Letting go 

Another topic that in hindsight didn’t get its due coverage (during the early days of my Asperger’s/autism spectrum discovery) is that of letting go.  During the first few… (weeks?  Months?) after my revelation, my inner scaffolding would get tossed about, as though at the mercy of a restless sea (which is probably closer to reality than I might like to admit).  One minute feeling liberation, the next minute seething with long-term resentment and hostility.

I wasn’t even on shaky ground; everything was a torrent.

Let me back up a minute…

All my life, as I progressed through ages and stages, people around me adopted certain sets of expectations.  Who I’d be.  How I’d conduct myself.  Who and what I would become.  How I was “supposed to” live.  And so on.

I used to pummel myself, for not living “up to” those expectations.

My vernacular has changed; I live “up” just fine.  I simply may not live “according to”–or I may not “fit” those expectations.  Those are much more neutral-sounding words.  Neutral is good.  Neutral is rational, pointing out facts of life without any hint of undertone or implied judgment or hidden meaning.

Rational is good, too.  And by now, we all know how I feel about judgment and hidden meanings.

As I came to realize that there was indeed a name for “this thing” (called Asperger’s/autism) and I came to understand just how much of my chaotic and miscellaneous self could indeed be shoehorned into this neat little package, I began to feel a sense of vindication.  And with it, for a time in the early months, a sense of resentment.  Resentment toward anyone and everyone who had made me feel inadequate, incompetent, lazy, outcast, immature, or otherwise somehow lesser.  Toward anyone and everyone who had made me feel like I had a stubborn set of rip-roaring character flaws that the onus rested strictly and solely on me to change.  That somehow I was the broken one who needed changing.  And that it was I who had to make all the effort.

I was bitter and dark then, shrouded in newfound validation, but pissed off for having been convicted of a crime I did not commit and persecuted for a way of being that is not actually even a crime.

Sometimes that continues to purge little hints of “us vs them” or me against the world.  Those feelings arose from my experiences, and I have a right to them.  After all, for far too long, they were (and occasionally remain to be) one of my only defenses against an onslaught from a cold world in which expectations were (are?) placed upon me by outsiders who didn’t bother to stick around to witness the effects, or even to care enough to follow up to make sure I survived.

I acknowledge those feelings.  Their gradual, uneven dissipation does not suddenly remove my right to them.

With rights come responsibilities, though, and though I have a right to set myself apart at times in the interest of my own mental health, and adopt a little therapeutic autistic pride (I’m only making up for a lot of lost time, after all), I also bear the responsibility of continuing to learn, grow, change, and evolve.

Part of that process includes the sub-process of Letting Go.  Forgiving those who had inadvertently wronged me, judged me, criticized me, held me to impossible metrics using incompatible units of measurement, blaming me for not fitting the mould.

I’ve had to come to the realization that everyone was just doing the best they could with the information they had at the time, which was practically nil.  I was doing the best I could with the feelings of invisible division between myself and the world at large, and everyone else was “coping” with me and my oddities the only way they knew how.

No one had websites to google back then; research meant trips to libraries and the tedious combing through overwhelming reference sections.  And that’s only if you knew where to look.

None of us did.  Even if we’d had the plethora of internet websites back then that we do now, we weren’t aware of the right search strings.  And had we begun to look any sooner than, say, 2011-2012, we would not have found accurate information.  Even if we had looked at Asperger’s in 1994, most people didn’t yet have the internet at home, and Asperger’s was being eclipsed by ADD/ADHD anyway, because hey–there’s a drug for that!  And in the US especially, the odds of being diagnosed with something seem to be directly (almost suspiciously) proportional to the availability of a drug to treat its symptoms.  And by then, I was going on 17 years old, with the bulk of my mandatory scholastic career already behind me.

So many factors wove themselves together.

We didn’t have any tools.  Nobody did.

All my parents knew was that the world is a cold, indifferent, sink-or-swim kinda place.  And if I was going to survive, I had better learn to swim.

Everything everyone expected of me, every impossible milestone I had to meet, every challenge I had to overcome, every quirky facet I had to mask, and every “desirable” personality trait I had to force and fake, was all for my own good.  For my survival in an unassisting world.

It was tough.  And there was no way around it.  The only way around it was through it.

I need to let go of the resentment I felt/feel toward those who made accusations.  Those who set impossible standards.  Those who judged.  Those who chastised.

To continue to harbor hard feelings doesn’t affect them; it affects me.  And it will continue to do so until my Letting Go process is complete.

I’m working on it.  😀

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60 Comments

  1. It totally sucks that you had to go through all that! I’m glad you got your validation and are letting go of all the pain and resentment. You’re absolutely right that holding onto it only hurts you! All those experiences made you the awesome person you are today. Our hardest experiences are our greatest teachers. Of course we only realize that in hindsight.😕 You choose to share your knowledge and experiences and they help so many people! Keep shining my Cosmic Sister Dude 🌟🌠🎇✨🎆💫💥💖💖😘😘

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Omg thank you so much, Dearest Dude! You’re so right–about all of it, especially the hardest experiences being our greatest teachers. And yeah, hindsight is like that consolation prize at the end lol 😉. So encouraging to know that what I feel may be miscellaneous ramblings are helpful 💗💗💗🎉🎊🌷💓💜💙💚😁🙌🏼👍🏼🌟⚡️💫☄💌💌💌

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another powerful post!

