I’m in an uncomfortable state of shifting thoughts and feelings lately. I’ve written in the past 6 months about learning to live better with an increased understanding of my needs. But writing about it is easier than the doing of it. It is one thing to process these things as thoughts, and another entirely to live it.
Sometimes I know that understanding myself leads to an increased ability to accept who I am, to look after my needs more effectively, cope better with stressors, and move through life more gently. I know it. In my heart. I feel it when I do things differently than I used to.
There is less anxiety and exhaustion when I allow myself to slow when I am overwhelmed instead of pushing against it like I am trying to break through a chain link fence with my bare hands.
There is less overwhelm when I am brave enough to say no to things I know will cause stress that I should avoid.
There is less stress when I acknowledge my sensory needs and am not ashamed to own that they are real and not unreasonable.
Sometimes my mind slips back into the habit of playing the old record that tells me I am not good enough.
“You should be able to do this.”
“You used to do it all the time….”
“It’s not that hard. Just push through.”
“If you try harder….”
“They can do it.”
“Why can’t you just….?”
“You aren’t contributing as much as them.”
“You could be more…..”
“You are so disorganised….”
“…. messy …..”
“…. …. unreliable ….”
“It’s no wonder people don’t want to be around you.”
And it goes on, round and round, over and over.
I can try to ignore it while I muse about the ableism ingrained in my thought processes. But when I am completely honest, I have to admit that sometimes I do want to be able to do lots of things that others do. The pull of normality- what ever that is- is there. I know that it is not reality that being not me would resolve any of this angst, but sometimes I wish for it.
Sometimes I just can’t manage to feel like enough. I want to, rather than just postulating that I am and feeling like a hypocrite for not being able to truly believe it of myself, even though it’s what I tell others with honesty that I believe about them. But sometimes, I just can’t.
I can engage in positive self talk. Reminding myself that I *am* good enough. That my value is *not* tied up in what I do, or don’t, or try. But theorising is different than being sure. And I want to be sure, deep down in the core of me. And I worry that it’s been too much of my life that I didn’t know myself and now it is too late. I fear that I won’t change these old habits and this will be a battle I will fight until I have no fight left.
Sometimes I give in to the fear and let myself slip back into doing things the way I think others expect me to. And I am reminded of how much that just doesn’t work out well for me. I end up in a mess, needing to take days at a time of not doing anything while my body and mind process the accumulation of too much input. Too much noise. Too much listening. Too much seeing. Too much doing. To much feeling. Too much being. Too much remembering. Too much processing. Just too much. Sometimes I need the reminder that self care is essential.
Sometimes I make a good choice. Sometimes I manage a few good choices in a row. I achieve goals, I can see milestones. It feels good. I feel empowered. I can see how persisting with this self development, with breaking habits and leaning in to my unfolding understanding of who I am and how I work, is making me a better person.
And so I shift and swing. I am tired though, of this pendulum. I am impatient for when the times of clarity and confidence are more frequent than the times of worry, fear and feelings of inadequacy.
Sometimes is beginning to feel like not enough, and I wonder how I can make it all shift faster so that I can move away from this unease inside about who I am going to turn out to be. I know who I’ve tried to be. I know who I don’t want to be. I don’t know where I will end up though. It is unsettling, this stage of not knowing. Logically, I know that I will change forever, until I die, and that is also an uncomfortable thought.
Right now a large part of me wants to just settle on something and stop there to rest in predictability. But that would mean a halt in progress as well.
I am trying to rest instead in the knowledge that self acceptance is a process, and that the swinging is to be expected. I am trying to be mindful of the fact that a pendulum serves a purpose. It has a valuable job. A pendulum works to help keep things ticking along. Each swing serves a purpose and measures a moment in time. That is not unpredictable in the bigger picture. Rather it is deliberate and purposeful. Recognising that this stage is part of the process that I can rely on to move me toward self acceptance is reassuring, and gives me confidence to acknowledge the discomfort and keep riding out the shifts and swings.
This post is part of my emerging autistic identity series- read them all by clicking here (clicking link will open a new window, posts are in reverse chronological order- first at the bottom)