Turning on Your Own

img_1034I got into a fight with the Democratic Party of Georgia this afternoon.  The only reason I answered “Private Caller” on my phone was because I was waiting to hear back from potential volunteers to play with my autistic son.  It was the second call I’d recently answered from the Democratic Party of Georgia.  The first call, I answered last week.  I was very polite and cheered them on but they got really pissed when I said I wouldn’t give them money.  This afternoon, the guy from the Democratic Party of Georgia was very rude to me and I told him so.  I politely told him not to call anymore and he angrily said, “Don’t you know what’s going on in the world?”  

The last time someone angrily asked me if I knew what was going on in the world was several years ago when I was walking with my friend.  She mentioned how another friend of ours had decided not to get her kitchen renovated.  I asked why our mutual friend decided not to get her kitchen renovated. My friend yelled at me, “Don’t you know what’s going on in the world?” My friend berated me and explained our friends were not getting their kitchens renovated because there was an economic crisis.  I explained that I knew about the economic crisis but I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to my friend’s kitchen renovations.  We then talked about a different friend who seemed really happy lately.  I said how great it was that our mutual friend was choosing to be happy.  My friend then yelled at me that not everyone gets to choose to be happy and how I didn’t understand that there are people in the world who don’t have electricity and running water.

“They are turning on their own,” I thought, after my altercation with the Democratic Party of Georgia caller.  I’m on their side (with my voting and my wallet), and they are calling me up and yelling at me.  Since the election, I have noticed a lot of people turning on their own.  People are bitter and angry that they lost and I see them turning on the people who are on their side.  I realized I am also angry and bitter.  I feel like a loser and I am turning on my own.  I am furious and hopeless at how much I feel like a failure, especially with regard to my autistic son.  Guess who is the target of my rage?  The person who is most there for me and most on my side—my husband.

Last night, I was angry with my husband for a long list of things and I brought up one or two of them right before we were about to go to sleep.  One of the things I am mad at him about, is how my husband rooted against my hometown team, the Cubs, during the 7th game of the World Series and convinced my son to root against them too.   Before bed, after I told him one of the things on my “why i’m angry at you” list, I felt unsatisfied with his answer.  I thought if we talked about it more it would just get worse so I laid down and closed my eyes.  I thought, “I love you without needing anything in return.”  I thought, “I love you and accept you exactly as you are.”  I thought while looking at my husband, “I love you without needing anything in return.”  Then I held his hand and looked into his eyes and thought, “I love you without needing anything in return.  I appreciate you exactly as you are.  You don’t need to do anything in return for me to love you.”  I wasn’t mad anymore.  I felt completely in love with him and happy.  I thought, “Is it this easy?”  I thought, “Yes, I want it to be this easy.”  And it was that easy.  The reason it was so quick and easy for me to feel such bliss around loving my husband, without needing him to change, is because I have practice. 

Yesterday, I was pacing around our playroom with my son while he was singing the same verse to a song over and over again. I thought, “I love you exactly the way you are.  I love you without needing anything in return.  You don’t ever have to change if you don’t want to.  I accept you.  I love you without needing anything in return.”  Part of the homeschooling program we do with my son is based on loving him without needing anything in return.  We practice wanting more for him and doing things to help him without needing anything in return from him.  If my son weren’t autistic, I wouldn’t have so much practice with loving without needing anything in return.  It’s the best feeling.

Even though I take out my frustration on my husband, I have the tools and the practice to easily love and appreciate him without needing anything in return.  It feels so much better than being right.  Thank you to my son for teaching me to love without needing—it’s so easy and beautiful.  My practice with loving this way makes me really happy, and makes me and my husband have a deep loving relationship.  Because of all the work we do with our son, when I’m angry at my husband, I’ll say, “I’m pissed at you. It has nothing to with you.  I want you to change this thing.  However, when I get angry, I’m doing it to me.  It has nothing to do with you.  You aren’t making me angry.  I’m choosing to make myself angry.”  I feel so light after I own my feelings and I feel closer and happier with my husband.  Thank you to my son for giving me the tools to be happier and experience love more in my life!

Letter to a Young Person Who Plays with My Son

Dear Melissa,

Thank you for your voicemail the other week saying you had a “funny story” to tell me.  When I called back, you told me about orientation week at your graduate occupational therapy program.  You said the director of the meeting asked the students to say what makes a good occupational therapist.  Students said compassion and empathy.  When the teacher asked you what you thought was an important quality for an occupational therapist, you said, “Enthusiasm.”  The teacher got quiet and said, “Compassion and empathy are important for being an occupational therapist.  However, enthusiasm fades.”