    We are all entitled to our processing, grieving, & catharsis.
    It is how we grow & evolve, & if we are lucky we get to bring
    those close to us along, & sometimes even those on the side
    lines take notice. ADD/ADHD is yet another oversimplification.

    We are living in the most stimulating period in human history
    (which is only going to get faster) if we do not dig our heels in
    & take time to process & understand we will be of no help to
    ourselves, let alone the next generation. I have long since let
    go of many of those old relationships & chose to focus on the
    new ones, helping those coming up now with all the grief, trauma,
    pain, unease, & discomfort experienced, using it as a large shield.

    Hindsight is 20/20, & it is easy to see the mistakes of ourselves &
    others in the rear view mirror. But it takes a lot more work to be
    introspective, thoughtful, open & compassionate with ourselves.

    I find the concept of Chiron, the wounded healer so fascinating.
    (Research has shown that 73.9% of healers have experienced
    one or more wounding experiences leading to their career choice)
    That deep pain would actually catalyze them to then become
    healers themselves is really amazing, & shows how such negative
    experiences can actually transmute evolving into positive ones.

    We are all learning as we go along, & some of us have the compassion
    & humility to educate, and help not only ourselves but each other also.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. I love your comments 😘😘. Excellent points! I especially feel this one to the bone:

      “We are living in the most stimulating period in human history
      (which is only going to get faster) if we do not dig our heels in
      & take time to process & understand we will be of no help to
      ourselves, let alone the next generation. I have long since let
      go of many of those old relationships & chose to focus on the
      new ones, helping those coming up now with all the grief, trauma,
      pain, unease, & discomfort experienced, using it as a large shield.”

      Yeah!!! 🙌🏼🙌🏼💓🙌🏼🙌🏼💓🙌🏼🙌🏼

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, it is important to learn how to let go – living with resentment, anger or hatred eats away at you in the end. We should forgive but I don’t think that means forgetting. Remembering the wrongs done to us and the mistakes made can help us become stronger people, learn about ourselves and also, hopefully, through people like yourself who are brave enough to share your experiences, teach others to be better human beings.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree. I’d like to add that in forgiving we also release ourselves 🙂 And in addition to this I feel that forgiveness is not necessarily a cut and dried thing but oftentimes is a process that can take many years. Sorry, I’ve gone off on a tangent of my own thoughts!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Amen, my friend! Resentment is like acid; it just eats and eats. I agree, too, about forgiving without forgetting. And the strength that results within us afterward. I think you’re onto something! I love hearing your thoughts; lots of wisdom there 💜💙💜

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I still haven’t learned to let go yet. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive my former manager for being so mean to me, even if she ends up being compassionate toward autistics later. With her, I’m fine with holding a grudge and storing that emotion away in the back of my mind for later.

    With my former supervisors, it’s been 3 months since I left my job and I still have mixed feelings. I’ve already forgiven them because, even though I did get hurt in other ways, they were instrumental in me accepting myself. I just don’t know if new me cares enough to reach out to them anymore. We weren’t exactly close, personal friends to begin with. :\

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ah, yes, how well I know! I feel like I have spent the better part of my life trying to let go. Still working on it, but much further than I was. Where many, many things should never have happened to me, the fact is, they did. What you said about people operating on what they knew and had access to is so true. I am gaining much insight in this area myself. Thanks for sharing this wisdom, dear one. Very helpful. 😘😘😘😘😘😘

