Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Autism & Where We're At

When I re-published my last post (an oldie from 5 years ago about coping with autism), my blogging buddy Candi suggested I should write an update to it; to this end, you can either damn her soul to the fiery pits of hell for inflicting another bout of navel-gazing on you, or you could do yourself a favour and check out her blog here.  I strongly suggest that clicking on the link will bring you much more love and joy than invoking a plague of demons, but it's your call.... although, in my experience, demons are a bit attention-seeking and tiresome, while Candi's blog is pretty awesome.

So, the universe knows that I am a slow learner; now and again, though, it runs out of patience with sending me subtle messages and bludgeons me across the head with a sign that it's time to cop the fuck on.  The Great Spirit in the Sky doesn't  mess about with sending me angels, or rainbows or soulful revelations; instead it upends my wheelie bins and spreads the semi-decayed debris of my life across my lawn.  When I looked out the window this morning, instead of being greeted with a pleasant pastoral country scene, it looked like a nail bomb had gone off in my psyche... except it wasn't my metaphorical bins that had exploded... it was my real, actual and very stinky bins.  Not content with that, the Bearded Big Bang Denier invited what seems to be just about every magpie in County Monaghan to  thoughtfully mull over mouldy yoghurt pots (and way too many take-away containers... they can't all be mine) and worrying make-up removal wipes that make me question the wisdom of  smearing weird brown shit on my face.  Then, it summoned my hens, master rubbish rakers in their own right, to make a work of art out of the whole job.

God may not be real, but the universe pulls no punches in getting my attention.
Waking up to the fact that there are no cleaning fairies, and that no-one is coming to my rescue, is exactly where I am with autism.  Pulling on rubber gloves and clearing up my own mess is what I do (and what most autism parents do). 
I didn't knock the bin over, but it's my bin. 
I can cry and feel sorry for myself  if I want, and allow the wind to carry my crap across six counties... or I can put on my Big Girl pants and work with what I have.
That's not to say I don't have low points when I want to crawl into my bed and never get out again (having an autistic child is not a great prescription for treating my depression and anxiety disorder... but it definitely makes me laugh more), but there comes a point in the grieving process when you have to make a conscious decision to grow up, inhale the cabbagey innards of your rubbish bin, accept them, and put them to one side. 

Part of that involves learning to ignore the mind-fuckery of social media and growing to accept the imperfect, socially awkward and massively uncool people that we are (it's possible I'm talking about myself here), and spending less time gazing in disgust in the mirror at the irony of having wrinkles and acne at the same time (definitely talking about myself here).  It is said that we can't love other people until we learn to love ourselves, but that's not really true.  Lots of us manage to love and protect our  friends and families, even though we're sometimes damaged and struggling with our own traumas.  If you live long enough, you're gonna carry pain, there's no avoiding that; the important thing is to learn from the pain to make the world a better place instead of swirling it around you in a contagious shit storm (by that, I don't mean burying it, but using your experience to bring light where there is none).

Since that re-published post, I am very drawn towards people who make the world a better place (funnily enough they rarely recognise the positive effect they have on those around them... modesty seems to come with the territory).  Making the world a better place doesn't have to involve nuclear disarmament or curing cancer, by the way, it can be making a cup of tea... or helping you to clean crap off your lawn.  And it's real people (friends, teachers, therapists), not photoshopped dolly birds or the latest iPhone that make the sun shine in my soul. I have learned to appreciate people more and to be less bothered about stuff.  Autism works in mysterious ways.

Autism is finally our normal.
It took a long time for it to stop hurting and to start becoming just another comfortable thread in the fabric of our lives, but we're there, with the help of good people and experience... it's just a bummer that my Road to Damascus moment wasn't a bit more poetic than an exploding bin.   But that's how I roll.

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