>just life.

>this writing thing sure isn’t getting any easier. but i want to do it, so i’m going to give it a shot. forgive the scatteredness?

the first thing that comes to mind is new year’s eve. it’s probably my least favorite day of the year. i mean, i “went out” to a movie with a guy when i was 16, but other than that, i haven’t ever gone anywhere or seen anyone. for quite a few years, i’ve either been crying because i’m yet again by myself or sleeping when the big time comes. today, i’ll babysit from 6:30-9 (seven children; two with autism and one i highly suspect has asperger’s) so wish me luck. it’s been an uncomfortable, antsy week, so it should be interesting.

christmas was mostly really good… my dad gave me a sewing machine to make my doll clothes, my mom got me some cute odds and ends even though she already got me my laptop, and my sister got me my coveted, no-longer-available felicity american girl doll. she’s beautiful and she goes even from room to room with me. so far she has a christmas dress and bonnet, a blue button-down shirt and brown polka dot skirt, a blue flannel nightgown and mob cap, and i’m just starting to work on a patchwork quilt for her. i can’t say i’m anything wonderful on the machine yet, but i’m getting better and enjoying it.

i’m quite frustrated at myself for not being able to write any sort of cohesive blog post anymore. all i can do is kind of update and go over what’s been happening. what happened to real posts? is it that nothing happens anymore, or is it that i just can’t write about it?

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>Take 5

>For nearly 18 months (17 and some odd days, to be exact), I have faithfully, every 2-3 days, written a blog post. It’s rare that I go more than 3, though I’m sure it’s happened.

Before you panic about where this is going, let me explain. This is not a signing off, but rather just a break. I’m facing some demons in my life right now that require my full attention. It’s stressful to constantly be thinking about the next blog post. I’ll be back. It might be days, or weeks, or months; I might pop back in when something big happens and update you. But for the time being, I’m not going to look for things to write. I’m going to let the writing come to me. Fair enough?

Will you be here when I get back?

>Birthday surprise

>After a wonderful trip for ice cream with friends, a visit to Mom’s office, and a pot roast sandwich at Eat n Park, I headed home so that L could pick me up and we could go to the party (my Esther Bible study was showing One Night with the King at the leader’s house). I was freaking out, texting about how nervous I was, when L texted me to say that she was really sick and just couldn’t make it. I wasn’t at all mad at her, but I started to bawl, because, well, I don’t handle changes in plans well.

I had about a half hour to decide if I would still go. The answer seemed obvious. Go to a new place, at night, in the dark, all by myself, with no one even to meet there? I’ve been studying with these women for months, but I really only know H and L (who wouldn’t be there) and the two women in charge (K amd M), a little.

But it was my birthday. I’m 23 now. I don’t want social anxiety and autism to get the best of me all the time like it awlays has. Granted, this would be a huge step, because I don’t go anywhere besides the church and the library without someone to keep an eye out for me. This would be the first time I truly flew solo maybe… ever?

So I called K, the women whose house the party was at. I asked if she had a pet, kids, or a spare room to escape to. She had all 3. K knows that I have autism and knows a little bit about what I deal with, so when I explained that I typically don’t do parties, and never by myself, that this would be really unusual if I came… she said that she had some birthday things for me and would love it if I went, but understood if it was too much.

So I went.

I got here 15 minutes early. I can’t walk into rooms full of people, so I get everywhere I go significantly early, and I think people are used to it. As L said, “I noticed that!” K introduced me to her dog, Ruby (a red lab!) and her kids, who are beyond sweet. I hung out downstairs with the dog while people filtered in. When I did go upstairs, I kind of wandered around by myself and didn’t talk to people. There was over an hour of free time before the movie started. Finally, a woman who I actually ran into at Dr. J’s office a few weeks ago after Bible study (she was there for her sons who have ADHD) came over and started to talk to me. While I can’t approach people to talk to them, I’m just fine when people come over to me to talk… sometimes, maybe even a little too friendly.

So I talked for 10 minutes, which was good, for me. K gave me a birthday gift and said she had a birthday cake for me, which was so sweet. She asked if I wanted everyone to sing to me, and I said please no! I hate to be sung to, even by family.

I left around 9:15, an hour before the movie was over, but I was pretty tired. K and M saw me out and said that they were so impressed that I came. I like that they get it and understood how difficult it was. M really kept an eye on me and made sure I was alright. I emailed them both, thanking them for being so accommodating and helpful. I’m honestly kind of proud of myself for facing such a big fear. I can’t say that I’ll attend Bible study (80 women as opposed to last night’s maybe 12) without someone, but it’s a big step in the right direction for being 23!

>Birthday dreams come true

>What’s different about 23? Let me tell you a story, not for any sort of sympathy, but so that you understand the importance of today.

When I was 16, my mom and my best friend threw me a huge Finding Nemo surprise party. It had family and friends from all my different activities… school, dancing, color guard, camp. Everyone was there. I was quite sick, but that aside, it was amazing.

Several months later, that same best friend and I were talking online, and she told me to stop talking and quit responding to me (I was confused). We were supposed to go to a party that night, and she didn’t pick me up. My best friend that I had spent every day with (vacations aside) for 12 years, for the next year and a half, never called again. When I called her a year and a half after the initial incident, she (frighteningly calmly) said the meanest thing I could ever imagine a person saying, and then meaner. I was bawling, and she hung up on me. That was the end of that.

My closest (and only) friend in college knew this story and promised that it would not repeat itself. It didn’t, until she broke up with her fiance and got a new boyfriend and just… went away. Walked away from me on the sidewalk one day (I was on crutches, going slow), with the boy, and never walked back. When asked what was going on, also said some extremely mean things. Again, that was that.

