Part of the work of becoming Autistic is learning to see yourself in a new way and accepting that you are valuable and acceptable, just as you are. This has been a large part of the self care I have been doing over the past year. It is, I suppose, self love in action.
I am drawn to the idea of love as a verb- an action that requires conscious and deliberate thought and decision making. To me love as a feeling is unreliable and changeable past the stage of establishing a relationship. Love as an action is required in order to keep a relationship alive and healthy. Love as an action involves choosing to do things for, to and with a person for the purposes of showing them love and ensuring their needs are met in ways that they like and need. I apply this form of love to my relationships with friends and family as much as I am able.
I am learning to apply it to myself now, in practical ways, as I become increasingly aware of who I am, what I need and how I can meet my needs in positive and useful ways within the context of a busy family life and an active advocacy life. This means loving all of myself, including the parts that in the past I have spent time berating for not being “normal”or “good enough”.
It sometimes strikes me as being ironic that I spend a large portion of my time advocating the right of every person to be accepted and treated fairly, regardless of disability or neurology, yet I still struggle to extend the same thinking to myself internally. It is a conscious effort to refrain from thinking of myself in ways that are judgemental and the opposite of accepting.
I am learning to love my neurodivergent self. It is a process that requires conscious and deliberate thought and decision making. It is love as a verb. It involves positive self talk. It requires good practice of self care. It allows graciousness extended toward myself. It demands change in previously learned ways of thinking and old habits. It is reminding myself that I am enough, just as I am.
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)