The decent into California felt like a mixture of magic and dreams, and instantly gathered a a million filed away memories from every old television show set in Los Angeles that 25 year old me had ever seen.
I was in absolute jaw-dropped awe. My very own script of Beverly Hills 90210- starring ME. A pre-dosed vial of possibility was administered with each and every landing in the City of Angels. Looking out at the sparkling lights felt like Life. Even the traffic was breathtaking and from a distance resembled lines of red and white twinkle lights pointing me towards home.
Missouri girls don't move to LA. Missouri girls get jobs and get married and have babies and then quit jobs and make casseroles. It's how the whole world works- at least I thought--that is until I had my first dose of Los Angeles.
Life was never the same after that. I could never unknow the intoxication I felt with every landing to a place that also felt instantly like a backwards and upside down version of home. Six months prior I had met a boy who called Los Angeles home and we were dating long distance. And only six short months after meeting The One- I moved in with him in his pad in Brentwood. After a year and a half I discovered he was not in fact my The One. My heart was broken. It physically hurt. I was sick with anxiety and sadness and a fear that I could never survive in the chaotic and expensive city all on my own. I couldn't run back to Missouri without trying Los Angeles on my own first though. I was discovering who I was- and I knew I wanted to be someone who was strong- even when life was hard. Especially when life was hard. I was scared and hopeful all swirled into one cone. I got a six month lease on a studio apt--the entire thing could now fit inside my current bedroom. Should I stay or should I go now? The question I would only allow myself to ask at the END of my six month lease in my very first very own apartment on Barrington Street in Brentwood California.
It was in Los Angeles that I first learned and understood- my life was going nothing as I planned. I was now 27 and single. Little kid me planned for 27 year old me to be married with a child, maybe even another one already on the way. And here I was- starting over with absolutely everything. Work. Love. Grocery store. Friendships and all of life.
At this time I also learned that whatever you look for, you will find. You think there are only fake people in LA? Then only fake people you will find. You think it's impossible to afford to live there on your own? It will be impossible. We are reflections of what we want to see. I had to make certain I looked for the good stuff.
Despite a fear and pain and sadness so deep it bled, I was alive. I was alright. I felt like ME, real me for the first time in so long. Life had an endless feeling of possible again. That feeling of possible that only pain and change can bring. And the answer to the question- What do you want to be when you grow up? Could still be answered in any way I wanted.
Fast forward to now. About 15 tiny little drips in a bucket later, as measured by human folks in 'years'. My nouns and definitions have seriously changed a million times since then. Almost everything I thought was true- isn't. And everything I didn't think possible - is. It's taught me that I don't really know much at all- and that's ok. I understand that when it's important for me to know it- I will. God- the universe- whatever you believe is your bigger power- will reveal it to you at exactly the right time.
And our nouns, our nouns we hold with white knuckled fists-they are not us. Even the ones we demand to define us- whether mother or wife or runner or lawyer. The things we pray don't define us- divorcee, over eater, angry, impatient, anxious, depressed. They are all just layers on top of the core that always has been and always will be glorious YOU. 5 year old discovering the world you. 14 awkward, blooming, growing you. 23 year old who am I? you. 34 year old- where did I go? you. 45 year old- who am I now? You.
We are always lost. We are always found. We are always me and you.
We act like life is a processing of getting. Getting a marriage and a car, and house and a job and toys to occupy our time. Getting love and children and then a bigger house and different stuff.
But I'm discovering that in reality- real life is the opposite of getting. Real life is letting go. Letting go of expectations. Of things that will never be reality. Of love. Of our children when they are ready to fly the nest. Of friendships that just aren't right. Of jobs that hold us back. Of stuff that doesn't matter and never ever will. The letting go is much harder than the getting. It is what hurts but it's also what heals.
When Grey first showed signs of autism we were desperate to help him. To fix it or stop it or cure it. We tried everything. Special diets, new therapies and treatments. Injections, pills, creams, and a thousand different supplements. If something is broke- you fix it. And when that something is actually your child-your satellite heart? You flip the world upside down and backwards.
But you see I couldn't fix him. I tried. I couldn't cure him. If I could it would have been done a long time ago. But I could and can and always will- help him. It still means working our asses off, trying new things, and continuing the things that work- but it's not to cure him- it's to make his life better and easier.
The other day I realized in awe, that there IS a person who could be cured from autism. It was me. It was me that had to go through a process of grief and acceptance. It's been me all along that HAD to try those things as part of the journey. That had to turn over every rock, and try every therapy. It was me that had to let go of expectations and pain and resisting what is. It was me that had to take care of myself so I could be a better Mom- with running and writing and yoga and God. It was me that had to realize that autism is here to stay- and everything is STILL going to be okay.
Scratch that- EVERYTHING IS AMAZING. It's taken a few years, but I can finally say I'm cured of autism.
Will I tell new folks on this journey- "You need to realize you don't need to FIX your child. They are perfect they way they are" Just as SO many people constantly told me? Absolutely not. Like me- they probably won't listen to it. And like me- they need to do their precious journey in a way that does their own soul and family justice. They may need to discover this important realization all on their own as part of their own process of curing themselves from autism.