By Kat, published with permission. Original blog posted here in 2015.
Am I waiting for these words, in all of their weight – for someone else to place a name tag on my breast pocket:
- Autistic adult
- Managing, thriving
- Trying to stop passing
As she tangles bracelets around her wrist, tapping away at work – noticing the finger stimming of a client’s sister, the body rocking of a young man at church – there’s quite a few of us.
Just watch. We’ll be okay. I wish I could tell you that, parent waiting outside in that little room with chairs and magazines. But you’re not like my child – or even teenager – they might say.
Yes, you’re partially right. I have circuitous verbal language, my own way of being in the world – lengthy task lists, but I’ve visited the land where your kid lives. I can pass as quirky, but not typical – until I freeze and appear utterly confused and incapable. I stand there watching. Knowing I should ask for help. Piecing together my words into a somewhat coherent whole.
Am I waiting for someone else to put a name to my experience? Not entirely. But external validation would help. I am practicing being myself. My stimmy, monologuing, clapping, hand waving, overly passionate self. Taking up too much space self. I’m learning to stop retreating from myself into myself.
I’m peeking out of corners. Dialoguing reassuringly to myself. You will be okay. You are okay. You are becoming okay. What is okay anyway? It is a waiting word. For what will be. For the space you already know exists. In the distant present, of both acknowledged strengths and weaknesses.
Because of, not in spite of, valuing what is and no longer having to explain away. Finding enough space for you and creating space for the awkward among us – the women with too many words and too few listeners.
These spaces are for us, those who wait for someone to sit with us; they are coming, they are here among us. Being together in the enough. Sharing stories around a circle – writing, drawing, painting, collaging the realities we know so well – in all of their weightiness.
We are learning to be. In these shared narratives. No longer in isolation, the only ones like me are here – finding each other in ourselves. Merely being. Hoping together in all of the pain of hoping. Hope is like a weed, she reminded us. And so we listened, our own roots growing and spreading; tiny sprigs of hope lined our ground.
We watch blooms and buds hit the soil, encroaching on unfamiliar spaces – on these grey days – we thrive, watching the scorched earth renew itself. Rain hits ground, puddles across these parts – too many to remember.
We sit together in this space, waiting, renaming ourselves, being for each other – in this created space, exactly what we needed – longed for in these long dry lands – when we were too much and too little – confused and confusing – doing all we could, while remaining unacknowledged – pretending not to be ourselves.
These other shes lined up like cheaply made, monochromatic paper dolls. We set these images aside – sitting with the shes we’ve been, who we’ll be again, letting ourselves be enough. And we will be.
We flourish in the nearly empty, yet slowly growing, grounding spaces. Here we are together. Growing up.