Hey You

Psst, hey. Look at me, I’m over here.

Come close. I want to tell you something.

You won’t win today.

To be honest, I haven’t really noticed you in a while. I almost forgot about you.

It seemed like the medicine was working and my son Jack was calmer and a little less agitated.

Then, just last month, you returned with a vengeance—all ragged cuticles and sleepless nights.

Anxiety.

You would think I’d be used to you by now—that I could anticipate your next move, and figure out a solution, and help protect my son’s fragile spirit.

I can’t though. That’s the thing.

It would probably be easier if we could be friends.

I don’t know how to be your friend.

You stole my son.

You steal my son.

Sure, you could argue autism takes something from him too.

Prom, hot lunch, social connections.

Yet you take more. Sure, the things you seize may seem infinitesimal, and small. But in fact, they are everything.

You rob him of peace, and confidence, and security.

You are the reason he paces the kitchen before dinner, and jumps sky-high if a car blares it’s horn.

You are the reason he calls for me throughout the day, to check where I am in the house and then I get annoyed and I shout back I am right here Jack I am right where I was ten minutes ago stop calling for me already.

You are the reason I try, and fail, and try, and hurt.

You are anxiety.

And when you show up, life basically goes to hell.

He can’t settle his body, he can’t calm his mind.

You have ruined so many moments, I can’t even count. Trips to the beach, meals in restaurants, holiday parties.

You descended upon him when he was six years old and since then, I have named you many names.

A snake, who chokes the air from his spirit.

A wolf, with long yellow fangs and a wily smile.

The Cheshire cat, all beckoning finger and sly smirk.

I hate you. I really do.

I never imagined this.

I never imagined the fear, and the restlessness.

Once upon a time, I thought his autism was the problem. Autism was holding him back from friendship, and driving a car, and living independently.

But really, it’s you—the wolf/snake/smile of my nightmares.

I mean, he can cook spaghetti and scramble eggs, but if the fire alarm went off he would lose his mind and stand still, rooted to the spot.

He can stay alone for maybe an hour, but if someone rang the doorbell he would rub his hands together and pace in front of the door.

I don’t know what to think about you anymore.

You are so deeply a part of who he is, and I love him, but I don’t love you.

Sometimes people ask me if I would get rid of his of autism.

I don’t always know how to answer.

Maybe?

I mean, autism offers its own challenges, certainly. But you wreck him.

He was only six. You showed no mercy.

Today he is sixteen. Today, you will not win.

If someone asked if I would get rid of anxiety, I would answer unequivocally.

Yes.

Without hesitation, I would take you away.

Take away his fast heartbeat and his nighttime wakings and the way he hears voices from the corner of the room.

But I don’t know how.

I mean, we practice deep breathing and we fill orange vials at the pharmacy and we try to keep a regular schedule and all of that.

Still, you are there.

I can’t get rid of you. You are a part of our landscape forever. You haunt him.

You make me doubt everything about myself.

Can’t you just leave him alone?

Leave him alone.

Today, you will not win.

Today, I will predict your intentions.

You will not get past me.

You know what I want? I want to go back in time, to that little 6-year old boy who trembled and buckled beneath your weight.

I would hold his sweet hand and bend down close and whisper it will be okay.

I would tell him I don’t have all the answers and maybe I never will, but I will never stop trying.

Jack-a-boo, breathe. It will be okay.

Written by, Carrie Cariello

Carrie Cariello is the author of What Color Is Monday, How Autism Changed One Family for the Better, and Someone I’m With Has Autism. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband, Joe, and their five children. 

Carrie is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY Parents, the TODAY Show, Parents.com. She has been interviewed by NBC Nightly News, and also has a TEDx talk.

She speaks regularly about autism, marriage, and motherhood, and writes a weekly blog at www.carriecariello.com. One of her essays, “I Know What Causes Autism,” was featured as one of the Huffington Post’s best of 2015, and her piece, “I Know Why He Has Autism,” was named one of the top blog posts of 2017 by the TODAY Show.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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