Monday, February 14, 2011

Obligatory Valentine's Day Post

Haha.... No, I'm not really cynical about Valentine's Day, c'mon :D  But I have to laugh at PhD Comics (Piled Higher and Deeper) because of this comic!!!!!! I was sort of bummed on Valentine's Days of years past during the years when I liked specific guys, but I enjoy how Summitview D-Teams still try and do stuff for the singles :) For instance, Symbio singles are taking over Coopersmith's tonight!!! WOOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) But yeah, I do tend to stop and think a bit about my life in the guy-girl relationships arena on Valentine's Day. I think it's only natural since - yeah. I am a girl. However, that doesn't necessarily obligate me to spend a lot of time pondering guy-girlness. Yet the Bible says that married women are helpmates of their husbands. We are equal in worth yet different in our roles. Because of this we long for being a helpmate to someone.

Last night D-Team went to the home of a family from church for dinner. Their four little people were there so of course we played with them for a bit!!! I have to say, Team Ninja guys have decent paternal instincts :) I enjoyed hanging out with the little people too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They say some pretty great things. What I like about little people is teaching them stuff. Especially since my diagnosis, I've been noticing how I seem to have a more intellectual style in interacting with kids. It's not to say I don't care about them. I just seem to express it differently. However, I can't say that because my interaction style is different, I would be incapable of raising children if God called me to. But one thing I realized is that I saw raising children as a developmental step that I had to somehow achieve to succeed in life.

When I liked certain guys, I would get all twitterpaited when I saw them playing with kids, especially if they had really positive interactions and I could see that the kids were responding well. I would think: "Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!! High paternal emotional availability potential here! Well, this increases my desire to marry said person because our potential children would have really great developmental outcomes because of this and also see God's love a lot more clearly in their father!!!!!!" I would evaluate guys on the basis of how well they would fulfill the role of servant-leader and father in a marriage. Of course, that's not a bad thing at all to evaluate men on, but I think for me, I had a goal:  marriage and I liked guys based on how well they would do in partnering with me in attaining said goal. It was mostly intellectual rather than the feeling of "fluffiness" that seems to happen in guy-girl movies. Sorry, can't think of a more precise word.... ;) 

In an earlier post on this blog, I go a bit more in depth into my thoughts on marriage and how they've changed post-ASD diagnosis. So what goes through my mind when I hang out with kids now or approach days like Valentine's day or other times when the focus is on marriage or guy-girl stuff? I think it comes down to just being in the moment. This comes from releasing myself from the expectation that I should get married to be 'normal.' Shoot! I'M NOT NORMAL, so essentially: who cares :D So I can focus on doing single-people stuff on Valentine's day like our Symbio thing tonight and when I'm around a family, I can just be me around the kids and enjoy teaching them things and hanging out with them. The pressure of wanting things is gone, so the angst of all these things is largely gone too :)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

6 months since my life changed forever: Goodbye to the notion of normal

To continue the series of the 6 months since my life changed forever (and yes, I know it's been more than 6 months exactly), one thing that I realized today is that I had to say goodbye to the notion of normal. There was definitely an intial grief process because it was the loss of my perceived identity as a typical 26 year-old Christian female who was pursuing her career post-masters degree. When I was told that I might possibly have Asperger's Syndrome, I was faced with the prospect of identifing as a member of the individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders community that I had always viewed from the outside as a student or reseacher looking in. Yes, I had read articles about ASD and knew some of the descriptors sounded eerily familiar, but I had thought, "And here I am, having basically overcame some of these difficulties reading these articles as a future interventionist." Suddenly I was going back over textbooks and articles reading them thinking, "This might be me. I always wondered, but this might be me. These descriptors may be immovable for my life."

My friends told me that there would definitely be positives about pursuing a diagnosis such as receiving services to help me and finally understanding how God had made me. But my mind was reeling when they told me Aspergers Syndrome. I told them, "Imagine if someone told you, 'You might have cancer.' Well, you guys are basically telling me, 'You have cancer. Of your development.'" I wasn't mad at them. I was just scared that there was a sledgehammer about to come down and absolutely shatter all my previous notions of who I thought I was.

Well, figuratively speaking, the hammer did come down. It fell in a bit of a different place than I expeccted with the diagnosis of PPD-NOS. But still, though I knew my identity in Christ was unshaken, my identity of 'a typical girl with a bit of an eye problem' was shattered. My identity as another interventionist in the HDFS field was shattered. I was not a typical post-graduate. I was not a typical person in my field. I didn't know what the future held for me with my new diagnosis. I didn't know how to think about myself. Yes, I knew that God had a purpose for me and that He loved me regardless, I just didn't know where to go from there. That's why I clung so tightly to Dr. Grandin's story in the beginning. I had to see how God directed her life so I could trust Him to direct mine.

After many tears and pondering my life, I am ok with not being normal. No, I don't want God to make the rest of my life a carbon-copy of Dr. Grandin's life :-D I'm NOT THAT CRAZY HAHA!!!!!!!!! But I don't hold the expectations of a 'normal life' over myself and hence get mad at myself when I don't meet them. For instance, I can feel more comfortable in the group-home with the clients than in a staff meeting. Previously, I'd chide myself for that, but now I just say, "Meh, that's how the way God made me." Of course, I've learned some coping strategies and learned how to speak up at staff meetings so I can contribute in a good way.

One major step I took last sweek was making an appointment with the Departmet of Vocational Rehabilitation. Definitely not normal. But I figure, if they can help me learn interview skills and different ways to help me cope at my current and future jobs, than that works for me. I avoided getting disability services for my eyes in undergrad because I had intense shame at admitting any weakness. Anything that would make me stand out from the norm, I avoided.

Yet as God removed the shame of me being different, I felt more free to access these resources. I had to believe that God loves me even in my weakness; that He does not grieve that I am not 'his perfect little child' because I am not apart from Christ. He looks at me - flaws an all - and because He sees Christ in me - He loves me. Not for my abilities or goodness, but because of Christ. As I let go of this notion of trying to be normal, I embraced this truth, and this has made a ton of difference.