I Could Have Danced All Night

I watched Davis and White in their Olympic short program for ice dancing skate to “I Could Have Danced All Night.” I loved their performance, and I was caught up in the music. I still find myself humming it.

It reminded me of how I have been feeling lately: free and discovering new things about me and my life. I’ve gone to life’s dance, and I’m having such a good time just letting loose and enjoying being me.

It’s how I’ve been feeling, as my Asperger’s diagnosis becomes more a part of me. I’m realizing how much fear has been a part of my life. I’ve lived every day with fear that I would do or say something wrong, that would reveal to the world that I am deeply flawed, and a fraud at all that I do. So everything had to be cautious and guarded.

Now … I am realizing I am a real person just as I am! I have lots of things to improve in myself, but even when I make mistakes, I am a full human being who is OK just as I am.

So, I can let loose on the dance floor … and glide to the music … celebrating being me being alive in the world today.

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I Am

I am. I really am. I exist. There is a “me.” Wow! That reality is sinking in now. I was out walking my little dogs the other day, and I just stopped to soak in life. The crunchy snow under my boots, the sun starting to set in the Western sky, a twig on the ground. My little dog sticking her face in the snow, then looking at me with a twinkle in her eye and snow on her nose, and running down the lane for me to chase her.

It is life. Simple, ordinary life. But never really mine before my diagnosis. There was something inside me I had to hide from the world, and I never felt totally “here.”   My shield of armor was in the world, and the real “me” was buried so deeply that I had forgotten where she was.

Now, I don’t need to hide. I have unlocked the door of the cage, and let my soul out to romp. The world is not frightening like I thought it was. It is glowing and vibrant and exciting.

Now that I’m not in hiding I can experience the world. And the “me” that lives in the world.

I am!

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LOVE, NOT FEAR

This posting is part of the Flashblog presented by “Boycott Autism Speaks.”

LOVE; NOT FEAR

Feb. 14, 2014

 Five Months; nine days; and counting.

 September 5, 2013.  The day I got my diagnosis of Asperger’s.  I had been suspecting it for a while, of course, and had seen a neuropsychologist for testing.  At 66 years old, I had been shocked to start figuring out I was an Aspie.   I wasn’t sure how the official diagnosis would feel.

 On Sept. 5th, I went to the office of the neuro-psychologist to get my diagnosis.  When she said, “You definitely have Asperger’s,” a weight was lifted from my shoulders.  66 years of weight.

 I thought, “Oh, my God – that explains EVERYTHING about me that I didn’t understand.  EVERYTHING.”

 In these five plus month, the weights have continued to fall off.

 I no longer go through my day in fear, thinking “What will I do wrong today?  What mistake will I make?  How will I mess up my life?”  I’m no longer living each day holding my breath in fear.

 I had always been sure that there was something deeply flawed about me, and I had tried to keep the world from finding out that I was a fraud in my work and my life.  I lived in fear, and didn’t like myself much.

 Five months and nine days ago changed everything.   Each day, a little bit more of my shield of fear melts away, allowing the real me out into the world.  Every day, I love myself a little more – the REAL me, deep inside, that I always kept locked away.

 I don’t have to be afraid of the inner me, or of the world around me.  I can love myself, love my life, and love being alive in the world!  And love all the gifts that come with being an Aspie!

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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.

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On Coming Out …. Or Not

This is a big decision.  What would it mean to let people know that I am an autistic minister?  Other autistic people might appreciate knowing a minister on the spectrum.  However, neuro-typicals might feel that they could not trust me anymore.  I could lose a job that I love very much.  Or I could lose the confidence of some of the people I minister to.   Probably my ministry would be re-shaped in ways that I can’t now imagine.  Some of the changes would probably make me happy; others of them perhaps would make me sad.

I’ve been writing some things about mental illness and spirituality, and have been in conversation with a publisher who might be interested in publishing it.  When they requested some additional material, I threw in a chapter about my own journey with autism. I think I was hoping they would say that the material about my autism doesn’t really fit in this prospective book.  But, instead, they especially like that chapter!  What do I do now?  Do I leave it in?  Do I give them more of my writing on the subject?  Do I forget the whole thing and walk away?

Continuing this conversation with the publisher could change my life in some dramatic ways.  As an Aspie,  I do not like change.  I especially don’t like it if I don’t know in advance exactly what lies down the road!

As with all major decisions, I know that it is not ultimately a matter of avoiding my fears of the unknown.  It really comes down to my relationship with God.  What does God have in mind here for my life and for my ministry?

 

 

 

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Autism Is the Calling

In my twenty-five years as an ordained clergy woman, I have often felt that there was something terribly wrong with me; something that kept getting in the way of my fully responding to God’s calling me to ministry. Recently, I went for a diagnosis with a neuro-psychologist and learned that I have Asperger’s Syndrome [Autism Spectrum Disorder in the DSM V]. Now I understand what I’ve believed was getting in the way of fulfilling God’s call to me: it is my autism. Yet, in my prayers, I feel that God is saying to me that autism is not a barrier to my calling; autism IS my calling!
Being an autistic minister means ministering with and through my autism; not in spite of it.
I’m not totally certain what that means, but I hope to explore it in this blog. What does it mean to be an autistic minister? What added gifts does it bring to serving God? How do I fully be my autistic self, and minister through my full being?
I hope to find some answers through blogging – and hopefully getting some input from readers along the way.

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