The truth is rarely pure and never simple. ~ Oscar Wilde

Truth is something which can’t be told in a few words. Those who simplify the universe only reduce the expansion of its meaning. ~ Anais Nin


My friends, I feel like a fraud.

Ok, maybe that’s a little overly dramatic, but at the very least, ever since yesterday I’ve been carrying this  heavy, toxic feeling around with me  –  as though I’ve been keeping something from you – something I need to share to feel like I’m telling you the our truth.

You see, I wrote this post yesterday. The one about Katie winning the gold and Brooke making it through the movie party.

The one in which Daddy was a hero and retrieved the errant skating dress and Katie’s teacher allayed all of her fears and assured her that everything would be fine despite the untimely demise of her school project.

It was a fun post to write. It ended with all of its previously tangled threads arranged perfectly in a neatly tied bow atop a shiny, tidy little parcel.

And it was real. Every last bit of it.

But that shiny, tidy little parcel with the neatly tied bow sits on a table littered with the detritus of a very different kind of weekend.

A really, really hard weekend.

A weekend in which my husband and I found ourselves exchanging tense – very tense – words in front of our children.

A weekend in which we, as parents with a vastly different perspective than most, had to confront a minefield of issues following an ugly incident at school between Katie and a classmate on the playground.

A weekend in which we had to help our big girl understand where compassion for others’ challenges and her right to feel safe intersect. And to try to figure out how to guide her toward finding grace while ALWAYS insisting that the latter trump the former.

It was a weekend in which, to put it bluntly, my older daughter unraveled. A weekend in which she said things in the heat of the moment that she instantly regretted. A weekend in which she donned the hair shirt that she so often sees her mama inhabit – and then simply refused to take it off.

It was a weekend in which I told her seven ways to Sunday that there was nothing wrong with her feelings – not ANY of them – nor with expressing them – EVER. That it was, in fact, really, really important to allow herself to do so. That I only took issue with where – and in front of whom – she had chosen to untether her angst.

It was a weekend in which I told her emphatically that we ALL make mistakes. That we ALL say things that we wish that we could take back. That our fallibility and unfortunate capacity to hurt one another makes us human. That our ability to feel remorse for doing so, to learn from those moments and to then change the way that we choose to handle them down the road makes us even more human.

It was a weekend in which she nonetheless cried herself to sleep, still steeped in guilt.

Among so many things that she said – and which I will not repeat here as doing so feels like an egregious betrayal of her privacy – one of the few that I simply can’t shake is this:

I wish I had a sister who I could fight with.

It was a weekend in which that simple, innocent, heavily laden wish cut clean through this mother’s heart like an ice-cold blade.

In short, it was a weekend in which there were simply too many plates to spin and we had no choice but to let some fall, shattering on the hard, unforgiving ground and spewing their shards helter skelter – splintering, slicing, exposing bone and nerve and sinew – laying us out – every one of us – raw and bare in the process.

It was a weekend in which all we could do at times was hold onto each other and pray.

So while yesterday’s post was no less real without the context that surrounded it, it feels more honest now.

Because very rarely does life really tell its stories in tidy little boxes.

And that’s ok.

It’s better than ok.

It’s the our truth.

36 thoughts on “truth

  1. Katie had to unravel. It happens. It’s even healthy. This was a brave post, Jess! Everyone has to unravel occasionally!

    Love you,

  2. This is the kind of post that first brought me to you. The brave, honest, raw emotion that hits me right at my core to tell me my family is not alone. By sharing your truth, you are sharing ours as well. By giving it a space and a voice, you tell us all that it’s okay to struggle, and there is incredible work and sacrifices behind the successes that follow. Thank you for this.

      • Exactly–what she said. Honest and raw. Thanks so much, Jess.

        I know that my family’s experience is of always having everything at once–the hard and the easy, the lovely and the not so lovely. It seems like the human condition, but I know a lot of people who never face it quite the way we do. It means never taking anything for granted, never seeing anything in isolation.

  3. I think we are all guilty of not sharing the whole truth. It is a survival instinct. I can not speak for everyone else, but you are definitely not alone in this.

  4. We all have our reality, but we also need ‘sunshine stories’ – ours and those of other facing the same challenges. They are the ambrosia that heals and gives strength to keep on going. Thanks for sharing your pain and your sunshine.

  5. Thank you for your honesty. Both posts are truth. Both are encouraging in their own ways. Not that we are encouraged by your difficult weekend, but by knowing we are not alone, and that all of us struggle with putting our best face forward while still being “real.”

  6. I so appreciate your raw honesty because it makes my world feel more ok. Everything is rarely nice and tidy even though it is what I like to show to the world. Thanks for being so real. It makes all the struggle we go through at our home somehow “normal” and the meltdowns I sometimes have over this whole mess of a world ok to have. Thanks for being open, Jess, and keeping it real.

  7. Just because you chose not to share doesn’t mean yesterday’s post was any less “real.” You don’t need to share with us any hardships or difficulties your family endures, really. Life is not always tied up in a pretty bow. Life is sometimes just life, good, bad and sometimes as you know, downright ugly. Just keep swimming DOAM and Katie too.

  8. Echoing the sentiments of others here, thank you for this. When I have those moments where I absolutely lose my $&€¥ I have found myself wondering whether the same scene plays out in your household. I have felt guilt for receiving praise for my parenting skills after a blog post, because I think of a recent situation I mishandled, or a time I lost my cool in front of my kids, or a scene of absolute chaos in our house where things are most definitely not ok. I haven’t written about those things yet. Thank you for having the courage to do so.

