Auditory Discrimination




    May 17, 2016

    One woman and her last-minute attorney filed into a conference room. A large wooden table with a dozen chairs, bottles of water and ink pens in the center. Two suited men sitting very seriously in front of four-inch thick stacks of paper bound neatly with file clips waited sternly. Two rose to shake hands with my attorney and regard me awkwardly. One offered his hand, the other sat without greeting me, reconsidered and then stood again to shake my hand very briefly.

    Anxieties pushed over when the principal entered, slick as a car salesman and shaking hands as happily and nonchalant as if it were a wedding. I am certain that the air around me dropped a palpable 20 degrees when he dared ask me how Ben has been doing. White knuckled rage. I suppose it is a normal maternal response to anyone who has hurt your child.

    The mediator arrived and explained the rules. I reminded myself to keep breathing and then the spotlight was on me. With care and as much courage as I could muster I articulated the history of events as they were leading to this day. I looked at the moderator and did my best to blank out the eyes of the men all around looking at me and scribbling notes on their legal pads.  I willed myself to hold back tears, this was the moment I most needed to be strong, to show them I was not intimidated. In the middle of my diatribe I had to press my hands under my legs so that no one would see how they were shaking.

    Once I completed the history, the sides took separate spaces and I had long periods to get to know my last-minute attorney. As it happens, last-minute does not in any way mean incapable. He was not only kind and concerned, but also compassionate sharing his own experience as a father and as a consultant when my state wrote the laws that support IDEA.

    So what happened? 

    Well, I cried once but was able to recover my resolve fairly quickly.

    I lost my temper once, but was able to rein it in enough not to seem crazy.

    The District will provided training on the special needs of children on the spectrum for all of their teachers in a manner that promotes acceptance and advocacy before the beginning of the next school year. They will provide me with both the curriculum used and the records of who attended.

    They will also evaluate Ben’s specific needs and help me to find an appropriate school, even if they must provide transportation out of the district or pay for a private situation.

    I came home and slept more fully than I have for more than six months.

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  • God is In the Rain

    April 26, 2016

    “God is in the rain.” – V for Vendetta


    Sometimes I feel so awake every corner every movement every little thing the Earth has to offer that is over looked on the daily is magnified and even when I close my eyes I can feel it all so deeply it scares me. It makes me feel so alive yet small at the same time, like I can conquer anything yet feel ashamed for thinking I’m much more important than I really am.

    It magnifies the things I may not be ready to see, the things I don’t want to see, but the things I need to see. I welcome pain, love, shame, happiness, loss, everything and anything that makes me feel alive in this dead society we’ve created for ourselves. I’m both thankful and hateful of it, not because I want to turn a blind eye and close my eyes to the things that we let slip by us, but because it makes me question the things I thought I had solid answers to and I’m back to where I started all over again.

    I don’t mind change, but when you believe for the longest time that the show you’re enjoying is all you get and then a curtain pulls up to reveal that what you watched wasn’t even the show at all, you feel a sense of betrayal and pain that goes bone deep that makes you wonder just what else isn’t what it says it is.

    I got too cocky and thought I was something special when in reality I fell for a false show. I don’t blame myself nor am I upset, but I am disappointed. For a moment, I made myself bigger than I am and believed that I had power over a piece of life that I thought would bring me happiness but instead brought me nothing but stress.

    I think the ugliest thing you could do to someone is know how they feel about something and then completely ignore it. It’s not easy to admit any emotion in a society where only happiness is accepted. It takes bravery, love, and trust to be able to put your heart on the table and know that the worst thing isn’t even for it to be broken, but to be ignored. At least a broken heart and shattered expectations come with closure.

    When is someone worth it? How long can a show go on for before a curtain can be revealed and lifted and you lose yourself to a shattered reality? How long can you pretend until you can’t tell if it’s real anymore?

    I thought I had become good enough to catch these instances before the show could begin, but I keep reminding myself that I’m still human and I’ll never fully catch everything I want to catch in time before it could cause me great pain or loss that I didn’t prepare myself for. But then again, that’s life I suppose.

    I hate questioning if the people in my life genuinely care, genuinely listen, aren’t just putting on an act before revealing that the people I let get comfy in my life were only planning on being here briefly with no intent on loving me back…but it seems as though finding people who only have on curtain to raise and only one show to give are becoming harder and harder to find. There’s nothing more suicidal than seeking and accepting comfort in the arms of poison disguised as desert.

