The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with autism spectrum disorder. The ASP has been in the forefront of providing services and training to families living with autism.

12 May 2012

Autism and heartbreak

By: May Angeli Navarro, ASP Member

I never thought motherhood can be this hard. It doesn’t matter if you have an autistic son or not. The grinding and whirlwind activities of everyday is so grating at times. I remember having suicidal thoughts during the first six months of my son. While sitting on the crib, watching him sleep, I thought about slitting my wrists because I can’t take the hardship of waking up in wee hours of the mornings. I thought then that if this is my initiation to motherhood, I wasn’t sure I’m up for it.

Mommy May with son David

How I got through it is one of the hardest thing I have done in my life. Looking back, I’m glad I made it. But before the baby, the pregnancy already left me feeling utterly helpless. I never liked that feeling and I’m not even sure if I want to go through that experience again. And now with an autistic son, the experience of motherhood has taken a more challenging uphill climb.

I wish I can relate to regular mothers with regular kids . But mine is not a regular one, this one comes not only with the usual challenge of childhood but it aslo comes with the uncertainty and unpredictability of autism.

They say I shouldn’t lose hope, pray to God and He might grant me a miracle. I haven’t lose hope, I’m just taking it one day at a time. There is still a hope in my heart that he will grow up like a regular kid but I want to be prepared. I want to assure him of a good future. Yes, I’m scared what tomorrow might bring but I’m trying my best that he will be given the best love and care I can give him.

With therapy sessions and mainstreaming activities and more speech therapy to come, I hang on to my faith and my sanity. Fiction writing helps. It takes me to a different world where I’m a different person, in a different time and place. Blogging also helps. It’s like I’m talking to someone who can relate to me. Writing is my ocean I can swim to when the real world is hard on my feet and my heart. I plunge into this sea of creativity of emotions, of feelings and feel myself refreshed, loved and accepted.

Though writing is becoming more difficult with more chores and more worries about life, I keep on it as much as I can, snatching small pockets of time while watching my son play in the living room or when he is fast asleep, my favorite part. When I write, I feel human again, not an automaton of repetitive chores. I feel I have a voice again, that I can contribute.

Autism has broken parts of me like a devastating heartbreak. There are moments when you forget about it but when symptoms of this condition rears its head again, you become reminded that all is not right in your world again. UnLike getting a glimpse of the man who broke your heart, this however, breaks your spirit. Because it is your child, you feel that nothing can undo the broken dreams you have for him. You grieve for his potential, for the boy who can talk to you and show you his dreams. But in time you learn to accept it. Like when the love of your life marry someone else, you accept that your son may not grow up the way you want it him, you realize that some things are beyond your control and you have to accept it.

Turn your scars into stars. A profound statement that I will always remember, that no matter how devastating the situation is you have to find something beautiful out of it. You have to unearth the strength out of the sadness, to forge something unbreakable inside of you. I have learned something in heartbreak, that true love doesn’t always mean holding on, sometimes it also means letting go, that hanging on is being selfish, that loving someone means letting him find his happiness even without you. Yes, it hurts but it is the right thing to do.

Sometimes, you really have to be cruel to be kind. And that is also how with autism, like praying for someone to come back, I also prayed hard to this condition will be erased in my son, that it shouldn’t happen to him. But I realized that maybe there is a reason why God gave him to me, why us, when we didn’t expect it. He wanted us to be his parents. Then along the way, the unfortunate things that life threw at us is something we can transform. That to get back at life you should form something positive out of it, that it shouldn’t break you down but makes you stronger. It should so the tears and the pain wouldn’t be in vain, that life will still go on and still be beautiful because of it or inspite of it.

Autism tested my faith. I learned that prayers are not always answered and in time you will know why. My world have been shattered because of it but I’m also rebuilding it into something new, something different and something more beautiful.

Uploaded with permission.  This was first published as a blog entry on 02 November 2010.

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