My autistic son was having a great day. He was calmly and easily maneuvering through special situations like a doctor’s appointment and a haircut. So we decided to run to the store for one item. Running errands such as this one, had usually gone smoothly in the past.

To be brief, for some unknown reason he had a total meltdown, (kicking, screaming, jumping up and down and more) right after the checkout area. There was almost nothing I, or anyone else could do. His behaviors, stimulated by his internal anxiety, common to people with autism, were dramatic. Our day was unfolding beautifully and then it wasn’t.

When we were finally safe at home, and I had a moment to catch my breath, I noticed 4 things that had a profound effect on me;

1. People were more kind and helpful than I ever thought possible. They were picking up things he was dropping, offering assistance and a quieter place.

2. Hearing myself speak in a calm and reassuring manor was comforting to everyone, especially me.

3. Making a habit of taking great care of myself changed my experience. I came into this challenging situation with a fully charged battery. In the past I unconsciously allowed myself to be in a depleted state and had no energy left to deal with something like this.

4. Dealing with only what was unfolding in that moment, and not bringing the past several years of dealing with an autistic son, or my concerns about his future into that situation made it easier for me.

Life is like hiking. We know there are parts that feel easier and parts that feel more challenging. When we decide to go hiking, (when we decide to live our life) it’s possible to accept it all as part of our journey. The most helpful thing we can do is “be in the best shape possible”, emotionally and physically. In other words, we need to care for ourselves. Then, no matter what section of the hike we find ourselves on, we can maneuver more easily.  Wouldn’t that be more enjoyable?

Life has never been a journey of “smooth sailing only” for anyone. Instead of trying to control the situations and people around us, which isn’t possible anyway, the journey is about learning to deal with what comes. Learning to deal with the people and events in our life in a positive manner, brings a magical feeling of freedom. We begin to understand that everything in our lives benefits us in some way, even if it’s only to show us what we don’t want.

With love, Jackie

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