Clearing The Decks, Setting Myself Free

The last two years of my life have been exceedingly difficult, way more than I’ve let on to most people, but the most important thing is that I’m still standing. This time frame has been full of big health challenges, emotional turmoil, confusion, and change. I’ve had to make some difficult decisions when it comes to removing things, mostly people, which were causing stress and further difficulties when it comes to grasping and holding onto my own identity. How does a person retain what makes them who they are when surrounded with people who are either bringing maelstroms of chaos, or eroding one’s sense of validity and worth? 

After many years of retaining that which causes harm, I finally made the decision to let it all go. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, because I now find myself in a place of emptiness. It’s a weird place to be, but I have to be here because I lost touch with what little I knew of my own identity. The crux of the identity issue is that I have Complex PTSD and what used to be known as Asperger’s, but is now an autism spectrum disorder. The latter is something which is a very recent discovery, but it explains so much about why I am the way I am in certain ways. 

The people I’ve had to let go of wouldn’t be any kinder or compassionate, even knowing about the discovery of my being on the spectrum. Some of them would probably try to further use it as ammo, as they had about my other medical conditions. I’ve been questioned about the validity of my autoimmune diseases and how they impact my life and ability to do certain things. A few even accused me of either lying or making things up to “get out of doing things with them”. Yes, because everything is about you. Of course!

I didn’t let those people go simply because of their callousness. Well, that was the case with a few of them. I also let go of a few for making racist remarks, or putting down people who are a “drain on the system” for being disabled or similar things. I’d always call out the racism, but I’d let the other stuff go, even though a little piece of me died inside every time I’d hear them go on about that, because I am a disabled person who is receiving benefits. The few times I mentioned that they could be referring to me, they would always come back with how I was different. No, I’m not! Other people are on benefits who are people who need them to survive and would love to be out working if they could. Of course there have always been and will always be bad actors, but the majority of people who are on disability are there for very legitimate reasons. Not to mention that others on disability are persons who are loved by their “families”. It is my hope that the families of most others with disabilities are more genuine and supportive of them. All I know is that I couldn’t take any more of the backhanded insults and fickleness which had been coming my way for as long as I can remember, so I let them go…all of them. No more knocking on the same doors, to have them opened by the same people who rip out hearts with their daggers.  

As I sit here writing this post, I’m not sure I’ll ever publish it because I’ve always tried to keep my material as positive as possible. Sometimes I question this though. The older I get, the more I appreciate how much value there can be in rawness, in realness. When you see perfection posted everyday, it can further erode self esteem in people who are struggling. It’s all bullshit, because every life has struggle. On some level, we know it, but when few are being real about their struggles it can make some feel like a failure for not having as perfect a life as so-and-so on Instagram. Those perfect little snapshots often mask a lot behind the scenes. 

Of course, no one (well maybe there are some) wants to see, listen to, or read someone’s stuff who complains all the time, but to sometimes point out realities which are less than the projected perfection we are all striving for is helpful. Life can be challenging at times. We all know it. What I’ve written about today is why I have been less present online. I’m trying to do a reboot in so many ways that it is completely energy consuming. Starting fresh, with a new understanding of who I am is what is going on right now, and is the most difficult but marvelous task of my lifetime. I’ve never taken enough time to figure out all of the aspects of who I might be. 

Keeping up appearances, trying to be what everyone else wants me to be, giving up the few little shreds of what makes me happy because others put it down, feeling like shit because someone else feels inconvenienced or isn’t getting what they want when they want it, being accused of things which aren’t true, being made to feel like the person who gets picked last in gym class when there’s nothing better for them to do, being expected to conform to the whims of others…I could go on, but won’t. I’m just exhausted. Could I be considered weird? You betcha, but that doesn’t make me less than.

For the last year, I’ve been trying to force myself to get back into the swing of things, then beating myself up for not being able to. It has been a vicious cycle of stops and starts which further eroded how I feel about myself. Now that I know that I am on the spectrum, I know what is going on. I have reached the point of burnout, because I have been pushed way past the point of meltdowns and shutdowns (which I’ve had many of in the last year or so not knowing what they were). My neurological system and body have demanded that I take the steps I’m taking of clearing the decks and giving myself time to recover, which makes room for me to finally find myself and be THAT person. No more being what anyone else wants me to be. I do have a few people left in my life, who I value very much, because they allow me the time and space that I need. They do not question my love for them when I can’t do certain things sometimes or even when I drop off the face of the earth for extended periods of time. It’s a grueling process, but I’m glad that it is happening. 

So, now you know more about what is keeping me away from my usual online presence. I do know that I will be back eventually. The only thing I do not know is what that will look like. The only thing that is certain is that when I do, it will be something that is truly me, and not a notion of what anyone else like. A big thank you goes out to all of you who are sticking around. I do hope that someone out there will read this, and decide that they are worth giving themselves a break when it comes to meeting their own needs and knowing that they are deserving of full respect from others. Here’s to setting yourself free!