I’ve sat here, with this as my title for two days now. Thinking, ruminating, swallowing, regurgitating. Basically chewing this thought like a cow only to spit it out a bit later.
That’s where you believe you’re not good enough, smart enough, talented or knowledgeable enough to do, well, just about anything you really want to do. Or, alternatively, you don’t think you deserve the credit for your accomplishments. Essentially, you doubt your abilities and feel like a fraud.
So, thank goodness for this intense trial by fire of extraordinary grief. And I mean that. I am grateful for this grief that has forced me to stand in the mirror and see what I am really made of.
I tell myself: I can’t. Who am I? What do I know? I don’t have a PhD, or a formal diagnosis, I am not published, who is going to listen to me or read me? Am I even making sense?!?!?!
I close my eyes.
And then, through tears, I open them again. I settle on the image before me. I walk into the ring of fire deliberately because I am being driven by something stronger and more intense than feeling like a fool. This grief has brought me to my knees and gutted me from the inside, giving me the opportunity to step into the places I’ve always pulled someone else in as a body double.
My body double is dead, and now it’s just me.
Grief is my catalyst. I am called to be a Thought Leader, to shift paradigms and to make a global impact in the field of neurodiversity. That’s a tall fucking order and it freaks me out.
It would be so much easier to close my business, get a job at the schools, make a decent enough living, have retirement and health care, summers and holidays off, be on the same schedule as my daughter. But no. That is not my Calling.
I am here to be a fierce and loving advocate for the neurodivergent community on a huge scale. I don't even fully know what that looks like, but the feeling drives me, pulls me, wakes me up at night. I can't say no.
So, against my own rational mind, I rise to the challenge.
I am a Speech Language Pathologist and have been so for nearly 20 years. I became interested in autism after reading the book Dibs: in search of self when I was 7 years old, which gives me 40 years of focused interest in this area. I started working with people who were neurodivergent when I was 19. This is my life’s calling. I went to a prestigious graduate school for speech language pathology, graduated top of my class and was voted Outstanding Student by my professors. I was offered a coveted internship and have worked in every situation from hospitals to private practices, schools to clinics…cradle to grave. I have been self-employed in my field for 6 years, 4 of those years in the business my husband and I started. I’ve given a TEDx talk on neurodiversity and spoken at a national teacher’s conference. I was recently invited to speak about neurodiversity to an international panel. I am a valued member of my local neurodivergent community and held in high regard by my clients and their families. I even have a daughter who is autistic.
Yet…I I haven't believed I have what it takes to do this.
But seriously…If not me, who? If not now, when?
And then I’m reminded of the quote by Marianne Williamson (which I will share here in its entirety because it’s beautiful and we all need this reminder. If you don’t appreciate her use of God, then for heaven's sake, look past it or fill it in with a more suitable version of your own higher power):
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
What in the holy hell do I have to lose any longer? I just lost it all…my present and my future were pulled away from me in one final gracious, painful, messed up and perfect gift from above. I have nothing left to fear, so let’s get this done. Frank is there-here, my most sacred supporter, and I, for once, feel no need to ask permission. I get to lead by example, I get to stand up to the task of being a single mom with a brilliant mind and a brilliantly minded child and be wholly, unapologetically myself. If nothing else I owe it to my daughter. She deserves to see her mother shine from the power of a dream, full of honor and gratitude, while making change for the very community she was born into.
And I get to get out of my own damned way for once.
(p.s. I'd be honored if you like this post, or any of my others, to please comment, share and/or like. Thank you!)