Why am I wired the way I am? Why am I not “normal” (or perhaps “typical” is a better word)?
Why have I gone through life, plagued by my own obsessions, confused by my own attention deficits?
Overwhelmed by unwanted stimuli?
Crushed by not being accepted, by bullies, and even by well-meaning adults who simply don’t get me?
For years, this was my experience in life.
I once spent a month of my life in an intense out-patient mental health program trying to understand.
I wasted a couple of years with a therapist trying to puzzle it out.
Trying to figure out how to be content to be me.
It didn’t work.
I did gain an intellectual understanding of the chemical and personal basis for it all.
But let’s be totally honest here…while knowing the scientific reasons for your limitations might make it easier to accept them, it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to live with them.
Because we are not simply physical beings. We are not simply intellectual beings.
Coping skills are good, but they lie on the surface, giving the appearance of order, but not actually organizing the self.
Because we are much deeper than what we appear to be and my limitations are part of who I am, not simply outward appearances.
Lest you think that this is a personal pity-party, the reason I’m writing this is because this morning I had a revelation.
God often reveals Himself when we are quiet and listening. And the timing is right. The timing is really important.
I was in kitchen. ALONE. I’m never physically alone these days, it seems.
And in the quiet of the morning, I started to write and it came to me. I think I’m beginning to understand.
The past few weeks have been difficult, so many difficult realizations about my children and their “atypical” selves.
When my husband asked me if I wanted to take the kiddos to a Super Bowl party last weekend, I thought about being overwhelmed by all the people and the noise. And not caring much about football.
And I had a glimpse into Peter’s day-to-day challenges. I said no, that would not be a fun time, not for me and not for him.
A year ago, we might have gone, because I would have discounted my own discomfort. It would have seemed unreasonable to not do something just because of my limitations.
But now I’m beginning to see that my own limitations can be windows into my children’s needs.
I can’t ever be my kids.
Much to my chagrin, every time I try to find shoes for them that are truly comfortable or try to figure out how sick they really are before calling the doctor, I can’t actually experience what they are experiencing.
I will never fully understand, for instance, Peter’s experience of life. I’ll never know what it feels like to have his skin. I don’t even know what it is to be a boy. ;0)
But some of the other processing issues he’s dealing with, somehow they make some sense to me.
I can’t ever feel the anxiety that Mary feels when they test the tornado siren in town. Or experience the frustration of being a middle child.
But I can recognize in her many of my own childhood issues.
I can’t step into my children’s shoes. Each of us is an individual with an entirely unique experience of the world.
I can’t know what they know or feel exactly what they feel, much as I want to.
But, I can catch little glimpses. I can draw parallels between their experiences and my own. I can relate.
I can use my own experiences to try new things with them that might help.
I can remember my own struggles and have a better appreciation of their struggles.
And I can grow beyond my own experience,
…because it’s not about me.
And if my own suffering past can help these beautiful children in their future, then it was all worth it.
And somehow I feel a little less broken and a lot less alone.