I’ve been unemployed for a really long time now. Ever since I graduated with a master’s degree it’s been impossible for me to even get jobs that don’t require you hold a specific degree or any kind of training. I don’t think it’s only because I have autism spectrum disorder, but it definitely doesn’t help the matter.
I’ve been going to this centre, a place they evaluate the skills of people on the spectrum, teach us how to utilize what we can do out there in the ‘real world’ and facilitate jobs for us too. I guess, at first, it was nice to go to a place where people know what autism spectrum disorder actually means and it was great to meet others who were kinda like me.
They aren’t like copies of me, none of us are, but we have some of the same traits and habits. Most importantly, we all understand what it’s like to not fit in; to be different and to be singled out because of it.
My experiences there have been valuable, that’s true, but when I started, I felt they were my one and only chance at a life that I can not just survive, but a life that I can live.
It’s not fair to anyone to put so much pressure on a single thing or person, because it’s not like they are my only chance at a happy life.
It just feels a lot like that right now and it did back then.
When I think about it, really think about it, I know that I am the one who defines my own present and my own future. Things might happen, both good and bad, that I can’t control, but I always have control over my own actions and how I chose to react to something. My life is my own and no one will ever take that away from me.
Like the words I’m writing right now, as I write they are mine, but when you read them it is you who chose to read it or skip away. And if you do read it, you might not understand my intentions or what I hope that you will feel or what you will remember from it; that is all you. I don’t have any control beyond my own typing, but that doesn’t mean I’ll give up. I will write exactly what I need to and want to write and hope for the best. I write my own life in very much the same way. Other’s may decide the fonts, word count or size, but the words are all mine as long as I am typing.
I want my life to be the same in some ways. I may not decide a lot of things these days, but that’s okay. One day I hope that will change. One day I’ll be able to make my own choices, even though right now I feel like don’t get to decide on anything at all. That’s what it is like when you have no job, no apartment, no money and well, it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to focus on all the things I don’t have. I have a lot of other things in my life – like people who love me as I am. That is a rare thing. At least for me it is.
I don’t feel like I have any influence over my future, because what I want in the future doesn’t really seem to matter to anyone. It’s about finding a job that won’t break me, not a about finding a job that I want – especially not one I could dare to dream to love. And you know what? For the first time in my life, that’s okay.
There are many people out there who hate their jobs and they still go to work every day and get paid and use that money on what they need to survive and then use what’s left on what they really love. I was afraid, before, that if I got one of those jobs I would break and then that would be the end. It would too, I’m not kidding.
If I break, not just another meltdown or anything like that, no, if I break, I know deep within me that I don’t have the strength to pull myself out again. I just don’t.
It’s strange to live with that knowledge and not be frightened of it, but I am not. I am fighting now because I know I can’t survive another break. I am enjoying my life, the people I get to share it with – every happy moment I get – because I don’t want to waste a single moment of my life.
I have bad days, I do. Of course, I do. On those days it’s quite a challenge to enjoy and be happy, no surprise there. I forgive those days and myself for having a bad day, though. A fulfilling life is filled with both good and bad days, not just good days. Bad days are a gift that makes the good days even brighter in the dark.
What should I do with my life?
What career should I chose?
What path should I walk home?
What city – or what country – should I move to?
What people in my life makes my life better?
Who makes it worse…?
What painting should be on my wall?
What do I need to be happy?
What table should I use as a work desk?
What do I need to survive?
What make-up suits me? Should I even wear make-up?
What movie should I watch tonight?
What do I want?
What do I want?
What does all of my choices make me?
What do I really want?
It doesn’t matter what troubles us; small things can turn into big things in a matter of seconds even when we don’t think it will. Big things can turn out to be small matters once we confront it.
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. I don’t know the answer to a lot of things, but oh, I wish I did. Not knowing something kickstarts my anxiety like nothing else. Because I used to live with anxiety every day it was easier to handle.
It was just the state of my existence – fear hugging me like a wet blanket on a cold winter’s day. It took the warm love of sunshine to dry it and push away the cold days in favour of hot summer days. I know that the sun might disappear one day, dark days and bright days alike are a part of life, as I said before. I understand that one day winter may come again, and the year will end, the world will once again be covered in a thick, dusty layer of snow.
Winter won’t break me though. Winter passes.
I don’t know what will break me in the future, but I know it won’t be something that I’ve already been through, because I survived it. It’s the fear of going through whatever it is that I have to go through before I finally break that frightens me, not the breaking itself. When I break, that is the end and in some ways that’s comforting. It’s being trapped in something horrible, dying a little every day and being unable to get free that frightens me.
I broke before and putting myself back together was almost impossible – I’m still working on it.
Before I had my break – I don’t even know how to describe the pain I went through. I don’t want to either. But, because I know it will have to be something much worse that breaks me next time, I am terrified to go through it. I am terrified to live through something that will once again make death a relief to me.
The thing that I forgot, though, is a pretty important fact.
Maybe nothing can break me again.
Maybe I’ve gone through enough now that nothing will ever break me. I am stronger now, not just because of all I’ve gone through, but because I’m older. I am not an ignorant child who doesn’t understand how to interact with others socially and who is bullied and abused. People can try, but I have limits now. Sure, people will still treat me like I’m not even worthy of being called human, but I can take that. I can take it, because I feel sorry that they have to live a life like that and every time it happens, I am so grateful I that I’m not like that.
Probably, some would call me weak, but people can call me whatever they want.
I may not know who I am yet, but I know without a doubt in my heart what I am not.
My life is somehow out of my own hands right now, but all the things I still have the ability to do something about I will change for the better. My future job may not end up being my career, my next apartment may never be my own real home and my financial situation the next couple of months won’t be what it’s going to be like forever.
I have my own will and it has gotten me through much trauma before, it can get me through all of this too. Before, I was so cold in the snow that I had fallen asleep. Now, because the sunshine warmed me up, I am awake. I don’t know if I would have ever woken up without the sun, but I would like to believe that I had. The sun just gave me a boost like nothing ever did before.