Who Am I?…Why Am I Here?

What follows is a re-post of my first blog piece that explains the rationale behind this blog.
Thank you for the inspiration – Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, RIP.

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Greetings fellow travelers of the life experience,

I begin this blog, as I am…a work in progress….perfectly imperfect, but always moving forward. I am the mother of beautiful little girl with Autism. Our family has benefited greatly from the skills that we have been taught at the Autism Treatment Center of America, and the Option Institute. I don’t consider myself a “mother warrior”, rather I am a peace maker. We are currently embarking on the endeavor of making peace in the functions of our daughter’s body. To be clear, if she is always Autistic or has Autism (whichever terminology you prefer), she is and always will be magnificent!

She is also a very sick little girl….getting fevers often. We recently visited our DAN doctor, and reviewed her lab results. The results confirmed what my husband and I already deduced, that her immune system is in very bad shape. We are just trying to process all that we have learned, and the enormity of what lays ahead of us…it is just starting to sink in.

She wasn’t always sickly. For her first year, we often commented on how healthy she was. When everybody else got sick, she was always fine. Then things started to change…was it vaccines?….was it some environmental insult? Well, I’ll likely delve into those questions in a future blog post, but not today.

Today is an introduction. An explanation of why I have started this blog, and why it is titled, ” Who Am I?…Why Am I Here?” When my daughter was 16 months old, starting to have difficulties, and her biggest challenges were soon to come, my husband and I prepared to go out for my birthday and our anniversary. My father arrived at our door unannounced with a birthday card for me. In it, he had written, “Don’t let your child get in the way of your destiny.” I was dumbfounded and aggravated. Though I remember my husband and I standing in the living room with him, I honestly don’t remember what was said from that point on. We had tried for years to have a child, and I had had many miscarriages, yet in my father’s view, my child was an obstacle to my destiny. He had his own vision of who I should be, which didn’t include a child or my love for dogs, to which he displayed an open disdain. Too bad for him…I am me and proud of it. My daughter, my husband, my dogs, and even you (if you get something of value for your life from this blog) are why I’m here, and thus my destiny.

I am powerful, I am fragile, I am contrary, I am easy going, I am many things at different times….and I celebrate my personal evolution. I am full of myself…because whom else should I be full of? {That line is going to make my husband smile.} …but think about it…how many times have you heard someone say he/she is so full of themselves? It’s meant as a put down to say that the person is arrogant. However, are we really better off to be “full of” someone other than ourselves…to embody their belief of what our destiny should be?

Recently, much needed attention has been focused on the issue of bullying. I am fortunate that the Internet was not in play during my high school days, because I was enough of a target for bullies already. That said, even that time of my life that I would not repeat if someone paid me, had value. During my Sophomore year, when one of my tormentors was going after me during lunch, a girl who was a Senior invited me to start eating with the Seniors. One of the Seniors was a skinny, dark haired boy with glasses who told really corny jokes and played keyboards. In terms of current popular imagery, picture Harry Potter. That boy became my friend, and twelve years later, my husband…which I guess makes me, Ginny…although, I see myself as more of a mix between Luna and Hermione. ;-) In the midst of a very painful time of my life, I met the love of my life and my best friend. During those years of bullying, I felt a soul crushing loneliness, and I contemplated suicide more times than I can count, but something stopped me and I am eternally grateful. I realize that the Internet has made the pressure of bullying feel even more intense, as if there’s no escape, but what you need to remember is every breath is an opportunity. The moment, that you give in to that impulse in order to find a way out and you take your last breath, all opportunities for change disappear. Choose to live…there will be people in your life who love you for who you are…be open to it…keep breathing…you WILL get there.

No doubt some of you recognized the “Who am I?…Why am I here?” reference and some did not, so I will elaborate. In the 1992 Presidential Election, Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale was the vice presidential candidate for the Reform Party. During the beginning of the Vice Presidential Debate, Stockdale said, “Who am I?…Why am I here?” as a prelude to introducing himself. Unfortunately, with the dynamic to and fro of a three way debate, and difficulty hearing, he was unable to effectively present himself. Instead, he appeared to some as disoriented and doddering…something that comedians and SNL, in particular, pounced on. It is my understanding at that Stockdale’s hearing loss was at least in some part due to the torture that he endured during his seven years of captivity as a POW in Vietnam. He was one of the most highly decorated officers in Navy history, receiving twenty six personal combat decorations, in addition to the Medal of Honor. Who am I?…Why am I here? are questions that many of us ask ourselves in the course of a life time. Quite often, they are the questions that knock at our brains during a sleepless night, when life is not turning out the way we had hoped. What learning can be taken away from this? Even the harshest of life’s experiences have value in creating who we are and who we impact along the way.

The reason that I am starting this blog is a form of therapeutic, creative release. {No, you can’t send me a bill for reading it.} ;-) Sometimes I will need to vent , sometimes I will wax philosophical, sometimes I will find joy and humor in unexpected things. There will be times that I choose to be frustrated or even fearful of the future, or instead marvel at the wonder of life. I choose how I feel and I own that. This blog is about Autism, my daughter’s and my own health challenges, trying to build a business to pay for medical expenses and help charities, maintaining a healthy love relationship with my husband, and other things that make life worthwhile, like our dogs. It’s about life and all its chaotic beauty. This is how my destiny is revealing itself to me. We each have our own destinies discover. There is a great line from the movie, The Men Who Stare At Goats, ” Find out what your destiny is and the river will carry you.” So, dear reader, if your destiny and mine meet, enjoy the splashing around and feel free to wear your water wings if you wish.

Embrace life with gratitude, and it will return the favor.

Peace be with you!


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A painting of our daughter and dogs from 2003

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