Saturday, October 12, 2013

Identity Crisis

It has been almost two years since I was referred for an evaluation for autism and was diagnosed. I was a little over 33 years and one month in age. 

During that time I was working with what I felt at that time had to be the worst group of people filled with the most hate possible. And I felt like church people were just cruel and heartless. I all but, and almost did, lose faith in God. 

I am not going to rehash anything though. But it did seem very unfair. Well, to be honest, there was a lot of unfairness in what I experienced. Diagnosed in December. Got told repeatedly I couldn't do certain things because I have autism and fill-in-the-blank with whatever misconception of autism is in existence. 

It was three or four months before I was finally connected and sent for ABA therapy. And I was only in therapy for four months when I got a fatalistic document. 

Three more months fighting the unfairness and I gave up and left. 

My friend didn't want me to go, but he let me. He knew I had to do it. He knew I was hurting and as much as he didn't want me to go, he knew that at that moment, it was what was in my best interest.

Now believe me, I gave him plenty of reason to give up on me, but he didn't. I praise him for his stubbornness. Why? Because if he hadn't been so stubborn, I wouldn't be where I am today.

So let me tell you what I have done in the ten months since leaving. 

1. I tried another church that has extensive special needs support for adults. 
2. I continued in ABA therapy.
3. I continued in a social group through Voc Rehab. 
4. I began to come out of my shell and make some friends. And I even began to develop a crush on someone. 
5. I began smiling almost endlessly. And have yet to find a person who doesn't instantaneously fall in love with me as a result. 
6. I decided I didn't need extensive special needs support. Just having a point person within the church who understands autism is enough and having friends in group activities and partners in service activities is enough. And that's true.
7. I began speech therapy. And now I have more confidence.
8. I missed a lot of church because of illness and because I simply didn't like it. 9. I started doing social outings outside of an official group and will pick up again after court.
10. I visited another church. It felt more like a concert than a worship service. I don't know why people like it. I hated it. It felt like torture.
11. I visited another church. I almost liked it until I learned that because I don't know exactly when I was converted and therefore may not have been baptized by immersion after conversion that I might have to be rebaptized. No thank you. But it's not fair to me to try to pursue it if that's going to be the sticking point.
12. I went back to the place I left. My heart never left it anyway because all my friends I already have are there. 
13. I have been doing a lot of self-discovery and self-exploration during this time.
14. I have developed more artistically. With the help of another beautiful friend. She helped me do a pre-wedding collage piece for my friend and revamp an old drabby three legged table converting it to a beautiful four legged table just the right size for a precious granddaughter of my friend. I am no longer afraid of paint getting on my hands, although if it's on there too long, I will start to meltdown. And I still won't touch raw dough or raw meat. And sticky mess is enough to send me for a tailspin as is a ticking clock.
15. I have less meltdowns and the meltdowns I do still have are becoming less self-injurious in nature. 
16. I am lashing out less. I had to work on an emotional color wheel assigning colors to emotions. I hated it. But I found it to be a good start. So now I do a chart. I write, "I feel...," assign colors and words to what I feel, and then state why I feel it. Then I go to the person who led me to feel that way. The chart helps me process so I don't lash out as often. 
17. I have more confidence now.
18. I am also hugging more people because I want to. Although I will pull back if it's not someone I feel safe with.
19. I am still afraid, but I will try anything once. I now like sushi and gluten free paper dosas (Indian). But I don't like wasabi (it burns the nose). 
20. I see the positives more.

All this to say that God is leading me back to where I was and I know that even though I have come a long way, I still have a long way to go, but I am working on it and will continue to do so. 

Thanks in part to my friends, especially stubborn Tom, who through their continual love, time, energy, and grace have exemplified God's character to me and allowed me to see enough of God to help me desire God more. 

So, even though I am really anxious right now over some very grow up issues I never had to worry about before, I am still hoping God will and trusting God to work things out. 

By the way, why did God let me have autism? I don't know. Some days I feel He did it to be cruel, and others I realize God may actually have autism too. PLATYPUS! Either way, God loves me and I love Him; my friends love me and I love them. And my friends have been, are continuing and will continue helping me along the path in life. Tom is my biggest advocate right now. And I thank God for him every day. I also thank God for Janet. And my mom. And my therapists. And even for the mistakes others made with me and the mistakes I made. We can all grow from those mistakes. 

I'm sure Tom and I will have many more discussions regarding church decisions that we have to make so I don't get hurt again and can continue progressing and avoid regression. And that's okay. 

And if that group of people is reading this? I love you. And I forgive you. And I hope you can forgive me too. 

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