Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Those are people, mijo

As our nation, and the world continues to mourn, we need to continue to have the hard conversations about so many different things.This morning, for the first time, I read a message board thread that was a balanced civil discussion. It was such a relief to know that people were able to move towards that.

We all bring our own views and experiences to any conversation. When I discuss my views on guns-it really is helpful that people know that I have my reasons for my views. My reasons come from my experiences. As a child I grew up with older brothers who hunted and carried handguns. I have hunted with one of my brothers and his son. As an adult I have been the survivor of random gun violence. I bring all of these experiences and more to any discussion involving guns.

When the topic is mental health I bring my life as a person with mental health issues to the discussion. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 19-ok, I was diagnosed as manic depressive, they didn't call it bipolar disorder back then(yes, I am old). I was diagnosed with PTSD and panic and anxiety 10 years ago. Major depressive disorder is one of the labels that is in my medical records.I manage my mental health with medication and therapy. I bring all of these experiences with me to any discussion of mental health issues.

When the discussion is about parenting my experience growing up in a dysfunctional family comes with me along with my experience as a parent.A parent of a young man with autism.

So all, of these different parts of us come into any conversation, and this is a good thing. There are so many conversations that we need to be holding.It is my fervent hope that we start talking and keep talking until we can move forward.  I am honestly sorry to my friends who think it is not the time yet. I get where you are coming from, but if not now, when. For me, it is time to talk to each other, and to keep talking to each other. So, I will hopefully be writing on all of these issues in the near future.

 While we may never know what Adams problems really were, or what the dynamics  in the family were, etc., we have read that there were issues, and that people were aware of the issues. The words autism and aspergers keep being bandied about, and that is an issue for me.

My son is blessed with autism. We want you to know that autism/aspeger's did not kill anyone.We want you to know that persons on the autism spectrum are much more likely to be victims than perpetrators. Much more likely to be victims of violence and bullying and abuse than to be the We want you to see my son walking through the store and not be afraid of him.Yes, I know, that if you are in a public place with us you might look at me funny when you hear me say "Those are people, mijo" as my son starts from point A to point B. That is me reminding my son to be careful, to be aware that he is 6'7" and 350 pounds and that he needs to walk responsibly and make sure he remembers to be polite and respectful. He doesn't need to be reminded as often as he used to. In fact not long ago he turned and looked at me and said "I know that." As a mom, that was  good moment, a moment when I knew that the lessons are learned. Of course, I am also the mom who still automatically throws her right arm across the chest of anyone in the passenger seat if she has to hit the brakes when driving, so I am pretty sure "Those are people, mijo," will still come out of my mouth.

Today I am still attempting to process some of the things I have read about the choices Adam's mother made in her parenting.I have to admit that when I  read that Nancy Lanza told her friend that "she introduced guns to Adam as a way to teach him responsibility" I bring my experiences with me and I have trouble grasping and processing that information.

My son is a young man now, and I still work every day to instill respect and responsibility in him.He makes me quite proud, truth is, there are days he is more responsible than I am.We chose to teach responsibility by having a pet to care for. Having the expectations of behavioral goals that needed to be met.  My son has chores lists. He has had chores commensurate with his abilities all of his life. While he knew his dad was a softie, he knew that if mom got home from work at midnight and the chores weren't done, he would get up and do them. I actually only had to get him up 2 or 3 times to teach him that.

So, like everyone, the tragedy last Friday is on my mind. Like everyone, I think about how we are responding and as a nation. Like each of us, I will bring my experiences with me to the conversation. I will attempt to keep the conversation civil and respectful, but I will not stop attempting to keep the conversations going. I owe to my son,and the people I love.  I owe it to the friends and family members who are burying their loved ones this week, and I owe it to myself. And like my son, I will try to remember as we go through this, in private and in public to never forget...
Those are people, mijo.


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