Stop Sharing Those Autism Updates/Memes

World autism day is in two weeks. It may or may not make it onto a meme, and you’ll be asked to share for at least one hour, and I’ll know who my true friends are by those who also post this update for an hour. 
STOP!!! Good god, could you get any more passive aggressive?! Great way to guilt someone into posting a stupid meme or update that no one, other than those who share to ease their own guilt or because they have really huge hearts, reads or cares about.
Look. Leaving a status update up for an hour, supporting the understanding and compassion about what life is like with autism is all fine and dandy, but it changes nothing about the mindset of the ignorant. In fact, they’re not even reading those memes or updates. Neither am I and my kid has autism and my friends kids have autism. I hate those updates and I loathe those memes. They’re a waste of my time and yours. No one is reading them and those who post them are doing so with good intentions but it’s not necessary. 
Autism is great, crappy, horrible, awkward, uncomfortable, joyous, shitty, depressing, soul sucking, awe inspiring, amazing to live with. But a status update won’t change the minds of people who are shitty and without compassion (the people who would still, in this day, call my kid a retard). And it also doesn’t show how compassionate, supportive, and understanding you actually are. All those updates are? A means to make you feel shitty. If you don’t share it then you obviously are horrible. 

You’re not horrible. You don’t need to share. No one is even reading it. 

If you want to change their minds, or if you want to be supportive, then share interesting videos about what life is like with autism. Share stories about the amazing things people with autism do. Share the horror stories that people with autism live with. Donate money to a local autism support centre or school and tell people about the great things that charity is doing (heck – tell people about that great charity without donating). Tell your friend who has a loved one with autism or has autism themselves that if there’s anything they ever need that you’d love to help if you can. Tell them honestly, too, that you don’t understand their struggles, if they have any, but you’d love to help and you’d love to get to know them better. 
Sharing a status update, which probably isn’t even during autism awareness day or month (which isn’t as often as those memes and updates would have you believe) gets lost in the fold of everyone’s pictures, updates, memes, and videos. No one is paying attention and once they figure out what it is you’re saying, they’ll move on. 

If you want to share those updates and memes, go right ahead. But if you don’t see others, including autism parents, sharing it, know it’s not because we don’t care, it’s because we know they fall on deaf ears and eyes, including our own, and that that’s not the way to get a message across. Life isn’t a chain letter. Jesus won’t save a kid because the picture got so many likes and shares. Sorry. Pray and offer your services instead. It’ll be much more appreciated. 

legacies

The idea that after all our long life lived, all that we’ve seen and done, felt and heard, the relationships we have formed, broken, and people we’ve loved, it all means nothing in the end. 
The truth is, unless you bring something to the table, something that will earn you notoriety, in two generations, if that, you will be forgotten. Your children and their children will remember you. After that, there’s nothing. No one will remember the food you made, the jokes you told, the way your eyes lit up when you smiled. No one will remember how you smelled, no one will remember the sound of your laughter. No one past your grandchildren will remember your hugs. 

The adventures you’ve experienced, the stories you lived, the things you created, the dreams you followed, it all means nothing in the end. No one will remember your memories for you. No one will retell them and keep you alive. For that is how we live on. Our legacies are our stories. They live on in our friends and family. When they’re no longer told, we’re no longer alive. 
You will eventually be insignificant so you must make your now amazing. 
In the telling of their stories, we do so with love, humour, honour. When they pass and we lose them, we stop telling their stories so that we can keep those memories close to our hearts. Like little gifts. We think that if we keep them inside that they’ll be more precious and special. That they will be more meaningful to us. It’s not true, though. They will only fade that way. They will fade with us, along with our memories and stories that other people tell. 

Your people, your ancestors, your history. It matters where you come from. WHO you’ve come from. By saying it doesn’t matter you’re saying that someone’s life was insignificant. No one’s life is insignificant. They, and their legacies, are just far away from you. 

memory and memories

Time is a thief. I have memories of my childhood that are beautiful and sweet but minute details have failed me. How a lamp looked. How tall someone was. What their teeth looked like when they smiled. Details that seem unimportant are lost to me. 
Feelings we remember. We’ll never forget how something or someone made us feel. And we’ll never forget what it feels now to look back on a memory, as we remember it, as we experienced it, and as we experience it now. 

Smells can instantaneously bring back to us our forgotten memories. The sandbox in our kindergarten class. The smell of my Nana’s perfume. The smell of my grandparents property in the springtime. I remember these things and suddenly feel in awe of how amazing the universe is. 

