Monkey in the middle

I have recently had a young man who is now married to an un-diagnosed autistic young woman.  She has sensitivities to smell and touch and several other senses.  When she met the young mans mother, the mother had brought over spaghetti sauce and , of course,  she hugged and kissed the young woman.  The young woman stiffened in her arms and turned her nose up at the smell of the sauce and left the room.  The young man asked his mother if she had any noodles without sauce.  When there wasn’t, the young woman made her own food and refused to touch anything the young mans mother brought.  She did not explain herself.  These kinds of unexplained incidents continued to happen until one day when the mans mother repeated something she thought was the truth to her son and his girlfriend and later found out it was not true.  The young mans girlfriend verbally attacked this mans mother, calling her a liar.  The mother apologize for the misinformation and explained that she did not realize it was not the truth.  The young man and his mother had been talking several times a week and that continued with the young man expressing concern about this young woman to his mother.  He had concerns about how she behaved at times, the fact that he thought she might be cheating on him and the mother, even though she attempted to be neutral in the matter, tried to guide her son with the wisdom of her years and experience so he could make up his own mind about this situation.  Through all of this the mother tried to stay neutral because she knew that her son loved this woman or she would have never met the girl.  She only meets the girls that her son is thinking about keeping.  Finally her son called her asking to come home for a little while because he thought his girlfriend was cheating again.  The mother said of course, and suggested that he talk to her about whatever is going on before making any rash decisions.  The mother never heard back from her son, and when he did not show up that night, like expected, she tried to call him with no answer.  She then called the usual hospitals and police thinking there might have been an accident.  She continued to call his cell phone with no response.  It was 2 days later and her son phoned her and told her, he was mistaken and that she was not cheating.  They were back together.  The mother said that she was glad to hear that the situation was resolved.  Her son stopped calling her regularly.  The next time they were together her son’s girlfriend asked her why her son behaves that way.  The mother responded that she should ask  her son that question.  Incidents like this continued to happen. Every invitation given by the mother to come to her home was rejected for some reason or they did not show up. The mother stopped inviting because she did not want to put her son in the middle by making a big deal about it. The mother was invited to the birth of the first born, she began watching her granddaughter every other weekend.  Things were good, tense at times, but good.  Another granddaughter came and she began watching her as well, every other weekend.  Several situations happened that were hurtful to the mother and she attempted to talk with the girlfriend but the girlfriend refused to discuss it. The girlfriend stopped bringing her granddaughters over every other weekend without explanation. When the mother tried to find out or asked when she could see her granddaughters again excuses were made. The mother found out that the girlfriends mother had moved in to watch the children while they worked.  The mother called her son, who was now not calling her at all or returning her phone calls very often.  She wanted them to sit down and talk about what was going on before it got worse.  Her son said if this is about my girlfriend we’re going to have a problem because she already knows you don’t like her.  The mother tried to say that it was not about liking or not liking, it was about clearing the air and getting to the bottom of whatever was happening.  The mother was trying not to put her son in the middle between her and his girlfriend but it was becoming obvious that the girlfriend had been doing just that.  Her son was squarely in the middle. The mother began calling and texting the girlfriend.  The mother suggested going on a vacation together as a family and asked for a week that this could happen.  The girlfriend agreed and gave a week that this could happen.  The mother later found out it was not a good week and that her son was angry with her about it.  The week was a start to mending fences but the girlfriend was insulting to her other children and to her. The girl didn’t even seem to know she was doing it. The mother still thought that if they could all get to know each other better and spend time together, things would work out and she could have all of her children and grandchildren together at least once a year.  That had stopped as well.  She was not seeing her children and grandchildren together as a family any more.  The following year she was making plans for another vacation together as a family and wanting to get in touch with everyone to find a week that worked for everyone.  Her son called her to tell her his now wife,  had been looking at cruises and wanted to go, she was bringing her mother who also needed a vacation.  The cruise was one insult after another and when her other son said what everyone had been thinking, she was asked if she agreed.  The mother said she did.  The son was hurt and said that he was tired of feeling like he was being place between his family and his family.  The mother cried the entire way home.  She was being slowly removed from her son and her grandchildren’s lives by someone who had no empathy for anyone’s feelings but her own.  The mother stopped trying to call her son hoping that he would not be placed in the middle.  She recognize the girl did not like her and hadn’t from the beginning and was making her son choose between his family and his family.  The last time the mother saw her child and her grandchildren was at her third grandchild’s birthday party. She had not been invited to anything else.  She had begun to be anxious before, during and after meetings with her now daughter-in-law.  Her son had been drinking and he had a trip to make into New York later that afternoon and she was concerned.  She was anxious about that as well.  The only welcome the mother received was from the father of the daughter -in-law and her oldest granddaughter.  She had not been able to get to know the other grandchildren like she had the oldest because the every other weekends had stopped when the mother-in-law moved in as the babysitter.  Her son’s job had also moved them further away.   When the other grandmother was in the room, it was like she was not even there.  She has stopped trying to gain their attention  because it would place them in the middle.  She also knew that this would only get worse if it was not talked about and the air cleared.  She also knew that her son would continue to be placed in the middle by someone that only understood her own feelings and could care less about anyone else.  They did not come up for Christmas even though she knew they had made plans with her daughter-in-laws family.  They did that every year.  When the second grandchild’s birthday came, the mother asked that invitations be sent to her other children, mother and sister.  She knew that the daughter-in-law sent invitations to her family.  Her son became angry saying that his mother never liked his wife and that she was lucky she was even invited.  This was sent in a text and went on for several pages.  The mother didn’t respond,  again because she did not want to place him in the middle.  She already did not feel welcome in her son’s home because of her daughter-in-law and her family.  She now did not feel welcome because of her son.  She sent her granddaughter a card with money, and an apology that she could not be there.  She said nothing else about what had transpired with her son, because that would have placed her granddaughter in the middle.   Again she cried because she was being strategically removed from her son and grandchildren’s lives and everyone refused to talk about it in a sane manner, only angry text messages where only one side was being known.  When her son received the card another angry text message came with the announcement that he did not know what her game was but she was no longer welcomed anywhere near his family , she was not to talk to or send them anything.  She cried and expressed her own anger and when she felt she could respond without anger she, only texted back that it sounded like her didn’t it.  She has not seen her son and grandchildren since.  This is what not talking about issues and un-diagnosed autism does to families.

