In Plain Sight

I spend a great deal of effort trying to act normal.

Long before I had words to explain it, I desperately tried to hide my autism, and still do. The only person I’ve told about my autism doesn’t believe me because of how seemingly successful I am.

I find making conversation difficult and deeply anxiety inducing no matter how much I learn, and I have learned a few things, albeit slowly.

I learned that parroting the words I heard other people say during previous conversations does not bode well, especially when I am confronted about these hand-me-down statements that I am unable to defend because they are neither my actual opinion, nor facts I am able to cite the sources for. Whenever this happens I feel ashamed, like I gave an incorrect answer to a test question in front of my peers, all of whom knew the right thing to say.

Likewise, trying to learn how to have a conversation from watching movies or TV doesn’t translate over into the real world, which is not scripted by rom-com writers. Turns out Prince Charming is a rapist and the mail man lost my dreams after I shipped them off without a tracking number.

Although many people share my insecurities, I still experience imposter syndrome regardless of the circumstances: whether with family, friends, children or strangers, I feel my face blush, my palms sweat, and my heart palpitate simply at the thought of interacting with other humans, yet I push through and carry on, dancing through life as if my feet are not in excruciating pain with every step.

I’m too anxious to let anyone know about my anxiety, about how it feels like an invisible handicap that pervades every moment. All I can do is love the struggle.

Anxiety, Again

It happened again.

Anxiety wrapped me up so tightly I must untangle myself with scribbles that you are kind enough to read.

Socializing leaves me aching with regret for the words I said wrong and the words I didn’t say.

I feel like a failure, even though I know that is a harsh conclusion, I feel it still.

I feel inept, like no matter what I do I won’t ever feel comfortable in social situations.

Even though I have undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder, as is more common in females. Even though I have worked painfully hard to hide my differentness, my social awkwardness rarely stays below ground for long.

In the game of whac-a-mole, the moles keep popping up no matter how many I whack.

Self-love, self-compassion, forgiveness, humor, perspective, reassurance that I belong in this human family, in this world, that I am enough, that I am worthy of love, as we all are: these are the treasures I have gathered along my journey.

These are the treasures I hope you find and cherish as well. They must be carefully cultivated, nourished and loved.

May you feel nourished and loved.

May you rest on the shores of peace.

Inhale what you need. Exhale what is no longer serving you.

All is well, even when we are under cloud cover, the clear sky remains above all.

For the duration of my whole life, the sun has never stopped shining- there were only times that I couldn’t see it.

The moon is a reminder of what I don’t see.

Maybe everybody feels this way sometimes, and it is normal and ok.

May I remember that I am blessed beyond measure even during the uncomfortable moments of this human journey.

Storms will rise, then pass.

May my breath be my anchor to weather me through until I see the sky of blue again.

He and She

He

He drugged her and got her drunk

He did things to her she’ll never forget

I wonder if he’d regret it if he could fathom the depths of the wound he inflicted so easily

She

She started to cut herself to release the pain

She smoked, swallowed and sniffed but could never escape for long enough

Does he ever think back to that night and wonder how she must have felt to be violated

Does he ever imagine the horrors rippling through her body still?

Does he see the selfishness and the cruelty of his actions?

She overdosed last month

She was revived in time

She is still alive

Tears flow from her eyes

She comes to me for relief

I hold space for her grief

I cannot undo the wound or the crisis which ensued

I can only offer a new way for her to view her pain today

The struggle is real

She will feel how she feels

But in harming herself she only perpetuates his actions against her

Together we form a plan that will allow her wound to heal

Cortisol

This cortisol currency you pillage out of me from depths unseen

Cannot mean as much to you as it means to me

Your hands remain empty as I am depleted

You are the storm-maker but I will not be defeated

I’m recycling my resources

Your hot air will run its course

I will hold steady

So go ahead, shake my tree

I have plenty of cortisol, from depths unseen

Enough for you and for me

Test Anxiety

At times, I may feel hot, other times I may be cold.

Perhaps I will be hesitant, and surely I will be too bold

My mind may be filled with clutter, and my heart all-a-flutter

I may feel thirsty, and have to pee

I may be hungry for all kinds of things

Yet my mind will get through the day, dragging my body with it all the way

My body serves me faithfully, I acknowledge gratefully

When at last the exam and I meet

I want to feel fully present

I want my chakras to be perfectly aligned

I want to get the crick out of my spine

I want to empty doubts out of my mind

And fill my eyes with only you

As we dance I will try not to misstep

I want to remain steadily energized, aware of every breath

Fully focused and feeling fine

With you, I want to have enough time

After our time together, when I emerge anew into the fresh air, I want to think of you and smile

I realize that my chakras, like my spine, are always slightly out of line

I know that my rebellious mind refuses to ever stop itself from running wild

Have I ever danced without fumbling around?

