My Christmas Struggles

This Christmas season has been difficult for me. I have been struggling with feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. I enjoy giving gifts. That look when someone’s face lights up because they feel seen when you give them a gift unique to them is one of my favorite things. This year though, I realized that my gifts have not always been the best or were not really what the receiver needed or wanted. I have adjusted to this and tried to limit my gifts to experiences or something useful instead of just something I feel the person would like. And I have given gifts outside of Christmas because what was the point of waiting till Christmas if the person was not going to like the gift anyway? So the giving part of Christmas has been harder this year.

In addition to that struggle, I had to work more this year than I have in the past, which meant that I could not join my family for Christmas. This was especially hard because my nieces and nephews could all be together this Christmas, which does not always happen. I still had my sister and friends, but it was hard not to long to be with the rest of my family.

I have not let myself think about those things because there has been so much to do around the house and with work. I finally broke down last night though. I wanted to message my friend to thank her for having us for Christmas, but all of my fears and anxieties finally bubbled to the surface. I found myself unable to stop crying or calm down. Knowing I needed peace, I turned to the story of Christ’s birth in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. Reading these chapters calmed my mind and I was able to drift to sleep.

I don’t know why I am sharing this other than to let people know they are not alone. If you are feeling anxious or lonely or inadequate this holiday season, it will not always be this way. Someday we will be okay. Someday we will find ourselves. Someday we will not be alone. I do not know when that day will come for me, but I have hope that I will be ready for it as I work towards healing and growing. Maybe I am not okay right now, but that does not mean I will always be this way. I can find healing. I can find hope. And I can keep telling myself I am enough until someday I believe it.

Nightmares

Do you ever have a dream where you are your own worst nightmare?

I had a dream where I got stuck in an elevator. For some reason, I had a stroller in the dream. I had just gotten off a plane and taken the shuttle to the main area. I had to take an elevator because of the stroller. The elevator was packed with people and strollers and children. For some reason, I was going to the 4th floor, while everyone else was going to higher floors. When the elevator stopped on the fourth floor, I became anxious about how to get everything out with me. I knew I had to get my bag and the stroller, so I thought I would throw my bag out of the elevator and then turn around to get the stroller.

Unfortunately, the elevator sensor registered the bag I threw out and proceeded to close. I panicked that the elevator was moving and pressed the stop button. I then bypassed the safety system and opened the elevator door to find I was no longer at the door where I needed to exit. The other passengers were angry with me. They called me stupid for thinking I could stop the elevator and get out. They wanted me to close the door and get the elevator moving again. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy to put everything back and fix the elevator by myself. We were stuck while I tried to fix my mistake and call maintenance for help. When the elevator did get moving again, I was questioned by security and my bag and stroller were searched for bombs. After deciding I was not a terrorist, security let me go to find the contents of my bag dumped out from their search.

Anyway, the point of this story is that I do not feel ready for the next stage of my life. I know most people do not see me as autistic. My family and friends feel I am ready for the next step in life, to start dating and get married and have children. I am not so sure that I am ready. I worry that I will not be able to handle the added stress and pressure.

I do want children and a partner someday, but I also question if I will ever be ready for that. Can I handle doing multiple things at a time like moms have to do? I have heard others say that people with autism cannot handle a lot going on. I can handle a lot going on, but only if it is structured. When things lose their structure, it is difficult to handle all the changes. Will I be able to handle the difficulties of motherhood and the constant changes and interruptions that come with it? Or will I find myself in a constant state of being overwhelmed and unable to care for myself, much less a child?

Being Alone

We all want to feel safe, loved, and wanted.

My sister was away for a couple weeks visiting family and friends, so I was home alone with our pets. And even though I have been doing really well mentally for a long time, there is something about being alone that reminds me how painful life can be. I think I’m doing fine and then I’m alone and all I want is to hurt myself to get out of my head.

I am on an antidepressant that keeps me from thinking about suicide all the time. Prior to starting this medication, I thought about dying almost every day for as long as I can remember. It didn’t matter how good life was, the thoughts were always there. But it has been years since I have had those thoughts consistently. The thoughts can come back when I am alone though. Luckily, my medicine keeps me from being in danger when I am by myself, but it can still be hard.

No amount of medication can make up for interaction with other people. We need that human contact. We need hugs and attention and love. You just can’t close yourself off and still be okay.

I still sleep with a stuffed animal every night because it reminds me that I’m not alone. I’m not sure what I’d do without it because being alone is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But feeling that softness and thinking of the person who gave it to me reminds me that this is just a moment. No matter how painful the moment feels, I know I can be okay again because I am loved. I am not alone. And things will get better.