  9. Thank you Jess. Thank you for sharing that with us. This past weekend was terrible and I wrote to a friend on Saturday that I was basically coming undone and everything just plain sucked. My oldest (11) broke down Sunday in tears about how hard everything is “since Autism invaded our family”. ((( hugs))) to all of you

  10. Very few of our “victories” come in a neat little package. It’s ok to celebrate the “wins” and not feel like you are not being truthful by sometimes bypassing what came before it – but I’m so glad you did…. Your daughter Katie is a just so blessed with a beautiful heart and if she needs to unravel every once in a while, she is certainly entitled. and so are you!! Thanks for your honesty – you somehow make it so much easier for all of us!

  11. I’d like to say “ditto” to what Alysia wrote. The sharing of our vulnerabilities and faults is what makes us more human to one another, more loveable. Hemingway wrote ““The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” My hope for your family —especially for Katie— is that your broken places mend even stronger than before.

  12. If I had a nickel for every time I thought, “I wish I had a brother I could fight with,” when I was growing up… If Katie needs a sib to talk to, feel free to shoot me an email 🙂

  13. most people have trouble feeling true empathy for others…katie is the opposite…she will struggle with her intense empathy, that is going to be an ongoing diffiuclty for her. i hope she can learn to go easy on herself, forgive herself.

  14. What I took from the two posts is that despite the extreme difficulty of the weekend, you still were able to notice the wonderful things, and gave them precedence. I think that is an important skill and being good at it is part of what gives you your uncommon strength, courage, endurance and grace. Learn from the bad, remember the good, and just keep on going.

  15. ” So what if you come undone on your way to the sun. Your home made kite melts down and out of sight. You’ll find that your arms are fine and strong and move you along, And not a moment too soon”

    It happens to all of us. But we get though it, and it makes us some how stronger. That doesn’t make it suck any less. But my heart goes out to you (and Katie), and thank you for your honesty.

  16. It takes courage to write about the stories that aren’t in neat, tidy packages…but in so doing, you keep your story real…and we all can relate because this community we inhibit, well, there is a lot of unraveling…and it’s as much a part of the story as the progress, the understanding, and the learning…because without the unraveling, we can’t open ourselves up to new things…thank you for sharing.

  17. I actually heaved a sigh of relief when I read this. You’re human. Katie is human.

    And everybody else who reads this is, too. And you let us all feel okay with that.


  18. Thanks for sharing. I just had tense words with my husband over the phone so I appreciate the warts and all picture. I’m dealing with it my having a donut (or two) at work. Feel free to follow my bad example.

  19. Oh how it resonates — the stories, and the ongoing struggle as to how to tell the real story, and the spinning plates that come crashing down.

    The blogging/commenting plate hasn’t been among my top spinnies lately, but I still read *your* amazing blogging regularly. And the Peking Acrobats video that we recently acquired for Joy has become one of her favorites, so the metaphor still comes to mind with regularity!

    Hugs to you and to each member of your wonderful, beautiful family.

  20. I feel for you and for Katie. Poor kiddo. Trying so hard. I hope she sees that this world could use more Katies. I wish Katie could meet my Caroline (13). She has had a few, ok many, moments like this too. These girls are strong and brave and loving…true heroes. And, they are also human. This is the part that’s hard to explain to them now. Caroline tries so hard to be “perfect” because she thinks that’s what I need her to be. What I really need is for her to be Caroline…in all her human, imperfect glory! Thanks, as always, for sharing. You help so many!

  21. The fact is, there are always multiple truths. Always. And just because one truth runs in counterpoint – or even contradition – to another, that first truth is not invalid. It’s not disingenuous to meter out your truths or to place boundaries on which truths you share with the world at large.

    You don’t owe us anything. Truly.

    I love you. And I’m sorry that some of the truths are so bone-achingly hard.

  22. Life is not a sit-com solved in 20 mins. I admire your courage in telling your truth about the complexities of real life. Most people can’t do that. Its OK to have that private protected part of yourself. We understand. Also, please welcome Katie to the transition to adolescence. She is amazing.

  23. Hugs to you Jess.

    Your amazingly wonderful weekend was also likely filled with hugely stressful preamble, preparation and build-up to achieve that degree of accomplishment and wonderful. Katie must have been under a huge amount of pressure (despite loving skating, it was still a big competition).

    I kind of smiled thinking Katie had just identified a pretty funny new accomplishment to look forward to; K & B’s first arguement, especially one where B holds her own and maybe wins. It will happen. I’m sure of it… and you will remember this day in so many complex wonderful ways…

  24. Today is the first time I have come across your website. When I started reading I felt inclined to write to you to thank you for your positive perspective and your ability to express the deep love we feel for our children with autism. As I continued reading, a new feeling began to emerge…a quiet resentment…why can I not live with such joy and optimism? Isn’t her life difficult? So I am still writing to thank you…for your honesty. I will continue reading now because of it. Thank you!

  25. I just wanted to thank you for sharing the good and the “tough” moments. It allows me to attempt to have the same courage writing about our journey.

  26. ‘I wish I had a sister who I could fight with’ … oh yes, me too and I am in my late fifties!! Thanks so much for your honesty and also your recognition of Katie’s needs and that she doesn’t have to be a hero all the time. Too much pressure on these little people who happen to be siblings of a child with disability. Thanks

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