I had this strange experience a while back. Almost a year ago now, I guess. I’ve tried to explain how it felt when I was diagnosed with ASD many times in the past. I always failed at it. Quite horribly so, actually. So, I thought about how I could create an image that could somehow show what it felt like. This is it.
Life can be filled with darkness, but it can also be filled with light. Not to make all of the mess go away, but just to shed a light on your mess. Only then can you really start cleaning it up.
Most of my life, however, was in darkness. At first, I didn’t choose it. I didn’t even want it. It was there, closing in on me and taking my breath away in the worst sense. In time, however, it became my choice. I liked the darkness. It was my darkness. I was alone, yes, but I was alone with my darkness. I’d made a mess, I knew that, but I could still move around just fine. I didn’t want to look at it, so the darkness was almost a gift.
When I couldn’t see the mess I had created around me in the dark room, I could pretend it wasn’t there. I did. I pretended even as the mess around me grew and moving around became increasingly difficult. At some point, I could hardly stand up any more. Then I fell, and I couldn’t get up. Every time I tried to get up, it resulted in arms and legs flailing about and a hard drop right back into the mess I made. It was my life. After a while, I stopped trying to get up. I just lay in the mess and felt comforted that at least I had the darkness. My darkness.
If you have ever had a similar feeling, you must know this too. The thought that crosses your mind at some point.
‘If only someone would turn on the light, then I’d be able to get up’.
It’s not like you are really sure if you want to get up or not, but as long as the darkness is there, then it’s impossible. You know that much. I reached the point when I realised that I didn’t want to lie there, alone in the darkness, caught up in my own mess. I just couldn’t get to the light on my own, and nobody came to save me. So, I cried out for help.
Perhaps it was luck, or a miracle, or maybe just a coincidence, but in the end, I was heard. Someone turned on the light for me. Only, I had spent so much time in the dark, that I wasn’t really happy with light at first. I had thought that when the light was finally turned on, my life would change on its own. I learned that just turning on the light is not enough.
Turning on the lights can be done by someone else. I think maybe most of the time we need someone else to turn it on.
When the light turned on I truly saw the mess I’d made of everything. I cried, both relieved I could finally move on from the life I had, but also in mourning for the life I never had and never would have. For a while, my emotions were a frustrated mix of many things I might never understand. Again, at some point the frustration, the anger, the hurt and the relief all melted away and it left me numb in the middle of the broken pieces of my life.
Then, somehow, I picked up one thing from the mess. I looked at it, carefully examining it, before I realised I didn’t need it any more. I didn’t even want it. I thought long and hard about it, unable to understand why I had held on to it. I still don’t know. So, I threw it away and miraculously, it disappeared. That was the moment I found something I never thought existed. I found my will to live again.
Clearing out the mess I’ve made of my life is not something anyone else can do. I have to be the one to do it, and it’s definitely not always easy.
Some things I still don’t know how to get rid of, but I don’t think that matters yet. I am doing what I can right now, I took the first step and pulled myself up. We can all do this if we chose it, but we need to be able to see it first. I spent years hiding in the darkness, but you don’t have to.
No one does.