Denial to Acceptance

By Brigitte Shipman | May 20, 2021. | Autism, Mother Guide, Denial, Acceptance

Being a life coach and helping moms heal their mother hearts has also helped heal my own heart. I have gotten the question from other mother guides as they speak from their broken hearts, “How can I accept this diagnosis?” 

Just as we struggle to find answers for our children, we struggle to find the magic in healing our hearts. I want to share a paragraph on this topic from the book I wrote, Is It A God Thing? 

Looking back at all I have learned through this life experience, I finally understood what denial is. To me, it’s a mismatch between the enormous pain of the present reality and the limited burden that the soul can accept at that time. What Grady and I were denying back then was that the life we envisioned for our son was not the life that was to be. We realized that the single thing that could transform denial into acceptance was if our love for our son was greater than our love for the outcome we so desired.

This is so true. I had worked so hard to prove that there was a solution to all this pain and to find a way to make the diagnosis untrue. I was exhausted and never looked up to enjoy what was in any given moment. I missed the beauty right in front of me. My son was filled with joy and I was filled with sadness. I finally did find acceptance when I let go of trying to get a different answer than what my son Joseph’s diagnosis was. 

As soon as we suspected that Joseph was delayed in his speech, joy began to leave and fear slowly took over. All the what-if thoughts began to flood my mind and I filled up with anxiety before I even knew anything about what was before us. I had always said that a plan is just a plan but now I needed to learn how to apply this and let go of this daunting future that I imagined for Joseph.

Thoughts like these went through my mind:

What if Joseph never speaks?
What if he won’t be able to go to school?
What if he is bullied?
What if he never drives a car?
What if he can’t live independently?

The fearful thoughts went on and on and Joseph was only 3 years old. I look back at pictures and realize I had an intelligent little boy right in front of me with a smile that would stop you dead in your tracks. My love for my son was and is profoundly deep and lives in my heart. When I lost focus of this love, that is when acceptance of his diagnosis was not reachable. 

I looked at our life and our future with nothing but fear in my eyes. It is as if I was looking through a different lens. Everything looked the same a few moments before I heard the words that my son was autistic. Somehow my vision was altered in a moment. I no longer was able to see the beauty and feel the joy that I had felt before that moment. In an instant, all I could see before me and my son was a future of sorrow.

So, how did I get my sight back from seeing with fear to seeing with joy? It took me realizing that I had the exact same child I had before he was diagnosed with autism. He was and is one of the most loving and intelligent humans that I know. I began to shift my focus on what I did know rather than what I did not know. When I listed what I did know, the joy began to come back into my life. It is a shift from fearing the unknown to living with what is. 

Take a moment and list all the beautiful things you do know about your life. Once you have listed them all, read them out loud and enjoy the feeling of joy flooding back into your heart. Remember joy is always present. 

Acceptance for me is about knowing that love, truly conquers all. We can all accept that no matter how dark the future seems, it is only a thought, not what is. 

Today Joseph is 29 years old. I catch myself worrying, and then fear creeps in my mind with all the what-ifs. As soon as I feel the love I have for my son and remember what I do know to be true, fear leaves me. What I know for sure is that my son is more joyful than I could have ever dreamed of. He is a beautiful, loving son. My heart becomes full of love when I see him walk into a room.  

Autism Guide Brigitte Shipman Coach

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