Ask an Aspergirl

Essays and poems about Autistic experience, mental illness, & (post-) ABD life

Tag: finding people

Being in community and sitting together

Sometimes I feel like Larf the Sasquach from Ashley Spire's storybook.

Sometimes I feel like Larf the Sasquach from Ashley Spire’s storybook.

I remember how I felt reading Emily White’s book, Lonely for the first time. I felt known, like she was putting words to the aching isolation I knew all-too-well. That was during my first year of graduate school, before I’d realized I wasn’t a school psychologist.

Before I knew I was Autistic (pre-ASD diagnosis, before I’d found women like me online — via WordPress, then Twitter and Tumblr); back then, I was merely odd and disconnected for reasons unknown. But Emily White knew my story; because she was lonely like me.

I recently finished her second book, Count Me In, in which Ms. White describes how she attempted to develop a sense of community — to feel more connected and make like-minded friends. The passage that stood out to me was about how we can map our social connections:

I can close my eyes and imagine physical spaces where I feel safe — where trustworthy people who accept both me and my disability (because they are both aspects of myself) exist. These are spaces where, as my refrain goes: “I am known and loved, because of, not in spite of myself.” With these elder women and friends whose families were as unsteady as mine, I feel safe. They know my backstory and my present states. The emotional weather patterns I’m still learning to discuss in plainer language.

Over the past couple of weeks, or maybe even the last month or so, my anxiety worsened. I’ve sought out supportive people. I’ve found myself stuck in public spaces, needing strangers’ help. My memory lingers on an afternoon at the library last week when I, mid-shutdown, didn’t feel present or safe because my processing had slowed to near halt. I monologued and tried to determine what I was feeling (mostly anxious).

And so an undergrad whom I barely knew sat with me, as I tried to calm myself — to slow my breathing and find a pastry and coffee in the atrium. I remember being ashamed and grateful — into infinite loops, it seemed — the feeling burdensome and too much. But there I was being helped by a young woman kind enough to sit with me in the overwhelm — my overwhelm. I apologized a lot. She thanked me as she headed to class, and I safely walked to the bus stop. I couldn’t understand why she was grateful.

Vulnerability is terrifying. I spend much of my professional life hiding and explaining away the seemingly quirky things I do (read as: appear visibly Autistic when I stim and monologue). But when I become utterly overloaded ( >7 out of 10 on my loosely defined anxiety scale), passing is no longer an option. Unless I want to shift into the unpleasantness of uncontrollable crying and rocking that comes during my rare meltdowns. All I can do is try to steady myself. That’s enough to exhaust me.

Growing up, all I wanted was someone to sit with me and tell me what I was experiencing was real. That I would be safer soon and that it was okay to feel however I needed. I desired presence. I’m reminded of one of my favorite scenes from Lars and the Real Girl:

“This is what we do when tragedy strikes. We sit.”

I’m finding community, even in my hardest weeks. I’m grateful for friends who have learned how to be present with me when I’m struggling — for those who ask how I am and accept the honest answers. They steady me, even in overwhelm. For safe spaces and people, I give thanks.

At first light

I resist its presence — covering my head, resenting the blackout curtains for doing such a poor job. I hide from a day approaching — resisting its start until the alarm.

This was before. I don’t know if I’ve reached an after, but I’m trying. Coming to a place of steadying myself, as I hear the voices of those who prop me up — give me copies of their own well-worn encouragers. An okay to follow the uncertainty of not yet, a newly arranged furniture set, an office setting filled with my words, my worries — created ideas of what I wish was — where I travel to in my mind of days far too long.

But she says I’m doing better — I’m relieved and surprised — in the lighted windowbox where my truths are spoken, there is pain and memory. Of what has been for far too long. A grief of familial origins — of not feeling safe until these steadying years. To realize this has been a coordinated effort, I feel cared for, loved, mothered — feels strange to say that in this created space — outside the piece of theatre, one act at a time– where I am forced to sustain myself.

Under these lights, I am home. Cared for, caring — as I sink just a little deeper into the couch, tangle between my fingers, I plan for thriving, to explain the hurt I cannot name aloud until now — but so many sentences I have written.

Urged along by my fellow women autists, artists, writers, creators of this space that is hyperreal and just close enough. Lights travel through fiber optic cables, bounce off cell towers, and bring me home. We listen, creating space for us, for me.

