April means Autism Awareness and Acceptance month and I felt compelled to write about a realization I recently had about my oldest son, D who has autism. My realization was that he’s not a hero, he’s a person. I want to say that first and foremost, I got permission from him to write this post about him because at some point in the journey, it became his story to tell. I also got his permission because I’m trying to be better about boundaries when it comes to writing about the people in my life. I could actually write more about boundaries but that’s another blog post.
My oldest son was diagnosed at the age of 5 and I was 22. I’ve written about him in a previous post about how he was my hero because of all of the obstacles he’s conquered and how proud I am of him because of that. Here’s that blogpost:
One thing that I didn’t address in that post was how receiving this diagnosis meant me receiving a new identity, a mom with a child on the autism spectrum. Or we are often called autism warrior moms or whatever is trendy at the time. From the age of 22, this identity was deeply ingrained within me. I’ve lost count of how many articles or books I’ve read about autism. I’ve lost count of how many parent teacher conferences or IEP meetings I’ve attended having to fight or advocate for services for my son. I’ve lost count of how many therapists or counselors my son has had. You get my point. Being a mom to a child with autism is not easy. It’s hard, really hard. I’ve mentioned before how my child started to flourish between 3rd and 4th grade and he went on to be successful in his academic career throughout high school. Throughout all of this, I didn’t realize it but I put my child on a pedestal. I don’t know if it was the BPD or me being super excited about my son’s progress. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good and healthy thing to encourage my son and support him; but at some point idealizing him put an unhealthy amount of pressure that started to feel like a burden. I won’t say what happened next in this story but I will say that he’s now thriving as a regular 23 year old. I realized this week that at some point I stopped being an autism warrior mom. I think that I understood this sometime in 2016 after my son turned 18 but really accepted it this week. It’s weird when I used to start talking about myself, being a autism warrior mom would be one of the first things I would share and now I don’t feel the need to. When someone who knows me and my son mentions he’s quiet, I’m just like “well he’s just shy”. Like I first mentioned in this post; it’s just no longer my story to share. When I talk about my son, I just say “ he’s D, pretty awesome most of the time but kind of annoying at times.” I’ve also let go of this idealization of him I had. I still admire him and love him for who he is but he’s not a hero; he’s a person.
He’s a person with his own set of issues and insecurities. He’s a person with goals and plans for the future. And talking to him, he wants to be seen that way. I also want to mention that I’m not speaking for all the moms with children with autism, I’m speaking just for myself. Getting here has been difficult but it’s been an important part of the process of me becoming not just a better mother, but a better person as well.
I wrote this poem in 2019 when I was reflecting on a past memory of my oldest son playing with Legos shortly after he was diagnosed with autism in 2003. At the time I was 22 and absolutely clueless at what his future would look like and it scared me. I was also clueless as to how to help him but knew that it would be up to bear the responsibility of making the right choices for so he could succeed. Being a parent in itself is rough; but being a parent a child with special needs is a different kind of rough.
Legos are scattered everywhere,
as he tries to find pieces that perfectly fit
Legos of different sizes, shapes, and colors
waiting to be put together by a little perfectionist
Legos that help create the universe
that swirls around in his head
Legos that help bridge him to others
Legos that make him seem almost typical
Hard to decipher
the puzzle of what the pieces will become
just little its creator
To tell the story of the first Andrew, I need to first tell the story of Matt. Matt is my son’s oldest bio dad. Matt has been one of my muses for a lot of my poetry. Matt has also been one of the reasons for why abandonment is such a trigger for me. I won’t say that Matt ruined my life because my son is wonderful and amazing. Matt is just one of the reasons my life has been well, so complicated. I met Matt in an AOL Chat Room when I was 16 and he was 21 in November of 1997. When we first started talking, he pretended to be 19 and going to the University of Hawaii. He was charming and I got this ego boost that an older guy would take an interest in me. Eventually we decided to meet up after a couple of weeks of chatting. I had just started working at Sears so I got the idea that we could meet there after my shift. Well, we met after my shift and he showed up in his friend’s car with his friend. 16 year old naïve me got into his car and then he told me the real truth about himself. The truth was that he was 21 years old and in the Army. He lied to me because he didn’t think I’d talk to him if I knew the truth. I didn’t know what to say. I mean yes, he sounded sketchy but I was stuck in the car with no way out. He then told me that we were going to a friend’s party on base and to lie about my age and say I was 18. Looking back now, I’m lucky that I didn’t end up in a ditch somewhere. We made it to this party and it’s awkward as fuck for me cause I’m awkward as fuck and I didn’t imagine that after 2 weeks of buildup conversation with Matt, our first date was going to be this-a party full of strangers who are drunk, happy ,loud as fuck singing karaoke. I’m miserable but try to my mask my social anxiety by a lot of smiling and nodding . After a few minutes, Matt notices my discomfort and offers to get me a drink. He comes back with a Heineken . I’m still trying to impress Matt and I tell him it’s my favorite drink and try to drink it as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to . So he takes me to the back and we make out. I try to put the brakes on what’s happening. He tells me that I won’t hear from him if I don’t put out. In my head, I still want Matt to like me and suddenly we’re in the back seat of his friend’s car with him hooking up. Him and his friend take me home afterwards.
