Thursday, October 4, 2012

Taking a leap of faith on Columbus Day

Faith.  What the heck is this lady, who long-ago stopped believing in God, doing writing about faith

One can find faith and God in strange places.  Like at the lake in S. Vermont.
The answer is, because of the connections made through church, even random ones, I have regained a whole lot of faith in humanity and in myself.

The truth is that moms are hard on ourselves- and boy are we hard on each other.  Autism moms are both made of steel (because we have to be) and exceptionally vulnerable (because we spend so much time being strong we usually forget to take care of ourselves and nurture our own souls). We have to take care of our kids and make sure their needs are met, while most of us do a pretty lousy job doing anything relaxing or kind for our bodies and spirits.

Single parents.  Yeah, that other subset I belong to.  We're hard on ourselves- and judgmental as heck of each other.  Did I mention stark-raving jealous of our happily married friends and the fact their kids get to see that happiness and experience having a mom and dad (or some combination thereof) who love each other and them?  GUILT is often served up in large portions- and we try hard to compensate for the things our kids don't have.

Picture this.

Last night: 3:00 a.m. My kid, happy but stimmy, woke me up.  There was no way I was getting back to sleep with Andrew going on 5000 laps (pacing while vocalizing) around our house.  I had a lot of time to think.

An old friend from church and I talked for hours before, during, and after the Presidential debate where I became fearful for Big Bird's continued existence.  My girlfriend and I both have a child with autism, along with other similarities.  We met in 1998, what seems like a lifetime ago.  Life was chockful of kids/school/playdates/appointments, church, volunteering, and marriage (prioritized perhaps in that order).   That church and church family were integral parts of my life for 30 years.

My friend reflected her impressions of me back then: "Strong, friendly, kind, a caretaker, someone who tried hard to make others feel included... always had a smile on (my) face".

Despite having a handful of kiddos and a zillion responsibilities, I woke up every morning,  perhaps sleep-deprived, but content in the suburban existence we had carved out as a family.  I was happy.  My marriage wasn't, but my kids were.  My life was full of laughter- that joyous sound of kids and the comforting, comfortable sound of friends.

We all need some verbal "pick-me-ups" every once in a while; those words from friends or loved ones make a difference.  It was this friend who said what no one else has ever said in such blunt terms- ever.  "What happened with ____ was bound to happen given the circumstances.  There wasn't a whole lot you could do to change it."

I know/have known that emotional crisis bring people together in strange ways.  But, in what has been a long process of beating myself up over-and-over-and-over again, I never thought about the fact that the dynamics involved meant the outcome was going to happen.  No matter what I said or did.   I always blamed myself because, well, it seemed like the right thing to do.  It was easier to take 101% ownership than pick apart the reality.

My friend is right.  I couldn't have stopped the train wreck, as it was already in progress through absolutely no doing of my own.  I simply tried to jump out of the way, but ended up on quite an adventure.

Burlington church circa 2000?
Tearing oneself apart serves no purpose.  This past week marked a half-milestone birthday (if there is such a thing).  It was completely miserable.   Memories of the annual laughter-filled birthday dinners with friends, the last normal one of which was in the mountains of New Hampshire just months before a friend had a crisis which started this all, outdid the cute cards and breakfast in bed.  (Coffee and a bowl of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, anyone?)  My "little" girl tried so hard to make her mom smile and laugh.  My son came in and kissed me on the top of my head with a no eye-contact "Happy Birthday, Mom".  Yet... it was amazing because I never thought he would ever do that unprompted.  All those years spent with friends, feeling loved while celebrating my birthday, I went home to a little boy who barely spoke and didn't often connect with the world around him.   Not the best reality, after all.

To the friends who lift my spirits in many big and small ways, my children and I are eternally grateful you are part of our village.   To my 2 hour+ phone call friend, you have no idea how much your words helped me out of a funk.   In some strange way, my church and my faith led to that phone call.

Life works in mysterious ways, indeed.  I have found my faith and won't let it go without a fight this time.