Monday, 3 February 2014

The dreaded silent gap

So what I would like to tackle today is what I call the dreaded gap.

As you know, change is not something I adapt to easily and this morning was a classic example.

Over the weekend we had left our car at the office and borrowed the mini bus to help with a children's party on the Saturday.

Monday morning, this morning, Zippy reminded me again that we would drive the kids to school in the mini bus (not the car) . I was greatful for the warning of difference as I had again forgotten the change. His warning meant a softer landing on its encounter.

All is well and the kids are enjoying the experience and I feel no anxiety or  worry. Fully prepared, I relaxed thinking nothing to the  journey and I am lulled in a false sense of coping. We near the school and I can feel the worms start. Things start to dawn on me, CHANGES!!! We are unable to park in our usual spot to drop the kids off as the bus is to long.

I feel my brain struggling to find solutions or alternatives but I look at Zippy and know he will know what to do.  He parks right behind our car (the office is round the corner to the school). I feel grateful and a higher being has provided this perfect space just for us! I feel loved and my worries lessen.

But then again whilst at my 'just managing to cope with all the new experience moment' silent calamity strikes. Zippy innocently asks me to walk this kids round the corner to school.

The first thing you need to understand is that this next moment happened with in maybe three minutes but as I sit in the car park (in my favourite designated space) at the Range (my favourite big shop) typing, I still am dealing with: The physical rush of worries, chemicals, and adrenaline I am coping with (neuroscience reckons it actually takes four hours to detox, so now I know the length of the effect in the physical, it does not bother me or scare me like it used to).

Back to the point. So I'm enjoying our favoured parking space. The kids a happily disembarking from the fun bus and then Zippy drops a question "can you walk the kids round the corner to school?"

My head explodes and stare at him stunned. Overwhelmed over something so ordinary to others, it begins and thoughts rush:-

  • this is not In my remit!
  • this is not on my radar!

 I had imagined myself lightly and thankfully getting in the car calmly, peaceful, blissfully, & driving off into the sunset.

  • What does this mean? 
  • what will happen? 
  • what's he saying? 
  • What's he's asking me to do? 
  • What did he say? 
  • What do I do? 
  • what? what? what?... 
I can't react and Zippy repeats the question, this time using my name "Carwen can you walk the kids round the corner to school?"

Inside my head I fight and cannot speak. I am in the DREADED GAP OF SILENCE!! Inside my head, fireworks are exploding all over the place and everyone's jumping around shouting at once. But, unlike my history, the ability to reason does not leave me.

I realise I  will not be able to speak or answer and must rely on my actions to answer. I fight and turn my body on my heel in the direction of the school and start to walk. I can hear the kids follow me, so I hope this all looks right for an answer. I congratulate myself in the movement at least and didn't just stand there glued to the spot as I would have previously, I am moving and this is good.

Zippy shouts "THANKYOU " I feel myself turn in the third person. I see him and want to say, "its ok no problem". I want to smile and reassure him I don't mind walking the kids over. He's shouts again "like a proper mum" he grins. I want to tell him I love him as I know he understands.

At this point though I give in and realise that to try and reply would make recovery longer. All I want to do is smile or grin or say "have a good day to Zippy".

I feel my body move on and my head turn. I feel like a spirit trying to find a home, racing to keep up with the physical mass that it apparently me.

I cross the road, drop the kids kiss them on thier heads (a habit I have put in place for such times) as I still can't speak or make my arms wave (they at still rammed in my pockets).

 I turn again and head back for the car. I wonder who got me across the road? Who checked it was safe? I presume another more primitive part of my visual brain will have done it (again, another bit that is disconnected). Historically this too would have scared me. I would have thought I had just walked into the road but after much research I know that's not the case. I know I'm quite safe, even if I can't remember.

Driving to the space I am in now, I feel sadness kick in.  Learning that to be aware is to have understanding and to understand, to have memory and overview or retrospective thought.

Unfortunately what comes to mind now is the huge quantities of time I have felt totally misunderstood by others who try to introduce, change or input decision making into my daily life. The way we have historically  interacted, as I thought something was going to happen one way but its changed leaving, me staring glued to the spot unable to reply or speak.

