Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Beauty of the 'Blue Collar Labourer." An Ode to The Tradespeople. Finances. Life Goals. Aphrodite Marriage Happiness. Construction Life.

My mindset has suddenly changed. I’ve been watching my husband help the children with Math for hours each day. As someone who has Dyscalculia- I am in awe of his ability. He is so hot to me when he helps the children in ways I can’t. As I was fondly smiling at his profile and enjoying the timbre of his voice as he gently guided my son through a fraction, I realized my priorities in life lately have been missing the mark.

The Wear of Construction on the Body Over Time:

Despite insisting on hours that have him home by 4:30 to cook dinner because I am Dyspraxic (click) and a huge danger in the kitchen...and most Mondays off...my husband  is STILL in high demand for construction related work.  People work with his odd schedule. That is ideal. We love his job for these attributes. We chose years ago to forgo more money and have more time. There is only one, rather huge, problem. Because it’s been 16 years of hard labour, his body is beginning to get very sore. Construction is TOUGH on a body. Especially consistently. The tool belt alone, weighted on the hips, adds wear and tear that most men don't face until their fifties. The constant bending, lifting, and positioning the body at weird angles for sustained lengths of time is wearing. Also the elements take their toll. His face is weathered from being out in the snow in minus 20 Celsius and then the sunshine in plus 30 Celsius, year after year, day after day. It's rare to not work outside at least part of his days. He IS the definition of "weathered." No wonder he is often tired. It's one thing to do construction on a home for fun or on hobby weekends...but completely another to engage in it for 16 years straight. I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to do it even though we both enjoy the autonomy/ freedom of hours/mostly all male company besides clients (I'm slightly possessive and jealous- one of my massive flaws thus I LOVE that he works with men. Yea, I know it's not progressive) wage for where we live.


When people meet my husband they are shocked when they start conversing with him. He is a Philosopher. He has a way of healing, challenging, and discussing with people in ways that blow their minds. They expect a stereotype. In how he appears- they mostly get the stereotype. But when they hear his words, they wonder why someone like him is in construction. We get asked that a lot. We wonder that too sometimes, but it was the only opportunity we had near the beginning with a child already on the way three months into our teen marriage, and it gave us our home. His Trades job has given us so much actually. Construction has given us the means to live mostly how we choose without too many voices chiming in, or being run by traditional hours ect. Which is a surprise to his fellow construction workers. He listens to philosophy and university level course on his podcasts while he works. He asks his fellow construction team deep questions and they engage in meaningful discussions. It is not what most people would expect when they walk on to a construction site. His co workers are mostly courteous, respectful, hard working, and seekers of higher thought.

He would despise an office job. He likes to be outside or moving or in our home. He likes to run his own schedule. In an ideal world he should probably have been an Actor. Or some sort of Philanthropist, Speaker or  Comedian. He is clever, witty and enjoys making people laugh, think outside the box or get slightly annoyed. Ha. He is especially good at being controversial but in a mostly likeable way. He always scores "comedian or clown" on aptitude tests...much to his chagrin. Because of this, sometimes we get slightly stuck on options for the future. But truthfully, if it wasn't for the hard wear on his body- we both love his job.

The Beauty of the Construction Worker/Blue Collar Worker;

We love his hours, his wage (ish), his co workers, and we believe in what he does. He CREATES. He builds homes. Many people think of construction workers as those who cut corners but my husband cringes at those types. He likes to build safely and creatively when possible. Most of the time, where we live, it is not creative at all- which can be aggravating...but at least he creates safety. We can drive around our entire sphere of being and he can point to every third home...and say he has either done their roof, built shelves or rooms, painted, prevented a dangerous fire or flooding issue, wired their electrical, fixed or maintained...and that is something most people take for granted. They don't realize their home provides safety and enables their lives. And he helps them with this even though it takes a large toll on his body. There is this misconstrued belief in society that "blue collar" jobs are done by unintellectual, conservatives out to destroy the earth or other ignorant assumptions. Sometimes these assumptions are true. But if we dig deeper- who of us could continue doing whatever we do without a home base? These "blue collar" jobs that require strength, fortitude, patience, body muscles, and a know how of safety, protocols, and general knowledge of most aspects of life to a degree MATTER.

