By Brigitte Shipman | March 1, 2021. | Autism, Mother Guide, Acceptance, Autism Diagnosis
When I slowly started to get up from being down on my knees and to stand on my own two feet after hearing my son’s autism diagnosis back in 1996 (which felt like a life sentence back then), I began to question everything. My heart was filled with pain so I went to my head and tried to make sense of what was happening to my son.
I started searching for evidence that “they” the professionals were wrong. They did not know my son. He was gifted, he has so many talents, he will talk when he is ready and on and on.
Then I would get a hard cold slap of reality when I witnessed his lack of social skills at the city park. He had no interest in potential playmates. I watched the other children engage effortlessly as I watched Joseph play alone in his own world.
My roller coaster ride of denial went on for months. I followed the professionals' advice with therapy and worked with Joseph around the clock but my heart was fighting our harsh reality of a lifelong disability.
I have defined denial as a natural defense to protect our hearts when the pain is too big for our mother’s soul. We all have pain that is too big and so until we can move through pain, we fight with all our might to prove that perhaps it is not true. I know that is what I did.
What I have learned is that denial is what many of us do when our pain is too big. Denial keeps us from a possibly difficult situation. We find reasons to not take action towards something that we know is calling us.
Acceptance in essence is how we set ourselves free. Once I accepted that Joseph was autistic, I began to move forward with full force to help him thrive rather than what was just required. Now I had my full mind, body, and spirit on board.
Getting to acceptance has no standard compass that anyone can follow. It is simple but brutal. We must feel our pain. Once we begin to feel our pain we can move into accepting what is before us and what is in the moment.
The truth is, you only have a forecast of what is to be, and all you know for sure is what is in the moment. I see my son who is now 28 and living on his own. I have no crystal ball that lets me know if he will succeed and be happy in his life. All I know in this moment is that he is happy and excited to see what is next. If I had tried to forecast his future when he was diagnosed, I would have had a much darker outcome based on what I was being told.
Acceptance is giving yourself permission to come out of the darkness. To break out of what might or might not be true for the future. It is all about taking a breath and having faith that you got this. Whatever this is. The truth is, your story of the future has not been written yet. You can decide to edit and make the outcome much happier. No matter what, all is well.
I know firsthand how huge fear can be to get up off your knees and begin to accept the work and pain that is before you on this journey. I also know you can do it with love, support, and hope.
My hunch is that reading this is triggering your pain and maybe you are not ready to begin your journey out of the darkness just yet. What I say to that is, perfect. If your pain is too big today then do something for yourself that feels like a warm, soft blanket wrapped around you when you are cold. Nourish yourself.
If you feel like you might be ready to take your first tiny step towards freedom with acceptance, then I am going to offer you very small steps to break free from your pain.
Tiny Step Towards Acceptance:
Remember to be kind to yourself above all. When you practice self-kindness, you are able to have the strength to set yourself free and live with acceptance of your pain.
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