Forgive Yourself

I think the hardest thing for me is to forgive myself for the things that are not my fault- to forgive myself for being different, to forgive myself for not being able to make friends easily, to forgive myself for everything I want in life that I just can’t do right now.

We have to learn to forgive ourselves for the bad things that happened to us, for the things we wish we had control over or we wish we were stronger to be able to stop from happening. I have to forgive myself for being so lonely, for not making the friends I wanted, or for not reaching out or knowing how to talk to the friends I did have. I have to forgive myself for the times people took advantage of me or made fun of me or hurt me. I have to forgive myself for being me.

I have hated myself for my disabilities, for my mental illness, for my speech impediment. I hate myself the most for the things I have no control over.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we tear ourselves down for the things we cannot do?

If you were raped, you couldn’t have stopped it. If you were abused or bullied, you couldn’t have ended it sooner. If you have been lonely and friendless, you couldn’t have made friends any faster. Because if you could have done any of these things, you would have. No one likes to be hurt. No one wants to be lonely. No one wants to be an outcast or to feel like others don’t understand.

Forgive yourself for the things that are not your fault. Forgive yourself for the things you hate about yourself. Forgive yourself for everything that hurt you. Maybe then we can find the healing we need to love ourselves.

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Friends and Talking

I love the movie, Mozart and the Whale. The movie itself isn’t necessarily that great, but it is the most accurate depiction I have ever seen about how I feel. There is this part towards the beginning of the movie where the main character says, “I just never know what to say.” I feel like that a lot. I am not very good at talking. I don’t know what to say or how to say it, which makes conversations very difficult.

Sometimes I have a lot I want to say, but I don’t know how to bring it up. So I try to think about how I can shift the conversation to talk about what I need to work out, but by the time I’m done thinking about how I can bring it up, the other person is done with the conversation. A lot of times I think that’s why I don’t have much luck making friends. By the time I know how to talk to someone, they have already made a decision about who I am, and most people don’t change their first perceptions without a lot of work.

I hate it. I hate that I don’t know how to talk to people. Even with my best friend, I can’t bring up what I need to say. I feel like people get frustrated with me because I get quiet so often. It’s just that my mind is trying to figure out how to say something, while trying to process what is still going on, and by the time I’m ready to share what I have been thinking about, it is usually no longer a good time to say it.

There’s something else in the movie that really strikes a chord with me. The main character says, “People with Asperger’s want contact with other people very much; we’re just pathetically clueless at it, that’s all.” I am so clueless at talking to others. I want to talk to people, especially my friends, but I don’t know how.

I’m not really used to having friends. It’s only been in the last few years that I really felt like I had friends I could talk to on a regular basis. Growing up, the only friends I had were my sister’s friends and friends I had at activities I attended. Outside of those activities, I didn’t know how to interact with people.

So I always get anxious about talking to friends or doing things for friends or trying to make friends. It feels like unknown territory, which is scary because I can get hurt. I remember the first time I tried to make friends. I was 8 years old and in third grade. I was teased relentlessly. I didn’t quite know what I did wrong, but I knew I wasn’t wanted. That feeling has always stayed with me. Every time I try to make a new friend or talk to one of my current friends, that feeling comes back. I try to ignore it. I try not to let it stop me. Sometimes though, I just fall back into those feelings of being unwanted, of being hurt and vulnerable. I wonder if I’m a bad person, if there’s something wrong with me that makes me unlovable.

I have pretty amazing friends that make me feel wanted and loved, but the feelings haven’t gone away. I still need lots of reassurance that I’m doing alright and I haven’t messed things up yet. I hate that I need that much reassurance. I hate that I fall into thoughts of loneliness and anxiety and depression so easily. I hate that I have recurring feelings of abuse and teasing and the feeling of not being enough. I wish I could just trust my friends like I know I should. I wish I could tell my mind to stop thinking these thoughts. I wish I could just keep the feelings of being loved and wanted and feeling like a good person. I know that the things I have faced in my life have brought me to this point, and I’m in a good place in my life right now. Sometimes though, I wish I didn’t face quite so much because maybe then I could get these thoughts out of my head that cause so much heartache and anxiety.

Grateful for Trials

The last week has been difficult physically, but amazing emotionally. I have been in intense pain constantly, but I am super grateful that it happened now. Emotionally, this week has been very rewarding. I have spent time with friends, completed therapy, and applied to get my second bachelor’s degree.

The virtual end of one trial and beginning of a new one has made me contemplate just how grateful I am for trials. It might seem strange to be grateful for something that causes so much pain, but every trial I have faced has made me better.

I am more understanding because of depression, more forgiving because of abuse, more sympathetic because of health issues, more open and honest because of autism, more accepting because of gender identity disorder, more giving because of poverty, and simply a better person because of all those things combined. There is more I could say about my trials and how they have made me better, but it is not so much how my trials have made me better as the fact that they have made me better.

I would not trade all I have learned from all I have suffered to have an easier life. I would not trade a lifetime of pain for a lifetime of ease because I would rather be better than happier, and in the end what I learn makes me happier. I am so grateful to give up being happy for a few moments to make others happier for so much longer. I am grateful to be in pain so that I can understand the pain of others. I am grateful for bullying and ridicule that has made me kinder, gentler, and more careful with my words.

I am just so grateful to have experienced so many difficult circumstances because it means I can be trusted with other people’s difficult circumstances. I couldn’t ask for a better plan or a better life. I am grateful for the trials that make my life better by making me better.

If we can find beauty in the pain, gratitude in the heartache, and light in the darkness, we will be okay.

