So often when I think about the question “Why me”, I think about it in a very negative way. Like someone upset with what’s been done to them but some psychopath or why they have to deal with an illness or condition that sucks. For a long time I have been trying to reframe the phrase in my mind as a good thing. Like why did I get to do this extraordinary thing or why do I get to be in this extraordinary relationship.
It’s a lot harder to reframe it into something good instead of something bad than I thought it would be.
I have learned to look at the kids for that inspiration. A long time ago, the second oldest was diagnosed as on the autism spectrum. At the same time we found out he has ADHD and superior intelligence. He was reading at a grade level 4 years higher than his actual grade in school and he was very clever. But he needed occupational therapy desperately because he couldn’t tie his shoes at 9 years old and he lacked upper body strength. We got the evaluation for that within a week and it wasn’t good. I remember crying afterwards when I took him to lunch. He didn’t even seem to notice I was crying. He prattled on about his obsession of the moment, not even noticing that I was crying even though he was looking right at me. I was devastated.
A few weeks later he asked about all the appointments he had been having with the psychologist and the occupational therapist. I explained to him that he had ADHD that didn’t seem to bother him much outside of school and he was high functioning on the autism spectrum. His reaction blew me away. “YES!!!” I was so confused and asked him why he reacted that way. “Because all of the awesome people I look up to are thought to be autistic and I get to have something in common with them!! This is the best day of my life.” Then he listed Albert Einstein and a few others. It was not what I expected but I was grateful for his happiness. His older brother was diagnosed on the spectrum a few weeks later, adding to what we already knew he had. they bonded over this newfound “awesomeness” and took it on as a positive thing.
Last year he told me that he felt that his bad vision, ADHD, and autism had to happen because he needed to be nerfed. He said he would be too strong without those things making him just a bit weaker. And then he told me that despite all this things weighing on him, he felt strong and capable, like he could still do everything he wanted. His line of thinking made me rethink everything about my life. What if I looked at the things holding me down not as terrible awful things, but something that I needed to weaken me because otherwise I would be too strong for everyone else. That was huge. Here this kid was looking through this lens of strength and competence and not weakness. The weaknesses had to make him “weak” like everyone else. I try to remember this but I fail at it often. This type of reframing is awesome. It’s so much better to think of yourself as “too strong” instead of “too weak” because too much is on your plate.
The other reframe came from my oldest many years ago. He was about 8 and he asked me “If you could relive any day in your life, which day would you choose?” I then gave him this long song and dance about the day he was born and all the things I would’ve changed about that day. He looked confused, like I answered poorly. So I asked him what day he would relive and he said “The day that I went to Jonathan’s grandma’s house with him and we swam all day, then had a bon fire in the yard and ate snacks. We had so much and I wish I could relive that fun every day. Whoa…I’m thinking about regrets and things I would do differently and he was just wanting to relive a happy day he’d had recently. That was very eye-opening. I started trying to think about days that were good that I wouldn’t change at all. And I realized that was a better way to go through life. If I could minimize the amount of regret I would want to fix and focus on the happiest moment I want to relive and have over and over, then I would feel better. Again, it’s hard to do, but it makes such a big difference in my happiness when I manage to do it.