I did something incredibly blonde for my birthday, which involved uploading a bikini shot to my business account on Instagram without explanation, as I fell asleep by my phone. I mean the account where I normally post poetry for my business and refuse to do the “selfie promotion” thing. That.
You see, the day before my birthday, I went to bed late, as I was up preparing a GoFundMe campaign for my child who has PDA (pathological demand avoidance disorder, which falls under the autism spectrum and he is in desperate need of expensive treatment — you can read about it and watch my video in my birthday blog). Which was well and all, but on my birthday I was tired and got into bed around 8:30pm. But my sister was chatting to me on the phone for a long time and then I was trying to upload this video I’d made for Instagram about my fundraising efforts…and fell asleep.
When filming the video, I thought no one would click on a blurry image of a windblown person. So I thought I’d upload an image from a birthday two years ago where I’m standing on a beach in Athens, which looks a hell of a lot nicer than the windswept me (wearing a cooking apron to boot — my late gran gave it to me and I needed a moral boost that day while cooking) of the other day. You know, using the nice pic as the first part of the story and using the video as the second part. I also thought it was brilliant as I could crack a joke about this blog being naked and all that and I wanted to link the video to the blog I wrote on my birthday about fundraising.
Now, the problem was that my video was longer than the stories permitted on Instagram. So I realised I’d uploaded a bikini pic and half a video. I immediately pressed delete, then tried uploading it as a regular post instead, so as to be able to keep the entire video — but fell asleep while it was “sending.”
I woke up this morning to the unwelcome news that 50+ people had watched the story I’d “deleted.”
I fretted about this for a couple of hours, then I started laughing. You see, we’ve had electricity problems for months and while the City of Cape Town has come to fix it, I think three times now, it’s still not working. As my landlords also pulled out our electric water heater, but failed to install the gas one, I don’t have hot water either.
So today, I boiled myself a pot of water to pour over my head as a “shower,” then legged it as I couldn’t blow dry my hair and my son was coming home and if he were to see me leave, he’d have a meltdown and refuse being left with the nanny. Of course, where we live in the woods, the GPS sometimes gets confused, so my Uber driver wasn’t parked by my home, but at a nearby estate. Fearing my son would make it home in time to see me, I was hiding behind a palm tree outside the neighbour’s (whose address does work on a GPS), with soaking wet hair.
I think back to the time I walked past the lines into Hollywood nightclubs…or for that matter, standing on a beach in Athens feeling glam…and I think about hiding behind a palm tree, waiting for an Uber, sporting clothes I’d put on without buttoning up properly and soaking wet hair…and I laugh. As I was standing behind that palm tree I found everything amusing, including weird bikini shots on Instagram.
When I recorded the video for GoFundMe, I felt like I spoke about the problems in our family openly for the first time. Putting it to words yesterday in a blog on here, even more so. It was a big step for me. And honestly, I didn’t feel I could do that until Friday, when a psychologist explained to me what’s going on. Prior to that, I’ve had so much self-blame and felt so embarrassed, that I didn’t know how to phrase it. Where do you start? With him stabbing the wall with a knife when asked to have a shower? With me holding him down and screaming on top of my lungs that he’s never going to hurt my family again? With him trying to teach his almost three-year-old brother that I’m a bitch and a cunt and…?
Yesterday, I started seeing the comedy in it all. Now that I know the most likely diagnosis. Now that I know he doesn’t hate me, nor that he’s not psychotic, or mean. Now that I know that there’s hope for him to be the kind, loving, child that I love. Now that I know that it isn’t my fault that he’s aggressive. Now I can speak about it.
And when you think back to all those times…him crawling on the floor in supermarkets, him turning the doctor’s waiting room upside down, him breaking the flowers at my favourite coffee shop, him swearing at random strangers… All those times I felt mortally humiliated…they are funny. The suffering he’s been through — the reason he’s behaving like this — is not funny. Nor is the damage he’s caused to people emotionally, or the amount of furniture he’s broken. But, I’m sure you can see the humour in trying to explain to some hot guy why your child just had an absolute fit in their shop.
My former principal at drama school, Sam Kogan, used to say that when you can see things through the lens of humour, you know you are no longer affected by them emotionally. When you can crack a joke about the trauma you’ve been through, you are free. I used to think you couldn’t crack jokes about the bad things in life. That you had to take them seriously. But, by the end of the day, when you see your own ghosts and ghouls that haunt your mind as hilarious, instead of frightening, or sad, apparitions, you are, in fact, free. You are no longer dictated by them. I’m very thankful Sam taught me that.
I’m not saying I will never again be mortified by something my child does. Most likely I will. But if I can learn to let go of how society thinks he should act, if I can learn to have sympathy for his condition, instead of being frightened of what others will think, then I will be all that much stronger dealing with it. We have a long road ahead where he learns how to handle his condition and overcome the anxiety and emotional misconceptions holding him back, but there is light. There is hope. And there’s me in a bikini on Instagram.
(Update: yesterday he had a really, really bad fit with the nanny which resulted in him taking it out on himself in the most destructive manner possible and I was mortified. Once again I didn’t know what to say to people. But I explained. And they understood. And we got help. Because it’s all quite understandable and logical once you understand his condition. Now the emergency plan is being put in place for his treatment. And thanks to friends and family donating funds, we may come out it without financial disaster.)
Image Source: https://za.pinterest.com/pin/507780926731818628/