Benefit of the Doubt

Today I was urged by someone who is angry with me to look at myself in the mirror, examine myself, and think about how I treat those around me. While I do this regularly (as an aspie, I probably do this more often than most of you reading this) but, sure, I’ll do it again.

In fact, I’ve been doing it constantly for about a week now. It’s consuming me. I’ve searched my heart. I’ve searched my mind. I’ve searched my motives. The only thing I can come up with is, “I was trying to be a good friend to her.”

I don’t like everyone all of the time. When I dislike or feel rubbed the wrong way by a person, I usually cannot pinpoint why. So I’ll try to like the person. Once in a while, something will pop up to validate why I didn’t like them in the first place. Sometimes nothing ever pops up. But I know to keep my distance from a person I don’t feel a connection with because it’s easy to have a rude tone of voice or to communicate something unpleasant non-verbally when I’m not feeling it with a person. I can also become easily annoyed and that puts negative thoughts in my mind about the person who annoyed me. I try really hard to keep people who annoy me at arms length. Not only for my own good but for theirs too. So no one gets hurt. I can’t be friends with everyone. I just can’t.

But when I do let a person in, when I do decide that I like a person and I want them to be someone I keep close, I expect them to give me the benefit of the doubt. I do that for them. If they hurt my feelings (and if you are reading this, you have probably hurt my feelings somehow at least once if we’ve had much contact) then I either get the heck over it or I go to the “offender” and I try to talk about the situation. That’s the only way I can keep friends. If I stopped speaking to everyone who has ever hurt me in some way, I’d have no one in my life. Not a one.

Just to be sure I wasn’t off base, I went ahead and looked up what the Bible says about the benefit of the doubt.  A quick google search showed me this link.

First Corinthians 13:7 says that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Leon Morris, in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, says this about the phrase “believes all things”: “To see the best in others . . . . This does not mean that love is gullible, but that it does not think the worst (as is the way of the world). It retains its faith. Love is not deceived . . . but it is always ready to give the benefit of the doubt.”

When we hear something negative about others or we’re suspicious about the motive for their actions, let’s stop before we judge their intentions as wrong or bad. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

The person who urged me to reflect upon my own motives, I have no doubt that I hurt her feelings.  It’s the story of my life.  It’s just what I do.  In this case, I somehow managed to hurt her feelings by not even being in contact with her.  I am certain that I will hurt the feelings of likely ten people tomorrow.  Unless I just stay silent, held up in my bed all day, I will hurt feelings.  I used to think that the problem was that I hurt people’s feelings so easily.  And I sure wish that I was better able to understand social rules a bit better.  I sure wish I had more insight into the minds of people and what it is that I’m speaking or typing that is so hurtful.  Unfortunately, I don’t though.  The only consolation is the one I have when I examine my motives.  And those, my friend, are pure.  I have a kind heart.  As I said earlier, I get annoyed.  But even the most annoying person in the world to me… well..  I don’t wish them any ill will.  I wish nothing but the best for everyone. I truly am trying to be helpful, kind, loving, and a good friend to anyone who has let me in.  And to many people who have not.  I am always trying to be at the very least nonharmful to the rest of the population.  I never mean to hurt anyone, ever.  I just wish that people who claim to care about me would realize this, believe it, and either move on from the thing I said or did to hurt them or give me a chance to correct my mistake.  When people confront their loved ones with kindness and good intentions, gently, relationships can not only be salvaged but they can deepen.  Without the guarantee that my friends will do this should the need arise, I will never be able to let them into that inner layer.  This is why so few people have ever gotten there with me.

I urge you, reader, to give the benefit of the doubt to those who you feel have wronged you.  Give them a chance to explain what they really meant by their words or actions.  It’s the only possible way that any of us can achieve healthy, mature relationships.

Finding Ann Perkins

I almost didn’t get out of bed today.  The entire time my oldest child had cancer, I never did not get out of bed.  Not getting out of bed is a big deal for me.  I’ve been awake since 4 am but I stayed in bed, reading, groveling until 10 am.

It’s been a hard week.  First, the whole coming to terms with the idea that I may have two sons on the spectrum (which is only worrisome because the youngest seems to have some issues that make him… well… less than thrilled with me and I was kinda hoping that it was “just a phase” as so many of the “experts” have insisted).  Next came accepting that I would no longer have two days a week to focus on schooling the older two kids.  That break was always so appreciated.  And finally, right in time for my friendly monthly visitor, drama.  Drama drama drama.

