Reflections of and on a probably Asperger's parent parenting an Asperger's kid (or 2)!

dragon pups

dragon pups

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Further On Weird

The previous post was really the explanation of how I came to accept my weirdness.  It's a list of all the reasons I have been forced to agree with those who see me as weird.  And yes, I have come to a place where I own that weirdness, but it isn't always that easy, especially when it is your kids you are watching...

I did a lot of crying in high school, a lot of regretting and fearing, afraid that I really was missing the "best years of my life".  I have never been even tempted to party or get into bad stuff.  One could argue that I grew up in a conservative household, but that isn't really true.  Conservative by California standards, maybe, but not even remotely close by Southern standards.  The truth is I was afraid of guys, and I was afraid of people my own age.  That was driven home to me when I went off to college. I was TERRIFIED of these big block parties.  I was trying soooooooooooooooo hard to be outgoing and "do as the Romans in Rome", but I kept finding myself watching from corners.  In the long run, I did EXACTLY what I needed to do.  By the end of the first month I had established a core of friends (including a boy who would be my husband) and I stuck it out with their fraternity house.

One of the challenges I have had to face is my knees.  My knee caps have dislocated since I learned to walk.  One of my first memories is of playing in a lawn while waiting for dinner at a restaurant and my knee cap dislocating.  There is a place in my head where I simply do not have faith in my body to perform.  My knees became a challenge for me in college (cold weather is NOT my friend - I discovered I have some pretty severe arthritic damage).  I ended up missing a semester to get double knee surgery.  Lots of fear - of falling on ice, of traumatizing others, of not being able to do common things, like walk or dance- and lots of embarrassment - big metal braces, afraid of going out, dancing like a stick puppet.  The truth is that the time had come for me to face that challenge. And I did.  I took PT as my PE class for 2 years. I had to walk down stairs backwards for 2 years.  I was sure everyone knew who I was.

And I found I was still REALLY uncomfortable with being in groups of only my own age group.  So, I became a Girl Scout leader so I could be around kids again, and I went to the local knitting shop to hang out with the old ladies weekly.  I found strategies that helped me feel whole, comfortable.  At a university that is in the top ten in the nation, I discovered that I was too weird to fit in to even that academic crowd.

The weird didn't stop after graduation, of course.  I got married to that college sweetheart, and we struggled like young couples do.  I struggled to find a job I could live with emotionally, and finally gave in to Divine Will (stopped banging my head on the wall) and became a teacher, but unconventionally.  I have had a hard time keeping any job longer than 5 years.  It means I have experience in LOTS of different settings, but it also means that my parents and my husband keep telling me I am NOT a team player.  The job I have now is the most comfortable I have ever been.  It is seasonal, it is a teaching job, it is outside, it is very dynamic. And so far I have not pissed anybody off so much they want to make me leave. :)  I am capitalizing on all the experience I have from all those other jobs.  It's pretty amazing to feel like the Universe has put you right where it wants you.  I am afraid it won't stay that way, but it does feel good now.

So then I had kids.  Pregnancy was healthy for me, if uncomfortable. It was exactly what it was supposed to be.  We had a struggle with my 1st's delivery - oxygen issue. Stressful, but I kept thinking, "well, LOTS of people have issues."  Then we had an incident at 1 month.  The baby quit breathing. I had to recesutate {sp}.  I did, and we had the baby on oxygen for 4 days.  Again, stressful, lots of fear, but it worked out so "perfectly"... the whole thing could have ended MUCH worse if just one variable had been a little bit different.  I felt there HAD to be a divine message.  I decided to let God take care of it... I would accompany, I would shepherd, but I would not control.  I became "crunchier" about child rearing, pretty laid back.  And my children were perfect.  They look like porcelain dolls.  They attracted people everywhere we went.  They cooed and loved and hugged and snuggled.  We played and learned everyday.  It was awesome.

Until it wasn't.  My father challenged me about eye contact.  A stranger cop on the street told me I should have my kid "checked".  The church was very stressed about having the kid there.  There was HUGE amounts of frustration and physical outbursts. I was concerned for safety.  We started the diagnostic process.  It took MONTHS, YEARS.  Doctors all kinda said the same thing to differing degrees of severity - Autism Spectrum.  He was "high-functioning", but he had definite "issues".

Boy did I struggle.  I had been labeled at a young age, and I wanted to avoid that for him.  I wanted him to be able to define himself, to be whoever it was God sent him back to be.  Lots of crying, lots of praying, lots of hurting... Finally a gentleman I worked with said "it's probably a lot like having your child diagnosed with cancer.  You have to grieve for what your child could have been so that you can enjoy the child you get."  I finally had permission to grieve.  And I did.

But I came to realize, that if I really meant to accept him mas he was, to let him be whatever God sent him back to be, that labels didn't matter.  He IS weird, and legitimately so.  He comes from a loooooong line of weird.  He'll be labeled "gifted" or "geek" or "autistic" or "freak" or something anyway.  If the doctors needed one label to get help, so be it.  If the school needed another label to get appropriate services, so be it.  Humans have an innate drive to categorize.  I cannot protect either kid from all the labels they will receive in their life times.

All I can do is instill in them that knowledge that their differences are sources of Glory for God, that If they have a thing about them that just doesn't go away, then it is meant for them to have it, and they need to harness it, not deny it.

Language has power, yes.  But it is a human construct, not a divine construct.  We can use that power to create a focus word for our actions - I see it as a line that has love on one end and fear on the other.  We can use language to describe what we see.  From a place of love that description becomes praise and constructive criticism, from a place of fear that becomes insults.  We can use language to play.  From a place of love that play shows an honest respect for strengths and challenges.  From a place fear that play shows demeaning others to feel better about yourself, bullying.  We need to use language as a tool, not let it be the tool that uses us.  And we know that, instinctively.  That's why when my best friend calls my names during a card game it doesn't sting like when my husband mutters his disappointment under his breath.  I am sensing the underlying love or fear intention, not just the words.  You do it too.  The examples you give yourself will be more insightful than any I can make up.

So if you are that kid out there who is being called weird.  If you are being bullied - understand that what you are looking at is THEIR fear.  It has NOTHING to do with you. Make the effort in yourself to be making choices from a place of love, and people around you will know & honor your better intentions.  Not to say that other's bad mojo will never effect you. Ugly rumors cost people jobs and friends everyday.  But time will solve that, God will solve that.  Sit it out, choose to stay "in" love and the universe will deal you new cards, things will realign.  When I am at my darkest, when I feel fear driving my actions, I try to remember what I want people to say about me when I die.  Maybe morbid, but death has an undeniable honesty.  I want people to say that I was a loving person, the genuine article, that I did my best to be what God asked me to be.  And God NEEDS me to be weird so that people can notice how much I love them.

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