“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.” – Helen Keller
“To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face, and to know it for what it is…at last, to love it for what it is, and then to put it away.” – Virginia Woolf
When we first started Beanie in speech, we heard stories of other families, of friends-of-friends, who had kids with similar issues. These kids were older than Beanie, still not talking, and their parents were insisting that nothing was wrong. I’ve heard stories of kindergarteners who came in, not talking. By then, their issues were worse, and often not able to be corrected completely.
I’ve written before, about the dangers of being in denial, but I’ll say it again: Ignoring a problem doesn’t mean it’s not there.
It surprises me, sometimes, how big the elephant in the room can be, and, still, nobody talks about it. Somehow, things do not seem real, if we don’t acknowledge them. We think that we can keep them, indefinitely, from feeling real.
The problem is, as much as we’re ignoring the problem, we’re thinking about it. Worrying about it. Fearing the worst. By not dealing with an issue, we’re allowing it to grow. We’re allowing it more than its due amount of space in our mind. We’re letting it keep us from enjoying life.
If we deal with that elephant, if we call it out, is the result likely to be as bad as that worst-case scenario that we keep playing out in our mind? Probably not. And after we’ve called the problem out, we can deal with it, then move on.
This is why I took the initiative and asked about testing Beanie for Autism Spectrum Disorder at school, rather than ignoring the problem and dreading the day when someone else would suggest it.
This is why, if something is bothering me at work, I set up the meeting to discuss it.
This is why, if life becomes overwhelming and stressful, I reach out rather than pretending everything is all right.
This is why, if something is causing me to be fearful and I have the opportunity to face it, I do.
It takes strength, for a moment to face life head-on, to look it in the eye. But that strength is nothing compared to the burden you’ll bear for so much longer, if you don’t. It is nothing compared to all the time you will spend worrying about something much worse than the reality. It is nothing compared to the amount the real problem could grow, while you worry but refuse to deal with it.
So much in life is not within our control, but we’re rarely without choices. But owning the problem, by looking it in the eye, we begin to call the shots. We can’t make the problem go away, but we can choose how to handle it. I couldn’t make Beanie not have a disability, but I can choose the team that will work with her, and choose how her education will be handled. I couldn’t change the fact that I thought knowing about my past and my flaws would drive friends away, but I could face that fear and tell that story, choosing to know for certain and lay that worry to rest.
I had a choice. You have a choice. Look life in the eye and stop hiding and worrying!