Epilogue: Catching my breath

[By “Epilogue”, I do not mean that this is my last post for this blog.  In fact, quite the contrary!  I’ve found a few new things to say about living on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum lately.]

It sounds cliche, for which I apologize, but it’s actually hard to believe it’s been six months.

In my last post, everything was fresh and raw – the shock, the devastation, the sheer terror.

I can only describe what happened next as “clawing“.  Clawing my way out, powering my way through, finding my own way, blazing my own trail, charting and mapping my own territory.  Brute strength, sheer will, an Aspergian/autistic hyperfocus.

At first, I spun my wheels in gravel, revved up my engine almost to redline, and only spat gravel behind me as I proceeded to go precisely…nowhere.  I put forth iron-man effort for marathon-like hours, seven days a week, for what seemed like forever.  Rather than gaining traction, I felt thwarted, denied, rejected, cursed.  The universe was indeed shitting on me, like a popcorn-thunderstorm cloud dumping heavy rain over the span of a single city lot, upon only which I lived.

Then, finally, something caught.  A sticky spot in the gravel, or perhaps a little pilot light in an old-school stove.  Slowly, I began to gain the traction I’d been wanting and needing so desperately.  I’d shut down the physical office I’d run with my would-be-ex-now-late husband, hauled the equipment home, and listed it for sale while setting up a home office from which I would resurrect my side of the practice – my practice, now.

Yep, it’s no longer ours; it’s mine.  I have very mixed feelings about that, of course.  There is, at once, wistfulness and grief, and also newness and freshness.  A liberation, but then guilt from feeling the liberation.  As Facebook’s famous relationship status says: “It’s complicated.”

And, just like in February: “it’s all me.”  Probably more so now than ever before.

What to do with my practice, especially when there is no physical office location, and no assistants?  Well, there’s everything to do, really.  You wear many different hats, you keep switching them out for others throughout the day, and you pray you’re wearing the right one at any given time.

The phone was a big hurdle and a major accomplishment.  I’m trying to figure out if it will get its own post or not.

Because the phone calls did indeed start coming in, en masse (compared to before), in April.  It seems like the moment the home office was even semi-established, the phone began to ring, with real human beings interested in my specific services on the other end.  It was at once both unnerving and exhilarating.

There’s no way around it but through it.  And that is something I actually wanted to go through.  It meant feeding my kitties (and myself) and keeping my vehicles insured and my basic cell phone service on…or not.  There is no other option.

And that’s OK.  Challenge induces growth and learning, and both lead to empowerment, and empowerment gives rise to true self-esteem/self-worth and self-respect, and that gives rise to a fulfilling life, especially if you can achieve that by serving others.  That’s the stuff miracles and blessings are made of.

I think my late husband stuck around and helped for a little while, because I was miraculously able to make just enough progress each day in those early days of spring and shock to make it.  He left little gems that I could sell pretty easily for a chunk of rent, a grocery bill, a vet bill.  Then I felt his presence wane and fade.

From there, when the phone screen started lighting up in mid-spring, I think my dad stepped in.  He’d passed away last summer, before he was ready to go, and I know for a fact he had a hand in helping me build my strength, finding just the right words to say in just the right way (all genuine) that made people feel comfortable with me instantly and decide to schedule with me.  It’s like he poured strength into me from the other side.  Religion matters not; experience is the best teacher.

It’s not all roses now, of course.  My inner strength can be a fragile, fickle mistress at times, disappearing when I need her the most.  The confidence can get knocked off kilter and wane unless and until woken up and re-established again.  Rather than hustling to sell and ship the supplies and equipment like I did in the early spring, I’m now hustling my inner core to remain in harmony enough to maintain that solid strength and energy.

That’s tough when there’s a lot of uncertainty.  And right now, uncertainty is my middle name.  Humans hate uncertainty, especially those of us on the Asperger’s autism spectrum.  I imagine even most adrenaline junkies have their limits.  The survival instinct is well-conserved, after all.

I would know.  Maslow’s hierarchy is often far from a given.

It took a long time (months) of round-the-clock furies of activity before I finally gave myself permission to downshift.  That is actually a rather recent development.  It’s also a milestone.  It means that at least for now (everything is “at least for now”), my anxiety levels are low enough (dull roar) that I don’t feel guilty for soaking up the sun for its Vitamin D and nitric oxide for an hour.  That took a while to achieve.  And, sometimes old fears stir, threatening the calm.

I may have downshifted for now, but the RPMs are never entirely stable, and the engine can threaten to whine.

How to deal?  You just take one day at a time.  If you’re lucky, one week.  Look ahead to the next one if you can spare the bandwidth, but it’s not entirely mandatory.  Forget most facets of next month.  Long-term plans are good, but not at the expense of your sanity today.

At least, that’s what I’ve been doing.  Others’ mileage may vary.  With any luck, you don’t need that kind of pep-talk at all.

 

(Image Credit: “Infinite Lights” by Yuumei)

11 Comments

    1. Thank you thank you Christy!! It’s so very nice to see you too! I remember you from a long time ago (and yep in my world 4-5 years is a long time because it’s frightening how much can change so drastically in such a short time!) and seeing your name is a breath of nostalgically fresh air 😊. Your advice is spot-on; thank you! 💓💓

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I know these times must be bittersweet and a bit unstable, but you should be truly proud of yourself. As you state so eloquently, “Challenge induces growth and learning, and both lead to empowerment, and empowerment gives rise to true self-esteem/self-worth and self-respect, and that gives rise to a fulfilling life, especially if you can achieve that by serving others.” That’s profound! Remind yourself of it often. As a wonderful physician once told me, “You’re on the right path, heading in the right direction, moving at just the right pace.” You’ve got this–one step at a time. 💗💗💗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg thank you very much!! You’re right, instability and bittersweetness are 2 major themes in my life (nailed it!!). I love love love what your physician had to say, and I might just steal that for my own patients because it’s just that true! Thank you so much for your supporting words 😍😍💓

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations Laina. You CAN accomplish anything.
    Bravo.
    We are waiting for my 29 yr old son Andrew (on the spectrum) to get a full time job. He has a girlfriend and wants to make a better impression on her parents who (I’ve heard) dislike him. She is Taiwanese. It can’t hurt to get a job.
    My oldest son with ADHD struggles in his career also, but has been able to hold on to his current job for over a year. He is self sufficient, lives close by and keeps in touch regularly. He struggles with dependency issues from what I can tell and has never had a serious girlfriend. He is 37.

    I’m happy you are writing again. You have a great writing style. I enjoy your blog.
    Teri

    Liked by 1 person

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