For the last few months I have been working on my next book. I am sharing what I now understand about the human experience within the context of living with and caring for a person with autism.
Here’s a taste….
Kyle was sick a few weeks ago. Not just sniffles. Shivering under the covers sick. Flu and bronchitis knocked him out for a full week. It’s taken him awhile to bounce back to his energetic self and slip into the groove of his norm.
Since the illness, he’s been struggling with getting into the shower. It doesn’t look to me like he’s afraid of the water. Or not wanting to be washed. There is something about positioning his body to step in, over the side of the tub. His reaction has been one of sheer panic.
While trying to assist him, I felt tension within myself. Resistance. A resistance to his resistance. My thinking: “oh no, this can’t be happening. He usually gets in the shower without issue. What if he never gets in the shower again. We need to get this done so he can be ready when they pick him up. Not another obstacle!”
A swirling brew beneath my consciousness, the thoughts rolled on and on, fast and furious like a hailstorm. The more mental resistance I got into, the more stressed and tense I felt. I found myself trying to physically and verbally cajole him into the shower. Pushing.
Oh yeah. Pushing against his panic DOES NOT WORK.
I had a moment where I had the sensation of watching myself in a movie. I paused and took a step back. It was obvious we were not getting anywhere.
I found myself settling down. Just like that. Without effort. The thoughts blew through and I was left with a question. Now what?
How about Plan B?
I’m good at Plan B ing. Plan B is obvious. I’ve done it before. Wash him out of the shower. Layer the floor with towels, get the soap and do the job in this alternate location. He was fine with that. And after a moment, I was fine with it as well.
When I settled down I was able to hear what I knew. There is always another way. And in this case the other way was a no brainer. Been there, done that. When I can hear beneath the static of my thinking, my inner GPS knows how to guide me. At first it’s faint, and then the volume gradually increases to tell me what I know.
With my resistance out of the picture, I put plan B into action. Everything flowed from there. Peace settled over both of us. We were able to get the job done with grace and ease and the results were good enough. Hair washing would wait for another day. And it was ok.
Later on, an insight popped to the surface of my awareness.
Resistance is the source of my stress, our stress as humans.
That’s right, resistance.
I kind of knew this. But it was as if I rode the elevator up a few more floors and saw it in a new way, at a deeper level.
Resistance, arguing with what is, shows up as a feeling. And not typically one that feels good. Stress, anxiety, worry. And much more. We feel it in our body. It can adversely affect our health. It paints our reality.
But here’s the thing. And it’s a really really big thing.
Resistance is made of the energy of thought.
Resistance = Thought
Thoughts create the argument with what is. They push back. They kick and scream. “He CAN NOT be having trouble getting in the shower, he always gets in the shower, why do simple things have to be so hard? Still!”
When I am in resistance it’s like someone has put a sack over my head. Old stale thoughts repeat themselves like a broken record. I don’t see anything new.
Thoughts, while made of energy, appear solid. They paint a picture of reality. Just like a movie, I am drawn into the story 100%.
Until I wake up. And the storm passes. The lights go on in the theatre. The thoughts fade, making room for a new batch. Wisdom and intuition. Knowing.
And there, right there within the fresh energy of knowing, is plan B. Shiny and bright like an aha. Or perhaps a duh. Possibly something I’ve done before but looking brand new to me in the moment. Suddenly reality looks completely different. A new movie.
Autism is often symbolized by a puzzle piece. We are searching for a missing piece that will yield a solution. A fix.
But what if a piece of the puzzle is something to notice and understand rather than something to fix?
Resistance against autism, an operating system that uses a different processor.
Resistance against the smaller picture day to day things.
Resistance against the bigger picture overall quality of life things.
Resistance against the entire autism package which colors the world of my child.
What if we knew that it is not our child and not autism making us unhappy, stressed, and miserable? But resistance. Transient and thought created. Not necessarily in our control and prone to dissolving on it’s own accord.
When I see it for what it is, resistance eventually melts in the sunshine of my understanding. Without effort on my part. Sooner or possibly later.
And in its place is direct access to my innate wisdom and well being. To my ability to figure out how to make things work. To good enough solutions like a wash cloth and a bar of soap in the middle of the bathroom.
To a fresh understanding.
To getting on with our day.
And our life.
Not the one in the “how it should be” box.
But the one that takes place in real time.
Moment by moment.