Today I’d like to share with you a story of something that impacted me deeply during our event we held in Los Angeles last year.
On the second day we try to go deep into the feelings of hurt that usually manifest on both sides of a family struggling with Defense Mode:
Oftentimes the kids feel powerless,manipulated, and invalidated… meanwhile, the parents feel like they are never given any respect or gratitude.
That was shown clear as crystal when one of the moms stood up and said that she felt like she never got anything as simple as a “Thank you” for all the hard work she did for her son. She went to IEP meetings, cleaned up after him, accommodated his special dietary requests, etc, etc, etc. All with zero appreciation.
It was a sentiment shared by nearly every parent in the room. So much so that her exclamation was followed by a round of applause and vigorous nods of agreement.
Despite the fact that these painful emotions are obviously felt very deeply, they are rarely, if ever, addressed in traditional therapies and modalities for treating Asperger’s. So much time is spent focusing on the specific “deficits” such as a lack of social skills and emotional regulation that no one really takes the time to actually hear the other person’s pain. Either the parent’s or the child’s.
When was the last time someone simply sat with you and let you get all those feelings out? It probably hasn’t happened nearly often enough.. To have all that pain inside you, bottled up for so long, is not good for a person. And it’s not good for your child to have all of their pain swirling around inside, unseen and unexpressed.
So I encourage you today to sit with someone and hear their pain. Don’t try to fix it or advise them, just let them empty their heart to you. It is one of the best ways we know to heal.
And the more the other person feels heard, the more willingness and emotional capacity they will have to listen to YOUR pain.