For once, I look back at the entire picture, and I like what I see...
Still learning to love myself and all others unconditionally; if but still imperfectly. Notwithstanding I am entering this second half century with a inner contentedness that is uncharacteristic of my first half century on the planet.
I have tried to live by the maxim "if you wish to change the world, change yourself"...ultimately you can only change your own behavior and experience of the world, not others'...but we learn by modeling after others who have done what we wish to accomplish...our behavior is a much better teacher than our beliefs.
I can look back on my life, and yes, I can still imagine "what if" scenarios, I suppose, on some level at least, but I no longer experience regret...whats done is done...of what healthy use is regret? I cannot find anything...
I worked with a therapist in training, a very intelligent, smart, and intuitive fellow, who also happened to have CP and was in a wheelchair...on my first meeting with him, I told him my primary goal was to become comfortable in my own skin. I owe him a debt of gratitude, because I worked hard with him, and found that place in me that fits like a glove feeling, comfortable with who I am...
There are many others who have supported me in this too numerous to mention, you all know who you are, and thank you as well.
Freed from this burden, and empowered with support on many levels from many people I am beginning to flower, beginning to find that creative, productive, fulfilled and flowing over place...
Before I discovered my ACC, I felt and acted as if I was inherently broken, that I was powerless to accomplish anything in my life, that I was misunderstood, that I was solely dependent upon others for my life and livelihood, etc...
Today, however, I have an inner confidence, an inner contentedness, I'd never known before. My own "family" has unilaterally wiped me from there lives...if this had happened years ago, it might have affected me. Yet, communication is a two way street, and for over 30 years I think I've spoken to them thrice maybe. When I finally do, it is a recorded and drunken maniacal threat.
Having spent half of my life enslaving (myself) to my parent's supposed view of what "normal" is, I am free. I can think, probably hundreds of times, my own father said to me "why can't you just be like everybody else?", "why can't you be normal?" I can't speak to anything "normal" (and I doubt he could either), yet how sad to think in order to thrive in life we need to imitate others. How sad to think that we gain our position and self worth from "family" and others, that we don't find it within. I am finding it within. I am so grateful.
In the gospels Jesus quoting Rab Hillel says " do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Rab Hillel's actual quote was , the quote is actually "what you hate, do not do to another."
I prefer this arrangement, because how possibly can we have a baseline, an idea of how to treat others, and live amongst them, unless we can identify this in ourselves?
Sometimes it is really difficult for ACC and ASD children/adults to relate our internal state to others. I'm quite eloquent and even elegant when I write, and I can reflect on my inner state and write in some detail, but in the same vein, if you were to approach me directly and ask you to relate my inner state, I can barely do so with any comfort. It has only been in the past few years as I have been able to extricate myself from the imagined constraints and confines of the "parental perfect world" in my head, that I have been able to begin identifying how I feel.
For example, ACC and ASD, we tend to not feel anything "just a little bit." Modulating emotions, and their meaning doesn't come easy to many of us. When I have an influx of feeling in the body, I cannot readily tell, is this anger? Is it excitement? Is it fear? Is it joy? Only when I have separated myself from the external stimulus, am I better able to identify the emotion and modulate it.
Through the skills of DBT and many other tools, through the expertise and help of doctors, therapists, counselors, training, etc...I have been able to experience this to a greater degree in my life. So much of it has come through a simple but profound self-acceptance. The odd thing, is that the "self" in self-acceptance is not even a "permanent feature" of who I am. "Self" in this sense, is no different than the patterns of light shifting through the leaves of the trees outside my window as I am writing this during this sunrise. Yet still, it is the "software" we are given to work with.
Even as I reflect on the past 50 years, and I see tremendous growth and change, there are those features of person and personality, neurology and physiology that will never change in this lifetime. So, at the same time I am dropping into a love and acceptance of my uniqueness. God has made me (apparently) what I appear to be, and no kicking or fighting against it will bring me peace. The acceptance of it, however, is a different story.
For years it is I who have insisted I lived up to the concepts and standards of others...can't blame anyone for that! Now in my life it is a large part of my spiritual practice to embrace "how I show up" fully, and to not judge or condemn it, but to develop it. I'm now free to be what I was born in this body to be. I am free to discover my gifts, talents, joys, skills, my own unique expression in this world, and to love and embrace the same.
I want to thank all of you who are on this journey with me. Thank all of you who support me, believe in me, tolerate and put up with me, love me, respect me, teach me, guide me. There are so many I can't number them all.
They say from 50 "it's all downhill from here" but I don't think so. In fact, to roll down hill, you usually have to start at the top, so in my view I can equally look back on the first half of my life, and have a far more clearer view of the second half...I think I'll stay on the hilltop and enjoy the view for a while.