But not bowing down to shame, while admitting to middle-aged angst

I blasted onto blogging four years ago passionate about making sure people had good information about autism, that crazy, dangerous ideas about causation didn't win out. I wanted people to know autism didn't have to be seen as a tragedy, nor as something inflicted on them.

I was sarcastic, biting, inconsiderate of the feelings and lives of the people on the other side of the argument. I wrote satire, distorted caricatures of people and made their positions so twisted that the insanity of those positions were glaringly real. I countered, I went on the offensive. I deconstructed. I tore apart arguments, and hit back against "the other side." And sometimes it was fun. And that's wrong. And I'm disappointed by that behavior, that I forgot the people on the other side of those words, that I didn't consider whether I caused them harm, as long as I made clear how absurd their positions were.

And sometimes positions are absurd. They are. Sometimes beliefs are fallaciously built on. Sometimes it's really hard to let it go, to let it be, to breathe.

Jeanette, one of the first bloggers I read, called it right fighting. She was so right...oh, it was like I was a dog with a bone, especially with Age of Autism's writers and  followers when they'd go on Huffington Post...it was a little bit addictive.

I'm glad I got over that. I'm even more glad, though, that I got over being certain I was right and that I had to make sure those who were wrong knew it.

I look back at where I was four years ago, when Bobby was 19, oh, and I was going through the pangs of having him reach adulthood, yet not getting to share in the normal parent experiences of having a child reach adulthood, with grappling with the reality that the girlies were on the spectrum too, but they were all finally out there--at school or the center or volunteering, and then I had all this time during the day and it was empty, barren. I didn't know what to do.

I still don't. Kathleen keeps pointing out that the last four years have been about me filling every single possible empty space, with work, with volunteering, with wigs, critters, clothes, a weird-ass animal print obsession. I have wise friends who see me more clearly than I see myself. Stormy works hard here to keep me under control, and Kathleen does what she can, too. Margie has my back and lets me be silly and laugh and yet share the heavy...Mel, fw2, Stephanie, Amanda, Beth, Rose, and so many more wonderful friends who support me, who laugh with me, and who encourage me.

I've been working to fill that empty space, that time that was always so congested with working with the kids, teaching part time, working on graduate degrees (one started and left behind in English and another completed in psychology), working in a way-too-time-consuming garden, that I forgot how to relax and be in stillness. And I'm pretty sure that while I might figure out how to relax, it probably won't involve stillness.

Anger was a temporary filler. Certainty and right-fighting took up a fair amount of head space. Wig and shoe shopping are fun but also a good way to head towards bankruptcy (in style). I still don't get the animal print fetish nor why it won't go away and I am compelled to keep buying zebras and giraffes, and if I'm really lucky zebra and giraffe-print chicken figurines. WTF?

I think I'm done on critters. I like the number 7, and that it's a prime, and that the 5 cats are a prime as are the 2 dogs. I'm not thrilled that those aren't also all odd numbers, but you can't have everything.

And now we've added homeschooling back into the mix, and certainly we are too early in this adventure to declare anything...

How many balls can I juggle? Truthfully--one. I'm just not that coordinated. But I feel this pressure, sometimes so tight against my insides that I am sure I will explode. I have so much to do...so much to learn...and I feel time quickening. And I know that's middle-aged angst. And I can't afford a sports car or a boob job nor do I want either, so I'm not sure what else to do...

oooh...unless it's to put the wigs on the critters and photograph them? Talk about filling time!


farmwifetwo said...

Yard sale and buy more :-)

Been online 8 yrs in book land, 7 in autism land but my blog only lasted 18 mths.

Anonymous said...

So glad to be sharing the journey and watching the transformation.

"Stillness"--- I used to think it meant do-nothing-ness. Then, I realized that it may merely refer to a state of mind and heart. Peace, ease within. A worthwhile goal, for sure.

May we both find it!

