Wildflowers for Jade: May 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

Letting yourself drown

and learning how to breathe. 

Some time back I wrote how getting the diagnosis and learning to live in this altered universe was like


Maybe I should take you into my own (strange) head because I want to explain. 

In the movie Abyss there was a scene (which was also about where I stopped watching it) where they had to fill their helmets and breath in this amniotic fluid stuff to go out into the deep. Obviously, their bodies fought the unnaturalness of it at first. 
This was the analogy I was really thinking of when I wrote those words. This is what goes on in my head. 

Or (and a more lovely thought) that we have gills, the inherit ability to breath in the deep, we just have to learn how to use them. Either way, living with or parenting special needs is a different level. This isn't the white picket fences, all-American Brady Bunch or Leave it to Beaver. This is no level of perceived normal. This is our strange Atlantis. 

When I read about struggles where it seems to turn the darkest, the grimmest - I can see many of these parents still trying to find the surface. They're still gasping for air. They're still trying to find normal instead of breathing in that this is their normal. 

They still care about what people think when they get "the look" or (don't ever) read the comments. They care too much what the neighbors think. Or their family. They haven't got a community around them of people who live

and breath

under the surface of normal. 

I'm going to tell you something - 

Trying to pull a struggling, drowning man to surface will get you killed. 

I was the unfortunate non-volunteer that this was demonstrated on as a child in swim class at the YMCA. It was etched into me that day. Every drop of drowning water. 

I see people struggling, striving to swim with one arm flailing on the surface and the other tugging their child's collar trying to get his head to the surface. And they drown. 

What do you do then, when your child is down there, in the depths? 

You take a deep breath. 

And let yourself sink.

Take their hand.

And learn to breathe in their world. 


Their world. 

Because what does it matter 

what the Jones' think, how June Cleaver is keeping her house sparkly with one judgmental eye slanted your way, that they're praising Jesus in the church (that their kids are "normal") while you run out with a child who's screaming or praising Jesus too loudly, that the old lady in the mall remarked in your hearing that misbehaving kids should be spanked, that your uncle or brother or cousin or all of them give you a lecture when you feed chicken nuggets to your child at Thanksgiving, that your child isn't keeping up in school, that you have to drive to your child because he gets bullied on the bus, that your husband walked out the door because he couldn't handle the stress, that that that

it doesn't matter. 

What does it matter when that's your child standing in front of you? 

When it's your child that's distressed. 

When it's your child waiting, hoping, screaming for you to "fix it" and you DO whatever tiny, little anything you can to make it as better as you can even

if it just means

Taking them out of the crowd. Sitting with them in the dark. Pulling them out of school. Holding them as they fall asleep. Hugging them when they rage. Crying with them when they melt. Learning to understand them. 

Drowning with them. 

And if you're lucky they will teach you how to swim in it. 

And search for treasure. 

And nothing, nothing, nothing up there is worth breathing 

more than breathing your child

's world.