I’ve written about this before. Writing, writing that really reaches out and pulls others in is about honesty. Even if you write fiction, it’s still about honesty, the feelings portrayed, the dialogue; it has to be honest for those of us reading or we can sense it. We know something’s a little off. Sometimes it’s hard to pin down, it doesn’t seem obvious right away, but I’ve found it’s because I don’t believe what I’m reading. It’s not entirely honest. I have had this experience with my writing. I have written things and then wondered why it didn’t feel quite right and it’s because I either hadn’t dug deep enough or I wasn’t being honest, which in many ways is the same thing. Self dishonesty is one of the most difficult things to spot. I spent years and years in a place of deception, of hiding from myself, my feelings, my desires, my ambitions. I shut down. I hid and it caused great pain, not just to me, but to those who loved me. It’s hard work to be honest.
A couple of days ago I wrote about labels and my struggle to understand how and why they do not apply to our Autistic children. Why they cause damage, why they are destructive and not constructive. As is often the case, I use this blog to figure things out. I think of it as my sketch pad where I play with ideas and then either move on to the next sketch or work and refine. The pieces I work on a bit more, I often submit to HuffPo, I think of it as filling in with color and others I keep working on with the hope of putting them into a book, a finished canvas (this last part is very hard for me, sketching is easy.) But as I’ve also said, I’m a SLOW learner so sometimes ideas will fall easily onto the page, or in this case the screen, but not move beyond it. And that’s where the work comes in. Because ideas are great, but if I can’t take them to the next level they won’t go anywhere. Some things seem to take me awhile to really get, to fully incorporate in a way that they become less an idea and more a knowing.
So it was this morning as Em and I made her breakfast. I was thinking about labels and why they matter or don’t matter and why they bother me and cause me to ruminate and at a certain point I tired of the ongoing controversy raging in my head, so I forced myself to shift my thinking away and be present for my daughter. I was able to and eventually off she went with Joe onto the camp bus and I turned to my email and there was Outrunning’s latest post. Now for those of you unfamiliar with Outrunning The Storm, click on the name, I’ve provided the link. Did you read it? The post – How Do We Talk About This? I’ll wait.
Okay. So there it is. For those of you who didn’t click on the link, skip to the next paragraph, but for those who did, and if you’re like me, you also clicked on the comments and saw the first three from Moms who got what Outrunning was saying, who’ve been on the receiving end of exactly what she’s referring to and get it. They get it, or so it seemed to me when I read their comments. And then there’s my comment. Yeah. Okay. So I still have some work to do. I’m pleased to say that I did go off after leaving my comment and sobbed.
I’ve been very weepy lately. Partly I blame my husband’s absence, he and Nic remain in Colorado while Em and I are here in New York, so I’m a little off-balance. There’s a lot going on this summer and at times it all feels overwhelming, in a good way, but never-the-less overwhelming. But I think most of my emotional overload is due to the fact that Peyton and Dianne Goddard’s book – I am intelligent – has stayed with me, in addition I received an email from Emma (not my daughter, another Emma, who two years ago began to communicate through typing and has a blog) that both delighted me and filled me with emotion. I asked her permission to quote her and she has given it, but I want to be sure I also respect her and so will quote just two sentences.
“me name is emma and i am like peyton.”
“i am pleased if our emails teach people how to measure words or personal stories in front of people they think cant communicate..
Take a deep breath. Okay. Be honest.
I spent years doing this to my daughter, exactly what Emma is pleading that we not do. It has only been within the last year that I have stopped doing this. I have to make a concerted effort to refrain from the temptation. So I read Emma’s words again. I have memorized them. ”I am pleased if our emails teach people how to measure words or personal stories in front of people they think can’t communicate.” Read that again. There is no condemnation, no criticism, just a heartfelt request.
We are in this, all of us, together. Your version may be different from mine, you may have children, you may not, you may have someone you love who is Autistic or you may not. You may be Autistic, you may not. But we are all, each one of us in this together. There are Autistics calling out, trying to be heard, blogging, talking, communicating, asking for respect, asking for a chance to join the conversation. There is no conversation if a whole group is silent. Whatever group that may be. We are ALL served by listening, by sharing our experiences, by trying to understand. As human beings it is our obligation to be honest, to try to dig deeper, to listen.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
Richard, Me & Em – 2003
Nic and Emma – 2011