Family Ties or Otherwise

Family Ties or Otherwise

By Michele Potter

Having recently attended two family reunions, I have been thinking about the power of blood ties. I was lucky enough to grow up close to extended family in the Midwest. Picnics in the summer, holiday gatherings, and sleepovers at cousins were all part of my childhood. At the time, I thought everyone had the same kind of experience and completely took my family for granted.

Once out in the world, it came as a bit of a shock that many people, because of distance, dysfunction, separation, or loss, had little or no family. The people I met shared stories that hurt my heart. One girl told me how she had found her father, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot; she said she felt nothing but disgust. Another said her parents’ bitter divorce and long custody battle had effectively made her feel like an orphan.

My family had their differences and disputes, but we always knew deep down that we were there for each other. I remember my teenage years as a perpetual war of wills with my mother, but in the end, we called it a draw.

Through the years, we have lost members, a sad time for gathering together and sharing. At my age, I have attended too many wakes and funerals for people close to me. Where once I considered such rites maudlin and unnecessary, my views have changed. Being the person in the receiving line accepting condolences changes one’s perspective.

I think of all this because a dear family member is dying. Cancer is making its final assault, and his days are numbered. Throughout the long process, he has made every effort to see and talk to everyone, attend reunions, and keep a positive attitude. “There’s always someone worse off,” he often says. I think of the many times I’ve wallowed in the “pity pot” and feel ashamed.

He has stayed with us longer than the doctors predicted, which I believe is due to the support and love from all sides. I cannot imagine coming to the end of one’s life and not having family ties. Recently, he asked me to gather some funny family stories to tell at his funeral. He wants people to laugh.

I hope we can all laugh through the tears.


OMP Admin Note: Michele Potter is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues.

Michele is an incredibly diverse and talented writer who I hope will collect her short stories and make them available on Amazon someday soon. In the meantime her story PERCEPTIONS is available in the guest author section of the flash fiction antholgy BITE SIZE STORIES VOLUME ONE.

https://www.amazon.com/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=la_B00CBFLI1W_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095358&sr=1-4

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095546&sr=1-1

Educational Inferiority Complex by Emma Thomson

On the news segments, we regularly see those victory despite adversity stories. The latest story was regarding those achieving high A level results despite her brother having been one of those that lost their lives in the Manchester bombings. There have been similar stories throughout the years of Cancer survivors obtaining high grades and all other kinds of physical disabilities. This article isn’t written to discredit those individuals. They’ve worked hard and deserve the praise and recognition that these news stories have given them. On the other hand, if you happen to be from a background or have a disability that isn’t widely understood, then, more often than not, you do not receive the support to be successful and achieve your highest potential.

I am going to focus on behavioural issues in this article. I am an adult diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and have been suspected of PDA (a part of the Autistic Spectrum which the public do not understand). There is a wide belief within society that those of us with behavioural conditions have the help available to us which we need in our everyday life. Sadly, this isn’t true. There may be help out there, but it is far from appropriate and, in most cases, not helpful to the conditions whatsoever. Most of the ‘so-called’ help is punishment based. This isn’t constructive with someone who has a behavioural issue. Recently, research has released the shocking finding that those on the Autistic Spectrum are one of the most likely groups to take their own lives. There are those on the spectrum who are successful, but for each of them, there are most likely hundreds across the UK alone, which are not able to have satisfying full lives because they aren’t given adequate support for their Autism.

 

This year I tried to take my own life because of literally having everyone and everywhere I went turn their back on me and, alongside that, I had a legal case for harassment (caused my lack of support and mishandling of my case) active against me. There was no attempt to work with my ASC traits. I was given a restraining order, which I broke and I even told the court I couldn’t stick to it when they made it. That was made indefinite, so I felt like I’ve been given a life sentence. That will always keep my record current. I was labeled a criminal as soon as I reached adulthood. I wasn’t diagnosed until 16. This has resulted in me never being able to gain employment and my baby son being removed from me, then placed for adoption. I do not feel that it is fair to label those with behavioural or intellectual conditions in a negative way. There has never been any attempt to meet me half way in regards to supporting me and attempting to understand my condition.

 

In all honesty, most of the education I’ve managed to get has been purely down to my sheer determination. I have got very little support. I get asked to leave places (eg. Colleges and Universities) before others have the chance to get to know me. This is due to the label that has been placed on me for my disability problems. I’ve had to save up and pay for some of the qualifications that I need to study Psychology at degree level. I was completely failed by school. I’ve had to go back as an adult to GCSEs. I’m still behind because I do not have A Levels. I get extremely disheartened because I feel left out of life. Those like myself will never get the stories giving us praise and recognition because everyone assumes that behaviour problems are a choice. It is certainly not a choice. I wish that it was because it would be possible for me to lose my issues like people seem to think they can demand by clicking their fingers and threatening me with punishment or sanctions if I can’t do it. I just want society to see that they certainly aren’t a choice. I just wanted love and acceptance. The things that have been done to me have triggered my problems to get worse because I wasn’t getting that. Instead, all my care plans have been completely inappropriate and made me feel like I was being treated unfavourably, placed below other people. This needs to change before it causes many other suicides or other negative situations that can be avoided by changing how behaviour problems are seen by professionals and managed.


