One thing I find really hard as a woman living with an autistic husband, and having two autistic girls is the conscious effort it takes on my behalf not to get emotionally involved and take stuff personally.

You know what I’m talking about.

When you have to listen to your child scream for hours upon hours upon hours.

When you have to listen to the verbal tirade that comes from them when they’re not coping with whatever is going on in their life.

When you spend hours out of every day trying to resolve situations, come up with strategies to enable them to cope better, attend meetings with their support team, constantly read and research – when you do all those things and somehow something else comes up as a problem, it’s really hard.

When you attend numerous appointments with professionals and yet the tools aren’t being utilised.

When you’re literally scouring for any little suggestion that may help, every single day.

It’s really hard to not feel like you’re failing as a parent. This shit shouldn’t be this hard to cope with, should it? Does it really have to feel like a constant and I mean C O N S T A N T effort to just keep your head above the water?

It feels that way for me often.

But one thing I am slowly slowly learning is that there is only so much I can do. My girls are on their own journeys as people, and so is my husband. Sometimes loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean fixing their struggles or helping them – it means simply being there for them. Listening to them. Encouraging them. Loving them through it. Allowing them to ride their own waves and being there for them when they crash underneath but inevitably resurface.

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When you love someone, you don’t want to see them in pain. It’s hard to see the people you love struggle, fail, flounder and hurt. It’s so very hard to see them overwhelmed and scared.

So it’s really helping me to remember that I’m human. I’m not super-human and I shouldn’t endeavour to be. There are limits on what I can offer in terms of support. Love never runs out and is unconditional but at some point, the buck stops. My girls (and my husband) need to work through their own struggles and it’s okay if I can’t find solutions sometimes.

Because I can’t give on an empty cup. And they are their own people, and sometimes they need to work stuff out in their own way in their own timing.

When the people I love are struggling and perhaps taking it out on me; it’s not about me. It’s their stuff. And sure, it’s not really okay. But they’re learning and I can distance myself emotionally, untangle myself and breathe.

They’re not “giving me” a hard time, they’re having a hard time.

Removing the intent helps me to feel less flat and personally involved or attacked. My girls trust me, they love me, they know that they can completely fall apart around me and they’ll be OK. They know that I’ll be there to help pick up the pieces. And I will. Every single time. So I’m trying really hard to remember this on the hard days when I feel like I exist merely to be their emotional punching bag.