Gavin’s behaviors affect the entire family. Gavin can be very violent. Usually, it’s toward himself or his surroundings but on the rare occasion, he can attack those around him. Until recently it was believed that some or most of the behaviors were outside of his control. However, it is very clear that most of Gavin’s behaviors can be willful. It has become clear that Gavin’s purpose is to simply disrupt his environment and those around him. He is more prone to outbursts but typically, he’s incapable of controlling himself, he just doesn’t……
In fairness to Gavin, none of this is truly ever his fault. Sure he makes the choices he does but there is so much more going on underneath the surface. The largest one is the extent to which he is emotionally delayed. Gavin is pegged at about 3 or 4 years of age, emotionally. This means that Gavin is basically a toddler trapped in the body of an almost teenager. When he gets angry, upset, happy or sad, he responds like a 3 or 4-year-old would. So while he is making the choice at times to be disruptive, it’s just not that cut and dry.
The problem is that while he may only be 3 or 4 years old on the inside, he is much bigger and stronger on the outside. If a 3 or 4 years old had a meltdown or temper tantrum they would be nowhere near as dangerous or destructive as Gavin can be.
It’s challenging enough trying to raise a child on the Autism Spectrum. However, when you have a child with Autism and an ever-growing list of other problems it becomes ever more challenging. The other major thing that factors into this is when he is purposefully disruptive as means of manipulating a situation. We are very compassionate and understanding when things are outside of his control. Where the compassion ends is when he terrorizes everyone in the house with his meltdowns. The resentment begins to form after years of being a prisoner in our own home. For so many years we have been held hostage by Gavin’s meltdowns and that only adds to the feelings of resentment.
The other side to the coin is that we are a blended family. Trying to blend two families into one is a challenging task, to begin with. Instinctively, I want to protect Elliott and Emmett from Gavin’s behaviors and influence. My relationship with Elliott and Emmett is very different than my relationship with Gavin.
As much as I truly hate to admit it, there is a difference between Gavin and my biological children. Maybe it has to do with the fact that my Gavin, the Gavin I knew for so long, has gone away. Regardless of the reasons, it doesn’t make me feel any less guilty about it. I’m told that this is very normal. That no matter how much I love Gavin, there simply isn’t that biological connection. This is very difficult for me to deal with, but it’s something I’m working on.
I hate the fact that Gavin continues to behave the way he does. He doesn’t seem to care how it affects everyone around him. There is talk of Gavin heading down the road of becoming a sociopath. No one knows what he is even capable of feeling if anything at all. Simply typing that last sentence makes me feel sick to my stomach. Believe me, I know how bad that sounds. I also know how horrible it feels hear that about your son in the first place.
A really good example is when you get a hug from Elliott or Emmett, it’s warm and genuine. However, if you get a hug from Gavin it is mechanical and empty. It’s very uncomfortable and often times creepy. It’s heartbreaking for me because it never used to be that way. It wasn’t like that before Autism.
I don’t always know what to do with these feelings of resentment, not to mention the subsequent guilt. All of the people involved on a more intimate level tell me that feeling this way is normal. After all, I’m only human. Gavin has become The question becomes whether or not any of this is within his control, and if it is, why would he do that to the only people who have stood by him through everything. Why would he want to hurt us? The simple and crushing truth is that it just isn’t Gavin anymore. The problem is that no one knows for sure what is going on and what his motives are. It becomes “easy” to resent the stranger in the house that is hurting or scaring Elliott and Emmett. It becomes easy to resent the behavior that has cost us our freedom and safety. It is also easy to resent Autism for taking Gavin away from us in the first place and leaving us with a shell of who he was.
The irrational part comes in when I resent the Gavin that is here with us because his being here cost the life of the Gavin that was. There is so much grief and guilt that I feel every day. What did I miss? What did I do wrong? I wonder all the time if Gavin is still in there somewhere locked away.
Every day is an internal struggle to try to keep a perspective on everything. I have chosen to embrace my feelings both good and bad because if I don’t then the resentment could grow into something more. I understand that it’s ok to resent his behaviors and the choices he makes. It’s ok to resent the fact that he does these things on purpose. Sometimes it’s ok to even resent him for doing everything he does to every person in this house. But just because I feel resentment doesn’t mean I can’t still love him. Loving Gavin isn’t always easy but it will never go away…