Sometimes feelings lie

Those of you who know me well know that I go through seasons of self-loathing in my life. I think that everyone enters phases where they feel like the sun is hidden from them. To be frank, I talk a big game. The personality I present to those around me is so much larger than the person that I truly am. I drive myself to be and to do more than I am comfortable with. I press myself to go outside of my comfort zone. I encourage others when I am wholeheartedly discouraged with myself. I help others when I feel helpless and I put on a brave face when I am terrified of my own voice. I talk like I am in control and I know what is going on when, really, I haven’t got a clue. I lead others… sometimes when I’m positively lost myself.

Today, I’m silencing the negativity in my mind for a moment. Any other day I would look at a picture of myself and cut myself down. I would magnify every flaw and become angry with myself. But no, not today. Because right now I am choosing to believe positivity and I’m reminding myself that I *am not* a failure.

I'm looking up!

Tonight I am looking at a woman whose eyes are full of hope and optimism. I see someone who is looking forward to tomorrow. A mother who loves her children fiercely and whose heart is overwhelmed with pride. I am looking at a wife who can say, without a moment’s doubt, that she made the best decision of her life on the day that she said, “I do.”

Tonight I see a woman who has experienced the pain of loss but has not been defeated. I see someone who has been afraid but has not let her fears immobilize her. I see a woman who has held secrets in her heart to protect the ones that she loves. A woman who has known the heartache of abandonment but chooses still to love. I see a woman who lost her baby, alone, in a public restroom because her body wasn’t strong enough to carry her sweet, tiny child. I see a woman who vowed to never cry another tear unless it really meant something because life is too short to allow herself to be swallowed up by her grief. This woman is strong, and she is brave and she is kind. She is is broken and she is beautiful. She has seen tragedy but she holds onto hope. In this woman’s eyes I see peace that transcends the harsh realities of the world in which she walks. I see a woman who looks up to the heavens with triumph because she knows that death and hell and the grave have been defeated by an omnipotent creator. Tonight I am looking at a woman whose eyes can pierce through veils of deception and not allow herself to be overcome with fury. I see a woman who has let go of hatred and made a conscious decision to move forward in her life, seizing the opportunities she is given with gratefulness. I see a woman who is not afraid to open her heart to hurt because she knows that pain cannot consume her and love is stronger than darkness. I see a woman who has learned to find peace in the midst of the chaos that surrounds her every single day that she draws her breath here on this earth.

I see me.

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So Much Left Unsaid

My last post went in a completely different direction than I had initially intended. It seems that is often the case in creative endeavors, or at least in the creative endeavors that *I* undertake. I sometimes joke that I have crafter’s ADHD. Typically when I make the joke I hesitate and fall just short of adding the parenthetical “No. Really.” I sometimes hope that people assume I made the joke because there is some form of truth to it, other times I hope they un-hear what I just said.

In reality, while I predominantly am a very grounded person with both feet firmly planted on terra firma and a rather steady grasp on reality, I am also more flighty than a bird. In a constant pattern of migration. Or perhaps I am like a crow in the respect that if I see something glinting in my periphery I’m thrown completely off course, “Oooh, shiny!”

Being the bearer of such knowledge, you will understand me when I tell you that my thought patterns float along like an amoeba carried by the ebb and flow of the natural tide, a prisoner caught between the pull of the moon and the gravity of earth. My very clear intentions may be to bake cupcakes when I enter the kitchen but my family might end up eating fleur de sel caramels instead. I want to write about my day but I end up writing about the beauty that comes from fragmented sorrows. My attentions are diverted more frequently than not.

