My Cousin Varun and Me: Surviving Autism Through the Transformational Nature of Gratitude

My Cousin Varun and Me: Surviving Autism Through the Transformational Nature of Gratitude

by Suparna Saha

Being the caregiver to an autistic child or any person with mental disabilities can be a thankless job. We experience very few relationships in life, based solely on love with no expectations, where there exists simply an assurance of being there for one another, and being the mother to a mentally challenged child is one of them. To play the role of lifelong caregiver to someone who is mentally challenged requires a tremendous amount of self-love and self-compassion to be in harmony with oneself in the face of the financial, emotional, physical, and personal demands of such a role.  

Sometimes when we go out of our way for another, and there is no acknowledgment, it can be very disheartening and this is often what is experienced by caregivers of those with autism. The lack of appreciation requires us to bring into our field of awareness a discernment for what is our intention in giving and what is our intention for wanting to be thanked. Is it self-serving, self-aggrandizing, or is it simply to stay in the flow of life itself? When we do something nice for another, and a recipient’s eyes dance with delight, and he or she is pleased and thankful, it makes us want to keep giving. Similarly, when our well-intended efforts are not met with appreciation, our ego structure is often wounded and we no longer feel like giving to that person. It’s a human reaction and it’s universal. 

As such, it’s easy for anyone to step out of their sovereignty into the victim mentality of the ego structure when faced with the challenge of caring for the mentally challenged as part of one’s life experience, and self-love is the key to overcoming the frustration. Self-love is the ability to love our own hearts first and so much that the act generates so much divine love within us such that there is an overflow with which to love others from a sovereign space within us. Self-love is the energy that recharges our battery in the face of disappointment such that we can show up for the people we care about.

Because Varun lacks the awareness to be blinded by Maya and the illusions of the material world, his autism can be viewed as a blessing in that the interactions with him are always authentic and from the heart, and for that I am extremely grateful.  

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