I was going through a terrible period in life about 10 years ago. Very traumatic experiences had genuinely happened to me and I had every right to feel sorry for myself. What I didn't realise was how long I continued to let this dictate a section of my personality as it did. Until someone called me on it.
I was, and still am sometimes a Poor Me. We all have poor me tendencies, especially dealing with the challenges we do on a day to day basis. Occasionally you wanna sit down, sob and throw your face into a pot of Ben and Jerrys. There are days I wanna tell people how awful my night was due to lack of sleep. I'm constantly referring to the awful people who have laid blame at my feet throughout this journey, and the terrible impact they may have had on me. I've bemoaned the lack of services available to my kids and I've fought hard to change my family's situation. I've felt sorry for my kids, my husband, myself and I've tried to elicit the sympathy of others too. All things I'm perfectly entitled to do at some point or other. What I don't do anymore is live in "that" place.
10 years ago I did the same thing. Until I happened to find myself struggling up the side of a volcano in Guatemala. No really, I'm not talking metaphorically, I mean it quite literally. I was climbing up a volcano in Guatemala with a group of fundraisers and I was moaning my ass off the whole way up. On this day I got talking to another trekker. She was talking about self help books etc and mentioned a book, The Celestine Prophecies. Don't worry I'm not getting preachy, but she mentioned how this book would describe my personality as a Poor Me. Someone who unknowingly uses their bad situation to elicit attention, love, sympathy, or to get their own way by making you feel bad for them. By living negatively. She was not being nasty, though I did bridle at the term slightly, but merely she was reflecting my behaviour back at me. And once I'd read the book I recognised the reflection all too well. I changed my behaviour as much as I could and vowed never to let that be me again.
It could quite easily happen to any of us in this world of autism. We could quite easily find ourselves swimming daily in the pool of shit and splattering others as we pass. You could quite easily allow yourself to get bogged down with it. And begin to live life as a Poor Me. I certainly did. Lee certainly did. I know many other parents who did, and are still in that phase. But that period, that time where you grieve, that time where you rage against it, that time where you dwell on the injustice of it all, that time where every breath, every thought, every conversation is about how awful the situation is has to be just that. A phase.
You have to reach a peace with it all at some point. You have to accept that things are the way they are and you are at peace with that.
Many people have said to me that autism can not be the be all and end all of your life. For me, practically it is but I now understand what they mean. It can not take up every emotion negatively. It must not dwell in every thought in a negative way. It can not be your living nightmare. There comes a point where you must move on and try and find happiness again.
Several things brought me to the recognition of happiness again. Lee and I found a great group of friends within our new world. Luckily these friends were positive people. Proactive people. They didn't meet to dwell within the challenges in their lives even though they faced them on a day to day basis. For those few hours a month we got to laugh again. And soon that laughter lasted a little longer. The kids settled into their school and life started to settle once more.
Advice was shared and gratefully taken on board. A dear friend of mine taught me to think out of the box for my children's future and she gave me a ray of hope to shine through the blackness I was feeling.
Inspirational people came into my life. Professionals bringing about change that inspired me to become more proactive. Other parents who shared my views on life. I began to think and feel positively again.
I started retraining as a counsellor and explored my feelings. This was one of the most powerful things I could have done to help me reach a point of acceptance. I became more self aware. I looked long and hard at the fork in the road, and I chose the path less miserable! Don't be afraid to seek help in order to do this.
We have had awful awful hardship. Worse than some and not as bad as others. Lee and I have weeks where we feel we have been repeatedly kicked in the stomach until we can no longer stand. But stand we do...eventually. You don't jump back up. You don't recover from an emotional beating overnight. But you have to try to rise again. You have to want to and you have to take responsibility for being the only person who can make you stand again.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying don't wallow in your own misery for a bit. You must lick your wounds. You must have a cry. You must call the assailants a bunch of barstools. But then you MUST GET UP.
Make the choice not to use your situation to define who you are. Make the choice not to use it against yourself or others. Make the choice to want to find happiness again.
Some people enjoy being a Poor Me. They may not know how they use their sadness to impact others. I did. For that period of time it gave me the comfort I needed to nurture myself but there has to come a point in which you recognise just how destructive that can be and move on. Move on. And be a better person because of it.