Awhile back I was asked to do something out of the ordinary for me. In conversations with other parents of children affected by autism I was asked if it was ever HARD for us – you know – do WE ever struggle? I was shocked that the answer was not an obvious “Of Course” until it was expressed to me that all the stuff at www.1in110.com was positive and nowhere could they find an instance where we expressed difficulties. Believe me – we have difficulties. But I can understand – I guess?? – that others may come to that conclusion because of what we share, our approach and how we view our situation.
So here is what I was asked to do: “Can you write a little about your struggles so we’ll know that you’re just like us – that you struggle too?” Well, that’s not like me – I don’t typically focus on THAT aspect of our lives – but I decided to give it a try since it was requested and maybe it could be helpful to others. That’s “Who I Am” right?
I titled the piece, “A Brutally Honest Look INSIDE.”
To get started I made a list of some of the pain points and started to explain how we feel about each. I explained how we don’t really know what we doing – no one really does, I spoke in detail about feelings of guilt, grief, isolation and the stress it puts on our family and how we’re afraid to rely on anyone for help. Then I closed by sharing some feelings of fear for Erik and Ricks futures.
But as I was writing I noticed something about myself. The more I wrote, the more disheartened I became. So much so, that I had to stop writing a few times, turn my attention to other matters and regain my normal demeanor. Then I would get back in to writing and – no kidding – I could feel my body slump, my breathing would get shallow and I would again descend in to feelings of discomfort.
Finally – I decided that I was done. After 1,300 words I just quit writing. The article will never be finished or posted because that’s not who I am. For those of you that requested this be done – just KNOW – we experience the same things you do. It’s not all peaches and cream. If you want to know that it’s hard for us and that we struggle – the answers are yes and yes.
But, this was a good exercise for me. I learned that for me – focusing on the negative – is NOT positive. I am not that guy. Even being asked to take time to IDENTIFY and DIG INTO the struggle – so that maybe I could connect with others – felt awkward and uncomfortable. No, I am not suppressing – I live in the real world – but MY real world consists of focusing on the positives and what I can do and the many blessings I am gifted to have. Including – ESPECIALLY – the gifts of Erik and Ricky.
That’s “Who I Am” and that suits me well.
But – it got me to thinking. Holy Crap! Here we go again, right?
Is there a chance that reading, writing, and engrossing oneself in the difficulties that we all face could put people in a “less than optimal” state? It sure happened to me. Could paying too much attention to past difficulties, expecting and looking for difficulties and dreading future difficulties be sabotaging opportunities to experience fun, zaniness and triumphs – in a word – JOY? Is that possible? Look inside and ask yourself, “Is this me? Am I sabotaging opportunities to experience JOY?”
I attend church with a fellow whose mother suffers from Alzheimer’s. A nice enough guy he is for sure but watch him for awhile and you can see the “struggle” in everything he does. His body language says, “struggle.” The way he walks says, “struggle.” If you ask him, “How you doing today” as a courtesy, he says with a pained voice, “Well, I guess I’m getting through the day.” STRUGGLE!
One day as we were discussing my autismsux blog he was expressing to me how much he and his wife liked our posts so I asked him, “Why don’t you write about your zany experiences with your mother? I have already checked and AlzheimersSux.com is available for $11.99?” He brushed the idea aside and said, “There’s really nothing funny about what she does.” Nothing – nothing at all?
After pressing him he finally told me a story about him catching her trying to unplug the toilet – with HER FOOT. She had her little leg down in there and she was stomping up and down and splashing water all over the place – seemed pretty zany to me. I even saw him smile and stand up straight and get a little demonstrative as he shared the story. Finally, for a brief fleeting moment, I caught him in a state of – that’s right – JOY. I SAW IT. As he was describing the scene he was waving his hands and moving his foot in a stomping motion and hopping around – it was fun to watch.
But as soon as he was done, he slumped, his head dropped back down and as quickly as he was out of the “struggle” – while sharing the story – he went right back in.
Here’s “The Brutally Honest Lesson” I leaned while writing the never-to-be-posted article title, “A Brutally Honest Look INSIDE.”
Who Am I? When I focus on the struggle, I am the guy that struggles. But when I focus on the joy, the zaniness and the positives and what I can do and the many blessings I am gifted to have – I feel JOY – and I am the guy that THRIVES.
Here’s the question. Who Are You?