It took this family over 10 years to get to the point where the son disowned his mother.  He was tired of being placed in the middle by his wife.  He chose his wife and his girls as any good father should.   It came from a lack of communication with the entire family, an inability to have empathy for what the other person might be feeling or thinking, talking behind people’s backs about situations that should be discussed openly if you truly want them resolved.  It came from a point of view that everything that is thought is  fact and not just an opinion like everyone else. It came from an inability to understand that there are always more than one side to every story, not just yours.  It came from a need to control everything in your environment, including everyone.  It came from an instant dislike for people based on sight, smell and touch.  It came from withholding affection and love in an attempt to get what you want from people you’re claiming to love.  This is anxiety producing.  It had no other outcome unless you can talk about the fact that you are dealing with autism and how you can help the person with autism understand the disorder so they stop dealing with people they way they do.  This girl did not have early intervention or these situations would not have happened.  The son would not have been placed in the middle because the girl would have understood she had to look at another point of view.  Taking deep breaths, relaxing,  using guided imagery has helped the mother cope with not seeing her son and grandchildren.  She has placed into the box what she cannot control.  She has set limits for when the son comes back into her life, because he will eventually.  He is her son.  This site will help you do the same thing.   link to the video’s   Enjoy!


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I became a therapist in an attempt to understand my own childhood and what happened there and how it made me who I am, exhibiting the behaviors that were not always positive, very often self-destructive. I used Art Therapy to help me understand things in my past that were stopping me from making better decisions in my present day. I used Behavioral Science to help me understand underlying causal factors, roots to the present day behaviors that I was seeing in myself. Both help me to change those behaviors/thoughts that were causing me to make self-destructive decisions that were causing pain in life. I have been a therapist since 1985 and have an undergraduate degree Art and behavioral science (double major) from the University of Maine. My graduate work was done at Marywood university and I have a degree in Art Therapy. I have certificates in Forensic Interviewing and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior therapy. I have 22 out of 30 credits toward a degree in Trauma Therapy from Drexel University. I started out as a Community Support Worker, Program Manager/Clinical Supervisor, Family therapist and Outpatient therapist.

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