Thursday, 25 July 2013

I Choose Grace

Over the past several years I have started to develop a thicker skin.  I used to cry, all the time.  If a family member was mad at me, even if I had done nothing wrong I would sometimes cry for days.  When I felt judged, I would cry.  I have always been a very sensitive person, I get very upset when I feel rejected or when I fear I have offended someone.  And while this type of empathy and awareness can be a good thing to a certain extent, and is frankly something lacking in many, I think that it can also be a burden, and it can be completely exhausting.  Because when you worry so much about what others think, you allow them to literally drain your energy.  For me it was like opening a valve.  In the past, when there was conflict, I would be incapacitated by my emotions.  What did I do wrong?  Why don't they like me?  And the biggest and most self-damaging one- how can I fix it?

The crux of the situation is that everyone has their own issues and their own past.  Whether they were raised to be empathetic or judgemental, or to value only physical appearances; whether they were raised to believe that family members/friends are forever, even in the face of adversity, or that these ties can be severed as effortlessly as brushing a piece of lint off of one's jacket.  Whether they surround those in need, in crisis, with love and support or avoid them.  This cannot be fixed, and attempting to do so will only result in more negative feelings. 

This is something all too familiar to so many special needs families out there.  I hear about it from a friend or acquaintance almost weekly.  A rejection or hurt at the hands of a friend or family member.  A lack of acknowledgement or empathy.  Refusal to see that many global family problems- marital tension, unwillingness to attend social events, inability to contribute in the same ways as one has in the past- are truly a part of a much larger issue- autism. 

I used to feel the need to explain to those who did not have this insight.  To try and "help" them to understand what we were going through or where we were coming from.  The act of doing this was literally worse than beating my head against a wall.  Some people are unable to, or do not want to see.  Some people don't understand the issues that autism brings.  Such as the need to keep things low key, family events tame, parties small, and vacations quiet.  Or the exhaustion that parents of children with autism continuously feel- both emotionally and physically.  It is not a lack of "zest for life", or laziness, or even depression.  This is a reality for many families. 

All of this is very frustrating from my side of the fence.  I want to shake people and say, why can't you see?  Why can't you just be there- unconditionally?  I suppose I could spend my time worrying about this, and end up hurting myself.  But instead- I choose grace.  I choose to smile, I choose to allow my problems and my family's problems to be seen.  I do my best to allow the judgement to roll off, knowing that I am making the best choices I can for my family.  I choose to hold my head up high and love those that cannot love me and my family for who and what we have become and need to be.  I can pray to God that my grace will rub off on those who need it.  But now I can also accept that this will not always happen- that there will be many many times when the gesture will remain one sided.  I can accept that my grace allows me to enjoy my life, to feel fulfilled.  And that I am setting a good example for my children.


  1. I'm enjoying reading your blog. Your experiences are so similar to ours. Keep up the writing!

  2. Thank you Jan! Glad you stopped by!