Acceptance Is The Key – How I Realized That My Son Needed Help

Source: af.mil

 

In Denial Of My Son’s Condition

 

I was offended by her remark and told her out of courtesy that I will look into it. In truth, I never did. I mean, my son just started school. He has particular “delays” since he doesn’t know these lessons and other things. As expected, he passed his playschool level with apparent difficulty in the Reading subject. Still, he got an F for Fair and moved on to the next level.

 

He continued to Nursery and what a coincidence! His Nursery teacher asked for a meeting after two months of classes and told me the same thing.

 

“Mrs. Smith, your son has some issues with focusing on his work. He is easily distracted and needs improvement in his reading and writing skills. Is it possible for you to bring him to a neurodevelopmental pediatrician? They can assess him properly, and we can all help your son with what he requires regarding after-school learning programs”.

 

This time I answered with a hiss. In my mind back then, these teachers were obviously singling out my son! Why are the teachers doing this? Is it because he is a slow learner? He is only five years old, and my brother was a slow learner too. It runs in the blood! My brother is a notary public now and works for one of the largest law firms in Maryland. He is brilliant at what he does! I know my son will overcome this “slow” period of his and emerge as someone successful in the future, just like my brother. I mean, he is my son! His sisters are all honor students. This can’t be happening.

 

I Didn’t Listen To The Teacher

 

The school and his Nursery teacher can’t compel me to bring my son to a neurodevelopmental pediatrician. I was also that stubborn, and I didn’t want to see the situation as a teacher would look at it. First and foremost, I am his mother. I am biased and maybe somewhat clouded by my son’s state. She is a teacher, and she has trained for spotting children who need special education. I didn’t like to accept that.

 

Source: defense.gov

 

My son barely passed Nursery and had to take summer classes. When I enrolled him in Kinder, they put him under a certified special education teacher. Within the first 45 days, the teacher expressed her concern.

 

I have heard it all before – learning delays

 

Unwilling But I Did It Anyway – It Was The Best Decision I Ever Made For My Son

 

With a heavy heart, I made an appointment with a neurodevelopment pediatrician, and it opened my eyes. My son was diagnosed with ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder with signs of ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I cried so hard that night back then and too proud. For almost three years my son struggled, and I didn’t “see” that.

 

The neurodevelopmental pediatrician recommended therapy programs for my son. I enrolled him in all of it. He said my son needed Speech Therapy, Educational Therapy, and Occupational Therapy. For a year now, my son has been doing all of these, and the therapists all provided their positive reports. They said that my son has developed since his first session.

 

Looking At The Past But Moving On

 

I still regret the day when I was so stubborn. In my mind, the situation keeps on rewinding. He was just four, and I didn’t listen to his teacher. My mother said that what’s done is done and that I can’t go back to the past. At least now, he is under treatment and is improving.

 

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The doctor also said that it’s not too late. He was just six upon diagnosis and is high-functioning. I do see some problems now that I failed to “look” before. He is different, and now that I have accepted that fact, I will do everything in my power to support and help him.

 

When A Marriage Fails

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When I was younger, I thought, my love for my husband was enough. He’s not a Brad Pitt or a Tom Cruise, but he was my Brad Pitt. At 17, I thought, I found my Tom Cruise. I was so in love with him, and I don’t know why. If you ask me what made me fall in love with this person, I’d say I don’t know. I just have this “pull” that I can’t quite explain. Sometimes, I get so irritated with myself – how can I love a person without knowing the reason why?

 

This story doesn’t have a happy ending. I’m going to tell you right now. You see, I am separated from my husband at the moment after 23 years of being together. I am done crying; been doing that for months. I just don’t want to be depressed anymore. I’m refusing to act like a lost cause any longer. This is the life I have now, and six children are relying on me, their mom. I have to put up a brave face as a front, as I don’t want them to pity me.

 

What Happened?

 

Familiarity happened. Respect was lost. Adultery ensued. Vengeance and spite ruined us more. Saying to forgive, but not meaning it took a toll. He was and is still a gambling addict. I was and still, am a socially anxious person. We may have married on impulse and made a decision based on tainted facts. I was pregnant, and he was more than willing to marry me because of our firstborn. This realization came to me one night, and it has haunted me ever since.

 

My Faults

 

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I used to surrender to him. Gambling was his priority and with occasional affairs here and there – I turned the other cheek and kept it all in. In my mind then, if he came home to me every night, then, he loves me. It’s ok.

 

Well, you know what, it’s not ok. I recently realized, after more than a decade of lying to myself, that if my husband really valued me, he would do everything in his power to stop gambling and womanizing. Sure, an addict will not admit to himself that he is an addict, but he can choose to ask help from me, his wife and life partner so that I can support him through therapy and treatment. But he decided not to listen to me and continued ignoring me so that he can play cards. As for the womanizing part, he is a weak man. I prayed for his redemption too many times, but he just won’t budge.

 

So, what am I to do? Do I keep on being like this? Can I spend another 20 years of gambling debts, night outs, women’s cologne on his clothes, lies, and unusual behavior? I put my foot forward and said to myself – THIS HAS TO STOP.