But I feel cheated when I cannot remember, without assistance, the dimple in someone’s smile. When I can’t recall what my favourite lamp looked like. What hung on the walls above a couch. What the upholstery looked like on a favourite chair. It feels as if my brain and memory are cheating me out of a piece of my heart. These memories are insignificant in the grand scheme of things yet these minute details are the pieces of a larger puzzle. To lose those means to lose a piece of magic from my life. 
It’s tragic that you can forget something that was so beloved for so many years. It’s a reminder of how easily we forget, and how much we take for granted: memory and memories. 

The Long Game

We don’t know the long term effects of any of our new technology. Just as the inventors of penicillin didn’t originally know the long term effects. Or the telephone. Or the bomb. Or the gun. Hell, typewriters were probably frowned upon for taking away from the handwritten letter when in actual fact it made business easier, more efficient. 
We think we’re seeing the demise of humanity because we’re comparing to the past. It’s the only vantage point we have and we’re using it for “the end is nigh” campaigns. We think the world is worse off because we’re comparing it to the knowledge we have of the past and glorifying how easy, simpler, and better things were. But the truth is, there were numerous reasons to think a skirt above the ankles would bring about the ruin of society. It didn’t. Nor did women voting. Or emancipation. Or Elvis Presley’s hips. 
We have to play the long game, which is what humans are good at. As long as we keep our humanity and compassion in the process then we will survive, just as we’ve always done. 

Notes from my phone (again)

Tears inexplicably fell, as if they weren’t pouring forth due to my emotions but were little prisoners escaping for their lives. 
My sadness was so deep and palpable that a piece of music could, and did, move me to horrific sobbing, regularly. And not the that-time-of-the-month sobbing, but the sobbing that comes from so deep within you that each tear and each sob feels ancient, as old as your own soul. 
I listened to this music, nightly, in an attempt to free my tortured soul from emotions I could not comprehend. At 15 years old I was tired like an old fisherman. I wanted to lay down and sleep and never wake. I never wanted to die – I was far too in love with life and myself for that – but I was exhausted from holding everything in and spending nearly ten years pretending that everything was ok and being strong and resilient. Adults love to use that word when they talk about tragedies, sad things, or trauma that kids deal with. Kids are stronger than we think. They’re resilient. 

Kids are weenies but we say these things in order to ease our own guilt for what they’ve suffered and our inability to truly help them. There’s a process we all must go through to. 

I was living proof that I was not resilient or stronger than anyone thinks. I was dying inside and was too proud and afraid to ask for help. Anytime I thought I had a handle on my life, something else came along and screwed up the progress I thought I’d made. 

There was no progress, by the way. What I thought was progress was me merely building a Berlin-sized wall around my pain, hoping there would never be another 1989. That no one would attempt to free each moment in my life that had scarred, maimed, or bruised me. I had everything under neat, prettily wrapped paper and I appeared to be just fine, thank you very much. At least I thought so. To anyone else, I don’t know how it appeared. I’m sure at first I seemed fine but after a while, things became clearer. 

That I was treading water. 

The truth was that I was coming apart at the seams and I had no one to help sew me back up. A father who was busy with whatever flavour he was cheating with, a mother who was busy immersing her own pain, and a brother who was suffering an equal amount of coming-apart-ness. Our trajectories were not towards each other like normal families are supposed to be. We were going far and fast from each other, as quickly as possible. Each a reminder of the pain we suffered from, caused each other, caused ourselves.  

I hated them all. I hated myself more, but I knew they couldn’t help me, were unable to help me, and for that I hated them. We all had individual and together problems far greater than me. We were hopeless and broken. Not just broken as a family unit but individually, we were each broken. A China set that is cracked and broken, missing half its pieces, scraped and the gold trim is gone. We were ugly broken. And we were each unable to help the other, thus forced to suffer alone. 

The sad part is that it was an epidemic passed down. We learned from our parents how to be broken and that would be passed on to our own children. We were a family of not just heartbreakers but souls, too. We were soul breakers. Crushers. 

