On the Outside, Looking In

Daniel

Daniel’s words resonate for me…..all my life I feel I have tried to find myself, discover who I am. I have adopted roles throughout my life: that of student, sister, employee, wife, lover, mother. Most of these were roles I found myself cast in but not exactly me.  In fact, like many women, I felt that in becoming a wife and mother I lost myself further.
I was wondering in a wilderness trying to discover why I didn’t fit in, even with others in the same roles.
I had spent a lifetime watching, practising my roles, my script as it were and yet no matter what I did, it didn’t seem enough.
Then came a catastrophe, one I won’t detail here. It forced me to the rock bottom, there was no where else to go. In fact, even death looking welcoming.
I ended up in counselling and through that process obtained a diagnosis of Aspergers, Autistic Spectrum Condition.
The emotions came quickly: relief, grief, puzzlement, and most of all joy. Joy at having the tools to begin to understand myself, to accept myself instead of berating myself.
So now my “deficits” are viewed as challenges. Not necessarily all to be overcome but to be understood by me, and those around me.
My abilities and strengths are tools I can use to understand the world around me.
My diagnosis was a way forward, not just for myself but also for my autistic son.
You might have seen me in the past as outgoing, talkative, helpful – but you would not have seen the anxiety, angst, tears, arguments, conflict and heartbreak interacting with people.
Best of all, now that I have a diagnosis? I can stop pretending. I could be the real me, especially with my own kind. I was able to pick up the pieces of my life, and build a new one. I didn’t want to go backwards to my old life, back into a role. I wanted to be real, to be the authentic #actuallyautistic person that I am.
It has taken time, and will continue to take time but that is okay. This is not a race. It is not a competition.
It is however a journey, one where I get to choose the path.
I may make mistakes, okay, I have made mistakes. But that is okay, it’s allowed. Life is not about perfection. We learn as much from our failures and errors as we do from our successes if not more so.
Through it all, I have learned much from those further along in their journey of discovery. I have been challenged by those who have only recently been diagnosed. I feel lucky to have met (online or in real life) some pretty amazing autistics.
One thing I have discovered…I want more than autism awareness…I long for autism acceptance and affirmation, something I will continue to push for.
To those who have encouraged and challenged me I say thank you.
To those who share their insights with me (and others) I say thank you
To those who doubt me, who put me down, I will still say thank you.
In the end, my journey is mine and I will embrace it and be grateful for the privilege.

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