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Day One

I've summarized this in my 'Introduce Yourself' post, which you can find here: What a relief!

This goes more into my mind about it all, though. Just about that first day. And, before I go on, Trigger Warning: suicide and grief.

I forget which day it was. From now until forever, I will remember it as 'sometime in April 2023'. I was deep in hiding, from everyone. I didn't have the energy to keep up a 'public persona'. Within the past year, from my daily migraines, to my partner breaking his ankle, to nursing our dog from a bite wound, my partner nearly losing his job, my sister committing suicide, and from that an unsolicited outpouring of estranged family members wanting to 'reconnect', and a dear friend suffering the loss of a loved one as well, you can imagine I was spent.

The top two pieces of advice I got about grief: 1) take all the time you need for yourself and be patient with it; 2) reach out to family and friends for support.

I thought to myself, 'I know I don't need #2, but if they say it will help, I will give it a shot.'

It did not. And when I tried to explain to my dear family my needs, how isolation and self-reflection has always been my best medicine, they cautioned me against it. 'You don't want to get too inside your own head.' Are you kidding me? This is my home, my wheelhouse, my hospital, my entertainment, my bed. My head is my bed. This is where all my problems get solved, not get worse. I then realized the way my family thought they knew me, was not the way I showed myself to them. But I thought this was just the way life goes, an irrefutable aspect of it.

And then I learned later it was because they did not want to be isolated from me, the last and closest connection to my sister on this earth. But all I thought I wanted was to be perceived as handling the situation as normally as anyone else would, so I kept trying. I threw aside my grieving needs to cater to the needs of those around me who thought I was doing everything wrong, and wanted me to do things 'the healthy way'. Their way. The one and only way that works, in their minds.

Did I ever mention the time my mom thought she knew me better than I did? Of course I didn't, this is my first post. Anyway.

So there I am, sometime in April 2023, lying in bed and doomscrolling on Instagram. Depressed, exhausted, and feeling like I'm just not measuring up. Into my view comes that post, that screenshot of a Tumblr joke, hashtagged #autismspectrum and #neurodiversity. In my brain, the fireworks of laughter sparkled about. A half-smile crept on my face. I wonder what makes this joke related to autism? I'm not diagnosed, I'm not autistic, but I wonder what small part of autism resonates with me. Let's investigate.

It was no small part. It wasn't even a large chunk. It was just about the entire thing. If it were autism, and not my mom, telling me they knew me better than I did, I would believe them. That's how on point everything was.

I pretty much went through the same stages as I did when I received the news of my sister's passing. The initial shock of a tremendous realization made me run through a lot of thoughts and questions. Is this real? Is/are my source(s) lying to me? I must be dreaming. This is a movie, right? I'm in a movie. Oh, what's my line. Is this really true? Did this really happen just now? What the hell do I do with this information? Where do I go in life from here? How do I face the world after such a life-altering loss?

Now, the dawning realization of possibly being autistic, you may think is not akin to the loss of a loved one. I disagree. With my sister, I lost an entire future, the rest of my life, that I could have spent with her. With the possibility of being autistic from Day One of my life, I mourned the loss of a life I could have had, if I hadn't learned to mask, if my needs were met sooner, if I hadn't fallen through the cracks. I mourned my past life.

And now I continue to battle grief in quite a complex way. As much of a relief it was, literally the calm of the tide coming in and a washing away of anxiety as the tide went out, it was also hard to believe I went through life struggling at almost every moment. I got a little frustrated at that. I didn't need to struggle, had I had support. I was anxiety ridden for no reason, because autism is not a disorder but just a different way of living, perceiving, experiencing, thinking, being. And God be damned I get ostracized just for being human. I had anxiety over what I thought was supposed to come naturally, what I prayed eventually would (to what God I pray or damn, I don't know, because I am not religious in any way), and thought I was broken because I couldn't.

Life really likes to give you lemons, eh? (I still don't really get this, why lemons, they're not that bad. They're in like, everything)

~ Bean


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