I go to send a note to a person who I thought was a friend or at least a friendly acquaintance.  I’m going to invite her children over for our Halloween school day next week and since she works nights and is pregnant and her children seemed to enjoy doing school here about a month ago… well, it seemed natural to invite them again.  However, I discovered that she’d unfriended me on Facebook.  Giving her the benefit of the doubt and thinking that maybe she had done it by mistake, I checked instagram.  Sure enough, not only had she unfollowed me but she’d unfollowed my children as well.

Usually when this kind of thing happens to me (and it happens a lot more often that you’d think), I have some inkling of what has occurred to cause this person to cut me out of their life.  Maybe we had exchanged some words that seemed less than jovial.  Perhaps there had been tension the last few times we’d talked.  Or maybe they’d even sent me a note and said that they needed a break from me for a while (and then after that break, I guess they just didn’t want to be back in touch).  SOMETHING that might help me at least understand when the inevitable occurs.  That inevitable unfriending and dumping.  It’s one thing to clean out your friends list and unfriend people to whom you never talk.  But a person who you were just texting a few months earlier to tell they were the reason you were braving homeschool?  A person who had been reaching out and trying to be a good friend?  Well, it’s just not fair to do that sort of thing without an explanation.

So I asked for one.

I sent a note on FB and a text.  Did I do something?  I’m so sorry if I upset you somehow?  Can we talk about it?  My kid will be devastated because he loves your kid.

The only response I’ve gotten is that I can assure my son that he and her daughter are still friends, nothing between them has changed, and if they want to hang out to just send her a text.

Um.

Okay?

So I deserve no explanation?  I receive no words to soothe over my wounded pride.  Nothing to solve this inexplicable mystery.  And now that we aren’t friends, who is supposed to host these get togethers with our children?  How awkward is that going to be?

This morning I was just done.  My husband returned from work to find me piled up in the bed on a church day, tears running down my face.

“I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t, Michael.  I may as well quit trying.”

His words of assurance didn’t do much for me.  I had to get through the grief.  I had to get mad.

That’s when I knew I had to become my own big sister.  You see, I do this sometimes.  I have no actual big sister.  I have no one in my life who is ready to come kick my @ss when I’m being ridiculous.

So I imagine her.  A lot like Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope.  Or maybe more like Jenna

Maroney to my Liz Lemon.  She blasts through the doorway.  She throws herself down on the edge of my bed.  She uses the F word a few times and calls the offender a few nasty names of which my Leslie Knope would never approve.  But I secretly love it because it means she’s on my side.  Then she tells me to get up.

“Hey.  You are better than this.  Don’t let this bleep bleep bleep steal your joy.  There are three kids and a husband in there who need you.  Your daughter just made Pop Tarts and sausage for everyone’s breakfast.  Pop Tarts two days in a row!  That is unacceptable.  Get up.  Get moving.  And don’t for one minute believe this idiot deserves your energy.”

And I know she’s right.  So I get up.  I sweep the kitchen.  I give my man a foot rub.  I break up a squabble and put all three kids to work cleaning the house.  And I make a kickin’ awesome juice to tend to my own personal health needs.

Then, I arrive at this conclusion.

I have too many real friends who would never in a million years treat me this way.  Who love me.  Who value me.  Who see me and still want to know me.  Who are almost the Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope and, if I stick it out with them long enough, might just become the best friends/big sisters I’ve always dreamed of having.  This person doesn’t deserve my friendship.  And frankly, now that I see how she’s capable of treating someone, I don’t think I even care.

Thank you, Ann, you beautiful rule-breaking moth.

Blogtober Day 15: Ghosts of Halloweens Past

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Spooked by Daddy’s coat hanging in the doorway of the dining room

Have to run quickly past on the way to the bathroom

At night, peeing during a commercial break

Dressed as a “ghost” in a Casper costume

Face smeared with black

Back when ghosts were friendly, not cobwebs left in my mind by horrors discovered in hospitals and “women’s health clinics”

Trick or treat, it’s mine and Daddy’s thing

Our only thing

Leaves crackle under feet as we visit with neighbors we rarely see

Mama stays home to hand out candy

She always buys the cheap kind

So Daddy begs chocolates off the neighbors who spring for the good stuff

Parties at the homes of classmates

We don’t trick or treat now

I miss the one thing I did with my Daddy

Rocky Horror

Costumes in high school

The one day you were allowed to be a freak

This holiday is evil

Its pagan roots, its satanic rituals

Wait, um, no.  Forget that.  Halloween is awesome.

