Before we formally got introduced, I had this illusion that I had things under my control.
My job, my home, my independence, my peace, my sanity.
I had all that under control. That is, until I met you.
I slept at night.
I had conversations with people without 99 percent of me focusing on the safety of another person at all times.
I sat on a couch and relaxed.
I’m gonna say that one again, relaxed.
I don’t even know what that one means anymore.
After I met autism, I stopped relaxing.
I stopped feeling safe.
I stopped having peace.
I stopped feeling comfortable to go out.
I stopped feeling comfortable to stay home.
Yes, staying home with you.
I enjoyed mental breaks. My stomach wasn’t in a knot all the time.
I could relate to people more easily. We had way more in common. I didn’t sound like I was exaggerating everything when describing simple tasks as so challenging.
I could go places on a whim.
Museums, movies, people’s houses.
I didn’t have to worry about the environment overstimulating my child in a way that would lead to massive internal negative effects for him.
I didn’t have to take note of the exact location at all times of my child and know if what he was doing was going to hurt him or someone else, well beyond the toddler years. I didn’t have to take note of whether or not my child’s behavior would baffle or confuse someone else, or deal with people pointing staring and judging or making fun of him for his differences. I never had to worry that anything could trigger my child to melt down, do something dangerous, completely unaware of the harm risked, or run away at a moment’s notice, for some particular reason he came up with.
I didn’t have to worry that despite being potty trained, at any moment he might pee or poop his pants, and get it all over himself and that I might not have a change of clothes, because I thought we were past that phase.
I didn’t have a fear of knowing if my child woke up in the middle of the night, that going back to bed might be impossible.
I didn’t have the extra stress on my marriage.
I didn’t have to worry about his future depending on me being able to help him so intensely, possibly long into adulthood.
But, autism, I can’t say that it’s been all bad.
Though you were uninvited, you are here for a lifetime.
And there is good in you.
Although, the things above are true, I never expected what else I’d get from you.
I’d learn to see things from a totally different perspective.
I’d meet some of the most generous, kindhearted, special people around.
You’d teach me, despite my resistance, to let go of so many of the things I thought I had to and could control.
Everything I ever believed and thought would be forced to be reevaluated, and shifted, for the better.
Patience, acceptance, and understanding would be brought to a level beyond what I could have imagined.
You made me face my anxieties, face my fears, face some of the darkest places in myself, and my own unhealed childhood wounds. Things I didn’t want to, but I’m better for it.
You’d show me what speaking without words looks like.
You’d show me the lengths I’d go to for love.
You’d show me that through the ugliest of ugly, we are survivors.
Through the lowest of the lows, we’d be able to make comebacks.
I had no idea the heights and expert trails we’d be able to navigate, heading up this steep and winding mountain.
I didn’t have a clue, before you, what I was capable of. I had no idea, that watching my son overcome and work through his difficulties would inspire parts of my heart and courage that had never been touched before.
I never considered that the unexpected could be a blessing, when at first, and often after, it felt disappointing, frightening, lonely, unfair, and overwhelming.
Some days, it’s true, I get very angry and frustrated with the borders autism places on our “normalcy.”
But, a lot of days, I can see how you have been the catalyst, autism, that has moved light into areas that were otherwise going to remain in the dark. Areas where light needed to be spread. Autism, you have taken our black and white and sometimes grey world, and lit it up with a spectrum of color, we would have never known otherwise. And, I will count my blessings for that.