Since I last posted about My Wild Journey Towards Acceptance, a lot of life developments happened. This article is an update about my journey. I graduated with my Master of Arts degree in Disability Studies in Spring 2019. I also turned 40 years old last year, and went to my dream location, Scotland. I hope to live in Scotland 7 years from now. Over my last 20 years, I’ve developed into the person I am today.
Developing a sense of self can take a while, and for me, I finally developed it, but first it took an identity crisis which led to mental health crises, choosing different paths that were not right for me, and not having good boundaries with myself and others. This was a perfect storm. A lack of communication which led to different therapies with professionals. Part of what really helped was when I started and completed my graduate degree.
I always knew I was different from when I was very little, but at the same time I always wanted to be like everyone else. It took me a very long time to accept who I am. This journey was wild, but not unique. Many people go through this in their lives also, after all it’s what makes us human.
One of the things I learned in graduate school is how to be successful. I also learned what I want to do with Disability studies. I want to utilize my skills in media and the arts, as a Disability Studies scholar. In doing so, my message can be understood more clearly.
Being a person who is Autistic with many facets of trauma, it can take a much longer time to dissect. I began to discover who I was after my open-heart surgery in 2010. At the time, I started to question why I made choices based on what other people wanted. I rested in the CTICU after the surgery and wondered about who I am.
While I was resting with care at the hospital for almost 4 weeks, I wondered about how I could develop my own sense of self. As I moved forward to the Step Down unit, all these things I thought above drove me mad. It subsided a bit after I went to the regular unit at the hospital the next day. I had several of these episodes over the next 10 years (especially in February 2019). It took me a while to make sense of my life when I had trouble making sense of the community I lived in. All of this can drive anyone mad with hysteria. My life as I once knew it didn’t make sense nor make feel very good.
I was identified as Autistic in 2005. This is only a small part of my identity that I needed to resolve, and even then, it was not resolved. Being Autistic is part of my identity, but there were several other facets I was denying:
- I was denying what my goals were in life, denying my true gender, denying my sexuality, denying how I like to socialize, denying my ability to communicate with my family as well as the community.
- I was also denying how I like to be by myself in nature at denying my autistic nature, denying my Jewish heritage, denying my faith and spirituality, denying my need for meditation, and I was denying my space in the arts while developing my own philosophy.
They say open heart surgery is a physical trauma, but for me, it felt like a spiritual awakening. I was finally able to grasp the idea of my life. I am who I am for a reason and not what anyone else thinks or does.
Teachers, my parents, and professionals tried to help me in the past with the very things I should focus on, but I would hastily cave into other’s goals rather than work on my own.
It was not until 2008, when I met someone who shook me up and forced me to realize what I needed to focus on. This is when I began to grow.
I need to realize it’s okay it took this long. It’s okay I am almost 42 years old (by June 2021), and I finally establishing myself with my identity. It’s okay I am doing this now and not during my adolescence, because guess what? Adolescence does not always happen when it is supposed to happen, a good friend once told me, it happens when you are ready for it to happen. Everything happens for a reason as I have always believed! I presently work at an independent living center which has helped me tremendously. This and many parts of my life continue to help me with various transitions of knowing who I am as I begin to accept my whole identity.
It is the start of the back end of my adventure and the days seem to get rougher and rougher. Every day I try to show everyone what my life has always been like, but had trouble expressing.
However, I need to be careful with obstacles in my way. I need to pace myself, stop to enjoy the moments, and enjoy life even as I reach a peak. As I move slowly, I observe my course in nature.
Eli Claire states in their book, Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation, “it leaves me feeling queer in the queer community”. I do think this quote is relatable to everyone. At times, many people don’t fit into the community. It does not matter if it’s an urban, suburban, or rural community, there are many different ways we all feel disconnected by our community. Fitting into a community is an important part of our need to feel social at times.
My advice to you as I continue to work hard on myself these days is don’t be afraid to be yourself socially and professionally. It is not ever worth it to live another person’s dream, identity, or sense of self. I had to learn this on my trek. I am ready to embrace parts of myself I already accept, while I am proud to accept aspects of myself I was denying. My wild journey towards acceptance was treacherous, but I am blossoming into myself with my career path, faith, gender, and abilities.