Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Autism Answer: In Defense Of Sunny D

Sitting in my fridge.
Five huge plastic jugs of Sunny D sit in our refrigerator. Thinking about it, and even more seeing it, makes me want to cringe. Admittedly, I have cringed. I little bit.

But, here's the thing. My husband loves to buy soda. Tons and tons of soda. He knows I don't like it. He knows it goes against many of the things that make me, me. He also knows that I never have said, and never will say, he can't have soda in the house. 

When he brings it home (generally several two liter bottles, seemingly always on sale in larger quantities) he looks at me sheepishly, he apologizes timidly, and he puts the soda in the fridge. I remind him that I don't like it but that I love him and he likes it. I remind him why I don't like it and he hears some of what I say. He understands that I don't think it's healthy, he doesn't quite understand the stuff I add about plastic, giving money to corporations poisoning us for profit, etc. 

What he fully understands is that I don't think he (or our children) should drink soda because it's unhealthy. That's one reason, and he's right.

So sometimes, like today, he comes into our home proudly touting items he believes I will applaud. He loves me, and he loves to show off the "healthy" snacks or drinks he's spent money on for us. He looks pleased as punch and smiles nearly-toothlessly at me with anticipation. He displays for me the item, today it was jugs of Sunny D, and eagerly awaits my praise.

"Oh, look, Sunny D," I say, forcing the smile and grabbing desperately for all the reasons I know I want to give him the reaction he's hoping for.

And there are reasons.

He loves me. He thinks of me while he's at the store. He puts down the soda (which he'd much rather spend the money on) and picks up something stamped words like "Vitamin C" and "Citrus Punch" and wants to do something healthy for my benefit. He is a beautiful man who puts family first and we are different but our moments add up to memories shared.

So, I clap my hands and say, "Yes! It's not soda! Awesome!"

And then a little later, after I find that I'm honestly happy and no longer have to push myself there, I thoughtfully add a few comments. "Now imagine if it was real juice, in a glass container, made from sustainably grown produce?! You'd have to pick me up off the floor after I fainted from surprised joy!"

And that's all. No more. I need to say my truth, and I need to love my life.

I will not drink the Sunny D but I will not choose to hate the sight of it in my refrigerator. How could I? It looks like love.

In relationships, this is a skill I consider worth working on. Seeing the actions done in the name of love without losing sight of expecting to be understood.

It's true that sometimes my husband (and my children) do things for me that actually just prove a lack of listening. But most of the time the love is showing and the action is about how much of the listening is understood.

I've experienced this even more so with my brothers. They are more challenged at understanding social cues and even straight up explanations (when my mom adopted them all four of my brothers had brain dysfunctions and learning disabilities) and so they struggle in various bigger ways to show their love and their listening with recognizable actions. It took me longer than I like to admit but once I was able to see how hard they were trying to both be heard and to listen, to be loved and to show love, my joy and comfort and ability to help grew a thousand fold! 

So, I'll pour my husband a glass of Sunny D while I sip my coffee (yes, organic, fair trade, yadda, yadda) and I'll tap his foot with my foot as we sit on the floor, him watching his shows and me reading my book, and I'll feel loved.

I get to think about this right now, and share it with you, because of the emotions and thoughts that ran through me when I saw all those jugs of drink in my fridge.

So I'll admit it, this moment was a gift given to me by my husband with the help of Sunny D.
*Today's Autism Answer brought to you by Sunny D, though not sponsored by it.*

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)