My friend Glynis wrote a poetic version of this here:
I am borrowing her idea but am doing it slightly different because I do not feel poetic today. I am going to do this in the form of writing to myself to infuse hope into my younger child self.
By age 30 you will have seen at least 14 different specialists in your life, from anxiety to bowel to reproductive organs to gull bladder specialists to stomach specialists. You will have gone through degrading medical tests and horrible moments with other people. You will have often wondered what the purpose of your oddity, your unique body and brain, and your counter cultural perspectives are? You will have lost hope for most of your twenties even though they were some of the best family years of your life, giving birth and learning. Yours is a story still unfolding. There will still be pain and loss, but there is a lie out there that says life goes downhill after 18. Ages 3-6, 12- 14 and 20 to 27 were the toughest for you. During these times there was fear, there were lies that you believed regarding health, beauty and what matters...and even though you had the inclinations all along it was hard to believe it when the proof seemed to be all around. I am writing this letter to you, dear self today, to show you ten things that IMPROVED as you aged or changed your life for the better.
Love Older Self
*The following will be written in first person to make things easier.*
1.) My Youth IMPROVED. I spent my twenties resenting my age. Resenting everyone underestimating my old soul or our little family...and now I realize it's a gift. I feel younger at thirty than I did at twenty one. This is not a joke. When I first turned thirty I felt WAY older. My body went through some weird adjustments in a matter of months. I could no longer stay up past eleven without feeling it! But other things? They improved! Youth is a blessing but it's not an age. I learned to embrace the parts of it I have- whether it is a youthful outlook or a youthful body! Last month I walked into the Specialist/Doctors office and he remarked, "What are you doing in my office? You should be out roller blading." This stunned me into awkward laughter, but I thought about it a lot after, and every time I feel old or tired I think, "People think I look young and vibrant enough to roller blade!" Even if roller blading would kill me! ( It probably would grievously injure my dyspraxic, klutzy self but the concept is exhilarating...and helps me get out of bed in the morning!:)
2.) My uniquely wired brain. Sometimes it's also my curse, but on most days- I am so honoured to have a Neurodiverse paradox that guides my life. Finding out I was an Aspie or am on the Autism Scale was one of the TOP ten things that positively changed me forever. It was also hard at some points, but I found out where I BELONGED. I always felt like I was from another planet, another time period, another family, and another species. My secret wish was to find out time travel really existed so I could find the time and place I TRULY belonged in. I knew who I was living...wasn't ME. I had to hide this particular pain and mask to fit in. Everyone thought I was SO normal, but deep down I knew something was SO not typical. Even now, only my husband and kids really see the meltdowns, the profound wisdom and almost scary intuition, and the beauty that is completely me. On most days they benefit from it. But the rest of the world gets me filtered in one way or another because to most, different is scary. Or different is rebellious...which I suppose in some ways COULD be seen that way. But most of myself is better served masking because it is more depleting to try to get others to understand...even if they think they are open minded. It's not that I am not true- these fragments of myself are true, but it would be exhausting to reveal my truth to more then my little family. The other place I finally belong is with the friends made online...all the aspies, the differently wired and the "normal" stable friends who support like Sara. Finally, after many books and my son's official diagnosis, I stumbled upon Rudy Simone's Aspergirls. It changed my life. The entire book was highlighted within two hours and tears were streaming down my face- I BELONGED. I finally found my species, my friends, and my brain wiring. People who lived with similar war stories. So many factors fell into place slowly after that day. Seven years later I have found my rhetoric, reasonings, and place in this world...furthermore, despite it's disabling attributes at times, I respect and admire how my mind works. I UNDERSTAND myself more than most people do and those that truly know me are in awe of how much understanding there is. This was hard earned and I will reap the benefits the rest of my days. I have my soul home. Much of this benefit also came from Cognitive Therapy and my great therapist who fit me so well because he was also a physician. Most of my struggles of anxiety came with physical odd ways my body responded and having a therapist who knows both body and mind was the perfect fit for me. Ten years of therapy has been one of the best decisions of my life.
