I haven’t updated this blog in SOOO long, but at least I have a good excuse: I wrote an 87,000-word/330 page novel, and I’m now trying to find an agent. Not gonna lie, I’m nervous about the avalanche of rejection notices that are headed my way–it’s an inevitable part of the publishing process for pretty much everybody–but we all know I’m not the most confident person on the planet, so it’s very, very intimidating to say the least.
Anyway… last time I posted, I was rambling about depression and whining about wanting to go back to school. Well, almost ten months, is a long time, and things have changed. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and I no longer yearn to obtain that damned doctoral degree. You see, I wanted my Ph.D. for all the wrong reasons. I was convinced it was the only thing that could give my life a little meaning, that if I didn’t finish my education, I wouldn’t have anything going for me, and that I was basically a worthless failure without the “Dr.” title.
I was wrong. I was not put on this planet just to another diploma to slap up on my wall. I’m a writer, and I’m here to tell a story. That’s it–that is my life’s work–and I know that now. I don’t need to justify my right to take up space, not to anyone.
Last February, my sister Lindsay got engaged. Not only was she preparing to marry a man I positively loathed, but that big ol’ diamond ring on the third finger of her left hand served as a painful and glaring reminder of the things I will never have–and for a long time (try most of my life) I felt robbed of what should have been. It’s true, there was a time when I would daydream about my wedding, but tellingly, I was never able to imagine a groom for myself. I couldn’t picture a home of my own, children, marriage itself.
But then I realized: I don’t want those things. It isn’t who I am. I mean, sure, I fantasize sometimes and wonder what my life would be like if I didn’t have Asperger’s, but the fantasizing never fails to come to a grinding halt when I remember that I have no idea who I’d be if I were a neurotypical person. Okay, maybe I’d be one of those (few) people who really are happily married, but odds are I’d be as miserable as the (I assume) majority of married folks. So divorce rates have dropped in recent years… might have something to do with the fact that marriage rates are also declining. I have no idea, but it makes sense, doesn’t it?
But anyway, who would I be? There is a high likelihood that, were quitting the spectrum an option for me–if I chose to go that way–I’d be forfeiting my ability as a writer, and that is something I’d never be willing to do. Writing is not only what I do, it’s a huge part of my identity, and never in a million years would I trade that for “normality.” This is who and what I am. If I were to suddenly turn neurotypical… I would probably be losing everything that make me, well, me. Thanks, but no thanks.
Back to my sister’s engagement. Before I had my little epiphany, I was jealous–not of her man, mind you, but of her happiness, and I shed a small ocean’s worth of tears over it. Lindsay is going to wear our mother’s wedding gown, and I couldn’t help but think that it should have been me. It hurt, watching Mom hand that beautiful dress over; it felt like an admission of sorts. It felt like she was acknowledging that all hope for me was gone–that I was a lost cause–and that definitely stung. Like, duh… Amanda is never going to need a wedding dress! She did offer to hold onto it, just in case I ever get married, but I failed to see the point in that. I’m never getting married. On some level, I’ve known that since middle school, but it is only recently that I’ve really been able to accept–nay, embrace–it.
A year ago, I refused to be Lindsay’s maid of honor. I wanted to crawl under a rock for good, and I sure as shit didn’t want to go to that wedding–I didn’t want anyone’s pity, and I sure as shit didn’t want to be seen by anyone, particularly her future husband’s family, as the pathetic, unemployed autistic older sister who will never move out of the parents’ house. It was a mortifying thought. But now, I’m like, so what if that’s how anyone wants to see me? I’m not pathetic. I’m no one’s definition of “normal,” but again, so what? I have a rich intellectual life, I live in a quiet, secluded, beautiful place, and most importantly, I’m surrounded by people who love and accept me exactly as I am.
I didn’t want to pose for pictures at the wedding, either, mostly because I’ve battled body dysmorphic disorder since my late teens, but that has (mostly) changed, too. I am going to be Lindsay’s maid of honor, and I will pose for whatever pictures she wants, and I really don’t give a flying fuck if anyone thinks I look fat–my body is no one’s business but my own, and anyone who wants to judge me can go ahead and kiss the fattest part of my ass.
After a lifetime of being “partners in crime,” Lindsay and I drifted apart when she met her now-fiancé and moved out (we have since become “partners in crime” once again, even though we no longer live in the same house). I was happy that she was happy, but I couldn’t take it any further than that because I was anything but thrilled–I missed her terribly, and I couldn’t forgive her for “abandoning” me. If she had left me for a decent person, I thought, I would feel differently, but her choice of partner… as far as I was concerned, it left much to be desired. For two years, I struggled even to tolerate my soon-to-be brother-in-law. Not only had Lindsay chosen him over me, but he was the walking embodiment of everything that is wrong with America–with humanity–and I didn’t know how to get past it. To say I was a raging bitch to the guy is a colossal understatement. Slowly but surely, though, I’ve come to accept him; at the end of the day, he loves my sister, and he makes her happy. I can’t ask for more than that.
Yes, I’ve made my peace with… all of it. Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know, but for the first time ever, I am at peace, and it’s the best damn feeling in the world.