Gift   13 comments

I should not need to explain myself, but I do. Over and over and over again because there is always someone out there who is certain they know me better than I know myself. When I have the option, I will choose when or if I use verbal speech, and my reasons are my own and valid. I am not obligated to be verbal just because it would make you more comfortable.

If I am using my few minutes of verbal speech with you, I am offering you something limited and precious. I have carved out a section of my physical health and peace of mind and given it to you like a pretty slice of birthday cake.

How long do most of my interactions with people take?
Three minutes in a drive thru,
Five minutes at the grocery checkout,
Ten minutes of social gathering small talk,
Fifteen minutes for a neighbor to borrow some sugar…

STOP!

In my verbal marathon, at fifteen minutes I hit the wall. I can try to push past that, but there’s no guarantee I’ll finish the race. I am no longer running on solid ground. After fifteen minutes, maintaining verbal speech is like running on a tightrope. It wobbles. The margin for error is imperceptibly tiny. If I falter, the only option is catastrophic failure.

At best, I can walk this tightrope for the next twenty to forty minutes. These are the minutes when I stammer and rub my arms raw. These are the minutes when I say words that are not what I mean. These are the minutes I am locked in decades old scripts that do not allow for dissent or self preservation. In my head, past abusers bubble up to my consciousness screaming my failures, derailing my thoughts. These are my wounded animal minutes. I will accept almost anything, or lash out instinctively.

I cannot make it past those forty minutes. No amount of trying, wishing, or believing in myself changes that fact.

Forty minutes is just enough time to spend a life surfing the gap. I tried to make it in the work force, and it almost killed me. Not in an I’m miserable and want a good cry, a glass of wine, and ice cream sense (although that counts), but in a high blood pressure induced daily multiple blackouts and increased seizure rate sense. I have too little work experience to qualify for Social Security when I’m sixty-seven, but I am not able to qualify for SSI. If I honestly portray my abilities and limitations, I leave my children vulnerable to intervention by child protective services because disability in this state is still legal grounds for child removal irrespective of any other factor.
Most of my forty minute dog and pony shows are to keep judgement off my parenting. This is simply an extra responsibility required when parenting while disabled. There stands my line. I will not sacrifice my children at the alter of any cause no matter how just or righteous. What Should Be will not protect them, and my primary obligation is to their well being.

Posted August 2, 2013 by itsbridgetsword in autism, autistic families, Uncategorized

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13 responses to “Gift

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  1. “If I am using my few minutes of verbal speech with you, I am offering you something limited and precious.” Thank you for this. That sentence had me in tears and they didn’t stop as I continued reading. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. No other words, but thank you.

  2. Your speech, your writing, your typing, your self is a gift. I thank you very much for sharing. ((hugs))

  3. I love you Bridget, and your kids are lucky.

  4. Yeah, ‘coz kids totally believe teachers. *snerf*

  5. Overcome by your words. You cannot imagine how distant that perspective was and how humbled and redirected I feel. As teachers, you are fruit for the spirit. As people, you are music for the soul.

  6. I am honoured to have read this. Thank you for your perspective and for sharing these important words, Bridget.

  7. Pingback: #StopCombating Me: Changing The Paradigm from Treatment to Education | #StopCombatingMe: Reform Combating Autism Act

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