The Hard Stuff

I want to talk about the hard stuff again… I used to talk so much about my struggles with depression and eating disorders and suicidal thoughts because I knew someone else might be struggling and I wanted them to know they were not alone.

Well… It’s time to talk about hard stuff again. I’ve been resisting it for a long time because it is freaking hard to be judged for your thoughts that you can’t control… But maybe there’s someone out there with similar thoughts. Maybe there’s someone out there that doesn’t feel okay most of the time that could benefit from my honesty. And I feel okay enough to share my experiences without worrying too much about my mental health.

So… Here goes…

Do you know what my biggest fear is? Well… Second biggest… My biggest fear is that I’ll end my life early in a moment of rage or depression or insanity. But my second biggest fear is that I’ll die alone, that I’ll never find somebody to love me, and my family will all be moved away with families of their own, and I’ll never have that person to come home to. And the reason it is one of my biggest fears is because I feel nothing when it comes to attraction.

I feel no attraction to the opposite sex or my own sex or any sex, period. I just do not have those desires. I never have. I mean, I have had some curiosity, and I have had people I wanted to be close to. I just never wanted to kiss anyone or hold their hand or have any sexual relations in any sense.

I found out a few months ago that I would need surgery if I ever wanted the opportunity to enjoy sex with someone. And it was difficult news. I wondered if that was why I felt no attraction towards others. It also crushed my soul to think that it might cause another barrier to someone wanting me. I mean, I know I’m already an intense person. Add no attraction and surgery to that and you have a pretty hard sale.

But anyway, I’m okay. I know I have family that loves me and friends that care about me. It’s just hard sometimes. It’s hard feeling like if you left the world, there would be no evidence that you ever existed. And who would know of the struggle it took to get you there. And maybe that’s why I am writing this- just so someone will know of the struggle.

Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Religion

I have started this blog post many times. I have felt the need to write about sexual orientation and gender for a long time. I avoid this topic for many reasons, including the fear of rejection from friends and family because of my particularly religious background. Deviations in gender and sexual orientation are not readily accepted by many in the religious community. It can be difficult to find someone who understands and accepts you for who you are.

I have spoken to very few people about my feelings. Only one of those people has not struggled with similar thoughts. I am afraid of how others will view me if they knew the struggles I face with gender identity. I told my friend yesterday that if my feelings after death were anything like my feelings now, it would be hell. The inner turmoil I feel regarding my gender differences cannot be adequately expressed in a conversation or blog post.

However, I do not often think about my gender. I have come to terms with the fact that I do not fit in and will never fit in societal gender norms. Even with society changing, I still do not fit in. As of right now, I privately classify as asexual genderless, gender neutral, or agender. I have never felt physical attraction toward either sex. I have also never felt like a girl or a woman, but also do not feel like I am completely a man either. Transitioning to male would feel like a lie to myself, but pretending to be female also feels like a lie.

It is complicated to describe how I feel and have felt for my entire life. In my religion, we believe that gender is eternal. We believe that we had male or female characteristics since the beginning of time. It was difficult as a child to accept this because I never felt connected to my gender. It was always understood with my family and extended family that I did not fit gender norms, so they were never forced on me. I mean, I did wear dresses and skirts to church because that was expected there, but I did not otherwise conform to gender norms.

It is difficult to reconcile feelings of distress towards your gender and religious beliefs that tell you gender is an integral part of you. How could my gender be an integral part of me and yet feel so foreign to me? Why did I feel so much discomfort in my own skin? I would literally wet my pants in middle school because going to the girls bathroom was such a distressing feeling. I would rather go to the nurse’s office and have my parents called than brave the girls bathroom. In high school, I would rather get detention for changing in the bathroom stall instead of the locker room because I could not expose a body that felt wrong to me.

I do not have the answers for religious individuals that have conflicting views of sexuality or gender. I found peace in knowing that God loved me anyway. I found hope in the thought that this may be a mortal trial that will resolve itself in the next life. I found strength to be different because God must have made me like this for a reason. That does not mean that it has ever been easy. It is not easy, and I doubt it ever will be.

I worry that I may never find a spouse. I worry that I may never connect with someone the way I have seen my siblings connect with their spouses. I worry that if people knew how I felt, they would judge me harshly and treat me differently. I worry because I already hold so much pain from inner turmoil that I do not know if I can handle outer turmoil in this area. But I also hope that maybe someone will understand. Maybe telling someone will help me not feel so alone. Maybe reaching out will help me heal. And maybe I can feel closer to God and other people through the experience.

