It's easy to feel sorry for yourself when you're exhausted, bruised and scared about your child's future. Besides, everybody else is doing it.
We are all painfully aware of the victimization of politics and our civic discourse as a whole. Dignity and courage used to be synonymous with American culture. Now, egged on by social media, we're all in a contest to see who is the most oppressed.
I read an interesting article about the social trend of American victimhood. It argued that attempts to claim status as the most victimized American fail because the unfortunate truth is that all Americans are victims. We are victims of a predatory way of life, malfunctioning institutions, corroded democracy, extreme capitalism and a broken social contract.
If you live by the law of attraction, this victimization echo chamber is making things worse. When you throw yourself a pity party, the universe says, "Ah! They like to be a victim. Better deliver more predators and tragedy."
Predatory institutions also benefit from a culture of victimhood, because it continually lowers the bar and allows what was once socially unacceptable behavior to become socially acceptable. We throw up our hands. "What can we do?"
I saw a Facebook post the other day in which the mother of a boy with autism posted a photo of scratches and bruises her son had given her during a meltdown.
These posts are heartbreaking because not only are people are making their situation worse by playing the victim, but they are putting their disabled child in the role of villain. Our kids understand more than we realize.
Some commenters gave her the pity she was looking for. Others posted photos of their own autism war wounds and similar stories of disabled child villains.
Some offered solutions and advice. Interestingly, most parents who recommended pharmaceuticals cautioned that they caused seizures, violent or suicidal behavior, and required additional drugs to control side effects. That option didn't sound very appealing.
Two commenters ask what the child had been eating. Those comments received no response. Also heartbreaking, because some minor diet changes like removing food dyes could make a big difference for this child and his mom.
However, that would mean giving up victimhood.
About three years ago, I was "venting" to a friend in the exact same way as this mom. I went on and on and on (until the break of dawn) about my miserable lot in life. Tosh was more than I could handle and I didn’t feel like either of us had a future.
My friend, who was also a special needs parent, called me on my bullshit.
"Enough," he said. "You're just feeling sorry for yourself and that won't solve anything."
Man, was I pissed. Furious! I unleashed a string of obscenities in response. How dare he? All I wanted was some support, was that too much to ask?
But eventually, after some introspection, I realized he was right. It marked the beginning of my self-discovery journey, in which I took control of my life and Tosh's autism.
It opened up a new world. Solutions and support magically appeared and effortlessly replaced impossible situations. Requests for resources were approved after months of waiting.
Things improved and they've been improving ever since. Success isn't a straight line, but our lives are vastly better than they were back then. I was thinking just the other day, if I rated my happiness from 1 to 10 on any given day, I'm usually an 8 or a 9.
Every. Single. Day.
And the only thing that has changed is me. I'm still a single mom. My son still has severe autism. I still have all the same reasons to consider myself a victim.
But I'm not. I claimed my power.
Pity feels good for awhile, but in the long run, it only makes things worse. Nobody likes it when somebody calls them on their bullshit, but sometimes that punch between the eyes is what it takes to make a change.
If you're ready for change, please join me Nov. 1 when I launch The Cabana, an Autism Oasis exclusive membership that includes a new mini-course each month, a private Facebook group, a book club, special guests, prizes and extras that will help your entire family feel good again. Together we will form a tribe of empowered parents who will support each other in a positive way. We will celebrate your child's successes. We will share advice. We will encourage each other to rediscover our own lives outside of our caregiver role.
We will step into our power!
Are you ready?
Heather Anderson is a blissfully happy autism mom and lover of life in Southern California who is on a mission to help autism parents rediscover their happy place.
Please join me on this beautiful autism journey. The Autism Oasis is a fun, supportive and educational community where your personal development is just as important as your children's. You are more than just a caregiver!