If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
~ Sun Tzu, Art of War
As rigid and inflexible as rebar, I believed it was your Will I was girded against. My perceived enemy was your defiance, your reckless disregard for authority.
You were not a changeling found lying in your crib, speaking a language we could not understand, while those around you tried to decipher what was swirling through your thoughts. You were older. A man-child consumed by a real boogie man climbing through your window. Your nightmares became my reality. Old enough that my dreams for you, your own dreams, were burnt away as the harsh light of day shone on what was your truth.
Late in this crusade, I recognized it as a battle for your soul. I was pitted against your demons. Demons you could not control, demons I could not conquer. A fight I could not expect you to join, not now, not yet. Waiting for you to grow older, stronger is our greatest advantage, our most powerful weapon.
Not a brutal conflict armed with iron rods and swords, but guerrilla warfare employing stealth, learning the strengths and weaknesses of our mutual adversary. Knowing the enemy, makes me stronger. Gives me a defense to protect you, to loosen the bonds that hold you captive.
Together we are finding how far we can bend without breaking.
For many parents of children labeled ‘special needs,’ that realization, that diagnosis no mother ever wants to hear, often comes while their children are still very young. Many times before they begin formal schooling. For others, like me, that truth comes much later, perhaps as late as their teens.
Even as we feel our children grow inside our bodies, we create a future for them. They will be athletes, scholars, politicians, giving of themselves in service of others. Being told that those dreams may never come to fruition is harsh. It is devastating for parents, and my heart aches with them.
Yet, are these small children aware that their lives will not turn out as their parents had hoped? Is it kinder that they know no alternate reality? I am not attempting to minimize these parents’ anguish, I am simply seeking answers. My pain is not greater than theirs, perhaps merely different.
My heartache is compounded in that my child remembers. Remembers how it was BEFORE. Before the diagnosis, before the shattered dreams, before the nightmares.
What I can do to best help him is to know as much as I can about his diagnosis. To arm myself with the weapons necessary to give him his best chance for a bright, happy, independent future.
No matter the foe… know your enemy.