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Never say never

Never say never

First published on Awake Alive Outraged

Laura Lewis feels she has reclaimed some parts of herself that were broken. She also shares her feelings about the terms “recovery” and “survivor”.

I have learned over the course of my life to never say never. I have been a bit slow on the uptake but I finally caught on. My son was most definitely the catalyst in helping me. Somehow though, this mindset just does not fit with myself. I am an enthusiastic and curious person always questioning and seeking better pathways for everyone except me.

I’m am currently trying to work through my personal journey with no longer identifying as a victim. Why it took so long to move on from that and why have I not found a landing, be it temporary or permanent, for my psyche to rest.

I do feel that I have reclaimed some parts of me that were broken. Don’t be confused, I am still the sum total of all my broken parts. Now here is where I could write some cheesy analogy about needing to crack to let the light in. Or bending in gusty wind like grass rather than uprooting like strong but rigid Oak trees. That is definitely not how it is. I have painfully gathered my broken pieces, my backstory, my dreams and rebuilt a version of myself that is different but still recognisable. It’s taken a stack of bluetac, super glue, staples, gaffer tape, string and paper clips all working together, doing their very best to keep me contained. Keep the illusion of being whole. I know deep inside my heart that accepting this is the way it will always be, is a positive step forward for me.

Recovery is a word I have a big problem with.

I just can’t identify with that word.

This is a far more accurate analogy and completely relatable. You see I continue to find broken pieces and the very temporary nature of my fixings means I can steal a bit of bluetac from one place, untie some string or add another bit to a paper clip. Evolving and adapting with no fixed recovery expected but still keeping my shit together. A far more sensible and realistic approach.

I have faced some really dark times and I carry far too much trauma. I never feel safe and am ready at a whim to take flight.

Recovery is a word I have a big problem with. I just can’t identify with that word. Similarly identifying as a survivor is as foreign a concept as living on Mars. I haven’t decided that I have survived this and don’t think I ever will. I am not in recovery, and I will never be recovered. The very essence of me has always been broken and there’s little possibility of finding any release. I have faced some really dark times and I carry far too much trauma. I never feel safe and am ready at a whim to take flight.

If I feel a hint of danger, I cut people from my life. I have no room for any more emotional scars. I would prefer loneliness over the pain of betrayal. This is certainly something I believe is very common with autistic people. Again, I am not writing about this but google Rejection Dysphoria Syndrome. I have lived my whole life (nearly 53 years) feeling terrified of the smallest rejections from even people who are not significant in my life. It is far easier to sink into a quiet reclusive life than to keep hunting for infinite quantities of bluetac, staples and paper clips.

I am not settling as settling would be to not challenge myself and to not step out of my comfort zone. I do step out of my comfort zone far more than I like. I choose to do this in ways that involve helping other people. It feels worthwhile and gives me purpose.

Last night I was with my daughter, and she reminded me about a time when I had to confront her first boss. He was a bully. He yelled at his young staff. This was her first part time job and she gave it a good crack. She said she could deal with it until the day she couldn’t. She was feeling sick about going to work. She was 15. She was scared to face him. She was owed pay and she had been exploited with having to undertake nine hours of unpaid training. Three shifts of three hours. I first rang Fair Work and sought advice. I then recorded the whole conversation (I have a short-term memory impairment and needed to recollect the conversation not use the recording) and I told him upfront I had received advice from Fair Work to ensure my daughter received her full pay. He was difficult and not happy that she had given no notice. I reminded him that she was a casual and owed him no notice. While listening to this recording last night with my daughter I couldn’t believe how calm and brave I sounded. This was the first time my daughter had heard the exchange. I wouldn’t allow it three years ago. She was paid for her outstanding wages but not her trial. We decided to just move on.

I am not great with the whole notion of any type of conflict particularly when it is about me but will not hesitate to jump right in when it comes to defending my family and others. I am not a good bystander. I loathe bullying. Yet I tolerate it when it’s directed towards me. I understand why. There’s a four-year-old me who didn’t have the words to stand up for herself and that has set a precedence that I still cannot budge.

Little me at three

I know I have traveled light years metaphorically speaking. To finally not feel like a victim and to embrace that is huge. I’ll keep walking around blindfolded with my hands out in front hoping one day I will find the right way to identify without using recovery or survivor as a description.

If you would like to connect and chat more with Laura about the lived experience of being autistic in Australia and her mental health journey, please contact her via Awake Alive Outraged or follow her on Instagram.

Quick Escape