out here on my own

by Jennifer, fasten her seatbelt

It’s been four months since my last post…

Sometimes I wonder where I’ve been
Who I am 
Do I fit in. 
Make believin’ is hard alone,
Out here on my own.
On a darkened stage one afternoon, Coco Hernandez (Irene Cara) sang what was deep within her heart as Bruno Martelli (Lee Curreri) listened intently.  The movie Fame premiered in 1980 – I was 15 years old and destined to be a brilliant actress – for god’s sake… I had already been cast in a supporting, ensemble role in a high school production!
We’re always provin’ who we are 
Always reachin’ for the risin’ star 
To guide me far
And shine me home
Out here on my own.

Needless to say, thirty odd years later I am not a brilliant actress -that dream faded along with the popularity of the movie Fame (but wouldn’t it just be a hoot if I was?).  I am a wife, mother, artist and ‘accidental advocate’.  I have a wonderful and caring family, and though I am not alone, the song ‘Out Here On My Own’ seems as relevant to me today as it did in 1980, yet in such different way.  So, how exactly does this fit together?  Lack of posts?  The movie Fame?  Out Here On My Own?

Mid-Summer I posted this image:
It was meant to be followed up immediately by this post.
Apparently that didn’t happen, as it’s now the end of August and I’m just writing this.
When I’m down and feelin’ blue 
I close my eyes so I can be with you
Oh, baby, be strong for me
Baby, belong to me
Help me through
Help me need you. 

When the girls were younger, my husband and I had made the joint decision that I would stay home with them.  It’s been equally rewarding and challenging as many of you know.  However, as their needs grew, I felt my own identity slipping away.

And then it hit like a ton of bricks.  For about the past four months – I’ve been feeling lost.  I find myself becoming more withdrawn as each day passes.  I’m sure we all feel like this at times – a bit lost.  With so many things to take care of, I find at times I take care of nothing.  We are mothers, wives, providers, educators, advocates and problems-solvers… but sometimes I wonder:  Who am I?  It sounds so simple, and I should be able to answer.  Who. Am. I?

Until the morning sun appears 
Making light of all my fears 
I dry the tears
I’ve never shown
Out here on my own.

The exterior me shows strength and confidence.  Yet the interior is slowly ripping herself apart.

S.    L.     O.     W.     L.     Y.

We’re talking a five to six year tear here.  Corresponding with???  You betcha – our diagnosis.  You see, I think there has always been a little part of me (2%? 5%? 10%?) that has been living in denial.  Who knows the actual percentage, but it gets pretty loud every now and then.  And then I think to myself, by admitting that this percentage even exists, what does that say about me?  That I don’t support my daughter?  That I don’t accept her for who she is?  Emma’s a gem – I love her fully and completely.  Sometimes, it’s hard though -it’s really, really hard.  The play dates, the birthday parties, the sleepovers… all those ‘typical’ activities she sees her younger sister partaking in, but she never gets asked to partake in.  But everyone’s so ‘friendly’ to Emma, right?  There’s a BIG difference between being ‘friendly’ and being a ‘friend’.  The hardest thing you will ever do as a parent, will be to watch the things you have absolutely no control over take place.

When I’m down and feelin’ blue 
I close my eyes so I can be with you
Oh, baby, be strong for me
Baby, belong to me
Help me through
Help me need you. 

As I work through this song – ‘Out Here On My Own’, I ask myself:  Who is Coco/Irene asking ‘Baby, be strong for me, baby belong to me.  Help me through, help me need you’? My only answer can be:  HERSELF.  She will find it within herself to get through, to be strong, to be who she needs to be – to be the best she can be – for herself.  I need to be strong for myself, so I’m able to be strong for my daughters.  I need to know who I am, so my daughters will be able to know who they are…

Sometimes I wonder where I’ve been 
Who I am 
Do I fit in
I may not win
But I can’t be thrown
Out here on my own
On my own.

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to visit with two very dear girlfriends (both whom are living in different states now).  They’re friends from college – you know the kind… the ones who have known you since you were just finding your feet.  The kind of friends you don’t have to ‘edit’ yourself around, because they’ve already seen you at your best and worst.  We went to art school together, so trust me… there were plenty of ‘worst’ times!  We shared so much in school:  laughter, tears, inspiration!  I miss those ladies.  Seeing them – albeit separately – enabled me to find some of those small pieces of myself again… to begin to answer the question Who I am.

I am an artist.  I am a wife.  I am a mother.  I am an advocate.
I am a gardener.  I am a photographer.  I am an avid reader.  I am strong.
‘To reach your destination… First you must begin your journey’.

As I mentioned to a friend earlier today:  It’s time to take off the dirty old robe and toss it away.  It’s time to start this new journey, to rediscover who I am – to be reacquainted with these different aspects of myself.  In order to ‘reach my destination’ Fasten Her Seatbelt may change a bit, for not only will this be about Emma’s journey, but mine as well.

Title Inspiration:
Irene Cara:  Out Here On My Own

**********

Jennifer lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls: Frannie (9), Emma (10), and Isabella (22). She is an artist, fine jeweler and educator. Emma was diagnosed with an ASD at age 4 and Frannie was diagnosed with ADHD and Dyslexia at age 6.

With Emma fast approaching adolescence, Jennifer found there was not much information available for ‘girls, autism and adolescence’, thus ‘Fasten Her Seatbelt’ was born. Using ‘Fasten Her Seatbelt as a vehicle to re-account life experiences both pas and present, Jennifer hopes to connect with other parents on the same journey. So, hop on in and join her as she travels the world of adolescence on the spectrum.

This post was originally published HERE and used with permission.

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9 Comments

Filed under Remembering to Breathe, Taking the next step

9 responses to “out here on my own

  1. AndyMummy

    Thank you for sharing this; your story and journey are inspiring and made me think about finding myself again.

    Wishing you well on your journey…

    • jlchron

      thank you – when i was feeling particularly blue at one point, my friend pulled the whole ‘jedi mind trick’ on me with this yoda quote: ‘try not. do, or do not. there is no try.’ we all deserve to find ourselves! <3

    • jlchron

      when i was feeling particularly blue at one point, my friend pulled the whole ‘jedi mind trick’ on me with this yoda quote: ‘try not. do, or do not. there is no try.’ we all deserve to find ourselves! <3

  2. Do you think that as we ourselves are maturing, along with our children, it causes these “who am I moments”? So often we are donning the hats at others need us to wear that we neglect those inner callings to wear that hat designed just. For. Us. I know I am not the same me I was even two years ago and only two years before that….. But that young vibrant artist. She still has dreams! Once I carve out time to nurture this it makes everything else fall into place. My husband has been good to remind me and almost shove me out the door.

    • jlchron

      i agree, i think we’re always changing/maturing – it’s inherent to who we are. the problems occur when we forget who we are… when we lose ourselves. It’s vital to take that time and nurture our inner selves! <3

  3. Christin Bradt

    Thank you for your insightful words of encouragement. They reminded me that giving up and giving in, is not an option, no matter how utterly exhausting it is, I’m still here…somewhere.

    • jlchron

      it seems as if we need to be at our strongest when we are the most exhausted. for me, that’s when i find it more important than ever to find those friends that i can talk to/ connect with – to help me ground myself again. <3

  4. I believe the word is “apropos” – thanks.

  5. I love this so, so much. The song, the insights. So beautiful!
    I have a daughter on the spectrum too … and I’m terrified of what’s to come! Glad to “meet” you.

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