There I was, standing next to my car, with my keys in my front pocket, ready to leave my family and NEVER come back.
I was angry, I was frustrated, I was hurt. “This isn’t what I signed up for” I screamed internally.
There was nothing I could do. My family was failing, nothing I had tried was working.
I had no choice.
I was to have ANY chance at happiness, it would not be here, it would not be with this incredibly dysfunctional “slaves to autism” family. It didn’t seem possible under these circumstances.
“THIS ISN’T WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR!”
Then… a memory of a lesson my Dad had taught me popped in to my mind and changed me… and my family… forever.
It all started on a Saturday morning like any other… EXCEPT… my son on the autism spectrum had awakened our family… at 6:30 am… with a BLOOD CURDLING SCREAM. You know what I’m talking about, right?
Somehow, he had been tipped in to a meltdown and HIS FURY became the entire neighborhoods alarm clock.
Typically, one of his meltdown might last between 15 and 90 minutes. This one lasted more than 4 HOURS.
Every time we’d think we were starting to get him ramped back down, something would send him back in to the stratosphere.
There were holes kicked in walls, shattered glass, my 2 oldest typical sons had locked themselves in to their own room to avoid his wrath, and my wife (Shelly) and I felt like we were in a war zone. We were seriously afraid…
Of a FIVE-YEAR-OLD.
When he FINALLY ramped back down after more than 4 hours, Shelly and I aimed our frustration at the person we were supposed to love the most as we hurtled angry insults at each other. “If YOU had only” and “If you wouldn’t have” and “You always make it worse.”
This was a fight like no other before. But it was a long-time coming.
For years we had struggled with the stress of raising our son on the spectrum. We’d tried everything. We’d done everything the experts had suggested.
But still… THIS.
I stormed out of the house to get away from the arguing and to cool off.
“THIS ISN’T WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR!”
I headed for the car. I was leaving this life for good.
That’s when my Dad’s words popped in to my head. The words he’d said to me after a little-league baseball game.
It was a game I was playing in when I was 13 years old. I was playing short-stop and we only needed one more “out” and the game would be over. A sure victory for our team.
Then it happened.
A routine grounder was hit directly to me. I’d made that play easily a hundred times before. But this time was different.
I fumbled the ball (an error) and the next few hitters made it on base and they kept scoring… and scoring… and scoring.
We lost, they won, and it was all my fault. If I had just made the simple play, the game would have been over.
It was my fault.
I walked over to Dad with my head hung low and said. “I wish the ball hadn’t been hit to me. Then maybe we would have won.”
My Dad looked at me and with compassion in his eyes, said THESE WORDS.
“Son, that’s not the way WE do things in life. You don’t want to leave YOUR success or failure in someone else’s hands. You want to be THE REASON for success. WE NEVER GIVE UP OR RUN AWAY. You won’t always win, but if you’re ever in a situation where you’re going to lose… DON’T GO DOWN WITHOUT THE BIGGEST FIGHT YOU CAN GIVE.”
There it was.
The words rang in my ears. “WE NEVER GIVE UP. DON’T GO DOWN WITHOUT THE BIGGEST FIGHT YOU CAN GIVE.”
But what could I do. I’d tried everything. My family was failing, my marriage was failing. I was failing.
There were no books, there were no guides, there was no one who understood or could even imagine what I and my family were feeling and going through.
So, I did another thing Dad had taught me.
I pocketed my car keys, I dropped to my knees under a big giant pecan tree in the front yard and I poured out my heart in prayer.
I don’t remember the details of what I said, what I asked for, or even how long I was there. I DO remember the look on Shelly’s face when I came back in the house.
She had changed – I THINK she must have seen me on my knees.
Then when I said to her, “This isn’t what I signed up for but I’M GONNA FIGHT LIKE CRAZY FOR US” she KINDA said the same thing back. “This isn’t what I signed up for either – and me too.”
We knew that if it were going to get better, it was up to us. WE’D have to be the reason for our success.
Do you want to know what we did?
Do you want to know how we’ve become the family OTHER family’s look to for help and guidance if they’re living with too much stress?
All you have to do is ask… well, that’s not all… but it’s not hard.
Reach out to us and we’ll tell you.
Why? Because maybe what WE did can help your family do the same.
We’ll , not MAYBE.
We’re SURE we can help you. Like we’ve helped so many others families
We’d love to see if we can help you, too, have your breakthrough moment.