Tears + Sweat

“I need to run right now,” I said to GC as I passed through the kitchen.  Not, “Do you mind if I go for a run now?” or “Is it okay with you if I run now?”  But, “I need to run, right now.”

“Okay,” he replied.

I am already gasping for air as my feet cross the road and hit the trail, my stride jarring my body on the downhill.  Music in my ears.  My breath caught in my throat, tears burning behind my sunglasses.  Do not cry.  I will myself as the tears spilled out.


My feet stop and I bend over at the waist, my forearms pressing into my hip bones.  I try in vain to contain the sob roaring up my windpipe.  My grief and anger swirl inside my chest, my ribs cannot contain the enormity.  I squeeze my eyes shut and wonder if there is anyone out on their deck to my right.  I must look like I am going to vomit bent over this way.  I want to vomit.  I want to purge myself of the grief, hurl my shame as far as possible, crush my anger to dust beneath my shoe.  The sob escapes, then another.

“How dare you cry!” a voice screams in my head.  “What the f@!& do you have to complain about?  Stop crying!” she hisses.

“Move your feet,” I tell myself, ignoring my own worst enemy.

I set my eyes on the tree line ahead, then the curve, then the hill, then the pond.  The tears stream from my eyes as I settle into my stride.  The ache fills my upper body, right beneath my ribs, the sobs are pulsing to escape.  I close my throat to contain them and let the tears flow, the only escape.  The grief feels too big.  I cannot hear the music slipping from my ear buds.  There is a freight train in my head.

Why is it so hard for him?  Why doesn’t he connect the dots?  He misses all the social ques.  The face expressing annoyance, the change in the tone of voice, the blatant requests for him to stop what he is doing.  He laughs when he should listen.  He laughs when they request he stop following so close, or stop repeating that phrase, stop ruining the game.  He laughs when he shouldn’t.  I try to intervene, using words that do not sink in.  It never ends well.  They do not care when he leaves, escaping written all over their faces…but only I see it.  He just laughs.  My mind replays the events, the missed cues, the missteps, the looks, everything, and I hurt all over.

I keep going.  My insides hurt.  The tears slow.  I pull apart the afternoon in my mind.  My thoughts tumble all over themselves.  I worry for the future.  When he finally learns these skills, because I will never give up, will it be too late?  Will these children give him a chance?  Or will they be soured on a friendship with him?  Always remembering the way he was, the way I’m sure he still will be to some extent.  He is not an easy friend to have at almost eight.  What will happen next year?  What will happen in middle school?  What will happen in adulthood?  Will he make real peer connections?  When?  What can I do to help?  This is too big for me.  Too big.  I am not enough.

Then the anger comes.  The tears are gone.  My pace quickens.  The muscles in my back flex.  I feel the anger rolling through the muscles in my legs.  My feet slap the pavement.  The drums beat in my throat and the guitars scream in my ears.  The music matches my insides.  I cannot contain the anger.


Why me?

Why him?

I am so angry.  I let myself feel it.  I use it to push me on.  My legs scream at me up the hill.  The physical pain a way to release the pain in my heart.  The sweat slides down my spine.  I am so angry.  Angry at the misunderstandings.  Angry that so much is difficult for him.  Angry that I am angry.  Angry at the jealously I often feel.  Angry at the shame I feel about the jealously.  Angry at the pain.  Angry at the tears.  Angry at what is.  Angry at what isn’t.  Angry.  The anger rolls off my body.

“WHY!?” the voice screams.  “No FAIR!” she hisses.

It’s not.

It’s not fair.

No one guaranteed me or him fair.

I keep going.  The roar in my head slowly subsides, the ache in my chest diffuses, my lungs are free to breath again.  My pace is even, my breath is calm, my fingers tap the drum beat, and I mouth the lyrics not caring who sees me.  I think over the miles I just ran.  The thoughts I pulled apart thread by thread.  The grief I cycled through over five miles of trail, road, and sidewalk.  Just as the pain poured out in tears, the anger slides down my body in beads of sweat.

I am drenched in my emotions.

I watch my feet as I walk up the driveway, I have no energy to chit-chat with my neighbors.  I sit in the shade of my garage to stretch my legs, watching the sun through the leaves, listening to the neighbor children laughing as they ride their rip sticks and bounce a basketball.  The grief and anger have subsided.

I am spent and I am ready.

I go inside and smile at the Roc.

I will never give up.

ed note:  This was 2 Thursdays ago and every time I’ve run since then this post goes through my head.  I needed to get it out.  And in true Roc fashion, with tons and tons of reminders, many conversations about friendship, I saw a teeny, tiny step in the right direction yesterday.  He will get there.  I will never give up.

10 thoughts on “Tears + Sweat

  1. I know this. All of it. So many overlaps. My son is 10 now and, still, there are days when there is no awareness, when he completely mis-reads a room, when he doesn’t seem to see or understand what others see in his actions or behaviors. But there are days, too, when he is so dead-on, when he absolutely gets it. Over time, we are having more and more of the dead-on moments, and I attribute it to nothing but years and years of practice. Countless “what could you do differently next time” conversations. It’s just not intuitive. And yes, it should be, and it’s not fair, but there are also so many things that could be worse. It’s those mixed emotions on our part, as parents, that weigh us down. Hang in there. I can’t make the worry disappear, for you or for me, but I can say that over time, you will have more better days than not.

  2. I have no wise words of experience to offer. Only a recognition of the pain and the anger, the fear simmering beneath the surface. And an absolute certainty that if not THESE children, then others will be there when he is ready and able to connect with more ease. Listen to Kristen’s wisdom; her son has come so very far. Roc will be okay and so will you. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, mama. xo

  3. This is an amazing post! As a runner, I can relate to needing that physical motion to work through the grief and pain of life. As someone who has dipped their toe in the special needs ocean, I am learning how cathartic it is to process, on a regular basis, on a routine path, process the reality that your child is different. I pray often while running, it’s my time alone to vent and cry and plead with the Lord. I assign meaning to mailboxes and houses and bends in the road so I will remember. I will remember you when my legs are screaming and I will continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you for sharing both the bad and the good!

  4. No. It is not fair. It is “that” way. Why? Why? Why? But, I will not give up for my daughter either. I focus on her needs. OT. Speech Reception. Psych. More. More. More. But, she still doen’t “get it.” And it breaks my heart too. I would love for my Gabs to meet your Roc. They would connect. They would play. They would be on a level playing field. The would “GET” each other. THANK YOU.

    I am not a runner, but I was an athlete in a past life. But, I soooooooooooo get this post, especially today.


  5. I understand the range of emotions here. Been there. Felt it a little bit yesterday at Field Day. I see progress with Charlotte. She’s lucky, though, in that she’s a girl and I think girls are generally more nurturing than boys. One thought… Can you figure out a way to look in the 3rd/4th grade classes to find an ASD kid who might have a younger brother who is Roc’s age? The two girls that Charlotte has become best friends with both have an older brother with autism. It was nothing I arranged, it just happened, but you never know … maybe it could be slyly facilitated with Roc and another kid. Just a thought, Kim. Meanwhile, hang on to Kristen’s wise, wise words that it does get better over time. And keep doing what you’re doing. That is what matters.

  6. Wow, I could FEEL this. I just started running, so I could understand that, too. Thank you for being so honest, even about those raw emotions. You are not alone.

  7. i have had runs like this too. they are a good way to get it all out so you can stay focused on your mantra – you’ll never give up!! 🙂

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