It was kind of a morbid curiosity that I had... to find out what a person would "sound like", that was parenting three children with autism. Forgetting all appropriate phone protocol, I blurted, "I don't think that I would still be alive, if I had THREE with Autism! I think I would have lost it, and that I would be in the fetal position in my closet." I was embarrassed that I could not come up with something....anything else to say to this poor woman!
"Ah....If you don't mind my asking...How do you do it?.....I mean....how do you find it within yourself to get up in the morning and put on clothes and feed yourself.....and speak in complete sentences?! I just have one child with autism, and I just can't begin to wrap my mind around what it must be like to have THREE!"
Fast forward to the present day. I now find myself living and walking in the shoes of that woman. And I have lived to tell about it! Amazing! After I learned that my son had severe autism right before age three, I thought for sure that I would never be able to smile again. Certainly NOTHING in life could ever make me laugh again. Life was all heavy with shock and grief now. I could not imagine it ever including anything beyond that.
The amazing thing is that now, I love my life! Yes there are difficult days and beyond challenging experiences on a regular basis, but I have learned a set of tools that help me cope with those now. So when something outrageous happens, and I get really upset and afraid, it no longer lasts as long as it did. I now believe that if I told someone about my life they would not start to cry or feel sorry for me! I never thought I would be able to say that.
I love my life. I have lots of joy and laughter in my life. The circumstances haven't changed, but the manner in which I react to what happens in life is very different. I have learned some tools for coping with life's challenges that have really helped me. I found those tools and a way to "recover" the joy and quality of my life in the 12 Step Program.
The Twelve Steps can be adapted to be an excellent form of Self Care for Parents who are raising children with Autism or other challenges. Please check out the links found on this Blog that will lead you to those Steps and the path that I took that has been life changing and quality of life renewing for me. As a Mom of three children on the Autistic Spectrum, I can say that the 12 Step Program has been a huge gift that has helped me deal with all my life issues that I can not "fix" or change for today.