I just wrote an angry rant. As I was getting set to publish it, someone tweeted me about something unrelated. They wrote that in order for people, who may be feeling desperate, to hear what you (the universal/general you) have to say, there is a need for kindness, and it stopped me in my tracks. Kindness… In my fury I had forgotten all about kindness and I felt like a balloon that had just been popped. Pfssssst… All that lovely anger that was protecting me from all those other feelings I have, oozed out. Pffffffssssst. And you know what I was left with? Sadness. Overwhelming sadness and something else. Fear. Tremendous fear.
Sadness and fear do not make me feel powerful. Instead they make me feel vulnerable. I don’t like feeling sad and vulnerable. I want to feel powerful, but all of these things are illusions at best. Just because I feel powerful does not make it so. Just because I feel vulnerable does not mean I am.
Someone wrote on a public forum that they were heart-broken over a mother who tried to kill herself and her child. They followed that thought with this, “she was given a burden she could not bear” and I felt like someone had kicked me in the solar plexus. You see, I take those words personally. They may as well have said that they believed that about one of my children. Please, please, do not say a child, any child is a burden. Even if you believe this to be true, do not say those words in public. Do not. This is what private support groups are for. This is why people see psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, this is why we call close friends whom we love and trust and who we know will honor what we say in confidence and keep what we say confidential. In moments of terrible pain all of us can and do say things that upon further reflection we wish we hadn’t. We think things we do not really believe in moments of upset. We may even act on these things that we think and say, these are the times we wish we’d said and done nothing.
Not every feeling must be acted upon. Not every thought needs to be said out loud. Please, when you say someone’s child is a burden and that it was too great to bear and that this was why they tried to kill that child, it places a stigma on all our children. This kind of language terrifies me. I am terrified someone who believes Autistic children are a burden will come into contact with my child and treat her accordingly. Please if you believe Autistic children are a burden, if you feel their neurology makes them inferior, do not go into the field of autism. Do not convince yourself that you will be able to help that person, you won’t. Feeling sorry and pity will not help or make that person’s life better. In addition, when we believe another person is a “burden” it is being suggested that there are situations when it is acceptable to not be held responsible for what we say and do. It is being suggested that, to hurt someone we believe is a burden, or worse, take that person’s life, is a reasonable thing to do. It’s not. It’s not okay. We cannot, in our desire for compassion, allow this to ever be okay. It is not okay.
Finally, if you truly believe someone, whether it is your child, someone else’s child or just in general, is a burden, please talk about these feelings and thoughts with a professional or someone you trust who can help you work through these beliefs with compassion and care. If you do not know where to turn or do not understand why this kind of thinking is problematic, email me privately so that I can try to better explain or can find someone who will be able to explain this in a way you can hear. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org