Decorations, subtle and classy

Hand towels, breakfast plates, homeschool art projects

They make the day a little brighter

We may not trick or treat

I may do things a little differently with my own children

Passing the torch down to my little Hermione, Enderman and Creeper on my favorite day of the year

Blogtober Day 14: Revisiting V.C. Andrews and the Dollanganger Family Part 2

As promised in my previous post about the Dollangangers, this post will be about my thoughts, feelings, and ideas while rereading the first two books in the Flowers in the Attic series.

Without further ado, I give you a bunch of random thoughts that I’ve had about this… highly disturbing series upon my recent read.

*The grandmother Olivia has had an impact on my view

Still scaring the crap out of me after all these years.

Still scary the crap out of me after all these years.

of other grandparents and parents over the years.  She was a religious nut and so whenever I’d encounter people who seemed to disapprove of me for my lack of religious background or what they deemed to be as “loose morals”, I’d totally label them as religious nuts.  I bet it’s Olivia’s fault.  Like when the parents told the boyfriend to dump me or move out of the house and he kept me a secret from them, they were Foxworth-level crazy in my eyes.  When the grandparents met me and deemed me unworthy for their grandson because of the way I was dressed (I’d just gotten off work from Ruby Tuesday and I was wearing my uniform:  a shirt, black pants, and black boots), I decided that they must be from the same bloodline as the wacko Foxworths.  Somehow I managed to transfer my fear of the Foxworths onto ALL conservatives.  Maybe the aforementioned deserved it (ha!) but it’s a real shame that I spent so many years being so terrified of Christians.  I was scared of Christians before I read this series as a teen.  Pretty sure this book just solidified in my mind how completely insane I already assumed Christians to be.  This is a good place to be sometimes because it makes me more empathetic to people I meet, now, who think Christians aren’t playing with a full deck.

*What is with all of the rape?  And how did I forget so much of it?  I remembered Julian as being the rapey, violent maniac he was but Christopher?  Bart?  There is rape everywhere in this series.  And for some reason I either blocked it out or I didn’t realize it was rape.  So that reminds me… when the time comes… I need to make sure to talk to my kids about rape and all of the different ways that rape can look.

*This time around I feel more sympathy toward Corinne and Olivia.  I know that sounds impossible.  They are horrific humans.  But it almost seems as if Malcolm has them under a spell.  It’s terrifying how hypnotized these two women seem to be.  I have a hard time not feeling like they are victims too.

*I can really relate to Cathy’s constant need to attract and seduce men.  Her entire identity, much like that of her mother’s, seems to center around the compulsion to make men want her.  There was a time in my life when I was like that.  If a man liked me easily, he wasn’t worth having.

*Except for the whole Bart thing.  I cannot relate to that.  To me, that is the grossest relationship in the entire series.  Just the thought of trying to seduce a man who is married to my own mother makes me sick to my stomach.  I don’t care what happened to the Dollanganger children… it’s still wicked what she ends up doing to Bart.

*One thought that always stuck with me from my first read was how brave I felt the kids were to leave Foxworth Hall on their own. I guess that tells you the kind of childhood I had.  I was never given any independence so the very idea of a group of kids making it on their own sounded insane to me.  Now, though, I can’t believe they stayed locked in that attic as long as they did.  I keep thinking of my own kids and figuring they would have fared much better in a similar situation.

*Reading the details of how the twins whither away while Corinne and Olivia pay no mind, as a mother, is terrifying to me now.  None of that really seemed to register when I read it the first time around.  But now?  Oh my.  I just cannot fathom.  It broke my heart.

*The image of the twins drinking Chris’s blood was so seared into my subconscious that when I was reading the book, before I ever got to that part, I had a dream about that scene.  I woke up so disturbed.  I was stunned when I reread it.  My conscious didn’t recall it happening… but my subconscious certainly did.

*Another scene I’d totally blocked out was the one where Cathy pays Olivia a visit after she was already grown and had started having an affair with Bart.  I had no recollection about her beating the grandmother and then trying to give her medical aid.  Ugh.  So disturbing.  And now those images are in my mind and haunting me.

*I think the only characters I don’t hate are Paul and Henny.  It’s strange to me that Andrews chose to make Henny mute.  I can’t help but wonder why.

