COMING OUT …. COMING HOME

It’s been over six weeks since I posted.  I’ve had a lot to process.

I decided to send the prospective publisher personal material about my autism journey for inclusion in the manuscript I have submitted about spirituality issues with mental illness and disability.

It was a struggle of trusting God.  I like being in control.  I like knowing exactly what will happen.  I want to know if it will be published and, if so – will there be negative consequences for me and my career?

But, hey, that’s not God’s priority.  God’s top concern is how many people will be helped by my “coming out.”  And that’s really how I want it to be.  I’ve long been a supporter of legal rights and marriages for gays and lesbians.  That dream is starting to find fulfillment, and much of the painful path to getting there has been countless people “coming out” and living through the consequences.  I think people’s minds have been opened by realizing that a friend, family member, neighbor, or colleague is part of a group that they have stereotyped and discriminated against.  It’s social change at the grass roots level.

My life-long prayer to God has not been: “Please, God, bring me a smooth, happy path in life without conflict and challenge.”  I have prayed, “Please, God, use me to serve in whatever way You need.”

I’ve had many years of successful work in ministry and in the human services field.  Now that I have achieved some professional success, my “coming out” could help smash some stereotypes.

Recently I heard Temple Grandin speak.  She is my autism heroine!  She was asked what she would recommend to others with autism about coming out as autistic.  She said that she didn’t reveal her diagnosis publicly until after she had achieved success in her profession.  She said she recommended that, whenever possible, people first gain recognition for some achievement, and then talk about being autistic.

Bottom line:  I believe it is God’s call that I honor God’s gifts to me by using them in the service of others who are suffering discrimination – many of whom have been made voiceless.

So I made the decision to walk the path of “coming out”.  It is hard to leave it up to God, however.  Many days I have so hoped that the manuscript be rejected for publication and I won’t have to deal with this.

But, if this manuscript isn’t published by this publisher, I suspect that God will have other ideas on fulfilling my calling.

I know it will not be an easy journey.  I’ve read many blogs and books by other adults who were newly diagnosed and made the journey to come out to others.  Most of them had some painful encounters along the way.  They point out that once you “come out”, you can’t undo it.  I’m moving slowly, but it is a journey I have to take.

I’ve found a family in the community of autistics.  I’m becoming involved in support communities – locally and on-line.  Through these I will continue to draw my strength as we move forward together.

It’s a new year and a new beginning.

Thanks for being part of my autistic family.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “COMING OUT …. COMING HOME

  1. Good luck on your new journey!

    My wife has had a hard time talking to family about her autism. Family members have been concerned that if she is autistic, then there must be others in the family. There is still such a stigma attached to being on the spectrum. She’s even been turned down for jobs because of it. Hopefully enough individuals “coming out” and openly being proud to be autistic will make a difference.

    It seems to be different with the younger generation. My step-son is in grade 10 and proudly owns his autism. Pretty much everyone at his high school (staff and students) knows that he is autistic and he is very much accepted as such. He is seen as a classroom leader in many ways. He has been in the school play and is on the honor roll. On the rare occasions when he does get hassled, his friends defend him by saying “stop it bitch, he’s fabulous”.

    You may be interested in the writings of Judy Endow. She was diagnosed as autistic after one of her son was diagnosed. She is now a Social Worker and autism advocate. I met her recently at an Autism Awareness Conference in Calgary. She frequently posts on Facebook and on olliebean.com. She has written a number of great books on her experiences.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, John! Thanks for mentioning Judy! I have touched based with her before, and hope to get to know her better.

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