I had to hold it all together by myself, for myself, and there were days when I managed. Get up, go to school, go home, go to dance class, go home. But in there I suffered from such anger, fatigue, and pure mental exhaustion from trying to keep it together that making it home at the end of the school day was a feat. I slept on the couch for two hours. Get up, eat, dance class, home, lay in bed and cry for three hours straight. Repeat. 
I have never figured out how to deal with the size of the Berlin Wall that I built. All I’ve been able to do is fill in the cracks and build it higher to cover the ever increasing pain. Never ask a question that could topple it all. My emotional sanity rests atop a weird balancing act of trying to stay calm at all times, trying to be happy, trying to keep everyone else happy, and trying to protect my heart, all while continuously building and repairing this stupid wall. 
It’s become habitual, this self preservation. I wouldn’t even know how to deal with my pain now if I tried. There is so much more pain attached to other pain. I’m afraid if I pulled one out, the rest would follow like some cheap magicians kerchief trick, spilling out onto the floor and I’d be left cleaning up the mess alone while everyone stood there and watched, my pain and sadness, fragility and frailty, a spectacle for all to see, watch, and comment on in hushed whispers. 

Blink

At night, when the lights go out, it is then that the shadows emerge. Reminding me I am merely temporary in a world of forever. A blink in time, my self forgotten, remembered by no one, forever carrying on without me. 

The shadows cause anxiety, panic attacks, cursing humanity for being conscious of their selves. I squeeze my eyes shut to try and silence my brain, my fears, my anxieties, and try not to picture you, choosing to start your forever so early on, but there you are, on the inside of my eyes, and I remember I cannot escape the shadows. They, you, are forever part of me. And I cry. I cry for you, me, us. I cry for you, your soul, your consciousness, wondering where you are, if you feel, think, exist beyond me. I cry for me, the pain I’ve caused, the pain I’ve suffered, the unknown to me. I cry for us and our woven tapestries. I cry and cannot help the tears to stop falling. They exist as I do – blessedly, magically, mysteriously. 

How painfully long our forever is and our here is but a second. 

And I spend these moments with you, as always, wondering where you are. I carry your pain with me and mix it with my own, painting a canvas on my broken soul with our broken hearts and our sadness, intertwined. 

So many articles are popping up of late about pedophiles or being sexually molested as a child, and it’s brought on by the Duggars and the news that their son is clearly disturbed. I’m not here to talk about that.

I’m here to figure out how you’re supposed to live with the knowledge that you never sought charges against the man who molested you, yet you know people who think he’s just the greatest man. What right do I have to name him publicly if I refuse to charge him? Because I want more than anything to shout to anyone and everyone who this disgusting piece of shit is. Why should he get to live the quiet life when I’m left with scars?

Side note: I do not know the law and I do not know whether I can actually charge him with anything, considering it’s probably 30 years since it happened (I say probably because I’m unsure of my exact age when it happened – I guess between 6 – 8). However, what I do know is that were I to charge him and have to go to court, I don’t know that I would want to be revictimized. The law says he’s innocent until proven guilty so, as his accuser, I must prove him guilty. Lord knows my father would deny the whole thing happened (as he did over the phone with my brother) so I would have only my mother as an after-the-fact witness (totally not a legit thing). That’s not my concern. My concern is myself and what toll it would take to go through this. What emotional toll would I be faced with if I had to publicly, out loud, describe what this man did to me? To strangers who are scrutinizing me? And then to be cross examined by his defense lawyer who will paint every decision I’ve ever made as a poor one and make me out to be a downright horrible human being when what we’re not here to discuss is myself but the man who sexually assaulted, sexually molested, sexually penetrated me as a child

I couldn’t do it. I honestly don’t think that I could do it. And knowing that, is it fair to ever speak his name when I refuse to find the courage to charge him, when I refuse to give him the chance to defend himself as our law allows?

Or, by typing all of that, am I somehow protecting him and taking the whole incident back onto myself as my own burden to carry, and not his, or ours together?

He sings and plays guitar and there were two songs that always reminded me of him. I played them to myself so often in order to change the meaning behind them. I took them as songs of pain and misery and shame and turned them into warrior songs. They still remind me of him. Nothing could ever remove the scar he seared into my soul, but these songs are no longer shamefully attached to him. They’re now mine, proof that despite what he may have done to me, I am a Phoenix. I rose from the ashes of a broken child. The child he sexually assaulted and molested. She died and in her place I began to live. I began to thrive and it took me many years to accept that what was done to me was not my fault, that I am now risen. Scarred from the flames and stronger for them, tender though they may occasionally be.

I shall not name him but I do believe the pain he is in today physically is karma slowly torturing him. And I hope it is painful.