It was five years ago this week when a hole ripped wide in my heart upon hearing the words autism for the first time. Little did I know how useful that hole was going to be or how much I would learn to appreciate it: just another instance of things not being what we expect in autismland. Because, you see, the heart is a muscle -- a sometimes unobliging muscle in my case, prone to arguments with my head and not easily influenced by my better judgment. And as a muscle it grows and gains strength when the fibers broken in times of stress are repaired. When the holes and tears in a muscle have been healed it is capable of doing more than it once was able.
The process of gaining a stronger heart has been, shall we say, difficult. The sometimes seismic effect of circumstances have ripped gaping holes at the most unexpected moments. Yet, as it turns out, the holes I've endured not only help that blessed muscle get stronger but make it periodically easier for things to come and go as needed.
The first things to go were false pride and a healthy dose of ego. Later, I learned that anger, resentment and fear could also be ushered out whenever they threatened to upset the balance of things.
The holes, too, created space for things to happen. It created a space that was open enough for me to re-consider my proclivity for judging other people. It created a space in which I understood that it was OK to be vulnerable, where I didn't fear being judged by others.
And it created space for the people who have helped me with all the repair work -- quite necessary when you're constantly being made stronger by all the damned holes!
It created a space for you, my friends. A space for those of you I've met and those I've yet to meet. A space for your sorrows and your joys. A space in which I know we all grow stronger.