I woke with the whispers of my dream on my breath.
It’s rare I bring my subconscious to my conscious self, but I listen when I do.
My body is telling me that something isn’t right. I feel it in my bones. I taste the discomfort on my lips. It’s bitter disguised as sweet. I’m not safe here. I don’t belong here. “Here” isn’t the bed where I lie, it’s the Autism community. I spent years pulling myself apart to take up residence in the little pockets that developed within this community. I am the Autism parent. I am the Autistic person. I belonged everywhere…and nowhere.
In the day, I split just fine. Or so I thought. I don’t break evenly. My identities are interlocked with one another so that to pull myself apart is often messy and I leave traces of each part of who I am within the piece I break away. Night is where I come undone. As the moon chases the sun, my mind slows and it is in this calm that I notice I’m broken. I sit on my bed and I know I’m not whole. I find the cold side of my pillow and I rest my head. I shut my eyes and hope that sleep finds me.
I piece myself together in a dream. I live as I am intended to be in a space where I cannot dwell. Not permanently. And so my mind repairs itself as I rest. I heal within my dreams…only to destroy myself when I wake. Wash, rinse, repeat. This was my normal.
Until it wasn’t.
I listened to my body. I gave myself permission to live fully in all of who I was, simultaneously, and unapologetically. But to exist as the whole and not the sum of my parts, put me on the outside of a community I so longed to belong.
And I realized why I never quite fit as a broken shell of myself. This community is just as fractured as I was. I couldn’t fit my broken self. And I cannot fit myself whole here.
I am not just an Autism parent. The Autism in me could not connect to the parent in them. I am not just an Autistic person. The parent in me could not connect to the Autism in them. And I am Black. The identity that influences all others. My lived experiences as a Black person in America simply could not connect to most within this community.
And so, I sit alone. On the outside. I liked it here just fine, and I didn’t. I was not bound by “party” politics or taking up the banner for one side or the other, but I was often lonely. I wanted somewhere to belong that would accept me as I am, whole. I wanted a community worthy of my children. As it currently stands, the Autism community is not what I am looking for. But it can be, though I think my time of waiting for the change to occur has passed.
If I continued to wait for the community I wanted, I will never find it.
The issue with the Autism community is that it’s just as diverse in its members as Autism is in its presentation. Those differences aren’t acknowledged nor celebrated. They serve as measures for division. The community, much like myself, pulled itself apart, and it’s not better off because of it.
I alone cannot take up the mantle in healing the divide as others have intimated in their work. I felt it best to cultivate a community of my own I felt was worthy of my children.
And that is what I set out to do. I look to myself as the inspiration for such a community. I am an individual with multiple intersecting identities, most of them minority, and they all influence my entire being. I live better in my truth when I accept all of who I am, and so the community I am building will serve all of those who seek a home. It will be loving and accepting. It will recognize each other’s differences and help those who need it most. No one specific person’s voice will be given more weight than another’s. We all have something unique and beautiful and important to offer. I truly believe that.
I look at my boys and there’s no way I cannot lay the first brick. If it’s something I know I can build, I will do it. Brick by brick.
I cannot dwell in my dreams. I don’t want to heal myself as I sleep. I want to find comfort in a community that values differences over division. We are all worthy of a community like this.
I want to belong to a community where I feel safe and protected and loved. I do not ask for a seat at the table anymore.
I build my own.