Get to work, get to work
You can change. You can’t change the world
In regard to my post on feeling impotent in the honesty section, there is a difference between feeling and reality. And the fact of the matter is, after time, you will need to act. You can’t add a chromosome or work overtime to fix a developmental delay, but you can learn all you can about your child’s issue. You can read all you can about advocacy. You can become a bulldog in fighting to get your child everything he or she needs in terms of therapy and care and medicine.
15 minutes at a time
Most people don’t know what to say when they discover you have a special needs child and the fact is I don’t talk to most people about it (as odd as it is as this is open for anyone to read, I still don’t talk to most people about it).
But, in the wake of A’s birth, I really, adamantly didn’t talk to anyone outside of my wife those first few months. Too much confusion in me. Too much rage. Too much of a chance for the short fuse in me to be lit. And I didn’t want that and I knew that they wouldn’t want it either.
I caught a few of the clichéd sayings, but tried to ignore. Would do almost anything I could not to strike out. Buried my feelings in myself.
Then there was my Uncle Mike. He invited me to dinner. I gave Uncle Mike the exception. Within a five year period, Uncle Mike had lost one son to drowning in a bizzare boating accident and another to suicide. He was single, divorced and alone in this world. He had seen the dark side of life – seen? He had experienced it – and was still living through it. He had the fortitude to push forward with amazing resillence .
We sat at a corner booth in an Applebee’s of all places to discuss the struggles and emptiness of life. Mike gave me a few pieces of advice then. One, he said, was when people give you the empty platitudes, just to smile and nod and walk away. Secondly, he said, some people say, “One day at a time.” That’s good, but he said on a bad day, he would go:
“15 minutes at a time.”
It is a mantra and practice I have adopted on dark days. Just try to get through the next 15 minutes, then the next 15 minutes. Maybe eventually the next hour. You think about the future and you can be beyond overwhelmed. You think about the present and you can feel the same way. Just 15 minutes at a time. You will make it. Then, maybe, when you’re ready, one day at a time. But start small.
Find your outlet
I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a healthy outlet. An outlet for your anger, frustration. An outlet for a way to not only channel these swells of emotions, but also to find an outlet for escape. Pure escapism in itself is tempting. A quick drink, a TV binge, the desire to plunge into any easy sedative to ease the stress and pain is always there. But I recommend something stronger. More constructive.
Like what? Exercise for example is a great fighter against depression. You’ve got these emotions and the best thing one can do is channel them. I find that exercise not only provides a good way to release any pent up emotions, but, of course, it is healthy as well.
Art is another option. Yeah, I know not everyone is an artist per se. (I love making music and it saves my life some days). But even flinging paint against a canvas and then setting it on fire is better than simmering in unresolved emotion. Art is wide open to interpretation. And that leads me to landscaping. Hate gardening? Okay. Well then find some trees that need cutting down. And use an old axe. And don’t be afraid to unleash a yelp when you fell the tree. Trust me, you will feel better for it and the neighbors can get over it.
There are tons of other outlets that I won’t cover, but my point is find something constructive for a distraction, a release, an escape. Hiking. Golf. Woodworking. Otherwise, the temptation is to sit in your despairing state or, worse, turn to quicker and easier means of pleasure to ease the pain on this journey.