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Living Out Loud: What Autism Has Taught Me About Courage

I've been trying to write this post for almost a week now. It's been...challenging.


This has been a year y'all. Really. A hard year. And in the last 12 or 18 months or so I've really been doing some digging.


Like deep into the bottom of my soul kind of digging. My life is in a flux right now. It happens sometimes. We move through chapters. I feel like maybe the ending of this chapter started around the pandemic, I'm sure that's true for many.


So much has shifted or is in process of shifting. And honestly? I have no idea what the hell is going on.


But - I've had some thoughts and ideas and there is a part of me that is more excited than scared. Even though I am batshit crazy scared too, which is what this post is really all about - finding that excitement and courage in the fear.


See, one of the most amazing things about my son is that he doesn't give much thought to what other people think of him.


Don't get me wrong. He loves people, and wants to engage with friends and family. And he works very hard to be sure that he is respectful. He's naturally kind and gets upset if he thinks someone around him is angry or sad. He works hard to make the people around him feel better. He cares about it so much he even taught himself skills around it.


But in terms of his spinning, jumping, or scripting, he really isn't very concerned if it bothers you. I am proud to say that part of this is because Jack lives in a home where he is given space to be himself. In whatever way that shows up. I'm proud of that because I know it's not a reality for everyone. And it's only in the last few years I knew how to do that well for my neurotypical daugher. Like most parents I have this idea of what a good life looks like and I want to help my daughter achieve that. Really; I need to support her in HER ideas of that life. I'm doing that much better now. In part, because of what I have learned from Jack and my one experiences the last few years.


I've also realized how maybe I'm not living couragously myself. Maybe I'm not living what I think is a good life. Maybe I'm not spinning and jumping enough because I'm worried about making too much noise for other people.


Brene Brown calls being vulnerable an act of courage and she is totally right, because being vulnerable means living out loud. It means being authentic. And that shit is hard because people judge. And to be judged means we might not be liked. And if we aren't liked we are alone...and our brain is hardwired to think that if we are alone we are going to die.


So risking that is huge. It's extremely hard.


Gabor Mate says that we have two needs, one for authenticity and one for acceptance. And acceptance will trump authenticity every time. So from little kids we learn real quick how it is ok to be and how it is NOT ok to be.


Why do I bring all this up? Because I really want to live more authentically. Like all of us I spend a healthy amount of my time trying to "figure out" how to be for other people (thank you codenedency) and I'm really kinda of tired of it.


Like I said these last 12 to 18 months have been hard. I've moved through some important chapters in my life. A tremendously important and signifcant relationship in my life has ended, my professional goals have shifted (and are still shifting) and my friend group is morphing. None of this is bad, it's exciting looked at from the right place, but it can make it difficult to know up from down. It's pushing me to rediscover me. What I like. What I don't like. What's important to me. And I'm still trying to figure it all out.


I've reconnected with my Spiritual life which I had moved away from in the distraction of taking care of everything else. This has been the single biggest impact in the direction my life was going, and it will be the biggest one to get me back to center. But I'm hesitent, because the unknown is scary.


Cause the truth is; I'm a big personality. I'm opinionated, passionate, kind and fast. Like super fast...get in or move out of the way fast. And like a lot of women I've played small because I wanted to be loved or included...I'm working hard right now to not play small anymore. I am loyal AF but have hard limits...even if it takes a shit long time for them to be reached. But the time to reach those limits means I have grace for others which I like about me.


I'm sharing all that because that is what I do. I share. I talk - A LOT. And I have a lot to say. It's why I speak, and started this platform. And I think the message is going to start changing a little.


Autism is a huge part of my life and I really do want to help people. I want to help people to find their courage and live their authentic life. Whatever that is for them. No matter what life has given them. Especially if there is a diagnosis.


We have so much power. So much. I'm discovering more of mine right now at a deep level. From a new perspective. I don't know where it will take me. But I do know that it's the ride I'm on. And I am excited for it - most of the time.


When I can remember to be couragous.


When I can remember Jack. And living out loud. Cause this is it. This is all I got and even when I HATE it sometimes (and I carn really hate it)...I want to make it good. And I'm the only person that can.


And you are the only person that can for you and your life. So thank you for inviting me. Whatever is coming in the next chapter I hope you join me. I hope you let me join you!


I'm going to spin, jump and talk and not worry so much what people think about it. Or at least, that will be the goal.


Hope you do too.


Jennie




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