Sometimes the things I know to be right and true, the things I aspire to, do not come easily to me in the tired-out end-of-the-day moments.
Those are the times when I may not be at my best: my patience may be worn thin, and I may feel the tempting lure of what seems like a shortcut… one that ends up just making things more complex and unruly.
Tonight was one of those nights.
I was rushing H to get to bed – and he was yelling at me for rushing him. It did not go particularly well…
But H called me on it:
I am trying to advocate for myself here. I need you to listen to me.
I am having a hard time listening because you are yelling at me and I don’t like to be yelled at.
Well, I feel I have to yell because you are not listening to my message!
Okay… let’s connect – I am listening…
You are teaching me to advocate – I want you to listen to me and hear what I am trying to tell you.
You are right. I am listening.
I don’t like it when you rush me. I feel pushed.
You are right. You don’t like to be pushed. I don’t either.
You were not listening to my feelings.
Yes, H, you are right about that too. I was listening to your tone and feeling upset that you were talking to me in an angry way.
Did I sound angry? I didn’t mean to.
I know… and I didn’t mean to not listen. We are both learning here and I think we are getting better at this. We might make some mistakes – and that is okay… You did a great job of telling me how you are feeling. I will try to do a better job of listening.
I know there are other layers here… layers that I am only beginning to see and understand. There are depths to ableism that I do not fully see – because no matter how determined I may be to fully understand – I approach from a point of privilege.
I am developing a deeper awareness of this as well.
I get this… and yet I know I don’t… not fully.
To claim that I do would be insulting: it is not my experience – I cannot fully understand.
It has me moving more cautiously… and checking my words carefully.
Big picture… H and I concluded the exchange with both of us feeling heard and respected and understood.
I appreciate H for being patient with me… for pointing out my hypocrisy… and for second chances!
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
©Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)