Grace, Grit, and Gratitude

My son Kyle is in a rough spot. We call them cycles. Cyclical episodes of anxiety and agitation. They show up and hang around for awhile coming every two weeks and lasting two weeks.  It feels sort of like a different person takes over Kyle’s body for awhile. They are an add on to his already challenging autism.

Eventually they stop and don’t show up for nine months or a year or five. Sometimes the stopping is because we tried something and it helped (maybe?) Sometimes they just stop because it’s time.

They’ve been a part of our lives for twenty years but each time he goes into one there is an element of surprise.  His world becomes small for awhile and our focus is on health and safety. We have a system of sorts. And so does he. In many respects, he knows what to do. Though it looks baffling to us, he has a way of taking care of himself. Inner wisdom despite brain chemistry gone wild.

I’ve had a lot of different stories about these cycles.

I used to float down the river of misery kicking and screaming and feeling sorry for all of us. I described  them as debilitating, stealing his life, hijacking his soul. Poor Kyle. Poor us.

These days, I notice much less of a story. The cycles are part of Kyle’s life until they aren’t. We all do the best we can to live with them.

I still get fooled sometimes, but often I see the stories for what they are. And the heaviness I used to feel has lightened. This isn’t to say I don’t feel frustrated or upset or sorry for him and all of us at times. But my story is much less solid and much more fluid than it used to be. And therefore, my feelings are more fluid too.

Sometimes I just sink into the moment with him. Allow intuition to show me what to do next and next and next. With less angst and more flow, I discover a deeper place of love and compassion. From a creative space, solutions appear.


And sometimes I’m in resistance. Fight mode.  Flexing my muscles, putting my superhero suit on, analyzing and doing stuff to fix his pain. Errrr. Struggle. Swimming against the flow.


And then two weeks go by, and the cycle is over.

Grace and grit are replaced by a rush of gratitude.

My son, once again, appears to be at peace. And he gets to go out and participate in life. It feels nice to be grateful. Enjoy the ordinary moments that I see aren’t ordinary at all. I release the breath in the places I was holding it.

I see now that I don’t need to try to force gratitude.  Work at it until I feel it.  I can be with myself where I am. Even when it feels gritty.

That looks like grace.

This enables me to be with my son where he is, even if he’s in pain.

More grace.

And from a state of grace, gratitude is only one thought away.

gayle nobel