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Dear Brother,

We are not wired for this.  Our problem solving skills do not match up well with this unexpected challenge that has been unexpectedly thrust upon us.

What do you mean it can’t be fixed? 

What do you mean there is no cure?

I know exactly how you feel.  Even though my head knows better, my heart still wants to fix it…fix her, just like I know you want to fix him.

It is what we do as men – we fix things.  If something is broken, we fix it.  If we can’t fix it, we probably know someone who knows someone who can.  Flat tire, broken hose, leaky pipe?  No problem, pass the tools.  If it’s something bigger?  Pass the phone, I know a guy…

***

Dear Brother,

This is different.  Our kids aren’t machines.  It took me some time to come to the realization that our kids aren’t broken; they are simply different.  Can that difference make life harder?  Yeah, right now it can; but difference, whether it be race, gender, orientation, height, weight or autism can do that.

But different doesn’t mean bad.

***

Dear Brother,

Don’t be afraid of labels.  It took me time to realize that when Brooke received her autism diagnosis, she was still the same girl she was before the doctor said, “autism”.  The label doesn’t change our kids dear brother.  In fact, the label empowers them…empowers us.  The label gives us a powerful tool in helping our kids get the services they need.  The label can turn resentment of strangers into compassion, helping them understand that when our kids have public meltdowns, it’s not because they are bratty or that we are bad parents, but rather because the environment has overwhelmed our kids’ capacity to cope.  The label is not about pigeon holing our kids…it’s about setting them free.

***

Dear Brother,

It takes time for us to get to the place where our kids’ mothers are.  Truthfully, we will never occupy the same space.  We are not wired the way they are.  Intellectually we will know, but a small part of our hearts will always betray us.  But that’s okay.  Just like our kids, we are different.

Autism is part of who our babies are.  Admitting that doesn’t change them.  Admitting that doesn’t hurt them.  Admitting that doesn’t mean you love your kid any less.  Admitting that doesn’t mean you will stop searching for ways to make his life easier.  In fact, admitting that will in all likelihood hasten the influx of tools that are available to you, your wife, and most importantly, your son.

***

Dear Brother,

It’s okay to feel the way you do…it is how we are wired, but ultimately, denial only hurts the one, beautiful creature we are trying to protect.

Sincerely & Respectfully,

Luau

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It ain't just a river...

Denial is often viewed as a negative word – one that implies that someone is hiding from an apparent truth. We’ve all been there. If you are a special needs parent, you know exactly what I am talking about – that stretch of time when you kept telling youself, no, not my kid…not my child…he/she doesn’t have XYZ!!!

We’ve all been in denial about our jobs or our relationships.

Denial, typically, is not a good thing.

But I’ve found a new way of using denial in a positive way. A while back I started using the Furman FIRST training program for my upcoming marathon (3 weeks away as of the day before yesterday – YIKES!!!) and I have come to the conclusion that denial can be good.

A regular reader of this blog will know that I went through a bit of burnout throughout the second half of 2011.  Sure I ran the Vermont 50 (as in 50 miles) in September and then New York in November, but the truth is, I did both of those runs on almost no training whatsoever – we’re talking a total of 180 miles in the 12 weeks leading up to Vermont (that’s 15 miles per week for a 50 mile race!) and 120 miles in the 12 weeks leading up to New York.  That’s 10 miles per week before a marathon.  No runner can expect to do well at the 26.2 mile distance on 10 miles per week.  Like I said, I was burnt out.

The training programs I had followed required five to six days of running.  I just couldn’t get myself out of bed to do the runs.  I would skip one, thinking there’s no harm in missing a run and before I knew it, the week would have gone by and I would have maybe run once.  Staying in bed, doing laundry, cleaning dishes, preparing dinner – all of these activities were much more appealing than dragging my butt out the door for the required run of the day.

Then I switched to the Furman FIRST program.  The first thing that struck me about the program was that I was only allowed to run 3 days a week.  That’s it.  3 DAYS ONLY.  And like anything that you are told you can’t have, I suddenly wanted to run more.

The program allows for one interval based run, one tempo run and one long run.  I mix in two days of cross training, be it swimming, biking, rowing or ellipting (is that the word?).  Throughout the program (I came in on week 5 of the 16 week program) I have regained my speed and endurance.  My race times have dropped and my legs feel relatively fresh.

So with my last 20-miler done this past Sunday, let the taper begin…sorta.  Funny thing about this program, because you only run three days a week, each run is done with a lot more intensity, particularly the long runs – which are generally run at 10K Race Pace + 60 to 75 seconds per mile.  That’s a good 30 – 45 seconds faster per mile than typical programs.  So that being said, despite officially being on my taper, I still have two interval sessions (one 7 x 800m at 10K – 45 to 50 seconds and one 3 x 1600m at 10K – 35 to 40 seconds), two tempo runs (a 4-miler at 10K pace and an 8-miler at 10K + 30 to 35 second per mile) plus a 15 and 10 miler.

A lot more intense than my past tapers.

Despite the increased intensity, I’m enjoying running again.

And I credit denial for my revival.

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