If you’re wondering why I don’t think Leigh will do the same thing, you don’t know Leigh. I mean, there’s a lways the tiniest fear in the back of my mind (like, I fear checking my email because I might get a “I don’t want to be friends with you” email… but Leigh just would never do that and it’s illogical to think she would).

Anyway, back to my story. I think birthdays are the greatest thing in the world. It’s a day to celebrate… me! I’m not a big fan of celebrating myself, because I’m shy and rather uncomfortable in my own skin, on other days, so I take full advantage of my birthday. I’m bad at waiting for people to call and give me birthday wishes… instead, I tend to call them because I’m so excited that it’s my birthday! Not everyone, but definitely immediate family (just called Dad: “Hey, I’m supposed to call you on your birthday!”). It’s a day I can drink as much diet soda as I want, eat whatever I feel like, and bug the kitty as much as I wish. It’s my day.

My last 6 birthdays have been spent with my mom, mostly. Last year I actually had surgery on December 8th, so I was drugged and laying on the couch. But I had invited my whole Mom’s side of the family over to celebrate, and they all sat on the floor and fussed over me, and I thought life couldn’t get any better than that birthday.

Until this year. This year, today, I am going out with friends. H and L, two women in my church, are taking me to an old fashioned ice cream shop downtown. Then, tonight, my giant Bible study is meeting at someone’s house to watch a movie (L is curbing my anxiety by picking me up and going in with me and staying with me, so I’ll be fine). In between, I will go to Mom’s work to be with my mom on my birthday, because that’s the most important.

I don’t know how to explain the gravity of this event. Friends. I have friends. Friends who are used to melt downs because their kids have them, who are used to anxiety, who don’t mind my oddities and social awkwardness. Friends who seek me out and invite me over. Friends who take me out on my birthday. Although ice cream is a huge plus, I almost don’t care what we do. Just being with my friends is more than I could hope for.

>On writing

>People blog for different reasons. Some people do it solely for themselves, to process their experiences and document their journeys.

I am not one of those people. While it’s true that I gain a lot from my writings, I don’t really write for myself.

I write for you.

I write so that people learn what autism is like and what it isn’t like. I write to dispel myth and promote truth. I write to clarify and demystify.

That said, my time as a blogger might be coming to and end. For one thing, my meds are making it really, really hard to write. I still enjoy doing it, but I feel like I’m not delivering when it comes to quality, especially. I have 50 followers on this blog, but I’m not really sure that anyone’s reading. And if you’re not reading, I don’t really have a purpose in writing.

If you are here, if I’m wrong, if you do want to read what I have to say, just let me know and I’m happy to oblige. If I’m doing some good through this effort, I want to know it. But if I’m not, it might be time for me to set my keyboard aside.

>Cardboard testimonies

>First, watch this.

Powerful, no? I thought so.

This is what we did in church last night. Pastor Betsy only preached for maybe 5 minutes, connecting cardboard testimonies to the end of Romans 8. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor no the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-38). She said that by preaching on it, she could only bring it down, because the words are so perfect and so powerful. As good of a preacher as Pastor Betsy is, I have to say, no one can outdo the Apostle Paul’s words in this text.

So, instead of a sermon, we heard her husband’s testimony about his fall into and recover from drugs and alcohol, and it was a great testimony to the power of God in one man’s life.

Then, about 10 people on the church staff came up to the front and gave cardboard testimonies. Someone I love dearly, whom I won’t name, wrote “From the abusive hands of my dad to the loving hands of Jesus.” One of the pastors, who is very open about his struggles, had “Clinical depression/Hope and healing.” I almost cried, and I’m not a big crier. It was amazing.

Pastor Betsy asked us to let her know if we would like to share our own cardboard testimonies, and I emailed her to let her know that I would. What would mine say? I’m not 100% sure.

“ASD/GAD/Depression-NOS/SPD/ED-NOS/OCD/TS/panic attacks…

“A lifetime of doubt…

“The whole alphabet and then some…

…created uniquely and loved by Jesus.”

What would yours say?

>December cheer

>I’m getting pumped. Are you?

My birthday is December 9th. I’ll be 23. I’m going out with two of my friends (can I say it again? My friends) around noon for ice cream at an old fashioned ice cream shop downtown. Then, that evening, there is a showing of One Night with the King (the movie about Esther) for my Esther women’s Bible study. It will be a lot of people, and it’s at someone’s house and not the church, but as long as one of my friends is going, I think I’ll at least try it.

Then, Friday, my family will have cake at Mom’s house. Yellow cake with homemade chocolate icing.

On December 17th-19th, I’m going to Emmaus House again. Hopefully this time I don’t get sick after 12 hours.

December 21st-23rd, I’m going to Maryland to visit Leigh and Joe.

We’re having dinner at my aunt’s on the 24th, Christmas at Dad’s and dinner at Mom’s on Christmas day, and my sister is coming on the 26th (she’ll be at her dad’s on the 25th, like I will).

I’m working on a Christmas dress for Felicity for when she comes (red with tiny white polka dots, white lace, and white buttons down the front and a red ribbon to tie around back).

Elsie and I have Christmas stockings, little ones, one with an E and one with an L, hanging on the wall at my house. How cute is that?

Mom and I will decorate her house on Saturday and my house on Sunday. Mom doesn’t want me to have a tree because I might not stay in my apartment, so I’m going to use Sister’s old tiny little tree. But I’ll have a real tree if I’m still there next year, which is of course still up in the air.

What are your holiday plans?