I’m no Oprah Winfrey, hell, I’m not even close, but I’d say that I do know a few things for sure and one of them is.. Autism has not ruined my life.
In March, right after the Asperger;s diagnosis, I decided that I was going to get out there and meet some people who were going through the same stuff that I was. Locally, there are a few support groups that seemed to be quite active, so I searched on the internet, found their meeting times and locations and off I went. As with everything I do, I threw myself into this endeavor wholeheartedly and planned to attend three different support groups in the span of 2 weeks. I was super excited, in my mind the possibilities were endless. Maybe I would find some friends for Z, maybe I would connect with another mother and make a friend myself, or the piece de resistance maybe we would find a FAMILY that we all liked and we could have people to do stuff with all together!
How awesome would that be? I arrived at my first meeting at the local library with great hopes and expectations. It only took 15 minutes before they were dashed.
There were about 7 people there, all with children on the spectrum and the mood was decidedly negative. Several of the women across the table wept at different points in the discussion, while the one sitting next to me jiggled her leg so furiously that I began to feel anxious myself. One woman actually said,
Autism has ruined my life
Wow, just WOW! I had only been doing this whole spectrum thing for about a month at this time, so I was overwhelmed, scared, sad and anxious, but I didn’t feel that way at all! Autism has not ruined my life! How could I say that, how could I even think it? If that were true, that would mean that Z had ruined my life and that was the furthest thing from the truth.
I am no angel, not at all. I have frequently wished that I could run away from my life. Z has been tough to raise from the get-go. I had severe postpartum depression for the first 9 months of his life and quite honestly, all I remember of his toddlerhood is feeling tired, sweaty and hyper-vigilant from chasing him all over hell’s half acre and never knowing what this kid was gonna do next. I often thought longingly about a life in Mexico -
why Mexico? I have no idea. Never been there, not really even interested in going, but on the darkest days, in my fantasies that’s always where I went when I felt like I was never going to make it through.
I have often felt like Z has been done a disservice by having me as a mother. I’m frequently unsure of whether I’m good enough, strong enough or smart enough to give him what he needs. But I do know that I’m going to give it my best go, because Z did get me after all, not some other mom and I’ll be damned if he’s going to slip through the cracks on my watch. No siree, over my dead body that will happen.
Autism, or more specifically, Asperger’s, makes Z who he is.
And who he is is a smart, kind, gentle, sweet, WONDERFUL child.
I would never trade that for anything. Because if I did, then Z wouldn’t be Z and that, my friends, is what would truly ruin my life.
This is the most difficult thing I have ever done, it has crushed me at times, battered me at others and bruised me daily. I will never be the same, ever. But it has not ruined my life, rather, autism has given me wonderful gifts, patience, tolerance and an ability to be less judgmental. Autism has given me hope.
Autism has given me love.
That’s what I know for sure.