious reasons, but maybe I can keep them in pots and bring them along to the next place we go to.

Hilarious conversation of the day:
One night after the kids were in bed, while waiting for Curtis to get home from work, I had a few ciders and watched, “The Grey”. It took about 20 minutes, during that first death scene, to be crying my damn eyes out. I was still sobbing just as Curtis came home from work with about 30 minutes left in the film. As the credits rolled I told him through my snots and gulps that he must never, ever watch this film.
He pulls up Netflix after I’m done and sees that the movie title comes up under the “Dark movies” category.
Curtis: “Well Jesus Heather,” he says, “‘Dark Movies’. What did you expect?”
Me: “I don’t know! Not that!” I sob.
Curtis: “What? Did you think ‘dark’ meant poor lighting? Like, ‘oh my god, this movie is so terribly lit. It’s a fucking tragedy.”
Me: “That is not what I meant!”
Me: “I hate you so much right now.”
Curtis: “No I’m pretty sure you’d hate me if I didn’t point it out. I mean really, ‘Oh my god, he couldn’t tell this movie was THAT dark. He’s dumber than I am!'”
Me: “Fuck you so hard.”
Curtis: “Oh look, ‘Dancer in the Dark’ is here as well! Right next to ‘The Grey’ and ‘The Road’ in the ‘terribly lit’ category of movies.”
Me: “So hard. So fucking hard. I swear to god.”



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