She pencils me in for a week from today — I sink into the couch outside — not yet ready to leave this sacred space — to push myself into the blaring sun. A wooden box is clasped between my fingers. I slow myself, only to rock back and forth, ever so slightly in my seat as I type and plan and live here. Being for a while.

There is safety in not yet — a list made — a listening ear to tell me when you know — when you have — because I believe you . Managing is hard to describe, thriving even more, but witnesses were here. To see, to describe, to be in this place.

“Known and loved because of, not in spite of” — into echolalic time and space — into place unknown. There I am — as words I know well enough leap from my mouth, as I tell you who I’ve been, unknown audience, because this is me — stripped of context or motivation. But my passion remains.

In subtext of women like me, as I avoid these pronoun shifts, but my fingers dance and my voice races, knowing my tablet could be my voice, if my words escape me. To assist; to augment, but I will remain here in this place.

Fitting, belonging, exactly as I am — all of me being myself, cloaked in a cape of words.

Creating mental flowcharts and colorful maps for disclosing disability

I remember making a color-coded map of whom I could trust in my department and sharing it with my advisor. It was scrawled in pen, categorized into red (unsafe or ineffective), orange (unhelpful or neutral), and green (safe to disclose) areas. She responded positively, saying that my map was accurately drawn and surprisingly descriptive. We talked about how I’d managed to identify safe people — those with whom I felt comfortable sharing my backstory.

I don’t like passing. It requires energy that already feels depleted. It makes me feel like I’m contributing to ableist attitudes, the implicit assumptions that people like me don’t exist in PhD programs or conduct developmental disability research. Nevertheless, passing feels like safety; I avoid the gaze of people who refuse to acknowledge both my strengths and impairments, those who still believe in the high functioning vs. low functioning dichotomy.

I’ve grown familiar with creating another kind of narrative: A vaguely described chronic health condition that distracts from my graduate studies (read as: The overlap between generalized anxiety and autism, when my social filter collapses and my executive dysfunction is apparent).

My earliest forms of disclosure were elaborate metaphors describing enough anxiety to power a small city. I waited for the visible discomfort or displays of acceptance that followed these conversations. Later I learned to listen for personal narratives of disability — those who alluded to lived experiences with mental health conditions or those whose stories contained gaps, maybe paragraphs they assumed others would find overwhelming.

I suppose I’ve created mental flowcharts for disclosure as a kind of sensemaking process. A way to manage the fear of coming out to others about being Autistic, when I sometimes doubt myself. I’m reminded of Nattily’s post about wanting to be autistic — how that response would be odd for individuals without spectrum traits.

Finding patterns and labeling things are inherently comforting acts for me. To say, this is who I am, who I’ve always been, why I struggle to do seemingly easy tasks and excel at seemingly difficult ones. This is my narrative.

This Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, I meet with the autism specialist in town, the lady who did my screening a few months ago during our consultation. I need her to see the Autistic traits that will impair my performance duing Oral Exams, but also brought me to academia. I need her to recognize my gifts and struggles, to document the extent of my need for accommodations. I need the autism specialist to see me.

A friend of mine invited me to submit an article about Autism Acceptance Month for her community newsletter. I tried writing from an academic perspective, to maintain a sense of professional distance, but couldn’t seem to find the words. Then I shifted into my own account of being Autistic in academia and found my narrative — in preface written and poetry shared.

A weekly sharing of stories and dinner

Study group watching Christmas special I remember being really nervous the first week I went to dinner group. A friend and I were invited for pizza and game night with a couple from church who hosts these weekly gatherings. I packed my Mary Poppins bag: a large blue purse containing my Tangle (a fidget toy), poetry journal, and a book (that night: Cynthia Kim’s  I Think I Might Be Autistic). I usually bring at least one book to social gatherings — just in case. Sometimes what I’m reading becomes a point of conversation, but other times, it’s a way to recharge.

We arrived that evening to meet a couple in their 30s, a sociology PhD student and an engineer. They seemed nice enough; a mutual friend, who’s also a community pastor, had introduced us via email. At this point in the story, it’s probably important for me to note that I mostly attend church for the people. It’s a familiar point of contact I’ve had for most of my life. Their small children let me play with them, which was a welcome distraction from the unfamiliar (although friendly) setting.

