Autism Is A Gift?

Before I start, I need to state how hard this was to write. I cried all through out. I share this because I know I am not alone and I would love to meet others struggling with the same. If this offends you… I can’t help what I feel and I won’t apologize for it. I refuse to suppress anymore.

My husband and I decided to have our child. It was a mutual decision. One that made sense to me at the time. I wanted the experience of motherhood earlier in life. I was with someone who I knew would be an amazing parent. It felt perfect.

When expecting a baby, we tend to wonder what the child will be like. We imagine pigtailed princesses, tomboys, tiny all star athletes and the semblance of yourself somewhere in this little being.

None of us realize that having a child does not guarantee that he or she will be healthy or even disabled. It isn’t in our wildest dreams. Actually, it’s something that’s tucked away somewhere so far beyond your conscience, you might even feel it’s impossible. At least that’s what the experience was like for me.

I gave birth to a son. Ethan. His name brings a smile to my face. I fell in love with everything about him, from head to toe. I loved everything about being his mother. It brought me joy and pride to watch him grow. It created a curiosity in me that resembled a hunger. Who was he? Would he love video games and baseball like his dad? Would he hate small talk and crave discussions of our existence and conspiracy theories like his mom?

Ethan was 6 months old when his pediatrician told me he wasn’t hitting his milestones. She recommended that we contact early intervention to have him evaluated for any sort of delays or disabilities. I declined. I was told by every mother I knew, that all children grew at their own pace. That’s what was happening here. That was all.

Ethan learned to sit and crawl later than was expected. He took his first steps when he was a year and a half. Still, I believed this was normal. What kept me up at night was that he wasn’t talking. No phrases. Nada. I would attempt to play with him at home or I’d take him to the park. He no longer made eye contact with me. He no longer smiled or interacted with me. He didn’t respond to his name, to my voice. I was a ghost. It hurt. God did it hurt.

I told myself I’d contact early intervention if he turned two years old and was not speaking. I found myself making that phone call shortly after his second birthday after seeing no signs of improvement. The process went rather smoothly and Ethan was to be evaluated by a psychologist.

The psychologist was scheduled to visit with us at our home. She turned to me in under five minutes of her visit and told me my son was severely autistic. I felt like I’d received a hard punch to the stomach. Autism. My son? I didn’t know anything about it. It didn’t run in my family. It didn’t run in my husband’s family.

All these thoughts and fears ran through my mind. That’s it, his life is over. He’ll never lead a normal life. He won’t grow to become a man who will get married, go to college, have the ability to support himself.

In that moment, I wanted to die. I’d recently found out I had a life threatening Illness that I didn’t know I’d survive from. Hearing this broke what was left of me. I was doomed. My son, who hadn’t even begun to live his life, was doomed. I cried and cried until I thought my body had run dry. But…I couldn’t allow my emotions to paralyze me. I folded away that pain and put it away. What was the next step? What could we do right NOW to help him?

Ethan went on to receive at home, multiple hour long therapy sessions with ABA therapists, speech therapists, OT specialists, and PT specialists 5 times a week. Any service he qualified for, we made sure he got.

He began attending a center based therapy daycare, where he received all of services. He rode his first school bus at the age of 2. Once Ethan aged out of the first location, we worked closely with a social worker and with her help, got him into the best preschool that provided the services that Ethan required.

Through out this process, I didn’t allow myself to fear. I didn’t allow myself to cry. I didn’t allow myself to be human. I struggle with anxiety, which usually has a lot to do with panicking over the future. I couldn’t even feel that. I couldn’t help the diagnosis, but I could help how much I did to help my son. So I immersed myself in that.

I was sick and Ethan needed me, so I became a stay at home mother. It wasn’t where I ever saw myself in life, but my body needed to heal, and even if it didn’t, my son needed me. I would have never forgiven myself if I hadn’t done everything humanly possible to help my son progress. In my eyes, who my son would become in the future would be a result of the parenting he received. If that meant I needed to be home for him to receive his services and for me to learn teaching/therapeutic tactics to help him as well, that’s where the fuck I was going to be.

