Raising an autistic child
Comments 12

For Ariane and Others Who Lie Awake at Night

I like to exercise.

I have been doing so for a decade. I run, lift weights and take yoga classes. In fact, when I went back to work I chose to work at my gym. I believe in the mission and I like the people.

And working out is more than just about maintaining my figure. It’s much more. It’s about wellness, both physical and emotional. When I am in the middle of a cardio workout, and my heart is beating at its fastest, I sometimes imagine the rush of the increased blood flow picking up and sweeping away the loose plaque in my arteries and that every inhale is bringing positive energy into my body. Silly maybe, but I do.

And while I am exercising it’s hard for me to have a bad thought and that’s a good thing because sometimes I can have bad thoughts. Maybe the flood of good thoughts come from the endorphins. I don’t know, but I like it and I can actually feel my brain settle down and my thinking get clearer. When I have something to think through, I will do so while exercising and usually by the end, whatever is on my mind has been worked out. (Pun intended.)

Yesterday’s work out was no exception. In the middle of my cardio, right there on the elliptical machine, I heard the words of the song playing in my ear buds and I made a connection to a comment I received from a mother about one of my posts. The mother, Ariane, had been on my mind. Her words to me about the thoughts that keep her awake at night were honest and poignant and I appreciated her sharing.

She wrote about what I call “the voice.”

You might know the voice. It speaks to you when you are vulnerable and makes only the most horrible of comments.

It questions you.

It questions what you do.

It questions your worth.

And I thank Ariane for letting me share her words…

That feeling of lying wide awake in the middle of the night, chastising myself for not having been more patient, for having raised my voice… feeling that if I were a better mother… feeling that I’m the only one who feels this way, that all those other mothers of autistic children are handling it far, far better than I, that feeling of being so very alone, all alone, those are the feelings…

The song I was listening to gave me a new word for how it feels when the voice speaks to you.


It is if the solidness of what you thought you were – your determination, your ability, your confidence just melts away and you can FEEL it – you can actually FEEL your usually strong boundaries liquefy and what once was you, becomes just a puddle.

And what I have learned about the voice is that it does not want you to share the negative messages it has said to you. It doesn’t want those messages to see the light of day, for the voice is a parasite that lives in the dark, and the dark is, after all, where secrets live.

The voice knows once you share what it has said it will lose its potency, its grip on you. And that is why talking to people about what you are feeling, what it is saying, is so important. That is why these blogs are so important.

When we share that we lay in bed at night and question ourselves, we are taking charge, we are laughing at the voice and calling it out for the sham that it is.

The voice is a bully that runs the moment you stand up to it.

It is a coward that lurks in the dark – and it can’t survive in the light. The light strips away the illusion of any power it has over you.

And that is why I liked this song. I’ll melt with you, to me, means, I’ll listen. And when people take the time to listen to each other, to help each other, well, I want to believe that can make the world a better place and it can maybe make everything a bit more tolerable.

The underlying problem may still be there, a child’s autism does not go away by a parent being heard, but maybe a parent will be in better shape to deal with the challenges when they have been able to voice their fears and to hear that someone else understands because they too have had similar thoughts and fears. Because they too have had the voice speak to them.

Like a good cardio work out, you can get rid of the negative energy when you can melt with someone, your thinking gets clearer, and the solutions come.

See why I love exercising and the good thoughts that come during it.

So to Ariane, and all of those who lie awake at night, my reply is a song, and this song is for us.

Bowling For Soup’s cover of I’ll Melt With You…

Read Ariane’s fantastic article in the Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ariane-zurcher/autism-awareness_b_1378828.html)


  1. arianezurcher says

    Oh Charlotte! What a lovely, kind and incredibly thoughtful post. (And I swear I would be saying that even if you hadn’t mentioned my name!) I have been circling around the idea of posting something about commenting and comments on my blog – http://www.emmashopebook.com – and even wrote in today’s post that I intended to write about comments tomorrow and then I received this from you and it felt as though everything had come full circle.
    “The voice knows once you share what it has said it will lose its potency, its grip on you. And that is why talking to people about what you are feeling, what it is saying, is so important. That is why these blogs are so important.” I hope you’re okay if I now quote you on tomorrow’s post for my blog (with link included)! Because that’s it… we are building our own little community and as I wrote that hypothetical question on the HuffPo piece, (as you know, inspired by you) what a difference it would make if we really could help change how things are done. That instead of just getting a diagnosis, each parent was given a list of adult autists as well as names of parents who had been where they now found themselves. A list of contacts, of people they could reach out to. What kind of difference would that make?
    Thank you for being one of the people on my list.

    • Thank you for your reply and kind words. Honestly, I went into a kind of nervous upset after the initial post this afternoon. I even made it private until I could rework part of it. It was like I couldn’t say what I was feeling correctly and also, more honesty, I sometimes fear the side of me that reaches out and wants to help. Here I am wanting to help and yet I fear rejection. So, see, you don’t have to be autistic to not handle social situations well, even on-line ones. But I mean what I am writing and I believe it and I appreciate what you are writing about and the idea of being there for each other, to hear each other and maybe if we did that we wouldn’t be so scared, like I was this evening about voicing our feelings, voicing our fears. Gosh, can you imagine such a place? It’s the same place that gives you a list of families that will guide you through the post-diagnosis period. Think, in business there are mentors, why couldn’t there be in autism?

      It is an honor to be one of the people on your list and I hope that it grows to be a very long list, for the sake of everyone who is touched by autism.

      • arianezurcher says

        I am literally writing tomorrow’s post at the moment. Is it okay to quote you and link to your blog?

        And so “we will soldier on together.”

  2. Pingback: Creating a Community

  3. Pingback: Autism: Creating a Community | Colorado Post

  4. Paula Zurcher says

    Let me stop the world and melt with both of you. What a wonderful song, and for me music is so often the key to feeling, emotion, caring and just loving a world that contains my daughter, Ariane, my granddaughter Emma, and now Charlotte–may I adopt you too? because I feel that we’re family, the most important thing to me in all the world.


    • Paula,
      To borrow from Ariane, receiving a comment is indeed like opening a little gift, and when I read yours I felt like it was Christmas morning. Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. And yes! I am available for adoption, as I really do believe you can’t love or be loved too much. All my best to you and your wonderful family.


  5. Jen Graybeal says

    Thank you for writing this! I know that voice and I know that feeling. Together we can support each other and silence the voice.

    Great post!

    • Thank you Jen. I think it is important to put it out there that sometimes things just feel like total suck. And by acknowledging such feelings, by saying “Hey I feel this way” others who do also, and I am thinking that is a silent majority, can not feel so alone, can speak of the times they feel that way and strip the voice of its power. I think it is a real and powerful kindness we can do for each other. I appreciate your comment. Charlotte

  6. I love the way you write. Nice flow and easy to read. Great “voice” in your writing, too. :)
    Thank you for sharing. I’ll look at the other article you mentioned, also. ~ Sam

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