Saturday, December 24, 2016

Oxymorons, A Perfect Record Tarnished, and Vera

Trigger/Content Warning (TW/CW): this blog post contains mentions of child abuse and domestic violence.  Reader discretion is advised.

The shamash, or center lit candle, and a lit
candle to represent the first night of Chanukah,
are displayed on a hanukkiah, or a nine candelabra.
A regular menorah is a seven candelabra.
Stock photo.
This is the first time since the Escape From Troll Central Station have I been feeling utterly angry, bitter, and depressed during the end of December. The past two years have been fantastic; not having to worry about seeing abusive family members, enjoying tons of autonomous freedom, and the like.  This year, I don't feel jovial or excited at all.  I'm under the spell of wanting to just sleep away for the next 36 hours into oblivion, and not feel a damn thing.

Something set me off massively yesterday in the form of a blog post, shared by a mutual friend on Facebook.  I'm not going to link that post here, nor am I going to mention who/what/when/where.  The post was about a parent "coming to their senses" as they paraphrase it, about raising a child who was diagnosed with autism a few years ago.  As they state, in this blog post, how originally devastated they felt when their child was diagnosed, at this current space and time they love all of their children, no matter what.

I had to read the entire blog post twice to make sure I wasn't delusional or missing something, like the point of the post.  No big deal.  I went back to Facebook and shared my multi-million nothing of worth opinion about how I felt about the blog author.  No big deal.  I saw that there was a response from the mutual friend who shared the blog post, but it was later deleted.  No big deal.  I messaged the mutual friend to let them know what I had noticed.  No big deal.  The mutual friend gave me a thesis on how I was out of place on my reaction to the post and that I don't get to dictate who has the right to suffer based on my experiences.  Wasn't my initial response, as I was defending the autistic child versus providing sympathy to the parent, but no big deal.  After a thirty minute exchange, I told the mutual friend that I could message her the next time they shares something about autism before going on a massive heel rant, and they thanked me for it.  End of discussion; no big deal.

So, what the fuck?

For the next thirty-nine hours, I have been in My Happy Place, trying to figure out why am I feeling so damn sad?  Why was the term "parenting" making me so upset?  I asked a friend unrelated to yesterday's debacle, and they said that I'm "sensitive, and that [I] feel things very deeply."  As great of an answer that was, it did not compute.

While composing this post, I went back to the source of what triggered me so massively; that blasted blog post from a parent whose child has autism.  There was a section that essentially grazed upon my soul, leaving an indent close to piercing its surface.  The parent was feeling lonely and disappointed over the fact that other children close to their autistic child's age were meeting their "age related goals" but not their child.  I take a step back; this isn't about a secular parent, this is about a parent who is also an Orthodox Jewish rabbi.

This rabbi laments that, even though they love their children "no matter what," their autistic child is not going to be following the traditional path of age induced milestones that has sustained both a religion and a culture for over five millennia.

THAT IS WHERE I GOT PISSED OFF.

Initially, I got angry at the author for being so self-centered and seeking for sympathy.  As I look at it now, it's not the Orthodox rabbi's fault; it is the social circle and culture that they grew up in.

Can autism thrive in Judaism?  Can Judaism thrive in an autistic?

The whole deal of folks trying to keep up with the Joneses (or the Mandels, take your pick) to show off their peacock feathers as a family coat of arms is down right ridiculous.  When you throw religion and/or social status into this mix, where it just "has to be," do people, especially neurotypicals, even realize the psychological damage that is being done to autistic folks?  Do they even care?

In my own case, I have nothing to fucking lose.  I don't come from a background of traditional rituals or loving family members (sans my grandmother) or with a foundation not involving beating the snot out of the children or the parents themselves.  Go figure.  I don't expect to play the milestones game where I have to be popping out children by age whatever and having them being enrolled into Jewish day school by age half past a donkey's ass, because I don't live my life to please anybody anymore.  Fuck that.  And I am grateful that the congregation I belong to are tolerant enough to accept me for who I am.

Not all autistic Jews, meanwhile, have the same luxury as I do.

My heart hurts for the Orthodox rabbi's child; not because of their parent, but because the child is in a culture where they are bound to be looked down upon and cast aside as a reject. 

I mean, fuck, there has to be some wiggle room, right?  Orthodoxy in Judaism can't always be this rigid, can it?  Even the Cleveland Browns can't do a perfect (losing) season record; something has to give.

However, I am reminded of what a nice Conservative Jewish guy told me (a Reform Jewish brat) on a date during Memorial Day weekend earlier this year.  When I asked him about how do Jewish families raise their autistic loved ones, his answer was as cold as the storm front that eventually rained out the festival he and I were attending.

Jewish date guy: "Yeah, [most] parents don't keep their autistic children.  They send them off to [state of the ward] facilities where the children are never seen or spoken of again.  It's considered a flaw to the family and an embarrassment to the Jewish community."

I ask again: can autism thrive in Judaism?

Or is being an autistic Jew as oxymoronic as jumbo shrimp?

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