I wouldn't last an hour at his job. We expect construction workers to work, work, work and I've heard dissatisfied murmurings when they take their 15 minute, twice a day breaks. Many times my husband or his team will skip these but they shouldn't. They are sustaining a large work out for at least seven hours straight. Lesser jobs get PAID breaks and lunches. Construction workers do not. Nor do they get paid holidays unless they are working for a company. I know brain work requires just as much labour in an entirely different way because that is how I am wired. After a day figuring out budgets, teaching my kids, running to appointments, ect I am WIPED. I am not trivializing brain work. But I think it is time society as a whole stops trivializing body work. We admire actors who are fit on screen but we fail to admire the slightly pudgy construction worker plugging away on our home. Why are many older construction workers slightly overweight despite their constant physical work? Because they have no energy for cardio at the end of their day. They have been standing and lifting the equivalent of their weight or more for most of the day. They are DONE. When they are younger they can also do cardio...but that energy gives at a certain point. I have noticed the almost retired construction workers in our community have "old man strength." They can carry double what the younger weight lifting guys can manage. And unfortunately due to how our society is set up, where expensive degrees are often the only valued way of Being, they are relegated to working at Home Depot or some other such store when their body wears out. It is ridiculous what we forget to give merit to.

Personal Disabilities that Make me Prone to Admire the "Physically Capable";

Then there is me...I can't work in traditional ways. I am incapable of being outside our home in most senses, unless it is an environment I love and trust enough sensory wise. But generally it is like torture to me. We have people over...we don't often go to their homes...and luckily they want to come to ours. We have made sure of it for the most part. I have many abilities, but I also have some major disabilities. They are simply unseen. I can't cook or make my own meals...I am not physical. My strengths are unseen too. I can't drive out of town. Freedom is a hard earned word for me. Almost daily. I look "capable" and in some ways I am but in physical ways, executive functioning fails happen often. If left to myself, I don't eat or remember to drink. The other evening we were heading to a neighbouring city, when I told my husband to turn back around. I didn't know what was wrong but I was suddenly dizzy and nauseous. After an hour at home curled up in a ball trying to get my bearings- my youngest said, "Mom I don't think I have seen you drink water once since you woke up." I thought really hard about it and realized I had not taken one single sip. Even at lunch. Swiftly two cups of water were brought and within half an hour I was mostly fine. That is just a small example of how normal I am not. If I could have my physical needs met on a daily basis (cook, maid, driver...basically being rich- ha ha...) I would be fine. I would be able to do a lot. If I could be in places that were calm, clean, beautifully decorated and thoughtfully planned out- I would venture out a lot. This is why I admire the physically able...and think they are both over celebrated and underestimated in our culture.

The Cultural Over Celebration and Under Celebration of the Physically Able. The Under Compensation of Blue Collar Workers:

The physically able are over celebrated when it comes to the perfect body, sports competitions, making the best meals, being that "perfect" mom or dad, and DOING, DOING, DOING at the cost of their relationships yet they get all the accolades...for making sometimes very poor choices otherwise. But the physical labourers in blue collar work are often underestimated. They are de valued. Treated as less than. Or worse, like they don't have brains or can not be creative. Our mechanics, construction workers, landscapers, maintenance workers, plumbers, electricians...basically the people who keep our society MOVING...are constantly judged, ignored and not compensated enough. My husband is constantly getting asked to do work cheaper than what he asks for. People balk at his fair price which is considerably less than most in town, and 1/3 of what is made in the next city over. People do not understand materials, time needed, or the cost on his body and what it takes to make a quality trade. I didn't either until the years we did our renos. When I worked alongside of him I slowly learned about my assumptions and ridiculous expectations. Unless you have done it yourself, you won't fully know.

