My initial week of school marked a profound journey of healing and personal transformation. It is often said that to recover from trauma, one must respond differently when faced with similar situations. This new response creates fresh neural pathways in our brains, and this concept serves as the cornerstone of the positive disintegration
This week, I underwent a positive disintegration in my belief about myself. I used to think that I was flawed and that my needs were unimportant. This belief was perpetuated in my previous workplace, my requests accomodations were consistently denied. However, things changed when I started school and approached it differently; I was promptly accommodated. This experience has created room for a new perspective on my self-worth. I now understand that the way I exist in the world is not inherently flawed, and my needs hold just as much importance as anyone else's even if they fall outside the norm.
As an autistic individual, I have encountered a lifetime of complex interpersonal and community-related trauma. It is essential to understand that autistic complex trauma is incredibly intricate. For me, it wasn't just a single incident or a few; rather, it comprised a multitude of occurrences that gradually became my norm. I lived in a world where I accepted the crossing of my boundaries and the erosion of my autonomy as the status quo. I was vulnerable to being taken advantage of, enduring abusive relationships not only in my personal life but also in professional settings with coworkers and bosses. This is a shared experience among many autistic individuals.
I often contemplate that had I known about my autism, I might have developed a significantly different set of skills to navigate life. Nonetheless, I acknowledge that things might not have unfolded differently, but the knowledge of my autism would have made a substantial difference.
When I was young when I attempted to be my authentic self outside of my home environment or with the few safe friends I had, I frequently faced rejection. Gradually, this led to a profound disconnection from my true identity. To safeguard ourselves, many late-diagnosed autistic individuals find themselves living behind masks, presenting a version of themselves that they perceive as safer in the world. I, too, dissociated from my true self and allowed the world to exploit and mistreat me. Once you come to this realization, there is no turning back.
"To understand people's suffering and alienation and to try to change society is the highest form of understanding." - Ignacio Martin-Baro
My journey of self-discovery began four years ago, even before I had the words to express how my inner experiences and outward expressions differed from those of neurotypical individuals. It was a profound expereince with MDMA where I recognized my own eccentricity, the uniqueness of my thought processes and ideas. When I entered the Alcoholics Anonymous program, these inclinations became more pronounced.
While the AA program had good intentions, it was built on the premise that our thoughts and emotions are fundamentally flawed, suggesting we have character flaws beyond our ability to repair. The program's solution to avoid returning to our primary coping mechanism, alcohol, was to surrender to a higher power. I knew I needed structure and a supportive community that accepted me as I was, so I remained in the program for three years.
However, I critically deconstructed it. I questioned the patriarchal undertones and forged my own path of knowledge. After reading the Big Book and discovering numerous logical fallacies, I delved into other literature, exploring philosophical doctrines from Niche to Marx, psychological frameworks from behaviorism to the transpersonal, and spiritual text from Buddhism to Judaism. Gradually, I formulated my unique recovery program, tailored to my specific needs.
As I shared my truth within the AA meetings, I faced subtle rejection at first. However, the more I expressed my authentic self, the more discomfort I caused in others. These rejections resurfaced deep-seated childhood traumas within me. Those who were close to me didn't comprehend my perspective. They advised me to conform to the program, believing that my curiosity and criticism were harming me. The most painful comment came from my well-intentioned partner when they said, "Perhaps it's you and not them." It was at this point that I decided to leave the program and began searching for a new community.
This journey has been incredibly painful yet profoundly healing. I would eagerly join various communities with high hopes and enthusiasm, only to find myself ostracized for merely being my authentic self. This pattern repeated itself time and time again, whether in a women's spirituality group, a recovery community, professional psychology clubs, and so on. My perspectives were often met with cruelty, and I couldn't understand why.
Then, on a certain day, a friend—one of the many unique individuals I had connected with on this journey—posed a question: "Sher, have you ever considered that you might be autistic?" Realizing that I am autistic had a profound impact on my life, the magnitude of which I can't even begin to describe. I discovered my community, a vast network of people who think and behave similarly to me. They share the same challenges, possess intricate thought processes, and approach concepts and social structures with an innately non-dual perspective.
Many of them are equally captivated by fractals, and it's a routine for us to delve into our dreams over our morning coffee. The concept of spiritual materialism tends to stir strong emotions among us, and our relationship with the interconnected aspects of our mind, body, and spirit is complex. Creativity isn't an add-on or a pastime for us; it's deeply woven into how we perceive the world. In the symphony of our existence, poetry, art, music, and even silence are our shared dialects, our means of profound communication.
Yet, society often misunderstands us, those who bear exceptional gifts—precognition, pattern recognition, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and more. We are branded as outliers, labeled with terms like "crazy," "neurotic," or "psychotic." Yet, these labels merely hint at the untapped potential concealed within the depths of our beings.
We bear the sacred gift of healing, yet the world has frequently chipped away at our resilience. Many among us have chosen the path of humble hermits, seeking solace in isolation. Nonetheless, within the depths of our beings lies an immense reservoir of potential, eager to be unleashed if only granted the chance to mend.
My individual odyssey has guided me to this pivotal crossroads with deliberate purpose. I have ascended to a plane of self-realization that beckons me to share my wisdom within a community. The world, in its present state, struggles to contain the essence of who I have become. I am driven by an irresistible force to engage in the collective journey of self-actualization, where the synergy of our shared growth can flourish.