Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Autism Answer: In Transition


Shoes and headphones on the road

The California night air was warmish, my headphones – Marley's purchased as a random “I love you” gift from my youngest son – pressed comfortably over my ears as I walked, danced, and spun continuously along the same path, repeatedly circling the cul-de-sac where my mom's house was home to much of my family. Some of my sons and grandchildren, my mom and my brother were living there.

I had lived there.

At some point in time almost everyone in our circle had lived there with mom.

However, as I shimmied my way through the neighbourhood, transition was everywhere. Not only in the lives of my family but everywhere in the world.

A pandemic was pushing people of every nation to make shifts. For some, the shifts were subtle. For most, they were (and continue to be) remarkable.

Almost everyone I knew had wondered, did I cause this? Is it manifested from a mixture of reluctance and need to make drastic changes in my own life?

Like so many others, my family was making drastic changes. Pushed into the position by uncontrolled circumstances we were at once – though separately – doing the work of controlling our outcomes. A living feeling of excitement, concern, and uncertainty danced in all our moments.

I was using music and movement to focus my feelings; to corral them into myself so perhaps they wouldn't interfere with the loved ones around me.

And boy, was I feeling.

I had fallen in love. I suspect for the first time. It was (still is) intoxicating.

His name was (still is) Ian. And though I was married, he was not my husband.

So I was breaking away from the people I'd spent over two decades actively holding to me. I was breaking away to live in Quebec with the man I was in love with. Despite having absolutely no clue what that would mean for anyone in the future. Despite knowing it would for sure hurt and confuse people in the immediate.



Despite all of that it did (still does) feel like the right and only thing to do.


But, boy, it was not easy. I'm gifted at going with the flow and pointing out how and why everything is awesome along the way. But pushing away, making my own waves, swimming out alone - I had little experience with this. Feelings filled me and spilled out into every room I entered. 


So I was stepping outside to avoid trapping loved ones with my moods. 

The cool concrete felt rough and real on my bare feet as I danced and related to the Rock Music pushing its way into me from my headphones. (Rock Music, a love child of Folk Songs, inherited an activist social change attitude, which I love.) I was trying not to sing along with those rocking tunes loud into the night where neighbours might be sleeping. At least not too loud.

Falling in love. I didn't believe in it. Oh, for sure I believed in love. In choosing to love; in acting with love toward ourselves, in finding ways to evolve - lovingly - with our environment, in loving each soul on the planet and recognizing our connection. Loving our connection.

But “falling in love” seemed to me like a dangerous trope, an uncomfortable trap.

Wanting or waiting to “fall in love” held a person hostage in a place where they would make excuses, change only to please someone, focus too much on the other person in the relationship, put too much expectation on what they could and should be, put their intimate happiness and success in the hands of someone else. Not walking away when they should or not staying the course when they could.

But my experience has been entirely different. As I fell in love I felt myself expand. I didn't change or dig my heals in and refuse to change, instead I grew interested in, simply, more. The exciting butterflies-in-my-stomach-barely-breathing-addicted-to-him-swooning was there too, which has it's own fun, but there was so much more as well! His words and ways brought me new ideas and perspectives, offered as parts of himself that were a reaction to parts of me. Our words and ideas being honestly shared, noticed and cared about, considered and consumed. I felt him touch me before he touched me. I wanted not to be “right” when discussing my ideas, I wanted to be heard. I was. He was.

It isn't easy when you're forty-five to consider that what you believed and lived isn't good for you anymore. It especially isn't easy if you've spent much of your time teaching it to your children; explaining it and exampling it. It especially isn't easy if transitioning into a new belief means knocking down the life you've built, a life that includes and is relied on by others, in order to build something completely new that, frankly, might fail. Might even make you feel and look like a fool believing in magical forest fairies.

But at forty-five I'd built a life enough times, feeling entirely unprepared and even sometimes like a fool, to rely on experience. Plus, I was a magical forest fairy. I'd be okay.


As I was getting ready to leave for Quebec, my mom was letting go of her house and making plans to live with my brother in an RV. What an adventure! What a transition! Mom, more than most, is gifted at building a good life for her family after banishing old beliefs, or simply discovering better ways to live the ones she's got, and starting from scratch. Again and again.

My sons, though, they had less experience. They were building their new beginning that is closer to their beginning.

How wild, how spot on that I was spending my last few weeks, before heading to my next new beginning, there. At that home, with mom. My brother. My sons. My grandchildren.

Everyone was having to make hard plans. The pandemic had pushed everyone around and forced decisions. Admittedly, everyone had been sort of sitting on decisions they wanted to make but had yet taken the scary steps into, “I want to, I need to, but who knows what will happen? And anyway, how?

How wild that we were all there together, making separate plans. Considering where we would go and how we would create the lives we felt were best for us. How spot on that we were all piled into that home mom graciously shared with us – a house from yet another new beginning - before spilling out and finding our separate paths.

My oldest son, his wife and children, they were trying to find a place to live on their own, trying to decide what kind of family they wanted to be.

My second youngest son wanting to live in Canada. Almost all of his life having dreamed of a small cabin in the woods of British Columbia. Now that he was without work or a place to live, time to figure out how the heck to make that happen.

My second oldest son living with my sister, wanting a place to live with just him, his wife and daughters, and a business plan for his life. Maybe Canada. Something he and his wife often thought about. Well, time to make a plan.

And my baby boy, the one who bought me the headphones, living in an apartment in Texas with a couple of roommates, not far from the University campus. Dealing with me and his dad more than he wanted to. More than was fair to him. Wanting his own life. Especially now that his parents were getting a divorce because I fell in love.

Sometimes goodbye is a second chance.”

As I neared the bulbous dead end of the cul-de-sac, considering one more circle of the street, the song, Second Chance by Shinedown, started playing in my ears. Manifested by the perfection of it. Finding my feelings and giving them focus.

My youngest son in my mind, singing at the top of his lungs, “I'm not angry I'm just saying, sometimes goodbye is a second chance,” his favourite Shinedown song, meaning much to him.

I'm not angry I'm just saying, sometimes goodbye is a second chance.” So much.

When we do choose to make changes in our lives, our beliefs, our way of thinking and living, we often think we have to see the old way as bad. To be angry about it, or consider it wrong. Conversely, sometimes out of an unwillingness to see how we've lived or thought as unhealthy, we stay. Hold tight. Argue for it. Dig our heels in.

But change and transition are going to happen. And when we take the reins it can be more than exciting, it can be what we need. It can be life saving. Often it is necessary for our very survival. 


While we're in transition, and transitions often last long, it's good to be careful how we categorize the people, places, beliefs we're transitioning from and be mindful of the expectations we build for the people, places, and beliefs we're transitioning to.


As I walked faster and danced harder and sang along a little louder heading back to mom's, deciding to walk circles no more, itching to share these thoughts with Ian, I saw my oldest son stick his head out the front door. My heart leapt at the site of my boy. I love him!

“Mom,” he said, “you're singing too loud. I'm trying to get Nevaeh to sleep but she keeps hearing you sing and asking for you.”


I guess my feelings can spill out and interfere with my loved ones even when I'm unaware. Even when I think I've done a good job of containing them.

This is worth noticing. 


Hugs, smiles, and love!