As we ate pizza, we were invited to share our backstories. In a way, this sort of free form conversation felt like the intake interviews I’ve sat in before: “So what brought you here today?” And so I began telling my story, more deliberately than I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed at a coffeehouse and start talking at the nearest person. I talked about growing up in a relatively isolated environment, having trouble trusting people, and recently realizing I’m Autistic. These were the sorts of details I’d ordinarily allude to in conversation, but instead I got to say everything all at once. This is who I am; I feel safe enough to share that with you.

I’ve since attended dinner group once a week, and I’ve been grateful for this intentional community. It’s a loose knit group of grad students, seminarians, undergrads, and working people. Thursday nights are my pause button, a time when I’m closer to sharing how I’m actually feeling. I could be frustrated and uncertain, utterly exhausted, yet not be alone in that space. I can sink into the comfort of the couple’s couch with a cup of  Roobois tea and talk through the confusion of the week.

We close with a time when people can review the week’s events and ask the group for prayer. Sociology PhD student says that rituals are important for communities like ours. We share and then reflect. I join in a familiar religious practice I don’t entirely understand, perhaps to honor our myriad of experiences (or the echoes of belief I still can hear). I’ve said before that I mostly attend church for the people. Maybe dinner group is an extension of this practice, a way of sharing in others’ internal narratives using a common language.

As the semester begins next week, I’m grateful for a group that reminds me, “The longest, coldest, darkest nights can be the warmest and brightest.”

Show me the place where I fit.

I long for a land that’s free from explanations — a space that’s mine. The interwebs were a start, a collection of words transmitted across these bounded spaces — to women who understand because they’ve lived it too. To feel utterly isolated, but not know why is terrifying. We grow tired of all of the words necessary to feel heard — the explaining, reexplaining, the doing the best we can; not sure if it’s enough.

Knowing just how hard managing can be, still is. We become incredible self-advocates — keepers of our own stories — because we have to — to be ourselves; to find a measure of self-understanding. As we learn to believe ourselves. Of course this is a thing, she replied. It just is and you are thriving. Perhaps you’ll notice that too in these found, transformed safe spaces.

In text, in verse, in exchanges of retweets and favorited messages; we are found. We are loved. First here, then in real life. Can we really distinguish between these spaces? Safety. Communication. Assured mutual support. Perhaps that’s enough.

We’re not just practicing; we’re living, becoming ourselves — across timezones. In a series of 140 characters. In images shared. In complexities of thought somehow expressed in 2 to 3 lines. It’s another way of being, reminded we are “different, not less” — conventional pragmatics as a second language.

How are we doing this? Don’t know… but we are; she stopped explaining — leaving space to merely be. Watch me be — learn for yourself. Perhaps you’ll watch as intently as I do, trying to be heard; longing to understand, to be understood — across settings feels impossible. Too vulnerable. So I try in this series of spaces, hoping these verbalizations will stick.

Get off me, shame! You’re not mine. Sticks like magnets. I shake you off again. Hoping for an internalized sense of safety, I listen intently to your words, longing to believe them, knowing I will.

I am slowly becoming myself across these mediums — learning to find my fit. It’s not due to my lack of trying when you miss the point. These words are coherent, but not easily understood. Explaining. Rephrasing. Saying them again. Maybe I’ll be heard. And yet I’m not to blame for these misunderstandings. That’s not my shame. It’s yours. I shake it off slowly.

I am learning to be myself — slowly. There is nothing wrong with you. That felt sense of wrong isn’t yours. Never belonged to you. It was left for you by a series of short-sided, distant, emotionally distracted people. They tried, but it wasn’t enough. Never was. But you are, enough I mean. Finding you belong. Your own narrative in this collage of stories.

Getting unstuck is exhausting, but worthwhile work — out of the muck and mire, you emerge slowly. But in this process, you are enough. Continuing on. Learning to be, without pushing or pressuring. Speaking. Verbalizing. Waiting for understanding to stick.

It will, she said reassuringly. And it — and you — will be enough.

Womyn’s Herstory Month

remind me everything is okayMarch is Womyn’s Herstory Month. The lady who facilitates my writing circle challenged us to “write one daily, poem, story, reflection, song, blog, memoir, tribute, or manifesto about womyn.” I’ve done so via the Tumblr as I’ve pondered my experiences as a woman and the mentors I’ve had. I’ve thought about how sharing our stories can be a way of reassuring others that it will be okay.

