It’s been a little while since I’ve opened up here. Honestly, it’s been a little while since I’ve written anything here at all. Sometimes I feel like it’s because I don’t have much left to say but other times it’s because I have too much to say and don’t know where to start. I guess both can be true at different times.
Since I first began writing about my life, almost fifteen years ago, so much has changed. My journey began when I met my now ex-wife and her one year old son, Gavin. Eight years later Elliott came along and two years after that, Emmett.
I had no idea that all three would eventually be diagnosed with autism and that life would take a very unexpected turn, charging me with raising all three of my amazing kids as a single dad.
None of this has been easy and I’m far from perfect but after twenty-three years I can honestly say that things have gotten better. My kids are much older now and many of the challenges we faced along the way like meltdowns, sensory issues, therapies, school problems, medical crises, and the end of a 17 year marriage are largely in the past.
Life is different now and in some ways easier. I’m in a much better place myself. The years or chronic stress and sleep deprivation have taken a toll and while I am doing so much better, I still have my bad days. Thankfully, the bad days are now the exception and no longer the rule. It doesn’t make the bad days I still have any easier but at least they’re fewer and farther between.
I’m in the process of rebuilding my life and playing catchup. As a special needs parent, I made many decisions in the moment that I felt were best for my kids or simply necessary for survival. We all experience this at one time or another when we’re parents. The reality is that sometimes those decisions have very real consequences that will need to be dealt with at some point in the future but in the moment “the future” seems like an abstract thing. When you’re in survival mode, you live very much in the minute and often can’t even see the future.
As my kids have become much more independent and in many ways building their own lives, it’s freed up bandwidth, resources, and energy that I haven’t had available to me in almost two decades. I can finally unpause my life that I put on hold so many years ago. I’ve only really been able to focus on myself for a short time but it’s a surreal experience. Progress feels great and I’ve learned a tremendous amount about myself already. I have a lot of work to do in order to get my life on track and it’s going to take some time but everyday I’m getting closer.
I know so many of you reading this may still be in that place where life is hard. Don’t give up. It does get better. Better for me doesn’t mean without challenge though, because lord knows my life is still full of challenge. It just means that I’ve found a path forward and I’m able to make progress. Better for me means that my kids are in a good place. Better for me means that I can begin to shape a life for myself outside of being an autism dad. I didn’t know that was possible until recently. I couldn’t see the better until I was a little closer to it.
I know that some of you will say that life never gets better. I respect that but at the same time, I would challenge you to reevaluate what better means to you. If you can redefine it, you might find that there are little victories that you may have overlooked along the way. These little victories can sometimes provide us with the strength we need to pick up and move forward.
Never give up. I’ve come close to giving up a few times over the years but I’m so grateful that I stuck it out because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had. I know it’s not easy but you totally got this and so do I.