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Since I have known you, I've seen a few sarcastic comments here and there but overall I think you are very respectful of the opinions of others, particularly considering you think that not vaccinating leads to death and what-not. (I'm not as far over as you are in that opinion, but then, I also find myself not agreeing with the "why vaccinate at all/let's just eat natural foods" people either... sighh)

I think one thing I've learned is that it is easy to get sucked into being a "mean girl" on the internet. People form cliques and pigpile on dissenting commenters without even realizing it. So I am trying to recognize that behaviour in myself, especially when the dopey comments and behaviour of others seems to really call out for a cyber-lashing, you know? :)

kathleen said...

<3 ((((())))) I think that you are too harsh on yourself..the early years of blogging-even a short four years ago..it was a totally different place-way different cast of characters-different set of social rules-AND REMEMBER much of the snarky discourse was in response to what was aimed directly at you..remember those days? ..many of the bloggers back then are gone-..and I do believe that you were always(and still) very open to constructive dialogue..

Learn to relax?!!! Hee! You are so funny!..nope...learn to breathe?..to cut yourself some slack?..those would be wonderful...time doesn't need to be filled-people do...it is what they fill themselves with that is important..

M.J. said...

You certainly seem to have mellowed over the past several years which is, in my opinion, a good thing. You can't ever "win" a discussion or change someone else's mind if you attack the person instead of the idea.

Stephanie said...


I am glad you got over the angry bit. I'm glad I did, too. It's easy to be angry. It's a lot harder to be constructive. But, at the same time, it's healthier for everyone involved.

Your voice of scientific verve has value. Don't lose that! I do believe most of us mean well, even when we disagree. And even those of who mean well need someone who is willing and able to call "woo" with authority and conviction.

Your mind works in a special way. Personally, that's something I value. Change is difficult.

Having just completed my graduate degree, I'm definitely feeling it. What comes next? What do I do now? Where's all my homework? Part of me wants to go back to school, just because it's comfortable and safe. Mostly, though, I know I have to work out this whole "earning a living" thing so I can pay back all those student loans.

My point? You're not alone. You're not irrelevant. You're an important voice in the greater autism community and, whatever else changes, that won't change.

Kim Wombles said...

Thanks, everyone. :)

I appreciate your kind words, Stephanie.

I felt adrift, too, when I finished grad school--it emptied so much time I didn't know what to do. For a year there I went back to undergrad and did Anatomy and Physiology and Chemistry--that'll fill your time! Student loans, though, definitely stopped that last pursuit.

Sometimes, I still feel adrift, but that's the change thing and trying to figure out where I fit, both in my local autism community, and in the wider online one.

MJ, I agree, mellowing is a good thing. Plus, it takes less energy.

When it comes to how others form their belief systems, however that plays out, my hope is(and this is how I view it with my students), that it's been carefully thought out and arrived at after attempting to know the basic facts and that it is a system that helps the individual rather than harming.

Kathleen, you know me so well, make me laugh, and keep me going forward, hopefully letting some of the baggage go. :)

Thanks, Happy Elf Mom. :) I know, sometimes, it's so tempting and easy, especially if others are piling on.

I think the last few months, at least in my facebook friends circle, we've had lots of opportunity to be supportive rather than mean girls. Of course, that also means we've had to walk along some family's serious heartaches, too, but I think that is a humbling experience. :) It certainly cuts down on mean girl feelings.

Maternal Instincts, I hope we do find peace (and recognize it when we do!).


hah--can't imagine going through the process of a yard sale--I'd be grabbing stuff back. :)

Bright Side of Life said...

Hello, I have many different views on where we are at with autism... some good, some bad and some down right bitchy. However, (generally) and as my profoundly autistic son has grown older, I find life much simpler just sitting on the fence! (Cough, cough, except for my last post... although that post was a once off!).
P.S. We have loads of Zebra and Giraffe here!! :-)

Kim Wombles said...

Many different points of view--I wouldn't have it any other way. I think it's the best way we have of growing to surround ourselves with people with a diversity of beliefs. :)

Cool on the zebras and giraffes, nice to know I'm not alone.