There are times when I get tired of explaining myself — why particular stressors are so anxiety inducing or why parts of my familial history still evoke a dull ache. It’s so validating when I begin to tell my story and I’m met with the mutual understanding that comes from a shared lived experience.

“You get it, don’t you? I’m not exactly sure why, but I suspect you have a story like mine. I don’t presume that you want to share it with me, but it helps that you’re listening. That you ask fewer questions because you know what it’s like to feel complicated, even though that’s no fault of your own. I wish you didn’t have to get it, but I’m glad you do.”

Sometimes storytelling happens in the car at the end of the day, when your social filters have stopped working or you’re just so exhausted, you let them come down. Other times, you hear that pause in their story — you have it too. The parts of your life you also avoid sharing in polite conversation. You don’t really want to hear about that do you? But then you tell your story and they recognize your experience in their own. Stories are powerful.

When I find a friend, who gets it — really gets it — she becomes the person I finally feel safe enough to text or message via social media platform when things don’t feel okay. When I’m sitting in a waiting room terrified to see the chaplain fellow because I still find men intimidating. When I’ve just ended a phone call and need someone to help me process that interchange. When the waves of anxiety hit so hard I feel like I’m falling apart — again. When I need to acknowledge that I’m hurting (“so many sads”). These are the women who will support me in these moments; they don’t need me to be anyone other than myself.

Sharing one’s story makes it feel real. I think that was the hardest part of growing up in a home where my closest confidant was my journal. I feared that if I couldn’t describe the experience, it didn’t exist. Even into college, I wrote notes to myself (and prayers) trying to figure out what I was thinking (and sometimes feeling — those words seemed hardest to find).

I’ve shared my backstory in bits and pieces over the years. I suppose I first began this process in undergrad, when I walked around the track surrounding the man-made lake and talked with close friends. “So I’ve been going to therapy and it’s been helping.” The first poem I ever wrote in writing circle included these lines: “Cacophony is the sound I hear from my room, as I sit huddled over a book, again — weekly, monthly, it feels like forever; as we sit with the door closed and the lights on.” I learned to share the words I’d written on the page before me. My notebook was a conduit for further conversation.

So this March, I’ll keep writing, while I remember that “I deserve to take up space, even when I have no words to say, because I matter.” Let us continue to intently listen to the stories of our fellow women and create spaces where we feel loved and supported.

Cultivating safe spaces

Community hugIt’s been a little over a year since the blog began, or rather I began the blog. I’ve moved from jotting thoughts (and sometimes prayers) in well-hidden notebooks — thrown behind bookstacks or on high shelves — to sharing my poetry at open mikes. It has been quite the year.

When I considered the possibility I could be an Aspergirl — wondering what that meant, then gradually embracing that part of myself: I met fellow Aspergirl bloggers through reading and commenting in their online spaces. I’m feeling increasingly connected to other people whose stories are relatable.

When I began to read these bits of my narrative aloud — honoring my backstory and meeting like-minded women:  I became a regular at the neighborhood coffeehouse (barista friend says I’m  “earl grey latte girl”) and the local cafe with the good listening proprietor. I’m gradually unveiling my narrative in these spaces — “This is me and what I’m experiencing.”  I found a community of women writers through a flyer posted at that coffeehouse.

This has been a year of cultivating safe spaces and becoming (not finding) myself. I’m practicing self-disclosure and measured vulnerability: “right place, right time, right person” considerations in mind. This has been a year of coming back to myself as I’ve been learning to remain present, even as I’m waiting for waves of anxiety to pass — I’m learning to sit with them.

A little over a year ago, my chaplain friend suggested I start a blog. “Why don’t you call it, Ask an Aspergirl,” she said. I was a bit skeptical at first: “So I’m telling strangers on the internet about the worrisome and confusing things I’m experiencing? That seems weird.” And yet, I remembered telling my therapist, the previous semester, how I had few social supports, so she introduced me to chaplain friend and suggested I volunteer at the animal shelter. I’d been experimenting with social connections — maybe I could muddle through my thoughts via blogging — “It’s like curated journaling,” I thought.

I was sitting at the local cafe, waiting for a friend joining me for lunch, and remarked to the proprietor, “I have people now; when did this happen?” It was a wonderful feeling, but also unfamiliar. I know how to linger at a well-lit desk with a book and share thoughts with someone in line. It’s harder to maintain relationships. I forget people want me around until they say those exact words.

