Autistics only have so much energy in a day. Some like to equate it to “spoons.” We only have so many spoons each day, and when they’re used up, we don’t have any energy left for anything else.
So we have to be careful about how we use our spoons. We have to discern the best use of our energy.
Sometimes, life hits us with something unexpected and that choice gets yanked from us. Like a phone call that someone we love is sick or a meeting that runs longer than expected and fills up our “to do” list.
Since life is full of unexpected things, it means we must be EXTRA wise about the things we want to do.
This can be especially hard when there are MANY things we want to do. As a writer, there are MANY things I want to write about. However, there simply isn’t enough time to write about them all, so I have to prioritize.
Furthermore, some topics take more energy to explore and write about than others. So I have to prioritize my spoons. I ask myself questions like, “Is writing about that subject worth taking spoons away from this other subject?”
Right now I am intensively writing and exploring Autism and ADHD. I would like this to be the focus of my time. Peripherally, there is also the topic of “patriarchy” looming. It comes up all of the time in the therapy room and I would love to explore how to dismantle it more. I even bought a book for such a quest called, “Unladylike: A Field Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy and Claiming Your Space.” Yet every time I see the book, I question, “Is this more important than autism right now?”
Right now, for me, it isn’t. The spoons to explore patriarchy are not worth sacrificing spoons to explore autism. I think I will currently benefit more from the clarity I will gain writing about autism.
So I am donating the book. I could lug it around with me, but that’s like carrying a weight around my neck. I must trust that I will come back to it at the right time, when the spoons are right.
My therapeutic work with autistic clients is filled with similar questions and conversations. How do we decide where to use our spoons?
The world will tell you where you “should” use your spoons. But we don’t care about their toxic norms. We want to do what is best for us.
Sometimes that means that our spoons are better spent throwing ourselves into a craft project. Sometimes that means accepting things as they are.
I have some clients who would like more friends. However, they do not currently want to give up the spoons to get those friends. They would rather use their energy for the things they are excited about - like their new projects. This is perfectly fine. If an individual feels happy and grounded in a decision, it is an okay one to make.
I trust that when that person feels the longing for a friend strongly enough, then they will devote some spoons to it. Same goes with dating. I know many autistic who would love a life partner. However, the amount of work it takes to get that life partner is not worth it. And so they continue with their happy lives.
Our world would tell you their spoons are out of order. I’m here to say, fuck them. We get to decide the best uses for our spoons.
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