Distractions

I have the most amazing life. I can lie in bed and look at a galaxy of stars glowing on my ceiling. I wake up to the cutest little kids in the morning, that want to play with me and sit next to me and have me read them stories, and even though I’m not a mom yet, I get to be a mother figure to my nephew and nieces. There is always food in my fridge and I can almost always join my brother and his family for dinner. I have the opportunity to go to school to further my education and learn new skills, and I am at the exciting point where I can qualify for a job in my field of study. I have the privilege once a month of teaching an amazing group of women that actually listen and care about what I have to say. I have the most wonderful friends who would be there for me at two in the morning if I needed them. I am so loved and taken care of and have responsibilities that I cherish, and yet I find myself seeking distractions in my daily life.

I had one thing I needed to do yesterday. One single responsibility and 24 hours to use to fulfill it, but at the end of the night, it still wasn’t done. And I laid in bed and looked at the stars on my ceiling and wondered what I am doing with my life.

A year ago, I was at the end of my rope. I had taken on too many responsibilities that I could no longer handle after certain life circumstances. I woke up early to commute to work. I was taking night classes. I was an essential resource for everyone at my work, and I was depended upon at home and with friends and at church. I had thrived on the social interactions and fast paced flow of life, but I was in so much pain and so exhausted all the time that life was no longer a thrill, but a tremendous burden.

I reached a point where I could no longer handle things and withdrew as much as I could. I stopped taking classes. I quit my job and got a part time job instead. And I didn’t feel the need to go out and socialize much. I slowly started adding things back in. First school. Then family. Then friends. But I abandoned responsibility somewhere along the way, and I refused to pick it back up again.

I am basically back to normal now. I am not in constant pain every day. (Well, at least not pain I can’t handle.) I can do everything required of me fairly easily and without needing to find time in my schedule. In fact, I hardly even have a schedule and can do almost anything whenever I want. Yet, I find myself wanting to be distracted from life. I want to get away for no particular reason other than I just can.

I used to be addicted to video games because they distracted me from life. At a point in my life where I didn’t want to face myself or the world or the demons living in both, games were my lifeline. Now though, I have worked through the trauma from my past. I have faced my demons and resolved them for the most part. Why do I still feel the desire to distract myself?

I think as human beings we have a natural inclination to avoid distress. If there is a choice between facing something that may be beneficial but distressing or doing something that has no benefit but no obviously negative consequences, I think we would naturally choose the latter.

But anyway, to get to the point of all this, I found it both interesting and frustrating that despite my wonderful life, I often choose to be distracted rather than present and responsible. I find myself seeking forgiveness, while still not stopping my actions.

But tonight, as I look up at the stars, I feel fully present. I feel. I am. I am completely here in this moment, feeling the cool of the air around me, letting myself sink into the softness of my surroundings, and with all the good things in my life flowing through me in floods of peace and gratitude. Why do I distract myself? I have no idea… Because this moment is better than any I had all week.

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I’m Done

I do ridiculous things for my friends sometimes- like driving hundreds of miles just to see a friend for a few hours, or sending something in the mail for a friend that would probably have been cheaper for them to buy themselves. I was talking to my friend the other day and lamented that I do not know how to stop loving people. I love people all the way, right away. From the time I first meet someone, there is very few things I would not do for them. I just automatically love people.

This weekend though, things did not go according to plan. I spent more time and money doing things than I had planned. I was stopped by a police officer on the way to visit my friend. And I didn’t get to spend as much time with my friend as I wanted to. In reality, these were all fairly small things. I didn’t get a citation from the officer; I knew that things were not going to work exactly as planned, and I was prepared for that; I recognized the sacrifices I was making and chose to do things anyway. All in all, it was not a bad weekend. But for some reason, it just broke me.

