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Autism: The Standard of Success

19 Mar

I am trying really hard to avoid my obsessions, and write about different things. I try to remind myself that while my mind won’t let go, that doesn’t mean I have to continue to share that obsession with others – and that not sharing (I am, of course, talking about the loss of my grandmother at this time) does not in any way lessen how I feel about such things.

Instead I wanted to write about finding small successes in a world in which I often feel I am failing. When I try to do what others do – no matter how much I want to do it – I fail. Every time. And I have a lifetime of experiences that testify to that fact. I have grown over the years – especially the years since I have lived on my own – to feel such shame and discouragement from the things that I cannot do.

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It isn’t that I don’t try, push myself, or work to learn better ways to do things… in fact, I tend to put so much of myself into these things, that very likely I try more than most, even if the results don’t appear that way.

At this time, I am trying not to feel ashamed, or that I am a failure for having been taken off of work and put on disability. I have come to understand the wisdom in their decisions, and I know they were right to do it. I know that if I had kept going as I was, I would have failed, even at that job I did well, due to the severe anxiety I was already experiencing when they took me off. I know that I wasn’t functioning well – but I was raised to work hard, with no excuses. I was taught that if a person is willing to push themselves, they will overcome – and that anyone who doesn’t is a failure.

Only try as I might, I never was able to overcome – and I feel a lot of pain, depression, and anxiety over that fact.

But since I have no choice at this time but to be home (and am finding it works well in helping me to find “calm”) I am also learning what success looks like for me – and though it is not what other people do, I am learning to ease up on myself, and remind myself that I have many struggles that others don’t experience.

So what does success look like for me? I have a list – a small list – of activities that I want to complete every day. This is my routine. I have found that as long as I can make it through my list, I am able to end my days feeling content over what I have accomplished.

True, it is a much lower standard than I used to have for myself – but then, I was always burnt out, always felt I was failing, and always felt I wasn’t good enough. Now? As I said, it isn’t what others do, but…

I don’t have a time frame for my activities. I don’t even have a minimum amount of time to spend on these activities. But I do have my list:

  • walk with my son if he goes that morning (or do some other exercise if he doesn’t)
  • read my Bible – sometimes one chapter, sometimes many, as long as I read
  • practice Spanish – sometimes one lesson, sometimes several
  • write my blog (only not on Sundays)
  • practice my keyboard
  • clean something (I might do a load of laundry, or spend hours cleaning the house – as long as I do something.)

The thing is, even on my hardest days, I can usually get these things done – and that helps. It helps a lot.

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