I am getting taken to task for some comments in a very recent post.
I was in a discussion with one of Pearlsky’s therapists about having conversations with Pearlsky in the evenings. I said (both in the meeting and on this blog) …
I talk very little. There is no conversation, that takes two. I try to tell her what I am doing, or going to do, but it is very quiet. You try it. Take a stuffed animal, and live alone with it for a month. Talk to it, every night, conversations, interactions. See how long it lasts.
And a bit later I expounded on it …
When asked “How can you compare Pearlsky to a stuffed animal?” I said …
Um, no, that was my point. It was a physical analogy, sure, but she is so much more. But outward communication-wise, she acts like a stuffed animal.
Since I posted that, many of you have sent emails, two texts, and at least one comment, that have attempted to rip me a new asshole (and, thank you very much, but the old one is just fine). So, I am going to explain what I said.
Fact: When talking to Pearlsky conversationally, she does not respond. Nothing. She does not turn to face you, she does not smile (nor frown), she does not change her movements, nothing. There is no visible way to know if, in fact, she even hears you, let alone is listening. There is no discernible response. Those are simple facts. She does not answer questions, does not ask questions, does not retort.
Fact: When talking to a stuffed animal conversationally, it does not respond. Nothing. It does not turn to face you, it does not smile (nor frown), it does not change its movements, nothing. There is no visible way to know if, in fact, it even hears you, and is doubtful it is listening. There is no discernible response. Those are simple facts. It does not answer questions, does not ask questions, does not retort.
Now, Pearlsky may very well (and probably does) not only hear you, but understand you. She may be thinking of responses, she may be changing emotion. But there is no way to tell.
The stuffed animal does not hear you since it cannot hear. It does not understand you. It is not thinking of responses, it is not changing emotions. There is no need for you to be able to tell, because it is not happening. Trust me.
I was being asked about having conversations with Pearlsky in the evening. I wanted people to learn some empathy, to see it from MY point of view. That was the important thing at the moment. I have found that the best way to explain to people what life with Pearlsky is like is via examples, things they can directly relate to.
How will anyone else learn what it is like to try, for twenty years, to have a conversation with Pearlsky, every night? So I tried to reach for an example that in fact they could try, or else somehow relate to.
Possible Single Dad example 1: I could have said, “I will give you Pearlsky for twenty years, every evening at least. I want you to talk with her, conversationally as much as you are saying I should. Let’s meet again in twenty years.”
Possible Single Dad example 2: I could have said, “Go get yourself a severely disabled child, one who has absolutely no communication at all, does not react to your speech or words in any manner, and try to have a conversation with him or her every night for twenty years. Then come back and tell me I am wrong for failing to be able to do it for that amount of time.”
Possible Single Dad example 3: I could have said, “A stuffed animal physically reacts as much as Pearlsky does to conversation. I am talking purely in regards to physical signals that you are being heard, some type of recognition of your words or voice, having nothing to do with understanding or anything else. You should try having a conversation with a stuffed animal to the extent you want me to converse with Pearlsky and see what it does TO YOU to have no response whatsoever to your voice or words. You should do this every night for as long as you can, for the length of time you are castigating me for failing to do. This will show you that in order to hold a conversation there needs to be some form, maybe any form, but some modicum of feedback, of recognition. Most of us will not talk to our spouse if they refuse to look up from the TV and acknowledge our presence. You just get pissed off and walk away. I lost the ability to talk to Pearlsky conversationally, every night, after about fourteen years. That is 5110 evenings of talking where the physical feedback and physical reaction was the same as if I was talking to a stuffed animal. Did Pearlsky get something out of those conversations? Probably yes, BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT, this particular issue is about ME, my total and complete failing at social interaction with my daughter. Here is the definition of “interaction” (yeah, from wiki) “Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one-way causal effect.” I lost the emotional ability to have an evening with complete and total one-way “talking at’s” (conversation takes two or more people) with Pearlsky half a dozen years ago. Do I suck? Absolutely. (Look at this post, written three years ago, on how I suck for not talking to her). Yes, I suck, I know it. I own it. But NOT for comparing her to a stuffed animal.
I should have chosen one of the first examples I guess.
I never said Pearlsky is like a stuffed animal. I never said Pearlsky is a stuffed animal. I did say that Pearlsky has the same physical reactions and the same physical responses to being spoken to as a stuffed animal does. Five thousand one hundred and ten times out of five thousand one hundred and ten times. That, my friends is 100%.
And I do appreciate every email, text, and comment. Please don’t stop.