Kate, of Finding Cooper’s Voice, was recently doing an interview with a parent who has a kid on the spectrum. They were talking about all sorts of things, from the other parent’s story to how their story compares to Kate’s. It was a pretty typical conversation but then something was mentioned that really stood out to me.
They talked about how painful it can be to experience the little (and not so little) cuts of emotion that happen regularly as a parent of a child with autism. Things like seeing a neurotypical child that is the same age as your kid, and recognizing the massive differences that are there between them. How much that stings. How, at the beginning, that feels like a bad, bad cut. A serious injury. But over time, how it turns into something more like a paper cut. Yeah, paper cuts sting but they don’t require medical attention and they heal pretty quickly.
And boy, that analogy has STUCK WITH ME.
A few days ago, a new neighbor and her little girl came over. Elizabeth was playing on our front porch at the time. She was very happy to see this woman – this new person – talking to her older sister and daddy. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner at the time so I could hear some of what was being said by everyone, and everything Elizabeth was saying because she is very loud, lol. When I heard her say, “I love you, girl!! I love you, Mommy!!” I was a bit crushed. Elizabeth has started telling us that she loves us lately, just randomly throughout the day when she’s happy and feeling good. Hearing her say it to people she’d just met was sweet but it also stung because obviously I had thought it was unique and special for us.
I am glad that she acknowledges new people, welcomes them and shows she’s happy! But it made me sad, too. I experienced very mixed emotions, for sure.
That night, and the next morning, I started trying to deal with the emotions. I worked through exactly how I was feeling in an attempt to move on. I DO NOT want to find myself stuck in autism pain anymore – I was in survival mode for over two years because of it, and am only three months into a new life right now, so I am VERY careful to process things in a healthy and timely manner as they happen. So what Kate and the other parent had said about pains being like paper cuts came back to me and it really helped.
If I look at painful experiences as a sting that will get better sooner rather than later, I think it can really help me to move forward. Yeah, I can deal with paper cuts.