I have attempted to start this blog 3 times now. Each time I’ve stayed up late into the night, overflowing with motivation and excitement, like the flood gates have opened and all the words that have been pent up in my mind and heart for the last 4 years are finally free to flow out onto the paper. And then the morning comes, my creative juices are completely tapped out and I am left only with an overwhelming sense of insecurity and self doubt- the two most prevalent demons which seem to pervade my every move in life. I’ve tried for years to fight these feelings of ineptitude. They are the roots of so many of my struggles. And yet, they persist…
Do I even have anything relevant or helpful to say? Who would want to read about my experience as a special needs mom? Why would anyone care about MY story? What if people judge me? What if I type the wrong thing, offend someone or get negative feedback? Could I even handle that right now? This is stupid… I barely have enough functioning brain cells to get through the day, let alone do creative writing which I’m going to make public, open for all to see my flaws, my challenges, my stumbles and sure, maybe some triumphs.
These are the thoughts that hold me down; paralyzed with fear and self doubt and that prevent the growth and evolution I so desperately desire. And so I’ve quit. Each time, I’ve shoved the idea to the back of my mind, refocused on my phone calls, the insurance battles, the dizzying schedule of therapies and the endless household chores. Those things are easy. They don’t make me feel vulnerable or require me to challenge or reflect upon myself. And yet, I leave this blog page open. It’s always up as a tab on my Internet browser. I see it every day and feel a constant pull to write… to share… to be transparent.
After a recent conversation with one of my closest friends, who also happens to find solace in writing, he helped me to realize that the only way I am ever going to overcome this crippling fear of ineptitude, is to push past my insecurity and just do it. If no one reads this, that’s actually ok. If people judge me, that’s ok too. If I say the wrong things, well, I am only human and thanks to a rather tumultuous past relationship with a narcissist who delighted in forcing me to grovel for every perceived wrongdoing, I am highly skilled at the art of apologizing! I have also come to accept that although I’d love it if this blog could help other people in their own lives in some small way; maybe, this is just a platform for me to process this experience and foster my own inner growth.
As I’ve begun to weave together the name, the story, the symbolism that I feel represents this thing, Oliver’s Odyssey, I have discovered that this process IS the path of spiritual growth and self development which I thought I had fallen off of so long ago.
This blog name has been rolling around in my head for a couple of years. It wasn’t until I Googled Odyssey (because I honestly didn’t know how to spell it) that I was struck by how absolutely perfect this word is to describe the journey we embarked upon at the moment of Oliver’s birth.
The dictionary provides two definitions of Odyssey:
1) A long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune
2) An intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest
How perfectly do both of these describe our experience?!
This voyage has indeed been marked by many changes in fortune. From soul crushing trauma that’s left deep scars to tearful victories of insurance battles won and inch stones met. It has, at many times, felt most optimistically like we are wandering, dare I say, hopelessly lost, in a world in which we hadn’t expected to find ourselves. Despite our years of wrestling to accept a path that is difficult, where grief claws at your heels as you try to drag yourself out of the pit in which you’ve fallen, both Conrad and I have always tried to find purpose in this journey. It has been our mission to rediscover our spiritual connection and not only accept this life we live, but feel deep gratitude for the profound opportunity Oliver’s injury provides us with each and every day.
Although a large part of me has tried to turn her back on everything that is “new agey,” conscious or spiritually tied since Oliver’s birth, another part has never been able to let go of that desire to evolve… to become the best version of myself that I can. I have spent much time lamenting the loss of a life filled with yoga practice, meditation, vibrant vegan meals made from home grown produce, proper sleep, self-care and a light hearted new age world view full of sunshine and rainbows. That WAS my world before Oliver. It was a world where pretty much everything was curable by diet and lifestyle change, where the natural way was always the best and where my mind had the time and space to have much more worldly concerns like recycling, saving the rainforest and judging people who I felt weren’t trying hard enough. LOL Back then I felt that I was on the fast track to consciousness and the universe was a kind supportive friend who gave me ease and abundance in my life. My attempt to not completely despise the youthful naivety of this past version of my self is a topic for another blog post! BUT, what I have missed about her is the happiness that she possessed, the confidence that she was slowly rebuilding, and the open hearted and loving way that she approached the world. She was fun and saw the glass half full and most importantly to me; she was working on becoming that best version of herself. Through the last couple years, I have felt woefully disconnected from this whole process of self-discovery and frequently have placed the blame for that on our “situation.”
Since Oliver was born, life has become very serious. There are seizures to stay calm through, medications to properly administer, and hospitalizations to survive. There’s been a convoluted and corrupt healthcare system to learn to navigate, government agencies to attempt to work with, and a need for continuous and committed advocacy for a bright but vastly underestimated little boy.
On top of these things there is a constant need to mitigate the pain and frustration of a 4-year-old boy who has energy and desires but needs full assistance at all moments of the day to do absolutely everything.
Through all of this, it has been undeniably difficult to find that lighthearted smiling girl I used to know. But the truth is that she is still there. She’s been covered up and her light obscured by the fallout of life, but she IS there.
I am ready to set down the limiting belief that the growth I am seeking and the path I feel I’ve lost are impossible to find. In fact, I know that the toughest situations CAN provide amazing opportunities, IF one chooses to use them that way.
So… this blog is my public cry of refusal to be limited, stunted or saddened by my son’s disability. I will not stifle our families love of adventure and discovery because there will be extra challenges. We will find ways around them and if a way doesn’t exist, we will create one. This literary space will chronicle our road to sincere acceptance and gratitude for the uniquely beautiful path we’ve been set upon…
This is Oliver’s Odyssey.