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The Trajectory of Acceptance

Sunday, 6 March 2011

tra·jec·to·ry [trə-jĕkˈtə-rē] — the path a moving object follows through space as a function of time.

One throws a ball and can expect it to travel in a parabola before falling back to earth. Taking into account, of course, the resistance from the elements that can, and will, affect the journey of the said object (If you are so inclined, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton go into greater detail 🙂 ).

ac·cept·ance [ak-sep-tuhns] — the agreement to experience a situation, to follow a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit.

A month prior to Beernut’s sixth birthday, we received his formal diagnosis: Asperger’s Disorder. I was thrilled. Really. After five years of telling our then-pediatrician that I suspected some developmental delays, I was relieved to have an expert put a name to what I had been seeing. With a diagnosis, I felt, we would be able to fix him. Of course I never would have phrased it that way. It is only with hindsight that I have come to understand what was really going through my mind.

At the time, I was aware that PC and I were at different levels of acceptance. But my perception was warped. I believed PC to be floundering in denial while I, on the other hand, was elated in the Land of Acceptance.

That too was a form of denial.

Five years have passed since we received a label. A label without a clear definition and definitely without a cure. As Beernut often says, “it’s a disorder, not a disease.” In some ways, I am far less accepting than I was. The road we have traveled has been misleading. Perhaps we were willing victims, avoiding the realities of Beernut’s deficits.

In the past several years, I have found it difficult to read books or watch films about children or adults who struggle as a result of special needs. There is a certain ebb and flow to that. Without having plotted it on a chart, I imagine that I am far more capable of emotionally handling these topics during periods of relative calm as far as Beernut is concerned.

That’s just a guess.

A few months ago, while at a conference I found myself at the book table. I selected a few books whose authors had spoken at some of the sessions I had attended. One book, on the topic of making it through a tough time while maintaining faith and hope, was decidedly not in my pile. With the author standing about two feet from me, however, I felt as though I owed an explanation.

FrumeSarah: I’m really sorry. I want to buy your book, but I just can’t right now.
Author: It’s OK.
FrumeSarah: I will, at some point. Just not now.
Author: OK. It’s a very good book.

A few moments pass and I think to myself, “why should this author suffer just because of my mishegas?” and I march back over to the table and pay for the book.

FrumeSarah: So, I decided to buy the book now. After all, why should you suffer just because of my mishegas? I’ll just put it on the shelf until I’m ready. I’m just too sad right now.
Author: But it’s not really a sad book. It’s about hope.

And I walked away. I walked away because this very respected and well-known author wasn’t really hearing me. She heard my words, but wasn’t listening to the pain behind them.

The book sat. It sat. And it sat and sat and sat. Until finally, knowing I am scheduled to be in a meeting with this author in the upcoming weeks, the book came off the shelf. I read that book this past Shabbos. And I cried. I cried because I saw so much of my own situation in the author’s experience. I cried because it hurt so much to read the words. I cried because I wasn’t ready to hear whatever message of hope the author intended for the reader.

Unlike a rock or a ball or a satellite, the trajectory of acceptance follows a jagged path, unable to be anticipated by any scientific or mathematical equation.

She should have known that…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Monday, 7 March 2011 11:13 am

    For different reasons, there are books which I can no longer read, especially if they are too dark and will make me despair of the human race. So I think I know what you mean.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Wednesday, 9 March 2011 11:39 pm

      Indeed I do.

  2. Wednesday, 9 March 2011 6:54 pm

    I’m sad that in your moment of vulnerability you weren’t offered the sensitivity that the situation clearly called for.
    {{{{hugs}}}}

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Wednesday, 9 March 2011 11:40 pm

      Me too. It was disappointing, actually. In a really painful way.

  3. Sunday, 1 May 2011 9:47 pm

    I completely understand! Not only is my trajectory toward acceptance warped, but whacked by the continual research, second guessing, and ineffective results for “treatment”. I know there is no cure, but I also know that there is a complex means to educate and mediate their course of growth. I Have to do everything I can…

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