Life Goals and Finances. A Re -Adjustment of Perspectives:

I’ve been so focused on money as solving some of our issues, but looking at him the other day I realized money actually isn’t fully what I want. I asked myself what is driving my money story? Why do I feel the panicky need to put large payments on our home or on debt and then not have ONE SINGLE DOLLAR left each month until the next pay day? Every cent is accounted for. I am constantly re budgeting. We get paid, pay our debts, get groceries...if we are lucky we get to enjoy a movie or buy a few extra things but basically then we wait till next pay day and repeat. We are not a high enough wage family to be sacrificing as much on debt free living as we have, so why am I doing it for some hopeful future? We were more balanced a few years ago (see HERE.) I need that girl back. Money is important and it CAN buy happiness, health and beauty. To say otherwise is ignorant. But we each have to work with what we have. We each have to find a way to balance money and lifestyle. And we each have to be honest with what we TRULY want. I do want more money- but not at the expense of my husband...or myself. We both work very hard for our children, our lifestyle, and the betterment and growth of those we love. We put money away to pay the fuel for speakers for C2Q events (CLICK) because we care about our community and give in the ways we are gifted in. Sometimes that money is hard to give up because 40-50 bucks of fresh produce goes a long way in our health journey and it is often taken from our grocery budget. However, it is important to us and we still eat pretty good so it is worth it. It's not about being lazy. It's about living our BEST the way that we CAN truly BE and GIVE.

Realizations and The Consequences of Wishes:

What I actually want is to live a long, semi happy, connected 'always' life with him. HE is my story. Some people dream of careers, children (mine are part of that too), doing something on a Mother Teresa level, fame, beauty, richness... and while I have elements of those, truthfully, I always wanted a magic love story. I wanted something committed, stable, true, lasting beyond what most last for. I wanted someone I could give the love that I had within but wasn't good at expressing. He gets it. He knows. I also wanted to feel someone finally love me for all that I was. Before him, I never had that. I never once had someone see me the way he did. It still chokes me up when I say that sentence. Not many people, if any, know the full me other than what I chose to disclose. But him and my children do. I'm actually quite expressive inside my home. Being an Autistic not yet diagnosed, he saw my struggles and real differences, and desired me even more. He still does.

I wanted a marriage that would relish each new stage. And I realized that I put out into the universe this desperation to have our home paid off ect - so he can mostly quit construction or only engage in it two days a week for the sake of his body. We would freely give our time to helping others with guidance, personality help, philosophy, couples laymen counselling...basically being lifestyle coaches for free if we had our other needs met. Which we do now in little ways too. Further proof that money DOES matter. If we had it, we could give more but I am also happy with what we do give now. But I realized something horrific. My wish could come true if either of us died- if it just boils down to our home being paid off. And that is NOT what I want. So maybe I should be putting out different ultimate goals out to the universe. Maybe it’s about time spent and how we spend it? Maybe I should re focus (again)? Becoming mortgage and debt free is good but not at the expense of our lives or focusing on it so much that it becomes our lives.

It's akin to wishing on a Genie and living with the consequences of a wish that comes with it's own burdens. Or not wishing accurately enough and getting what was asked for at an extremely high cost. If I would have wished on a lamp for being mortgage free, one of us could easily bite the dust to enable that wish. It shows that is NOT what I actually want at the very core. We both know his body can not sustain constant regular hours at his job for much longer...unfortunately. We are on a time crunch. His job is perfect otherwise and this breaks our hearts so we are trying to think outside the box for the future. Until then we are stuck, although not stuck fully because otherwise we both love our life and what we have. We are very good at barely getting by. Our home is filled with things because of my thrifting, making, gifting, creative ways of movement around money obstacles.

What I would rather put out into the world with my thoughts is more well spent time with him (and then the kids.) Meaningful time engaging at what we are both good at. A connected inspired love story building ... and not to the point we can’t meet our needs like our home that sustain that story, but that we find alternative ways or balance the goals so we know what we are fighting for ... I’m not fighting to be ‘Mr. Money Moustache (click)’. I learned a lot from him but we never made his wage that he began with in the first place. It would take us 3-4 years to make what he did in a year prior to his retiring. Yes, we can live frugally because we live on less than what he does in retirement as a family of five on a single wage, but we can't put away much of anything as of yet. We are a month to month family. It is what it is even if we are being careful most of the time. We hope to change that soon and have goals, but we also need to live with what we have while being the best we can be.