OMP Admin Note:  Emma Thomson is a guest blogger for the #OneMillionProject.  Her writing is straightforward and enlightening as she offers insight into her life.  Emma was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, undiagnosed but suspected of PDA and some form of Personality Disorder. She was born in the Midlands on the week of the hurricane of 1987.  She has her own blog where she reveals the everyday struggles of living with Asperger Syndrome.

Link to blog: https://diaryofapainfullyshyinterovert.wordpress.com/

Harvey

Harvey

My heart goes out to the men, women, and children in the Texas Gulf coast area in the aftermath or should I say continued assault of Hurricane Harvey.  The destruction of property and life is devastating, and my thoughts and prayers are with them and the volunteers, National Guard/military, and first-responders working so hard to help rescue the thousands of people stranded by Harvey’s wrath.

I always thought the fact hurricanes can be predicted and the people had time to get out of the way made them less scary than a tornado which can come out of nowhere in a matter of minutes and destroy everything in its path.  Of course, that was before I moved to Corpus Christi, Texas as a brand-new Navy wife.

A year later, I was pregnant with my first child when Hurricane Gilbert was projected to make landfall in Corpus.  We lived in an area called Flour Bluff.  It was close to the base, Padre Island, and the water.  We planned on evacuating to somewhere inland.  We called a phone number of a company that would board up your windows for a fee if you called them.  We did, they said they’d come by, they ran out of plywood, so we ended up taping our windows instead.  The hours waiting knowing a hurricane was heading our direction were nerve-wracking.

Losing a bit of time on the road meant we would have to drive further to find lodging especially with a puppy along for the ride.  Everyone we knew headed for San Antonio–the closest large city near us–so we headed west paralleling the Rio Grande to the Big Bend National Park area.  After calling every motel in our AAA Road Guide (printed version, because this was before the internet), we found a sturdy looking two-story cinder block hotel fashioned in an “L” shape with its balcony walkways, room entrance doors, and windows on the inner angle of the “L”.

We checked in and were getting settled in our room when the power went out.  We and our motel neighbors all exited our rooms to see what was happening.  The sky over the hotel was blackened by swirling clouds that hadn’t been there when we arrived.  A storm was barreling down on us.

“Y’all get back in your rooms!  A twister is coming!”  These words came from the nice lady in the motel office who had run out to yell at us before running back into the office.  We bolted into our room.

“No, this can’t be.  We’re on the second floor.  We should be underground!”  I grew up in the Midwest and had hurried to the basement on countless nights when tornadoes threatened our area.  We headed to the bathroom.  It didn’t have windows, and the plumbing would maybe supply more security.

During the time it took for the twister to pass, we saw daylight twice in our windowless bathroom.  Our puppy wet all over the floor, and I said more Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s than I had in my twenty plus years of being a practicing CatholiIMG_3104c.  I seriously thought I wouldn’t live to see our child born.

The tornado lifted back up into the clouds as it hopped over the motel only to descend again and destroy a trailer park right next door.  The hurricane made landfall south of Corpus Christi spawning multiple tornadoes across the region.  San Antonio had over twenty twisters reported that same day.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Corpus Christi, and the news has been inundated with the damage a Category 4 hurricane can inflict on a huge area.  Flooding, tornadoes, storm surge, winds strong enough to topple homes, trees, and turn steel girders into pretzels are examples of what a hurricane brings as it hits the shore.

Many times when the hurricane makes landfall it will lessen in severity, but Harvey is in a holding pattern and dumping fifty-plus inches of rain on the area.  Floating colonies of fire ants, alligators and snakes infest the waters, these brave people are traversing to get to safety.

No electricity, no air conditioning, or water for days paired with tearing out wet carpet, drywall, and furniture for days. Insurance or lack of flood insurance is only one headache.  Groceries and basic needs are cut off by the severe conditions and in a large urban area like Houston, the stores’ shelves may be bare of items we typically take for granted–diapers, formula, water for example.

My life wasn’t changed irreparably by my encounter with the first hurricane I would experience, but this week tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people will have to live with the repercussions of Harvey.  Remember them in your prayers, make a donation to the American Red Cross or volunteer at volunteerhou.org