The other day I was driving home and saw a man in the middle of the street. It wasn’t a lazy, neighborhood street, but a congested four-lane arterial. He was cutting across mid-way between intersections, weaving through traffic. It was late Sunday afternoon and I suspected drugs or alcohol were involved.
The man stopped halfway across, in the turn lane, and looked back. He was talking, maybe even yelling. That’s when I noticed the young woman standing on the sidewalk. She was shaking her head, clearly unwilling to step into oncoming traffic. The guy said something, annoyed, then turned away with a shrug. I saw the fear and uncertainty etched on the woman’s face as I drove past. When stopped at the light, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the woman step hesitantly into the street, following the man.
I sighed and shook my head, not all that surprised. How many times do we let others talk us into things we know are bad, possibly even dangerous, ideas?
Far too often, I suspect.
On one level, we know it’s something we shouldn’t do, but we ignore that nagging little voice and tell ourselves it’s okay, everything will be fine. Just this once. We justify our actions however we can. When things go wrong, as we know they will, we blame someone else, pretend we don’t care. But we do. We always do.
We say we did it for love.
We forget it was our choice to follow the bad advice, to step into the street without a crosswalk. It was our choice to ignore our internal warning system.
But as I know all too well, when a loved ones addiction gets thrown into the mix, we constantly over-ride that pesky little voice. We distract ourselves. We distrust ourselves, and eventually learn to distrust others as well.
Once the alcoholic or addict [insert preferred problem] is out of our lives, we begin listening to ourselves again. Yet it’s hard to unlearn those old coping mechanisms, those bad habits. Sometimes it’s difficult to discern when it’s safe to trust.
Living with an autistic child has taught me who I most need to trust. I’ve learned how essential it is to ignore all the voices “yelling” at me and focus instead on my child and my internal wisdom. There is so much the experts simply don’t know about autism spectrum disorder. So much left to learn. And even if we knew everything there was to know about autism, no one knows my daughter as well as me. No one is more of an expert on her than me.
As I look ahead to middle school in just a few short weeks, I need to remember this advice. No matter what others might do or say, like every special needs parent, I am the only expert that truly matters. I need to trust my instincts and go with my gut.
And yes, I do it for love.
Until next time,