3.) My husband. I am glad I did not listen to all the lies that told me we were too young to marry. I often worried,"What if they were right?" Twelve years later, they were WRONG. We almost called it quits, mostly due to listening to too many well meaning voices, but marrying young was the best thing we could do because we grew TOGETHER. As an Aspie this is HUGE. We have been through diagnosis, differing beliefs and family value changes at the same time. We helped form each other. Some days I hate everything he does but I KNOW we are soul mates. We balance each other out. One of my favourite attributes of him is that he is physically strong. I need him to be strong because I am not physically strong. I am always in admiration of his raw strength. I am dyspraxic, anemic, fibro riddled and easily injured ( due to the MTHFR -CLICK HERE gene and other factors.) He is like my Wolverine. He heals fast, has very large arm muscles/strength. He has lifted a piano by himself down one flight of stairs (NOT that I was happy or proud of him for that!) But his raw natural strength (he does not work out) is unparalleled to most men I meet and I am continually in awe of it. I love knowing if the building was burning he could carry me out. I love knowing if we were trapped he could find a way...and I love that I can call on him for anything to be moved or taken down or...and I have complete confidence that he is the best person to call. It's like being married to a super hero. This also helps with our current renos. He has his limits and right now he is depleted in minerals and salt and iron because he is working so hard, but the Naturopath is fixing him up and I am SO in awe of all he can do! From plumbing, to electrical to walls to paint. He really is my superhero. My talents lie in the brain- he often calls me his Jean Grey but his talents are VERY physical. He resents this sometimes and thinks it's somehow inferior. I am in awe of it and most days I think if I could trade gifts, I would trade him...(but I also DO love my brain.) I know it won't always be the case for him to be unusually strong and there are so many other attributes I love about him. Another one is his open mind and stubborn heart. He chose me and chose his life. Despite what some people assume, I can never choose for him- I wouldn't respect him if I could and he definitely has a mind of his own. Every day I am grateful. He infuses my life like no other and no one else will EVER come close to him.
4.) The kids who wake me up every day with hugs, cuddles and breakfast in bed. Yup, every morning I get granola mixed with greek yugort from one of my little gifts...I'm pretty spoiled. They are mostly peaceful and infuse my life with their lessons, freedom and insights. My life would not be on the path it is without them. They taught me to defy convention. My unique kids taught me to avidly search out ways to live life differently, to find the lies in culture, to find different ways of living outside the box of conformity. My kids forced me to become. I had to change beliefs on birthing, childcare, food choices, education, spirituality, mental wiring, healthcare...pretty much everything was turned on it's head and for years it felt like I was over my head but the changes came suddenly and were always for the best. The years under five were pretty hard and I don't think I would go back. I call them the dark years because I did not have the confidence to follow through on what I knew was right for us...I was just too exhausted and barely coped through the resulting PTSD and PPD...some of the depression was from not living the way we needed to but instead living the way well intentioned voices were telling us to live that did not suit who we were. Once we changed that, EVERYTHING changed for the better mostly. Of course we are perceived as selfish, odd and contrary by those who do not know us or our reasons or systems...we are pot stirrers because of the lack of convention or our ounces of mystery, but weirdly enough we belong now more even though there is no place we can actually belong to...if that makes any sense? Our children did this. My children formed, tested, broke and healed me in ways I will never be able to pay them back for. They are my heart.
5.) Being able to Unschool my kids. I am grateful I live in a country that this is possible. I am grateful that I live in a community that helps my children learn in various ways. I am grateful for our funding for the curriculum I need to purchase and learning experiences we get to take. I am so grateful that even if I live in a province that requires some schooling in the main subjects I can mostly find ways to Unschool without too much paperwork involved. I am grateful for my facilitator who works with my gifts and my children. I am reading Home Grown by Ben Hewitt -CLICK out loud to my husband and sometimes I get so choked up because I am living the dream. It's not the way Ben Hewitt lives, but the concepts are very similar. We are living in our freedom. It's such a profound and different way of treating our children that goes counter cultural and every day I am grateful that I stumbled into finding a way that works with a combination of friends, books, hard work, supports and perhaps a bit of destiny.
6.) Health. I had the best readings at Naturopathy that I have EVER had yesterday. I only have a liver issue that could possibly be causing some stomach rashes but is easily remedied with a few homeopathic drops and our continued healthy eating (we think it was caused from the multiple dental appointments this year and amalgam not carefully removed) and I have lower levels of magnesium. Otherwise I am in good order!
If I could go back to my younger self I would tell her, "In your 30th year you will experience the best physical health of your life. Don't believe the lies that you are at your best young...that fact depressed you because you knew you were not and you KNEW this. But there is hope. You lived too long without hope. I have now tasted it and I can tell you hope for healing can happen at ANY age. FOOD. Food is something you always struggled with because you hated it all and hurt yourself or others when you tried to make anything and thought you would never figure it out. Each step of your journey brought you closer and it can only click when it DOES. You will find your food groove and you will find people who support this food groove. Your personal small community will come through for you. You will make a few sacrifices but it will be so worth it. And going of gluten, processed foods and sugar will be one of the easiest and best things you will EVER have done. SO much so that when you look at food it will no longer be tempting. There will be an odd time where some treat will look delicious but wait a few seconds and suddenly you will smile, take a whiff of the sugary air and enjoy the smell without consumption. The concept was scarier than the doing, but this only happened because of seven people. Your grandmother, father, mother, mother/father in law, friend and your husband. They all supported this change even though it affected their lives. They came up with yummy alternatives when you joined them for meals. They baked treats that followed your bossy guidelines and they accepted that it was a life change. But your husband you owe the most to, because he was willing to do this with you and cook regular meals. You now clean up everything and help prep but you are no longer the one figuring out meals or getting injured trying to prepare them. You now are able to live within your abilities and this is HUGE. Your body will change, your health will change and you WILL have more answers."
