Have you ever battled something so long that you forgot how to fight? as I stand there staring out the window into the darksess all I can hear is silence around me as the music plays through my headphones. Don’t know what I mean? Think that doesn’t make any sense? Ask yourself what it meant after your last chaotic day, your last “how do I get through this” phase of your life what the silence of a loud song can mean.
Everytime I sit and stare at a blank screen I hit repeat in tab behind it. I type one letter, then the next until I find myself and I let go. I breathe. One thought is allowed to flow into the next until It all comes spilling out. Whats in my soul tonight? What is it that is hiding just below the surface as I hold my breath through the teachers’ phone calls, the autism outbursts, the screaming, the laundry, the loneliness… Survival… My word… My way of being.
I stop and remind myself to breathe. I always take the long route from commitment to commitment to check in with myself. So tired of hurting, so tired of giving all of me until I have nothing left. The nights keep getting longer and longer as the worry sets in and I dream of better days. I think of the sound of the ocean and what that kind of power must feel like. I try to imagine what it would be like to have that kind of control with no fear. What would it be like to have any kind of control of my life. Autism came and shook the very core of my being and in my fear I let it take everything from me even my dreams of love. I lived the lie that autism was the excuse to deny myself any parts of who I truly am. To show weakness was to admit defeat. To want love while in survival mode is to wave that white flag. I had convinced myself that what I needed was not love I needed someone strong behind me. I was wrong.
I had it in the back of my head this entire time that if I were to allow myself to feel love or any sort of soft emotion that I would fail. To love was to let my guard down and a guard that is down is not protective. I had convinced myself that I had to keep the adrenaline levels up because if I didn’t I would not have the emotional distance to deal with the things life was throwing at me. What did this look like? It looked like 14 years on a psychiatric unit despite my fear. It looked like chaos and inability to sit down for even a short half hour show. It looked like midnight shifts even though I had babies home that would be awake by the time I arrived there and would have no chance at sleep. It looked like auto pilot. It looked like someone chasing after chaos to hide the fear inside.
I took the first step toward peace in November of 2018 when I let that psych unit door slam behind me as I promised myself I would never set foot on another psych unit. I took the second step as I de-cluttered my mind of responsibilities that were not mine. I began to let control go and began to tell myself that perfection was not and would never be attainable. I began to take every negative thought captive and began to ask “why am I thinking this way” “Why am I so angry”. That’s when it clicked. Anger. thats it!
All my life I never allowed myself to be angry. I always looked at the world from everyone else’s perspective. I was always the “yes” person the “its no big deal” person… I was always the first one to apologize even if it wasn’t my fault just to curb confrontation. But more and more as I slow down, the anger that has been just below the surface is coming to light. As I allow it to surface I can’t help but confront the circumstances that brought me to this place in my life.
I am beginning to stand up for myself little by little one small step at a time and with every small step I feel the anger subside. However small the step, the fear is still there. The unrelenting uncertainty but what I am finding is that the world is opening up to me more than I ever thought that It would and the anger is lifting as my confidence grows with every small victory.
I stood in the laundry mat today doing six loads of laundry at once and watched as the clothes dried in the dryer and thought “why didn’t I think of this before? A whole days work done in one hour… Simplification… Sweet simplification’. Not only was it simplification but there were people. I watched the people around me and loved the calm of the older man reading a book while his one load of laundry spun I marveled at the middle aged man sleeping by the window and wished I could find that sense of calm. The clean smell of all the different laundry detergents intermingled and danced creating a fragrance of connection. I had traded the cold lonely basement at home for a bright person filled place where everyone was doing just what I was and for the first time in a long time I felt connected. I felt normal. I sipped my vanilla coffee and took a breath. For the first time in a long time my head was above water and I wasn’t struggling. One moment of safety. I soaked it up until my clothes were dry.
I have begun to swim against the current when life’s demands are not in line with reality. I have begun to say “no” when something is thrown at me that will disturb the peace that I am trying so hard to find. I have begun to remind myself that autism does not mean prison. I have begun to sleep and not worry and let things happen as they do but in reality no one has any control over what happens in life despite how “together” or “in control” they may seem. What they have that I didn’t formerly was peace. And that is what I am chasing after one decision, one step, one small omission at a time.