So, this is my life. I’m a stay at home mom to an autistic child. He is six years old now. He loves cars, anything Minion related, counts, sings, requests things (food especially). All on his own terms, of course. His room becomes a jungle gym during sleeping hours. He doesn’t eat anything unless it’s crunchy. He is unable to dress himself. He needs help with most basic things, including using the bathroom. I currently change his diapers.

It took me a long time to muster up the courage to talk about this. Why? I didn’t want people looking at my son with pity. I didn’t want people finding out about his diagnosis and automatically viewing him as the poster child for autism, without even getting to know him. I didn’t want unsolicited advice from inexperienced parents who hadn’t even heard of autism. I didn’t want my parenting bashed. I didn’t want to be incriminated by other autism mothers for not pretending this was a breeze or being unhappy. For not using the correct terminology. I didn’t want to hear the asininity that comes from crude people who glamorize having a disabled child, like my strife was invalid and an exaggeration.

Worst of all, I did not want to hear the phrase I loathe the most: Autism is a gift. A gift to whom exactly? When my son is crying out of frustration because he can’t verbalize words he knows and understands, do you think he feels this is a gift? Do you think he feels it’s a gift when I have to change his diaper with cold wipes in the early morning? Don’t you think at this point he feels it’s intrusive? Is it a gift that he has to be held down by five people in order to be examined because he’s scared of being bound down? Is it a gift that we use a high chair and a stroller at the age of 6? Is it a gift when he can’t enjoy a movie at a cinema like the typical child can because this disability doesn’t allow for it? Is it a gift that he has no sense of danger and could kill himself if not consistently monitored?

Saying autism is a gift is dangerous. Its divisive. It doesn’t allow for authenticity. It’s the reason mothers like me isolate themselves from the world. We cannot relate to parents with typical children, and we can’t relate to the hard core, sanctimonious, politically correct autism parents who claim to do it all like it’s effortless. We feel there is no support for us. I don’t want condemnation for not acting and feeling like our world is fantastic. I don’t want criticism for confessing that this isn’t easy and that it’s painful every single day I watch my son struggle.

If we could choose a world where autism did not exist, that’s the world we would pick. That’s the cold honest truth. To hear autism is a gift is like a slap in the face. It undermines the struggle both parent and child experience. It dismisses the agony I STILL hold so heavy in my heart because I am still mourning. I’m in mourning for the child I idealized while I was pregnant. While I love my son, while I would do everything in my power to make sure he’s taken care of, I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.

What I want the most someday? To sit with my son one day and have a long, in-depth conversation with him. To bond and learn about him. To find out what’s going on in that little head of his. If I never get that, that’s okay as well. I will always love him unconditionally. He’s my breathing, walking and talking heart. I just wish more parents were talking about this. I just wish more parents were honest about how hard this is. We could use the support. I know I could.

Dear Cat Callers,

You are one of the reasons I opt to stay home. I’ve dealt with you since the age of thirteen once my breasts came in. Some of you old enough to be my grandfather, sprinkling me with your filth. 

As I grew older, I became angrier. I’d hear you hiss like a deflating tire. Fury came upon me as my teenaged self turned around and screamed obscenities in defense. You didn’t think I was beautiful after that. You didn’t want my number after I ridiculed and insulted you. Now you’ve decided I’ve got a flat ass and wasn’t “all that” anyways. 

When my sister began to develop, you’d decided that she was your new piece of fresh meat. Attempting to bombard her with your garbage in sheer daylight, I felt red, hot infuriation flood through my veins. Both of us minors, my sister four years younger. I’d run up to you, angrily declining all of your disgusting “compliments” and reciprocating with contempt and disrespect. 

I don’t want to hear you, I don’t want to see you. I am tired to death of life sized, head tilting stares. Glaring from my feet and moving upward, intrusively trailing your eyes along the curves of my body that I’ve grown to be ashamed of. You never really care to look into my eyes though. None of you do. I guess it doesn’t matter what I feel, does it? 

I’m not a person to you, I’ve never been. My sole purpose in your mind is to be nothing more than a visual snack with delusional potential. A toy for perverse use only. 

