By Heidi Jane Wangelin
Being Autistic and learning about self-care and self love has been an interesting experience for me. I encountered the Neurodiversity movement in late high school but did not get involved until I went to college and became an ASAN officer.
To me self-care means listening to what you need and prioritizing it and not making any excuses for it which I used to think was selfish. I’m horrible at doing things I enjoy just for myself and I am a terrible perfectionist and people pleaser. I’m empathetic and always doing stuff for others. I am also proud of being Disabled.
The main thing that got me interested in self-care came by an accident I had where I injured my back and it was a real wake up call on what I prioritize in life and that I was trying to force myself into a niche I did not belong in. To be honest this writing prompt has been one of my hardest struggles. One part of self-care is healing both inner and out. I’ve discovered it is easier for me to fix a back than to heal inside and to be patient.
Patience is a big part of self-care. It also means forgiveness to me forgiving myself for mistakes and that I don’t have to live in the past and what others say. Which leads me to the self-love part.
Self love is seeing yourself as you are and accepting it flaws and all and being okay with it . It also means learning about new parts of yourself. I’ve had a complicated relationship with self-love. I’m nearing my 25th birthday so I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the past year as I get ready for my new age and I also do this for New Years.
I noticed I’ve lost touch with myself and question my own life and meaning and after terrible bullying I lost a lot of self- esteem. The last three years have taken a toll on me. I noticed in my mind and life I spend a lot of time picking apart my flaws and sometimes I still swallow the independence myth that I must live by non-disabled standards yet I claim to love being Autistic.
But I’ve also been catching what I say and changing it for good.
That I’m worth more than my productivity and all my projects, that my voice still matters and that I have a voice at all, that I’m not a failure, and I’m still learning how to be myself, and that is no rush to forcing myself into a new season and being what I’m not.
Self-love is not always easy and I sensory overwhelm and shut down or go mute.
One way I engage in self-care is I like music it helps me to sing out my feelings and a long time ago I used to consider myself a writer. I write now and do not self-censor anymore but for years my writing was so dry. Sometimes self-care means confronting ugly emotions but it always gives me hope. Writing is like my mirror and for the first time in years I grabbed my journal after a traumatic thing happened.
I also really like walks in nature because it forces me to calm down and think less about my problems. Living in a city it is hard to find a patch of woods. I also really like rain here in Seattle and warm showers water makes me feel clean and centered. I also love making tea and coffee because it is so meditative. I also like doing art. I try not to apologize for it. I’ve discovered all of this due to my injury.
The other part of self-care and love is peace. I’m still trying to figure out what peace means to me what peace actually looks like. I have terribly anxiety. I’ve never known what it is like not to be anxious. But peace has to start from within. It is not easy to find. I can tell when I’m not being myself though and when I’m not I am agitated and self-conscious. Performing is hard work. I have that inner dark tendency to try and perform to get by a strategy I developed in high school and to be critical when I fail. So I think I need to learn to undo that but everything is slow and a process.
It’s alright to be broken and not have it all together to let it all down.
Brokenness teaches you things.
So I’m beautifully broken.
I don’t consider me outside beautiful but my inside makes up for that. I’m an in between period of my life. Self-care and self-love has made me more aware. I know I have a long way to go but I’m here still. Self-love and self care shows I’m a survivor.
Survival is beautiful. So this is what this all means to me.
Original post can be found on Heidi’s Tumblr: http://aspiewriter6390.tumblr.com/