Something Good- Day 366

Welcome to 2021! I have enjoyed writing these blog posts over the past year. They have helped me remember what is important and encouraged me to always look for the good.

I have been burnt out at work lately. It has been hard to go to work every day and stay motivated. I decided to take the next two weeks off from work to take a break from everything. I counted down my drawer after the bank closed and handed over my keys to my coworker. It felt so relieving to know that I do not have to return to work for 18 days. I am looking forward to my time off and hope it will rejuvenate me to return in better spirits. After work, I went to a friend’s house to celebrate the new year. We ate and talked and had fun.

I wish you all the best. Thank you for following me this year. I hope your new year is filled with goodness and that you take the time to see the good in what surrounds you.

Something Good- Day 360-365

I went to my brother’s house for Christmas day. We arrived later than I had planned because I wanted to clean the house before we left, but we ate dinner and then opened gifts with them.

I spent the next few days at my brother’s house. I was able to hold the baby for a while and spend a lot of time with my nieces and nephews. Saturday, we took the kids out to lunch at a pizza buffet. We watched Soul and then went to a light show about 30 minutes from their house. It was a bit of a drive, but definitely worth it.

We had a birthday party on Sunday for my oldest nephew. We had lunch and cake. Then, he opened his presents. We left afterwards to come back home.

Monday was a pretty good day at work. My boss finally came back after being out sick for three months. We were all excited to see her because it has been so long. The day went smoothly, and I was even able to donate plasma during my lunch.

Yesterday we had homemade barbeque meatball subs for dinner. I signed up for a bank account to get a special cash back offer, which I was really excited about. Then, we watched a movie and relaxed.

Today we went to the store to check out holiday clearance items. We bought a few gifts to save for next year and some candy and other things. I am looking forward to taking some time off work over the next couple weeks and spending time with friends in the new year.

Something Good- Day 355-359

We did a Christmas lights scavenger hunt on Sunday night. We drove around and looked for different lights and watched a couple light shows.

Monday we dropped off some food to someone in need. Afterwards, we came home and played games.

Tuesday we went out to dinner with a friend. Then, we went to the theater to watch a movie. It was good to spend time with her since she has been busy with school. The movie was fun, and the theater only had 10 people in it.

Wednesday we spent time with our teenage friend. We had dinner and then went to the store to buy my coworkers gifts.

I had to work this morning, but I felt better about going to work than I did yesterday. I gave my coworkers their gifts, and they shared a lot of food and treats with me. After work, I was able to go to my friend’s house for Christmas Eve dinner. We talked, played games, and spent time with her family. It was good to spend at least some of the holiday with her.

Something Good- Day 350-354

Tuesday I helped my sister with her papers. We got most of them done so that she could focus on finals the next day.

Wednesday we were able to watch a movie after my sister finished school for the semester.

Thursday I woke up much earlier than I had planned. I was hungry and awake though, so I ate and donated plasma before work. It was nice to not have to worry about donating during lunch. I was able to relax and eat my lunch peacefully.

Friday was a good day at work. We were able to see our boss, who has been out sick since October. She had her husband bring us gifts and then came through the drive thru to say hello. We celebrated Christmas with some friends after work.

Yesterday we finally went to Costco to get our membership cards. I had done a Groupon a few months ago that almost made the membership free. However, we had not been able to go to the store because we always try to do so much on Saturdays. We learned a lot, and I was excited to get cheap gas again.

Something Good- Day 345-349

Thursday night we watched a Christmas light show in our neighborhood. We did a video call with my mom and nieces, so they could watch the show as well.

I went to a coworker’s house on Friday night. We ate and talked and then wrapped presents. It was a nice break after a very hectic day at work.

Saturday we went out for frozen yogurt with a friend. Afterwards, we went to her place to play with her dog. Then, we took her to the light show that we had watched on Thursday.

Sunday we did home church and went to visit our cat that is being homed at our friend’s house for the time being. We also watched the movie, “The Christmas Shoes,” which is one of my sister’s favorite holiday movies.

Today was a good day at work. I actually got out on time, which has not happened since we made recent policy adjustments. After having dinner and doing some dishes, we watched “Elf” while eating treats.

I have not been posting these lately because we have been trying to see as many lights and Christmas movies as possible, which often means getting to bed later than I planned. I have been enjoying this time though and look forward to continuing to celebrate the holidays.