Stuck In The Middle
When I got stuck and took a break from writing, I had no idea that my return would be amidst a time like in this world. I could have never imagined that it would take me a year to get to this place, and during a global pandemic no less.
I was stuck on a piece that was going to be about the struggle for my autistic daughter, starting middle school, and the struggle for me being in “mid-life”. That story will have its time and place. Tonight, on this last day of autism awareness month, I want to make sure that a few more important things are not left unsaid.
We’re all stuck in some way right now. Stuck at home, stuck in a rut, or maybe stuck in our thoughts. This situation has taken a toll on every single one of us, whether it’s physically, mentally, or spiritually. Those on the frontline have been especially affected. Then there are those who have been sick, the many who have died, and the people who have lost loved ones, who feel the pain and reality of what this time in our world has been. People are suffering in one way or another.
Pain and Joy
We all have pain and challenges we endure in this life. The truth is, we would never experience true love and joy without them. We have to accept that truth. It’s God given. The mere presence of pain is in order to give rise to joy.
Some of my greatest challenges and pain in my life have come from our journey with autism. They’ve come from trying to understand and accept my child’s autism as a part of her, while thinking it’s something that we could make fade away. Some of the times I have suffered the most have been not truly seeing her in all her beauty and all she has to offer this world. It’s been fighting what I’ve not understood and allowing myself to feel like I have control, when I don’t. But that pain has propelled me into some of my life’s greatest joys as I’ve watched her grow, advocate, positively impact others, accomplish amazing things and just plain shine!
A Deeper Understanding
The pain we are going through now is temporary, although it feels like forever. It does good, although we can’t see it in the moment. We can learn so much because of it and inevitably that suffering takes us to a place where we become more enlightened and gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of things. Maybe we need to bring ourselves closer to God, maybe we need to realize the temporary nature of this world and the things in it, or maybe it’s as simple as being more grateful for what we have or the life we’re living.
If you’re me, (and I know many of you can relate) maybe it’s learning to accept what is our current life situation, to accept your autistic daughter fully for the gifts she brings to this world, to let go of the anxiety for the future, and to give yourself the same grace that is given to you freely, especially when you realize you’ve got a lot of things wrong.
True Autism Acceptance
Pain and suffering leads us to a place of appreciation, but we first have to accept it. I was recently inspired by the presenters in a conference I participated in. Make sure you go to Autism Level Up to learn more about these wonderful educators. It’s changing my life and my perception of my daughter as an autistic individual. I realized through their help and resources how much I still don’t know and will never know about my daughter’s experience as an autistic person.
So now that I have accepted what I don’t know and all of the hard things that go along with that, I need to move toward really appreciating her challenges, strengths and all of her differences so that I can better support her and others. That starts with really listening to her and other autistic individuals more, trying harder to understand what it’s like for her and all of them, and giving her a voice here on this blog. I want her to tell her story and I want to be able to support and empower her in that.
From Struggle to Strength
When my father passed away almost 14 years ago, I read a book called “On Death and Dying” by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. It made such a difference for me as I went through my grieving process. She said “The most beautiful people I’ve known are those who have known trials, have known struggles, have known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.”
We’ve all known pain of some sort. Life can be a beautiful disaster at times and we are all formed more beautiful from the pain we endure. That is more evident now than it has ever been. On the other side of all that pain is joy. We may not see that now, but if we can try to accept our pain and that it’s leading us to a deeper growth than we can possibly imagine, we will see the light some day. Just give yourself a little grace in the waiting.
Autism Acceptance Month
Now that this April is over, if you think you’ve truly accepted autistic people, think again. Once you know for sure what you will never know, move on to appreciating all that autistic individuals bless the world with. I know it can be so challenging for parents with children on the spectrum. Accepting doesn’t mean you’re not in pain nor does it take it away. And if you’re hurting right now, for whatever reason, know that your pain will someday pass. Remember joy will rise and you will have lots and lots of grace to get you through until it does.