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Autism: Overrated Sanity

And then the days come when I am once more interested in learning and growing. This both surprises and saddens me – how could life go on after such pain? It often feels that when my heart breaks, it actually does break – and there should be nothing after it. No life. No laughter. No joy.

Perhaps death. Death feels like the appropriate answer to a broken heart. And in the moment only death holds hope that peace and joy could ever come again. I am not suicidal, but there are frequent moments in my life where I long for death. This is not the same thing. One is an action, the other is a prayer.

Mostly I pray, when things hurt so bad (and for me I get to that spot several times a month even on a decent month, for my past holds many painful memories, and my mind frequently forces me to relive the trauma) that God will take me home. Please take me home. Please don’t leave me here any longer. I can’t do this any more. I don’t want to be here anymore.

And in those moments I realize that I am absolutely no different from the child I was long ago, lying in my bed, praying for the same. I don’t belong here. I never have.

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This world is not my home, and this is a truth I can never alter – but there are some things that help me to hold on just a little longer.

I suppose for other people it is family and friends – and I do hold on for them. I pray to stay when I long to go because of what my death might do to other people… not a lot of other people, but there are some. What would happen to my son? To my girls (dogs?) To my mom?

I pray to stay for them, but make no mistake – this is a sacrifice for the ones I love. For me the sacrifice is in living, for death means home, and home is what I long for.

The other day I was watching Sherlock and he said something that I immediately had to go and type down (though I may not have it quoted word for word.) He said:

“Your death is an event that happens to other people. Your life is not your own; keep your hands off of it.”

I am not suicidal, but to stay is a sacrifice – and there are many days when I am lying in bed thinking I can’t keep holding on. I just can’t.

There are some things in life that make it easier to stay for a little longer – and that usually comes out in hobbies and events, such as learning to can. I can’t learn when I am struggling; my mind shuts down and won’t let any new knowledge in.

So when I got up in the morning and decided that this was the day I would make my first attempt at canning, I knew. I knew that whatever it was that I used to convince myself that what was real really wasn’t was worth it… is that too confusing?

Perhaps my grip on reality isn’t strong – but it isn’t strong on purpose. My reality threatens my sanity, and it is only… ONLY through letting go of the truth a little, and accepting the possibility that there is a way to escape the confines of the natural law – only then can I get up and live again.

However I do worry about where the line is, and how much more I can take before I cross it. Then again, there are days when I think that sanity is highly overrated.

 

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Autism: I Don’t Eat Meat

There is this site I visit often in order to earn some points that can be redeemed for gift cards. Every day they have a poll which, upon answering, earns 1pt (which translates to $0.01.) Not very much, I’ll admit, but there are also other ways (such as taking surveys) to earn points, and they do add up.

Lately there have been many polls around food. It appears the states have a ‘national day for…’ just about every day – and a lot of it is food: donuts, chicken wings, seafood…

Anyway all of these polls come up, and many have been specifically asking what our favourite type of meat is. How do you like your chicken wings? (Don’t eat meat.) Which is your favourite burger place? (Don’t eat meat.) What is your favourite seafood? (Don’t like seaweed, don’t eat meat.)

Each of the polls has a list to choose from, and ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ has not been an option.

So for each poll, those of us who are vegan or vegetarian have been responding on the comments section, “don’t eat meat,” or “I am vegetarian,” or something like that.

What really got me, though, was how upset all of the non-vegetarians got with those responses.

“How do you know if someone is a vegetarian? They will tell you.”

And why shouldn’t we.

Someone even went as far as to say that vegetarians – especially people who used to eat meat – are a lot like ex-smokers in that they are very vocal about their distaste for something they used to consume.

Well… yeah!

For a couple of years in my teens, I was a smoker. I quit when I was pregnant with my son – and aside from 6 weeks during a very stressful summer a couple of years later, I never went back. I hated the smell of smoke before I was a smoker (I suppose I could write a post about what happened there,) and aside from the time when the cravings were still strong, I have had an even worse reaction to the smell of smoke (not just while someone is smoking, which is really bad, but also the smell that follows them after) ever since.

A person makes a choice to move away from an addiction, puts a strong effort into denying the cravings, and comes out the other side disgusted about the things they once enjoyed. But if a person has made a decision to move towards a kinder, healthier, more environmentally friendly, more sustainable lifestyle – why should others be upset at them for sharing their success?