Aphrodite Marriage Goals:

Money is part of living but it's not what ultimately I am fighting for. It's part of the package but ultimately I’m fighting to be Kmarie and Philip and family ... for as long we both can live. Most feminists would be appalled at that. But I don't expect most to desire my life. I truly am an Aphrodite (see THIS post) type. Ultimately Aphrodite's want love and connection and epic romance stories. That is me. Which is why I was almost destroyed when we went through our hard years. I experienced deep, deep, deep inner destruction. Not because I am incomplete without him but because he is a manifestation of my dreams and goals for life in many ways. Some people say it's not healthy to have a person as that...and he is NOT my only person nor fulfillment...but he is a large part of that. I became super mom during those years. I was shown I COULD go on, be different, explore other means of love and life...but ultimately I still wanted to be back with HIM. Being an ultimate mommy traditional type is not something I could sustain, but for awhile my children became my ultimate life goals which was fine for awhile and showed me how Demeter types would choose lifestyles, but it didn't fully suit whom I was. I am more of a friend mom. A quirky guiding light but often a mom who allows her children a lot of freedom in some senses and has tight protection in others. I am not a Demeter. Nor am I Hera or Artemis or Athena...Many people love their career and find their ultimate joy and fulfillment from doing. It is not fully everything to them and they could be flexible but it's their bliss. In many ways, a career is just as unstable as a person. Each to their own.

I knew at 17 that he fulfilled the love I was wanting to give and receive. It may be old fashioned but that's what I wanted more than anything and still want. And I didn't want a quick ending romance like most movies portrayed. I would think...What happens after? Sure they have struggles but can they fall back in love with each other decade over decade? Can they stay together until the end of a long, healthy life without the long periods of time apart or something tragic or cheating to happen to make them desire each other again? Can they be committed for decades? It goes against the odds, in most cases it is completely unrealistic, but so is becoming a billionaire or getting a specific dream job or sustaining life as an artist and MANY people manage that.

"All I really wanted was something magic. A kind of love song, that goes on, until the end of time..."- Kacey Musgraves.

An Ode to the Tradespeople/ Blue Collar Labourer:

Blue Collar workers/ Trades people are the foundation of society. Our homes and businesses run smoothly because of them. Often they get the brunt of frustration because their job requires them to physically be in the way to fix our sidewalks, roads, buildings, plumbing, waste disposal, sanitation, landscapes, electrical, ect. ect. They fight our fires for us and get gritty to do the dirty work of society that most people are too lazy or disgusted to do otherwise. We don't notice them until things are going wrong. However, they deserve thanks and recognition for what they do. They are the cornerstone of society.

If you can't pay them more or give them their asking price, at least don't complain about it. If you see them in your places, fixing something, thank them, or at the very least acknowledge them with a nod and smile instead of taking them for granted (or worse with disgust.) Do not follow your construction worker around like they are idiots unless their reputation is grey. There are some bad seeds in the industry, but overall, many of the workers in trades are reputable. Believe them when they say the timeline will take longer than you expect. It is not because they are lazy. If you tried their job without their experience it would take you triple the time. I did not realize until I helped my husband on our home how many time consuming details go into the work to ensure safety and longevity.

Some workers fit the stereotypes. But most simply look a little rough around the edges because most of the jobs require grit, basic instinct, and the simplest approach to fix and maintain in high or low temperature environments. Most are hardworking people. The higher paid, "higher educated," workers are doing their jobs partly because of the blue collar workers. They are surrounded by the walls built by craftsmen. Craftsmen/women learn on the job, like many other unrecognized, but crucial jobs that create society like being a mother or parent. Their skills build over time and they become experts in their fields, keeping up on the latest safety codes and building codes. Despite the increasing technology replacement, we still need real people to provide the muscle and human know how power to fix our spaces.

They follow the noble art of CREATING. Buildings like Notre Dame are here, not only because of the great minds that created the design, but the workers who made it happen. Arnold Palmer wrote, "The road to success is always under construction." That applies both figuratively and literally. Too often we celebrate those who look appealing to us. Many parents congratulate the child who goes to University to get a degree or the child who looks nice every day in their suit and tie...but they forget about the child who picks themselves up by their bootstraps, applies muscle, becomes sore from hard labour, and forgoes comfortability for a living and creates homes. It is JUST as noble to provide safety, construct places, and physically work as it is to teach minds, provide insurance or banking, be in service or the arts, or be the face of a brand. Often labourers are given unnecessary advice, watched constantly and not given the benefit of actual intelligence. "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."(Unknown) These workers often have to combine a level of sociability and working with others. They have to engage in the sweaty labour of hostile and dangerous working conditions, risky situations, weather prediction, a basic know how of business, insurances, and finance, and continual updating of safety codes to construct the places of BEING that enable us to live our best lives. Let's not take it for granted. These "blue collar" jobs require skill, hard work and brain power. They are noble, following a rich history of building others' dreams. From the greatest monuments still standing today, to the humble home, they are the people who give our infrastructure it's stability.