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They Kicked the Autistic Kid Off the Glee Project

The other week, my Mom called me and asked me how I was.  I said good.  My real life is going great.  Oscar and Cal are doing great.  But my not-real life, my TV life, isn’t going too well.  They kicked off the autistic kid on the Glee Project.  (The Glee Project is that reality show where they have a talent competition to see who gets to be on Glee next season.)  The judges kept saying the autistic kid made odd acting choices and he kept getting in trouble for not following directions well.  They loved him but Ryan Murphy said he thought going to the beat of your own drummer was important but the autistic kid couldn’t fit into Glee.

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Getting Things Done

I thought, just now, how I want to take a day off and read, “Getting Things Done” and organize my office and be like this super duper-organized getting things done person.  Then, I imagined myself going through files and planning and executing projects and I thought, “Maybe I don’t really want to get things done.  Maybe I want to sleep or go to Palm Springs and have sex with my husband on my parents leather couch and have nothing I have to do for ten days except buy a toenail clipper.”  And I felt bad about this cause I want to be one of those super duper powerhouse women who shine and go and do and cure their kid and their house looks really good and they exercise.  But I guess I really don’t want to be a super-organized powerhouse woman cause then I’d have to be really organized and work hard and be centered and energetic and ambitious and single-minded and never give up.  And I get tired just thinking about going to breakfast with a woman like that and I just want to get the check quickly and go home and read an Agatha Christie novel and have some hot tea and a cookie.

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The Art of Suicide

I was lying on the table while Julia rubbed unscented oil all over my naked body.  The phrase, “The Art of Suicide” appeared in my head.  I thought it would be a good title for my blog but I didn’t know what to write after it. As the massage therapist rubbed me, I said to Schlomo,(not out loud), “Schlomo, what is the art of suicide?”  Schlomo is my friend who recently killed himself.  You can see his Yale Law School commencement speech to his class on YouTube.  It was a great speech — funny, smart, self-deprecating.  He beautifully made fun of the impotency of the American legal community.

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Cheese and Authenticity

For lunch yesterday, I went to Alon’s Bakery in Atlanta.  I had this beautiful French salad with cheese, lettuce, pecans, onions and balsamic vinagrette.  For dessert, I ate a cup of rich chocolate mouse with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.  It was delicious!  The problem is that I’m sensitive to dairy and wheat.  I’ve noticed when I have dairy and wheat, my ears clog up.

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This morning something pretty amazing happened.  I’ve thought about it over and over again and I still can’t quite believe it. But it’s true.

My eight year-old “typical” son was standing in the doorway of the kitchen saying how much his teacher hates that people believe nothing happened before Columbus came to America. We talked about history and science.  Then, my eight year-old asked my husband, “If you could be in any time, what time would you be in?”  As my husband tickled my son, my husband said, “I would go to October 18, 2009 so I could tickle Oscar. Present moment, wonderful moment.” My husband looked at me like, “Top that one!”

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Scary High School Pictures

This morning I went on Facebook to write my status update and I saw something really scary.

One of the principles of Son-rise (the home-program we do to help our son recover from autism) is celebration.  We celebrate Cal when he talks to us, looks at us, or plays with us. Celebrating our son helps us to feel grateful for his interactions and also helps to motivate Cal to interact with us more.  In a Son-rise blog, they suggested we celebrate ourselves each day on our Facebook status to practice celebrating.

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Yelling at Oscar

This morning I yelled at my son.  I mean, I really yelled at him.

My typical eight year-old wouldn’t change from shorts to pants, even though it was cold outside.  I stood close to him and roared, “Aaaaahhhhhhhh!” right in his face.  ”You’re driving me crazy.  Go upstairs now,”  I yelled.  He stood motionless for a second and looked at me a little shocked.  After a moment, he adjusted himself and stood still.  He said in a zen way, “I am not motivated by anger.”

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Competitive Autism

My “typical” eight year-old son goes to this awesome private school. It’s so good that my husband jokes around with his Dad friends that they are stuck in Georgia. Even if they got better jobs somewhere else, they wouldn’t want to leave this amazing community. It’s such a good school, that when one of my son’s classmates, left for financial reasons to go to the public school across the street, her Mom started a blog talking about how much she misses the school.

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Choosing Happiness over Looking Cool

Before my son had autism, I thought being cynical was cool.

Psychologists and psychiatrists have coached me on how to seduce Cal into “our” world. I used to really hate people. My job, if I want to help cure my son, is to sell that being with people is more desirable than spacing out. If I want to be successful in selling this to my son, I have to believe that the world is a good place to be in. I now believe that the world is a good place and not a shitty place.

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Yay–I Found My Holocaust!

I wrote a poem once about the actor who played Steve on Beverly Hills 90210. He was complaining on The Tonight Show because he didn’t have a doll made in his image. Dillon had a doll. Kelly had a doll. Brandon had a doll. Yes, even, Brenda had a doll. After I shared my poem in a poetry workshop, no one said they thought I was a deep and meaningful writer.

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