When Daniel was first diagnosed with Autism I wasn’t sure what to do what that news. I knew two things for sure; that I loved my son more than anything and that there were people that had it so much worse than I did. For a long time I used that saying all the time in every situation. The problem is that somewhere along the line I convinced myself that because someone always had it worse than me that I shouldn’t feel sad, disappointed or a huge sense of loss. It is funny how your subconscious deals with exurbanite amounts of stress. I remember for years whenever anyone asked how I was doing I always replied with, “oh fine, you know there is always someone that has it worse”. A lot of times though I wasn’t fine, I was sad, angry, disappointed, frustrated, devastated to name a few. I thought though because my child wasn’t sick, or in hospital or dying that I for some reason didn’t have a right to feel like my world was crumbling down on me.
I remember the day that all changed like it was yesterday. I took my son on a road trip to Pittsburgh to visit my cousin. It was the first time that him and I had done something just the two of us, and it was great! I had the opportunity while down there to spend some time with an amazing woman and mother, who also has a son with Autism. Her son is quite a bit older than Daniel, giving her more experience on this journey than me. I remember talking with her and through the course of conversation I said, “I’m ok, someone always has it worse”. Usually when I said that to someone the response would always be, yes your right. This time though I got something very different; she said yes your right, someone always has it worse than you do, but that doesn’t make your pain any less real. Wow. Ok, now I didn’t know what to do what that. She then told me that in order to be the best mom, wife and person I could, I had to be sad sometimes, I had to be angry, I had to wonder what I did to deserve this difficult road. Of course there are always going to be others who have it worse than we do, but we also have it worse than some, and we are entitled to feel sometimes like we got the short end of the stick. In that moment at the end of the conversation I told her I would remember that, but I wasn’t really sure that I agreed. What right did I have grumbling when another mom somewhere else had it so much worse?
I left Pittsburgh and returned home, that conversation though never really left me. It has been 3 years now since that trip, since that conversation, and I am just now really starting to understand the importance of it. If I truly want to take the positive away from everyday and enjoy my son as much as possible, I also need to be sad and angry when it is warranted. I do have bad days, my son does have awful days, days that to some would be their worse nightmare. Feeling disheartened and sad doesn’t take anything away from anyone else, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I love my son any less, but having those feelings are a part of my journey and if I don’t allow myself to feel them then I am doing a disservice not only to myself but my son as well.
So yes, someone always has it worse than me, but that doesn’t make my pain any less real or any less difficult. Allow yourself to be sad, when you need; sometimes it is the only way to truly be happy.