Sending a heartfelt thank you to the Men and Women in society that work in the Trades. Our society needs you. We are living and conducting business in safe spaces because of your work. Believe in the merit and nobility of what you do.

Thank you;
*Post Addition: I am not undermining those in white collar work nor do I believe that rich people don't deserve their money. I am not a Marxist and I firmly believe most people earn what they have and deserve to keep it. I am merely pointing out the disparity in perceptions and gratitude in blue collar and white collar...as well as the irony in that mindset. Some of our financial situation is on us...while other aspects are environmental, cultural and societal. We all have a part to play...some of us make less than we deserve while others make more than they deserve, but in general, I believe those who have money worked hard to get their dues and probably paid great sacrifices. We all have sacrifices to make for our choices and I do not envy other's sacrifices nor begrudge them what they have. I wanted to make that clear.*

Song Choice: Because this is one of my husband's favourite when he needs to get revved for a project...And he annoyingly woke me up at 6 am with this as his ring tone this morning:) I accused him of subliminal messaging. I was kidding. That song was his morning alarm by accident today but it was perfect for my plans to post this. Some of the lyrics are basically our life.

Hard Working Man- Brooks and Dunn. "I'm a hard working man. I wear a steel hard hat. I can ride, rope, hammer and paint, do things with my hands that most men can't. I can't get ahead no matter how hard I try. I'm getting really good at barely getting by. Got everything I own, by the sweat of my brow. From my four wheel drive to my cowboy boots, I owe it all to my blue collar roots. Feel like I'm working overtime on a runaway train. I got to bust loose from this ball and chain. I'm a hardworking man. I got it all it all on the line for a piece of the promised land. I'm burning my candle at both ends. But the only way to keep the fire going is to out run the wind...come Monday morning I'm the first to arrive...I'm a hard living, hard working man...and women too."

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Early Verbal "Precocious" Speech In Autism/Executive Functioning Fails in Language and Writing/Former Best Friend Run Ins/ and an Explanation and Apology to Regular Readers

My executive functioning mishaps have been happening more often. It's sad for me because writing is the place I can often express myself best, but this last year, I have been unable to recall the words I want, even if the words are on the tip of my tongue. It is aggravating. I also can't seem to edit like I used to. It has always taken me a few reads after posting to catch most of the grammar and spelling mistakes...and punctuation and sentence structure will NEVER be my forte. I enjoy speaking in sentence fragments for some reason. Lately, I have been more appalled at mistakes I see when reading previous posts. I fix what I can.

I will always have weird sentence structure because in real life conversations, I also speak oddly. My husband says I sound like the tower of Babel. He says my multiple forays into differing accents (it's definitely not purposeful) and the curious ways I structure my sentences (often backwards) are always amusing.  It wasn't until season 2 of Shitt's Creek, when someone pointed out the Moria blended a bunch of accents together, that I realized her accent wasn't a typical accent. I talked like her and thought it was normal. I actually have to correct backwards sentences in most of my posts. And I still have them because it is my natural way of speaking. I put the subject matter in the opposite form that most do. I also learned most of my language by reading when I was young. I was self taught in many ways. I was an early speaker with full, adult sentences before the milestone ages. I sounded like an adult and often was treated older than I was. Which sometimes served me well but also caused issues with expectations. I was thought to be capable thus I had to find my own ways to work around my real struggles/ disabilities. This is often another sign of Autism which gets overlooked. See HERE for more. I still love to hear the sound of certain words, I love people who use challenging or "university level words" in books, and I can sometimes sound like I hail from another century altogether with my word usage.

