Apparently between my posts on inclusion, the one on stealth grief, the sixth and final installment of the insensitive autism comments, plus the post on how sometimes shit just happens, I have inadvertently given people the idea that I’m in a deep, dark funk.
Don’t worry. I’m not.
Let me repeat: I am not depressed.
Yes, I have experienced sorrow and loss as a result of Katie’s diagnosis (and the events that followed). It was a tough, tough time. But I’m not there anymore. I’m not even the same person. Today I may be a forty-something single mom of a special needs child, but I’m also more flexible, efficient, loving, patient, and compassionate. I’m clear on who I am and what I want. Katie may not always feel comfortable in her skin, but she has taught me, at long last, how to be comfortable in mine. To get there I had to let go of the life I’d counted on and embrace the life—the real, unplanned, unexpected one—I was given.
I’ve come too far in my journey toward authenticity to lie. Yes, I was sad that my marriage ended. Yes, I was sad when my pets died. Yes, I was tremendously sad (and surprised) to set aside my environmental activism. Yes, I was sad when certain people chose to leave my life for reasons only they can explain. But here’s the thing: every loss has been replaced.
My pets died, as pets tend to do, and I adopted new animals who are younger, more active, and not only tolerate Katie but adore her. I let go of my environmental activism to make room for a different kind of activism, one that has given me a new sense of purpose and a reconfigured career. (I’m starting both an autism nonprofit and a law firm—who would have guessed?) Those people who left? They were replaced by other friends—some old and some new—who have brought me tremendous laughter, wisdom, and acceptance.
The marriage, well, that’s going to take some time—but it’s coming. With every coffee date I can feel myself getting closer to a relationship that’s real.
More and more I think of this as the ying and yang of life. For everything that I lost, something else was gained.
This might be hard to believe, but my life is better for the autism. Did it take me awhile to reach this point? You bet. But I’m here now and ever so grateful. Autism has taught me things I never would have learned otherwise. It’s impacted my writing as well. I love sharing what I’ve learned on this wild, crazy journey. It gives me tremendous satisfaction to spread autism awareness and acceptance.
I read a quote recently. I think it was Vanilla Sky who said, “Without the bitter, baby, the sweet ain’t as sweet.”
Yes, I have sorrow in my life, but I also have joy. And oh baby, is it ever sweet.
Until next time,