Like many of you, 2021 was not kind to me, and 2022 isn’t shaping up to be any great shakes, either.
As usual, it’s complicated.
In May of last year, I almost wrote something about what it’s like to be autistic with an autistic roommate, but I was too stressed trying to negotiate divorce proceedings with my would-be-ex, who proceeded to stall and stonewall. I’ll probably write that post now that my situation has…ummm…changed.
I meant to write something in August, but I was too flatlined from having just lost my dad. I was just getting going with writing on Medium in September and I had to focus my limited writing energies there, to try and make some extra pocket change each month. Outcome: it’s kind of happening, but not enough to pay more than an electric bill (hey, I’ll take the electric bill!).
And I meant to write more in November, too, but I developed some weirdo hemato-respiratory (blood-oxygen) disorder that we’re still trying to get to the bottom of. Outcome: I’m still struggling with that one.
I literally cried tears of relief as I watched 2021 GTFO. There was nowhere to go but up from there, right?
Then came January. The first week was OK. Everything ever since? Has been a nightmare, culminating in his passing away eight days ago, after a hard three-week fight in a nearby hospital’s ICU.
I still can’t believe he’s gone. Yes, there were divorce proceedings in progress, but I’d hoped to remain friends. I’d hoped, too, to retain our professional relationship. It looked like it might’ve been possible. Until he’d gotten sick.
As a woman, I lost my husband. (In our state, you’re legally married until you’re divorced.) As an autistic person, I lost a major source of support. This was someone who, despite who and what he was, still did what I find it difficult to do. Giving credit where credit is due, he took care of certain things, made phone calls, had conversations with clientele that I would’ve found too challenging, and so on.
It’s been difficult from both emotional and pragmatic lenses. Now, everything falls on me. I have to pretend to be neurotypical once again. I do have to have more contact with clientele than just meeting with them at the scheduled times and then going about my business at home. I have to be the one to enforce the policies and procedures of the business we co-owned. I’m now the head of that business, and I’m the ultimate point of contact for everybody. I’m lucky that, right now, my business is rather low-volume. I do hope to reach a position in which that can change and I can handle more.
I’m going to be straight-up: I still can’t do all of this alone. It’s too much, especially when you intersect the Asperger’s/autism wiring with the alterations in wiring that occur in Complex PTSD (C-PTSD, another nugget discovered/realized this past year). The C-PTSD, with its enhanced vibes of self-doubt, burnout (which is also common in autistic people), and heightened anxiety and vigilance, makes everything that much more challenging.
I’m in constant survival mode, hypervigilant and weirdly emotionally dissociated at times. Only the fear comes through on full volume. So much so that I’m now qualified to be on our state’s medical cannabis registry. The THC oil prescription is my only hope of getting any decent sleep. It shuts down my autistic mental processing and my PTSD rumination and just lets me relax. Its only downfall is that it makes my already stress-decimated memory even worse, erasing any recollection I have the next day of the evening before.
The only way I’m surviving, honestly, is with the help of two dear friends. One is letting me live with them without asking for rent, while I get on my feet. This invitation has been open-ended, and they are OK with me staying quite a while. What a blessing!! The other dear friend is acting as an assistant for my business, returning communications from clientele and basically being my buffer or go-between when I need to concentrate on something or I’m not cognitively or emotionally fit to speak with them myself.
Without either of them, I would’ve curled up in a fetal position and given up and let my world crumble around me long ago. It’s that overwhelming.
This whole ordeal has taught me to reach out to other people, to be honest and real (both with myself and with others) about what’s going on and how big a deal it is (without feeling guilty and critical of myself for being “over-dramatic”), graciously accept help when it is offered, and continuously grateful for it.
It has also taught me that although everyone and everything in my life is sacred, nothing is off-limits. Anyone or anything can be taken away at any time. Life is that fragile. There are no givens or guarantees. There’s nothing that can’t be touched. There’s nothing we’re entitled to. We can make no assumptions.
Time to warrior on. ❤
[Image Credit: “Regret” by Ally Jade]