Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Suspending My Resistance

I’ve noticed that many times, after talking with volunteers about attitudinal challenges, my mind lingers in the conversation long after the person leaves. As I attempt to settle in cooking lunch, numerous thoughts about our dialogue come back. I try to center myself in the present, but the nagging thoughts continue.

One way I’ve found that helps me center is to decide that the theme of the conversation applies to me. So rather than persevering in mental advice to my volunteers, I apply that advice to myself, and make an intention out of it for the rest of the day.

In this way, today, the theme of the dialogue with Jessica inspired me to become very aware of my resistance; that is, every time I mentally say “no” to, or argue with Joaquin’s “crazy” comments, impractical ideas, and repetitive games. And as I realize that I’m resisting it in any way, adopt the intention to ease into it, trusting that I don’t need to protect myself or him with “no”. I can say yes, or maybe. I don’t need to push myself to go all the way to joy with it, but if I just remove my mental barrier, I may give joy a chance.

I have to tell you: This is a great intention to hold in the playroom.

Enthusiastically, I went with it even while still having lunch with Joaquin (one of my prime times for “no”). So when Joaquin made a “crazy” comment about seeing an “oso maloso” (tr: mischievous bear) in the backyard, I realized my tiny resistance which normally would kill the comment with a simple that’s crazy!, or oh yeah?… Hmmmm, and giving it a yes instead I chose to respond becoming the oso maloso. Oh dear!… What a great chase game I had with Joaquin right there. I chased him, attacked him, asked him to run away from me, etc… This is exciting because I have wanted to do more physical games of this kind with Joaquin, and my yes answer today ended up in this.

And when Joaquin made a comment about seeing a 10 year old child driving outside, I noticed that he’s made this comment two or three times in the last weeks and my response has been no way!.. children can’t drive! That’s a crazy child!… which is an apparent “fun” going along with it, but in reality it is a masked “no” to joining this conversation in a more fun way.

So today, even while I hadn’t finished eating, I became the child, and I put on pretend eye glasses, and I started driving around the kitchen finally crashing into Joaquin. He loved it! And kept asking for it over and over and over. Every time I’d change it a bit. It was amazing! We were having this yummy interaction with him cracking up so infectiously, and it all started from consciously suspending my resistance and going with yes instead.

In case this intention helps you Jessica, I just tried it on, and loved it. Thank you for dialoguing with me today. I know that part of my mental perseveration after you left was because I have very similar attitudinal challenges to yours, and this thing I found today was gold at helping me.

When I don’t resist, absolutely everything Joaquin does and says is delightful.

Every time I don’t find him delightful, I can be sure it is because there is something I’m resisting. In some way I am thinking that I don’t like his idea, that this activity is not going to be fun for me, that I don’t find his thought exciting or meaningful, so I hold back and don’t add any energy to what he has going. Suspending my resistance without any pressure to do or feel anything else opens the floodgate of ideas, and I end up doing something fun that we both enjoy.

That was my experience today, and we had so much fun out of two very “inconsequential, familiar, and insane” comments.

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