Wildflowers for Jade: Good reasons to drop that bad advice and DO look back on your life

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Good reasons to drop that bad advice and DO look back on your life

Excuse me miss, you dropped something: Good reasons for Autism moms to drop that bad advice and look back on your life

"I used to enjoy cooking."

Homecooked meals at my parents' home
That thought came to me suddenly one day. I was almost surprised at the revelation. It's funny how I'd forgotten that, and how much things had changed.

"Why? Why did that change?" As I reflected on it, I could easily pinpoint where that joy had gotten lost in the messy years that followed. There were a few minor things: the fact that my ex didn't like vegetables and I was a vegetarian. That had thrown a bit of a kink into my normal menu plans. But in all honestly that wasn't the major assault to that piece of me. 

When I ask myself when I stopped cooking, I remember one specific day. There were many days like it, but that was the day it broke me. Jaden was at the peak of his food aversions. He'd lost 8 pounds at 3 years old. That's a lot of body weight for a 3 year old. I went to the grocery almost daily, combing the isles for something that he might be able to eat. I say "able" because he tried to eat some things, but he couldn't.

That day the sun was streaming into our apartment and Jaden was playing at the dining room table. I was making homemade macaroni and cheese from a recipe I'd gotten. I tasted a bite. It was delicious. Nothing like the boxed kind. 
Jaden came into the kitchen sniffing the air like a cartoon character following the beckoning scent. 
"That smells so good! Can I have some?" he said (when I translated it from his twisted Autism language.) 
I happily fixed him a bowl and put it in the freezer to cool, while he impatiently twirled and danced on his toes. "I'm so hungry, Mommy!" 
When I took it out of the freezer he followed me dancerly and sat down in front of it. First bite, tentative.
"Mmm, mm!" 
Second bite… then it started. He gagged, then gagged again, then panicked and spit it in his plate. He sat back forlornly and pushed the bowl away. 
"Let's try again," I said almost pleading. 
"I'm not hungry," he replied. 

And I was broken. 

I couldn't even count anymore how many times something I cooked smelled good to him, only to have him gag on it. Then later he gave up, and only eyeballed the food warily and said he wasn't hungry. Then we got to everything smelled awful to him, could I eat it in the other room? 

I felt like I was torturing him. How could I continue to fix meals he loved the smell of but couldn't eat? 

Over time I'd forgotten that I ever cooked, that I cooked often, that I enjoyed it. We live off of sandwiches, microwaved vegetable burgers, and quick meals. 

And really, when I look back, life is all around just different. So much got lost on the cutting room floor when they said "Autism" and our "Autism life" began. 

I know there are a lot of people who will know what that means. 


After a few years of feeding therapy Jaden can eat new things now. Like me, he also lost something back there and became accustomed to avoidance. But he *can* eat, even if he refuses it, and I *can* cook again, even if I have to work through my own feelings of avoidance to do so. 

What else was lost back there on the cutting floor? 

They say don't look back. I say "they" give a lot of trite advice that's sometimes just plain bad. 

This is my advice: 
Look back. It might be painful, but sometimes you just have to work through the pain and deal to get to something good. 

Get a pen and notebook. Write down everything that used to be YOU. The things you did, what made you the person you were, the things you enjoyed. All the things you considered good. 

Do this even if the diagnosis is new to you. Or especially if it's new, and you're going through the cutting room floor. The hard stuff won't last forever, and one day you're going to have more than 10 minutes on your hands between therapies and you'll want to remember you. 

When you go through this list, you might find things you'll want to cross off again. You might be past the phase where going clubbing or playing poker with friends even tempts you anymore. That's ok. The difference is this time you'll be making the choice to cut it, instead of being forced by circumstances. 

There are some things circumstances will still prevent. Put them in their own list and save it. 

Then there are the things you will remember that you liked about you, and lost, and that you can pick up again. It's difficult to break out of old routines but these things can be put back in slowly. Go buy a cross-stitch pattern or bake a casserole or start a story, or read a book. One that doesn't have the "A" word in it. I know for some of you it's been a long time. 

What did you lose back there? 

No comments:

Post a Comment