Sunday, April 16, 2017

Navigating Troubled Times: Moving On After Divorce Part II

If you read the previous post, you will likely remember that I'm writing about moving on after divorce when you have a child in crisis. My oldest son (12 years old at the time I left his father) is on the autism spectrum. He is high functioning and change is extremely difficult for him.

During the separation the children and I moved from a 4,000 square foot house to a 1,200 square foot apartment on the 4th floor of an old cockroach infested apartment building on the wrong side of the tracks. There were two bedrooms and a small den.

I slept in the den.

The children shared the larger rooms.

Then my oldest son's meltdowns became more frequent and intense. He was breaking out into laughing fits, spitting on teachers, and attempting to run from school. My son had a therapist and a psychiatrist, but neither had immediate solutions to the problem. In an attempt to give my son a place to self-sooth, I changed the sleeping arrangements so he slept in the den.

This worked for awhile because the room had a large picture window overlooking the courtyard four stories down. It had objects he could use for self-soothing and a door he could close for privacy. Then, on a warm day after my two youngest children had gone to summer school, the unimaginable happened.

My oldest daughter (then 10 years old) had gotten upset over some household chores and threatened to run away. And my son became angry at his sister, then scared she would follow through on her threat. Instead of using his self-soothing strategies, my son started crying, then laughing. Soon he was knocking down objects in the living room. I told him to go calm down in his bedroom. Which he sorta did, but not really. I mean, he went to his room. But when he shut the door, a prickly cold feeling swept over me and I knew something was terribly wrong.

I called his name and there was no answer. I threw his door wide.

He had opened the window and kicked the screen to the ground. With one foot on the ledge and the other swinging out into the open air, he said, "That's it. Time to end this... now."

I wanted to scream. I wanted to rush over and pull him out of the window, to save my son by force, but the situation was too precarious. There was no time. Any physical contact would likely drive him over the edge, and all I could do was watch. Watch as his foot lifted higher into the sky.

Watch as he gripped the window ledge.

Watch as he swung his foot back inside and collapsed onto the bed, "I don't really wanna die," he whimpered.


Tomorrow, I will blog about the aftermath...

---------------

Below are links to this story from the beginning:

Moving On After Divorce
Outside, Inside, Upside Down: Moving On After Divorce Part III
Praying for a Miracle: Moving On After Divorce Part IV

18 comments:

  1. I have a good friend who went through a nasty divorce and who has a high-needs child. While her road is hard, she says that it is much easier than if she had stayed.

    Sending all the best wishes your way for your journey.

    Heidi from Romance Spinners

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Heidi. This was the hardest time for the family. Things have since gotten much more doable.

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  2. Funny how logic comes so calmly when everything is out of control. I'm sorry you and him went through that. At least he knows he wants to be here. It is so hard on children period. But have Asperger's and the world is especially wonky.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah. It was scary when he was out of control. I don't think he liked having meltdowns either, but they happened so fast then. It was really unpredictable for everyone.

      Delete
  3. That is some scary stuff. It sounds like you managed to do the right thing--no easy task.
    Rebecca The Ninja Librarian’s Favorite Characters

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel lucky. So glad I still have my son.

      Delete
  4. Lord have mercy,
    I was so scared for your son.
    God Bless

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well you have all certainly been through the wars one way and another. . . .

    On a lighter note however I would like to say that the cockroach is a very misunderstood beast indeed. They are amazing critters and one of the most democratic caring sharing beasts there are. Well within their own society, they are not good at sitting down with folk drinking tea and eating cake discussing the finer details of their social integration. But I think they would if they could.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't like cockroaches. Don't get me wrong, if I hadn't lived with them then I could probably find it amazing how nothing can kill them. But I don't know if I'll ever get to that logical, cool headed place of admiring them now.

      Delete
  6. omg -what a cliff hanger. I'm so relieved to know better sense over came him. What a terrible time you
    ve been going through.
    Nonchalance#Lexicon of Leaving

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately this rough patch is over. It happened a few years back. But it helps to write about it now, because I don't think I let myself fully process it back then. Too scary.

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  7. How terrible to have to go through something like this, for both of you! So pleased to know your son came through safe.

    Here from the A-Z and all the best for the rest of the challenge,

    Nilanjana
    Madly-in-Verse



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nilanjana. I'm glad he's safe too.

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  8. Andy,

    Oh how heart-wrenching and scary that moment must have been for you. I find it a bit amazing and interesting that your autistic son recognized that he didn't really want to die. I always thought kids with autism had trouble reeling their emotions into check but maybe that's a misunderstanding. Oh well...I'm eager to read more on this story. You sure have a way of sharing with us!

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    Art Sketching Through the Alphabet "N" (Nightingale)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Cathy,

      You're right that kids on the autism spectrum have trouble reeling in their emotions. What my son told me after the fact was that the view of the drop was so terrifying it was enough to send him back into the apartment.

      Guess I should be grateful he's acutely afraid of heights.

      Delete
  9. Oh wow. I'm so glad he realized he didn't want to die. That has to be the scariest thing in the world for a parent to watch.

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    Replies
    1. It was absolutely shattering to life as we knew it then, although less so than if he had actually jumped. What's scary to me is how close he came.

      Delete

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