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Then He Did It.

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Then He Did It by Kyle Jetsel - TX, USA

The below entry is provided with permission by Kyle Jetsel, a superhero Dad who posted the below on Autism: Thrive in Chaos.  Check it out!  Well worth reading…..


Then he did it.

During a meltdown, my son on the spectrum took a swing at me.


Unable to duck out of the way in time, the punch caught me square in the side of the head - hard enough that blood starts dripping from my ear.


Fireworks of pain went off in my head, and a familiar kind of fury started to boil over.


You've got to understand. Where I came from... you fight fire... with fire.


I came from a tough neighborhood. A neighborhood wherein if you DIDN'T express your masculinity in toughness, you would become a victim. Inner-city Dallas - in an area called, "Oak Cliff" was a sketchy neighborhood in the late 70's and early 80's.


In an area less than a mile from where I grew up, it was reported that in 1980, the "Twelve Hills" apartment complexes had some of the highest crime rates in America.


And that's exactly where my best friend and I, Gary Phillips, had spent the Summer's doing what we called, "Pool Hopping."


That's right, the heat of Texas Summers was SO blistering, we'd (literally) risk our lives going from complex to complex and diving in. NO, we didn't live there, but until we got "caught" we were as wet as any other kids.

"Caught" could mean one of two things. The "best" scenario was that the management came out and asked us to leave because we didn't live there.


The "worst" scenario was that other kids would "COMPEL" us to leave... usually through the force... and THAT scenario played out more than any other.

That's why we called it "pool hopping." There were 12 complexes... 12 pools... and until we'd been expelled from all... we were traveling to the next waterhole.


Occasionally, violence would erupt. More often than not, it was Gary and I that were left bloodied and bruised. But not until after we'd taken our own shots at the other kids.


Typically, we didn't throw the first punch. But once we got hit, the pain always seemed to tip us in to some kind of vicious fury.


Neither Gary nor I were big kids, but we made up for it with uncommon aggression... once the pain tipped us in to that state.


We dished out a few butt-whoopings. And yeah, we took a few butt-whoopings. Okay, maybe more than a few. We TOOK a lot more butt-whoopings.


But NOTHING ever prepared me for when my son on the autism spectrum, hit puberty.


I understood why adversaries might take a shot at me... but... MY OWN SON?


But he did. That day.


He took that swing.


And even though I was quick enough to duck, that punch caught me full-force in the head and blood was dripping from my ear.


An explosion of pain went off in my head, and that same familiar fury started to boil over.


But this time... I caught myself.

I made a different choice.


I refused to get sucked into the conflict.


Instead of striking back, I looked at my son through tears of sadness and in a gentle, almost pleading voice said...

"Please don’t hit me. I love you.”


It was a turning point in both our lives.


THAT was the day I learned that I had the capacity to manage my emotions. He didn't. At least not at that point in his life.


And knowing I could manage my emotions - no matter WHAT was happening in my life - has been an absolute blessing to both of us... in more ways than I can possibly express.


So, this afternoon, as I was raking leaves... I backed into a low-hanging branch that whacked me in the same ear. And... it HURT!


Memories of that painful experience flooded my mind and as I stopped raking to start thinking... tears started to flow.


But not because of pain... and not because of sadness.

Rather, they were tears of joy for the lessons learned and the happiness we now have in our family.


Thanks, a yard full of leaves and low-hanging branch, for reminding me...


That is a beautiful moment when we start to realize our “worst days” are truly our “best days” because THAT’S when we’re stretched and forced to grow.


We all have events in our lives that seem to feel like a complete injustice and we all have an understanding of some sort of crushing weight.


But as we lift that weight, we become stronger and stronger. I’m not saying it’s not painful, because it is. It’s not easy to lift the weight of pain and suffering.


Thanks, fall chores, for reminding me...


That as we lift the weight attempting to crush us; when we resist letting it “press us down” and create hope and faith that things will get better... that’s the day our lives change and we can start to give a gift to others because of our deep UNDERSTANDING of pain and suffering.


Thanks, whack in the ear, for reminding me...


The problems we have are gifts. If wasn’t for all that stuff that is so hard and that we hate the most, we wouldn’t have what we LOVE the most.


Thanks, dripping blood... yep, dripping blood from my ear, for reminding me...

--Kyle Jetsel, from Autism: Thrive in Chaos

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