From the outside perspective, I want to wear your shoes, jump over my fence and roll in your grass, drive your car, wear your perfume, play in your closet and feel what it feels like to be you. I want to escape my world for a day, feel like a queen, walk the red carpet, have your waistline and douse myself in the lifestyle you have. Whoa, whoa, wait a second… your shoes are much like mine, they are dirty, scuffed and worn. They have deep lines and cracks. They are not so fancy, as I thought they were. I get to your backyard and winter has made your grass look just as bad as the grass I have. We are so much alike. But, you say to me, “I don’t know how you do it”. It makes me feel like your situation is much easier than mine. It makes me think, your shoes fit much nicer than my own. I laugh, I realize, I don’t want to wear your shoes after all, you might even have stinky feet, HA.
I have been accused of being one of those people where everything looks perfect. Fancy shoes? Not exactly! I can assure you, what you see on the outside is more a reflection of tidiness, than cleanliness or perfection. I have been told my house always looks clean; Thank God for drawers to shove all the clutter into. My closets, cabinets and drawers are a mess. From the outside looking in, you could be lead to think “she has it all together”. Yet, on the inside, it’s a fright.
Years ago, we went to dinner at this very nice restaurant. We went early, since Alyssa was joining us. Soon after being seated, an older couple was seated directly next to us. Oh for the expressions on their face. They grumbled under their breath. “This clearly was NOT an establishment for children”, you could see them say, through their darting looks, hurled our way. I got out the snack pack and started Alyssa’s dining experience. Ravioli’s, yum! She was delightful and happy. She sat quietly, smiling, eating and looking around. By the time her ravioli’s were finished, our food came and her second course began. The evening was perfect. At the end of the meal, the older couple came over to us. They said they owed us an apology. They were sure, from the moment they were seated next to us, their evening was going to be ruined. They were only able to see the outside appearance at first. By spending some time near us, they were able to experience something different, a well-mannered child enjoying her time in the community. Thank you, Alyssa!
Easier to judge, than to be judged, right? As Alyssa got older, her behaviors were not as well-mannered in the restaurant or community setting. I remember someone saying to me, “your child is out of control”. Silly people, it’s not my child who is out of control, it’s me. I cannot control this. Autism is an entirely different world. If you were a Mime, how good would you be at “miming”? What would your expressions and behaviors make people think of you? Alyssa is trapped in herself. Unable to express, the way we do. Unable to say, “I want to eat pizza”. Instead, she points, she pushes, she pulls, and she may even throw what you call “a tantrum”. When you look at her, try to see, the shoes she wears are army boots and she is in a battle called Autism. These boots are too tight on her feet, they are too heavy to carry, uncomfortable, maybe even, unattractive. I believe she may need a foot massage. Sadly, this will not fix her behavior; her behavior is a reflection of what she cannot express. Alyssa was given army boots, to help her with her battle and to protect her from all the bullets that may fly her way. She is a person, much like you, but she is different and it’s apparent. We could all do so much better by finding a place in our hearts for differences, making room to cast a smile, giving one another the feeling of hope and encouragement, a smile that says, “It will all be okay”. When you see a person not acting the way you do, take a second to think to yourself, they just might be wearing army boots and struggling with a battle of their own.
We all have difficulty, hardship, blessings, good, bad and even, ugly. I want to reach out to you. I would like to share what I have been blessed with, share my hope, which feels like my strength. I want to leave my judgment behind. I would like to reach out and make you an offer…. If you are wearing army boots, give them to me, I will help you carry them. I will do my best to help you know, it’s all going to be okay. You are welcome to my shoes; you can have them, in fact. I feel, I am entering a different place in my life and it may be time, for me, to start walking barefoot!
All my love and thanks to those who have helped carry me through!!! You are the world to me!!!
Thank you for reading! Have a great week. Angie