April 2nd is World Autism Day. In celebration of this day, I am writing a little retrospective of events that have taken place in my life, since my first celebration of World Autism Day in 2011.
Being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (finally, in my early 40s) was a major turning point in my life. I never doubted that I am who I am, but I had tried for too long to acquiesce to the myriad dictates placed upon me, to be someone others wanted me to be. The official diagnosis helped to begin the process of freeing my own mind, thus empowering me, step by step, to unshackle myself and break away from the fetters that held me back. The chains and fences of neurotypical social constructs, familial manipulation and oppression, and unhealthy peer relationships. It has been a long journey, an arduous and excruciating one at times, and it will be a continuing journey of learning and freeing and being, but I am fulfilled at last, because I am pursuing a purpose that is intrinsic to me.
I have been in Sydney for two years now. In the two years, I have given four lectures, by invitation, to groups of future teachers, about insights from my life with autism. I’ve staged a solo exhibition and taken part in two group exhibitions in Sydney, one group exhibition in Newcastle (Australia) and another Hong Kong, presented conference papers in Hong Kong and Oxford (U.K.), and performed a solo multi-media installation show in Cardiff (U.K.). I have lived in three different abodes, moved house three times, experienced horrible housemates, the latest one was an act-of-kindness-gone-horribly-wrong housemate from the depths of lunatic hell, and ended up being cheated and having my things stolen from me by her. However, I also had one good housemate to remind me that decent people still do exist. I have let go of connections, some because they were pernicious, and others irrelevant to my life now, while re-connecting with people from my past, even as far back as primary school. I have made new friends, some of whom have come and gone, a few of whom I would never have noticed before, let alone become friends with, and I learned a great deal of life lessons in the process. I have plunged into depths of poverty that I have never experienced before, living on $10 a day for food and expenses. I have not bought a single item of clothing or shoes or accessories for two years, and I am honestly happy about that. For a former fashionista diva, this is a marked change! (Of course, thankfully, my old clothes still fit, and I still have some that I haven’t even worn as yet, so there’s still new stuff to wear!) From being labeled a non-achiever, and having people try to fit me into too small boxes, I am now working on my Ph.D, creating empathic spaces and designing multi-art for neuro-cosmopolitan cultures. The next best thing to being awarded a Ph.D scholarship, is my babygirl, Lucy, coming into my life. I grew up with dogs, and they were all lovely, but Lucy is the most special one, and she is my very own angel, a gift of Providence, along with all the other wonderful gifts.
It has been a fabulous journey. Life has been challenging, but I am immensely grateful. What more can anyone ask for? Indeed.
By the way, April is also Adopt a Greyhound Month. If you are looking for a doggy companion, why not check out your local Greyhound adoption groups?