I was reading a book (yes, fiction, I was actually reading fiction) yesterday evening. I reached the end of a chapter, turned to the next one and the chapter heading stopped my breath for a moment. It said simply ‘Hunter’.
Certain words have been changed so much for me since Pudding’s diagnosis. When I see the word ‘Hunter’ in a book, or on a local estate agent’s sign, my mind automatically adds on ‘Syndrome’ and triggers all the emotions that go with that.
As soon as I became a mother it became much more difficult to hear of any child being unwell or in trouble. I think it’s a natural thing – you can’t help but consider the awful possibility that but for the luck of the draw it could be your own child.
Yet now, when I unexpectedly hear something similar it hits home so much harder. A joke about the ‘stupid class’ at school, isn’t a joke any more. Hearing a story about a mother losing her teenage son it’s not just a story, or a distant possibility. Words can make me want to slam my hands over my ears and walk away. Keep on walking and never come back.
Whoever we are, words always pass through a filter according to our own culture, background and experiences. I guess my filter is pretty sensitive right now.
The other side of this new awareness is that I am now so much more careful of the things that I say or do too. I am trying not to judge so much. Child misbehaving at the soft play? Maybe he has ASD. Chance encounter with rude, unsmiling person? Maybe they are dealing with their own world caving in. The internet seems to be littered with trolls and rude comments, even on the sort of sites where you would think that supporting each other would be most important thing rather than arguing about whose way of approaching a problem is right.
We can never really know what our own words and actions mean to someone else. All we can do, is act with compassion wherever possible. And not use our words to deliberately hurt – there is enough pain in the world already.
(Bit of a ramble today, but that appears to be the way my brain is working right now!)