Let’s cut the shit and get real. Let’s really lay it out there. So much so that let’s not even soften the word shit with an asterix to replace the i. And of course when I say “let’s” that actually means “me” as in I’m about to cut through my own BS so I’m giving you all fair warning ahead of time to either head for the hills or dig your heels in and ready yourself for my I’m-not-going-to-sugarcoat-this-or-watch-my-language soulful revelation. A fond adieu to those who don’t wish to read further. To those who do? Buckle up…
It has occurred to me on more than one occasion that left to my own devices I may be a shallow asshole. There, I said it. Honesty is important so that we know where we stand. And that is the reason I am about to say something, no wait- I’m going to shout it because I have carried this shameful, non-PC secret that makes me feel like a shallow asshole regarding my son’s autism within me for far too long and shouting it is what I would coach anybody else to do, so here we go:
“I’M NOT EQUIPPED TO BE A SPECIAL NEEDS PARENT!! I’M JUST A REGULAR JOE WHO SIGNED UP FOR A LIFE OF NORMALCY, EASE AND TRANQUILITY- NOT ONE OF THOSE WISE PEOPLE WHO SURELY ARE SMARTER AND BETTER PEOPLE THAN ME AND WERE CLEARLY MADE TO ENDURE A MORE CHALLENGING LIFE. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO NOT BE THE SAME AS EVERYBODY ELSE!
I DON’T WANT TO NOT BE LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE! WHY ME?”
Wow. It felt so good to level with you! Taking a breath here… And now that that’s out, I am able to dissect my “shameful secret” and pinpoint what a wise friend of mine calls the blah blah blah of it (that I have fondly come to refer to as the BBB factor) in order to unearth information that will aid me in my soul journey. That information is this: my son’s autism is the red pill I took that stripped the rose colored glasses from my face, smashing them into indistinguishable bits on the ground below me. But while standing primarily in awe and gratitude of being robbed of those glasses, I sometimes miss the world I could view only through their lens and grieve its absence in my life. I then ask myself, as I’ve wondered countless times, if it was up to me, would I choose the blue pill?
As the parent of a young adult child with autism, I’m often looked to for guidance or an understanding ear regarding navigating unknown “special needs” (not relegated solely to autism- but any area where we now have become “different” regarding our children’s needs) territory by other parents. My son is now 21 years old, so this territory is no longer new to me, and I’m happy to help others in the very way my family and I were once helped when the journey was new and we were raw to the experience and the pain threatened to stop us in our tracks daily. THIS is the part that hurts me to recall, and yet i’ve realized I am being called to do so. It’s challenging when feeling the depths of pain within another at the beginning of their journey for me to not “jump forward” to the “it’s going to be alright” part in an effort to alleviate the fresh pain they are feeling about the prospect of living a life that had not been part of the plan. As always, my heart is in the right place, but it has been laid on my heart for the bazillionth time that another’s pain is not mine to attempt to alleviate. We are meant to sit beside pain, allowing it to pass through and leave its message, acknowledging and later understanding that it cannot destroy us. Nobody can do this for another. But we most certainly can pull up a chair and sit beside them while they do so.
For those who have looked up to me and praised how I’ve raised my family who’ve called me wise and may believe I am better, smarter, stronger, or in any way more equipped to lead my family where we’ve come due to something that I’m privy to that you don’t believe you possess, I feel like a fraud. Yes, I am above all else, grateful to be living in awareness. Not just in regard to my son’s autism, of course, but every facet of life. But I want to be completely transparent about the fact that I got here, perhaps even dragged here at times, kicking and screaming. There are days when I want to forget I’ve taken the red pill and succumb to every former vice and detrimental behavior that ever pacified me. I want to toss back some whiskey or chug a beer as fast as I can just to go numb between my ears as my thoughts go slack and my ability to feel every fucking thing diminishes into thin air. I want to watch and eat junk without knowing why it matters and not care about the animals and people, who are just like me, do you understand what I said, just like you, Lisa? starving, dying, penniless, alone, cold…and they are just like me- they ARE me! I want to not know this. I want to not feel. But I need to. And I’m grateful that I was brought to the awareness that allowed me to understand that. But I’m also human. And that human side will always desire to pull me back into a blue pill mentality, which luckily, no longer exists for me.
Serving others as a coach, a wife and mother, a friend, a sister, and above all else- a human being, I want to be forthcoming with my own truth, which is that I don’t have it all together and I KNOW this. But as I write those words I am made aware of the fact that it’s the KNOWING that I DON’T KNOW that’s key in my ability to help others. In other words, I don’t know more than you. I AM you. And you are me. So whether we triumph or fall, fuck up or prevail, find ourselves sitting in moments of calm mindfulness, or cloaked in agony, pain, and moments of disbelief- we are connected. It’s not perfection that allows each of us to serve one another- it’s connection. And while I’m not meant to have the words or the wisdom to alleviate the pain you may be going through, I can absolutely take your hand and sit beside it with you. Feeling and knowing can be staggering when you’ve taken the red pill. Fortunately, you didn’t take it alone.