I have always detested crying. A very big influence in my life taught me at an early age that women who cried did so for one of two reasons: 1) Weakness or 2) Manipulation. Not to mention that any time there was ever a “fight” in the family, if someone cried they were seen as conceding their point and submitting to the others. So I learned she who cries loses and is weak, unless of course it is part of her master plan to force another to do something she wants. Is it any wonder that I do most of my crying in the shower where no one can see my tears or hear my sobs?
My first attempt at Al-Anon was back in the spring of 2010, and I can honestly say that I cried through the entire meeting. My life was in a state of chaos that I could not escape, my heart was heavy and my tongue was cruel. My views and subsequent actions had become skewed and unmanageable, which was causing me more stress and depression than I could endure. Although it was my first meeting I found the courage to speak and tell them why I was there, through my sobs. Amazingly enough no one viewed me as weak or a loser when I shed those tears. They assured me that letting the tears come would heal my soul as much as sharing my story. Really?!? Could tears actually be something that I did not have to apologize for, or feel ashamed of? Unfortunately that attempt at Al-Anon only lasted a few short months before “life” got in the way and I stopped attending meetings. I tried to work the program on my own, but it just is not the same without the fellowship, unconditional love, and support of other members. My full commitment to Al-Anon began on January 3, 2012. I am proud to say that I cried through most of that meeting as well, and left feeling lighter than I had in months. I know that when I need to cry, I can do it safely with my Al-Anon family and there will be no judgment only love, support and hugs.
Crying at home is still hard, but I am working on it. As with everything in my life it is One Day At A Time, or sometimes One Hour At A Time, depending on the day. My wonderful husband seems to always know when I need to cry to heal, and he will take me in his arms until I can cleanse my heart through my tears. I am always thankful when I am done that he still loves me, supports me and thinks that I am a strong person. He truly is a gift from God to help me conquer my demons and become the woman I know I can be. The amazing part is that whatever drove me to tears never seems so bad after I have dried my last one; maybe that is because I am no longer bottling up all my angst, fear, stress, disappointment, etc… “Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see Life with a clearer view again.” – Alex Tan
As much as I realize that my tears are necessary for me to remain a reasonably sane and serene person, I have also come to the conclusion that our Autistic daughter’s meltdowns and tears are equally necessary for her. As much as it “kills” us to hear her cry and see her so distraught and sad, it is what she needs to feel better and release all that sensory information and energy her neurological system can’t process. Even when we have a great day, she may not be able to transition, or “come down” from our activities of the day and she will meltdown until she can calm her system enough to feel “right” again. We used to put so much energy into preventing the meltdowns, but now take a different approach. We know she needs that release to function and return to her usual happy, crazy, loveable, wild-child state. Therefore now we put our energy into keeping her safe and as comfortable as possible during her readjustment period. We try not to scold, but to speak softly and lovingly until she calms down and cuddles the rest of the episode out with us. Please Note that I said TRY, we are not perfect and some days we yell and scold because we are at the end of our rope, we are not proud of those days but we can use them as a teachable moment for her and us. Progress not Perfection is our motto, and she sees us make more than enough mistakes and apologies to know that perfection is never a requirement for love in Our family.
I will not say that we don’t consider the pros and cons of attending functions and such, because we must consider everything in our life and how it may affect her sensory system. Our goal is to create the most Sensory-Friendly paths as possible for Our journey. If we know she is having a bad day, then we may have to cancel all our plans and spend a quite day at home. Although we are learning and working on accepting the meltdown as a necessary part of life at this time, we can limit them or lessen their severity, by not assaulting her sensory system with people, places or things that we know are going to possibly put her into an overwhelmed, overloaded, and over-stimulated state. We must always be vigilant and weigh our options when deciding how far outside of her comfort zone we want to nudge her. We must also be prepared for the consequences of those “pushes” into the unknown. Sometimes we will have amazing results and a terrifically happy, excited little girl; however other times we will have a terribly sad, distraught, hysterical little girl. It is those moments, our triumphs and our hindrances, which we share with Our family and friends. We are not bragging or complaining we are simply providing an insight into Our Autistic journey so that people understand our daughter and can have realistic expectations of her and Our family.
Our journey will be filled with countless emotions, ranging from downtrodden to ecstatic. Whether our emotions are happy or sad, tears are a natural part of life. We cry from joy as much as we cry from sorrow. We will not allow our children to grow up fearing their emotions, or worse being ashamed of them. We are slowly embracing tears in this house, because they provide us with the healing power of release. Yet again I must thank my Al-Anon family for helping me create a healthier life for my Special family. One cannot have a rainbow without rain, and we love the rainbow spectrum. In the words of John Vance Cheney: “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.”
Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.