My soon to be 100-year old friend told me a long time ago that I should stop worrying too much about what people think of me because all people really think about is themselves.
Which leads me to one piece of advice to go with her piece of wisdom, that no matter what I assume people might be thinking or doing, Don’t take it personally.
Some fashion bigwig blocked you on Instagram for commenting with hearts but he’d love for you to buy his shit? Don’t take it personally.
The consulate website neglecting to add in the fine print – after you get there at 4:30 battling horrendous LA traffic and someone just stole the spare tire cover from your car because you’re in LA after all – that notarization papers are only accepted until 3 so ‘please come back tomorrow’? Don’t take it personally.
People in line at the Philippine air cargo place giving you judgmental looks because your 5-year old is being a 5-year old on the spectrum? Don’t take it personally.
first week of summer vacation
and already I’m floundering
like a fish out of water
with my very own
as I count all the things I’m doing wrong,
enduring looks from strangers
as I struggle to control him, knowing
how badly I’m losing the fight
against false perfection
Sometimes I wonder what goes through his mind during moments like this.
What is he thinking?
It is during these moments that I simply have to let go and accept that some days I don’t know anything at all – I just have to go with the flow and not lose myself any deeper into the perfection depicted in the rest of the world.
If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?
If work, you mean giving massages, no. No, no, and no.
What I would do with my free time if I didn’t have to work is quite easy. I’d hire a nanny (FULL TIME) and just write. That’s why I went into massage in the first place because I could make my own schedule. Only problem was, when I was building my business, I had NO time to write at all. When I did write, everything I wrote had to do with massage. Every. Single. Word.
These days I have no free time still. Being a mom during the weekdays and trying to clean house, take care of an autistic kid and make sure he’s entertained between going to the swimming pool and home projects, and work and write are just a pipe dream for me – so I have to pick my battles. When my son’s father comes home, I can either work out or write – so I write, but there’s so much guilt attached to every word typed, because the house is not clean enough, the kid is not tired enough and he’s cranky as hell because he can’t watch his favorite TV shows.
So if money were out of the equation, I’d get that full-time nanny, kick everyone out, and just write. With no guilt attach. No stolen moments just to write a thing or two about characters that do all the things I wish I’d like to do, and live the lives I want to live.
Yes, it’s summer vacation. And it’s one of those days…
A few weeks ago, a few friends on Twitter were talking about how a certain actor had made their lives so much better, especially during difficult times in their lives – how he served as a beacon of light during dark times, a light at the end of a tunnel that never seemed to end. My words, not theirs as I only managed to glance at the conversation in passing…
I remember reading their tweets and then moving on to other things in my life. Beacon of light, my ass, I scoffed (sorry!). Light at the end of the tunnel, I laughed (sorry again – this is after all, a confession!). Some people…
Then it happened. A few days ago, I must have been in a foul mood because my 3-year old son came up to me and tried to cheer me up. You can never deny how astute children are, because they know exactly what makes you happy. It could be saying “shopping, mama” when you’re grumpy while driving around town running errands when you’d rather be, yes, you guessed it, shopping, mama! Or when you’re lamenting about your boring diet of greens and he comes up to you and says exactly what you’re secretly wishing for instead – “Cake, mama! Chocolate cake!”
This time, my son said one thing that he knew always made me happy (other than shopping and chocolate cake, that is) though I think I’d been in denial about it for, like, the past seven months.
“Richard!” he screeched happily before dissolving into fits of laughter and giggles. When I only made a face, he said it again – “Richard!” – and giggled the way only toddlers can giggle and break down the strongest and meanest of bad moods.
That’s when it hit me. Unlike my Twitter friends who were brave enough to share how one actor had brought them out of the darkness, I’d been in total denial about that one thing. One person did help me drift out of a darkness that lasted almost six months. I just didn’t want to admit it.
You see, in March of last year, my son was diagnosed with autism. And for six months, I descended into a sort of despair that most parents of newly diagnosed children of autism or any type of disorder (I think) fall into (again, I think). My life suddenly revolved around nothing but autism diagnoses, early intervention, traditional therapies, nontraditional therapies, gluten-free, casein-free diets, controversial therapies, sensory integration therapies, and so much more.
It made my head spin, and before long, my library was filled with all books that had to do with autism or sensory processing disorders and their treatments. My Goodreads library made me look like I was either a) a nonfiction addict b) a professional on autism and sensory processing disorders or c) a parent of a child with autism or sensory diagnosis and to be honest, I’d become all three. Even my movie choices had to do only with things that featured information about autism and their corresponding therapies.
I was a fun person to be with those six months, I guarantee you that.
Whenever I sat down to write, I wrote about the darkness and confusion that surrounded me about my son’s diagnosis, or nothing at all – which turned out to be my default setting. I was without words to describe how I felt. I was without pictures to draw. I simply had nothing to write about regarding my beautiful son at all. I simply had nothing to write about, period.
Even after he began to speak more words, and engage me and everyone else in conversation and socialize with adults and the children at the daycare, I hardly noticed. I barely noticed that in time my beautiful son was growing up, following his own timeline and not the timeline as dictated by books.
He was talking, playing, socializing, counting and doing whatever three-year olds did. I just wasn’t seeing it.
I was still sitting in the darkness. Or so I thought.
After eavesdropping on that Twitter conversation, it dawned on me that since September of last year, seven months after my son’s diagnosis – since my world turned dark – something happened. My life did turn brighter after August, when I discovered North and South and found myself inspired by its lead actor, and the messages he wrote to his fans since 2002 or so.*
I began to watch shows and movies, even if I had to go alone. I began to read books that didn’t have anything to do with autism or sensory processing disorders, or their treatments. Most of all, I began to write again, and this time I really wrote. It didn’t matter that I chose to warm up my writing chops by writing fan fiction involving characters that this actor played. It was still writing. And I wasn’t stopping.
As I wrote, and continue to write, stories that include a favorite character this actor has played in the past, my original characters were slowly coming back to life inside my head. Something had been awoken and it wasn’t about to fall asleep and fall into the darkness again.
I know this post has meandered long enough. I never realized how difficult it was to write about this, constantly editing as I go afraid to reveal more than I’d want to reveal to strangers and friends, how hard it is to go back there to that dark time and write about how it all began without realizing how long ago the darkness had actually lifted.
But because my son is astute enough and smart enough (for his own good sometimes) to point out the one thing that his mother has been in denial about, I’m finally going to admit it: my life did change just like my friends’ lives did when they discovered this man’s work.
Like a beacon of light in the darkness (riiiight), like the light at the end of that dark and lonely tunnel (right, right – get on with it), his work and his character did show me the way out. And I never even knew it till then.
But aren’t you glad that now I do. And that I can finally admit it. Sort of. I’ll get around to it. Like this year.
So this is my confession.
Like the lapsed Catholic that I am sitting behind that screen and wondering what else can I say that will shock that poor priest over there and make him squirm at night as he lays his head down to rest, can I just take that one last minute of your time and patience to confess that I discovered Richard Armitage in August 2012, and in doing so, discovered the beauty, grace and marvel that is my son and the strength and wisdom that is in me.