Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Destruction of Hidden Anger

For the past several weeks, I've been working through the Daily Om class on Overcoming Self-Sabotage. This week, I completed Lesson 9: The Destruction of Hidden Rage....or I would like to say I have. Several of these short lessons (a reading and a meditation of approx. 9 minutes) have resonated with me and aided me in quieting some of my emotional cycles surrounding self-esteem and self-compassion, two things I often lack. I even confronted myself as a child and found the root of some pretty toxic thought patterns. But today, the author asked me to confront my rage. So far, I have cleaned the dining room, made breakfast, helped William in the kitchen, organized the assortment of chips from Costco, and cleaned my desk. While these are all noble tasks, they are clear evidence of my desire to avoid admitting it: I have suppressed my anger.

The author alludes to our Shadow Self, which contains all the painful feelings and suppressed parts of ourselves, and how this Shadow arises in sudden and damaging ways when unmanaged, "like a beach ball we've been trying to keep submerged underwater where no one will see it." We get tired trying to hold it under, and eventually, it pops up out of the water and smacks us in the face. Yeah, I feel that.

She discusses how easy it is to justify the behaviors we use to mask or to escape from our anger by comparing ourselves to others and noting that "at least we aren't as bad as them!" (ouch) We eat, we drink, we shop, binge-watch, we zone out, we deny, we blame. (more ouch) Is our rage really worth the cost we pay to keep it hidden? Does the behavior we exhibit trying to suppress our rage really preserve our relationships? Are we doing as much "good" as we think by burying these emotions? (even more ouch)

The discussion on fear earlier was easier to engage, because fear is an easier emotion for others to accept in us. When we admit we are afraid, others appreciate the moment of vulnerability, offer us encouragement and kindness, and congratulate us when we have faced our fear and accomplished our goal. When we admit we are angry, we are often met with judgment, tone-policing, defensiveness, and even combativeness. Fear brings us together. Anger further isolates us and tears us apart.

My task is to create a list of the people I am mad at. Then, I must write them each a letter to tell them why and burn them all to set my anger free. This actually sounds like a GREAT idea. It will help me to be a more patient, loving, and calm person, free from the chains that weigh me down.  So, I admit I have suppressed my anger. I admit that I practice harmful avoidance techniques. I admit that I have important work to do, and I write these words as my first step in this healing process. I will unearth and let go of my hidden rage.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Lego Minion's First Day of High School

For the past several days, I've been watching the back-to-school photos roll through my Facebook timeline. Many of my friends have children registering for kindergarten, a couple new middle-schoolers, and, like my youngest son, new high school freshman.

I took him to school for orientation myself this morning. He's at the age where I don't even put the van in park, just stopping long enough for him to gather his things and be on his way. It wasn't that long ago that I had to walk him into the building an hand him off directly to an adult. It seems like only yesterday that I worried about him running away while no one was looking, and here we are, getting dropped off at the curb.

He really has grown into capabilities far beyond what they projected for him when he was first diagnosed with autism. They told me he may not speak at all, nothing beyond movie quotes or sound bites from his favorite TV shows. They told me he may always be behind his peers academically, being so far behind socially that he was rendered incapable of catching up. They told me he would live with me forever (which may still be true, though it seems less likely), because he would never be able to function as an adult. They were so, so wrong.

Not only has he continued to exceed the limitations they put on him, he has THRIVED well beyond them in ways never expected. For example, his knack for visualizing things in space has led him to take electives in 3-D drawing and video production. So much for the idea he would never be able to hold a "real" job!

Still, the one area where it shows how much he still has to do, how much room he still has to grow, lies in his social relationships with others--typical for folks on the spectrum. Today, after he got out of the van, he walked toward a group of four students waiting outside. No one else was there yet. Just the five of them. The other four were all comparing their schedules to see if they shared any classes. Timmy walked toward them then veered left, walking around them in a circle. After a hesitation, he walked over to the edge of their circle and waited. I drove away hoping they would be kind to him, my weird kid who wants nothing more than to belong.

As the school fell out of view, I realized I think I can relate to how he may be feeling. I remember being a weird kid trying to fit into groups of my peers, to be included, to be part of the team, even friends. I remember what it felt like to walk up to people I didn't know or didn't know well with that hopeful grin hiding my fear of rejection. I remember how it hurt when I didn't make the right move, say the right thing, or know the inside jokes they shared, when I didn't understand why they were laughing. Timmy must be feeling something similar, though I am sure I will never understand the scale of it.

Timmy is special. Not in the way the education system labels him, but in the way he inspires those who take the time to get to know him. Timmy is one of those shining lights that leaves you more confident and sure things will be alright after you've spent time with him. His perspective is full of optimism, he expresses joy often in everything he does, and above all, he tells you the truth about how he feels when you know how to ask him. He softens the world by being a part of it.

Good luck, Timmy. May you be blessed with friendship, joy, honest laughter, and much, much success.