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Autism: Future Plans

06 Mar

It has always been a struggle for me: planning for the future. Though it is something I think about often, it is not something I am able to see.

As a child, I prayed every night (I wasn’t raised Christian, but at that time we did say the Lord’s Prayer at school each morning, so I followed that example) that whoever ‘abandoned me’ to this world would come and take me home. When every night you go to sleep fully expecting to be ‘taken’ in your sleep, it is difficult to plan for tomorrow. It wasn’t a fear, but a hope; one that dulled over the years, but has still stayed with me to some degree ever since.

When I was a teenager, I was struggling so bad with post traumatic stress disorder that the majority of my time was spent trying to survive the moment, and to block out visions of the past that came every time I closed my eyes even for a moment. ‘Calm’ only meant I was able to block out the past to remain in the present for a while. During those years, there was no future (though my hope to remain was in having a child – not likely the best goal for one struggling so very much, but I am thankful for the child I was able to have.)

Then I entered my adulthood during the time of Y2K, and the movies “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact.” There was talk that the world’s end was imminent, with dates set any time from 2000 to 2014. Since I had a young son, I didn’t feel ready (he was to graduate in 2014 – which seemed far off since he hadn’t started Kindergarten at the time, but I wanted to see him grow up.) Most of my decisions – including where I would relocate to were based on this fear and surety. I would live to see the world end, and that was my future.

During those years, I was surrounded by a lot of death. Two of my cousins, my grandfather, and my father died so close together that though it was not planned, their graves are all together at the cemetery where they were buried.

The year 2000 didn’t bring forth the end of the world, but my cousin and my maternal grandmother both died shortly after, so the danger for me never really seemed to pass. That was also the year that I moved away from my family and across the country to a place I had never even visited before.

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It may seem to others that I was forward thinking to move across the country for work, but in reality I was running away. I was running from pain, and from fear, from failure, and from trauma. I ran from a large city in very close proximity to a major city, to a small town most people had never heard of where I was from. My options for work included Vancouver and Victoria – and those places are beautiful, but… tsunamis, and earthquakes, and terrorist attacks, and people. The place I chose was far from all of these, and not even close to a medium size city. Perhaps the ‘safest’ I could find – yet in all the years I have been here (nearly 17 now) I have never really gotten past the thought that the world could end at any moment, or that I might be ‘taken’ in the night, and not wake up here the next day.

So you see, before I even get into my Autistic struggles of seeing tiny details, but never seeing the big picture, thoughts on where to go from here are nearly impossible for me – and the thought that I might be here for a long time scares me more than the idea that the world might end tonight. So instead of making plans for the future, I surround myself with anchors that will tie me to the present, and make it easier to stay for another day, or another year, or…

But when the question comes to what I will do, or be, or become… to what job I could do, or where I see myself in a year, or in five years… There is nothing but fear. Nothing. And when I do get into a position that something might change (going to school, or getting a new job, for instance) the fear is so intense that I find comfort in the thought that the world might end tonight, and I might not have to go back

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