Do you struggle with keeping the faith? When I say faith, I mean believing that anything, truly everything, is possible for your child. Here are some times when you might feel challenged in ‘keeping the faith’;
- When your child might be moving more slowly then you would like.
- When you are out in public and find yourself comparing your child with other neuro– typical children the same age.
- When you hear about other children with autism who are moving at a quicker pace than your child is.
If these moments can be challenging for you, keep reading- this article is for YOU (in fact, I recommend that you print it out and keep it in your night table for easy access).
I have to confess- in my life right now, I am struggling with ‘keeping the faith’.
My dear friend Leah (whom I have written about in previous posts) , mother of 5 and diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has been told that her days are numbered. Each day she gets weaker and weaker- and at this point she is living off of glucose, morphine and pure will. Myself, and my other friends who are close with Leah, try to work out how to have faith that miracles can and do happen (she is trying new alternative treatments everyday with total faith that she will move through this) while simultaneously recognizing the fact that she may indeed die- and she may die soon.
It feels like a roller coaster ride but I recognize the need to make space for both of those experiences to exist. I have found ,for myself, that I cannot hold both of these places at the same time- but I can create space for each one. I want to share with you what I have learned along the way so you can use these tools in your journey of ‘faith’ with your child.
5 steps to reclaim your faith:
1. Allow yourself to go there. Yes, one of the fundamentals of the Son-Rise Program is the belief that your child can achieve ANYTHING, despite the contrary opinions of numerous professionals. I am not suggesting that you abandon this fundamental- but it does not mean that you can’t create the space to chose not to have that faith sometimes. This is all part of the process. If you want to cry- cry. If you need to check out for an hour or a day- do that. Pray, write, do whatever you need to do; not to shove it down but to allow yourself to go there.
2.Utilize support. Talking to my girlfriends throughout the day about Leah and how she and her children are doing, but also how I am doing, gives me an infinite amount of support. Identify those people in your life who support you and utilize them during the times that you are struggling to have faith (not to get you to change but simply to hear you out).
3.Create acceptance around the situation you fear most. This is a big one folks- in fact, it is the heart of everything. I am going to ask you the difficult question now; how would you feel if your child did not change a hair from where s/he is today? What would that look like (be specific)? Is there a way you can accept that and take the demon out of your nightmare? It does not mean that this is what you ultimately want- but can you be OK with it? What if Leah died, can I be OK with that? I have spent alot of time looking at that.
4. Engage in a higher power. If you believe in a god or higher power, this is the time to engage with that higher power. Recognize that we have no sense of the greater plan and trust, that truly, whatever happens is exactly as it is meant to.
5. When you are ready, pick yourself back up. So by now, you’ve created space to cry and breakdown, you have utilized support, you have made a step towards accepting the thing you fear most (your child not recovering/getting a job/getting married or for me, Leah dying), you have engaged in a higher power and now is the time to recognize that although you cannot control what the future holds- the only shot of helping your child achieve all you have dreamed for him/her is if you believe it is possible. Decide that this is the life experience you want for yourself and for your child. Envision your child doing the very thing you want for him; communicating, playing with another child, using the toilet, etc. This is the fuel for your faith.
When you are ready- get back in there, recharged and refueled.
**Note: There is no rule for how long this 5-step process may take for you. It may take 1 day or 1 week or longer. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time you need.
This is a cycle you might return to time and time again. It is a very nurturing and honest way to be on this journey. Be honest with yourself, create space for all of your experiences and then you will have the true strength to hail your child (and yourself) forward.