One of the things I’ve felt particularly confused by is why my daughter sometimes resists communicating. My thinking has been – why would she resist doing the one thing that will help her get along in this world more than perhaps anything else? The other day, I had a moment of clarity. I came a step closer to “getting it”. And now, I think I understand. Not only do I think I understand, but I am able to identify and relate to that resistance, because, I realized, I do it too! There are a number of things I resist doing, even while knowing that if I just did them I’d feel better and would be able to weather the vicissitudes of daily life a bit better. I’d be happier, calmer, less anxious, and yet knowing this, intellectually understanding that this is true, does not make my resistance any less.
I know being mindful and in the present gives me clarity and a sense of calm, I do not otherwise have. I know this, and yet find it extremely difficult to be completely present for more than moments at a time. My daughter has little problem with this. In fact, Emma is far more comfortable in the moment than anywhere else. I remember when we were inundated with therapists coming and going during those early years of fear and panic. Richard and I used to comment on the irony that Emma was completely present and in the here and now far more easily than we were and yet we were constantly encouraging her to talk about tomorrow or yesterday or any number of other topics that had little to do with NOW. We were pushing her to move away from the bliss of this moment to join us in the fear and anxiety of the non-present moment, all for the sake of the larger picture, which in our minds was to have her join us in our world. Even though our world was fraught with expectations, hopes, dreams, wishes and the inevitable disappointment those things often bring.
We used to joke that if we could bottle what Emma came to naturally we would have no cause for worry. And that really is the crux of most conversations. They are usually not about the here and now. They are almost always about some other time, some other idea, some other person, some other concern that is not now. And yet…
I resist being in the present and Emma resists being pulled out of it. And yet, we non-Autistics continue to insist our world is better, or superior even as many spend thousands of dollars going on spiritual retreats, reading books about meditation and going to workshops to teach us how to “sit”. So the question I am now asking myself is this: Can I find the grey area of encouraging Emma to communicate with me, something that is difficult for her and pulls her from the bliss of now, while giving her plenty of time to be present and just be? And what about my own resistance? Can I learn to meet Emma in her blissful place of now and resist the urge to go off in my mind to somewhere else?
Of course there’s always a danger in interpreting my daughter’s behavior as any one thing. Her resistance, like mine, is probably made up of many things, and this could be just one reason. Or I may have this entirely wrong and her resistance is about something that hasn’t even occurred to me. Or perhaps it isn’t resistance at all and is something else or I may find, next time we type together and when I ask her why, she will tell me something I hadn’t considered. And that’s the beauty of all of this, I can’t and don’t know until she tells me. Until then it’s just speculation and me projecting my stuff onto her. So that’s more for me to be aware of – seeing when and if I do that and understanding that I am.
Henry and I sharing a moment of laughter at Emma’s antics