I don’t want to do things anymore. I’m done with helping people. I’m done with doing nice things for people. I’m done with going out of my way to keep or maintain or encourage friendships. Not that I won’t ever do these things again, but I’m just done trying for a while. I just don’t want to do it anymore. Maybe this will change in a day or two, but tonight… I’m just done…

Different in Happy Ways

If there is one thing that life has taught me more than almost anything else, it is that I am different. That fact has been drilled into me from teasing in elementary school to tutoring in high school to not fitting in at church. I have just always known that I am different. Other people don’t see things the way I do. They don’t think the way I do. I see shapes and patterns, connections and intersections, possibilities and additional realities, where other people seem to just see an object or a story.

It is not bad to be different, but it can be difficult. It can be difficult to communicate so much where other people seem to see so little. It can be difficult to express feelings and emotions when others don’t seem to have the same connections. I have struggled with feeling different from others, feeling out of place and awkward in the things I do.

The thing is that most of my differences are good. I see needs that other people miss and I respond in ways that others might not think of. I notice details others ignore and draw connections to things other people are not thinking about. But sometimes, I just feel out of place. I feel lost in a world that seems to be lost in itself.

I have never been very good at joining groups. I struggle to find ways to become included in things without specifically being invited. So I do things for people. I notice needs and I respond to them. I do everything I would want someone to do for me. And people appreciate it, but it doesn’t make me belong any more than I did before. I still don’t feel like I belong. I still don’t feel like I fit in. I still feel out of place.

In a general meeting for women that my church does, one of the speakers said that people are drawn to our church when we “are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.” As I have been struggling with feeling different lately, I have repeated this often to myself. I can be distinct and different in happy ways. It can be hard and lonely to be different, but maybe somehow, people are or will be drawn to me because of my differences.

New Year

There are a few hours left until the new year. Depending on where you are in the world, it might already be 2018.

I have never been the type of person to put much significance into dates, but I love the idea of a clean slate. I love that each year can bring something new and exciting. I have grown so much in the past few years that I’m not sure what’s left to work on. I know that I can and will continue to improve, but there’s nothing I feel I specifically need right now. I have had years of learning and improving in areas like forgiveness, love, patience, strength, faith, and hope. Now, I feel like this year can be less about improving and more about doing.

I want to get a new job. I want to make new friends. I want to find new ways to serve and help others. And I want to do more. I want to love more. I want to serve more. I want to do more in my callings at church. I want to do more with my friends. I want to do more with my family. I want to do more crafts and read more books and make more art. Now that I have improved mentally and physically and emotionally, I feel like it is time to just be everything I have become and more. This will be my year to do.

What is this new year for you?

The Cure for Autism

It is amazing to me how much things can change in a year. With everything that has happened this year, I feel like much more time has passed. I look back at who I was 10 years ago and laugh at my selfishness and childish thoughts. I wonder how anyone put up with my whining and shortsighted views. I look back 5 years ago and am amazed at how much I have grown since then. I look back at two years ago and can hardly believe the healing and help and hope that has come into my life since then.

Two years ago, I posted about how I wanted to experience friendship like the love I had for others. I wanted to learn to love better and to love myself. I had grown to be strong and intelligent, resilient to the trials life would bring, but I was haunted by loneliness. Loneliness was a familiar friend, and many nights were spent in the deepest despair of want for human interaction.

I am not lonely anymore. That is the most beautiful statement in the world. I do not feel lonely anymore. I never thought this was possible for me. For so many years, I longed for a single person to see me and want to be more than a situational friend. It wasn’t until college that I felt like I had friends outside of church or school or activities. At that time, I was still getting used to the idea of having friends, and I messed up more times than I care to relate. But a little over two years ago, I started to really feel wanted. I started to have people I could call friends. I started to believe in hope.

I feel so blessed. I have felt love beyond my capacity to comprehend. I feel wanted, needed, important, and safe- most of all, safe. Two years ago, I was terrified of everything I was doing. I was stepping out of my comfort zone and talking to people that I had no idea how to communicate with and doing things for others that scared me almost to death. Every day felt like walking around with my heart in my hands, hoping that it wouldn’t get crushed along the way.

