I haven’t written a thing since April. Honestly, it’s not that I couldn’t; I just wasn’t willing. Not because I don’t love to write or feel the call to minister in this way, but because I’d lost my passion for almost everything. I found myself in one of the deepest valleys of my life. Each breath was work. The pain that engulfed our family was so overwhelming that I’d reached the haunting place of considering suicide. The devil had me on the run. I was dying to escape.
You might wonder what horrible thing happened that could bring me to this state of mind…it was nothing. Literally nothing out of the ordinary was happening in my life. But that’s what so many fail to understand about special needs families: the ordinary can be extraordinarily painful.
I can’t speak for all families of children with special needs but, as a mother of two children with Autism, one with extreme Anxiety + ADHD, and one with Oppositional Defiant Disorder…The pressure is so heavy and so constant that day after day is traumatizing. There is no space to catch my breath. There is no haven away from the storm. There is only chaos…Apart from Jesus.
Yes, I can take breaks at times. I’ve spent a night here or there at a hotel just to let myself regain a bit of energy. That can take the edge off while I’m away, but the second I walk back through the door, my defenses have no choice but to be on high alert. If the level of stress ever does lift, it may very well take the rest of my life to recover. With Autism, and many other disabilities, a child’s behavior can become similar to that of an abuser. And, after exhausting all therapeutic and medicinal options, there are many situations in which there is nothing left that can be done. Nothing but cry and pray for mercy. This is the situation we are in now. Sadly, we’ve actually been through worse phases. But this one brought me to the end of myself because I simply ran out of…everything. Ran out of energy. Ran out of patience. Out of resources. Out of hope.
I am a Christian. Some make the point that I should never run out of hope because my hope lies in Christ. Yes. True. But Christians are not perfect, we are human. We are saved by grace and I can testify that grace is all that’s getting me by lately. I know that hope is never truly lost. Yet, just like anyone (believer or not), I have limits. I bend and I break under the weight of trauma.
I’m not writing because I have some crazy-awesome advice that will get others through the day-after-day struggle of carrying a family in this situation. I’m writing because I believe, sometimes, God calls us to share the darkness of the valley and uses it to point others to His light. I can’t imagine, for a moment, trying to live this life anywhere but inside His arms. If God weren’t holding me, I would’ve lost this battle a long time ago. Following Him doesn’t guarantee comfort and convenience. It does guarantee that when we run out of air to breathe, He’ll be there to fill our lungs. Apart from His care, I suffocate. When I can’t even form the words to pray, He’s already fighting for me. I am a woman of faith. This doesn’t make me better, stronger or more qualified than anyone else to handle the special needs life…it makes me held in the midst of it.