Last week I had the opportunity to share with another mother the journey we have traveled with Rusty and his Selective Mutism. I love how God puts people in our lives at just the right moment to be a resource and support to us when we need it most. I have had these “God moments” so many times in my life and it has always been a confirmation of God’s love and awareness of me and my struggles when that happens. Sometimes we are given the opportunity to be that answered prayer for another. One of the greatest blessings that comes from our own struggles and trials is the chance to be able to say to another person going through that same trial, “I understand..I’ve been there..You are not alone.”
A few weeks ago during a visit with one of our social workers I casually mentioned Rusty’s struggle with Selective Mutism when he was younger. She was astounded to find out that Rusty had been diagnosed with Selective Mutism and said that she had another family that she works with that just found out their daughter has selective mutism. She asked if she could pass on my phone number to that family so that they could call and speak to me about it. I happily agreed and a week later received a phone call from that mother.
As I spoke to that mother, so new to the world of Selective Mutism, I was taken back in time. As she shared her frustrations I heard her echoing the words I spoke years ago. As she shared her worries I was taken back in time to the many sleepless nights I experienced as I worried about Rusty’s future. As she poured out her heart and I heard myself in her words. We spoke for two hours. She is at the beginning of her journey..I am at the end. She doesn’t know what the road ahead holds. She is scared to begin the journey..scared of the hills that they are going to have to climb and worried about how long the journey will take. I remember being there. I remember Rusty being unable to speak to anyone except Toby, Gracie, Molly and I. I remember being unable to get him to smile for pictures or hug loved ones. I remember the challenges of church and school classes when he couldn’t speak to his teachers or his peers. I remember worrying about his future and his ability to make friends. I remember the overwhelming fear that kept me up at night as I thought about somebody grabbing him in a store and he not being able to call out for help. I remember the begging, the bribing, the threats that were issued by us in an effort to get him to speak. I remember the relief and answers that came with the diagnoses. I was where that mother now stands..I remember.
But I also remember all of the “God moments” along the way…all of the small victories, all the baby steps of achievement, all of the people.. such wonderful people.. and resources God put in our path, and all of the blessings that came with that journey. Now here we are a few years later and it all seems a distant memory. People that meet Rusty now would never know that at one time in his life he was signing thank you because he couldn’t say it, he was recording messages on a tape recorder so he could talk to his friends, he was carrying notecards that said “yes” and “no” in his pocket so he could hold them up to answer the questions of his teachers. How far we have traveled..how good God has been..
As I spoke to that mother I shared what I learned along the way. I shared the books I found to be helpful, the tools we used to help Rusty communicate, the doctors and therapists we found to be effective but mainly I just listened. I listened as she poured out her heart, her fears, her worries and insecurities as a mother. I listened as she cried and then I told her that I understood.. and I did. I remember all too well the place where she now stands and then, by sharing my journey, she was able to catch a glimpse of where she will be standing one day. She will be where I am..looking back in wonder at how far her daughter has come..amazed at the multitude of answered prayers and small victories that brought about recovery. She will then be able to say to the next mother, “I understand…I’ve been there…You are not alone.”
“By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer we often find the answers to our own”
– Dieter F. Uchtdorf