    I’m not anything special and I’m constantly reminded of it in grudging small talk and a false air of care in the people who only ask to be polite and the people who only seek out something in return. I die a little in their arms, disguising themselves as my friends and loved ones and give me a false hope of love and affection that I thirsted for for so long and refuse anything less than what I need after hating myself and what I had before and ran from for so long.

    I’m not anything special, and I don’t say that in a low self esteem away, I say that in the most honest way. I’m me, yes, but I’m also you. I’m your friends, your neighbors, your family, the kids you went to school with, the people who pass you on the street…I’m every politician, every cashier, every homeless individual and every rich one as well. I’m all of you, the pieces of you you repress from yourself or maybe the rest of the world as well. I’m the secrets you kept, the secrets you couldn’t keep, your desires, your goals, your fears, the things that remind you of who you are and the things that you have the potential of becoming. I’m in the sun, the rain, the wind, the moon. I’m not anything special, but I am someone who breathes life into the small moments that slip from our minds to connect event after event to create a reaction that effects and strains us all yet unites us as one.

    With this, I find genuine forgiveness for the people who’ve hurt me, the people who are hurting me, and the people who haven’t hurt me yet knowing I can take the hurt and find the lesson within it I need to better myself in every shade possible. Being no one and everyone all at once, I can learn to let go of the people who weren’t holding on to me to begin with and kiss the storms of yesterday goodbye and say hello to the rainbows of tomorrow even with the pain of today humming every last beat that it finds in my heart.

    God is in the rain, and so am I.



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  • How to Love Someone with PTSD

    April 21, 2016
    shell (1)

    1. Be Patient. We’re all trapped in our minds and lost in a world that once wasn’t foreign to us. We’re hyper aware yet at the same time disconnected from everyone and everything around us. We’re both unafraid and deeply afraid, lost yet found, wanting affection and staying far away from it. It’s not that we don’t know how to make up our minds, it’s that we are all used to being lied to, are exhausted from so much pain we can’t escape, and have a hard time believing what is and is not real in a life full of lies. Be patient while we find our footing trying to find ourselves again after years of torment inside our minds. Some of us never even knew who we were, yet alone remember who we were before the pain. Be patient, and you won’t regret the beauty of someone picking up the pieces and putting them back together again even if it takes time or never fully happens, but the journey is just as beautiful.

    2. Be Understanding. Between the numb emotions, outbursts, disconnected actions, and behavior that even we cannot explain at times…be understanding. That doesn’t mean you have to understand us, what we do, why we do it…just be understanding that it’s a part of us now as is with our eye and hair colours and the music that is our voices. Just as you can’t always understand why animals do what they do or why people have favorite colors with no real reason, understand that it’s okay if you don’t understand us as long as you’re understanding that there are things about us out of our control that we work on a daily basis to fight in order to be the best we can be despite the pain and the demons tearing apart our minds.

    3. Listen. And I don’t mean with your ears. Sometimes we don’most-people-do-not-listent even know how to voice ourselves when it comes to our emotions, our goals, our fears, our wants and needs. Sometimes we don’t even know what those are, and it’s the most frustrating thing in the world to have someone ask us what we want, if we’re okay, and what they can do and everything floods our minds yet can’t find a single word to tell you what we need to say. Listen to the way we move our bodies, the
    way our eyes react, the tone (or lack there of) in our voices, to the unspoken things we tell you on a daily basis in our own ways. We talk a lot, even if it’s not in our voices, just listen intently with not just your ears and you’ll hear the soul you thought you lost or never fully knew.

    4. Learn. Julian Barnes once said:“The more you learn, the less you fear.” We live in a world where it’s more acceptable to teach children how to avoid and survive terrorism but not to learn about mental illnesses. Don’t be afraid to read up on help, or more about your loved one and their mental illnesses as well. Books and professionals can explain behaviors you may recognize in your loved ones and help you better understand them or become understanding and how to help them rather than become frustrated that they aren’t themselves any more or frustrated that they are constantly afraid and on edge. It’s easy to turn a blind eye, but the more you know about what your loved one deals with, the closer you may feel to them when you understand better ways to help.


