Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Journey

"Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well
but the certainty that something makes sense
regardless of how it turns out."
~ Vaclav Havel

It has certainly been a journey; a journey that continues.  Yet, I've traveled long and far enough to look back at it and reflect on where I stand now, close to 20 years later.  I look ahead and see light, hope and possibility while also acknowledging the inescapable worries and inevitabilities, both real and existential, that will largely be out of my control.

I examine that twisted road behind me. The first time I walked that path was while I was living it.  The second time I look at it in my rearview mirror and this is where I create the memories into a story - my story. A story of unexpectedness - an unexpected pregnancy, an unexpected diagnosis, the unexpected shame of divorce and clinical depression. The unexpectedness of starting over again when I thought no one in their right mind could ever love me, nor I them; of finding a soul mate in a long-time friend, and the surprise of three more girls I thought I might not ever have the opportunity to bring into the world.

As I collect the unraveled twine knotted behind me for miles down the road, I re-weave this story and I am in charge of what it all means. I pick up the shrapnel and reassemble the pieces; cracked and broken, worn and weathered. I take those fragments and make something whole.  Make something of which to be proud. Something beautiful, original, and strong enough to never break again.


Two decades ago I was a young woman with a history of screw-ups who finally set herself on the right path.  I had a life full of expectations and promises made to myself, but nothing at all went as planned.

I've written this before, but I love repeating myself:  My life is nothing I ever imagined and everything I dreamed it would be.  I wouldn't change it or trade it for the world.

I learned it all with one single soul by my side - my daughter, now racing toward 18 no matter how I try to slow the world on its axis.  A silent witness to it all, and my source of growth and inspiration.

I see myself in this picture taken in 1995.  A tired, 25-year-old, new mother holding a three week old infant.  Because I didn't know or expect to be pregnant as an unmarried woman practicing birth control, I didn't even realize I was pregnant until I was 5 1/2 months along. This gave me exactly 3 1/2 months to get used to the biggest life change I've ever had.

Twelve weeks after this photo was taken, still adjusting to the unfamiliar world of motherhood, I'd be watching my baby have her first, 75 minute long grand mal seizure and be thrust into an even more unexpected world.

I was so full of hope that things would be okay after that first seizure, then the next and the next.  So full of hope after she was diagnosed at age 2 with moderate cognitive disabilities and autism.  So full of hope that she'd outgrow her epilepsy one day and we'd "save her" from that Autism thing.

Hope died when reality set in years down the road.  Or, I thought it died when I had to face the pragmatics of our future.  But hope didn't really die, it only changed. Writing my story in this blog and in my near-completed memoir helped me understand this.

I'm still filled with hope, it's just a different kind of hope. It's hope that I will be strong enough to love and lose, soar and crumble, and learn to live big and courageous. I'm filled with that hope because I know who I am and who I love and where I've been and how everything makes sense in a bigger plan.  This gives me hope for me, my family, and most importantly for my eldest daughter as we carve out her place in the world and fight for everyone to see and accept her as the lovely soul she is.  Hope for where we're going; to know that whatever else life brings to us, we'll find our meaning, re-weave our stories, and always make something beautiful so long as we're all in it together.


Kim said...

Your writing always cracks something open for me. I look forward to reading that memoir someday.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Alisha.

This is so utterly beautiful. I am so struck by your beauty -- not just the physical, because that is indeed strong, but the spiritual beauty inherent in your face, your smile, even back when you knew "nothing." How you're weaving along this road with words and love and humor is a gift for all of us.

Julie Ann Knapp said...

Beautiful words and pictures as always. Looking forward to your memoir!

kario said...

I am so pleased that you are sharing this journey in writing. What a lovely place to be in that you can look back on that road with an entirely different, more empowered, perspective.


Tatum said...

I found you from Love That Max. I love this post. I shared your link on the FB page of Papa's of Preemies - a community of, mostly preemie, but all special needs fathers - who has a "I Chose Hope" campaign right now. I think you nailed the sentiment of their campaign. Beautiful, insightful and what every special needs person should read over and over. I look forward to continue following you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. It was very moving to read. ~ Jamie ( hopping over from Love That Max)

_Nessa_ said...

Also, from Love That Max...I really love this post. Definitely struck a chord with me too. I can wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment that life is nothing like what I imagined, but everything (if not more than) I dreamed.

icansaymama said...

Like always - beautiful post! <3

Alana Terry said...

Baby seizures are so scary! My son had a few. I'm sorry you went through this! I found you through the Love that Max linkup and wanted to invite you to add your blog to my index of special-needs blogs at I think a lot of others will be encouraged by your posts.

Kristi - Finding Ninee said...

Oh my gosh, this is the first time I've visited and am so glad I found you via Love that Max. wow. Your writing is amazing. And I SO feel son is only 3 and we have no idea what's "wrong" but it's so scary. And so NOT what we had imagined.

Jackie said...

This is beautiful and really tugged at me. I have a picture of myself holding my little baby and just not knowing what was ahead. I'm in the middle of my journey and it's nice that you've given a peek ahead to where I will be lucky to end up. (Visiting from Love That Max)

Alicia D said...

Im thrilled that so many of these comments are first time visitors and that you have shared pieces of your own journeys here with me. It's nice to feel that we are part of a community of mothers who "get it" :) I deeply appreciate hearing from you and hope to learn more about each of your journeys over time by reading your blogs too! :)

akl said...

wow. what a breathtaking reflection. I sincerly have no words.


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