What You Tell Yourself at Day’s End

Memory is a scheming demon. A strange and warped aperture, altogether tinted more in dolorous hues, monochromes, quicker to drain itself of color and hollow itself down to dampened bark and snuff out the obvious verdure.

There are many hard days in autism.

And coupled with hypercriticality, hyperintrospection, and a whopping dose of imbalance toward scathing self-talk and distorted reflection — we often misremember every single day as a hard one.

I know I do.

It doesn’t take much for my mental oxen, resolute and routine creatures, to be veered into a ditch—cart, goods, wheels, and all—at the slightest daily shakeup, misconstrued feedback, tonal ambiguity, cloudy days, sleeping in 4 minutes late.

And there we are, up from the shallow crevasse I peek, hearing those horned beasts low confused, grimacing at skidded furrows as far as the eye can see. Never mind the many days in which the path was narrow, trod firm and straight.

Don’t mistake me for an optimist: there’s a lot of ‘not good.’

But I’ve become better at mental optometry: there’s a lot of ‘not bad’ either. I’m getting better at this in my old age.

Seeing others succeed where I do not: these are not the slights they used to be. Furiosity and frustrations within my orbit: these are not always intended for me. A bad morning-afternoon-evening: these are just the days that feel longer. They are not longer.

Thus far, at each day’s closing bell, whether it took a minute or a millennium, I realize I can tell myself this one thing.

“I did make it through this day.

It’s one of the harder things in the moment for us autistic people. I’ve had ‘patently normal days’ where minor subterranean quakes to routine foundations send pain up my spine and attack with exclamation pointed PANIC! Honestly, I still get derailed by the dumbest things too.

But thus far, I’ve made it through every day. Maybe not always at 100%, and sometimes perilously close to 0%, but I have made it through 100% of my days on this terrestrial plane.

I’m hoping to start working on my long memory here with this. To etch even the simplest day’s successes in stone. Notch those rocks.

And though my autistic critical self often wills the iron quill, I should more so scribble and write off the bad days in the inky puddle, where I’ll reminisce far less, remembering that there bad days I’ve penned away here.

But they don’t compare to even the milder days, where I survived and did much better.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram.

Oh, psst, hey, if you missed my latest video, come check it out! I promise it’s worth thirteen minutes of your day – or else you can have your money back:

Why I Don’t Make Resolutions (and what I make instead)

I don’t do resolutions for a new year, because it’s more in keeping to break them. To joke about how soon you’ll fail. To join the masses in abandoning the resolutions to dissolutions.

Even last year, I think I made one offhand in a meeting about how I was learning to do more things left-handed — while that may be true, I didn’t really chart my progress, track my goals, or celebrate my resolution once complete.

I can wave much better left-handed, yay.

For each new year, sometimes I’ll set a goal, something SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound), sometimes I’ll establish a habit.

My weight loss goal was one of these: I started that habit early, and I went from whale to walrus within 9 months — that was powerful.

But it was powerful for another reason:

My best resolutions are habits.

Me being autistic me, once I lock in a habit, it’s hard to break. And it’s amazing when it’s a good habit, like eating right, exercising, financial discipline (or delegation!).

And then the other powerful thing:

The best resolutions don’t always coincide with a new year.

Like this channel, my blog, health, journaling, advocacy, and so much more — I didn’t set about the year with those major milestones in mind. They just happened from good habits, and I’m glad they did, irrespective of when I set about them.

So where does this intersect with autism?

Well, I may have set about baking in some goals and habits for 2021. They aren’t things that will be “accomplished” or “celebrated,” but I can look back and be grateful that I’m using my autistic tendencies for and against myself.

One: Don’t quit.

Hunter, you’ve gotta be joking —

Nope. Despite all the moment, self-care breaks, troughs, nadirs, I find I can usually lean on my autistic “powers” of momentum to carry on, keep the routine, press on, etc.

But what if I just couldn’t?

Now at least I have one more arrow in the quiver, an extra bootstrap to where I won’t be letting myself down when I deserve to press on. It’s an easy goal. Keep trying. Keep at the writing. Keep with the channel. Never stop attempting new things. Be kind until it hurts. Don’t quit.

Two: NO MORE NUMBERS

Yep, I’m leaving my data and analysis career to — NO NO NOT THAT — THAT IS A JOKE.

I realize I’m a mild obsessive over things, measures, success criteria. The details stand out. And the patterns, and the numbers.

If a blog, a post, reel, or video doesn’t have numbers, then I feel like I’ve become attached to the wrong thing — it dampens my mood, casts doubt on my worth, and tailspins me far more than it should. That’s a normal, human thing, but then being autistic, it’s hard to headspin out of it.

Later this year, I realized that if the numbers make me sad, then they should be making me happy.

And for me, that just isn’t right. It’s not what I look back and celebrate or enjoy. Seeing a number go wild isn’t what “does it” for me. It’s the conversations, the engagement, the people given hope and help.

I’m going to go beyond the numbers this year and beyond. I apologize for not celebrating those with you, because there’s other things we should be celebrating. I hope you’ll join me in those instead.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram.

I appreciate you reading! I’m including this video for your amusement, because I hope that a “stretch goal” will be to UNMASK more this year. Here’s how this gets started O_O

It’s Never Too Late: A Cautionary Note on Late Autism Diagnosis

I can only imagine the feelings of an autism (or related) diagnosis later in life.

Relief in knowing the why. Comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Peace.

But maybe you feel regret. That you only just now found out. That you lived almost your entire life already without knowing, without help, without being able to answer so many of those whys.

As one who discovered his autism at 16, let me caution you: It is never too late.

Wait, caution? And yours wasn’t late at all. I don’t understand.

As I apprehended my autism, I embarked on a course that I regret, one that I would advise against doing when you find out.

I buried it.

I didn’t want anyone to know. I never wanted to bring it up. I wanted to plunge it beneath the depths of adaption, to “prove it wrong,” to live as if it weren’t something that could affect me.

Please don’t do this.

Being young enough in my formative years, I was just learning to navigate the world as an adult. And I built my vessel underneath many different veneers, gloss, ways to fit in, shaping myself in a way to where I sought conformity but couldn’t assimilate, to embrace a difference without opening myself to that difference.

Don’t hide yourself.

It severed me from many who would have understood, many more I could have helped, cut me off from a community of need. It was madness.

But still I found grace and graceful people. I built long lasting, life-defining relationships as I opened myself up; the more true I became, the more fulfilled I felt. With co-workers, peers, teachers, rare friends, and my future wife. If only I’d seen that it was a real me they probably saw and not the masked and mysterious marauder I was making myself out to be.

My caution is this: when you find out, don’t bury yourself out of regret.

Your life was not a wasted and confused mess.

I learned it the hard way in reverse, wasting fruit and sowing confusion by being less open about my autistic self. There were myriad mercies and blossoms of blessing in the dark sand, fertile and waiting for me — in this I was fortunate to love and be loved and do good, to shine the more true lights through the cracks of armored pastiches of fear and shame.

This is my lesson. And it’s not even mine.

It isn’t too late for you.

It wasn’t too late for you.

Be you.

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Oh hey, don’t miss my latest video! To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram and/or Twitter.