This week, I had the opportunity to attend a day of awards ceremonies awarding those who have supported youth and those adults, including myself four years ago who have made that journey, While I am sitting here reflecting on those years since receiving that award over four years ago. It is often brought to the forefront of the additional things I achieved, some major setbacks and bounced back from the major ones. Becoming an awardee of this prestigious award does not by any means mean that your journey is over, rather you are leading by example of your peers.
The last four years have been a real roller coaster of a ride. Especially the past two years of the journey have been challenging to say the least. Many times, I rattle off phrases that I just want to be done fighting the fight and retreat to where I know someone will take care of me and I won’t have to worry. Worrying takes a great deal of uncertainty, especially if you are faced with a plethora of unowns in the hand you have to deal with. For me and many autistics, patience and tolerance isn’t a stongsuit. It makes our challenges appear even more and it can be harder to distract yourself from the issue in hand. Regardless of what I am facing and whatever may fly out of my mouth on the cuff in a moment of frustration, the key point is I fight for what I need and I don’t give up unless there is no other way and I feel confident I can manage without.
In those past four years, I have made some great achievements: obtained a driver’s license in the first try for both my permit and road test (yes, the actual road test before COVID, in the snow), I got my first apartment and although in the end there were some issues with it that I abruptly needed to leave at moments not knowing that I would have to return to my parents’ house again to get back on my feet. They saw me regress where I was on the cusp of returning to the psych ward after being out of it for 20 years. Thankfully, my therapist immediately responded to our phone calls and was able to de-escalate me from the situations I was facing, not once, but twice and get me on the path I needed to recover. I thank the higher powers above for her immediate response and grace, because if that did not occur, I don’t think I would be where I was over a year later of which my recovery could have taken an even deeper relapse.
Another thing I have faith in, and I am sorry that I may seem a little preachy, but many of the awardees counted their faith as a way they face their journeys was my new home. It was only by me one, pounding the pavement and doing the work on my own to obtain housing (with some logistics by my day program) that I came across my current home. I made a call on an ad in the local paper that another property that is managed by the manager where I live did not specify additional requirements. However, within a few days, I was called by him to come into his office for an interview for another property, my current home. I to this day, over 10 months later believe if I didn’t initiate that phone call with him, I would not be considered for this opportunity of which I give grace to every morning.
As I sometimes experience roadblocks in the journey years later, I don’t stop fighting. 20 years ago when I was in a residential placement, we were mentored by a member of a church we at our choosing could attend. I was blessed to have the pastor be my mentor. She bought me for my holiday as well as the other youth at the time a prayer card for the etymology of our name. As you know, my name is Dustin. Dustin is a German name and it means that I am a BRAVE FIGHTER. 20 years later when I am faced with a challenge that I feel is over my capability in managing, I often think of when the pastor gave me that card. When I first got that card. I was unsure at 15 where I would be in my life other than the residential facility. My parents were in disagreement about what care to be provided to me. One wanted me home after treatment, one feared for their safety. Over 20 of those years , I made great strides to only be met again with challenges that were pretty near to the same position of that time but without professionals to ensure my safety. However, after I was deescalated by my rock of a therapist I remembered that card and cried so profusely.
Now over a year later and yet facing some minor obstacles in my life again. Some of which have a wait and see game to them and some are just very minute. I am reminded of that small card and that I have to fight this and not give up for all those that support me and my journey and use this time to better myself. When we take one step forward, we can take two steps back, and that’s ok as long as we are given the support necessary to meet our needs and get back on track.