Who Am I Without Him? 

As I sit here, tears streaming down my face, I find myself pondering a question that, until now, hadn't crossed my mind with such intensity.  
Who am I without him?
The "him" in question is my son, Jordan. 
Jordan is 27 and he is autistic. Jordan recently went on a trip with his sister – a first for us.
This was the first time that he wasn’t within the walls of our home, leaving me to wrestle with the quiet emptiness that settled in.
And then, a realization hit me: I am never truly alone.
Jordan isn't just my son; he is my constant companion; he is my purpose.  
I always knew I was "his person", the one who understands the intricacies of his world.
Yet, it took those four days of physical separation for me to confront the depth of our connection.
He's not just a part of my life; he's interwoven into the fabric of my identity. It's the compass that guides me through life. He is part of who I am.
Without him, I am not me.
When did this happen?
I sit with this question, searching for a moment in time when our identities fused.
But there isn't one.
It's not like a light switch flicked on, and suddenly I was aware that caring for Jordan was more than just what I do—it was the essence of me.  
It just is.
Living alongside autism has become second nature, an inseparable thread in the tapestry of my identity.
During those four days, the absence of him, his quirks, and even the challenges he brings into my life left a noticeable void.
Yet, within that void, I discovered a profound truth— I am not complete without him.
My heart ached for the familiar routine, the shared glances that speak volumes, and the comfort of knowing he was close.
Our house echoed with an unfamiliar quiet and in that stillness, I couldn’t find peace.  I truly felt like part of me was missing. 
I was alone in a space usually filled with the chaos of our life together.
When did caring for him become so entwined with who I am?
It was in that silence that I confronted the question:  Who am I without him?
The truth is, that void, that emptiness made me acutely aware of his absence.
It made me realize that my identity isn't a solo act; it's a duet, a life where his steps intertwine seamlessly with mine.
Caring for him isn't just what I do; it's who I am.
The love I have for him, and the person I have become in navigating autism, are all part of a life that is uniquely ours.
It's easy for society to view the role of a caregiver as selfless, and indeed, it requires a level of selflessness.
However, in that selflessness, there is a profound love that exceeds the conventional boundaries of parent and child.
As moms, our lives are often intertwined with the well-being of our children. We become nurturers, protectors, and advocates.
But when your child is on the spectrum, the connection takes on a different depth.
Autism becomes a part of your journey, shaping your perspective, and influencing every decision you make.
And as I reflect on this, I want to share with you that it's okay to feel this way.
It's okay to question and ponder your emotions. 
Get curious about your feelings because that is where you will find the most intimate parts of yourself. 
It's about understanding that our identities are entangled with those we care for, and it's okay to feel the weight of that connection.
Jordan is not just my son; he is a reflection of the best parts of me, and while it isn’t always easy, I am forever grateful for the privilege of being “his person.”
To those moms navigating this path, just know that you're not alone, I see you.
So, who am I without him?  I am still me –but now I carry the wisdom and grace that come from traveling the winding roads of living alongside autism.I am someone who embraces the complexities of life, finding purpose and fulfillment in the love I give and receive.
And I wouldn't have it any other way. 💙
This was written by Shannon Urquiola at Not Your Average Autism Mom.
Thank you for being part of our journey.

Shannon shares her lived experiences in hopes of creating a more inclusive world for our children and adults on the spectrum. 

Our mission is to equip families with resources, training, coaching, and community support. We believe if you are willing to expose yourself, your child, and your family to the world with kindness and honesty that compassion and understanding will follow.

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