For a long time I was unsure of myself. Of my views. Of my opinions.
Growing up as an undiagnosed autistic individual, I saw and experienced the world differently than most. It caused me to doubt my lived experience.
Growing up in a strict religious environment also taught me to look to an external source for what was right and wrong made it hard to trust myself.
Experiencing traumatic events also led to my world feeling unsafe and disorienting.
As an adult, I tried to navigate my way to health and made so many missteps along the way: Mistaken relationships. Different religious paths. Different careers. Different ways of strict eating and living. The pain it created only led me to doubt myself more.
I don’t know that there was a “turning point.” There were certainly key moments along the way.
My mother dying. I was so devastated that I refused to do anything that I didn’t like. That turned out to be a very good thing for me. I honored what I wanted. It was when I started a job teaching painting because it was the only thing that sounded remotely fun.
Going to therapy. I started going to consistent therapy. It made incredible differences with decreasing the amount of depression I felt.
Journaling Daily. I started journaling daily. I’ve been journaling daily for over 5 years now. The time I spend pouring out my thoughts and working through the confusion, mess, and layers has helped me to slowly see myself.
Religious deconstruction. I started my own religious deconstruction process. I wrote every troubling belief or event I had encountered in my life on separate sticky notes. Every day, I would pick from the stack and journal about them. I discussed them in therapy as well. For the harder ones, I did EMDR therapy. I went through that ENTIRE stack. I also had a close friend who was willing to discuss these with me.
Going to graduate school. Going to graduate school for mental health counseling and art therapy helped me to understand A LOT about my own journey and others
Being single and living alone for multiple years. It was a chance to shape a life around what I liked and I didn’t like.
Starting my private practice. Starting my own private practice gave me an opportunity to build something based on my opinions, beliefs, and values. I’ve also learned immensely from the clients I work with. They often have no idea how much they have helped me.
Learning I am autistic. Learning I was autistic was a seminal piece in understanding why I sense, feel, and think so differently than the majority of people. It’s helped me to re-examine my past and feel more at home in the present. I no longer see myself as broken.
This is not a Cinderella story. There is no before and after picture. A black and white beginning and end. I am still on the journey to trusting myself.
What I can say is that I do FEEL far better than I did ten years ago. I also feel like I have a lot to say. I now value my unique perspectives of the world and want to share them.
I began writing daily essays in December 2021, thinking if I wrote enough I could empty out all that was stirring in me. It was scary at first. To share my thoughts with the world. To know I would navigate criticism or people who disagreed with me.
The more I shared, the more I realized it was ok to be different. That I could weather those things.
What’s surprised me more - my experience has been that people are overwhelmingly supportive. I’m putting voice to the things others are thinking.
It’s now November 2022. I still write regularly, and I still have lots to say. The more I explore my own opinions, perspectives, and experiences, the more come to the surface.
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