A letter to myself 10 years from now.

To you –

I try to imagine just how different things might be for you. Sometimes our life with autism feels like quicksand. As hard as we try to rise above, we are perpetually pulled back down. The cycle is exhausting. It is difficult to envision that cycle will ever end. Sometimes I wonder if we will just spin round and round forever.

Do you remember all of the moments that you thought just might swallow you whole? Do you remember sitting in the middle of your own life feeling like a complete stranger? Do you remember saying to yourself that you just might not be strong enough? Do you remember believing that with your whole heart?

I sit here today overwhelmed by all of those feelings. And instead of looking at today, I tell myself to look forward. I plead with myself to keep faith alive. To believe that one day this journey will be easier. That at some point I can stop living my life one moment at a time. One incident at a time. One behavior at a time.

I need to know that we survive this. You and me. I need to remember that I am doing this for you. I am putting in the work. I am crying the tears. Feeling the pain. I am pushing forward with everything I have to give. So that maybe, one day, you can stop pushing. Free of tears. Free of pain. Free.

When you read this I want you to know that in all of those moments when you doubted yourself, you were wrong. You were always strong enough and brave enough and steadfast enough to survive this journey. You doubted yourself because that is what this journey does to you. It makes it so easy to doubt everything around you. And so you do.

Living in the middle of this journey is painful in a way that I had never experienced pain before. Sometimes I feel so close to the beginning that even thinking about what lies ahead makes me tired. Walking towards a moving target is a thankless and tiring journey.

But with hope and love in my heart, I walk the journey. Broken, but somehow still whole in the ways that matter the most. In the way that my family needs me. And, in the way I need myself.

I think of you often. I wonder if your pain is still the same. I wonder how the pain changes as we settle into this journey. Is it better? Worse? Is their comfort in experience? Is their joy in the progress? Or, is their sadness in the unrelenting and unchanging prognosis.

Are we thankful for the things along our journey that tested us? Today I resent them. Today I narrow my glare on them and wonder how in the world I will overcome them. And then I remind myself that I am a person who overcomes.

But, is autism something that we can really overcome? That seems impossible. It never goes away. It never stops. It is the unwelcome visitor in too many moments in my life. It is bigger and stronger and more resilient than I am.

And despite all of the reasons why we should not overcome it, I cannot shake the feeling that we do. We outsmart it. We over power it. We rise against it. We win. Maybe the autism changed, and maybe it did not. But we changed. In moments you felt as though autism defined you. You began to look at your life as “before autism” and “after autism”. You saw yourself that way. And because you saw yourself that way, you assumed other people did too. You worried about that. You worried about that a lot.

But you were wrong. Autism never defined you. It changed you and tested you and pushed you. But, it did not define you. You were defined instead by your commitment not to let autism define you. That commitment, that fight, was more defining than Grayson’s autism diagnosis ever was.

I am tired. Tired in a way that seems hard to move through each day. I am sad. Sad in a way that seems all consuming. I am scared. Scared in a way that seems vulnerable and week. I am lost. Lost in a way that seems permanent.

But I will find myself. I will find me so that I can become you. I will be someone many years from now looking back on this part of the journey. Thankful for the lessons and the experiences. Wiser, smarter, and stronger for having pushed forward. For enduring. For surviving.

I will find a way to make it through each day. I will do this for you.

From Me

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