So dear readers, I’m reminded of a statement the cafe proprietor made as I think about my finding community this year: “You’d be surprised that most people you meet are lovely, if you give them a chance.” I’m glad we could have this conversation together.

Needing solitude and intimate conversations

Dagmar and loneliness“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were at home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.” – Susan Cain, in Quiet [1]

I suspect that Dagmar, the psychologist from Lars in the Real Girl, is an introvert [2]. There is a quiet calm about her as shown in the scene in which she is talking with Gus and Karin (Lars’ brother and sister and law) about Lars’s mental illness and course of treatment [3]. She listens intently as Gus describes his frustrations with Lars, who has delusional disorder, and fears of ridicule from their small Midwestern town. Then she looks up from her paperwork and reminds Gus that although “everyone’s going to laugh at him, and you,” the couple needs to support Lars regardless.

I’m reminded of Cain’s passage from Quiet as I see Dagmar intervene with Lars and his family; Dagmar listens more than she talks and thinks more than she speaks. During one of his therapy session, Lars notices a picture in Dagmar’s office and asks her about it [4].

Lars: Is that your husband?

Dagmar: Yes, he died

Lars: Oh no, I am sorry. You have kids?

Dagmar: No.

Lars: You must feel lonely.

Dagmar: Sometimes I get so lonely I forget what day it is, and how to spell my name.

Dagmar apparently understands how Lars’s growing isolation led to his present disconnection from his emotions and other people. During their early sessions, Dagmar sits nearby Lars in her office as she reads New England Medical Journal and updates her patient charts, waiting for Lars to initiate conversation, seemingly sensing his discomfort with day-to-day social interactions. Her introverted nature allows her to be comfortable with the silence, even offering to find Lars something to read in the meantime. Then he asks her about the photograph and Dagmar’s self-disclosure provides an opportunity for them to begin to address Lars’s loneliness, if indirectly; when he sensitively responds to her grief.

Lars and the Real Girl explores how communities can support troubled people; its members find ways to help Lars gradually explore his social world. One of my favorite scenes in the film takes place at a church meeting in which the townspeople struggle to understand how they can interact with Lars in his present state [5]. Ms. Gruner, a church member, remarks, “Oh, for heaven’s sake; what’s the big deal! These things happen. Lars is a good boy. You can depend on me.”

I understand the loneliness present in Lars and the Real Girl and find comfort in the community’s actions because these scenes are painfully familiar to be me. My first year in grad school, I would bike to the neighborhood coffeehouse to study and somehow find myself telling my problems to the person sitting next to me. I’m definitely an introvert — at academic conferences, I need downtime and look for quiet, nearby cafes where I’ll retreat with a book later. But I’m also an external processor. My sea of thoughts calms slightly when I can share them with someone else. If I can speak my worries aloud, they feel real; then I can begin to make sense of them.

My introvert self recharges in solitude, but I long for intimate conversations. When I’ve expended my social energy, I want everyone in the near vicinity to leave me alone with my nonfiction books and television dramas until I feel ready to engage with the world. But when I return, I want people to ask how I’m doing, so I can answer honestly. I want to feel heard and understood — for someone to sit with me as I process through seemingly conflicting thoughts and feelings. I want to monologue about feminism and pop culture without feeling self-conscious.

When I “forget what day it is and how to spell my name,” I leave the apartment and message a close friend about how I’m doing, using feeling words such as sad and confused. This feels like progress somehow.

  1. Cain, S. Quiet (2012).  New York, NY: Crown.
  2. Roger Ebert’s review of Lars and the Real Girlhttp://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/lars-and-the-real-girl-2007
  3. Lars and the Real Girl – “Can We Help” — http://youtu.be/1MgpB4HSr6E
  4. Lars and the Real Girl dialogue transcript (from Drew’s Script-O-Rama) — http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/a3/lars-and-the-real-girl-script.html
  5. Lars and the Real Girl – “Church Meeting” — http://youtu.be/rcff4P2erwM

Point, Counterpoint, Actual Point

This entry is for Point, Counterpoint, Actual Point: A Collaborative Blog Series, an idea proposed by Nattily,  who writes on her blog, Notes on Crazy.

POINT: People want me around.

