Finding Your Voice

I have a hard time talking. I mean, I can speak. I just have a hard time finding the words and putting them in sentences when I am speaking. I have heard a lot about assistive technology for communication. I don’t need a device to communicate my needs, but I can relate to the feeling of helplessness with communication. I have needed to find my voice many times over my lifetime.

I found that voice in writing. Most of my good friends have been made through letters or texts. I need to write like I need to breathe. I am a very social person, but I struggle with spending time with people because I don’t know how to talk to them. But when I write, I can say everything I need.

I used to get embarrassed by my need to write things down to communicate. I know it is a different way of communicating than most people use these days, and I felt awkward and alone. People just don’t write letters very often anymore. People don’t write messages to put on the wall for people to see. And if they do, it’s usually something cute or important. My messages were just about telling someone how I felt or what I needed. It was the only way I knew how to tell people what was going on with me.

I have become more comfortable with how I communicate now. I know it is different, but I am different, and surprisingly, people understand that. So I encourage you to find your voice if you have trouble communicating your needs to others. Find a way to tell people about you and what you need. And remember that it’s okay to be different. The ones that matter most will understand and love you for it.

 

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Struggling

“I’ve been struggling.”

This is not a common phrase you hear in most conversations. In general, people keep the fact that they’ve been struggling to themselves or maybe one or two close friends or family members. We just don’t like to admit that we’re having a hard time because we’re supposed to have it all together.

However, this phrase has become more common to hear in my conversations. I have reached a point in my life where I need to admit that I’ve been struggling. I need to tell someone because I realize that I can’t do this alone.

At work I have needed to admit I’ve been struggling quite a few times over the last year or so. In my previous job, I discussed with my boss how I had been struggling. I explained to him how I felt so that he could understand when I didn’t do everything 100% like I used to do and so that if a situation arose at work, he would know how to handle it. In my new job, I have needed to admit that I’m struggling to keep up because I don’t know how to do everything quite yet and I’m not as fast as someone else might be.

With my friends, I talk about my struggles fairly openly because I need them to know when I’m not okay. I need someone to be there when the struggling becomes too much to bear. I have been pleasantly surprised that some of my friends have also been open with me when they are struggling.

This life can be hard. It can be so difficult that I wonder what I’m doing here or if it’s even worth it. But I think these conversations are necessary. I think they are good steps towards an environment of open communication and trust. So I hope that we can all say we’ve been struggling to someone when we have a hard day or just don’t know what to do, because we all struggle at some point. We just have to decide if we want to do it alone or if we’re willing to let someone help us in the journey.

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.

They Know

It is always a little scary to add a new friend on Facebook because it means that they can know. They can know that I have autism and depression and anxiety. They can know that I have attempted suicide and that I have recurring thoughts of suicide. I don’t usually add people to my Facebook because of this. Every once in a while though, someone adds me and I accept because it would be rude not to.

I used to hide everything from my friends, but it got to the point where I decided that I needed to be open with people because I couldn’t afford to not tell people how I feel. The problem is letting new people in. I always have this thought when someone likes or comments on one of my posts that they now know. They know I have autism or depression or anxiety. They know about my struggles.

I am a very intimidating person. I come across as strong and smart and confident. In a way, I am all of those things. But I do struggle. I have things that I can’t do or that are more difficult for me than the average person. Sometimes we don’t want people to know those things about us. Actually, most of the time we don’t want people to know those things about us. We trust very few with our struggles. At some point though, we have to decide to trust. We have to decide to let people in.

I can’t say that it is easy to let people in. I panic every time a new person adds me on Facebook. I get nervous when I know that someone is likely to read my blog posts or to know my story. But in the end, we all just want to be accepted. We want to be loved for who we are. We want to be able to trust others. It is hard, but this is my way of trusting. This is my way of letting people in because I don’t have the words to say the hard things in any other way.

