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Patience and Compassion


ClaraOswin

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Just over a year ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Recently my son was diagnosed with autism. In a short time, I think these two things have already started to change my personality. For the better, thankfully.

I've always been very judgmental. I don't necessarily tell people what I'm thinking of them because I'm not downright mean or anything. But in my head (or to my husband) I'll basically think/say horrible things about people. I know it's awful but I figure they'll never know what I'm thinking so who cares? 

But now, I am having much different thoughts about people I encounter.

Example - Someone in a motorized scooter is blocking my way on the sidewalk at Disneyland. They are overweight and just taking forever. "Old me" would likely think something awful like maybe they need to lay off the junk food or whatever and they wouldn't be in the scooter. Okay...so yes, that could be the case sometimes. But "new me" has a bit more compassion. Now my first thought wouldn't be so rude. Now I would just think, "well, maybe they have a disability or health problem. But good for them for still coming out to Disneyland and having a good time." I don't know their life circumstances. I don't know anything about them. So what if I have to wait an extra minute to get where I'm going? Some day that could be me in that scooter at Disneyland.

Another example - This one actually happened this week. We were going through the check-out at with all of our groceries. I immediately recognize the cashier as one we've gone to before and yes, my initial thought was "dang it...he bags things so slowly. I just want to get home so I can shower." But then I reminded myself that it's really not THAT much extra time so oh well. The other time we've gone to him, he didn't really say much to us. I did wonder if maybe he could be on the autism spectrum based on some mannerisms. After this week, I'd be shocked to hear he isn't on the spectrum. He was actually quite chatty with us. He talked about a study he'd read and various statistics on some stuff. I can't place his age but he mentioned high school. (I was thinking 20's so he may have been talking about past experiences but I didn't want to pry.) He then mentioned being bullied and switching schools. He mentioned trying to work on eye contact. Some other things he said made it fairly obvious he is either on the spectrum or maybe just has some other sort of disability or something. "Old me" probably would have had some compassion (I'm not a monster, after all.) But I still would have been annoyed and thinking, "less talking, more bagging my groceries." This time it was different. I kept thinking about his parents. And I kept thinking that some day this could be my son. And I wouldn't want some random customer to be bitchy and unfriendly to him just because he may not be working at the pace she'd like. How freaking narrow-minded would that lady be? I don't want to be that lady.

Having a child, in general, changed my outlook a bit. But when he started to struggle and we noticed he had delays (and now autism)....that has REALLY started to change me. I am finding that I have more compassion and more patience. I know it will make me a better person. But in some ways, I don't want to change. I am already kind of missing being "hard." I cry more now so that kind of sucks. I used to be able to read awful news stories and yeah, they were sad....but now...they hit me harder. I sort of liked being slightly numb to things.

I know I'll still be sort of judgmental because, let's be honest...I'm never going to be Mother Teresa. But I am going to try to be better. I want to set a good example for my son. 

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