I am an optimist. I see the negativity just as clearly as a realist or pessimist but my instinct, my gut reaction is to find something good or light-hearted in any situation. I know some people find this annoying. I am also a HSP (a highly-sensitive person); 20-30% of the populations are HSPs. Basically, I am tender-hearted and notice things about people who most people don’t notice. I have to be careful about who I hang out with because I tend to absorbs other people’s emotions. I can’t handle anything scary or only a handful of what would be considered very violent. I stay away from the news but I can be moved by to tears by art, movies and music . I am an emotional person but I’ve gotten pretty good at letting things go and moving forward. I can’t always do it and some things set me off but usually I only let that happen around people that know me well. I analyze almost every situation with the question “Is it worth the energy?”
You’d be surprise how many times the answer is “No.” There are times when I know it’s not worth the energy but I fight for it anyway because I believe in justice. As an optimist and HSP, sometimes letting myself cry (not tear up because I am moved) but actually ugly cry is hard. And even though I’m not a fan of the term “ugly cry,” it is what it is. I don’t like to stay in the pits of sadness long, which is my was PPA/PPD was difficult to handle. I felt like I had a split personality because for months I wouldn’t let myself cry about it for fear that I would only exacerbate my issues. Then again, maybe God used my optimism to help save me in the darkest year of my life. And when I did cry, the flood gates were open. But it felt good to release all the anger and frustrations I had pent up, somehow blaming myself. How could I have known that I would have such a adverse affect to a birth control?
Fast forward to this weekend, I am healing from the anxiety and other issues that built up. It was a weekend was great overall but turned out to be an emotional one because for the first time since our journey with our son J I let myself ugly cry. There was no holding back, no single tear for me to wipe away quickly. We have been on the waiting list for our son to be assessed for ASD and pervasive development disorders for almost six months and while we are thankful we were accepted to be seen, we are itching to get the process started. I know this is is all part of God’s perfect timing, not mine.
I know some people are wondering if their child is on the spectrum, my advise to you is to not ignore your instincts. Loved ones may try to assure that your child is just delayed and will “catch up” but I believe if the same feelings of unease and uncertainty about specific areas in your child’s development keep flaring up, go with your gut. Be their advocate and pursue help. You are their first and strongest line of defense on this planet. You know your kid better than anyone else and while you know things could be way worse for your child (like I how I feel with J) that doesn’t mean your child doesn’t deserve to be assessed. If nothing comes from it, then you have the reassurance that your child just needs a little help and let’s face it, we all need a little help in at least one our area of our lives.
With J, my gut has been telling something is up but God has done a miraculous job in keeping me calm with all of it. I know God is taking care of him and started us down this path earlier this year for a reason. I have my moments when I see him trying to communicate with another child and he can’t and it bothers my heart. When he needs to self-sooth with jumping and humming in public and people stare, that hurts me. The looks of confusion doesn’t bother me as much as the pity looks – those make me want to pop off some sarcastic comment. But then I feel God tugging at my heart-strings and I refrain (he sure does like to tug at my heart strings.) I was not designed to rip people a new one, apparently. My heart, my sensitivity is my vice and blessing. The optimist in me tends to focus more on the latter. Trust me, I find my optimism annoying some days, too.
Saturday at a family-friendly event, J had to make sure his older brother H was next to him majority of the time. There were inflatables for the kids to climb up and slide down. I tried to make sure J always went first so H could help him if needed because I was in single-parent mode as my husband was working. I was making sure our baby girl was having fun (and not running off) and so I couldn’t always make sure J went before H.
One particular moment struck me. H went first up and J followed. H slid down and didn’t wait for J to join him. Our sweet J looked sad that big brother went before him and was calling for him. J just learned to say his brother’s name and actually it’s pretty stinkin’ cute because it comes out more like “honey” than our oldest actual name.
It made think of those times in life when we are doing something daring in our life such as starting a business or new opportunity and we can’t feel God’s presence, so we call out and he answers. Maybe not in the way we hope, but he answers. “Honey” didn’t go back up the inflatable to help J down the slide. Instead, we coached him on how to get down. Our oldest impressed me, he was sweet and calm with his little brother. Something I don’t see as much as I’d like. But I could feel a tear forming. Nope, not today emotions. We are in public, lock it up. The whole situation made me emotional because it was as if God was sending me a reminder that H will take care of J. He will take care of his little brother when we can’t be around; they will have each other. I’m pretty sure my oldest is a HSP, like me, and I’m starting to believe that he’s tender-hearted for that reason. He will be compassionate for his little brother and his sensory issues, among other things. If J is diagnosed as being on the spectrum, H will be there for him, every step of the way. Now, I could have went home and cried but I didn’t.
Instead my ugly cry came today out of nowhere, I was busy trying to not only fold all eight or so loads of clean laundry but put away majority of it. The boys were watching cartoons in the living room. I could hear them playing as I folded clothes in baby girl’s room. She was my “helper.” I walked into the kitchen to start supper when I didn’t see J in the living room. We have a California split home. I can be in the kitchen and dining room on the main level and look over the railing and see the living room below me on the first level. I asked H where he brother was (he didn’t know) and panic started to creep in. The door was locked by a deadbolt so I knew he hadn’t walked outside. I checked the pantry and bathroom. As I started down the stairs to go to the living room, H found him behind the rocking recliner.
They were watching a Disney movie and something must have been scary or too loud for him and he hid behind the chair and fell asleep with his hands over his ears. My heart sank. Now, I have cried to my mother or best friend out of frustration when it comes to J. But this was the first time I needed to go into another room and cry. I’ve never locked myself in a bathroom or hid in the closet before but after I moved Jackson to the couch, I went back to folding clothes and opened the flood gates. I don’t know why I don’t let myself cry more; it feels so good to get the emotions out. Maybe it’s the stigma that crying is a sign of weakness or maybe it’s because I was such an emotional kid that I created some thick walls in my heart. But as I wept hard, I heard him. God said to me that he was with me and I wept even harder.
I read a blog once that suggested that maybe our healing comes through our tears. It was an uneasy thought for me, but I get it. I completely get it now. We are only beginning this journey with J, this journey of “is he delayed or does he have ASD?” And I will need to ugly cry to get these mixed emotions every so often. My husband was at work again. (ah, the glamorous RR life) and so I didn’t have much time to myself but that five minutes was enough. God heard me. He reassured me that J’s upcoming assessment is the right direction for J and for us.
Sometimes things in life pile on top of each other and we need a way to get those emotions out in a healthy way. Letting certain emotions fester only hurt you in the long run. We are not God, we are not robots; we are human and we were created with a plethora of emotions. And we need to get those emotions out in a healthy way instead of repressing with alcohol, food, drugs, sex etc. We can either release the overwhelming feelings through tears or bottle it up. To be honest, I think it takes a stronger person to let their guards down and cry than those you keep their emotions contained. As much as the stubbornness in me sometime wants to do the latter and lock up my stronger emotions, I choose to release my sadness and confusion about J from here on out. I choose to see the positive for I know he will live and wonderful and full life. And believe me, just because I am encouraging others to express their emotions doesn’t mean I have mastered anything. On the contrary, I have to fully demolish some walls in my heart so I can let God take over completely. And tonight one brick from the wall in my heart fell. It’s a start.