I don’t leave my house without a pair of headphones. Cranking up the volume to drown out the sounds of cats in heat. Looking forward, pretending not to see the skid row of losers craving attention. Wavering on the sides of the street, lined up like The Walking Dead is holding auditions for zombie extras. 

On that rare day I forget to charge my headphones, I walk briskly down the street looking to make no contact with you. Darting straight towards my destination. Now I’m faced with you and have no choice, I’ve resorted to spitting out a “Thank you” with disgust. 

Why? 

I’ve watched too much of the news. I’ve seen every episode of Law and Order. I know that sadly, if I reacted to you the way I had so many years ago, I’m putting myself at risk of a potential assault. I think of all the possible ways you are capable of physically hurting me. 

I know how this world works. I know all it takes is one person to become the trigger. Then comes the next bloody headline. I want no parts. So I comply and force myself to choke out a “Thank you”. I pick sexual harassment over a potential assault. This is the choice I make every single day I decide to step out into the world. 

You’ll never know the anxiety, panic and shame you instill in women all over the world. You make women think twice about something as simple as going to the store. You make women cross the street when she’s reached the middle of the sidewalk to avoid your presence. 

You have the power to ruin the way women and girls view men as a whole, and you do it all too well. You have the power to ruin the way women and girls view themselves.    

Yes, you sitting on the milk crate with the same outfit on for three days straight, bottle poorly costumed in a torn wet paper bag. You are a career dignity butcher. 

You may look bad on paper, but each and every one of you have accomplished to make at least one girl feel like sewage. What an achievement! No please, bask in your triumph. 

Fuck you, 
Kristin 

The Trend That Is Pessimism 

Ever notice how people will complain about their lives while often excluding the good that is also occurring? We cry and moan about all that is wrong, and either turn a blind eye to the good or choose not to talk about it at all. Like a lie of omission, almost like happiness is something to be ashamed of. 

Somehow, at some point, it became really cool to be super apathetic, cynical, and negative. Bitching has literally become the preferred method of bonding amongst peers. 

If you post photos of yourself on social media out of confidence, you’re considered arrogant. This really bothers people. Why? Maybe you love your body and have accepted the skin you’re in. Maybe you’re proud to show that off. Where is the crime in that? 

You talk about that promotion you got, you’re bragging. You probably worked your ass off for that position but may feel reluctant to talk about it to avoid bothering others. Have you ever wondered why it annoys others? Why do we care about what people think enough to bury our happiness and join the pity party? 

You mention how well your relationship is going, you’re full of shit. Why? Why is it so hard to believe that two people may actually be delighted and satisfied with one another? 

Talking about the good in a relationship doesn’t mean it’s perfect. It means you respect your partner enough to work your disagreements out only amongst yourselves. It means you honor the privacy and intimacy of your relationship. It means it’s not anyone else’s business and you don’t owe anyone additional details. 

So, don’t feel pressured into joining the commiseration club. Even if everyone you know is a member. People can’t believe in another person’s capability of bliss because they don’t allow themselves to feel that way. 

You don’t need to be amongst those who pick apart every aspect of their lives and only concentrate rough patches while neglecting every blessing. You also don’t need to be around someone who cannot be happy for your happiness. They don’t love you. Simple as that. Why? Because they don’t love themselves. That energy is cancerous. It will stunt your growth. Run as fast as you can. 

You are responsible for your own happiness. If you’ve found that, good for you. Wear that shit like a badge of honor, even if the glare is too blinding for the energy vamps. 

Is Tarot Evil? 

Ahhh… a question that all tarot readers are presented with. Well, here is where I stand…

I consider myself an agnostic. I believe that there is SOMETHING out there. In my mind, with the experiences I’ve gone through, I feel there has to be a higher power. 

Whether it is She, He or Them, I’m not sure. I will never be sure. I won’t pretend to be sure. An atheist would say there is no proof. There also is no proof that a higher power does not exist either. 

I grew up as a catholic. I went to catholic school for nine years. I completed the sacraments. I learned all about the Bible. I wasn’t given the opportunity to go out into world, to then decide what I believed. The decision was made for me. 

