April 2nd is World Autism Day. It isn’t something I talk a lot about, but I have a son who is autistic. He is high functioning and for a long time I didn’t feel like I could or should talk a lot about it because we certainly don’t have some of the challenges some families with autism have. But there are things that are hard. And there are things that are absolutely wonderful, amazing, and magical.
I am not in any autism support groups or anything, and often don’t feel like I have a place to talk about the joys and challenges of autism. I advocate for him fiercely. And sometimes it is hard knowing what might be poor behavior that he can do something about, and what might be autism.
But recently the hardest part for me is not only his lack of affection but his resistance to affection. I want so much to hold him close, to hug him. To tell him I love him. I love this boy so very, very much. And he is so resistant to any type of physical affection or words of affirmation.
He is a great big boy now. He is nearing 6 feet tall I think, and only 13 years old! And I want so much to wrap my arms around his great big boy body and hug him close and tell him I love him. And for it to be reciprocated.
And it breaks my heart.
One day he had fallen asleep on the couch. I walked him up the stairs and tucked him in bed and told him I loved him. He said “I love you too, mom.” Words I will never forget he said, and may never hear again. And it was magic!
And he is Amazing! And I love him with all of my heart.
I’m a Freak. I’m broken. I’m damaged goods. No one will ever want me. I don’t fit in. I’m fat. I’m Ugly I’m not smart enough. I’m weird. No wonder no one likes me. I’m lonely. I’m so very very lonely. I’m stupid. I’m lazy. I’m not good at *that*. I’m not very pretty. I’m so unorganized. Why can’t I pull things together? I’m disappointing everyone. I’m failing at all aspects of my life. I’m worthless. What is wrong with me? I look disgusting. I’m lonely. I’m so incredibly lonely.
These are all things I said to myself this week. These are all things I thought this week. Some of them were just thoughts in passing as a passed by a mirror. Some of them were things I actually said out loud to another person. This is my inner dialogue. If someone says these things to another person, it is called abuse! If someone is being fed these kinds of words daily and weekly, they are being abused. Yet, this is my inner dialogue. The things I tell myself all day every day.
I have no self esteem. I feel inadequate around other people. I am lonely beyond belief. I long for a companion or companionship. I worry that no one will every see my worth. No one will ever want me. Because I am broken. I am damaged. I am a freak. I worry that I will always be lonely.
But if you want to know the truth about me, I am an amazing person. I am a daughter of God. A queen in his eyes. I am an incredibly mother of 5 children. I have absolutely amazing children who are all of incredible worth and they are incredible people. And I am raising them. I am raising them by myself. And I am doing a dang good job. And it is hard! And it is amazing! And it is rewarding! And it is worth it! I am going to University. I am studying Early Childhood Education. I am studying to become a teacher. I will be a fantastic teacher. I am doing well in my classes. I am smart. I absorb the martial well. I have a sixth sense about the inner workings of young children. It is all very intuitive to me. I am a baby/young child whisperer. (Yes, I know that sounds dorky…and dorky is more negative self talk for you.) I am compassionate and kind. I am patient. I am a good listener. I am a great photographer and use my talents to better peoples lives. I have hobbies and I am always seeking new adventure. I live by great principles based upon the teachings of Christ.
Then why do I feel so worthless? I do I feel inadequate? Why am I so incredibly lonely? Why is my inner dialogue so abusive to myself? Why do I have no self esteem? How can I start believing my truth?
The topic of breastfeeding in public has come up. I live in a culture where there isn’t always accepted to breastfeed in public. Some might say it is immodest, possibly obscene. This opinion may even spill over if a mother is completely covered. Sure, I’ve gotten comments or looks from strangers. I’ve witnessed whisperings and even blatant loud comments directed to someone, but meant for me to hear. I’ve been told to nurse in a bathroom. I think I’ve had more positive experiences than negative. A smile. A comment about how great it is that I am nursing my baby. A man on an airplane who was accommodating and and receptive of me nursing my 2 year old next to him. A security guard at one of the Museums in Washington D.C. about how great it was for my baby, he was three by then.
It seems the harshest criticism came from my family, both directly and indirectly. “Isn’t it great how your sister-in-law covers up when she nurses.” “So, you just whip it out.” “Don’t you wish your baby would nurse covered”. “Nobody wants to see that.” Yes all comments I heard either about me breastfeeding or about breastfeeding in general.
To those who have been told to nurse in a bathroom, or cover up , or leave the premise. You are amazing. You are beautiful. Way to go giving your baby the best start in life.
I’ve been working with the Amethyst Network for a few years now. We have had a difficult time getting it fully off the ground like we would like. Recently we have had some renewed effort and are giving it another big push. Currently the Amethyst Network is fundraising and friendraising. We are trying to get some funding for Education and support. Support our website, get pamphlets and brochures to hand out, and further develop a doula program. Through the friendraising we are hoping to connect with other like minded organizations to be able to better support Women, Families and Doulas. Please check us out! Like us on Facebook and Visit our Indigogo fundraiser.