By Kimberly Faith
|Text reads The Autism Positivity Project perspectives of hope, encouragement, understanding and pride. Background is divided into five brightly colored sections each with a silhouette of a brightly colored hand|
I was diagnosed in June of 2013. One of the things the psychologist who was doing my testing asked was “Why did I suspect I was Autistic?”
I told her that it was my husband who first brought it to my attention and after that I started really digging in. I started adjusting things for myself in the same ways I had adjusted them for my son and it worked for me.
I will have to admit though, accepting that I needed adjustments and accommodations in my life was hard. It wasn’t because I was ashamed, it’s just my whole life I had it drilled into my head “If you try harder you’ll do better”. I was told that I needed to just get over the things that really impacted me (change in routine, unexpected visits from people, sensory aversions, anxiety, my misophonia, my depression).
I even had people use certain things that truly hurt me to their advantage, for entertainment… to get a laugh. (mainly my dad and grandfather).
My husband had deemed me a control freak for so many years and he would deliberately do things that left me in the state of perpetual meltdowns and panic attacks because… who knows why. (no, he doesn’t do that anymore)
So, for the majority of my life the people who were supposed to be my support made my life extremely hard and that caused me to have a great deal of internalized ableism. My self esteem dropped to nearly nothing and I thought I didn’t deserve anything…
I didn’t deserve to draw boundaries
I didn’t deserve to be happy
I didn’t deserve a break.
I didn’t deserve to ask for and receive help.
So acceptance of myself, my limitations and the fact that I really did deserve all the things that I felt I didn’t, has been hard. I have a lot of guilt about a lot of the things that I need to have in my everyday life in order for me to be functional, but I am working on that.
Self love is something I am also working on, you can’t fully accept yourself if you don’t first love yourself.
Loving myself means saying no when I really can’t do something (or even when I don’t want to do something).
Loving myself includes asking for the help and understanding that I do deserve to receive help.
Loving myself also involves allowing myself to be happy, drawing boundaries, and knowing I deserve to be able to take time to care for myself.
I give my all in everything I do. I’m a perfectionist (with very horrible anxiety). I am a protector of others and have been my whole life (that’s one of the things that can happen when you grow up in an alcoholic home). I am a justice seeker and I become very upset when I see or read about injustices.
So for me, self care is unplugging from social media sometimes.
It is not reading the news.
It is asking others to not to start conversations about current social issues with me when I’m engaging in self care.
It’s taking long walks.
It’s asking for no one to knock on my bedroom door while I do yoga sometimes in the evenings.
It’s getting myself a frozen coffee (I have issues with food, so this is a big thing.. and I love coffee)
It’s understanding that I am an introvert and I need a lot of downtime in order to recharge.
It’s blaring music in the living room and dancing about when no one is home.
It’s practicing not feeling guilty.
I use to do some of those things and would justify it by saying “I am a mother and I deserve some downtime so I can be the best I can for my kids”
But now I am learning to say “I am a human being and I deserve that” No justification required.