I know I am lucky to have a supportive husband...So many women tell me that. But sometimes I wonder if they actually know what it takes to get a supportive husband? It takes communication, asking and if not respected, being strong enough to challenge him to attend counselling. It takes compromise, it takes time invested and sacrifices in other areas and most of all it take vulnerability. Supportive husbands don't just happen. Loving ones do if they are good men, but supportive ones? That is a mutual destiny that needs pursuing. I have to constantly read to my husband articles explaining my limits and finding articles that explain his. We are constantly evolving together. Almost any good hearted man can be a supportive husband if both spouses are willing to communicate, understand themselves and each other and ASK. Yes, I am lucky my husband has a sensitive heart. I am lucky he grew with me and is who he is. I can not take credit for his amazing BEING, but I can take half of the credit for how supportive he is now and he would agree with me. It took hard work to get where we are and a lot of emotional output, moments of allowing him to see me at my weakest, and allowing him to be at his weakest. So yes, my husband is a huge part of my health journey, but I can also say that determination was too. Also, having had ill health and still having a chronic physical pain condition I can say that non health also teaches and transforms. My pain has given insight. Health is not everything but when I have it, I am grateful for it. There is always hope.
7.) Answers. I am a mystic. I believe more in questions than answers and I still live my life this way HOWEVER, I am finding that it's simply not quite true that there are NO answers. There are some. They are individual perhaps but at crucial times it is ok to embrace an answer. It was a slow process, finding some answers, and most of my personal answers are just that...PERSONAL, but having some is a balm to the vulnerable, flawed human psyche. I am realizing it's ok to hold on to some answers loosely but to never put those answers on others. I can suggest the answers. I can passionately tell how they helped change me, but sometimes what works for one, will not work for another or not be chosen, I try to learn how to let go of that. My answers have solidified choices. They will transform and evolve but right now, the answers in health, spirituality and family have indeed improved the quality of our life.
8.) My best friend, Sara. We have been friends now for almost 9.83 years ( I did the math based on my daughters years/months of living. We met when she was 18 months.) I have never had a friendship this strong with this much time spent together. She is more than a friend. She is my soul sister. Back in Junior High I remember praying for a best friend who would love me as much as I loved them. I had a lot of good friends but I knew I was the one typically loving and giving more. I begged God to send me a friend who would click with me, who would get me mostly...but I didn't realize that I had to first be that friend to myself. As I started to begin my new spiritual path after I had my second born son, who changed EVERYTHING, she walked into my life. In fact, I was instructed by another friend to reach out to her and "convert" her. At the time, most of my beliefs on that were transforming but they were definitely not at the place I am at now, so with a question in my heart, I reached out, and ended up being pulled up instead by the other soul love of my life. She turned my life around. She turned my fears around. I taught her things about movies, songs, historical events and thoughts but she taught me how to LIVE. She listened, truly listened, about all my interests and fears. We only had an argument once. Sure, we have had moments where we needed space or disagreed but it's a weird peaceful relationship like no other I have had. It is full of respect and mutual admiration. It is equal in it's unequal ness. I loved watching Anne of Green Gables while growing up and I saw myself in Anne...I often wished for a Gilbert (and my husband is as close as one can get to the persona of Gilbert and far outshines him) and a Dianna...now I have my Dianna. I often joke that she is my other therapist because of all the time we spend talking through life. My husband knows that the day Sara and I became close was the day he no longer met his wife at the door after work either in tears or with a verbal onslaught of all the day held. She has brought peace. In Sanskrit Sara means Essence or Core, she really has been one of the main supports that reminds me to be my own essence, she is part of the core of my caring and even though we can be SO different in our Being, we are similar too.