 

I Wrote Him A Letter

 

My letter only contained three sentences. It wasn’t much in words, but I’m sure it pierced his empty heart and understood where I am coming from indeed.

 

Dear M,

 

I am leaving you for now since I want to find myself and repair the self-inflicted damage wherein you helped me create over the years. This may or may not close the doors for us, and really, it’s up to you now. I am just done with you, your lies, gambling, and womanizing – until then, let’s just enjoy the space.

 

Your Faithful Wife

 

What I’m Doing Now

 

I enrolled in a yoga class and applied for a part-time job as an administrative clerk at the local college. Of course, my one-on-one counseling is regular (once a week), and my therapist has been truly helpful. With some savings, I leased a studio apartment, and for once, I’ve been doing the things that I love.

 

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Our children? Well, our youngest is 15, and he is almost an adult. I spoke with all of them before moving out and asked them to understand me and my situation. The two youngest kids are with me. All the others are in different states finishing their degrees. So yes, my husband is all alone in a big house. I hope it’s doing him good.

 

From time to time, he calls or texts me, asking how I am and if he can see the kids. I mean, sure, I let them meet and bond. I will never snatch that opportunity from my children to spend time with their dad. He may be a lousy husband, but he is a good father and provider. If only things were different, but they’re not. I guess, I just have to accept the fact and move on.

Realizing Your Worth

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My mother gave me a clipping of a features article that she cut from the newspaper at work. There were no cell phones at that time since it was in the early ’90s and the news was delivered through a paper. The headline was RYAN CAYABYAB IS LOOKING FOR TALENTED SINGERS TO FORM SMOKEY MOUNTAIN 2.

 

It Was The Opportunity Of A Lifetime

 

I was very excited because first off, Ryan Cayabyab was the “man” if you wanted to get into the singing business, and Smokey Mountain was the “IT” group in our country. Of course, this was not in the United States since I grew up in Davao City, Philippines.

 

Let’s say for comparison, Ryan Cayabyab was the “Marvin Hamlisch” of the US (the multi-awarded composer loved by Ms. Barbra Streisand), and Smokey Mountain was “The Hanson” of the Philippines. The opportunity was truly enormous, and at 13 years old, my mom was handing me that clipping. She knew I loved to sing and it was like her saying that she approves of me auditioning for the part.

 

I Prepared Myself For That Chance

 

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And so, I equipped myself for roughly a week and practiced “Wind Beneath My Wings,” as sung by Ms. Bette Midler. I was confident that I got the song pretty well. You see, I came from a family of singers. My father used to be a singing champion in our city, while my mother didn’t sing, her sisters were local professional singers. One of my aunts was a jazz singer and a regular every Friday at the city’s posh steak restaurant. She serenaded VIP’s and politicians with her sultry voice. The other one was more successful, and had a singing career in Manila with a country-renowned composer – yes, the one and only, Mr. Cayabyab.

 

Anyway, I was ready, and my mind was made up. My godmother dressed me up and let me borrow her clothes. I can’t forget the white silk sleeveless blouse and long wrap-around skirt in an abstract design of white and blue colors. She also lent me her brown loafers and braided my long hair.

 

Night Of The Performance

 

I got on the shortlist. Out of 1,187 teens who auditioned for the part, only thirty remained. I was one of the lucky 30 who got in.

 

It is one of the most memorable nights of my life because Ryan Cayabyab was in front of me, and believe it or not, my voice CROAKED. Yes, you read that right. I croaked. It was due to nervousness (I keep telling myself that reason), and when I sang the first note, I went out of tune and croaked big time. It was awful! But with that mistake, the best thing happened to me.

 

Let me push back a bit and tell the whole story of that specific event.

 

The assistant called my name and the names of nineteen other kids. We went into a massive hall, and of course, we lined up, and there he was, right in front of us, Mr. Ryan Cayabyab. The first person sang her song, and I think I was number 13. While waiting for my turn, I imagined my young self as a guest singer in “Ryan, Ryan, Musikahan” which means “Ryan’s Music.” (This was the name of his music show on TV.)

 

Of course, that was a perfect dream. I couldn’t tell him that my aunt was a regular on his show, that’s why I know I have a chance. If my aunt can do it, so can I, right?

 

Anyway, my turn came, and I made the ultimate mistake. Instead of singing the song from the beginning, I jumped to the chorus and bam! There was no wind beneath my wings, so to speak!

 

What made me do it? I don’t know! I think I got insecure when I heard two of my schoolmates who also auditioned. One of them was Julie Fernandez (angelic voice) and Mitch (forgot her last name, she was in a band). I decided to up my game by singing the high part, the chorus, which turned out to be a disaster.

 

A Blessing In Disguise

 

I stopped singing, and Mr. Cayabyab looked straight at me. All I could say was – I’m so embarrassed, Mr. Cayabyab. I’m sorry. I did prepare for this. It’s just I was too nervous hearing everyone sing and well, singing for you; it’s overwhelming.

 

Tears were starting to fall on my cheeks, but then a miracle happened – Ryan Cayabyab spoke to me! I was told after the audition by the assistant that Mr. Cayabyab never talked to any of the auditionees except for me!

