It has been a pretty dark time around here. I'm not going to recount all our troubles, some of them are ongoing and the subject of pending litigation; some of them (wait! many of the same ones!) are just too damn long a story to even begin to draw out in this little corner of the Internet. But it has been hard. Dark in the sense of hard times, dark days. Not all hard, not everything. But I didn't stop blogging just to eat bonbons on the couch. That's all.
But it has been a dark time in other
ways too. You know how sometimes a bunch of things happen that you
don't really think about, and then something else happens that makes
you realize that all those things were all one thing, and that one
thing is an answer to a question you've been asking? It's a bit like
fumbling around in the dark in an only slightly-familiar room. You
might think you're on the north wall, looking for the light switch
and when you bump your shin you wonder why someone put a box there
and then you are surprised that the floor is cold and the next thing
you realize you've turned yourself around and the light switch is
actually behind you, and that
box isn't a box at all but the bookshelf.
We have to have ideas and assumptions about where we are, even in the light, because it reduces our cognitive burden. We pretend we know what to expect next, and then we step into it without fear, even though we might be totally wrong in our expectations. Otherwise, it's a cliff you're stepping off of when you leave the house every morning, and for some of us, okay, for me, that's just too scary.
sometimes, maybe dark
times, those images can fail. The soft couch turns out to be the
hard corner of a dresser (ow!) and the light switch isn't anywhere
near where I thought it was. It's scary, those moments, feeling with
your hands out in front of you for the wall, for any little thing to
hold on to, that will tell you where you are, that will map the
darkness so that you can find your way out of it. I haven't spent
much time like that in the literal sense—I've always found my light
switch, my eyes adjusted to a few tiny beams of light from a digital
clock or a distant streetlight.
The last few years—it's even hard to say how many—have been a darkened room. And I think that, if not a light switch, we've found a night light, or maybe a touch map. It's still dark in here, but I have faith, at least this one day a year, that the light is coming back. We've been searching for a little beam of light for Henry, and we think we've found one, whether a floodlight or a moonbeam is yet to be seen, in the form of a diagnosis. It's surprisingly unsurprising, considering how long we've been grasping in the dark. Asperger's. Hey, special interest, anyone? Knitters don't know anything about that. Ahem.
So we've got new light on this struggle that has gone on, well, for a long time now, and while it's not an easy piece of news, it's one I can live with. I think it scares me less than it does many people. Seeing as how I'm a knitter who works with college professors all day, well, I know you can live a big and interesting life and be an Aspie. I've got a fair dollop of Aspie myself, in fact, and I feel like I speak Aspie reasonably well, even if it's a second language.
One of the things we're learning is that life for my sweet young man is a little like being in a dark room. Oh, he can see fine, but it's hard to know what people are going to do, hard to figure out why they're sometimes friendly and sometimes act mad and you said the same thing both times! It's hard to follow all those jumbly-up words when people are talking fast and telling you to do stuff, and sometimes, you just need to take some time to recharge and make sure that you have the energy to try to figure out all those people again. So every day does feel like stepping off a cliff, and we haven't understood that as well as we might have.
We just needed a little light to see better.
So tonight is the longest night. Every year, I wish for a return of the light and this year is no different. I need the light to help me figure out the lay of this land, to make a map. But this year I'm also going to wish for better night vision. Because wandering in this dark place, while not easy, is showing me new ways to see. And if there's anything I need right now to help our family, it's to be able to see things differently, and maybe more light isn't the only way to do that.
Tonight is the longest night, the night when I send my intentions out into the cold sky and wait for them to come back with the sun. I like summer, I do, but this year, my prayer is not waiting for a brightened return alone. Under clear winter stars, and in glistening snows, I'll take this dark night to listen, and to learn to see. And that, too, is a blessing, both bright and dark.