The Day Autism Came
Written in 1999
I don’t remember the exact day Autism moved in the house. He came in bits and pieces, realized then faded away. I had read about him, even studied a bit, but not one piece of knowledgeable material accurately described Autism. Not the Autism that took up residence at our house. For I do remember the moment I understood what he was all about. I had fallen asleep when Autism pounced on my chest like a cat. I jumped up, adrenaline flowing, my breath coming in short, shallow breaths, heart pounding so hard my body moved with each beat. Trying to gather my wits and focus my eyes I came face to face with Autism. 1000 faces and 1000 forms he knocked me to my knees with the realization. “Please no” I cried “how can this be, how can this be”. Love tried to soothe me as Autism insisted on repeating this torture all through the night. “I have moved mountains and created miracles” Love would whisper “I can overcome any obstacle”, and I believed, I believed.
But, Autism was relentless in the weeks that followed; he haunted my every thought, my every action. He was as big as the world or as small as a mouse but he was always there. He obsessed me. He controlled my entire mind until I ran red lights and forgot names. And by the end of that first horrible month even Love could see that although Autism had no power over her, she lacked the same against him.
Autism would wake me at all hours of the morning, laughing hysterically, hitting then crying for no reason. Exhausted I walked from room to room, I mind tripped and fell right into Hopelessness and Despair. “They’re with me” Autism explained, “eventually they all come to live wherever I am”. The best of friends, Hopelessness and Despair were almost always together. Love had been with me all my life and these two scared her. “Keep them at arms length” she warned “you will melt into them like wax”. And she was so right, for looking in their eyes you saw all their domains, middle eastern women setting themselves on fire, battered wives, abused children, the poor, the hungry, men imprisoned because of their race, starving mothers with babies at their empty breast.
Hopelessness and Despair could be so deceiving, always promising easy ways out. Their looks changing constantly trying to portray what they represented. When they had energy they would invite Anger over. He was one I have always steered away from. He would visit intermittently, squeezing my head so hard the back of my eyes ached. Anger would pound my thighs until I had bruises the size of oranges on my legs. Anger made me afraid. And when Fear showed up it became dangerous. Fear was famous for her little sayings “You can only have true love or true fear,” she would say over and over. When I questioned Love she just mildly stated “special circumstances”. My life became so hectic trying to keep this pack at bay.
Once in a while Hope would show her face. Dressed in an article or new found cure. She would give me hopes, dreams, and goals wrapped up like tiny gifts. She talked incessantly like music and I cherished her visits. But always, as days or months would pass and nothing would calm Autism down, Hopelessness and Despair would return from their absence and start in again. “There is no use in trying” Despair would say. Her scarred wrists waving in front of her face. Hope would whisper words of encouragement in my ear send me little positive thinking books, try to get me to hold on. But she became so small that I couldn't’t even hear her anymore. And when she left, my biggest enemy of all would show up. Regret. Regret could torment like no other ever could. He loved to remind every mother who looked away for one second while her baby drowned, for all drivers who killed their loved ones with one wrong turn, that Regret is the greatest torturer of all. “Let’s see” Regret would start out “Marley would be playing t-ball by now, oh and I bet he would be into those action heroes, what are their names” and he would ramble on and on “what would it be like to go to dinner with your family, or even go to a movie, shame you don’t even know his favorite color, right now I bet he would have friends, and they would have sleep overs, he would love trips to toys-r-us and want a puppy of his own, of coarse he would promise to feed it which you would end up doing, and you know what? I bet when you put him to bed he would say “Mama I love you all around the world and back" and all those cute things that children who do love their parents say. Sometimes he would talk until I would cry so hard that I couldn't’t hear him either.
And life would go on, every time I was punched in the face or scratched so hard blood ran down my neck, Autism would smile and taut me. “For the rest of your life” he’d giggle. Once when Hope was visiting we searched and searched the Internet for information to send Autism away. He excitedly pointed out a sentence in one description; “there you see” he jumped up and down “Autism is pervasive, covering all senses. I am Marley, he doesn't’t have me”
“OH no you don’t” Hope encouraged me to say. “I knew him before you came to our house, I saw behind his eyes. You only survive because of shattered hearts and broken spirits, you make it so hard you force families to give up that’s all. You convinced all the professionals but you’ll never convince me, you will be found out and destroyed”.
“I always win” Autism stated
“Not this time” Hope boldly yelled
“Whatever” Hopelessness added
“Not in this lifetime” Despair cried
“What if we had known sooner” Regret chimed