Even with these imperfections, I still marvel at these reflections:

Although the ideal may never meet the real, I still think of you, and smile

Mantra

I have a false belief that I should be able to handle all of my mental and physical ailments without any assistance; no therapy or medications.

This false belief comes from the mantras of stoic ancestors echoed by my parents that I am fine simply because they say I am fine

In fact, I am pretty fucking far from fine, and have hovered over the abyss of suicidality most of my life

When I made the mistake of mentioning my thoughts to end my life to a friend at age 13, I was not met with concern but consternation and reprimandation from my mother, who was called by the school guidance counselor

She yelled at me ‘only crazy people go to psychiatrists’, naturally implying that I was not allowed to be crazy, because to be crazy would mean to be less than perfect, less than what she desired, which was forbidden

She pronounced the word ‘crazy’ with disgust and disdain, with smug judgement, as if it were an abhorrent personal defect, an unforgivable sin

I learned to ignore my feelings, emit the illusion of perfection at the cost of stunting my personal growth

To be myself was inconvenient for others, and to be an inconvenience was to be unlovable

Though I remain chained by fear, I am ready to break the shackles of false beliefs that have held me back and kept me from receiving essential help for too long

One mantra rang true: I am strong

Are you still suffering?

I was on my 24th consecutive hour of work; sweaty, hungry, dehydrated, and raggedly exhausted when a patient walked into the urgent consult office where I was posted on call, sat down and said:

‘A long time ago, you fell in love with someone who was not as in love with you, and for that, you suffered a lot.’

I was the clinician, yet without asking a single question he arrived at an accurate diagnosis of my neurosis: perpetual heartbreak.

I felt somewhat violated when he proceeded to tell me that I had one birthmark on my upper thigh and another under my breast, and that I should take off my clothing and show him. He wasn’t spot-on about the birthmarks, but he was correct about the heartbreak. Maybe we all have heartbreak in our pasts, but he really got me when he asked, ‘Are you still suffering?’.

If the imprints on my energetic field from that loss of love are obvious enough for some rando creep to read them like a news headline, I want to change the vibe I’m giving off.

I was still suffering, and in trying to escape my suffering I became a physician, hoping that the overwhelming process of medical training would take my attention away my broken heart- a treatment that provided a temporary distraction at best, but not a cure.

Now with spiritual healing on a level even deeper than heart break and reciprocated love in my life, I am still suffering, but less so.

Little Miss Fearful

Once upon a time there was a little girl who felt smaller than she was because she was afraid of everybody.

She was so afraid that she could not bring herself to even speak of her fear, not to anyone.

Yet she pushed through, and got through life even though fear never left her.

By and by, she learned that fear was there to protect her.

She transformed her fear into courage as she confronted many obstacles.

What was once her handicap became her superpower.

Fear gave her energy to overcome challenges.

Little Miss Fearful became Little Miss Brave.

Invisible

I grew up in invisible poverty

Not in a city housing project, but surrounded by trees- keepers of my sanity

Unfortunately, I didn’t cling tight to that original green

I left the nature that uplifted me to get swallowed by the big city

I did hard time in the belly of that proverbial whale

I was a natural at drinking at bars and hitching rides from strangers in cars

I ran as fast as I could in the workaholic race without stopping to realize that I was headed away from that which my heart truly desired- tranquility and peace

I recreated the high stress of my childhood without seeing my own role in the process

Perhaps the cycle of trauma is not fully broken, yet I am breaking free

The chains that bind me are invisible, yet I feel them loosen and weaken

I get stronger every day

Sea Change

You came in like a whale

Mapless, I didn’t know where you’d been or where you were headed

Your eyes held the treasures you’d seen and the mermaids you’d befriended

From first sight, you were all I could see- you filled my eyes until they overflowed

I felt so fortunate to behold you, if only for a moment

Your appearance above the surface seemed to be for me alone

I blinked and you crashed back into the depths, upsetting my little boat

The commotion stirred by your momentum smashed me to pieces

I’m still picking them up

You deftly moved on to a far away ocean, perhaps without knowing the wreckage left in your wake

Perhaps you never saw me

Yet my love for you remains deeper than the sea

I wait and watch the horizon, hoping to the moon that the tides will bring you back to me

Though you are not mine to have

Only in my heart could I contain something so much larger than myself