 

Source: pixabay.com

 

“Kim, sing again. From the first stanza.”

 

I managed a weak ok, and then, I started singing. (Quoting the song “Wind Beneath My Wings”)

 

It must have been cold there in my shadow,

To never have sunlight on your face.

You were content to let me shine, that’s your way.

You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,

While you were the one with all the strength.

A beautiful face without a name for so long.

A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

 

And then, another miracle! Ryan Cayabyab, the composer, conductor, producer and recipient of the most prestigious music awards in the Philippines, SANG WITH ME! He never did such as any other person in the room!

 

(Quoting the song “Wind Beneath My Wings”)

 

Did you ever know that you’re my hero,

And everything I would like to be?

I can fly higher than an eagle,

For you are the wind beneath my wings.

 

We did a duet, and by this time, my heart was swelling with pride. The error, the croaking, and the embarrassment were all worth it! At least, I was able to experience singing with a legend like him.

 

What Happened Next?

 

I didn’t make the cut. The part went to Julie, my schoolmate, but she declined it and formed a band. She did become famous, of course. Did it hurt my ego not winning the part? No, absolutely not. In all honesty, I can say that.

 

It was a fulfillment for me too, in a way, because Julie was once second place in a singing competition wherein I got the gold medal. I know that I have it and with these validations –I beat Julie before, and Mr. Cayabyab singing with me – it’s more than enough.

 

I was and is talented. I know that I have it, and no one can take it from me.

 

Did I Become A Professional Singer?

 

No. I am currently a writer, and a mom of five kids, one of them is a theatre actress and singer. I had my time, and I made my decisions. There are no regrets there, whatsoever.

 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the event with Ryan Cayabyab made me realize that I have so many innate talents and that if I harnessed it, I could have been a superstar. Right now, I’m just happy to get a score of 100 in a videoke challenge. Seriously! And maybe, a permanent feeling of self-worth and self-confidence because of that particular night.

Teenager And Pregnant – But God Had Plans For Me

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I wished it was all a nightmare for me on that one damaging evening in October of 1988. The night was cold and crisp, and I just got out of my shift at the local diner where I used to work. Regularly, my dad or older brother would pick me up, and we’d walk home together since my clock ended at 10. But that scarring night, my dad also had to work late. My brother was at home looking after our 3-year old sister who was sick. He couldn’t leave her behind.

 

And so, without reservations in my heart, I told them that I’d be fine to walk home alone. Anyway, it wasn’t that late, and I lived five blocks away. The walk wasn’t that far, and the stars looked beautiful. It was a bright evening. I even assured them that I’d be ok. Oh, how wrong I was back then to think that in five blocks from work to home, nothing bad would happen to me.

 

I was so near that I could almost smell my momma’s chicken pastel. Never in my mind that I would be in danger so close to home. I’ve been walking that path for the last two years, and everything was good, but that night in October, my innocence was wrecked.

 

It all happened so slowly, and almost everything wasn’t a blur at all. Someone hit me from behind, and I fell. Two guys grabbed me and tied me up. One of them had a car, and we drove for a few minutes to a deserted car garage place. In there, three devils disguised as human beings took turns in raping me. I screamed. I begged. I asked for help. I did everything, but they paid no attention to my cry. After what it seemed was an eternity, one of them thanked me and left me for dead.

 

Source: en.wikipedia.org

 

God had bigger plans for me, and he kept me alive. I was eighteen, kidnapped, raped (I was a virgin, by the way), and stabbed almost to death, but my creator gave me air so that I could still breathe. Someone found me in the gutter, almost dead, and I was hospitalized for nearly three weeks. After two weeks out of the hospital, we found out that I was pregnant.

 

My first instinct was to have the child adopted. Yes, I would freely give “it” away. I don’t want anything to do with “it.” I was so angry at them and disgusted at myself. My life was ruined by that night, and there’s a baby to remind me of all the trauma I went through? No way! I want it gone. If I could abort it, I would have done the deed. But God had another plan for me. For us.

 

When it was time to deliver the baby, I was still bent on giving “it” away. He was out in roughly an hour, and the social worker told me that I have three days with him. The paper works had to be sorted out, and a young couple would adopt him, 500 miles away from me.

 

Did I give him away? In three days, I saw that what I had in my hands was an angel. He was my son, and he came out of me. I was so stupid for thinking that he ruined my life. How can I push my son away? And so, I did something selfish, and I kept him.

 

Source: pixabay.com

 

It wasn’t easy at all. Some days, my depression would kick in, and I’d remember every single thing. But there were days when hope would fill my heart, and there was a smile on my face.

 

I healed, and everything turned out beautifully for our family and me. Someone was brave enough to love a broken woman like me and accept my son. My husband was one of the best things that ever happened to me, apart from my son. He is now successful in his field and has made me so proud. Unlike his “sperm donor,” my son became a good man. I thank God every single day for keeping me alive and touching me on that specific moment when I decided to keep him.

 

Note:

 

From the journal of Anna Christie, New York, NY