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Autism: Layer Upon Layer

31 Dec

Two hours I spent this afternoon with my cat curled up, and purring, in the crook of my arm. It isn’t often I sit still for that long – my skin frequently irritates me, and I need to move around. But today… it was like holding a sleeping baby. So warm, and trusting… it seems that moments like this are what I am made for, and I had no desire to disturb him.

My tablet ran out of batteries, and for a while I just sat there, wondering if I should sleep too. It was then I remembered that I had my library book on the floor beside me – One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. So I began reading. It is this book that is teaching me to live, and find thankfulness, in each moment. And that moment, with my cat purring in my arms, was a great one.

People should purr – don’t you think? How comforting it is to be so assured that someone is completely content to be where they are, right then – even if that means being with me! Just joking… sort of. Animals love me at least. I am comfortable with them. I think that makes all the difference. People are just too unpredictable.

It is still the Christmas Holidays, and my husband is off from work until after New Years. I am glad he has the break – he certainly needs it – but I am out of my routine, and that can be very unsettling for me. We have had some really good moments during his break, and I am thankful for them, but I am really looking forward to returning to my routine.

I can breathe here. In my most uncomfortable moments, when I am visiting with people (though I like them) or unable to do my housework, practice my keyboard, or take time to knit for the paralysis that sets in knowing that someone else is home. I should be used to him by now, but it seems the only person I am very comfortable with is my son, who has been with me a very large portion of every day since he was born (he was homeschooled after all.) Anyone else, and I have to push myself, with flushed face, and a strong inability to think or concentrate, and often I can’t even do it then. In my most uncomfortable moments, I can breathe in the relief that comes in knowing that for the foreseeable future, I will be home, and can return to that routine I love so much.

It helps. It helps a lot to not have the constant anxiety that accompanies thoughts of work – any work… always. The anxiety that never really lets up, and clenches my hands into fists, my stomach into knots, my head in a vice until the pounding refuses to let up. I have been taught that work is the goal of life, and anyone who doesn’t work is lazy, useless…

But my disability went through. It went through fast. When 60% of applications for federal disability are rejected, and many take four to six months to hear an answer, it seems they must have seen strong reason to agree with my counselor and psychiatrist on this one to approve me in the first month. Therefore I am trying to accept it. Not as a fault, but as a necessity. I have always known I was not well enough, strong enough, stable enough for the work… for any of the work that I have tried – but I pushed myself just the same.

From pushing myself, I have come to my worst failures. The ones I just can’t let go of. That should have told me something, but I believed their words. I believed their labels. I thought I just needed to push myself more – and then I fell apart again.

Now… I have never judged people on disability as if they were fine – yet always I tried, and failed, and hated myself for failing, to not end up there, too… and now I have layer upon layer of pain and failure to overcome in order to just be okay.

Now I am accepting – maybe accepting – that this is a part of me. A necessity. And with this acceptance, my fists unclench. My stomach unravels itself. The vise around my head loosens. And I can breathe, and find thankfulness and peace in sleeping, purring cats.016

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