Monday, February 1, 2010

Shelving Matters

I have been told by a very wise person that I am extremely good at putting parts of my life on "shelves" and that is how I deal when life becomes overwhelming. I really think the definition for shelving would be denial...but whatever, it works for me. Looking back at Peter's younger years, I know I was major shelving when it came to acceptance of the disease or syndrome or whatever you would like to call it. I guess the shelving allowed my to continue to think that one day Peter would wake up, he would be cured, or there was some special medicine to make this all go away.

During those early years, and after the Children's Hospital fiasco, I and Peter became BFF's with those people who worked at the Waismann Center in Madison. Peter and I spent many long days there having him tested, having him be a part of a study group, and trying new medication. I remember leaving early in the morning and returning late at night. Sara, already in grade school, was really not affected by my long absence. Mike, however, was always left in the care of a very caring friend, usually Sue Riordan. And although the stay at the Riordans, included a trip to Kmart to buy a toy, I always felt the guilt of leaving Mike, who was still finding his way as a toddler. So guilt and denial in my bag, I drove to Madison in search of a cure.

These drives were usually rewarding, as the visits provided hope. However, after driving through one of the worst snow storms, with only two tire tracks, all the way to Madison, and finding out that no one from the clinic was coming to work as the weather was too bad. I started thinking...what am I doing? Why do I have such a need to be here? Why did I have the need to put Peter and my life in danger? I guess, I was in search of a cure, an answer, and I was going to do the best to try and get that answer. I was going to do no matter what it takes to get this "fixed". So several years past, as we looked for the cure.

One day, after driving two hours, leaving Michael behind, I was put into a room with a large mirror on one end. Sitting there with a psychologist, who was asking me how I felt about my son being mentally retarded, (remember over 20 years ago, that was an okay phrase to use). I knew behind that mirror, was a classroom of students "learning" from my behavior. It was that day, that moment, that even though I am an educator myself and I am all about learning, I made a decision to stop the search. Stop looking for the miracle drug. So, answering the questions that in my mind were textbook perfect...I did get an A in Psychology 101, and hoping the students had learned something that day, I made the decision that this would be my last trip in "search". I would come annually, but no more of these one month trips.

What caused that great revelation, I do not know. It may have just been the tip of the iceberg, and I crashed, I reached my limit, but I knew it was time. Time to move on, time to accept what it is. I would think everyone in this type of situation reaches a point where they go from shelving to accepting. Each in our own way. As my mother would say...only time will tell. And time was what I needed to come to grips. I still remember fondly all those individuals at the Waismann center who listened, and researched, and provided the bridge for me to accept.

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