Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quest for Acceptance: Conversation

Since first posting about my quest for acceptance, I have been thrilled and relieved at the conversations that have begun. Conversations about what is "special needs" to what is "normal" to what is "acceptance" have all been discussed with great sincerity. I have been pleasantly surprised by people's willingness to discuss these subjects and even to set aside any feelings of judgment.

The openness of the conversations makes me wonder what would we learn if we were willing to set aside prejudices and judgment and have open, honest conversations about taboo subjects such as teen pregnancy and contraception, and debt and finances? What could we learn if we were willing to admit that we have faults and need help and advice from those who have gone before us?

The only thing that keeps me, personally, from admitting my weaknesses is the fear of being judged, and the fear of being told that my feelings are not legitimate. What would happen if we accepted the fact that not everyone is happy and successful in every situation?

What if we set aside judgments and criticisms and accepted that each person is an individual who deserves to be heard?

Thank you to everyone who have opened their hearts and minds and listened with such sincerity. It encourages me to be more open and honest with all of you and in that I live more authentically.

There will be more posts to come on Acceptance, but it may be a little while in coming. This quest will be ongoing for quite some time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quest for Acceptance: Cliff Jumping

Cliff jumping is the sport of jumping off a cliff into a deep pool of water. The thought of cliff jumping sounds like quite rush! Free falling through the air and hitting the cool water below sounds exciting. But then...I rememeber....I can't swim! Yes, literally. I can tread water, but swimming from one end of the pool to the Thus, once I hit the water, those with me would have to jump in to save me, dragging out my flailing body and ruining the fun for everyone! So, cliff jumping is completely disregarded as a possible sport for me.

Yesterday's post seemed a bit on the heavy side, so to ensure my friends and readers that I am not considering cliff jumping, I wanted to share a little more today.

While cliff jumping is a good metaphor for acceptance, bungee jumping is probably a better. In cliff jumping you have no one to catch you at the bottom; no one holding the rope if you will. In bungee jumping you have people there and a very nice, heavy bungee rope to catch you before you hit the bottom and bring you back up to safety.

It has been a little over 12 hours since my last post, and already, I have had several great, thought provoking comments, and two wonderful conversations. I realized today that those friends and family with whom I have already spoken to are the ones at the top of the bungee looking out for me and encouraging me. While I feel like I am cliff jumping with no support and no one to catch me or rescue, the truth is I have friends all around me who are a greater support than I realized.

I remember the Sunday after my son's diagnosis when my friend, Liz, said to me, "You two are a perfect match." She was talking about my son and I, but other than that I was clueless to understand what she meant. I asked myself, "what does she know about me, that I don't know?" The answer is a LOT! Even though, I am not good about sharing my feelings, my friends see who I really am and strive to understand me. I don't hide my true self from them. Why? Because they don't judge me, and they encourage me! Even not knowing the full extent of a situation, God uses our friendships to encourage us. Liz's statement has stuck in my mind and remained a constant source of encouragement to me. But, it is all to God's glory because he put her in my life to be one of several who will watch the rope as I bungee jump... or who would jump in after me should I choose to Cliff Jump!

I would be remiss if I did not encourage the anonymous person who stumbles across this post, to go out and live authentically and make some true friends and allow God to encourage you through them.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Quest for 2010: Acceptance

I pondered this post for a long time before sharing it with you, my readers. Last year, I shared a quest for Connectivity through which I gained such insight that it literally changed my outlook on life. By opening up my own quest for general discussion with family, friends, and anonymous readers, I learned so much more than I would have ever learned on my own. Pursuing a quest on one's own is never as successful as it is when in the company of comrades.

My new quest is for acceptance. No, I am not talking about acceptance to a club or clique, but the last step in the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

It was through the counsel of a person who has walked in my shoes and who shared with me some profound wisdom, that I realized that I was grieving the loss of motherhood or more specifically what I dreamed of as motherhood.

As a mom of a special needs child, she shared with me her walk through the five stages of grief after the birth of her son. Like my son, when you look at her son, he looks perfectly fine, but lurking beneath the surface is a horrible medical problem that would profoundly change her life, her husband's life, and the life of their eldest son. She shared that you have to grieve for the loss of the dream and perception of normalcy. She shared how she had traveled through the stages finally ending up at acceptance. She finally accepted that her son had medical problems, but that it was okay, and that she would be spending a great deal of time in doctor's offices and surgery waiting rooms.

"You have to work through the same five stages of grief till you can accept that your life is not normal." I was in tears as she explained all this and for the very first time put words to what I was feeling and unable to put words to.

You see while my son looks normal no one realizes the anguish that I feel because he is not 100% healthy. I am reminded daily of that as I wait for a dirty diaper or clean up spit-up from yet another acid reflux bout, or as I sit in the second or third doctor's appointment for the month with yet another specialist.

My son's diagnosis with 7q11.23 duplication is only a title to sum it all up: constipation, acid reflux, hypotonia (low muscle tone), speech delay, an undiagnosed sleep disorder, and various eye sight issues which require glasses and patching for two hours at a time. We see six specialists and our pediatrician twice as often as the average child for weight and growth checks. Twice he has been in the failure to thrive category. His speech has not progressed since he was eight months old. In order to achieve even the most normal milestone, it takes great effort on not only his part, but mine, and his occupational therapist. Every milestone accomplished is because he was taught by me or his therapist.

So I grieve and I pray.

The Quest for Acceptance: Permission Granted

I grieve, and I pray. I grieve because while most parents make playdates, we make doctor's appointments; while most kids play at the park, we are at therapy. And I pray that one day my child will be normal, that he will grow out of his problems, that nurture can overcome the horrible genetic hand that nature dealt to us.

No one tells you that you can grieve over something other than death. No one tells you that you can grieve over the loss of a job or loss of health. No one tells you it is okay to feel the deep sense of loss when a dream never comes to fruition, whether that dream be motherhood or something else entirely. Some people have told me that it can always be worse, and I should be thankful. Grieving does not mean one is not thankful; it merely means one is forced to accept what was not originally planned.

So for the first year of my son's life, I was in denial. I accepted that things were just outside of normal. Then he was diagnosed at 14 months of age, and I moved to anger, bargaining, depression, and back again to anger overlapped by bargaining and depression.

Today, I sit at the precipice of acceptance. I say that only because I give myself permission to grieve. There are days that I am angry...angry with God...angry with myself...angry with people around me. There are days that depression overwhelms me, and I feel darkness closing in once again. But, through all the tears acceptance is near and acceptance is the quest. What does acceptance look like? I don't really know. What does acceptance feel like? I don't know that either. What lies beyond grief? I don't know that either. But, I give myself permission to grieve, so that I may see what is beyond grief. I give myself permission to ACCEPT!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reason # 5--Why I don't have time to blog

I joined a band!

Now, I know I have no musical talent whatsoever, but the Bible says "Make a joyful noise!"