“But that isn’t it,” they say. Today I read something about a person who had gone to a vegetarian restaurant. They were impressed with the food, but saw the servers and cooks as having an attitude of “we are better than you,” because they were vegetarian.  They left unhappy and disgusted.

That might be the case with some vegetarians – like it might be the case with some Christians, or ex-smokers, or… But did he ask them? My initial thought would be that perhaps that wasn’t what they were feeling at all. Maybe they were proud to work in a place where they are able to inspire people towards a kinder lifestyle. Perhaps they were happy that people were enjoying their food so much – when that isn’t always the case with any food that is different.

All I know is that I am vegetarian (almost vegan). I am Christian. I am an ex-smoker. I am many things that set me apart from ‘most’ people – but I have never felt “better than,” and if people ever thought that about me, it would be their mistake, not mine. Though I do believe these are kinder, healthier, better choices – but that doesn’t make me a better person (or less of a sinner) for choosing them.

People express their opinion that Vegetarians are trying to push their views – yet everywhere I go, and many of the things I see, people are celebrating around meat, and trying to feed it to others, and…

I don’t believe that Vegans or Vegetarians are better people – but I do believe we were given an extra strong dose of empathy to the point that we are unable to block out the pain, and the cruelty, and the… evil that exists in the meat industry. We can neither block it out, nor can we stand by without saying something,

  • as people spoke out against slavery
  • as people spoke out against the holocaust
  • as people spoke out against child abuse
  • as people spoke out against rape

As people have spoken out against all the pain that people bring to the world, those of us who have this in our hearts and minds must speak out; we must.

And really, is it more cruel for vegetarians to say, “I don’t eat meat,” or for meat eaters to mock, and joke, and exclude, and get upset with someone who is doing their best to be ‘a little bit kinder?’

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Autism: How the Story Ends

“Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither.” (Psalm 37:1-2)

I read that in my devotional this morning, and it was so needed; for I frequently find myself full of pain and fear over the evil that is in this world.

The greed.

I guess I have known this for a long time, but the older I get, the heavier the weight it carries: capitalism feeds greed.

It isn’t even about wanting more and more, and working hard to get it. That, I suppose, is what capitalism is about: the hope that if you work hard enough, and give enough of yourself, your circumstances (will?) improve.

But that isn’t the reality for most people – and even that isn’t what bothers me most.

It is the greed that says, “I will do whatever it takes to get ahead,” and either doesn’t take into account, or doesn’t even care what it costs to others.

Like pet food companies that work for profit, and keep products on the market even when they know it is killing animals.

Like clothing companies, or toy companies, or shoe companies, or… just about everything that uses slave labour to create products at the cheapest cost to sell in richer markets for a huge profit – not caring what they are doing to the people on the bottom.

Like people who cut down rain forests to grow crops to feed animals, so people in the developed world can feel rich eating much more meat than their bodies require – while people are starving in other parts of the world, and plants and animals that should have been left alone, become extinct.

Like people who buy multi-million dollar vacation homes that are left unused much of the time while children are dying of hunger, and for lack of proper medicines and clean water.

So much evil! So much greed!

And it overwhelms me most of the time; I can’t block it out.

How could we?

How could we keep doing this year after year, and decade after decade, and think it is okay?

And I guess if it weren’t for money, people would seek power in its place – and people would be abused, and used, and killed for others to get to the top. And I ask myself, why is it so competitive? Why can’t we work in cooperation instead? Why can’t we make it better?

But the world is full of evil, and sometimes it seems that evil will win.

But evil doesn’t win – and that is what this verse reminded me of today. “In the end it will all be okay; and if it isn’t okay, it isn’t the end.”

I read the book. I know how the story ends. If only I could remember that when I look around and see how bad things are right now.

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Autism: I Long For The End

How can my life be fixed?

How can I move forward when the past continues to cry out for redemption?

Broken as I am; standing on a fine line between sanity and insanity; how can anything good, or true, or righteous come out of my existence?

I dream of things that are wrong, or impossible… and when I wake, I still desire them in part.

Even in longing to belong to God, I still desire things which God has determined are not right for me. In the battle between flesh and spirit, the flesh frequently lays the stronger claim.

“Oh wretched (person) that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

I am filled with a restlessness and a discontent which nothing in this evil, broken world can satisfy; and I long for escape.

Where others find joy and connection, I see a world filled with pain and despair, and feel powerless to help at all. And evil as I know I am, this overpowering desire to ease the pain and suffering (which I have carried for all of my life) only breaks me further as I come to see that my presence, and my very best attempts only serve to cause more pain.

