Running Barefoot: You Are NOT Alone

Life never takes a break. Sometimes I imagine that since we have autism in our lives, then the rest of life should take it easy on us. But that is never, ever the case, is it? Life always seems to have something up its sleeve.


I’ve been a bit out of touch lately because life has been kicking us pretty hard. We’ve been suffering some nasty viral infections, one that sent our youngest to the ER, and cancelled our middle son’s birthday party. I felt particularly bad about that last one since he always seems to get short-changed being the sibling of an autie. The virus even knocked my husband for a loop.


Matthew was evaluated at the end of the school year and it was realized that he needs adaptive physical education next year. Although this was no surprise to us, having a formal, written report that spells out his physical deficiencies in black and white is always particularly hard on me. It takes me a few days to recover from those body blows and get my brain wrapped around the information; eventually allowing me to process and sort the findings so that I come up with a reasonable game plan.

Then a close family member started showing serious signs of dementia and we, as a family, realized we needed to step in and make some serious decisions. All of this has rocked our world and added layers of disappointment and struggle to an already trying life.

I always marvel at those people that seem to create drama in their lives. I’ve known several “Drama Queens” and “Drama Kings” in my life, and even before I knew what autism was, I couldn’t understand why someone would consciously make those types of bad decisions. Didn’t they know they were just setting themselves up for heartache? But they seem to thrive on that, while I, on the other hand, loved a calm life. I certainly didn’t look for drama!

Well, I don’t have calm now. I don’t know about you, but I usually live with a nervous energy in my belly. Often I get the feeling, late at night, as if I want to run the dark streets. Simply get out of bed, walk out the front door without shoes and just start running right down the middle of our street with my nightgown slapping behind me. Always with the plan to return home, but somehow a desperate attempt to shake these demons from me. And although I am a firm believer in biomedical interventions, I’ve seen the successes with my own eyes, in fact I have one asleep right upstairs; I still feel impotent and ineffectual at times. I often feel lost and confused; as if I’m a child playing at a grownups game.

I am a Catholic, and I believe in God, but sometimes my desire to recover Matthew is so intense that I wish for a place to lay my soul bare in front of God and beg Him for my child. The feeling is often so great that I feel as if I can’t contain it. On those days I dream of running on the dark streets.

You may ask why I decided to share this with you. Why would I tell you this instead of giving you a must needed pick-me-up? Although I like to think of myself unique, I’ve come to realize my feelings are probably pretty similar to the feelings many of you have. Maybe you reflect on them, or maybe your push them aside. Maybe you think you are alone and are scared to feel this way. Well, you aren’t alone, because you are just like me and I’m just like you. We share all of this.

We are a community, and although we may never meet, it is always good to know you aren’t alone. To know someone else is dreaming of a midnight run, in bare feet, down dark streets. To know we are your tribe.


Maryann DellaRocco is the mother behind the blog Matthew’s Puzzle, which chronicles her journey into the world of autism and biomedical interventions. She is married and has three boys, her oldest is on the spectrum. Follow her on Twitter: @mehmig.

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