COUNTERPOINT: Everyone is always so nice to me — they must feel sorry for me since I tend to worry aloud about things around them. I don’t know when people want me to stop talking or change the subject to something they would rather discuss instead. That must get tiresome after a while.  My pop culture references annoy people. People glaze over after I begin a monologue; I’ve only recently noticed that, though I have wondered if people find me odd.  Maybe I’m annoying. I feel so uncomfortable around other people sometimes, as if they want me to leave, especially when I have nothing in common with anyone in the room. I don’t fit anywhere.

ACTUAL POINT: My close friends have told me, verbatim, “We like having you around.” I’m kind and insightful. I listen and talk through people’s worries with them because I know what it’s like to feel ridiculously anxious about things. People are nice to me because they like me — not because they pity me. I’ve met people who are mutually nerdy about television programs and films — we’ve had long, productive conversations. There are places where I feel deeply uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean there is anything inherently wrong with me. Sometimes I miss social cues, but that doesn’t  mean I alienate people. My friends understand that I’m trying the best I can to participate in conversations. I’ve found communities where I fit.

oh thats so nice

CONCLUSION: People want me around, and that’s okay.

Kat Murry is featuring her poetry at open mike.

“Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself.”  ~ Joan Didion, “On Keeping a Notebook”  (1)

I have 2.5 notebooks filled with, as I titled my black polka dotted notebook, “poetry, prose, and other musings — with illustrations.” I’ve even jotted down notes post-therapy sessions when I sat in the space above the racquetball courts trying to make sense of reframes presented and questions posed. Keeping a notebook is a way of seeing my thoughts through and then learning to communicate with others about my vulnerabilities and fears. Sometimes reading what I’ve previously written is easier for me than speaking about painful things for the first time.

So this weekend I found myself crying in J’s car after spending the morning at community writing group.  I should probably provide some context at this point: J asked me to be the featured poet for March’s open mike night, and I felt both excited and terrified by this opportunity.  I was also incredibly proud of myself for learning to speak my truth aloud. I’ve been documenting my coping skills development and emotional growth since last winter, when I started the PhD program and found community amongst fellow writers.

“It’s very sterile and very misleading to hear about battles only from people who either have already won or at least have already experienced the stability of intermediate victories. It presents a false sense of how hard those battles are. It understates the perilous sense of being in the middle of them. It understates how scary they are.” ~ Linda Holmes, “Present Tense” (2)

I’ve had a lot of emotionally intimate conversations in cars with incredibly comfortable seats and adjacent listening ears. Often I’ll find myself sitting in my friend’s truck post-writing circle and in the safety of that space, words come flooding from my mouth. I share my worries and frustrations and feel heard. I’ve been learning that being vulnerable can feel okay.

“It’s remarkable you were able to get into a whole new program, establish a new support group, and be where you are now. I see someone who’s pretty amazing and isn’t so odd, even if she doesn’t see it sometimes.” I remind myself: “It took going there to be where you are and you don’t need to be ashamed of where you’ve been.” “You are smart and I believe you’ll figure this out, even if you don’t sometimes…” My therapist is relentlessly optimistic about my social-emotional growth, annoyingly so sometimes.

The first poem I wrote in a long time — “Cacophony” — happened when I ventured to womyn’s writing circle for the first time as I gradually moved from the espresso bar nearby to the table where a small group of womyn were sitting. That night, I felt heard and supported, rather surprised I read my work aloud to those womyn.

I’m amazed that I’m in a place where I, Kat Murry [pseudonym], am planning to feature my poetry at open mike night. It’ll be during Womyn’s History Month, which seems fitting somehow as I’ve slowly explored and expressed my own backstory. It’s been a long year of writing notes to myself and being intentional about finding ways to connect with people, even as “I felt disconnected and fearful.”

I’ve been well-supported this year as I’ve worked through this process of being present and kind to myself as I practice inter- and intrapersonal skills. I’m learning that vulnerability is scary, but manageable; so I’m sharing, not in spite of these ever-present anxieties, but because of them.

  1. Joan Didion on Keeping a Notebook — http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/11/19/joan-didion-on-keeping-a-notebook/
  2. Present Tense: Allie Brosh, Donald Glover, and Hurting Right Now — http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2013/10/29/241585887/present-tense-allie-brosh-donald-glover-and-hurting-right-now
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