Who am I?

Why am I here?

Will I ever make it home?

What more will I cost others along the way in my weakened attempts to serve some greater purpose, and remove just a little bit of the hurt in this broken world?

Some days I long for the end, for… “the end is where we begin,” (Captain Jack Harkness – Torchwood)

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Autism: Powerless to Help

There was a Facebook post: A 13 week old puppy, who carried a stuffed toy with him wherever he went was at a shelter. He loved the toy so much, the workers would have to take it away from him so he would eat.

But the shelter is a high kill shelter, where the animals are given just weeks, sometimes even days, to find a home – before they are ‘humanely’ put to sleep.

No one showed any interest in him, so he was moved to the back – to death row.

He took his stuffed toy with him. His only source of comfort as he sat in the cage waiting to die.

I don’t know what happened to that puppy. I know there are many young and old in a similar situation. I can only hope the word got out on time, and he was saved.

I cried when I read about him. I am crying still. The world is a cruel and evil place, and I feel powerless in it – nearly as powerless as that puppy, sitting in that cage, holding his stuffed toy for comfort.

I cannot save them all. I couldn’t even save that one. And it destroys me.

Maybe that is why it is so hard for me to live in this world: I can’t block these things out. I can’t NOT see – and I am powerless to help.

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Autism: Apologies

There is this thought that continues to creep into my mind that I don’t love my husband as I should. Perhaps that isn’t the best way to put it, as once written, I suddenly get a picture in my mind of shocked responses from the people who are reading it. I do love my husband. I even like my husband. But I still don’t think I love him as I should.

Easter 2015

The thought grew stronger after I had written my post about wet gloves. Though all I wrote was true, and reflected accurately my experience of the situation, it wasn’t… edifying is the word that comes to mind – towards him.

So I had this constant though in my mind that I should revise the wording of that post. I went away camping for a week, and all the time fully intended to alter it when I got back home, before its scheduled release the following Monday. When I got home, however, I re-read the post and concluded that it was an accurate portrayal of my experience, and to alter it would be… almost a lie. I couldn’t do that.

While I don’t think my response to the situation – though admittedly much more intense than other people might have responded – requires my apology (I stick to what I wrote, and what I felt about that) I do believe I need to apologize for the way he came across – not only in my post, but in my thoughts as well.

It is difficult for people to understand struggles outside of their experiences. It is difficult for people to be able to consider how what they do might strongly affect another person. Especially in terms of such things that most people don’t have strong reactions to – such as heightened sensory issues, or even allergies.

For instance, I have a severe egg allergy. Every year when I go camping, and other people are around, the others seem to have a really difficult time understanding the allergy. They want eggs for breakfast. Pancakes are cooking on the grill. They want to add eggs to a different section of the grill. They don’t understand why I ask them to wait until my food is finished cooking before they add theirs. It isn’t that they are meaning to hurt me, but that they honestly can’t see why this is a problem.

It is the same with wet rubber gloves. Most people do not have sensory issues to the extreme where a bit of water accidentally dripped inside of rubber gloves will cause a full meltdown. It isn’t that when such things happen people are intentionally doing something to hurt me. I know this. It still hurts, but I know it isn’t on purpose.

So when I wrote, I wrote from my experience. My sensory issues cause me pain. Real pain. So it possibly comes across as the person who caused me that pain maybe should have known better. Maybe should have understood. It isn’t… edifying.

The thought continues to come through my head that I don’t love my husband as I should. So how should I love my husband?

Unconditionally.

Yet unconditional love is hard. Really hard. Nearly impossible for an easily hurt, easily offended sinner such as I am. In fact, for all relationships I have had, there is only one person I can think of that I have even come close for – and that is my son.

When my son does something that upsets me; or does things I wish he wouldn’t; or does something that hurts me, or someone else, or himself; or takes the wrong path, or… in that moment what I want most for him is that he overcomes the issue and does better next time. What I feel is a strong desire to reconcile that drowns out all thoughts of pain, or hurt, or anything negative. “See what you have done. Overcome it. Let it go.”

I think everyone should be love like that. I think that is the love my husband should have from me. So I pray, “Please Lord, teach me to love my husband as I love my son.” And I say to my husband, “I am sorry for not loving you like I should. Please be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

 

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Autism: If The World Ends

If the world ends this year, or I am taken out of it, what would happen to my girls? To my son? To my mom? Death comes to us all, and I long for a world that is good. I long for a world in which I am good, and where evil had no place. Yet I fear abandoning my loved ones to a life of loneliness, terror, torture, despair. I fear abandoning my loved ones to a life or eternity of hell. This is not what I want for them.