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on yarn and pencil and commented:
    Expectation… I was in my forties and an undergrad when I started to realise my lifetime experience had been to please others first. It took another ten years and my diagnosis to really understand how deep and wounding this is.
    I’m smiling as I recollect my then three year old granddaughter singing ‘Let it go’. No relation between these two things…just my mind jumping. Nice to finish with a positive thought.
    Thanks again Laina xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree and just as others have pointed out, letting go is not easy. This is a difficult topic and it reminds me of a meme, “If you love someone let them go. If you hate someone let them go. Basically let everyone go. People are stupid.” It may sound funny but I can’t say its totally untrue.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! I’m happy and sad at the same time (maybe the word is “bittersweet”?) that you can relate, because it means you’ve been there, for better and worse 💕💕. It’s certainly nice to know I’m not alone! Keep on keeping on, luv 😘😘❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome so much! Yes I guess it’s a good and bad thing when one can relate to this, but it certainly means we are not alone and reading your post really helped me. 🙂 And no you are not alone at all girl. It’s so nice when the blogging community can relate and talk about things. Take care. 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Arrrghhhh …
    Really bad memories, people I could never forgive, abuse too vile to be written, unforgivable, unforgettable evil…
    Does it still hurt? It does, and I decided NOT to forget, not to forgive, because there are crimes repeating themselves as we think that forgiving and forgetting might obliviate them, obliterate them. But it doesn’t.
    With all due respect for the otherwise thinkers, the religiously overtoned forgiveness should be considered only when there’s undoubted, undeniable and genuine remorse for the wrongs committed, and total restitution where and when possible.
    Society has grow complacent of real crime, prone to jail the shoplifter and speeding drivers, dumping them together with assassins and murderers, granting mercy to serial killers and mass murderers daring to give the nazi salute in courtrooms and having degrees paid from taxes collected from the victims and their families.
    Letting go?
    I don’t know if I would be able to let go of unrepaired wrongs, should I want to.
    But I know for now, that I don’t want to.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I’ve truly loved browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing on your feed and I’m hoping you write once more soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I still pummel myself. I actually come so very close that I don’t usually come across as autistic at all. I confirmed that with my therapist a week ago by planning and starting in full performance mode with topics picked out. I engaged her and got her to talk and share while speaking truth about myself, but carefully curated truth. I realized I had described what I did to her, but had never actually demonstrated. Not that I ever stop, even when alone or when I’m trying to reflect and talk about my own experience. Much of what I do is habituated and semi-automatic. Kind of like driving a car on the freeway with cruise control, lane assist, and auto speed adjust to other cars. (Or how I’ve heard driving such a car would be. I’ve never actually done it.) After 20-30 minutes, I revealed what I was doing and why I had chosen to do it. She could see a qualitative difference, but said I never set off her “aspie radar”, which is pretty well developed and generally accurate. (Though she then clarified that I wouldn’t have actually qualified for that diagnosis under the old DSM. My clinically significant spoken language development delay and early speech difficulties would have excluded me from it. So my diagnosis would have been classic autism.) It’s very clear and obvious, of course, but only because I choose to openly share my childhood development and internal experience.

    But not coming across as recognizably autistic has never been enough. In any sort of extended engagement and sometimes even in brief ones, I’m still ‘off’ just enough for people to notice, even if just subconsciously. And the part that isn’t visible is that I have no clue why many of these actions, responses, expressions, and body language are actually the expected ones in any given situation for the most part. I simply have a vast, systemized set of internalized and habituated “rules” that I’ve studied, learned, and practiced for decades. And there are still gaps, errors, and omissions everywhere.

    I also haven’t felt any real anger or resentment. I just feel the pain again or sometimes for the first time if I shunted it aside in the past. And I feel sad. I always wanted to connect with people. I always cared deeply. I never stopped trying. And I still care.

    I think of those letters and videos people create speaking to a young version of themselves encouraging them and telling them it will get better. I think of 4th grade Scott and I don’t know what to tell him. He’s so brave, so determined, and so strong. He’s a survivor. But it never really gets better.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi, I want to say that reading this post helped me a lot – thank you 🙂 I was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum last week and since then have been feeling very overwhelmed, thinking about the past, looking all the things that happened now that I know I am on the spectrum, and going through a lot of the same thought processes you did. so reading this helped me feel a bit calmer… that maybe things will feel a bit more peaceful for me again soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your comment! 😊. You’re definitely not alone, dear friend; you’ve got plenty of company here; I echo your story (I was diagnosed just last year, so the memories are fresh), and I know there are many others who share our experience, too 💜. It really can be overwhelming! So many torrents of emotions, coming in waves and surfacing at unexpected times and settings! Reframing entire lives, piecing together our own puzzles, loose ends, and seemingly miscellaneous threads that at one point appeared to be unrelated to each other ❤️. You will find peace and comfort within, in time 💙. I’m always here for you as you need me 💞💞

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love your blog! You seem such a strong person and i love that you’re different. Please don’t think that you have to be like everyone else embrace your uniqueness. I wish you all the luck and the best. Keep on being the beautiful you. Lots of love Lien

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, thank you so very much! What a beautiful comment 😘😘. Your words are totally encouraging! I’m digging your blog too! I don’t know the language very well but I can pick out lovely words here and there, and I get the general messages, which are beautiful! Especially the meditation post 😁💙💜💓

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve definitely felt so many of the feels you expressed here. Thanks once again for sharing. You are a light that shines the truth of how so many us feel in words that aren’t always so easily communicated. (Violet)

    Like

  14. Letting go is one of the hardest things ever, of past hurt, of criticism and the damage done by it, of the expectations of others and especially yourself. I’ve only just been able to start on some of them, the last is possibly the toughest of the lot and not sure I know how to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah 👍🏼. It’s a process, for sure. I wish it were an overnight, flip-a-switch kind of thing, but nope, at least not for me. *Le sigh*. I had to keep reminding myself over and over again from day to day for months, and it seemed to be pretty wave-like; it came and went in waves. The way I started (which I found to be the hardest part) is by telling myself that it didn’t matter anymore, and that what other people thought didn’t matter either, because they hadn’t walked in my shoes, so their comments toward me and their assumptions and expectations of me simply weren’t valid or relevant. I sort of played tough love with myself until I “got it”. This took a long time. Patience is kind of yin and yang for me, but the process took some. The best thing to do is start. And then try to reserve judgment, try to be gentle with yourself; imagine that you’re trying to help a friend through this 😘😘❤️💝

      Like

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