Despite appearances, I’m still here. I had to take off a lot of time from the summer onward. I had worked myself into the ground. Yes, life was less overtly traumatic than last year, but, still, it was a lot at times. That’s why you’re getting a blog that’s a bit shorter than the usual 3000+ ramblings, however well-researched they may be. Instead, here’s a list, an anecdote, and a heart-warming email.
Things Jorik learned in 2021
I learned that being a freelancer means that you can’t trust on anyone to respond to your emails, so one should always have a plan A, B, C and D in place should things inevitably fall through.
I learned that I can trust my body to tell me when I’m not comfortable and actually rest.
I learned that if I can’t write, I can’t force myself. Rest is the only way through. I need to treat being autistic more as a chronic health condition – which, y’know, it is. If you lived in the sensory equivalent of a wind tunnel, you‘d need a breather once in a while.
I learned that I can bring my experience of muddling through life into direct practice as a mentor for autistic students – which has been a huge success.
I learned that if I get zero speaking engagements from August to December, that doesn’t mean my business has failed, especially during a pandemic. Although my meeting with the self-employment coach on Friday might make me rethink that.
I learned that I cannot force myself to commute. I don’t have the energy for it anymore.
I learned I cannot deal with early starts. I need a lot of sleep. Like a wombat.
I learned that moving house really messes with my capacity to run a business. I had to practically start from scratch!
I learned that I can and should receive support for CPTSD and trauma care is on the way.
I learned that I can live without Quietiapine (nearly 9 years of taking that drug and I’m finally off it! Hooray!).
I learned that I can’t lose weight by doing High Impact Interval Training at the same time as teaching English for Academic Purposes; instead, I’ll gain weight.
I learned that I sometimes need a holiday. I do. Please force me to take one, otherwise I won’t.
I learned that reading is the best way of facilitating writing.
I learned that the air quality of a place is vital to my adequate functioning.
I learned that my traumatic experiences are mean that I am messed up, but not indefinitely.
I learned that I am an addict who needs trauma-informed support.
I learned that I’m not just an object to be used for work, but am part of a gorgeous community.
I learned that I look pretty good in a suit, even after lockdown.
I learned how to upload videos on youtube.
I learned that I’m a pretty awesome podcast guest.
I learned that I’m old (I had my first post-obesity bout of back problems).
I learned that I can be in a healthy relationship again, for over two years!
I learned that I’m home now.
I learned that forgiveness is not just something I need to give to other people- it’s something I can also receive.
I learned that I’ll need to be far more clear with future employers about how much I’ll actually do to try and impress them, to my own detriment.
I learned that if I buy a dragon-shaped candlestick-holder made of ‘resin’, it will break the first time we use it.
I learned to have faith in Dutch people, politically, for the first time in my life (see BIJ1 election).
I learned that my partner was right about Twin Peaks and The Sopranos and now I’m finally a box set bitch.
I learned that I could watch the entirety of FIFA propaganda exercise United Passions and only storm out during the credit sequence when the film implies that FIFA ended racism.
I learned that trauma is in the body, and that my body doesn’t lie (apart from my hips. They’re mendacious).
So, Sunday last week, I received £180 worth of IKEA shelving units, for me to build. It was necessary – there were far too many books still in boxes and sat in the middle of the front room. My partner just focuses on the computer and is blind to anything around him that isn’t literally in his way. I, though, prefer to have things a little homelier. Like in Reading, where we never truly unpacked, I felt we needed to get some more shelving so we can show off the books a bit more.
I’d told my partner to stay away from the front room, since I’d be putting together 5 billy bookcases and his tendency to lose stuff and get things wrong would make things difficult. It’s also a prime moment for him to melt down. It took me 20 minutes before I realised I’d been building one of the shelving units all wrong. Before I knew it, I was banging my head against the wall and I was sent upstairs with immediate effect.
I was so angry. It was the last day of my holiday and what had I done? I had barely written (I’d written a bit), I’d been ill twice, I’d even had a night where I couldn’t sleep til 5 AM. Not good. I felt like I had failed my holiday. You read that right – I’d failed being on holiday. Luckily, my partner removed all electronic devices and I could rest. After a few hours, I was actually feeling better! I could have had a worse meltdown, I could have binged; on food, porn, or both. I didn’t. Instead, I just rested. I needed it too, because I had my first face-to-face training on Tuesday morning and I needed to be rested up (I will tell you about that one next week!).
My in-laws would visit on the Saturday after, since they’re actually good at putting furniture together. I’m including a picture of our beautiful front room.
Really, I should have known better. Neurotypicals have meltdowns at IKEA furniture. IKEA itself is a Swedish acronym for ‘abandon all hope dyspraxics!’ (it isn’t). It’s not bad to cry at flatpack furniture, that’s what it’s for.
This week, I received an email from the father of a young autistic person in the UK. In it, he said that my blog gave him an insight into his child’s thinking who, at 13, is still learning to understand themselves and cannot yet verbalise the complexities of being autistic in a neurotypical world. I cried. Not as much as I cried at IKEA, but still, I cried.
It was such a brilliant message to receive, especially after feeling that my blogs were disappearing into the ether, without much follow-through. If it helps one parent understand their child better, it’s worth it. So I’m back on my nonsense again. See you all next week!
Lots of love,
P.S. Best books I read in 2021, best podcasts, youtube videos and music all in a future blog. Probably. I’m giving myself a little more oxygen for that.