But those sleepless nights and silent tears and debilitating anxiety led to the most wonderful friends a person could imagine. All my loneliness, all my pain and suffering, seem like nothing now compared to the love and protection I feel. I feel overflowing gratitude for my friends and for all that I have learned. I feel healed, whole, loved.

I can text someone when I want to talk. I can say hello to someone I recognize when I see them in a store or on the street. I can ask for help. I can tell people how I feel without feeling awkward or out of place. I can hug people or let someone give me a massage. I can relax. I can be myself.

No one knows how far I have come, but it is impossible for anyone to miss the progress I have made. Everyone who knew me before can see how I have changed. We talk about milestones in autism- being able to talk, looking someone in the eye, communicating a need, but the most important milestones are the ones that make you want to be you.

I learned how to do everything I was supposed to do at an early age. I analyzed people to the point where I knew how to appear normal. No one would guess that I have autism, unless it was one of those rare moments when I made a mistake. But despite my capacity to fit in, I could never find the capability to belong.

My milestones are hope, love, and belonging. If there is a “cure” for autism, this is it- hope, love, and belonging. All I ever wanted was to feel like I have a place in this world. I wanted to feel like I belong, that I am wanted here. I wanted to feel like autism wasn’t a wall that kept out love. You want to find the cure for autism? This is it- love, accept, embrace, help. After that, everything else will just fall into place.

Purpose

The things that happen, the people that cross your path, and where life takes you can’t all be coincidences. There has to be something bigger here. The perfect timing needed to meet certain people and all the little steps that lead you to a certain place in your life where you can become friends cannot be random happenstance. There are too many factors, too many possible variations, too many choices along the way for some things to not be destiny.

I don’t understand a lot of things in this life, but I do believe there is a purpose. There is a purpose to you being here. There is a purpose to your life. There is a purpose to my life. We are not aimless beings wandering in a world of uncertainty and discord. We are travelling in a direction, making a course towards something. We may not know what yet, but as long as we keep trying, we will never really be lost because we are travelling towards where we’re supposed to be.

Living for the Good and the Bad

I have not wanted to die in about two weeks. This is the longest I have felt well since the two weeks last year between getting out of my worst episode of depression and being involved in a serious car accident. I feel as though I have gone through hell twice over the last two years. I went from being in the most pain I had ever been through emotionally and mentally to being in the most pain I had ever endured physically. There were so many days of wanting to give up, days where the pain was so bad that I would have done anything just to make it stop. But I finally feel like myself again. I feel free from the pain that dominated my life.

It is interesting how you look at things when you get better. I would not trade the last two years for anything. It was the most difficult time of my life, but also a time when I grew exponentially. I am not who I was two years ago. I am not even who I was two months ago. I have grown so much in these difficult circumstances. I found out what I am made of, who I am at my core, and what I am capable of. I have conquered my greatest giants of self-loathing, fear, and doubt. I have learned to trust. I have learned how to be vulnerable. I have learned that I have worth, that I am loved, and that I am strong and kind and giving.

The last two years have been both the best and worst of my life. Sometimes we think that things are all good or all bad. The glass is either half empty or half full. We are either happy or not. But maybe the glass just is. Maybe we just are. And maybe it is enough just to be- to be here, to be alive, to be human. The last two years have taught me that sometimes you have to go through the worst to discover the best that life has to offer. And no matter what happens, there is always good. Even when life is so completely horrible that you do not want to be here one more second, there is good.

I am glad that I stayed for the good… and for the bad. Sometimes we make life seem like only the good is worth living for. That’s not true. The bad is worth living for, too. Not because it is fun or happy or easy, but because it molds us. The bad things in life are the things that make us better. It is through our suffering that we learn compassion, forgiveness, love, endurance, perseverance, patience, strength, and many of the best qualities we can possess. We must choose to live for both the good and the bad, so that when things get hard, we keep going and refuse to give up.

So, here’s to living for everything this world has to offer- the good, the bad, and the mundane. Here’s to constant improvement and progression. Here’s to changing and learning and being. And here’s to better days ahead. 🙂