Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fear and Loathing in the 'Hood

This story was originally posted in June of 2011. There is an amazing and nourishing update as of the winter of 2012. Be sure and click the link at the end of this article. You'll be glad you did.

Hi. My name is Carol Anne. I'm a fraidy cat. It's been about 16 seconds since my last gut-gnawing moment of fear.  If there is a 12-step program for fear, I'd like to know.  I can't find the wagon much less climb on board.

The day has cooled as evening storms abated. The neighborhood kids are out playing hide and seek. Even the 15-16 year olds. Mine is not.  I mourn his isolation and ostracism every moment of the day.  All I ever wanted was to live in a neighborhood with kids. We finally found one. Within 3 months, he went from being an outdoor kid to one who went months on end without leaving the house. It wasn't worth the payoff.

My stomach is in knots fearing the moment he realizes they are out and about. He's had a good day. His yearbook team gathered for an end of the year ice cream sundae party. I wish that were enough. But, he's a kid who wants to be with other kids every chance he gets.  What kid isn't?

Courtesy T. Parker
Most likely, he will saddle up and try once again to find a way to connect with kids who have demeaned and bullied him till he is beside himself.

He is still optimistic and hopes again today that they might be different. Because, some days they are. You can never figure out which day they will tolerate him and which day they will torment him and run him off.

He's told them he has Asperger's and just doesn't think like them.  Of course, that only gave them more ammo with which to torment him.  Even the kids on the street who have siblings with  far more complicated diagnoses than he has have no empathy.

The sadness and anger are enough to break me.  He was a twin.  I wonder why God kept his sibling and prevented my 14YO from having even that sense of belonging.

When I know he is headed out that door into the path of his tormentors, I sometimes feel like I need a crash cart loaded and ready to go because I am about to drop from the weight of wondering how it will go today.  It drains my energy and my hope.

What a difference 2 years make.
A neighbor has opined that we 'shelter him' by homeschooling.  Funny thing, in our homeschool community, he is appreciated and accepted and safe.  No one has ever bullied him no matter if the function included 5 or 100.

When I approached her about her son's role as a bully, she yanked him into the house while tersely assuring him that he was not in any trouble. Then, she spent twenty minutes telling me why it was my fault that my son is bullied. Who is sheltering whom, I wondered.

My Aspie and I have changed. He is no longer the happy go lucky outdoor kid he was.  He is sad and depressed. He has bouts of anger. He has gotten mouthy.  He has learned to react with hostility to protect himself.  He has begun to search the internet for answers to why he is different and how to cope.

I'm no longer the friendly outgoing person who could make friends at the dentist or grocery store. Oh, I still make friends in unlikely places like that.  It's just in my own 'hood that I've become a different person. I no longer look to see who is passing, so I can throw up a hand and share a smile as they drive by.  I no longer look for ways to extend the wave and smile to a concrete get acquainted conversation. 

The home I looked forward to moving into has become a prison as I sit and map out ways to escape to other 'hoods and friends.

Courtesy B. Creasy - 1010
I'm afraid of who he will be because of this life experience. I am afraid he has lost the person he was in the process of becoming when we moved here. I tell myself we will both be stronger and more empathetic. And yet, tonight I don't  feel more like either one.

My name is Carol Anne. I am a fraidy cat.  Your fear might have a different name or set of experiences. All the same, I'm willing to bet that you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Psalm 139:14 (NIV) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 

To read the update, click and read:  Redemption and Forgiveness Pt. 1


  1. Heartbreakingly beautiful post. You and your kid are loved!

    (Bullies suck--yes, I said that!)

  2. And thank you for being our safe place to run and for your kind words regarding my post.

  3. (((Carol Anne & son))) If only you could move into one of the empty houses in our neighborhood. We'd love you to pieces!

    Susan in GA

  4. Susan, did you just see me post to Velvet? Just saying how much I missed not being where I've never been! I'm always going to be torn between 2 lovers! ;-)

  5. CA, I had no idea that he had Asperger's too! And I had no idea that he was a twin. :-( I pray that God will watch over you.

    And, it makes me feel really old that he is now the same age as Will was when I met him.

  6. Jessica, When Will was 14, we had no idea Isaac was an Aspie as well. He looked so 'uncomplicated'. then, he had a bout of type B strep which seemed to trigger any genetic tendency he had toward it. Puberty is known to heighten some of the associated signs. He's 14(in 6 wks) and over 5'11". He's pretty 'puberescent' as you can imagine. I'm hoping some of the Aspie traits will calm down as his biochems settle down. And..knowing you are getting married makes ME feel really old!

  7. CA, our family loves you and yours! You have been an amazing blessing to us, and your friendship is a God-send. Jesus knows exactly what you are going through and will always lead you in the right path.
    Isaiah 55:6-8 says

    6Seek the Lord while he may be found;

    call on him while he is near.

    7Let the wicked forsake his way

    and the evil man his thoughts.

    Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,

    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

    8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways,”

    declares the Lord.

  8. And we feel the same way about you and your family!