Socializing

Apparently, I have become a master socializer… Me… The girl with autism… The girl that couldn’t make friends for 20 years because I was socially awkward and had terrible anxiety. To go from friendless to more amazing friends than I ever thought possible has been an interesting journey. It is interesting to look back on my life, to see the little girl that was teased at recess, that cried every night for just a single friend, that prayed and pleaded and hoped for someone to just talk to… To go from that to this… Is the most amazing feeling ever.

Last night, I went to an activity and talked to people and made friends, like it was a totally normal thing to do, like I was a natural. And I laughed and had fun and socialized and people looked to me like I knew what I was doing, like I was good at it. It was so wonderful and strange.

This world is hard. It’s loud and crazy and too rough and too much to handle and I struggle to breathe it all in. But I keep going. I keep trying. I keep pushing on and pushing through the hard things over and over again. And eventually, I get a day like yesterday when everything goes right, and I think, it all paid off, it was all worth it for this moment, this moment I have conquered.

SensoryBlogHopNew

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo!

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Trusting Someone

I made a new friend. Well, actually… She kind of made me…

It’s different though. It’s different from my normal friendships. She wants to know about me, and not just the surface stuff… But the scary stuff… She wants to know who I am, how I became who I am… She wants to know about the parts of me that aren’t okay. And she says I can trust her with the things about me that are broken.

I want to open up to her. I want to trust her. It’s really scary though. It’s scary to have someone you can tell things to. I’m scared that I will tell her things. I’m scared that I’ll tell her too much, that I’ll tell her too fast, that I’ll mess it all up.

And I can’t help feeling like this may be my only chance, but I’m not sure I can do it. I can trust. I can take the chance of getting hurt. But I’m going to say things wrong. I’m going to mess up. And I’m just not sure that I can keep from messing up horribly and ruining this, not just for me, but for her too.

Will I ever be whole? Will I ever be able to tell someone the hard things? I don’t know. I just know I’m scared, and I don’t know how not to be. But at least it’s a good scared, the kind of scared that you feel when life is about to change. I just hope this goes well.

A Plea

This weekend I was supposed to go with a friend to visit someone from church, but I was caught in traffic and didn’t make it. I was supposed to take a midterm that luckily was rescheduled. I was supposed to do laundry and go to the temple and finish a programming project and read talks and write in my journal. This weekend, I was supposed to pick up my dad from the airport and spend time with family and help with the kids.

I didn’t really do any of those things. Of the things that I attempted to do, I was either too overwhelmed to accomplish or circumstances prevented me from being able to finish.

So what did I do this weekend? I cried a lot. I slept a lot. I curled up in my bed or in a corner of my room and just tried to forget about the world. I broke down and just caved in to the exhaustion.

Sometimes you just have days like that, weeks like that. Sometimes you just have times when you can’t even pretend to be okay. And it’s okay. It is okay to feel like you just can’t do it anymore. It’s okay to feel like life is too hard or too much or simply that you need a break.

I hope that when those times come, you try to be kind anyway. I hope you don’t give up on the world or yourself. I always just tell myself that it will get better. I tell myself that it’s okay to know the darkness, but to not stop recognizing the light.

As much as it gets better, I have realized that there will always be days when I’m not okay. There will be nights when I will desperately long for a friend to be there for me, but will be far too afraid to ever try to reach out to someone. There will be hard times, but I am grateful that I don’t have to face them quite as alone as I once was.

This week, I went to a funeral, found out my friend was starting inpatient treatment, heard stories of heartache and pain, and as I said before, broke down multiple times. Each of these circumstances reaffirmed to me what I posted about a few days ago… That loneliness is a far greater trial than any other hard thing you can go through.

Please, if you can do anything to help someone be less lonely, please do it. I know it’s hard. I understand that you’re busy. I know we all have different priorities. But loneliness is real. It’s a feeling I understand well. If you can do anything to help someone who may be experiencing loneliness, I plead with you to act. Life is too short to struggle alone. Maybe we can’t cure loneliness, but I can make it better for you, and you can make it better for me, and we can make it better for others.