“Be nice to each other” – this was the final sentence Emma wrote to Soma on Friday before we flew back home. She wrote it in answer to Soma’s question, “Any message to the world? To mankind?”
Be nice to each other.
We returned home late Friday night. I was riding on a cloud of excitement, newly found realizations, solid, unequivocal confirmation and proof that not only is Emma completely aware of her surroundings, but she has profoundly wise insights into the world, other people and herself. She is one brilliant girl. She has managed to learn despite having almost no formal education, she knows her multiplication tables as though she’d been studying them for years. She knows how to solve mathematical word problems, she understands things I have only come to understand very recently and her compassion for others is astonishing. She has been spoken harshly about. She has heard what others have said about her in front of her as though she could not hear or understand. She knows what others think of her, and yet, she understands these things are said in ignorance.
So excited was I, that I slept fitfully, and Saturday morning awoke to blinding, crushing, devastating sadness. I felt the weight, the enormity of my daughter’s life and my role in all that has happened to her these past nine years since she was diagnosed. My mind latched on to each and every misstep, the mistakes piled up so quickly, one on top of the other I felt I couldn’t breathe. I spent Saturday in a state of crisis. I completely broke down. And the thought that continued to blast in my mind was, “How will I ever find my way out? How can I forgive myself for what I’ve done? How does one forgive another who has made the decisions I’ve made? In essence, how can you forgive what is unforgivable? And yet, she has. And therefore, so must I.
Be nice to each other.
And here is the thing about all of this. Berating myself, hating myself, NOT forgiving myself allows me to continue the cycle. It wears me down, threatens to break me when I need to be strong. But I also know that when I am overwhelmed with feelings, telling myself that I must not feel the things I am feeling, does not make them go away. Tamping the feelings down, pretending they do not exist, none of that actually helps me move through them. Criticizing myself for hating myself does not make me hate any less. And so I accepted that this was where I was. And for one day I sat with all those awful, painful feelings and felt them. Neither pushing them away or adding to them by criticizing myself for having them. I sat with them one excruciating hour after the next and allowed them to be. And all the while I repeated Emma’s words, Be nice to each other. And I allowed that to include myself. By Sunday morning I felt my strength returning. I felt that old determination returning. I could feel energy flowing and I knew. I knew. As long as Emma gives me permission to, I will tell all who will listen, at least some of what she is writing.
When I asked Emma yesterday if I could write today’s post using her words as the title she nodded her head, yes, and smiled. Last night before going to sleep she said, “Mommy? No school tomorrow? I don’t like new school.” And so I promised her, I promised I would do everything in my power to help her school understand, but I know I have one hell of a battle before me. And I need every ounce of strength I’ve got in me. But maybe, just maybe some of the video clips I have of Emma writing these things will have the power to change even a few minds so that they will be swayed and will come to understand what I have. Not only is my daughter capable, she has a great deal to teach us, but all of that will be lost if we are not willing to open our minds and listen. This is the non autistic limitation of our neurology. This is our neurological deficit and we will have to work mightily to change that.
Emma at Halo – September 26th, 2013