When Nothing is Okay

Sometimes I use this blog to vent. There is something about telling people how you feel, even if you know you probably won’t feel that way very long. I’ve been struggling for a few days with feeling overwhelmed. I’ve had a lot going on with school and work and family and friends and other activities. I have felt like I was done for a few weeks now. Work has been draining, even though it is the same work as always. I haven’t really felt like doing homework or even school in general. Friends were about the only thing I had left that wasn’t hard. So, this past week when everything didn’t go perfectly with my friends, it broke what was left in me.

It wasn’t that things went horribly wrong so much as things have just been overwhelming lately. I feel more sensitive, more prone to taking things personally or blowing things out of proportion. So last night when I posted that I was done, it wasn’t so much that I was really done as that I wanted to be done. I wanted a break from the madness. It is difficult and confusing when nothing is wrong, and yet nothing feels okay- when you have everything under control, but feel like things are not going how they should- when you are completely fine, but yet, one step away from a total breakdown.

I am trying to figure out how to keep going when nothing is okay. People try to be understanding of everything going on, and they do help, but there are days when I am just not okay. Am I really done with helping people? No. But… maybe I’m just done with pretending to be okay for a while. Maybe I’m done with trying so hard to do everything when I feel like I don’t get as much back in return. Maybe I’m accepting that I’m not always going to be okay and that sometimes I just need to take a break from life and people and just be.


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.

Life Goes On

I lost my little nephew on Sunday morning. He was a perfectly healthy baby boy and it all happened so fast and was completely unexpected. The last few days have been a series of ups and downs. Some days are easier than others.

The world doesn’t really stop for grief though. I took Monday off of work (which wasn’t a big deal since I was just on call anyway), but I had classes to attend on Tuesday, the funeral services were on Wednesday, I was back at classes on Thursday, and then I went to work today.  It has felt strange to be caught in the middle of the world standing still and everything moving way too fast.

Today was a hard day. Work was okay, but as the day wore on, I knew I needed something to be okay. I needed to get out and do something or see someone or anything to get out of my head. There is a balance between moving on with life and giving yourself time to grieve. I have been stuck the last few days in the reality of our situation. I live with my brother and his family so I felt like I had to be strong for them and help as much as I could because of how hard this has been for them, but in the process, I completely neglected myself and my own needs.

I need people. I need to see people all the time. I need to talk to people and spend time with them and even just be around people having fun. I usually go to activities on Wednesday nights, and I felt like I needed to go this Wednesday, but things were complicated and I didn’t feel like I could abandon my family to go have fun. Then on Thursday, I felt again like I needed human interaction, but I decided to forgo attending a scripture study night to do other things instead. Anyway, I have just been putting off doing things I enjoy because I felt like there were more important things.

Tonight though, I broke. I shattered. I was crying so much that I didn’t trust myself to get out of bed because I was afraid of what I might do if I did get up.

I feel like there is a strange dichotomy to grieving. You have to reconcile the feelings of wanting to be sad because something tragic occurred, and needing to be happy because life is still going on around you. It feels almost like a betrayal to be happy when you lose someone. Does that mean you don’t miss them as much as you should? Is it even okay to have fun this soon? I think that little Gabriel would want me to have fun. That’s what I have always thought when someone passes away- they would want you to be happy and to live and love and do all the things they would have wanted to do. When it happens to you though, it is more difficult to sort out the thoughts and come to this conclusion. I was made for joy, and no amount of tragedy or difficult circumstances should take that away from me.

So, yes, in the end, life does go on. But that is probably what makes it most beautiful. It is beautiful that we can move on with our lives, that we can laugh again, that we can have fun, that we can be ourselves. I am learning through this that it is okay to be both happy and sad. It is okay to find happiness in a sad situation and it is okay to be sad in a happy situation. It is okay to feel. And even though it is hard, life is meant to go on.

Everything I Ever Wanted

I haven’t written much in the past few weeks. I don’t feel that I have much more to say than what has already been said. I have everything I ever wanted.

It is an unfortunate truth that you generally have more to say when there is conflict in your life. When things are going wrong, words flow from me because I need them. I need a way to express what I am feeling to get the feelings outside of me. But now, I feel such amazing peace. I feel immense gratitude and love and hope. I don’t want to talk about my feelings as much as I just want to feel them. No words can adequately express how I feel and I am not sure I could share the words if I did have them.

My whole life I just wanted to be loved. I wanted to feel like I had a place in this world, a purpose for my existence. I wanted to feel safe, whole, wanted. I have that now. I have everything I ever wanted, everything I ever longed for, everything I always prayed for. I don’t know what to pray for anymore. I don’t know what to think about anymore. I just feel incredible gratitude. Gratitude is my most common feeling. It fills my thoughts on a daily and even hourly basis.

I had a breakdown yesterday though. I started thinking about the things I do and felt a little ridiculous for feeling such strong love and gratitude for someone. I felt small and inadequate and insecure. It didn’t last long and I felt better after being reassured by a friend. But the point is that even when you have everything you ever wanted, even when everything is as good as it could possibly be and you can’t imagine how things could get any better, you are still going to have bad days. You are still going to have moments of feeling inadequate and not being okay. But that does not make all the good in your life of any less worth.

It is okay to have bad days. It is okay to not be okay sometimes. Even if all your dreams have come true and you have everything you feel you could ever want, it is okay to have a bad day every now and then.

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.