November 14, 2010

One Hour at a Time

So God just help me out while I fight through this grievin’ process
Tryna process this loss is makin’ me nauseous
But this depression ain’t takin me hostage
I’ve been patiently watchin’ this game, pacin’ these hallways
You had faith in me always
-- Eminem, You're Never Over

I have had some really dark days due to this disorder known as autism.

They began to hit me the hardest just before my son turned three.

My shoulders were the best outward illustration of the pain I was feeling on the inside.

I have never been tattooed, but back in the day, my shoulders were like a rainbow of colors: black, blue and purple.

They were my son's favorite biting target.
And they showed it.
I could cover up the bruises on my shoulders with clothes. People rarely saw them. And I tried, too, to cover up the immense feelings of sadness I felt on the inside. But that wasn't as easy ...

Eventually, I began to feel it -- the overwhelming sense that something was going to give.

I was starting to lose my mind, and I knew it.

I knew it because I began to think things that were completely irrational.

I began to wonder if perhaps God had wanted me to never parent.

I began to wonder if my son was challenged because I was a bad person.

I began to wonder if things were so hopeless that I would be better off just .... giving .... up.

Thank God, or good fortune, or the moral direction I received from my parents, or all of the above, but ..... somehow, I maintained just enough sanity to question the rationality of my thoughts.

And I started taking steps, baby steps though they were, to reverse my thoughts.

It was a long process.
And it isn't as if you are ever just done. When you have a child with such a severe disability that he most likely will always need your help -- just to get by -- well, you can't ever live like a "typical" person. Your mental health has to take on a priority the likes of which many people never will be able to understand. You have to remind yourself to be calm, to live one day -- if not one hour -- at a time. And you have to come to realize that happiness is, to a very large extent, a choice.

It is a choice that requires work.

I constantly remind myself of all the things in this life that make me happy.

If it weren't for my son's disability, I would not take nearly as much time to reflect on these little joys.

Don't get me wrong--I would much rather my son go through life without obstacles. But I know that I would not appreciate my daughter's remarkable gifts as much as I do, if I did not know firsthand what a miracle they are. I would not appreciate the amazing friendship I have found in one of the most beautiful people to walk this Earth, if I didn't realize just how much I need it.

I still have my dark moments.
They have been much darker than I ever thought they would be because I suffered a loss that, to me, was even greater than the loss of my dreams for my son.

Talk about starting over....

But the one thing I know about life is that it doesn't change simply because you question your ability to handle it.

And when there are two children depending on you, you simply cannot give up.

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