My Story- Introduction

Have you ever been so different that you just wished you were the same?

That has been the story of my life. When it comes to being different, I have experienced quite a lot of differences in my life. Racial differences, political affiliation, religion, gender stereotypes, disability, speech deficits, intelligence, poverty or lack of government benefits have all been part of the thoroughfare of differences that marked my young life.

No matter where I have been or what I have done, I was always different. I was the exception to every rule, the outlier, the odd one out. And I knew it. I have always known it and will likely always feel it. Not that I can’t blend in, I just know things others don’t know, I have experiences others don’t have, and no matter what group I am in that will always be the case. I know that’s a truth for everyone, but sometimes your differences don’t matter as much as other times. In some groups your differences don’t matter as much as in other groups; I have yet to find the group where my differences don’t seem to matter.

At some point, you learn to accept your differences and live with them. I am close to that point, but I’m still working on it. Growing up, I just had so many differences that I would give them all up to just be the same. I would have given up my intelligence, talents, athletic ability, anything good about myself just to fit in. I wouldn’t do that anymore, but when you are bullied, lonely, teased, and simply ignored as a kid, you’d do anything to be normal.

However, it is only through my differences that I have learned to be myself. When you are so different that you can’t even blend in by conformity, you learn to be who you are and not buckle under pressure because acting like everyone else will never allow you to fit in anyway. Through my differences, I have also learned compassion, sympathy, understanding, courage, perseverance, and ultimately love (which I am still working on learning every day.)

So, welcome to my life. I hope as you read about the different stories that have made me, me, that you will find hope, inspiration, and connection. I have never before shared the many stories that have made me who I am. As I write, I will be discovering along with you the person that created autismthoughts, underthesurfacepoetry, and servingaservicemission.

Connecting the Heart

Sometimes I forget why I write. I mean, I write for a lot of reasons, but I forget the most important ones. Then I take a few minutes to read other people’s posts about suicide, depression, not fitting in or being different, and I remember… I write because my heart connects. My heart connects with the hard things. My heart connects with the suicidal thoughts, depression, fear, loss, identity questions or struggles. My heart connects with the feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, fear. And I write because I want your heart to connect too, and maybe then we can be broken together.

Autism and Anxiety

I went to an activity tonight where we talked about anxiety. The presenter asked if anyone had anything to share about depression, anxiety, etc. Everyone was quiet. So she asked me. I was a little nervous to share out loud about what I go through, but I figured “hey, I blog. This isn’t that different.” So I shared with my church group about my mental health issues. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be and it opened up the floor for others to share hard things.

The remainder of the discussion was about anxiety. It was interesting to me to note that I really don’t struggle with general anxiety. In fact, I am one of the least anxious people I know when it comes to life. I really don’t worry very much. However, I do worry more than the average person about social situations because I often don’t know how to conduct myself in those situations.  I worry more than the average person about keeping on good terms with friends because I have been teased and bullied most of my life.  I worry more than the average person about my actions because I know what it’s like to be stared at for being yourself.

Thankfully, therapy has helped with much of the anxiety I have felt from experiences I have had. I read an article about why people with autism tend to be more anxious, which basically said it’s because we have more to be anxious about. I am constantly in pain and discomfort. I am constantly put in situations that are not natural to me. I am constantly trying to figure out and analyze the world and my surroundings. So, yes, this makes me more anxious. But no, I don’t have a problem with anxiety. I worry less than others in some things and more than others in other things.

It’s just life. We’re all different and we all have different struggles. I struggle with autism, depression, GERD, gender identity, and probably a few other things. I know that some people with autism do have anxiety disorders. Some people without autism struggle with social anxiety. We all have something to deal with. My philosophy is just accept what you can’t change, change what you need to change, and don’t stress about how long it takes to do either one.

Bullying

I don’t know why it’s like this, but it seems that kids always look for the differences in others. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be when it leads to bullying.

Since I was in second grade, I have been asked if I am a boy or a girl. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really say the letter R. So kids wouldn’t understand when I said girl. Often when this happened, they would make their own conclusions and label me whatever they wanted.

I haven’t really talked about bullying on here before because it was a relatively small part of my life. I was teased and isolated. I was made the subject of dares. I hung out with all the troubled kids, but usually just avoided kids all together. I avoided using school restrooms to the point that I would pee in my pants during class. At one point I basically stopped trying to make friends because it seemed ridiculous to think that anyone could ever want to be around me.

Why am I saying all of this? Why am I bringing up memories that still make my heart hurt and my throat close?

Well, I read about this girl today that is making a difference. She is talking about bullying and telling her story of how it drove her to suicide. She was saved by her mom, but that kind of thing should never happen.

For me, bullying was just a small part of a much larger problem of loneliness and isolation. The words and deeds used to hurt me did not have as much of an effect as the words and deeds that weren’t done to help me. I wanted to die, not because I felt hated but because I didn’t feel loved.

That’s why having a best friend has made such a difference in my life. She helped me to finally feel loved and for the first time in my life I didn’t think about suicide on a regular basis. The darkness has come again now that we have been apart so long, but her love has made all the difference.

Sometimes I wonder if it could have happened sooner. I wonder how many people didn’t stand up or step in during that time of my life. And how many people did I not step in for. I would always step in if I saw someone being hurt, but I know I missed opportunities to step in when I saw someone sad or alone. I think most of us could probably step in more than we do and make a difference.

I’m glad that people are speaking out and making a difference though. If you want to check out the story of the girl I talked about, click here.