I saw him again the following weekend and he sneaks me into the barracks where I spend the night. I won’t go into specifics but we’ll just say we had amazing chemistry and it was a night to remember.
Here are a couple of poems I wrote about that night:
Afterwards he ghosted me and I got mad and I wrote this poem:
However, I’m not one to stay down for long and I decided to meet another guy I had been talking to online (AOL Chat room of course) for a few months. His name was Jeremy and he was 16 . We had grown close in our online friendship but I had never seen a picture of him. Our friendship was nice, he made me laugh and constantly complimented me. He asked me to go with him to his school’s military ball that would take place in Mid December. I agreed to go. He picked me up from my house and when I saw him, he wasn’t who I pictured him to be and well there was zero chemistry but now I was stuck in this awkward situation with this dude. Idk why I kept getting myself into these situations aside from the fact that I was 16 and really didn’t make the best choices (lol). So we get to the dance and he introduces me to his friends, I don’t remember the names of all of them but I remember meeting Andrew, his best friend. I call him the first Andrew because there was a second Andrew that comes many, many years later in my story of love and lust. Anyways, I’m with Jeremy most of the night but he takes a break to go to the bathroom and well I start talking to Andrew and I don’t mean to sound corny but the attraction and chemistry between both of us was electric that night. I don’t want to say it was love at first sight but it sure felt like it and we exchanged phone numbers. I remember even dancing with Andrew and feeling this strange feeling of magic. If this had been a telenovela where the main character meets her soulmate, there would be some sappy Spanish love song playing . Me and Andrew, well, we had the Sugar Ray song “Fly”…oh I miss the 90’s sometimes. Lol.
After the dance me and Andrew connected through the phone and AIM (short for AOL Instant Messenger). As we talked more, we realized there was definitely a connection there and we wanted to explore it and we went on a first date and it was absolutely wonderful filled with these sparks inside of me that felt like electricity. And he liked me too. A lot. He wasn’t like the other guys I had dated before. I mean guys like Matt were attractive and all but Andrew felt like something special and unique to me. He lived on the other side of the island by the beach so we had romantic dates at the beach and of course the mall because we were teenagers. The bus ride to see him was about an hour and hour each way but I didn’t care. To me, he was worth it. And he got lost in me too. It was strange and felt absolutely like a movie kind of love. The feeling was really mutual this time and while we lived far away, somehow we made it work for 4 months.
There were of course a few wrinkles in our storybook romance. Jeremy -his best friend and my close friend had “fallen in love” with me after meeting me in person. This meant that we kept our budding romance a secret from him. It was rough and we both felt so guilty. Eventually I had to tell Jeremy that I was dating Andrew when Jeremy professed his love to me one night. After I told him the news, Jeremy didn’t take it well at all and said that he was holding a knife to his wrist and he was going to take his life because I didn’t love him. I don’t know how but I talked him down from the brink. It was really hard on me that I had caused him so much pain and I felt absolutely horrible and responsible for his pain. I honestly don’t know why Jeremy still kept being my friend after this and it was so awkward but somehow our friendship made it. The other wrinkle was that I was missing something very important that month-my period. I was somehow able to get in touch with Matt and tell him my dilemma and he told me he would give me the money to take care of it if I was pregnant. I was in this weird place of shock and awe. My parents had made sure to shelter me so much from the world that things like abortion or teen pregnancy weren’t really talked about. In fact, my Catholic parents were very much about abstinence education only. I also felt awkward about going to the drug store to get a pregnancy test at 16. A few days after talking to Matt, I started spotting and thought it was my period. I had also heard that girls have irregular periods sometimes so I convinced myself of that I. I was adamant that NOTHING would interfere with my love story with Andrew.
From January to April, my romance with Andrew grew and it was filled with so much intensity, chemistry, and connection. He was cute and so intelligent and not at all like the other shallow guys I had dated before. We would have these 2 or 3 hour long really deep and profound conversations. We couldn’t get enough of each other but I was way more obsessed. Around this time, I also noticed I was gaining weight so I figured I would start exercising and really limit my calorie intake (hello almost eating disorder). Anyways, I got so obsessed with him, I started skipping school on a weekly basis to “surprise” him at school when he got out. Yes, I took an hour and a half long bus ride for “love”. And people asked me why I relate to Joe Goldberg-lol.
