Ed note: The following post is now two weeks old. Actually three. I think. An awful lot has happened since I wrote it, so I really can’t be sure.
It’s only the first part of the story – the backdrop really. I still haven’t written the second part. The second part is the part that hurts – the part that’s still raw two or three or whatever weeks later. I’ve been avoiding it.
Typically, when posts fall this far behind real time, I walk away from them. That’s why there are nearly a hundred and fifty posts in my Unpublished Drafts box. They were simply too late to see the light of day.
But I couldn’t walk away from this one.
Maybe because it hurt. Maybe because I knew I was avoiding it.
Of all the lessons that I’ve learned around here, two often stand out the most –
It’s the stuff that we avoid because it hurts that is exactly the stuff we need to tackle.
— And —
If we don’t acknowledge our own missteps, we’ll never allow ourselves to learn from them.
So here goes ..
There’s no contact information on this blog.
I don’t give out an e-mail address.
I work full-time.
I mother full-time.
I advocate full-time.
About a month ago, a reader posted a comment asking if I’d gotten the message that she’d sent to me via Diary’s Facebook page.
I thought, Huh? How could I get a message on Diary’s Facebook page? That’s impossible, right?
Turns out that Facebook’s new Timeline format comes with a messaging function for all public pages.
I looked, but found nothing.
I hate to admit it, but I was relieved.
And then I realized that I had to log in as Diary’s administrator (something I do perhaps once a month at most) to see them.
And when I did, I was completely overwhelmed.
By the time I got there, sixty-seven messages sat waiting for me.
Sixty-seven heartfelt notes, requests, pleas, needs, rants, videos to share, stories that I had to hear, situations I had to find a way to help expose, make right, FIX.
Sixty-seven living, breathing, human stories.
I dug in slowly, desperately overwhelmed by the raw emotion smoldering on the screen.
I had to take them in in small groups.
Ten, sometimes five, even two or three at a time.
I responded to each and every one in the best way that I could.
Thank you for sharing.
Here’s a website that might help.
Tears streamed down my face.
These people need help.
They need so much more than I have.
“You are not responsible for the world, Jess. You can’t be. It’s too much. Somebody needs to say this to you. You’ve got to rein it in or you are going to break. You can’t do it all for everybody. You just can’t.”
It’s a year ago. My friend Rachel is yelling at me in her kitchen. We’ve both had too much wine. But the fog of intoxication sometimes comes with a clarity that sobriety more effectively avoids.
I don’t say anything.
I know she’s right.
But I don’t know what to say.
Saturday morning –
I’ve been avoiding it, but I know I need to check the messages again. I know they will have piled up since the last time I opened Pandora’s box.
I can’t ignore them.
I don’t know how.
I take a deep breath and start slowly.
I respond one by one.
I’m writing to you with the hope you will help me be my daughter’s voice. Last year my 8-year-old autistic daughter was verbally, physically and I believe sexually abused on her special needs bus.
Oh my God.
Oh my $%&@ing God.
He throws himself at me, claws at me, clings to me, hits, headbutts, and he often goes for my face/head. If I speak, the sound of my voice makes him furious. If I attempt to walk away from him, it makes it worse. When I try to get away the meltdown escalates and he scratches, claws and clings to me.
Oh, friend. I know. I KNOW.
Sometimes I think God picked the wrong person for this. I hate feeling like a failure of a mom.
Oh, honey, we all go there. Every one of us has those moments where we feel desperately ill-equipped to handle the life we’ve been handed. We’re not. God doesn’t screw up. Where do you live? Let’s see if we can make some connections.
.. He’s 14, an aspie, with a lot of anxiety and low self-esteem. His biological father is a monster who puts him down, often stands him up, ignores him when it’s his “weekend” and constantly tells him that his mother is trying to control him and mess with his head by having him believe he is disabled.
The young man is the sweetest soul and it kills me to see him afraid of his own shadow, and walking on egg shells around everyone, constantly apologizing for living.
Add to all this the more than likely fact that he is gay. At his mainstream elementary he was relentlessly bullied – apparently not for his ASD qualities – they’d call him “f_ g”.
I fear he is ripe for suicide as he goes through his mid-teens. I’ve never run across another case of a gay ASD person. Is there any support group in the county? An EFFECTIVE professional with experience with this double issue?
I look at the date of the message.
Two weeks ago.
I can’t breathe.
~ just seeing this .. i’ll ask the question and let you know.
I scramble. I put the question up on Dairy’s Facebook page.
This could be any one of our kids.
Tears sting my eyes.
I send a private message to friends who I think might be able to help.
It goes up on Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.
Answers begin coming in.
People willing, wanting to help.
A gay, autistic man steps forward.
I send him a private message.
Thank you! How can this kid get in touch with you?
My baby girl comes bounding into my room and crawls into the bed next to me. Her Pinkalicious pajamas are sideways and her sleepy-headed hair is defying the laws of physics. She plops herself down next to me and grabs Luau’s iPad.
“Excuse me,” I say.
She looks at me as if she’s noticed me for the first time.
“What do I need before you start to play?”
“A hug,” she says as her little arms wrap around my neck.
I close my laptop and scoop her into my arms.
I’m sure that by now her sister’s been up for a while.
“Let’s head downstairs and hang out with Katie, baby, cool?”
“Cool,” she says as she and her crazy sleepy hair pad down the hall.
As I head out the door behind her, I run back and grab my laptop.
You are not responsible for the world, Jess. You can’t be. It’s too much.
This is family time – our time – but I can’t leave this boy behind.
Somebody needs to say this to you. You’ve got to rein it in or you are going to break.
But I don’t know how.
To be continued ..