As We Speak

When wandering through a clinical studies program,
I began a practice of writing verbatims,
capturing the essence of conversations
for their therapeutic integrity.

In this frame of mind and heart,
several years ago
I wrote this verbatim
on behalf of my daughter
with oppositional defiant disorder
and cerebral palsy.

Rereading it just now,
I wonder how different
are her imagined thoughts than mine
or ours,
in diverse senses
speaking with each other
across our less than confluent divides:

You asked me to ask when I need help,
and to add a please and thank you,
if at all possible.

I have done that often.

You ask me to ask to hold your hand
when you can’t otherwise hear me ask for help.

I am doing that right now.

I am not like you.
I wish I could be,
but I cannot.

I need you to appreciate me for who I am
more than attack me for who I am not,
and probably will never become.

My mind and body work similarly to yours,
but do not produce feelings and faith,
language and love
as effectively as does your incarnation.

I worry.
You and life often make me anxious,
confronted by possibiities that I am not fully human
in your eyes and mind,
perceived as not only different but inferior.

I tend to panic.
Frequently your world overwhelms me.
I lose self-control when bombarded by too much stimulation.
I want time and Earth and life and you and us
to slow down.

In these anxious situations,
if you want to help me,
then please stop,
slow down with me,
look at me,
wait until I am ready to look back.
Just give me a moment
or two
or three
or a lifetime
to catch up.

If I can trust you to do this,
I and we will be OK.
I will learn to trust that I could be OK,
and I will feel grateful,
to live with you,
to share my life with you
as you share yours with me.


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