When asked to describe how I talk, my husband replied, "Your voice is like a Siren and your speech drives me to irrational thoughts." The theory sounded sweet but I didn't understand what he was talking about so he finally clarified, "It's just so unique. I get to experience so many ways of Being through you and oddly they are all true. Your odd accents make you almost sound multi lingual. You have your own language. For instance when you tried to say 'Library' today you instead said 'Lib- rarey.' " This may be amusing to my husband but it's getting slightly scary for me. I've always had Autistic voice tics and different pronunciation or odd sentence structure...but having words sound different from what I think I am saying, while knowing what they should sound like often shocks me as much as it does my listeners. My memory recall for words I want is failing. (I talk about memory more in depth HERE.) I'm learning to laugh along with everyone else but when I am trying to get a thought out...well, let's just say I'm starting to sympathize deeply with Dementia and Alzheimer's patients. I will be staring at a glass, knowing I KNOW it's name, but instead I have to say, "Please pass me that vessel that holds water." It makes me sound even crazier but I try not to bring much attention to the fact that I am not getting my words out properly. As I did most of my life as an Autistic, for better or worse, I try to normalize. To pretend enough to get by or not draw too much attention.

So why do I write? This is my process. I encourage those not interested or frustrated to just skip it or skim it. There are years or posts that I practice concise, shorter writing. But other years or posts are about my process. Which is long, speedy, and already cut in HALF by the time it gets to the page. That's just who I am. Other Aspies have also blogged about this issue. We have so many internal thoughts rolling around, that we need an outlet. Often our outlets are writing or monologuing. Both of which we have received flack from the outside world on more than one occasion. I have never claimed to be a "professional writer." I am a writer, for myself because I engage in writing. I also then hope it can help someone who maybe had similar experiences. However, I am aware of my readers, thus at times I will go out of my way to edit a post in half, or in hindsight go back and make cuts and edits when I have more energy. In the end, this space is a healthy spot for me, to get out thoughts or words that I do not often have a forum for otherwise. Detailed writing provides an outlet for my mind. To have lost much of my writing ability this year has been quite the journey. I remind myself there are seasons to life. Some come back around. Some do not.

I understand accessibility and editing to the best that is possible. I do it in the ways that I feel I can. I have limited energy. Writing a long blog post often surprisingly restores my energy. However, I am finding it hard now to catch my mistakes. This communication derailment happened to my friend Cynthia (in this link.) Cynthia was WAY more articulate and professional than I could ever be- even at her lower communicative points. She taught me a lot. Currently, her lifestyle, stepping out of the blog and into the sensory living aspect of being, working with her hands in her garden ect, is teaching me that it is possible to still have forms of communication, even if my language does deteriorate. I am grateful to learn from her experiences. It makes me wonder if it is an experience that can happen more often to Autistics? Or hormones and phases? Or Autoimmune conditions?

I suppose this is my form of an apology and explanation for those who have caught it or those who want to keep reading. Right now, I still write for me and for those who have told me they needed to hear my words or that enjoy the odd ways I connect aspects of life ... Quirky and all that...

Currently I am reading with my family, "The Healthy Brain" by Aileen Burford - Mason. I am hoping that the diet, vitamin protocol, and suggestions can aid me on a path back to recollection, word formation, and sharper cognitive ability. But if it doesn't, as I have learned in other aspects of life, I am still worthy, I will still contribute to the world, I can still grow and become in new ways, and pursue love until my time is up. And if I can- you can too in most areas of life. Your struggles may be tougher or lesser but they all matter. There is a fine line walked between acceptance of what is and fighting for growth and what could be. In all areas of life we have the chance to become MORE but to also accept our own BEING. It's that line between laziness and too much doing. Between giving up and holding on too tightly. Between being too conservative and being too liberal. The line we all face between dark and light...and often I do best in the gray where some prefer not to go...or in fact judge and deem unworthy.

For those who have followed my journey you know that I recently broke up with my former best friend. (Posts found HERE and HERE.) I feel this ties in to this post because recently we bumped into each other at the Dentist's. I knew we would, because I had a warning dream the night before, thus I was prepared. It was easy actually. We fell into comfortable chatter immediately. It felt like home in many ways. I thought at one point, "Oh I have missed hearing her voice. Maybe we could occasionally hang out and it would work easily enough." But then, walking away later, I was immensely happy that we quit while we were still wishing each other well. I realized that girl I wondered about a few weeks ago...ME without her...well, she is a better person than I ever realized. I am liking the new version of me. I am freer. I have more energy, more of an ability to give, I am tapping into parts of myself that I squelched a bit on behalf of her...or forgot about. I am also able to give more time to my husband. He describes me as a lighter being. However, I still credit her with many beautiful contributions to my life, I can still see us being occasional friends in the future or a morphed version of what we were, but I CAN NOT see us ever going back to what we were before. Nor do I wish to.

