I ran today. Well, if you can call it that. I do and I can, so surely you can too. It's been almost 3 months since I've pulled super tight the laces on my shoes and ran but it was time.
I want to say it wasn't what I wanted to be doing because there was someplace else I wanted to be but yet it was what I wanted to be doing or I would not have done it.
I was never a runner. Not when I was younger, not in school or college. Let's face it, I was that girl who had every excuse to get out of running... and I used them effectively. After I had both of my children and gained a lot of weight, I started walking. One day I decided to pick up that pace and start "running". Now to people who really run, I'm sure my fastest time of an 11 minute mile means I'm walking fast or at best "jogging" but to me, even at the 13 minute mile I did today, this is running. This is how I run, I wasn't gifted with the speed part and that's ok.
I run to clear my mind. My mind goes non stop. I think about more things at one time than should be allowed by the human brain. I have no concept of how it feels to not be thinking. My brain, it doesn't do that, not while watching TV or a movie or even while writing this blog. My mind is in constant motion with more things than I can count running through it. Most of the time, that's ok - I've learned to live with it and it helps me get a lot done. But then there are times, like right now, when there is so much going on in my mind - I need to clear some of the crap out so I can focus on the important things that are running through and methodically work through them or at least prioritize them. A few years ago when I took those first few steps from walking to running, I discovered quickly that in picking up that pace my mind slowed down. I could process from start to finish problems that were lingering. I could think and I could think clearly.
Right now, I need to think. I need my mind to be clear. Our world is searching for answers. People are waiting for me to give them something - an answer, a direction, a thought to ponder. It comes with being Holly, I'm aware of it and do my best to meet that need.
I struggle sometimes with speaking up (some will find this shocking), when I do - I try to be positive, fair and understanding. I also try to be a voice, from my experiences for those who can't or are too scared to speak up. I don't want people to be or feel alone in our world. And that, to what should not be a surprise to me (yet still is), has come with a price. I've been criticized for trying to get people to see more than one side, for using my voice, for standing up. I've lost friends, or at least people who I thought were my friends, people I trusted and in return have let their insecurities silence me. I've heard/overheard and been told of their rants about me. I've attempted to explain, I've backed down, I've walked away. I've let them bully me into silence believing that was the best solution. That silence has built so much anger inside of me it has taken away part of my life. Today, I let that go.
I let go of the control that I've let others hold on me. I let go of the anger I have at them for this. I let go of my silence and I welcome back my voice (which is my gift). I am not perfect. Never will you hear me claim to be but instead you will hear me be there first to say it - I make mistakes. Some big, some small, some life changing and all I have learned from.
I wasn't sure this was the answer I was hoping for while running today. I mean it's a good message, "Let go of the silence and welcome back your voice" the problem is, right now - my voice doesn't have an answer. I'm scared that my voice doesn't even have comfort this time as my voice is afraid.
In the short time that has passed since the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, our world has changed drastically. My world, anyway, has changed.
I didn't think anything could make the events of that day more difficult until I heard the words "We believe the person responsible had Asperger's Syndrome."
In the time that has passed since that declaration, I have heard and read some of the most frightening things that has made me never want to let my children leave my sight.
We are all grieving right now. We are all scared. We are all heartbroken. We are all stepping back, holding our children and doing what we can to not let the lives lost be overlooked. From hundreds of miles away, we do anything we can to not feel helpless. We share the names and pictures of the beautiful and innocent lives lost. We share the stories of the heroic teachers and school personnel. We fill our thoughts and prayers with peace for those involved, the families, the school personnel, the first responders and for those who will be working to help the community of Newtown heal in the aftermath. We donate to their relief. We pray.
We watched the discussion turn from gun control to mental health in front of our eyes. In the special needs community we've fought for attention to be brought to the struggles of those living with mental illness and their families, the lack of services and support. We have fought for funding. We have fought for answers. We are one community, regardless of the type of disability our loved one lives with, we share this same struggle.
We share the pain of the families in this tragedy. We share the fear of every parent about to return their child to school tomorrow.
And now we share the fear of the progress we've made in the understanding and acceptance of those who are special getting pushed back years.
My Facebook and Twitter feed has become filled with "solutions" and hatred for anyone living with a mental illness or an autism spectrum disorder. I've seen everything from this is the fault of the parents for coddling their unique children who are quiet and withdrawn and forcing society to accept them instead of doing the right thing as a parent and "beating" them which would have "changed" them into "normal" people, not killers to "everyone with an autism spectrum disorder belongs in an institution and not among the general population" and the rally of support to end Autism and Autism spectrum disorders with euthanasia.
These are not solutions. This is ignorance. Uneducated ignorance. This is fear. This is hate. This is the scariest thing I have yet seen as the mom of a moderately affected special needs boy and a mildly affected girl.
While people with Autism and Fragile X Syndrome (Which is what my children have) can be prone to aggression, it's in the form of a meltdown. A 2 year old fit of hitting, screaming, crying, biting carried out by someone physically much older meltdown. It is not planned out and calculated malicious violence. It is significantly more likely for someone with a disability to be the victim of a violent act than to actually carry a violent act out.
In the wake of these thoughts that are being so quickly shared and absorbed by misinformed individuals, my prayers are not only with the victims of Sandy Hook but also with every person living with and loved one caring for an individual with Autism, Aspergers, Fragile X (all neurological disorders) and those with mental illness so that they do not also become innocent victims in this already gut wrenching tragedy.
In a time when we need to come together and first mourn we need to then come together for a solution. We can not to put our society back years of progress, we need solutions based on truth and not fear.