Don’t Go In The Attic

There is an interesting topic of discussion brewing in the autism community – stemming from an otherwise “typical” conversation between an amazing group of moms navigating life with autism on board. 

After blurting out “PTSD” at a recent gathering of other Warrior Mamas, I thought for a moment my snarkyness had gotten the best of me and perhaps I had gone a little too far this time.  Following the longest and most awkward pause in conversation, in a room full of women I had never met before, the reaction so far has been nothing less than positively healing.  I think my fellow Mama did the most spectacular job bringing this topic out of the darkness and into the light >here<.

It seemed like a great idea.  Sergeant Major (SGM) had the day off today, the kids were at school and we decided to begin the arduous task of prepping for our ridiculously gigantic yard sale this spring.  FEEL THE PURGE, BABY is our new motto.

I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.

After less than an hour of sorting through boxes and piles of everything you can imagine I suddenly felt like I had just stepped away from the most horrific car wreck – where everyone is staring at me because they cannot believe I haven’t a scratch on me.  Except I am broken everywhere on the inside.

Five long years of everything I had planned to do lay before me tearing away at my heart, ripping my soul to shreds.  A set of small plastic pots from when my son begged for the third spring in a row to plant some sunflower seeds and watch them grow.  I had finally bought the seeds and now had no idea whatever became of them.  There were empty picture frames by the dozen.  The most beautiful pictures of my boy when he was three that never saw the light of day.   I stood there unable to move for what seemed like hours.  I felt stricken by those deep, dark, greenish eyes and how he must see right through me.  Every promise I had made to him that disappeared amid the chaos of 4q and deployments and autism.

Then there were the fairy wings I got RM to wear for preschool when she was three.  It had been Princess Week.  Most of the little girls wore their favorite Disney Princess gowns every day to camp beaming with pride from their tiaras down to their slippered toes.  RM wore the precious green wings long enough for me to take one picture outside of the school.  That was it.

Really, it was the absence of fruitless promises to my little angel that burned me.  There were no piles of projects never touched, nor dress-up clothes for her to grow up and fuss with.  Nothing of what one expects to share with their baby girl as they watch her grow into a young lady.  Rather, boxes and boxes of medical supplies and feeding tube bags.


It was more than four years of struggles and surgeries and the sweetest, lingering goodnight kisses (praying they would not be the last) hitting me all at once.  A powerful, silent undertow dragging me deeper into an abyss of emotion.  Filling my lungs with salty tears as I desperately flail to stay afloat – with autism on board.

I cannot describe how blessed I feel that in a flood of sobs I was able to tell my SGM how I was feeling today and that he understood completely.  He had been sorting through his own five years of wreckage, too.


About Rachel Kenyon

Rachel Kenyon is an Aspie, Advocate and single mom of two beautiful babes - The Boy (11) and RM (8). The Boy is a Legomaniac and RM is a kick-ass diva with Autism and 4q Deletion Syndrome. View all posts by Rachel Kenyon

7 responses to “Don’t Go In The Attic

  • mom-nos

    This is heartbreakingly beautiful. The pain in your words is acute, but it dulls completely when held – as it is here – next to the love you have for your family.


  • Niksmom

    Oh, honey. It sucks that I know the pain you write about so damned intimately. This, what you have written about? The very reason i struggle with filing old medical records and going through old reports. Every single one brings back a flood of memories of a similar nature. Hold my hand and we’ll find our way through together. xo

  • william

    We will get through it babe…..

  • Akbutler

    This is so amazingly beautiful and heartbreaking…and exactly the reason my basement looks like it does. You’re my hero for facing this today. So so glad you’re blogging.

  • Shannon

    God Rachel you put it in words. Really. I can’t go in my attic for these very reasons. Sometimes things come out of there with the Halloween decorations by accident ; picture, a toy…something that was cast aside when autism broke all my promises. Thank you for putting it in to swords.

  • Michelle

    My family teases me about not buying the kids’ school photos at the beginning of every school year but what they don’t understand is that during a move the military lost all the photo albums of our first 10 yrs of marriage. All our wedding photos when we were young, naive, and still dreaming of a perfect future. All the photos of my 3 precious boys as babies, before #1 & #3 showed signs of Autism, photos of before & after #2’s cranial surgery at 6mos, before my whole world exploded. Before my beautiful daughter joined our family. Photos of all the times it was just me and the kids because Daddy was on a ship on the other side of the world.

    So often I refer to that time as another life… because that helps me cope. Helps me ignore what I lost, ignore all the intense pain of struggling through being told my kids were fine when I knew, KNEW they needed help. Its easier to stay busy and stay in the moment, where I can’t think about all those dreams, projects, memories. PTSD is definitely a part of my life. I like to think that I’m slowing filling in those cracks in my heart… but then I find an unopened box from several moves ago and it all floods back to me.

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