I fell so deeply “in love” with Andrew, all I thought about was him and only him. It was crazy but I was also a pregnant teenager who was denying her pregnancy to herself at the time. Andrew was also really into me as well, He was so into me that his grades started slipping bad really bad. This was bad for him considering the fact that he really needed a JROTC scholarship for college. He gave a shit about his future while I didn’t give a shit about mine. So one day in April he called me and told me he had to break up with him because his mother said I was too much of a distraction and blamed me that his grades had slipped. I was shocked but didn’t cry and told him okay. We didn’t do the whole “let’s be friend bs” cause we both knew how horrible it would be for both of us. Even at 16 and 17, we both knew better. Jeremy told me that it was really hard on him and he was upset for a while. And I, I fell apart. I’m not sure if I had BPD at the time this happened but I was so deeply hurt, I wanted to die and stayed up at night and wondered which way would be the least painful to take my life. I also remember crying on my bedroom floor playing Mariah Carey’s “Love Takes Time” or Luis Miguel’s “Historia de Un Amor” on repeat.
I was borderline almost depressed catatonic when it happened. Usually, after a breakup, I would find a way to being strong and find anger within and be like “fuck this dude” and give myself a pep talk of “I’m a strong Peruvian Woman” , I’m going to write some angry ass poetry or stories ; this time it didn’t happen. The first Andrew has been one of my few exes to escape my scathing and salty angry poetry. It could have been a combo of the pregnancy and teenage hormones and the fact that I felt like I had lost the love of my life. I just felt absolutely in the pits of despair and devastation and my friends and parents tried their best to take me out of it. Nothing worked though. I still went to school but I was a zombie. I functioned enough so that my parents and friends didn’t press me too hard about how “I needed to get over it and move on”.
The one thing that brought me out of my almost catatonic depression were the flutters in my stomach I was starting to feel. That is, however, a story for another time.
To make a long story short, I did manage to contact Andrew a few years later after I found out that Jeremy had told him about my pregnancy and we did make amends. He forgave me for lying to him and I forgave him for breaking my heart. I was still kind of slightly Joe Goldberg obsessed with him years later and looked him up every now and then when the nostalgia hit. For some reason, years later, he stayed on my pedestal for a while. One day, I finally realized he was just a 16 year old dude in love who knew how to treat me with the love and respect I needed at the time. He was the first guy that I really felt deep and intense feelings for. He was great but he was just another chapter in my book of lust and love.
I wrote this in 2002 about my first son’s bio dad. It kind of sucks that this situation happened BUT at least I got some salty poetry out of it. Lol.
Hey Mr.Donor man
How does it feel to have your son
Learn you never wanted to come
That you talked big shit
and never meant any of it
That no matter how hard I tried for him
you never wanted to be a daddy to him
That you were so fucking lame
You couldn’t even give him your last name
That to you, his mom
was just good fun
That you’re a fucking coward
you never dared to be his father
Don’t worry though
He’ll always have my love
And without you, he’ll be just fine
One day I’ll meet a man who is kind
Who will love him and I
and will want us in his life
Who’ll be glad to take the place of
The man who couldn’t give us love
Who will come to his defense
when things get tense
Who will stick around
And won’t bring him down
Who will finally be
The dad you never wanted to be
I wrote this poem about my oldest son’s bio dad in February of 2002. A lot of residual resentment I had towards him was because he wouldn’t step up. My empathy button for him was really broken for him and in this case maybe it needed to be.
Three years too late
You’ve decided to embrace your fate
You’ve decided to recognize your mistake
And fill my ears with apologies
For not accepting mine and his existence
So now you feel like playing dad
And expect me to forgive and forget
about the misery you left us in
The years of being a fucking deadbeat to him
Please do what you do best
Walk away and put this situation to rest
For he doesn’t need
A false wannabe daddy
Who will cause him harm
in the long run
I wrote this in February 2002 about my first baby daddy. He had started to be in contact with when he got the child support order. I obviously had a lot of residual resentment and trauma and blamed him for losing part of adolescence.
She was the girl you left behind
with nothing but a baby
and a desperate hope to keep her alive
She was innocent, naive, and untouched
until the night she fell into your sexy scent,
your empowering embrace, and a world full of promises
She trusted, believed, and dreamed
Thanks to your unexpected departure
that naive girl you left behind
blossomed into a woman of depth, strength and wisdom
beyond her 21 years
She will lust but she can’t ever love
She wants to trust but finds herself full of doubt
She wishes to fill herself with guilt and morals
but has learned to have no scruples
So don’t try to come back and expect her
to believe in your crocodile tears
or your most insincere apologies
that girl you left behind
Grew up into a woman
at a surreal speed thanks to you
I wrote this in 1998 about my pregnancy. I wrote this after telling my traditional and catholic parents I was pregnant. I was six months along and went into a deep depression afterwards that lasted maybe a year after the birth of my first child. Yes, I was a teen mom with post partum depression and there wasn’t much anyone could do at the time. I still got up to go to school and took care of my child. My life was no longer just about me, I was responsible for another life. Maybe that’s when I learned to mask so well. I learned to show up no matter what. On the upside, I had really supportive parents who were for me when they could have abandoned me. On the downside, some of my closest friends did. Sometimes I wonder if going through something this traumatic did stunted my maturity in some areas.
No more fun
No more just “lying in the sun”
Dirty diapers and Barney
Will sum up the next few years for me
No more hanging out with friends
No more having tons of boyfriends
Strollers and snotty noses
Will be how my adolescence closes