There are key moments in my life that I love to get flashes of remembrance for.
Little passages in time that I am reminded of by smells, textures, visual imagery and memories. These are what I call my good days.
But with the good, there is also the bad.
Those memories of incidents that I wish I could take a cheese grater to my brain to erase. These are what I call my hell days.
For some time I have struggled with the concept of “Letting go.”
I have done the tried and tested therapy and counseling. This usually ends with the therapist wanting to put me on medication to help quell the pain. This, in my opinion, is not dealing with life, it is sidestepping it.
The memories of past trauma stay in my mind and can take over my body and, at times, leave me so depleted of energy that I question everything about who I am and what my place in this world is. There is no side stepping it. It just comes.
I tell myself “This too shall pass” knowing that at any time a smell, a word, a gesture or a photograph can send me into a spiral that I have to claw my way out of.
It is only in the past 12 months that I have recognised that these flashbacks have occurred for as long as I remember.
My first experience of death, my first loss of identity, my first heartbreak, my first real experience of betrayal and that gnawing feeling that there is no escape from the past. There is no warning and no indication of what is to come. Just the freight train of emotion that hits all at once, sending me into shutdown.
So why have I chosen to write about this? Well I have discovered, not through therapy and not through medication but through discussions with other autistic friends and colleagues that I am not alone. They too experience their own flashbacks, good and bad. They all deal with these moments in their own way and they also recognise that every person is different and every journey is different. But they stand in solidarity with each other, rather than tell each other how to “move on” from those moments.
Is it a trait? Don’t know. Far be it from me to segregate Autistic and Non-Autistic emotions. There are far too many so called professionals out there telling us how to feel and how to manage our emotions that have absolutely no clue what it is like to live through our own personal feelings.
My journey is just that, MINE.
On the reverse, I am also very self aware of the joy and pain I have caused others. I relive these things as well. There are moments in my past I am incredibly proud of and also those that I am ashamed of. I sometimes wake in the middle of the night and am bombarded by memories of people I have not thought of for 30 years. Did I do damage to them like what has been done to me? Do they remember the smile I gave them just when they needed it? I can’t answer that, but my mind wanders creating scenarios and what ifs and it sends me into a tailspin.
I constantly take mental notes of what triggered these emotional flashbacks.
For the good days, those triggers are helpful and are like perfection personified.
On the hell days I take note of the triggers, so in the future I can try to avoid them like the plague. As I claw my way out of my emotional hell I try to remember the “Good days” triggers to help me regain a sense of who I am again, the things that make Beck Kelly who she is when she is happy.
I rediscovered Yoga nine months ago. It was something that had made me happy in my twenties and it has now become a staple in my life to help keep me centered when I feel I can’t claw my way out. It has become an addiction. But as with everything, sometimes the emotions are too much for anything to work.
Yoga works at times, but when it doesn’t, then I am aware that I need to just ride out my bad days, hoping that the next day I can function just that little bit more, getting through the day without bursting into tears or saying cruel words to people I care about that I regret as soon as they are spoken.
My Autistic diagnosis came two years ago. For me it was an awakening. It is like a lot of other stories from Autistic women who have had a diagnosis later in life. But it is also unique because it is my story. Every person has a right to his or her own narrative that is theirs. An individual tale, where they are the director, producer, writer and star.
I won’t bore you with the particulars of my own life, but what I will say is that I embraced my Autistic personality long before a piece of paper had it written in black and white. My life has been full and enriched by all different types of people and personalities. Some of those people have caused me the greatest of joy and others have caused me immeasurable pain, but it is a learning and growth process that will not end until my last breath is taken.
As I work through the good days and the hell days I am constantly reminded of the people and moments spent with them that created these memories.
Some are welcomed, others not so much, but are they are moments of growth and learning that are needed for me to enter the next phase of my life.
I have been told or asked in the past, “Why can’t you let it go?”
At the time I had no answer to that. I needed time to digest and process those six little words that formed a question.
Here is what I came up with. Maybe I can’t let go because I need that reminder that there are beautiful human beings in this world who love me and protect me with everything they have. There are also human beings in this world who enter my life with good intentions but through their own hurt and trauma cause me harm and pain.
It is called “Life.”
So moving forward and stepping out into the unknown is in my future. Heck it is in everybody’s future. It is what we, as humans do every single day.
Will I wake up tomorrow to a good day or a hell day?
Will someone enter my life that will mark it with a positive or a negative memory?
Will my next hell day be just that little bit easier because I am becoming more self-aware?
I don’t know. But I do know that each day I will have gained a memorial of some sort that will assist me in my own personal growth.
I wish you all more good days.
About Beck Kelly
I am a 43 year old woman who lives in Bendigo, Victoria but am a born and bred Melbourne girl.
I am a married mother of two children and have two cats, one dog, one chicken and two fish.
I am a strong advocate for the rights and protection of Autistic children and teenagers who are constantly falling through the cracks of our education system.
My interests include filmmaking, writing, psychology, yoga and seeking out the perfect cup of coffee.
In July 2016 myself and five other Autistic/Neurodivergent adults opened the Bendigo Autistic Advocacy and Support Service in our little town.
Wholly Autistic led and driven we are creating a service that offers programs, advocacy and mentoring for the community. Since opening our doors we have been swamped and we couldn’t be happier.