We still talk to each other with the same excitement and respect. I do believe we really love each other. We are just not meant to journey with each other the way we were before. I read a quote that says, "You gotta be mature enough to understand that you have some toxic traits too. It's not always the other person." I can't speak for her, but I know that recognizing my own part and role in our separation made it a lot easier.  Plus, I am an INFJ whose personality gets memes like this one below:

I know I care and cared (past tense) but my care no longer is what it was. Some aspect of life change forever, some become more or less, and some circle back around. But I don't have to convince myself that I don't care anymore. In many ways I don't care. I don't care to know what she is doing, or her thoughts on everything or what she thinks of me anymore. But I DO care that she is alive and that I loved her and still do in a different way. 

It has been another lesson to me that changes that we often fear, can sometimes be surprisingly good. I feared losing her for years. I thought I would feel panicky often, sad even more so, and alone and unsupported. For the most part, I actually feel the opposite. Not because she was bad...but because we were already on a path to deconstruction and we were enabling each other in many ways. But I couldn't have known any of that until we were both brave enough to face our own paths and truths. That is also why she was one of my better halves for many years...because she also knew when to walk away and choose boundaries, be seasonal, or when to quit, stop, and choose alternative paths. We both understood that life is not linear. Which also makes us good partners in breaking up too. As I walked away I was on a high. I was relieved our first outing was easy and amiable. I was happy that I am who I am now without her but also partially BECAUSE of her. I was grateful. I liked that I no longer owed her my opinions, thoughts, my giving, my loyalty or any sort of self giving I used to give. While I owed her kindness, gratefulness and the love I truly have within, I did not need to go beyond. I was free and so was she.

The lesson is not lost on me. If I loose my articulation while living, life will find another way for communication and connection. I can not fear what is not fully mine to hold on to. Or what may not come to pass or has a lot of time left until it does. I may as well enjoy and be grateful for what is left. Yet, at the same time, while it is still in my life, it is not bad to fight to hold on to it either. Or to fight for alternative ways of being or overcoming or going around, under, sideways or beyond. Whatever... Life may also bring beautiful changes when we let go of what is already beautiful but needs to morph. A caterpillar is intriguing and so is a butterfly. Both are wonderful ways of being in the world. I would assume the caterpillar as a butterfly probably valued both phases…or maybe not, but often, what we fear as a step down, sometimes is exactly what brings unexpected gifts…even if no one else sees it but ourselves. Sometimes we need to be almost forced out of what we see as bliss, to discover more potential, beauty or connection. Or to see those who are truly in our lives for the long haul in a different way…or to find new people to enhance our lives and to enhance theirs as well?

Being Autistic has taught me more about finding alternative ways to many aspects of living. Adaptation. Acceptance. Change. Cognitive therapy has taught me stoicism even though a large part of me is the opposite way. Paradoxes. Holding two opposing beliefs within and being authentically true to both. Spirituality. Enjoyment. Suffering... All these have been brought home to me with Autism as well is Chronic Illness. So perhaps this is a new stage or maybe it will pass quickly and be a memory? (Well if I get those back...ha ha.) And if not, well, I lived, I used this forum to my best ability, and I still became. So thank you for ignoring the parts that are flawed, embracing them or enjoying in spite of them, if you are here to read. I felt I needed to express that with a heartfelt thanks.

To Life! To Freedom! To Changes! and Dreams! And all the in between! "I'm celebrating this life I've been given from now on...It feels good don't it? Livin' your life in this quick moment, and you never, ever think it's gonna go away, but I swear one day you'll wake up and say yea I go things to do, Yea I got mountains to move...Come on and sing- It feels so good to be alive."- Megan Trainor lyrics

Song Choice: Good to be Alive- Megan Trainor

Don't Speak- No Doubt