For not knowing God, is that the life they deserve? It is the life I deserve, and it causes me to tremble. Yet by grace I am saved, and I pray that grace to cover them, too. This life may become so much worse than the pain I have known, and I am very afraid; for there is no promise I will be spared such things. I have no illusions that I should be spared when millions before and many beside me were not.

Yet this hope remains: that however this ends, and whatever I experience, my eternal future is secure in him that gave his life that I might be welcomed home.

How should I be awarded this surety when others were denied? Am I more righteous than any of them? Truly I know that I am not. I am saved because I believed the one who saved me. Saved. By grace and grace alone. And I long for the same for a world hurting, and dying, and lost.

If I had the words, I would shout it from the mountaintop. Yet the words that tumble from my mouth are rarely understood, and frequently cause offence.

So I whisper it quietly with tears pouring down my face: “Lord, please save them too.” For if God could love me through all of my sin, shame, and failure, I am fully convinced that there is nothing another has said, or done, or failed at that would deny God’s love to them… if only they would believe.

So I pray again, “Lord soften their unbelieving hearts, teach them of your love, and save them.”

And Lord? Please come quickly.

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Autism: What Am I Good For Anyway?

Lately I have been struggling a lot with low confidence and overwhelming depression. I have spent days… weeks even, trying to ‘see’ anything, anything that I might be good at, and coming up empty. With that, the tears flow, and the depression grows. I have no real gifts. I have no real talents. What is it I am doing here, anyway?

So as I do, I prayed. I prayed that God would reveal to me through my thoughts and writing anything that I might be good at; to answer the question: “What am I good for anyway.”

What follows is what came of that prayer. As I read it, I knew it to be true, for I do know myself – yet it is not a boast. For one of my biggest issues is that I compare myself to others, and always come up short. Other people can, I can’t – hence a lifetime filled with depression and low confidence.

The response: (By the way, I don’t hear these things, I just allow the thoughts to come.)

There are things you are good at though you do not see them. That you don’t make money for these things, and that others don’t acknowledge that these things have value, does not mean they are not worth anything, or that they aren’t gifts from God.

  • You are good with dogs.
  • You are good with cats.
  • You are good with rabbits.
  • You have a heart for animals.
  • You have a heart for the broken and hurting, stronger than most people have.
  • You have a desire to do good.
  • You have a desire to bring honour and glory to God.
  • You care deeply for your son.
  • You feel responsible towards your mother and her circumstances.
  • You are quick to forgive.
  • You are understanding of the struggles of others to do good.
  • You sincerely want other people to turn to God and be saved, even people who hurt you.
  • You cry for the lost.
  • You cry for the broken.
  • You want real peace, and real love in the world – not the fake stuff you see around you.
  • You know that you are broken, and are not deceived that you are a ‘good’ person.
  • You realize that all that is good in your life comes from God.
  • You realize that to have anything in life, it must come from God.
  • You desire a relationship with God.
  • You want to do something worthwhile with your life for the sake of others more than for yourself, as alone you would be okay where you are.
  • Your mind is able to create entire worlds, and fantasies that take you far from the pain that overtakes you.
  • When you are interested in something, you will research for hours to understand it better.
  • Though you have no talent for these things, you still want to garden, and create, and grow.

These are things that God has given to you. So you write about them, and you dream about them, and you do not get paid to do these things – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t what you are meant to be doing. God provides for you. You are to do what God lays on your heart to do – even if that is ‘just’ to adopt and love your pets. God can use you where you are.

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Autism: Less is Better

The tears have been flowing for days now, it seems. Yesterday I was exercising on my elliptical machine with tears so heavy I could hardly see. “I can’t. I can’t do it,” I cried over and over. “How do I carry on in a world with so much evil?”

The battle has been strong since I first realized the connection as a young pre-teen. It has grown stronger with age. It becomes overwhelming in times of loss.

Animals have been the best of life for me. The absolute best. In my hardest moments, they were the ones sent to carry me through. Animals. Not people. God knows that they are able to reach me in a way that people never could. That they give me comfort when people bring me fear.

