In short, we can live inside our fear for the future or we can say to hell with it and run alongside her as she blazes a path that leads us unwittingly to our own self-acceptance as we guide her to hers.
And we can invite everyone with whom we come into contact to join us on that journey. An appealing invitation, I dare say, for it leads to a place that is bathed in hope and love and a true sense of connection with one another and ourselves.
A place so damned happy you can’t help but squeal.
– This Place, Diary, last week
We are in the locker room at the pool.
Brooke is naked.
I can’t breathe.
The fluorescent bulbs cast an accusatory light on the cuts and scabs and scars that riddle her body. Inch by inch they bear witness to the darkest side of her daily struggle for comfort in her own skin.
One at a time they are bearable – in isolation each one no more than the typical cost of childhood carelessness. In aggregate, they are overwhelming. Together, they create a cruel dot-to-dot portrait of her most insidious demons.
In this light I cannot help but to see them in concert. And I feel them as if on my own skin. I feel my daughter’s pain and angst and confusion, her frustration and helplessness and lack of control, all treacherously combining with the constant and insatiable yearning for sensory fulfillment and together, their relentless pull on her fingers toward her skin. The dangerous cocktail of fear and need that digs into her flesh, tears at her skin, leaves livid lacerations and, ultimately, the scars of their surrender — and hers — behind.
In the moment, it is almost more than I can bear.
I pull her into a hug.
It’s not enough.
This is my journey as a mother.
This is why I wrote this to Andrew Solomon yesterday …
This. A thousand times, this —
“The Nobel Prize- winning physicist Paul Dirac identified how light appears to be a particle if we ask a particle like question, and a wave if we ask a wave like question. A similar duality obtains in this matter of self. Many conditions are both illness and identity, but we can see only one when we obscure the other. Identity politics refutes the idea of illness, while medicine shortchanges identity. Both are diminished by this narrowness.
Physicists gain certain insights from understanding energy as a wave, and other insights from understanding it as a particle, and use quantum mechanics to reconcile the information they have gleaned. Similarly, we have to examine *illness* and *identity*, understand that observation will usually happen in one domain or the other, and come up with a syncretic mechanics. We need a vocabulary in which the two concepts are not opposites, but compatible aspects of a condition.”
– Andrew Solomon, Far From The Tree
This – the creation of this language, the forging of this middle ground between schools of thought that drive advocacy efforts that appear to be diametrically opposed to one another, at least at their extremes — this. This is what I try so desperately to do.
This is why.
Because I honor my girl’s differences.
Because I celebrate her joy.
Because I ache for her pain.
All. At. The. Same. Time.