*Cathy’s relationship with Paul seemed weird to me when I was a teen but now it seems totally natural.  Sure, they have many years between them but their love seemed the most authentic, pure, and healthy of any relationship in either book.  It’s no longer gross to me.  I hated to see their ending be so tragic.

*I’m furious with Cathy for leaving Carrie.  And I’m furious with everyone for somehow missing that Carrie was in so much trouble.  She seemed to constantly be an afterthought.  It infuriated me to see her be so neglected.  She deserved so much better.

*Finally, I have to talk about it.  The… incest.  For whatever reason, it didn’t freak me out as much this time around.  I’m not rooting for Cathy and Chris exactly but I guess maybe now I sorta get it.  And I think it makes sense that they can’t move past one another.  It’s hard to move past a relationship sealed by tragedy.  I know this from personal experience.

And that’s it for now.  I’m looking forward to getting a hold of a copy of If There Be Thorns.  It’s on hold at the library.  Waiting stinks.

Blogtober Day 13: Crushed

Recently the preaching minister at my church felt the need to talk about asperger’s in his sermon.  I wasn’t thrilled with what he had to say about my “disorder”.  He called it “crushing”.  He only pointed out that we have social struggles… failed to mention the other types of issues we aspies face.  Also, he didn’t point out that some of us don’t have debilitating social dysfunction.  Many of us can do social stuff pretty well.

I’ve been pondering his words since I heard them.  What about all of the people who look to him for guidance and information?  Didn’t he do them a disservice by misrepresenting or overgeneralizing MY diagnosis?  My SON’S diagnosis.  And how many actual aspies (not mom’s of aspies) did he speak to before writing these remarks?  I have been torn about whether or not to write him a note.  I have wondered if it would just get lost in a sea of other emails from various members of the congregation nit-picking his sermons to death.  Should I just let him have this one?

As you may know, my youngest son has been attending a tutorial twice weekly run by a dear friend of mine.  He started last year and I’ve been beyond pleased with the program.  You know that when I have no complaints, something miraculous is taking place.  My friend does a stellar job and I’ve been so thankful to have her be a part of my child’s education.

Unfortunately, he’s been unhappy about attending school.  To be fair, he seems unhappy about most aspects of his life, much like other people living in this house.  Consistently, he’s begged to not go to school, refused to dress, refused to eat, refused to get out of bed, and refused to talk about what he did while he was there.  Today, he put his foot down.  As I tried to get him to work on his short Spanish assignment, he threw his pencil across the table.

“I don’t want to go to Spanish class.  I don’t want to go to school.  I don’t want to go to any school.  I don’t like it.  I don’t understand.  Why can’t I just be homeschooled?”

Sigh.

I can’t in good conscience keep sending my child to a program that he simply doesn’t like.  It’s not fair to him.  And it certainly hurts me right in the heart to keep doing it.  So I can’t.  And I won’t.

Needless to say, I was terribly upset to have to tell my friend that we were removing one of her students from her school.  Wasn’t worried she’d be mad or upset… just can’t stand the thought of hurting someone I love.

The conversation went smoothly.  In my distress, I confessed that I was noticing some autistic traits in my youngest son.  She agreed that he is very likely on the spectrum.

And the tears came.

You see, I am told so often that my oldest son and I are not autistic.  People tell me that all of the time.  And I’ve had doctors and counselors tell me he wasn’t on the spectrum.

“He can look me in the eye.”

“He interacted with me.”

“He talked to me.”

So, when I met with the psychiatrist who finally, FINALLY validated me-who finally said, “Well, I think he’s on the autism spectrum. Asperger’s.  Don’t you?”- I lost it.  Not because I was sad.  Not because I was in despair.  I cried because I was validated.

To hear a person I respect who is a professional educator who has spent ample time with my son say that, yes, he is likely on the spectrum… that was very validating.  I felt relieved.

But then, an hour or two after the conversation, I started to think.  I began pondering how my five year old often dislikes being touched.  How he told me every day for months that he hated me.  How he still tells me he doesn’t love me.  How he likes wearing headphones all of the time.  How he isn’t interested in making friends with anyone, ever.  How he seems to be lacking emotions with an exception of rage and indifference.  How he gets terribly upset when it’s time to glue because he doesn’t like glue.  How he is glad he homeschools because he doesn’t want to be around other people… it all started to seem a little more… bleak.

Now, isn’t that funny, coming from the woman who is forever yelling, “I love being an aspie.  I wouldn’t change if I could”?

