18 Mar

From, March 17, 2010

I’d like to make myself believe that Planet Earth turns slowly.”~ Fireflies, Owl City

When Alphonse was diagnosed with autism more than 13 years ago, one of the very first things to go was our social life. But no, it didn’t happen overnight. Slowly, my husband and I found ourselves walking this one-way street where autism consumed our every waking moment, and before we knew it, we had left friends and family by the wayside. We lost friends because there simply wasn’t enough time—we focused on “saving” Alphonse and nothing else. And yet, others we lost because they chose not to have anything to do with us. The diagnosis, with its attending complications, was simply too much for them.

It got worse when Alphonse started having behavioral problems. Manifesting as aggression and self-injury, these behaviors isolated us from the world. We could not leave him alone; we were all he had. Even relatives stayed away, hiding their children when Alphonse was in sight. For more than five years, we looked for help where and when we could find it. We tried everything we could, yet nothing worked. Except for my closest family, few really understood what we were going through. We felt abandoned and alone. And so, we learned to become a self-sustaining unit of four.

In recent years, however, the sun has finally found its way to our little spot in this world, and Alphonse has, for the most part, been agreeable and steady and calm. Even his outbursts have lost their angry hostility and violent desperation. And although he remains excitable and emotionally fragile, we are grateful that our angry child has evolved into a generally happy young man.

Kittymama and A with Pisay 85 friends

The question that comes to mind now is: What next? After all these years of burrowing underground, staying hidden and safe, and operating under everyone’s radar, it’s not easy giving ourselves permission to even ponder on the possibility of a social life. Just the very thought scares me to death.

Yet, just this last week, my husband and I took the first tentative steps to reconciling with the outside world. I don’t know about my husband but just preparing for it was hard for me. I had to work on the smile to hide my fear. I had to muster the courage to feel less conscious and less wary of people. I fought with myself constantly on our joint decision to make this leap—were we too hasty? Did we really even need to? I tried to talk myself out of going many times.

Kittymama with some MCS friends (photo by Ms. Grace Gonzales-Tanchanco)

In the end, my fears were unjustified. The world opened its arms to me and I felt kinship and friendship where I least expected it. In the comfort of people I had known since I was a child, it didn’t matter who I was today and what I have made of myself. There was no scrutiny, no judgments. The long road I took led to only one place, where the thing that mattered most was that I was there. Just that.

And for me, that was enough. My faith in friendship was restored.


10 Responses to “Isolation”

  1. Just a friend March 19, 2010 at 1:58 am #

    Glad you are opening yourself to the world, Kittymama.

    • Kittymama March 22, 2010 at 10:48 am #

      I am, too. 🙂 Thank you!

  2. leirs March 20, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    hi Mare the first step is always the hardest and everything else is just a walk in the park.. miss you Mare!

    • Kittymama March 22, 2010 at 10:50 am #

      Thanks, Leirs. It’s still a little hard, Mare, but I am getting there. 🙂

  3. Kitkriiters March 22, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    Even though we’ve only met once and just texted a few times… I knew you’re a great person. And in some way or another, He’s always there… in your isolation. Take Care! =).

    • Kittymama March 22, 2010 at 10:51 am #

      Thank you for your kind words, Kit! Hope to meet you soon again. 🙂

  4. Mandi March 24, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    This is so inspiring to me. We are currently experiencing the angry and aggressive outbursts from our son. Its been going on for over a year. I am glad to read that your son is happier now. That is our hope for Matt. Take care 🙂

    • Kittymama March 26, 2010 at 10:12 am #

      Thank you, Mandi. Those were really, really hard years and when I look back on them, I can’t help but feel very grateful that we survived them at all, more so, intact, whole, and stronger. Just know that the dark clouds can not hover forever; there will be light. Stay strong always and blessings.

  5. Manggy March 25, 2010 at 12:19 am #

    That’s precisely what friends are for 🙂 Sometimes I don’t give them the credit they deserve. (Well, except for being on time. They will always be late no matter what.)

    • Kittymama March 26, 2010 at 10:15 am #

      I’m not used to having friends anymore (except for A) so reconnecting with old ones was a real thrill. But you’re right, true to form, some of them were really late. 🙂

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