true tales from the gates of the underworld

An Open Letter to my Second-Born Child
May 1, 2016, 8:06 pm
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Dear Second-Born,

I am sorry.


I am sorry for every time you have been overlooked – when you were born, each birthday, christmas, when you started school – by people because you are not my First-Born.
When instead of a visit and presence, you received a card in the post with money to buy yourself a present.
When instead of a visit and a card, your first day of school went unmentioned.
When your siblings received their ideal gifts at christmas, and yours was clearly an afterthought, as you grew out of that interest over 2 years ago. They would have known this, if they had come to see you, or asked about you.
I am sorry that they still don’t know how to spell your name.
I am sorry if you have ever noticed these things.
I am sorry if you have ever felt like you don’t matter. You matter.

I am sorry for every suggestion that we don’t care as much about you as we do about the First-Born, or the Youngest. I am sorry that people believe you suffer from Middle-Child syndrome, because they don’t understand Sensory Processing Disorder, or Autism, and all they see is some of your behaviour, separated from who you are.
I am sorry that people do not realise how awesome you really are because they would rather hold on to their stereotypes about middle-children.

I am sorry for every time I asked you to go back to your bed at night, because there is not enough room for 4 of us in our bed.
I am sorry for every time I couldn’t play Minecraft with you because I was dealing with the Youngest.
I am sorry that sometimes even I expect you to act like a neurotypical child, just because my patience is running thin.

I wish you knew how fiercely protective we feel of you.
I wish you knew that we love all three of you more than you will ever be able to comprehend, in your own different ways.
I hope you remember the times I have sat up with you at night, massaging your legs because your joints hurt, holding you because you had a bad dream, watching you breathe because you were ill.
I hope you remember that we always came to you when you called for us, the same as we always came for your siblings, because to us, you all matter the same.

I hope you may one day realise that the love we feel for your siblings does not subtract from the love we feel for you, but rather that it multiplies, as seeing you all together is just the best thing in the world.


Helping you understand
January 31, 2012, 2:25 pm
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PND is…

Like being lost in a thick fog. Sometimes you can’t see your hand in front of your eyes and take every step blindly. It seeps through every pore, though your skin, your eyes, your mouth. It settles in your head as well, slowing your thoughts. Every noise seems too much, it’s hard to focus on anything through the fog. It’s cold and lonely. You can’t see others around you, sometimes you don’t even know they are there. The fog covers everything, confuses, makes you uncertain of everything you ever knew.
Sometimes you can almost see something in the distance, or from the corner of your eye, but no matter how hard you try, it slips away into the fog. It can be frightening when you are all alone, lost, stumbling along; you might get jumpy at every noise, angry at yourself for feeling the way you do, or fall into a blind panic. Maybe you become desensitised, just putting one foot in front of the other, like a machine.

Like being in the middle of a raging storm. Only you don’t know if the storm is all around you, or inside of you. Maybe it is both. The jumble around you is overwhelming, and you don’t know where to start. The jumble inside you is overwhelming, and you have nowhere to hide. Breathing can be difficult, every breath you take in seemingly making the storm inside worse. The raging wind is making your eyes water, and things get blown around you that you had kept nice and tidy at the bottom of a long-forgotten pile, hoping to never see it again.

Like suddenly being left in charge of a litter of newborn puppies by someone, when you don’t actually like dogs that much. You have no idea what to do, but you know you need to keep these puppies alive. So you feed them, keep them clean, and tickle their bottoms with cotton wool, day and night. They are blind, reliant on you, and you might dutifully do all these things, but actually want to run away. Or maybe put them all in a sack and throw them in the river. At the same time you don’t dare to tell anyone how you are feeling, because puppies are cute. They are little living creatures. And so very foreign to you.

Like that time you broke your mother’s favourite jar as a child because you wanted to put a present for her inside it. The feeling of guilt is all consuming, you only wanted to do something nice, but instead you ruined everything.

PND can be all of these things, or none of them.
It’s important to know that whatever you feel, it is not your fault. Not now, not ever. And there is no shame in any of it. PND isn’t anyone’s fault, and it can’t be made to go away by shrugging it off, pulling yourself together or ignoring it. If you know someone who is lost in the fog, or the storm, go and look for them. Stretch out a hand, pick up one of the puppies, or buy a new jar, without judgment. Hold that hand tightly, take the steps together. Fog dissipates. Storms quieten and puppies grow older, you grow more confident.
Reach out, you are not alone.
This, too, shall pass.

Without words.
July 26, 2011, 7:19 pm
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life goes on
July 26, 2011, 11:27 am
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And so I carry on, day by day. There have been some worse and some better days lately.
I am learning to find the fine balance between looking after myself and sabotaging my efforts, and walking that line. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

I carry my guilt around with me. Squidge is growing and thriving, but I am ashamed to admit that, while I love him fiercely, I am lacking the connection with him that I have with Raptor. As long as he is given all his medication regularly, he is a happy and healthy baby, smiling, cooing and gaining weight. But I have found myself holding him, not wanting to let him go, because I am desperate to feel something for him while he is in my arms. The only thing I feel is guilt, because I don’t feel connected to him. I search and I search, but I can’t find anything. It hurts. Yet, when he looks at me with his big eyes, or smiles, I know he is mine, and I love him.

In other things, our house is finally starting to take on shape. It looks more like a home, and less like a temporary squat now. The walls are painted, things are tidy, and the carpet and furniture is on order. Life goes on.