Historically I taught myself a line I could use when the initial paralysis had lessened. "It's not that I don't want to help, I just can't change that quickly" or a shorter line "you choose".

That used to be all I could manage but it would invariably end up with the other person making yet more alternative suggestions  (making the brain disempowerment and shutdown complete for much longer).

People would then take the 'dreaded silent gap' situations in various ways.

  • Some would think me stupid.
  • Some would think me plain defiant and unhelpful.
  • Some would stare, demanding a reply and the whole thing would become a silent stand off.
  • Some would think they must make a decision  for me, but get annoyed when I couldn't engage with that either.
  • Some would think me arrogant, as if what they asked was not important enough for me to bother with.
  • Some just thought I was rude for not replying.

But rarely, rarely, did anyone see that I desperately wanted to be helpful.
 I desperately wanted to say I could change my plans instantly and be part of what was required.  Rarely, rarely, did anyone know I would of given my eye or teeth to be able to make myself speak, stay with everyone and be part of what was happening. But often instead I would be left behind in disgrace and anger.

Mostly it just meant more fear, more rejection, more misunderstanding and more anger, less controllable behaviour and more self loathing.

As a kid I developed my own language to try to communicate.  Before it became so normal to  not be able to reply and I once took a year off from speaking at all.  

I used this  self made language with my kids when they were babies ( it's just the emotion of what I want to say wrapped in a long babbling sound ) and still use it today when I want them to know I have heard them.  I have also developed a way of blinking both my eyes at once when no part of me can be trusted to work properly so as to communicate my love and my want to help them. I use these technics to reassure them I have heard there needs and will act to make their situations better with hopefully solving their problems. Even with them talking (as they both ask for ice cream, computers, fish fingers, juice and questions all at once),  it is often not available to me.

So please, Don't ask me, "Do you want tea, coffee, hot chocolate, wine (red / white / rose) or sparkling water?" and then expect a reply.

Don't ask me, "what do you want?" and then offer three options.
Don't suggest six different outfits or two alternative driving routes and think I can take that in or process simply the way I presume you can.

Just ask me. "Would u like a drink?" Allow me the time to decide as I'm not being rude. Don't hurry me along with suggestions or alternatives? The dreaded silent gap will get only bigger and bigger.

If you ask the plans for my day, I will tell you what I want to achieve. Don't ask "at some Point  could you just do this, pop there or do that ?" I don't know at what point should be the point for it to be right?  Let me finish my list fully (I'm sorry but it's the quickest way to completing the brain loop) and then say what you need help with. Don't try and tell me where in my day I could put it. I'm  not trying to be awkward. I will move heaven and earth to help you but I need to find the gap for myself.

Say "Carwen we need to" as  it stops me feeling alone  in solving the issues or feeling that the world is on my shoulders with responsible for others. Stop me from drowning in the heaviness of the task as I don't want to fight you like a wild animal backed into a corner with a broken leg trying to run.

Say "we need to " means having an friend. Staying in contact, battling together, to look, to solve and achieve together. Don't leave me in the gap alone.


  • We need to fine a quick way home.
  • We need to find a way to stop the dog scratching.
  • Shall we choose a film tonight?
  • I fancy a coffee, do u want one?
Keep me with you, don't let me be alone and I'll help you. I will help with all my strength to build the world, with loyalty that with never fail.

What an odd world. I don't know wether or how much I can work on all these things of the past / present / future. Even two months ago  I would have set all the goals at my end of the pitch.

  • For me to change and to work out how to be like others. 
  • How I need to fit in properly. 

But now I can explain and begin to wonder if it would be possible to ask others to change how they communicate and to help me. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, well maybe that's true but maybe this dog has exhausted itself trying to learn and had its day. Maybe this dog needs to learn its ok to just be what it's always should have been and thats acceptable. 

I am so grateful for those that have seen me, without you I would not be here now. You know who you are and I appreciate you. THANKYOU !!!