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And I know with absolute certainty that my love, and their spirit that speaks so well to mine, is not limited to cats and dogs. Lambs, goats, horses, cows, chickens… pain even comes for the ant crawling on the ground, or the bee that didn’t quite make it to the flower, or the wasp drowning in the pail of water. I can’t leave them to die. And when the spider is squished on the wall, something inside of me screams murder!

So I see them taking so much more than they need, and it fills me with anger. And I eat what is given to me, and it fills me with pain. How could I? How could they? How could this ever, ever be okay? It eats away at me as I have eaten them, and I can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t do it anymore. It isn’t who I am.

And I turn to what I know is right, even if it is different – and every meal with them feels like a battle. “If you won’t eat it, that means more for me.” No!!! Please no. Why can’t you see what your response does to me? Why can’t you see? How don’t you see it?

Eat it if you must, but don’t eat more. Never more. Less is better. None is best. But don’t eat more when I stop having any. It isn’t right. It isn’t fair. You attack me with that response. You punch me in the gut without ever laying a hand on me, and the pain eats away at me. Eats away. Eats away with the ‘food’ you are eating.

And I get angry, and you don’t understand, and I haven’t the words to express myself without you becoming offended. Everyone is offended these days. How do we find the words to speak what we must say when it is so often seen as offensive? But this is my hurt I am trying to explain to you. Mine, not yours.

The posts and the videos come, and I know it is true. So much pain. So much suffering. So much evil. That is what I see. Evil, the way they are treated. Evil the greed with which we consume. Evil. And it hurts me deeply, and I do cry.

I look in their eyes, and see love. I look in their eyes, and see pain, and fear, and it breaks me. It breaks me. And I feel so hopeless, so powerless in the face of so much pain. And I think, “I can’t. I can’t live in a world with so much pain and suffering.” And why?

Eat it if you must, but don’t eat more. Less is better. Consider the cost.

And I say “Vegan,” and they ask, “Why?”

 

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Autism: Death, Time, Loss

China died last night.

The news doesn’t seem real. For nearly nineteen years she has been in our home. My son had just turned two – a small, blond, curly haired boy full of energy, and full of love for this small kitten who (out of fourteen kittens born to three cats on the farm) claimed him as her own, and decided she would be coming home with us.

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Now a very tall, bald-headed man (whose hair turned to dark brown sometime around the age of 3.5 years) who has little energy – and still a lot of love for this shrunken, blind, deaf cat who had stayed loyally by his side for nearly nineteen years had to come to me in tears to say the words, “China died last night,” and he broke down sobbing.

My son was with her in the end, and had to deal with her alone as we were in bed, and didn’t know. It is fitting that he was with her when she died, for in life they were hardly ever apart.

It breaks my heart to think of her without him now, and I pray that is not the case. I hope that she is there with him still, though he cannot see her. (Oh how I wish we could see them still, though their bodies are gone; how I wish we knew where they went.) I pray she is young once more, and free of pain, and right by his side – as she has always been.

China died last night; nearly 5 years to the day from when I lost my Chiku – and just over 7 months from the loss of my dog, Gryff. When will the pain end?

I fill my moments with small, unimportant tasks, and push the grief away. I can do that for a while, because for years she spent nearly all of her time downstairs with my son, and the loss isn’t so noticeable up here. When I go down to see him, though, her absence is heavily felt. The very air seems to cry that she is gone; even as I still see her in the places she has recently been.

I go to comfort my son and end up in tears myself. I am not sure he feels better when I go down; then again, I am not sure he wants to. Perhaps he is thankful to know that he is not alone in his pain. Yet, he is alone, for she was his. For nearly nineteen years I loved her, and the pain of this loss is great – but not as great as his, for she was his.

And maybe that is true of all of us who mourn – though surrounded by a crowd of people hurting from the loss, the pain is still our own, and we are alone in it. I don’t have words of comfort for my son – all I can share with him is my own grief, and my own lack of answers.

Were it up to her, she would be right there with him still – now and forever; and maybe she still is. I pray that she still is – and so much happier without a failing old body in the way. I wish we could see her still. I wish we could see all of them.

As I stop with the movies, and the games, and the distractions of the day, my tears flow. But how is it even those things can distract me? One would think for all of these losses, the tears would go on forever – and sometimes they seem to. So how is it I laughed today?

This world, this life… it is so wrong. I wonder how we carry on at all.

I used to long, so full of regret, to return to the beginning and try again. The more I lose, however, the more I long for the end – for the possibility that when I arrive, I will see them there waiting for me. And the pain will be no more.

 

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