(I preface this post with a note that this post was already published and linked to “a diary of a mom”, prematurely, through the quickie post feature at WordPress and still trying to get used to it. This complete post is really an update. My apologies for any inconvenience.)
This is Autism Awareness Month and my boy is autistic.
I don’t say that to draw attention to my son being autistic. I write that to draw attention to Autism.
Lately, I’ve been seeing embryos of posts for myself that start with comments I make on other blogs. Finally, I am writing one here that I’ve written for Jess at A diary of a mom, which I highly recommend reading, BTW. Her post today is entitled, “Passed Right By – and Never Knew”, thoughts that we all must be thinking.
Long before autism, I believed that we are meant to turn our negative experiences into positives by sharing them to help others. There is such a liberation, a burst of freedom when this clicks within our consciousness. Just think about it. For eons people have been asking themselves, “Why?” Why does God let this happen to me. I believe that I’ve found the answer.
“…sharing them to help others.” What I left out is “sharing them to help others who share the same suffering.” While everyone suffers uniquely in intensity and within our own circumstances, we so deeply share the hurt of our suffering. I am reminded of this just this morning. Our son has been very upset lately surrounding “school”. At first, I thought it was the typical adjustment from spending a week off from school without the structure provided at school. I could not get out of him why he was so upset or what had happened to cause it. This morning he told me that “the kids don’t let me play…” This was the only phrase that I could understand, yet it burned me to the core. If you know any of my history, you know that I spent 1st grade through 8th grade without friends, among people who actively pushed me away. This morning, my hurt was Gabe’s hurt… and visa versa. I took him in my arms and generously administered copious skin on skin back rubs. I told him that not everyone is going to be our friend. I told him that he does have other, new friends at the social skills group he just got into. I told him that Zach is his friend. I couldn’t tell, but I hope that was a consolation to him.
Just found an article I wrote about the “Blessings of Pain,” hoping to elaborate more about what our personal pain can be elevated to.
My quoted comment above states that I discovered this little bit of wisdom “long before autism” and that is correct. For my whole life, I was wondered why God would isolate me, it seemed, so deliberately. I wondered why none of my teachers or school principal did anything to help or stop what was going at school, a catholic school, btw. Just this week I confided this bit of my history to a counselor at Gabe’s school and she had an answer that made sense and I had never even tried to rationalize an answer for myself. She said that the reason they didn’t do anything was because they were thinking that this experience would make me strong. Well, I don’t doubt that, but it had also screwed me up emotionally and socially for most of my life and I still carry the baggage that can be seen at times, more than I would like. It’s dirty baggage. It’s smelly baggage. It’s damaged baggage. My old school is closing and I cannot say that I am sorry to see that happening. Thirty years later, my old classmates want to have some kind of party to commemorate the school. Since on facebook, they had gotten dinners and fundraisers started to save the school even before this. Needless to say, I had no desire to participate in any of this. My memories are damaged. Distorted.
Counselor Lady told me something that I knew already. She said that God would not have let Gabriel into our lives if we could not deal, if we could not handle a child as special as him. Yes, I knew this. I didn’t know it from the first day, but I learned it. After continually, if even with humor, complaining about how my life was over because I had a kid in my mid forties, I learned that I would’ve made a horrible mother if I had a kid when I was biologically supposed to, in my twenties. I know more and accept more about myself now than I did before and that is so damn important… to be as comfortable as you can be in your own skin… BEFORE having kids, and this applies to ANYONE, any mother, any parent out there. Young parents teach their kids what they were taught from their own parents because that is all they know, quite frankly, and I had a mom who was a yeller, screamer and a hitter (and I’ll not say with what). An older parent can teach more than that. We can teach what we’ve learned from our own lives, from our own personal perspective and less from the strict perspective of our parents. I am SO aware that I am more like my mom than I care to be. With this knowledge, I am super sensitive about checking myself before I get to the “hitting” point. I’ll not lie and say that I was always successful, but I can say that those episodes were stopped very quickly and I have been successful for over a year now. Even at his young age, I made it a point to apologize and ask for forgiveness.
Somewhere in my thirties I came to the realization, s-l-o-w-l-y, that all my hurtful experiences could be made clean by using them to help other people going through the same pain that I went through. God made me a talker and even though I spent the first part of my life largely in silence, when I started talking you’d be hardpressed to try and get me to stop. It’s well known that if someone had an issue and needed emotional support, what is appreciated and helps the most is if someone could talk to that person who had experienced the same problem. Other people try to help and say the same kind, yet superficial and irrelevant words; whereas others who have that specific empathy, offer so much more than that. They offer their own experience, they offer their own pain up in an effort to heal the hurt of another. Grace such as this not only can help that person, but the person who offers it. We are indeed healed a little bit more by sharing the most darkest parts of ourselves. When we can realize the poetic harmony this plays in our lives, we will never question again the “why’s” of a tragedy. We will never doubt or blame our God (whatever the name) for making us suffer. We can immerse ourselves, bath ourselves in the pain and emerge on the other side with something in our pockets for an emergency. With such an arsenal, we now can find purpose in any part of our lives. We can be the wounded healers (I did not coin that phrase. It’s the name of a book, “The Wounded Healer”, written by Henri J.M. Nouwen, one of my very favorite writers, may God bless his soul. He also said, “By giving words to these intimate experiences I can make my life available to others.”
We are put on this earth to interact with others. There is no doubt about that. Let’s love one another. Let’s help one another. Let there not be hate or violence against others.
Hey, just adding in here that I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment with any and all of them. I welcome any and all comments… with spam, disrespect and filth being the exceptions. Thanks!