When I think about my son never being able to say he loves me, I feel… crushed.

My older son and I have lots of aspie traits.  We struggle to understand social situations.  We’re awkward.  He walks funny.  I talk funny.  We both have terrible coping skills.  We’re both prone to depression and anxiety.  We both get obsessed.  But, luckily, we both experience love.  We may not be able to express or show our love effectively all of the time but if we love you, you figure it out one way or the other.  Maybe it’s the gifts we give you or the compliments we pay you or the way we save our Minecraft papercraft blocks so you can build some.  You just know that we love you.  So, until now, my first hand experience with aspies (at least with acknowledged aspies) has been with ones who aren’t “afflicted” in the emotions department.  At least not severely.

If asperger’s/autism is causing my son to not be able to show me love, to tell me he loves me, to connect with me… then… well… I’m crushed.  And I guess that means asperger’s is crushing me.

It’s crushing me so hard right now that I can’t breathe.

But just give me a few days to process through this.  I’m sure by the end of the week I’ll be back to my strong, “Yay, go aspies!” regular self.  For now, though, I’m going to feel this.

This crushing.

Blogtober Day 12: Reclaiming the Weekend

At one point in time, our lives were so chaotic and unstructured that the week days blended in with the weekends.  I wasn’t anxious for Friday evening to come along.  There was no break to anticipate.  It was just one long, tedious, exhausting day after another.

We don’t really live that way anymore.  Our weeks all look relatively the same.

And to be honest, I kinda like the way we are living now a little bit more.  Okay, a lot more.

There is something satisfying about making school plans, carrying out those plans for 4-6 hours per day, driving around to counseling appointments, field trips, classes, ball games, play rehearsal, cleaning a house, doing the laundry, making three healthy meals a day, and then collapsing, totally worn to a frazzle, in bed every night.

And when you are keeping that kind of schedule during the week, there is something sacred about the respite a weekEND can provide.

So here I am, announcing that I will be reclaiming our weekENDS.  There is no need to drive around to activities no one really cares about.  It’s senseless to bind ourselves to busy-ness just because there are “learning opportunities”.   There is simply no shame in saying, “Hey, I’m staying home.  I’m tired.  I want to sit around the house in my lounge clothing, drink my coffee, watch this week’s episode of Parenthood while I bawl my eyes out, and focus on stuff I want to do instead of stuff I have to do.”

This weekend I’ve caught up on my shows, caught up on my laundry, made some delicious food, baked celebratory muffins, bookmarked lessons, latch hooked, decided what my next needle felt project will be (Christmas cottage in case you care), taken a shower, washed my hair, watched Rosemary’s Baby because I could, and enjoyed nearly two hours worth of exercise.  I’m feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the upcoming crazy week.

I’m taking back my weekends, darn it.  And it feels so good!

Blogtober Day 11: Saying Goodbye to Uncle Robin

I don’t remember much about my childhood.  There is a bit from a trip to North Carolina to visit friends where I received a manila envelope containing a protractor, a ruler (which my parents took away from me because it was too sharp), paper, a pen (also taken away from me), pencil, and a big pink eraser.  You know, all the things that a three-year-old future writer would delight in being given as a gift.  We’d take after-dinner rides to TVA to look for deer in “Big Red”, an old pick-up that was so beloved, my mom and I cried when she finally had to be traded in for a newer, but never as lovable, truck.  Vividly, I recall seeing E.T. in the theater and Mom making fun of the lady in the bathroom who was sniffing and, rather loudly, complaining about how her sinuses were killing her.  I never could understand quite why someone would be ashamed to cry during a movie.

But the thing I remember most about being a child is television. My parents told me that when I was just an infant, I would be sleeping on a blanket in the middle of the floor, in front of the television, with my bottom in the air, and every time this one particular Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial would come on, I’d wake up, lift my head, watch the advertisement in its entirety, then instantly fall back to sleep.  Now, why my parents put me to sleep in front of the television rather than, say, in a crib is beyond me.  It might help explain, however, why I ended up sleeping between my mom and dad until I was nine years old.

Clearly, I was hooked on jingles from a very early age, but I developed a love of sitcoms early in life as well.  On November 26, 1977, I was born.  On September 14th of 1978, ABC aired Mork and Mindy for the first time.  From what I was led to believe, I was a fan as soon as it premiered.  Though I do not remember speaking my first words, “good” followed by “Na-nu Na-nu”, I do vividly remember feeling deeply connected to the character Mork.  Additionally, I recall a glorious day when my Aunt Linda had visited this faraway place called a “shopping mall” (something I would not see the likes of until I was a preteen because my parents did not drive out of our small town unless there was a funeral to attend).  Aunt Linda brought me a Mork poster.  My parents hung the poster on the door of my bedroom.  I was only two.

