I remember clearly this girl on the right. I was painfully shy. Painfully.

So painfully so that in third grade, when asked a question about geography, I didn’t speak because I was afraid to be wrong. I wasn’t wrong, I had studied all day before, but when I was asked this question in front of the class, I froze. My shyness got me an F.

I was mostly a quiet child not only because of my shyness, but also because I was taught by various teachers and other people in my life to be quiet. To be less sensitive. How many times my elementary teacher made fun of me for crying? I lost count.

I was 11 years old in this picture, taken in the summer of 1975 in my parent’s living room. I had just finished 6th grade. Back then my shyness was at its peak. Most people would say I was so quiet. Even years later, when hanging out with friends, the one thing people would say most often was “You’re so quiet”.

Quiet people live internally a lot. They write their feelings out. I have old diaries out to wazoo. They also learn to listen, which is a wonderful quality. For years, however, I lived to please others. I somehow always ended up doing what I wanted to do, I was never a pushover, but after I had Nicky things changed drastically.

By then I had already gotten over my shyness, my years working and managing various Domino’s Pizza & Babbage’s stores gave me a thick skin. I was not going to let anyone disrespect me or treat me unfairly. I decided one day to speak up and that was the best thing I ever did.

As as special need mom of a child with a very rare disorder (yes, I know, he’s an adult now at 20 years old, but he’s still my child), I found out that speaking out was a must. I read countless books of moms who felt their feelings didn’t matter. But mine and their feelings do matter. Their voice matters.

Every now and again I get a message from someone I “offended” by telling my truth or my child’s truth.
They say things like: “How do you think that makes me feel?”. To that I say… Hopefully sad, as how I feel has nothing to with you!
I also find it pretty insulting when people assume that I post my son’s pictures of wounds or photos of him when he was little behind his back!! Nicky gave me the green light a long time ago. He wants to raise awareness. He wants people to see what he goes through. That does not make him or me a martyr as someone suggested today. I always ask him permission to post new wound pics as well. I can’t believe anyone would really think I did this without his consent!!!

The truth is, I don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to do my thing, and if I make people uncomfortable, so be it. I will be unapologetically me. Why should I sanitize my feelings? I won’t be less than what I’ve become. I refuse to shrink and instead I choose to honor my feelings. That’s a lofty goal for anyone, but my situation is unique and I find comfort in knowing I speak up for a certain section of special need moms everywhere.

Love & Light,

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