Reflections on an Inconstant Life: My Eight Year Blogiversary

Blogiversary
Eight years ago, I sat in my library, organizing books and reflecting on my life.

Dust motes whizzed through a ray of late afternoon sun as I sat. I contemplated their furious energy, abruptly halted as they collided with years of my journals shelved at the end of the sunbeam.

Shabby, mismatched and worn, the assembly of spiral notebooks echoed my own unevenness in life.

I was one of those “promising” high IQ young people that never amounted to much. School inexplicably exhausted me. I missed weeks at a time. More than once my indignant parents fought to keep me enrolled.

My attendance did not improve when I went to college. Inconstant grades plagued me. Only in retrospect did I realize I excelled in classes with take home tests and independent work. I collapsed in timed problem solving exams and group projects.

Sometimes I thought I was losing my mind. In fact, if one could be driven to madness by a physics exam, my experiences with Dr. Stromberg’s Physics 270 would certainly certify me.

I dashed through homework with ease, working harder to amuse teaching assistants than to solve problems. But midway through the first exam, my brain latched onto the sound of the buzzing fluorescent lights. In an instant, the droning lights and institutional urine-yellow of the classroom collapsed upon me, skewing reality.

I became not me.

The world around me prized into my mind; I could not drive it out. Classroom rustling and coughs seemed so immediate I wondered if they emanated from my own person.  The bolts on the chair prodded me while the scents of the students around me challenged me to match them to their owners.

The unreality dislodged the problem solver inside me. My mind froze so solidly that I bombed every physics test that semester.  Yet, a year later, I topped the class in a complex electromagnetics course.

As dust caromed and settled, I regarded my worn notebooks.

Revisiting me throughout my life, the surreal sensation of the physics exam is more existential than any panic attack. I can best describe it as the inevitability of doom and failure that occurs in certain dreams—the sort of dream where you see death rushing at you.

Imagine standing alone on a sandy beach wondering where the sea went only to spot a mile high tsunami above you. In seconds you will be crushed.  Do you sprint for distant safety or tip your head to watch the dark water fall upon you? The bee-like buzz of the classroom lights felt like drops of tsunami water to me.

The Wave

My notebooks pulled glittery specks toward them.

Would parenthood be a repetition of college or my sketchy part-time work? Would my mothering be as untidy and irregular as my journals? Would I fail, not at some ephemeral exam but in nurturing and shaping a young life?

I took control by imposing order on my journals.  My words would not remain trapped on paper or canted on shelves. My words would resound in tidy typeface against a glowing white background. Through the patterns these words wove, I uncovered the great mystery of my life: I am on the autism spectrum.

Eight years have passed and my life is still uneven. Tsunamis abound. But now, when I look up, I see something beautiful. I accept and find worth in my differences. And even when I don’t rejoice, I find more purpose in being a parent and autistic advocate than million physics exams. I stand tall as the water falls.

21 responses

    • Thank you so much. I also take courage from fellows who are on similar journeys. We can boost each other mightily! I appreciate the encouragement and thoughts you shared. :)

  1. Happy Eight Year Blogiversary!

    Another amazing post, my friend! How your words speak to my soul and I sway in the smoothness of how you articulate this so well. “I stand tall as the water falls.” Love this! I treasure your presence and all that you share here on Bloggyland.
    <3 ~ Angel

    • Angel! I am happy you enjoyed my post. I am so fortunate to have you in my blogging world. You always bring me cheer! And I’ll proudly accept kind words from a wordsmith like you! <3

  2. The promised lands. You live beyond. Beyond academic shuffling. Your work amazes me.
    Ps. I never tested well. Though, am unbothered in that knowledge. Am glad that you stand proud, as you should: your work is complete genius.

    • Please forgive me for taking my time getting back to you. Sometimes the words just don’t come. Your message gave me goosebumps of appreciation. I write for people like you, who understand from a deeply personal level. It is fulfilling to read your words, a validation. Thank you.

  3. As a teacher, I was fascinated by your use of literary skills and also your journey. Your words confirm what I always knew – that my off beat students who were hit and miss on assignments and attendance had a spark of beauty in their souls.
    I’m smiling so proudly at all you have become and can’t wait to forage through your website.
    Thank you,
    Karen Hoyt

    • Thank you, Karen.

      I feel so happy to have helped you and your off-beat students! I’ve spent my life in close association with off-beat people, from my family and friends to the wonderful people I have met on the web. I breathe it!

      School is so important to our lives that teachers can make a profound difference in our outcomes. Exploring offbeat blogs is a great way to research your students–we were them years ago. I am pleased to meet you!

      Lori D.

  4. You are an amazing mom and have an even more amazing son, who is the result of your parenting! Congratulations!

    • Janet,

      Thank you so very much. You see Tyoma everyday and have helped us come up with many solutions and self regulatory skills over these past two years! Just yesterday I located the big brass button you gave T in kindergarten and I had a warm moment–and then some fun popping the button!

      I appreciate your kind words and thoughts!

      Lori

  5. Oh, it’s such a delight to discover your blog!! Your artwork is truly beautiful, and your writing connects with me so well.
    I can relate to so much of what you said here, but this; this really grabbed me. “Do you sprint for distant safety or tip your head to watch the dark water fall upon you?”
    My husband often points out that I “think too much” or that I “dwell in the macabre” a little too often. But the thing is, I have an insatiable compulsion to learn about everything that I encounter. I do dwell, because to not do so would mean I might miss out on knowing one more fascinating thing.

    For me, “always tip your head” seems like a fitting motto to live by :)

    • Thank you so much, Rosemary! I went on vacation for a bit and fell behind online!

      I completely understand what you mean about thinking too much, especially about disturbing things. Part of it for me is OCD. I never knew how much of OCD is unwanted, disturbing, and stubborn thoughts until my son started to have them.

      I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts with me and patience! :)

      Lori D.

  6. Hi Lori,

    I visit your blog to commune with a kindred spirit and you never disappoint.

    These days I barely find time to blog, let alone visit the blogs of others, but yours is one of a very small handful of blogs that I keep making my way back to, where I can find nourishment and be among my own.

    I won’t leave it so long until my next visit :-)

    • Sam,
      Once again, much appreciation to you! I know just what you mean about blogging, sometimes it is hit or miss. The number of half-finished posts I have is astounding! I am so proud to know you find positive energy here. I long to be in a space where I am respected and understood. Thank you for being part of that world.

      All my best!
      Lori

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