Susan's Blog

Monday, May 1, 2006

I’ve Landed

We’d hit the bottom
I thought it was my fault
And in a way I guess it was…

Dragging the sea of a troubled mind
Had to leave myself behind.
I’ve been flying high all night
If you wrote me off, I’d understand it
Cause I’ve been on some other planet
So come pick me up, I’ve landed.
–Ben Folds, Landed

I may just have the courage to blog what has been going on with me. People are often commenting on my courage when they read my book, the courage to tell it “like it is.” The truth is, I’m not at all brave. I just can’t stand to carry around my misery for too long before unloading it onto a page. When I write it down, I process it. When I send it out into the world, it becomes more real for me, more understandable. It is not about bravery; it is about sharing a feeling. It’s about barfing a feeling, really.

In one of the chapters in my book I packed a bag to leave because things had become so hard for me at that point. I am often congratulated on the fact that I did not leave. It’s funny to me how much pain I attributed to autism. That is a pain that the world can understand. But pain that is about relationships that don’t work out, or a psyche that is injured — that is a different story altogether.

I packed a bag on Saturday and I left. This time I called Ned, who was with the boys at a party, and I told him I was going to my mother’s for the night because I could not bear life in my home anymore.

Ned was very sad that I was going. He said that no matter what he does, I can’t seem to be happy. I think he does a lot that makes me happy, but right now I am struggling. It is partly about my family life, the way the five of us are such fortresses unto ourselves: Ned takes up his station at the end of the diningroom table with his laptop; Nat takes his place in the center of the white couch in the livingroom; Max sits in front of his computer in the playroom; Ben draws at the other end of the diningroom table or plays with legos in his room; and I sit in my window seat in the livingroom. There is so little social interaction that I feel like I’m going crazy sometimes. I need more. How do I get more out of them if it is so much in their natures to be so independent, self-sufficient? What do I do with all my stuff? Sure, I have friends. I have my writing. I have hobbies. But I still have empty space that presses in on me.

Then add to that the fact that two relationships, relatively new ones, are taking a real dive. I can’t get a handle on them. You, my readers, tell me, “Don’t chase anyone.” But it’s not that simple. The silence of that empty space reverberates and bends the truth, until I believe once again that this particular friendship is something I need.

Plus, my agent formally told my editor that I was not doing her proposed project. I’m doing the novel instead, so now I’m totally on my own. And wouldn’t you know it, after writing 185 pages, I have hit a wall again. The wall which says, “You suck as a writer. You call this a character? You call this a plot?” More empty space.

Weird thing is, two very old friends reappeared in my life in the last few days. Do I let them back in?
But there’s a reason they went out of my life, too. I have to figure out if we are in new places to begin again, or if the limitations still drag us down.

I went away from Ned and my boys this weekend because I was too sad to stay where I was. I thought I could get away and get some fresh perspective. I was going away because I felt that they could not give me what I needed, but I came back full circle. I realized that what Ned gives me is the space to be myself. Sometimes it is too much space. But the space around Ned never squeezes me or hurts me. I need to figure out how to fill the rest of it, without going down a destructive path with people who promise one thing, but really just end up bleeding me.

In the end, as always, I come back to Ned. I was listening to one particular song on my drive back, Ben Folds’ Landed. He says, at the very end of describing a destructive relationship that is over, “Come pick me up, I’ve landed.”

I called Ned just then, to let him know I was almost home. But I said, “I’ve landed.” He knew exactly what I meant. And when I saw him there, with his long hair and his crinkly eyes, taking care of all three boys, harried by work, and still looking at me like I was the most delicious thing he’d ever saw, I realized that despite the pain, this truly is where I belong.


Glad to hear you may have worked things out within yourself and landed. I’m sure the men in your life are happy to have you home again.

— added by Wendy on Monday, May 1, 2006 at 10:32 pm

It is so important to be honest with youself and honor your needs. We are all human, we all have our own time and space. Saturday my husband and I were trying to measure some appliances in our kitchen to replace, and Sam was doing some of his typical Sam behaviors and right next to our “space”, well, actually he was constantly bumping our “space”, and my husband turned around and said in a somewhat raised voice upset, to Sam, “could you just stop being autistic today?” After he said it, we both stopped and looked at each other and laughed (thank God Sam didn’t have a clue). While it was ridiculus to have said, we found humor that it even came out of his mouth. But…the truth is, now matter how super parents we all think we need to be, no matter how altogether we feel we have show the world…the reality is we are human, we get worn, tired, confused and just need time to have our own “space”. I am glad you are back home, but hopefully not for long, because my husband and I are coming to hear you speak Wednesday night!!! Good luck, you will be great! ~ Laura

— added by Laura Cottington on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 12:20 am

Let’s hope you’re in therapy. I’m glad Nat has one parent that won’t walk out on him. What kind of message do you think your actions send to your boys? Once you have children(especially a child on the spectrum) your needs pretty much become secondary. It’s called being a parent. I give your husband a lot of credit for putting up with you.

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 8:17 am

Sheez anon (you should leave your name if you are going to be so confrontational), she didn’t walk out on her family! She spent the weekend at her mother’s and came back – nothing wrong with that. She even called her husband and said, hey! I’m going to my mother’s, I’ll see you soon.

