I am currently wending my way back to the US after a rollicking couple of weeks. What a trip it’s been. A wedding, soaking in some family time, catching up with friends, book shopping, and some good old fashioned TCM treatments. Imagine living there and being able to go regularly, instead of paying US prices. Ayurveda and TCM are widely available where I live, but are not for the penny pinchers. I imagine that people who know me are thinking that I should give up my nail salon habit. To which I say: YOOO SHUT UP.
The last TCM treatment I went for, the guy was an enthusiastic mansplainer. I was too fatigued from social life to keep him at bay, so his wall of words fell atop me, and I remember “spleen, no pain no gain, 9/11 memorial,” and also that he assumed I was Eurasian. I am not ashamed that I didn’t ask him to be quiet. I grow tired of people always shaming women for not metaphorically and physically bashing up men so they will respect us. If any men are reading, please police yourselves. Our silence does not mean we are enjoying your sermons, or that we agree with you. We are probably just thinking about our grocery lists and hoping you will wear yourselves out with your own wisdom eventually.
I did have several very wonderful conversations about autism with family members and friends. And I really want to say to all of you who engaged with me–your insights and humility and compassion filled me with such hope. Being able to say in unison that we are afraid of failing was the most healing thing ever. I am so incredibly blessed to have such intelligent people in my life.
A teacher friend was telling me about a cohort who has recently acquired a fair number of autistic students in her mainstream classroom. Without training and adequate supports, she is floundering, and keenly aware that the autistic kids are not thriving in the environment she provides. Listening to the details, I felt both despair and a sense of relief. Behind the educators who sit in front of parents and utter whatever half truths they are allowed to report, at least let there be truth spoken amongst colleagues. Parents like me know exactly how it feels to be inadequate to the task. But we all need somewhere to say it without being shamed.
And then parents and teachers alike need larger infrastructural support. I am reminded of those memes which critique the exhortations for self care. When systemic change is the need of the era, individualistic notions of faux spirituality and attitude adjustments are really just a way of checking out of being part of the solution.
In recent months, my personal goal has been to speak healing truths to myself, and to whoever around me welcomes it. Ever since I promised myself I would commit to this way of living in the world, I find it actively suffocating to interact with anything less compassionate and just. I have my children to thank for setting me on this path. What they need from the world is sincere and productive action. Open and consistent inclusivity. Love that never shies away from difficult self questioning. Not having their identities reduced to -isms.