Wednesday, October 5, 2005

"Excuse me, but, we are learning something here."

I've often thought of my life as being similar to a roller coaster, not just as a reference to its severe ups and downs and twists and turns, but also to the voluntary aspect of it. We get on them on purpose to experience the rush, and I've often been similarly accused of doing things for the thrill, for something to write about.

These days, the roller coaster metaphor doesn't quite work, as the present ups and downs can't be considered a voluntary thing. Not even the overloaded extracurricular schedule, which is as much a coping mechanism as anything else. When I get stressed, I don't generally break down, but instead tend to take on even more. It's like when I was in the Army, at the peak of my physical conditioning and running everyday, the more tired I'd get, the harder I'd push myself to get across the finish line. Didn't matter if it was a 2-mile run, or 5-miles, or a 25-mile march. As a result, I'd often pull a muscle or twist an ankle for pushing too hard past my limits. But I always crossed the finish line.

So here I am now with a voluntarily overflowing plate heaped high with a hectic job (which I hate more and more with each passing day), increased responsibilities over at Buzzscope, and negotiating 12 college credits in my "free time." That'd be a lot for a single person, but it's borderline insane for a married person with two kids. Unless, of course, he's pushing himself beyond his limits to spread the stress out...

"Excuse me, but, we are learning something here." is from a comment the wonderful Christina Springer left over on Salomé's blog in response to a post about India's most recent [involuntary] ride on the Autism roller coaster. She has good days and bad days, and where even the good days can be tough sometimes, the bad days are heartbreaking.

But, as Christina noted, every one of those days we're learning something. Whether it's India learning to communicate better; or Salomé and I having to dig a little deeper to translate her needs on those days she can't do it herself; or making sure she always knows we're fighting for her and believe in her; or ensuring we're not shortchanging Isaac who in so many ways is a little rock we both lean on, even if he doesn't realize it -- every single day is a learning experience.

But it's a tiring one, too. And some days the small victories pale in comparison to the larger battle we're facing, and it can be overwhelming. This morning, Salomé mentioned a woman on a message board she's on that's been talking about giving up her autistic child[ren?] for adoption to someone better equipped to handle the situation. How she's found herself sitting on the couch staring blankly ahead for hours as her kids go unfed, and can't snap out of it.

And the thought of that struck me as one of the most tragic things I'd ever heard.

There is no feeling I can imagine worse than a sense of helplessness when it comes to your children. A feeling so deep-rooted and all-encompassing that giving them up not only seems reasonable, but is quite possibly the right thing to do.

I never want to come anywhere near that feeling.

Thankfully, our little family is strong. In some ways, I'm starting to think our time in Virginia was as bad as it was to prepare us for this. Virginia bent us, almost to the breaking point, but we held on and survived it. Whereas Virginia preyed on our weaknesses, though, autism is attacking our biggest strength - our love for our kids. Because of that, I know we'll survive it, too, no matter how stressful it gets, no matter what else we might have to sacrifice.

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant." --Horace

or, as Christina Springer put it: "Excuse me, but, we are learning something here."

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