    5. Be Loving. PTSD and many mental illnesses have one thing in common: a lack of love and intimacy of any kind. Everyone has a different reason for this, reasons you may know or never know, and that’s okay. Learn what your loved one is okay with and slowly progress at their pace. You don’t have to show love in a physical way, but the small things go a long way such as text messages checking in on us, constant communication, reminders that we are loved, and reassurance that things will be okay. There is a constant fear of abandonment, being hurt again, distrust, things that are not easy to overcome but with patience, love, and dedication you can see us bloom in ways you’d never imagine.

     6. Take Care of Yourself. There’s a saying you can’t pour from an empty cup, and it’s very true. If you constantly put all of your energy into someone with mental illness but aren’t careful to take care of yourself as well, you will unintentionally put a strain on the relationships you have with everyone around you and you will slowly begin to hurt yourself unintentionally by trying to give more than what you have. Take the time to love and care for yourself, the world can wait, and in the end we’ll love you just the same for taking care of yourself in order to help take care of us when the time is right for you. After all, it takes two to tango.

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  • Dark Passages and Secret Chambers

    April 16, 2016

    “Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.”
    ― Stanisław Lem

    Recently, a friend and I spoke about writing as therapy. While I certainly have used writing as an outlet, I can’t say that I have ever allowed myself to do so in a way that was unrestrained. Rules of grammar, the desire to communicate in a way that another will understand, clarity of purpose: these have always been the confines of writing. But what would happen if you took away the rules and set your writing free? What if you could change your writing from James Pollard to Jackson Pollack? What might we learn from art off leash?

    Words Set Free

    On our recent trip to the woods, I found some quiet space to enjoy a book of poetry by Pablo Neruda, one of my most beloved poets. As I read, I found myself overwhelmed with emotions of longing and loneliness, even restlessness and despair. Considering this, I decided to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys)to see what would come of writing the stream of consciousness raging beneath the emotional surface. Sometimes I would write single words, like smatterings of paint tossed carelessly on a canvas. Sometimes a drawing or sketch would shape itself. In the end, a great many words flowed from my mind that seemed to say something about the status of my heart.

    While the actual writing was floral and saccharin and heavily perfumed by Neruda’s passionate style, the outcome was entirely too personal and even non-sensical to publish or share. Some of it even I didn’t understand! However,  the core said something very important about healing and openness and learning to trust and a desire to let go of fears. Through the exercise I found an almost childlike willingness to stop restraining myself and to open myself fully to possibilities.

    It has come to represent a real moment of healing.

    Learning to Communicate: 

    Since that day I have been thinking a great deal about how I communicate, both naturally and via social indoctrination. It seems that for much of my life I was taught that being quiet, smiling and looking pretty were an acceptable substitution for any sort of attempt at communication that might be inappropriate or awkward.  I learned not to speak of anything overly personal since sharing on that level was usually poorly timed and uncomfortable for the person with whom I was speaking. I learned to compensate for what others deemed undesirable communication by not communicating at all.

    I became a living embodiment of the written script, my brain playing back the appropriate dialogue for each bit of small talk. Using the corresponding face for the corresponding emotion and when all else failed I could sit quietly, smile and be pretty. My professional life has been made wildly successful by my ability to remember scripted information. I can pull up patient information, diagnostic criteria, expected and anticipated grief responses to events more quickly than a google search, and with greater ability to select what the person is needing at that moment.

    But if all of these things sound like they are the ramblings of someone who has been taught how NOT to communicate- well you would be right. None of these strategies say anything about me. They are completely devoid of any opportunity to assert myself as a person with needs, thoughts and experiences. The mechanics of expectation have been overriding the need for connection so completely that even I did not recognize the program as it was running.

    This year has been one of peeking past any number of sealed doors. Some of them have led to bright new paths of self understanding – others to an unconscionable darkness. Perhaps what is different this year from those past is a sense that looking into those places in my mind -without a guide or a translator – is safe.

    I am trying really hard now to break from the program and to talk away from the rules. There is still a lot of anxiety about saying what is right, wrong and not messing up. I suspect people in positions of trust in my life, those who likely know most about me to begin with and are safe test dummies, will find themselves subjected to random trials and awkward mistakes. I am exploring my labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, a world that I have been trapped in for far too long.  I am finding that there is a power that comes from these interactions, and an awareness that my natural means of communication are perfectly okay, not because the social rules have changed – but because I am learning that people who love you will take the time to hear the prayer in every effort: the prayer to be able to connect and be complete as a person.

    I think that is something everyone deserves.


    Jackson Pollack

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