9.) Home has always been elusive to me. As I said before, I have never felt like I belonged anywhere. The closest home I ever had tangibly was my teenage bedroom. It was my haven and my place to be myself but as soon as I walked out the door or another person walked in my door, I was no longer at home with myself. This has changed due to all the previous 8 points. I love Canada my country and I love my place in it. Moreover I now love my home. We used to live in a home that was full of mold, toxicity, and poor building. We were really poor the first decade of our marriage, but during this poverty we found home within ourselves and ways of installing dignity, beauty and peace into any place. However, an opportunity presented itself in our 6th year of marriage by our boss at the time. It was a risk for all involved but we took it and found ourselves homeowners. The first four years were a struggle every month to meet the mortgage. We tried to sell or rent it out to afford it. We went to the food bank a couple times and one awful christmas we were so depressed we both bawled watching "It's a Wonderful Life" because it WAS our life. We had a few cans in our pantry and no money for groceries, bills or presents. Two nights later my parents called and gifted us with a pantry full of groceries and five hundred dollars to spend on Christmas presents. We felt as if we had been handed LIFE. Our story would not be the same without them or my grandma constantly feeding our hungry mouths. We would accept any dinner invite at that time because it meant we would be feeding our kids a balanced meal. Not many knew how desperate we sometimes were, but we made it...and the sacrifices looking back were worth it because we had so many family and friends who simply were who they were. Now we have a mortgage we can handle and a safe home that we put sweat, tears and sacrifice into. I am so glad our attempts to sell were futile but at that time I viewed it as we were cursed. Now I sigh with relief because we are exactly where we need to be. I love our home. It enables us to be who we are. It is our ultimate place of rejuvenation and belonging. It is SACRED.
10) I could not have all the previous points without my support system. Sure, most of our way we MADE ourselves. A lot of my personal choices were all on me, as it should be, however supports are crucial. Supports change as we journey. Just because I am not close friends with some who supported me before, does not mean they were not crucial or part of my infused self.There are some who contributed to our family well being in small ways and some in large. Some people contribute just by visiting at christmas, exchanging gifts or stopping by for a quick bonney fire (named after my husbands best friend). Some people foster my growth by calling my husband for an hour long chat. Others contribute their wisdom by sending articles, videos, or a few sentence email. Some people made it their mission to break us down, but in doing so they made us stronger in our boundaries and protective of our time, so in that I am also extremely grateful to them from afar. Most of our enemies have been well intentioned so I cannot even blame them for the particular choices they made even if I can choose how I will let them in. I realize that those that oppose us also help make us. We need the balance in some way. But those who are for us? They BECOME part of us.
We have been physically fed, nurtured and picked up from family and friends. We have been challenged in beliefs, argued with and put on paths we can never go back on from dear Aunts...and those moments became the best parts of us. Mostly we have been loved. I have been loved. From my mother in law, who I put myself in her perspective and can see how we must hurt sometimes simply by being ourselves, and though I can not prevent that, I can regard her with respect for how much she loves her son and grandkids and how in turn that translates to me in a way. I look at my youngest and see my husband and my heart breaks literally a bit for the future me...because I see it. Although I can't choose my choices based on this I can appreciate it and find little ways within my power to ease the pain even if our BEING means the pain will always be present. I have been loved by my parents, who took my husband as their own and he fits like he has always been in our life prior to him being there. It's weird. I have been loved by grandparents who fed us and cleaned for us when my kids were young...my grandma taught me everything I know about laundry and she waded through piles of mouldy garments when I was too tired and too young to figure it out myself. I look back at that girl I was and wonder how she became me, and realize it was through many others. My aunts shaped my concepts of self in one way or another. My younger sister gave me an opportunity to try out aspects of parenting when I was a teen myself, she is also teaching me to transition into being a friend...which has been interesting and I still have not managed to fully transition into whatever role I am supposed to play in her life and hers in mine. In ways she is much younger, but in others much older. It depends on the circumstance. My brother has challenged me to hold on to boundaries. Others who have had crucial roles have been the witnesses, the friends who speak their meaning and by speaking their meaning help me form mine. From mom's group ladies to blog group ladies, to occasional friends for varied years...each one individually and collectively became PART of my multi layered soul in one way or form.
I am who I am and that I Am partially, in fragments, belongs to some of them. Ultimately though, I have realized that I must be the best friend to myself that I want. I must be the change I wish to see in my life, in my beliefs, in my community and in my family and the world. In this knowledge EVERYTHING has changed. Ultimately, I can not blame anyone but myself because even if someone hurts me, I am the one who has to choose how it will effect me inwardly. I am the one who has to chose how they hurt or how much input I allow into my life from people who simply can not understand. I am the one who has to realize it is not necessarily their fault and they are a victim of their own selves and perspectives...I can only control MINE. In this I have found my sanity, my soul, my wisdom and my heart...Life is part circumstance, part what is made, and part what is found. I am grateful for it all because it all means LIFE.
*My husband and I feel this is one of our many songs. We found love right where we are.*