I’m like an Olympic gymnast, balancing on the beam between crazy optimism and trying to be realistic. Most of the time, I’m able to keep my balance. But, sometimes all of those things suffocating me cause me to fall to the ground.
If I land on the side of optimism, life seems good – often better than it really is. I seclude myself in Elijahland, thinking that everything’s going to be all right. Elijah will be just like his peers when he grows up, I tell myself. No one will even know what happened to him during his birth. I pretend that nothing is wrong; ignoring those emotions I’d rather not touch. I’m secluded, in my own world with my boys.
Then I find that I’ve fallen off my beam again and those emotions I tried to avoid have smacked me in the face. This time I’m on the side of reality and I ponder what my son’s life may entail. I wonder if he still won’t be talking or feeding himself when he’s 5, 10 or 15. What if…what if…what if…? It’s not a pretty place to be. I wonder how I’ll handle him when he’s older. What if he can’t understand me or communicate with us? How will we handle it all?
I know that we all feel overwhelmed at times, whether or not we have a “special needs” child. I’ve had this overwhelmed feeling before and it always subsides eventually. As I write this, I no longer have that drowning feeling. I’ve reminded myself to take it one day at a time, to not worry about my house (it’ll be here to clean tomorrow), people will forgive me for unanswered emails or phone calls (the ones that love me anyway), and to give the future up to God. I can ponder all I want, but only God knows what the future holds. There’s that scripture that says don’t worry about tomorrow. I know that God will take care of us and when I remember that, I realize that there is no reason to feel like I am drowning.
So, here I am, trying to stay on my balance beam. I’m apt to fall again, but hopefully I can be quick to get back on the beam. Being realistic about Elijah’s future (realizing that he’s going to have ongoing difficulties in his life) while remaining optimistic for him (not setting any limits as to what and who he can be) is exactly where I want to be. I’m not drowning, I’m swimming. I just wish it felt less like treading water sometimes.
***As a side note, it’s really hard for me to open myself up like this. I share because I do realize that we all have these feelings at times. For some reason, it’s difficult to share the negative feelings. I share because I want to be honest and real. Dealing with Elijah’s diagnoses is an ongoing process. Sometimes I’m completely okay with it. I remember how far he has come and I’m so thankful. And then other days I have to admit that I’m frustrated. My son’s life isn’t how I expected it to be or dreamed that it might be. Grief is an ongoing process, but sometimes it’s hard to share the journey. ***