Susan, I hope you are feeling better. (I do agree with the therapy suggestion, I hope you have one or are considering one, I find them to be very helpful). I had no idea you were so sad, all your posts recently have been so great and encouraging to me (I’m a mother of a disabled 2 year old) and I’ve come to rely on your words for daily comfort and wisdom of a mother who has been where I am standing right now.

— added by Doris on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 8:31 am

Susan, you had mentioned in the past that you would stop printing anonymous comments and I think you should stick to that. This comment was just uncalled for and vindictive. I appreciate your honesty and believe me, I don’t think there is special needs parent in the world who hasn’t fantasized about running away and starting over with a new life somewhere. The important thing in it all is that you are honest in your feelings and that you appreciate the blessings in your life.

— added by Sam's mom on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 9:24 am

Dear Susan, my name is Georgina and I am the mother of 2 children, a 2 year old girl and an almost 6 year old boy who has autism. I have been reading your blog for some time and have just started to read your book. Some days are good, some days are not, a lot of the time I just feel like I am barely coping. I worry a lot about my son (though I love him and wouldn’t change a thing about him) and even if things seem to be going well in the present I worry about the future. I wish that I intuitivley knew what was best for my son (and daughter) and would like to be the best mom in the world but that’s not realistic, it’s a myth that there are any perfect parents out there, and it just makes us feel worse to think we are the only ones who are not. I feel happy if I feel that I have done the best I can on any given day. Yesterday was not a good one, I cried when I went to bed because I had spent all day shouting at the kids and felt like I was a horrible mother. Anyway, when I read your blog today it made me feel better about myself, because if someone whom I admire so much can have a bad day too (and have the guts to admit it) then it is OK for me to be human too, it made it easier to pull myself together and be a good mom today. The anonymous comment is just trying to perpetuate the myth but actually disproves it because if they were so damn perfect then they wouldn’t be shooting you down they would be supporting you. Reading your blog is a great source of comfort to me, and your book is a great resource of information and inspiration. I know you love your family dearly, but to be a better mother and wife sometimes you do have to put yourself first. I hope you are having a better day.


— added by Selsey on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 11:24 am

You ARE brave. Very few of us can put ourselves out there the way you do, and what you express is part and parcel of what’s involved with being human, navigating a life. Thanks for having the strength to be who you are and the generosity to share it. That’s what makes connectiosn and real dialogue possible, no?

— added by Melinda on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 11:30 am

Sorry to hear your path has become so bumpy. In my work with suicide prevention and depression awareness I see a lot of the ‘suck it up’ sort of mentality displayed by Anon. It’s nothing but destructive.

Therapy works wonders for a lot of people as do modern antidepressants. Our brains are complex things that get sick just like stomachs, lungs, livers and our other organs, the hard part is it’s also the intrument we use to judge our own condition. If you’ve been feeling down for a long time consider seeing a professional.

— added by Pete Lyons on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 12:56 pm

hi its me, we must be under the same moon because I have wanted to spend a weekend somewhere else as well…you are justified because of your age, the life that you have lead, the chemicals in your brain, the past, present and future to feel everything every fear and emotion that you feel. I guess I am finding today, that we are always stronger than we think. I am glad that you posted that comment from the person that would not write their name. You are always fair in printing both views and that is a sign of a good journalist. If you are like me you read and think about all comments, even the ones that make you want to jump through the screen…I remember this one that I got, I hated it at first but I read it over and over and finally I thought- gee I hate this comment because it is presenting a truth I dont want to face. What you do is only right for you , and let another man walk in your shoes before he/she judge where your life is taking you….I dont agree with the person who stated that you must ut your feelings aside because you disabled child must come first- I think there is a balence and I really beleive that in order for you to care for nat and the rest of your family it has to start with your mental health…you and I will talk more later….I hope!

— added by Kristen on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 1:14 pm


I’m sorry you’ve been hurting, but I’m glad you’ve landed again.

I think we all need time off now and again, to sort things through in a place we’re not accustomed to being irritated in. I think I need that for myself soon. (My life took a left turn at “twins!” and “possible autism” one morning almost 3 years ago, and I’m wanting some time to just curl up with tea and a map, in some semblance of peace.)

— added by Julia on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 1:15 pm

oh and just a side bar, besides having had depression in the past as well as a whole host of other things that I post on my whiney blog, I was also a nurse that cared for people with depression, addiction and suicidal Ideation at a local psychiatric ward- Peter speaks the truth….

— added by Kristen on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 1:17 pm

I don’t get the bathing suit picture.

I do however relate to the urge to walk away from it all. Interesting post.

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 8:52 pm

Susan, I love your blog and I love your book I’ve just finished, I recognize a lot of common in our personalities. Recently you started putting more of your life on the paper. Then you are publishing the chapters from the new book. I start having the slight feeling of mixing your life with your book. I’m afraid (hopefully I’m wrong) that having all of your life on the paper plus your new book, where you obviously prototyping the main character, might resonance and trigger some of the recent events.

— added by Julia Mazepa on Friday, May 5, 2006 at 5:00 pm

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