Watching Mork as a small child helped me feel less alone.  He was weird and was from another planet.  I was weird and felt like I was from another planet.  We had a

An original Mork portrait

An original Mork portrait

connection.  Of course, like the rest of America, when I fell in love with Mork, I fell in love with Robin Williams.  I loved and identified with Mork so much that when my mom tried to explain to me that the same man playing Mork was also playing Popeye, I struggled to understand that Mork was not a real person but only a fictional character being portrayed by an actor.

Eventually I would learn to obsess over other television programs (the next in line was Laverne and Shirley), but I would carry my love for Mork and the man who created him with me throughout my life.  In the late 1980s,  there was a music video, starring Robin Williams, for the hit song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin.  Quickly, I grew tired of the song, however, the video has always stuck with me.  It is the reason, I believe, that I started to see Mr. Williams as more than just an actor I adored.  He became a member of my family.

I have an uncle David.  Or, I guess I should say, I had an Uncle David.  He actually passed away a few weeks ago.  Not long after Mr. Williams passed away.  I was never close to much of my family.  Today I can say that I am not close to any family members beyond my children and my husband.  Since my mom died, I barely keep in touch with anyone.  But at one point in time, I knew that my Uncle David adored me.  I’m not sure why.  I was a vegetarian and he’d cook green beans separately for me, without the ham.  Beyond that one small gesture, it was merely my aunt’s assurance that made me aware of his adoration.  From the time I saw the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” music video, I associated it with my Uncle David.  Mr. Williams looked so much like my uncle in that video.  The facial hair.  The goofy little smile.  My uncle was always rather sour, gruff, and distant when we’d see him.  But the “uncle” in the video was dancing around like a fun-loving giant child.  The man in this video symbolized what I wish I had in my life… a male family member who openly loved me, cared about me, accepted me, and who enjoyed life.  Interestingly, that same uncle, along with my aunt, offered to take me to see Toys in the theater when I so desperately wanted to see it and my parents weren’t willing to take me.  His kindness further connects my uncle and Mr. Williams in my strange mind.

In high school, my relationship with Mr. Williams evolved.  My best friend was obsessed with him. We had two men in our lives who closely resembled Mr. Williams. One was her first love, the star of our drama department with whom I was lucky to have worked, and the second was our amazing Spanish teacher.  It was easy to love these guys because, yet again, I could just transfer my love for Robin Williams onto them.

By the time I was in my twenties, thanks to things like being dumped the day before my wedding, I was basically a big mess.  I’d graduated top of my class, yet I had no direction. To say I was not well would be an understatement.  When I started seeing a psychiatrist, he diagnosed me with Bi-polar disorder and put me on a variety of psych meds.  My self-worth plummeted and my weigh skyrocketed. I began to look for meaning in my life.  And I started to read a great deal about my “condition”.  I use quotation marks because I am not convinced that the doctor’s expert opinion was entirely accurate and today I do not believe I am nor have ever been bi-polar.  At the time, I remember reading as much as I could get my hands on about Bi-polar disorder and learning that it was believed that Robin Williams shared my diagnosis.  I would think to myself that I was in good company. It felt like permission to keep being myself when I’d think about how we were both given the same label.

More recently, not only have I had to deal with my first-born’s mental health issues, but my own issues would pop back up every once in a while as well.  Nowadays, it’s believed that my son and I actually have Asperger’s and, sadly, I have learned that being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder when you are actually autistic is pretty common.  In researching this new diagnosis, Robin Williams’ name came up again.  It’s believed that he, too, could have been on the autism spectrum and,yet again, I am comforted to think that we might have shared this bit of life experience.

As I mourn his death, alongside the rest of his fans, I feel a deep connection to the man, both personally and to the characters he so skillfully created.  He was talented on a level that most will never be able to comprehend. He was also deeply afflicted in a way we will never comprehend.  Unfortunately, so often, the talent and the affliction go hand in hand.  Saying goodbye is so very hard.  But I am glad he was around for so many years, making me laugh, making me cry, and allowing me to feel like a little bit more like a person and less like a failure.  Thank you, Uncle Robin, for helping me feel less alone.