When I was a girl (and even as a young adult), I used to write poetry when things in my life were going badly. I poured my heart out in ink onto a piece of boring notebook paper. All the injustices in the world, all the heart-breaking middle school romances that tore my world apart…they’re all there, on those old, tear-stained pieces of paper.
I was quite the drama queen with a pen. But I had good reason to be.
All my life I’ve rooted for the “little guy,” fought like hell for true love, and offered kindness to the hateful. I befriended people who were the hardest to get along with…because they needed someone. I believed I could save people, thought I could reach people who didn’t want to be reached. And I succeeded in some cases, though my heart still aches for those I lost.
I cried a lot. During the hardest times in my life, I think I cried daily. People called me oversensitive, said I needed to “grow some skin.” My mom told me that my sensitivity and gentle spirit was an incredibly important part of who I was, and is now ultimately, who I am today. But I just felt broken, like there was nobody else out there in the world that felt what I felt.
One day when I was 21, still crying, still broken, and once again betrayed by someone with whom I thought I had made a difference, I made a phone call to my brother – probably the only other person in the world who truly “gets” me – and told him what was going on. I told him that I felt sort of like an angel in a world filled with darkness and lost people. (Please understand that, by “angel,” I meant a loving person, with honest motivations and a good heart, reflecting a purity in spirit that much of the world leaves behind in their childhood. The concept was not at all founded in arrogance.)
It’s just that I quite literally felt like I didn’t belong in this world, and that was a dangerously lonely place to be. It seemed that, for every one person I helped, there were a thousand others that made breaking my heart into a game. I was constantly questioning how the world could be so mean. And as I cried to my brother that day, I somehow communicated the fact that “I just don’t feel like there’s anyone else out there like me.”
My brother stopped me right there, and said “Kristi, there *isn’t* anyone out there like you.” He also alluded to the fact that I sort of was like a modern day angel, which was a good thing. I spent more time in tears, but they were tears of relief – I finally felt like someone heard me, and helped me to see that there was nothing wrong with me. I knew then that I could face the world with my head held just a little higher. I changed that day, mostly for the better, but my heart had to harden a little in order for me to move forward.
So now I am 34, and many things have happened since that conversation with my brother. It is true that, no, there isn’t anyone out there exactly like me. But there are good people in the world, other modern-day angels who care as much as I do, and long to make a difference. I have also come to terms with the concept that, during my darkest hours, when life was the most painful, I was never alone. And that those same feelings that seemed so awful now serve a purpose for good.
You see, I have been in “training” to be a special needs mom in me since I was a very little girl, which means that I have been conditioned and prepped to love children both children and adults who society labels as “difficult” people. And I have been groomed for the job since I could first speak for myself.
As a child, I suffered greatly for this. As a teenager, I cried daily for this. As a young adult, I was used, abused, and sucked dry by people who were drawn to my passion, my optimism and the light I “cast” upon shadows. I was ridiculed when I loved on those who were considered “undesirable” by others. And even as a grown woman, I still give a bit too much of myself. All anyone has to do is ask it of me.
But now I know why.
As a mother, I have finally realized that all of these hardships have added tools, year after year, one at a time, to my toolbox as a special needs parent. The teardrops which caused ink to smudge on those old poetic pieces of notebook paper were not shed in vain. They are marks of courage and expression, war wounds earned during very strenuous times.
I have an autistic child. And he needs me. And God knew that my son would NEED me to be prepared for him before even I knew I’d even be having a child someday.
In fact, God gave me a gift. I am special, I am necessary, I am STRONG, I am an emotional WARRIOR, still advocating for the little guy – MY little guy. But it’s not a curse.
It’s a reward.
It’s a reason.
It’s an honor.
My whole, dramatic, sensitive, crying, fighting life finally makes SENSE. And *that,* my lovelies, is why I keep on writing. No more tear-stained notebook paper (Thank God my keyboard is pretty smudge-proof). No less injustice in the world. No shortage of lost people. But now I have a reason. Now I have a way. Now I have focus and direction.
So look out, world, you have an angel to contend with. The halo may be a little twisted, but these wings were made for flapping – and passing wings on to my child is just the beginning…