As a woman with her own thoughts and point of view, there is a lot in the Bible that I don’t agree with. There are many things I don’t stand behind. So, it never made sense to me to live my life, under a belief system I didn’t agree with or condone for the sake of family tradition or fitting in. It never felt… right. 

I respect anyone who’s beliefs are different than mine because I believe your relationship with your higher power is personal and for you only. It is not for me to judge. It is the way you choose to live your life, simply put.

 I would just like the same respect in return. Telling someone they are going to burn for the rest of eternity isn’t exactly kind, let alone respectful, regardless of what denomination you subscribe to. 

I believe that whatever is out there, would want to provide guidance for those who ask for it. I believe tarot is a practice to help you get in touch with that higher power/s. Sort of like prayer, a way to communicate. I believe tarot is a tool that helps you tap into that spiritual being we all contain, deep inside. 

So… IS tarot evil? 

I can’t answer that. At the end of the day, it’s all subjective. As adults, it’s up you to decide what you believe. Our beliefs are only glorified but sacred opinions. That answer lies within you. Not me. 

Dear Self, 

You washed the dishes. That’s a big fucking deal. You HATE washing dishes and you pushed through. You didn’t want to brush your teeth, you did. You didn’t want to shower, you did. Didn’t want to wash your hair and you did. You pumiced your feet. You watched numerous things to laugh to lift your mood. You practiced self care. You’re even journaling. All while being fucking depressed. It’s a big deal. You’re doing a good job. Don’t beat yourself up for what you couldn’t or haven’t done. Give yourself credit for that. Be proud of yourself for that. 

This is what you’re supposed to do when you’re depressed. You’re supposed to take responsibility for yourself. You’re supposed to identify what’s wrong, and try to help yourself. You’re supposed to practice your coping skills. You did that. You’re supposed to try even though you don’t want to. You pushed through it. 

I know you may not feel this is a big deal, but if someone else told you this, you would congratulate them. You would tell them to be proud because they could’ve chosen to do nothing and they chose to fight. 

If you had chosen to do nothing, well, that’s okay too. Our best does not look the same everyday. Staying in bed could be your best one day and that’s fine. You’re doing your best today. I love you. I’ll always look out for you. 

Remember, this isn’t you. This gloom and doom you’re feeling. The sinking in your gut? That’s depression. It’s a disease. You’re going through the symptoms and you’re fighting them. I’m proud of you. 

Love, 

Self  

Stop The Bullshit: I Can Smell You From Here 

Can we stop the bullshit here? 

Can we stop pretending we are too cool to be in pain? 

Can we stop behaving like the trauma we experienced in life didn’t leave us wounded? 

Can we stop pushing our emotional anguish aside because we are too shameful to acknowledge something is wrong? 

What is being achieved with all this denial? 

Perfection does not exist. Everyone has their faults. Everyone. 

What do you gain by pretending otherwise? Look at where you are at the moment. 

Are you proud? 

Do you want to be the person you are at this VERY moment, for the rest of your life? 

If not, you’ve got a lot of soul searching to do. You’ve got to admit to a lot of truths that may agonize you. 

So take a good look at yourself. Not your car. Not your paycheck. 

Moving forward isn’t about your financial status. It’s about being genuine with yourself. It’s about telling yourself the shit you don’t want to hear about who you are and confronting it. 

Take a good look at the mirror. Is this it? Is this the level of maturity you’re satisfied with? 

Can you look at your reflection and tell yourself that? Look into your own eyes and tell yourself that shit without cringing. 

Do you really want to be the same person, living in the identical cycle you were exposed to as a child? Do you really want to be THIS person at the age of 40? 50? 60? 

Listen. I’m not perfect. Far from it. 

I see a therapist 4 times a month. My sessions are not easy. 

I admit things about myself that I’m ashamed of. I confess to actions I’m not proud of. 

I sit there and listen to feedback that I can’t bear to hear because it hurts too much. 

Why? 

Because I WANT to be better. I want to outgrow the bullshit. This is important for me. I want to be a better mom. I want to be a better spouse. I want to be a better person. I want to live a fulfilled life. 

I don’t want to find myself in the same dysfunctional cycle a lot of you like to pretend doesn’t exist by the time my hair is gray and I’m menopausal. 

