This is a letter to myself about autistic forgiveness, and how I’m ok.
I love you unconditionally, and you matter to me. Thank you for being who you are.
Your senses are good. That you feel your senses at an 8 out of 10 as baseline, while most people feel their senses at a 3 out of 10 as baseline, is a gift. Thank you for the hard work of feeling. It’s a lot of work, to experience ecstasy (as well as torture) from sound, smell, touch, and your emotions in ways most people can’t understand.
Yes, I thank Mother God for my senses and the ability to speak about my experiences. I thank Mother God that I feel loving touch as pleasure-joy, to smell a flower is heaven, and to hear rain on a skylight or tinkling wind chimes thrills me.
But it’s hard to function in a world with 8 out of 10 senses, when the world is made for people who feel their senses mostly at a 3. It makes complete sense that I will be disrupted over and over again, run out of energy while I’m around other people, and need to flee loud public places when my chair is bumped.
When I was a kid and young adult and had to run out of restaurants, grocery stores, auditoriums, classrooms, churches, and other intense spaces mid-panic attack, I had no idea I had autism. I thought it was weakness, or I was a bad person, because that’s what I was told.
Doctors later told me it was an anxiety disorder. There was no attention paid to the fact that my responses weren’t disordered. They were 100% reasonable considering the experience I was having, flooded with input I couldn’t turn down, filter, or sort the way many people are able to.
Now I understand that I’m valid unconditionally. I won’t let anyone shame me for being different. My differences are gifts, and I’m glad I’m here on earth to feel.
I forgive the young Laura-Marie who panicked over and over, when my sensory needs were violated. I love you, Laura-Marie. You are an ok person.
Everyone who told me I was too sensitive, I forgive you. I’m sorry you were made to harden yourself to the world, and you passed that message on to me. I’m sorry your own soft places were shamed, so you passed that shame on to me.
You are beautiful and good. We need more sensitivity in the world. Your needs are ok, and mine are too.
Teachers, relatives, friends, therapists, community members, employers, and everyone who shamed me for my feelings–I love you. I forgive you, and I see how you did that because of unkindness that was done to you.
Let’s make a world together where a wide range of feelings and responses is ok. Everyone’s needs matter, even the needs of less powerful people like kids, young adults, and disabled people.
center of the world
Everyone who told me, “You’re not the center of the world,” when I asked for what I needed, I forgive you. I’m sorry your needs were disrespected, and you tried to pass that disrespect to me. I’m sorry you thought access was pie, so if I got more pieces of the pie, you got less.
Now we can understand together that access is expansive, and our liberation is shared. If I have more freedom, that’s not less for you–it’s more for you. We can be free together.
I love you, and I want to build a better culture with you, where we can all get our needs met without shame. And all the pie we need.
Autism means sensory differences and social differences, but has many whole-life ramifications that we can change. Being invalidated and shamed for what I need all my life, while being fed cliches of “we all need the same things,” is one of the most disabling parts of disability.
Holding onto anger, grief, sorrow, and resentment for my needs being dismissed and sometimes even vilified is poison. I need autistic forgiveness so I can stop swallowing poison. I’m working to heal my trauma from living in a world set up for neurotypical people.
I forgive relatives, friends, and authority figures for doing their best when their best was shitty. Myself I forgive for internalizing ableism and self-shaming when no one else was there to actively shame me. Culture I forgive for perpetuating wrong ideas about who has worth and how resources work.
When I think of my mom wanting me to “act normal,” I know she was motivated by love. She wanted me to have a good life, so she wanted me to have all the opportunities I could have, as a normal, non-disabled person. Her love was magical, and the ways she taught me to love help me survive to this day.
But I hope as time passes, more people understand that disability is ok, normal is nothing to aspire to, and we can do so much better than fake independence. Asking for help is important, and loving one another in community is how we can heal.
Disability justice is a form of love that helped me learn autistic forgiveness. I want to clear out the clutter of shame and unproductive anger, so I have the space to make a happier culture with other people who care about justice.
Thank you for speaking up, listening to others who tell the truth, and doing life in an honest way. Your modeling of liberation helps us remember our sacred divinity. It’s what we’re here for.
I love you,