Monday, November 14, 2022

Dear autism

 Dear autism,

I’ve never written you before because, well, I don’t exactly know how to describe you. You are a part of me but that’s all I can allow. There are times you do all that you can to define me and it takes all my strength to fend off your ways. Is it worth it? I often find myself asking that but without you I’m not myself. 

How can I love you and hate you at the same time? Just yesterday you put me through hell because I couldn’t say a simple “hello” and yet at the racetrack you give me an advantage that hovers near superhuman abilities. In either case I have to fend off that it is I in control and it isn’t you who are defining me. 

I often wonder what my life would be without you. Would I be happier more often? Would I still be my naive self that sees the world in a positive light without cynicism? Would I still do what I do pushing my body to the absolute limits of exhaustion between traveling for racing and presenting. 

You, autism, are a challenge and while I must not let you define me I also don’t know how to define you. Are you a disability? If you look at certain times you most certainly are but that’s only part of the story. There are other times I know I experience joy beyond what anyone else is capable of and have some skills that have set me apart of which you are most certainly involved in. 

When I’m down I don’t know what to do with you because your ways make me worry more than most will understand. You are relentless in your ability in allowing only one thing to matter. When that one thing is positive then I fly but if that one thing is some sort of worry I don’t have control over you give me a panic akin to being stuck on a railroad track in a car with no gear left in the car and the doors are locked and there’s no way out. Because of this sometimes I curse your name and call you cruel. 

You aren’t always cruel though. Sometimes you’re beautiful and you let me see the world in a way other don’t. Each day I learn more and more about my potential and I’m 39 years old. In others I’m sure you show yourself in similar ways and others probably struggle trying to grasp what you are and why your ways are the way they are. Why do you sometimes block happiness? Why do you make only one thing matter? Why do you have to make things that aren’t concrete so darn to understand? And yet, why do you make our souls so unique that “if you’ve met one person with autism you’ve only met one person with autism?”

Traveling down the road of life with you is tiresome but you’re riding shotgun with me for all my days. You’ve given me amazing gifts and gut-wrenching setbacks. You make me want to be alone and yet I’m lonely. You’re a contradiction of a puzzle and because of this I want to close this letter to you that, even though I hate you, I wouldn’t get rid of you if I could. Others might because you can rob us of some of life’s simple joys but my joys and emotions are more complex. You make it hard to express this and that can make you much harder on those around us like family members and teachers to understand why we are the way we are, but you are what you are and, most of the time, it’s beautiful. Other days though... you make it so rough I don’t know how I can make it another day but from this I’ve grown stronger. That’s one thing you’ve taught me to tell people; even though we may be quiet, shy, or sometimes be absolutely incapable of the strength it takes to navigate a single day is astounding and I don’t think those that don’t have autism in their life can understand. We may look weak, we may act weak, and sometimes even I believe I’m weak, but in all actuality I’m not. I’m strong because of you. I’m resilient because of you. I stand my ground (sometimes for too long) because of you so for that I can’t simply say “thank you” because of the hardships you also provide, but instead I’ll just tell you, autism, that I’ll gladly accept that your along for this journey through life from the extreme highs to the lowest of lows. One last thing; because of you I’m not normal and I must say “thank God!” because normal seems so boring.

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