I don’t want my child inheriting all the negative characteristics I developed in life because that’s how I CHOSE to raise him. 

So… stop it. 

Enough with the pride bullshit. Enough. 

Love yourself enough to be honest with yourself. 

It will initially sting.

I promise you, you won’t die from confronting your demons and putting them to rest. 

You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Why I Fell In Love With Tarot 

I fell in love with tarot when I was 15 years old. I walked into Barnes and Noble with a gift card I’d received for Christmas courtesy of my god mother (Thanks Jackie!) and purchased my first deck. A classic Rider-Waite deck. I became consumed. I read books to learn and memorize the definitions of each card. I gave myself readings constantly. I’d ask about boys and all the dumb shit one stresses as a teen. I was always scolded by my cards, who would tell me to concentrate on school and more importantly, myself. They weren’t lying, all those boys were shit (Lol) and it was great advice. I just wasn’t hearing it because it wasn’t the feedback I wanted. 

I began to read for anyone who would permit it. My mother, my sister, my best friend. I read for an important man in my life. He had a history of mental Illness. He struggled with everyday life, including being stable enough to be a proper father and spouse. He had the habit of walking out on his family whenever things got hard. He would say “I’m going out for a walk” and would disappear. Turning his family upside down from the financial and emotional abandonment, they would struggle to pick up the shattered fragments that became their broken life. He would come back months later, and his vulnerable spouse would take him back, only for him to continue his poisonous pattern. 

I shuffled and spread out my cards and began to read about his life. Every card revealing the bits and pieces that made up his life as a whole. I remember looking up at him and telling him “My cards are telling me you live in a state of limbo. You need make a concrete choice and stick with it.” He slowly looked up at me, surprised, stunned and shamed. I think he was expecting to hear something lighthearted. It was as though he thought we were sitting down to play “go fish”. He clearly didn’t have much faith in the practice until he felt exposed. He never allowed me to do a reading on him again. 

I continued to read for family and friends as I grew older. I loved everything about it. The surprise on people’s faces, the clarification it brought, the way it aided people facing tough decisions. Like everything else, it became something of the past. I stopped doing a lot of the things I loved when I got depressed. I stopped writing. I stopped singing, another love of mine. Finally, I stopped reading tarot. My life resembled a desert after a while. Dry and no sign of life. 

Years later into adulthood, I made friends with a woman (Hi Tabby!!) who low and behold, loved and regularly practiced tarot. From all of her decks, to the way that she spoke on the topic, I felt a sense of yearning inside. She offered to give me a reading. I was NERVOUS. I realized I’d never received a reading. I was always on the opposite side of the reading. My life felt like such shit then. What would she uncover? 

I pushed my fear to the side and proceeded. I can’t compare it to anything else. The reading was so powerful, it made the hairs on my body stand. Everything she said resonated with my life. The messages she provided me with were both encouraging and gave me the strength to push forward in my life. With the information she gave me, I knew things would improve. She told me I would be undergoing a personal metamorphosis and I did. This has been the most transformative year of my life and I’m proud of that. That reading made me realize I was not doomed. Just in a bad place temporarily. 

After that, I jumped right back into tarot. My deck was a gift, this time by friends. I lost my original one in the process of moving. I became addicted. Purchasing deck after deck, I immersed myself into the world of tarot once again. 

It occurred to me after sometime, that I could do this for a living. I could do this from home, over the phone. As a stay at home mom, it was important to me to be able to earn a living while caring for my son. 

I could help people get through some of their worst times. I could be that beacon of light for someone. For this reason, I do not refer to myself as a tarot reader. I am a metaphysical counselor. My sessions are personal and revolve around providing others with guidance. I heal and tarot is my beloved tool. 

So, the rest is history. I took that leap of faith and decided to start my own business. The fulfillment I receive is priceless. The feedback I get when I’ve helped someone through a tough time is so rewarding. I am meant to help others through their trials and tribulations. That is my calling. I know that I am in the right place. I know I am where I belong. 

I feel like I’m a much better reader now. I have a plethora of life experiences. My intuition is stronger. I am wiser. More importantly, it brings me joy. It sets my soul on fire. Isn’t that the passion we should all be chasing? 