With that “disclaimer” (?) in place, I’d like to share with you what I had initially intended when I talked about embracing a circumstance in entirety. I wanted to make clear my feelings on my daughter’s recent diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. I don’t know that someone who has not walked in my shoes can fully appreciate the scope of what I am feeling so perhaps it is futile to attempt to explain it to you. I shall soldier on, in any event, because it is my stubborn nature to do what I choose, no matter how unreasonable or how inconsequential the results may seem. You see, we are all complex creatures with unique life circumstances that have shaped our perspectives and natural thought processes but there is a chance that there is someone else out there who has faced situations and feelings similar enough to mine that maybe, just maybe, they feel a hint of what I feel. And it is comforting to know that there is someone else in this sea of humanity that can identify with you. It makes you feel strangely connected, as if by some invisible thread, and that tiny little scrap of invisible means that you’re not alone. And not being alone makes silence more tolerable. Not feared. Sometimes welcomed even. Because… well… you aren’t alone. Never completely alone.

So. Back to it. I’ve been contacted by several people in person, through the phone, email, social media, etc. regarding my daughter. I can only surmise that a desire to be supportive is their motivation but their actions land squarely in the comfort arena. I don’t really know how to explain it. It almost feels like people are trying to comfort me as if I should be in mourning. I’m not insulted by any means, but I find myself reciprocating comfort to them more than anything. I don’t feel the need for a shoulder to cry on.

Let me be implicitly clear on this: My daughter is perfect. She was fearfully and wonderfully crafted in the hand of the Creator and is beautiful in every way. There is not a single nuance of hers that I do not fully embrace. She is exactly what my family needs and God gave her to us because we are exactly what she needs. She is strong, bright, creative. She is an exceptional child, uniquely gifted. Her gifts are accompanied by challenges. Overcoming those challenges is not only strengthening her, it is making us a stronger family. It is making me a better parent and a better person. What others view as imperfections are the dimples and dangly parts that make her fit perfectly in the puzzle of our family.

Who is to say that my daughter is “different”? Like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike. We are quick to acknowledge the differences in our genetic composition but even though we quip that “Oh, every child is different!” we hope that our own are as “normal” as possible. If every child is unique than doesn’t that mean that being different is being normal? The very essence of our differences is what makes us normal. They make us believable and genuine and… human. (The Stepford Wives, anyone?)

My red hair lumps me in with the ginger crowd. Your infinity scarf and Uggs lump you in with the trendy crowd. My neighbor’s oversized glasses and siphon-brewed Valhalla coffee served by a man wearing pants so tight you can easily observe that he has no testicles puts her, right along with her barista, in with a bunch of coffee-snob hipsters. My daughter shares traits with a group of people that have Asperger’s Syndrome. She can identify with some amazing people. How is that a bad thing?

The drawback comes in failing to recognize and acknowledge her needs. There is a tremendous benefit that I have been afforded by affirming that my daughter has Asperger’s. I understand her better than I ever have before. I am learning to communicate with her in a way that gives her the ability to understand me more than she ever has before. We are developing intimacy in our mother-daughter relationship that we are experiencing for the first time.

So don’t mourn for me. Don’t try to console me or comfort me with well-intentioned, over-used phrases like, “It’s going to be ok.” or “You’ll make it through this.” Everything is ok. And we are making it though this—whatever “this” is.

Embracing my daughter’s diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome seems perfectly natural to me. I have been given an incredible gift; a glimpse into her mind. Parents sometimes joke about wishing that children came with an instruction manual; mine didn’t come with a manual but there are some incredible people who have documented the commonalities of individuals with Asperger’s and made their observations available through books and websites and blogs. These resources have afforded me a heightened awareness of my little girl’s psyche. It’s like capturing a glimpse of what’s inside a rose without having to tear the delicate flower apart, petal by petal. What a fantastic opportunity for me. What a tremendous gift for her: Mommy can finally understand.

For those who are joining us on this journey of discovery, I am grateful. Grow and learn with us. But don’t ever look back. Don’t wish for what isn’t and don’t mourn for what is. Take your time and enjoy each rose: its beauty, its fragrance, the mysteries it holds. Embrace each moment and thank God for it. When I fall short, remind me of my words. When you stumble, I hope to be there to help you on your way.

>Do You Hear What I Hear?

>Long weekends

>Social Obligations