To book a reading with me, email me at metaphysicalcouncel87@yahoo.com. 

Welcome To Hell: The Mixed Episode

This piece is a little different from some of the previous ones I’ve published regarding mental health. Today, I am writing to you while I’m experiencing a mixed episode. I don’t usually write or am in the mood to do so when I’m unwell. I thought this was important to share so, here I am! 

I feel like monkey shit today. I feel like doing everything, all while feeling chained to my bed. I feel like a drank a thousand energy drinks, yet my body won’t move. The only thing it’s energized is my racing mind I cannot seem to silence. 

My mind is like a fish attempting to swim up uphill against the currents. So many thoughts zooming back and forth at the speed of light. Yet, I feel bound and tied down. I hate these days. I feel on edge and am ready to snap at anyone who breathes in my direction. 

These days, I feel useless. I’m not productive. This is the third day, and they sort of fluctuate. There are moments I feel better through out the day. Then there are the crappy moments, like now. 

To be clear, let me explain what exactly a mixed episode is. According to Web MD, a mixed episode features refers to the presence of high and low symptoms occurring at the same time, or as part of a single episode, in people experiencing an episode of mania or depression. In most forms of bipolar disorder, moods alternate between elevated and depressed over time. A person with mixed features experiences symptoms of both mood “poles” — mania and depression, simultaneously or in rapid sequence. 

Fun right? One of the wonderful gifts that comes with the package that is bipolar disorder. Statically, suicide rates go up when a person is experiencing a mixed episode. 

I have to fight it though, because that’s what I’d tell you if you told me you felt this way. It would make me a hypocrite not to. Today, my journal is my best friend. I’m pulling out the coping skills. I’m allowing myself to rest. Most of all, I’m trying my hardest to forgive myself for not being able to function the way I would typically. If I don’t, I may worsen or aggravate the episode. 

Why am I writing this? As I’ve said many times, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. No one is talking about this. People who are suffering are in denial. People who want to talk are ashamed. You need to know you can have a life with this disease. Like any other disease, you will have bad days and good days. I recognize that I am not perfect. Sometimes, my best is kick ass on a Monday and not so great on a Wednesday. There is no room to feel guilt though. Only room for self care. Hang in there. You will tough it out. I will tough it out. 

The Growth Trick

Write a list of ways you’ve matured mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the last 5 years. Don’t talk about your possessions. Write about who you’ve become. Write from the core of your being. Thats where everything manifests itself. 

After you’re done, credit yourself towards your personal achievements. This is a big deal, changing, let alone wanting to for the better is far from simple, yet you did it. Pat yourself on the back! 

If you find that your list is short, take the opportunity to write about the ways you’d like to change. Do you want to be more confident? Do you want to be more tranquil? Do you want to be more in control of your emotions? Do you want to be a better parent? A better spouse? List them. 

People who came up with long lists displaying tremendous improvement, congratulations! However, you aren’t exempt from doing this either. 

Growth is something you pursue your entire life. To be complacent and to be stagnant is no life. It is self paralyzation. Love yourself enough to make YOURSELF happy. Push YOURSELF in the right direction. 

This Is Anxiety 

Fucking shit. You want to know what anxiety feels like? 

Anxiety feels like forgetting everything you’ve ever known in your entire life in an instant and being completely frozen into place. 

Anxiety is having to run back and forth to the bathroom as your stomach churns, bile burning at your throat. 

Anxiety is feeling fucking insane for being scared of everything that is actually nothing at all. 

Anxiety is saying “No” to your dreams because you don’t feel you’re good enough. 

Anxiety is that bloodcurdling, hateful voice that won’t stop screaming. 

Will you ever shut the fuck up? 

Anxiety is that icy presence that creeps into your bed, engulfing you in its piercing embrace, depleting the energy out of you. 

You cannot breathe. 

The oxygen flees the room, slipping away further and further into the night. 

It’s taking your spirit, as you stare with red rimmed eyes, helplessly into the sky,

Choking and clawing at your throat hysterically,

No matter how much you try,

You know there’s no escape; 

You see, anxiety is only the prison that lives in your brain.