I was fifteen, standing under the baking sun, the sound of the waves not far from me, a book in my hands, delaying any thought of chores to engage in bigger thinking –what summer holidays were made for.
Where did I want to go?
I had no idea, no plan, and yet at every crossroads in life, somehow I seem to have got to the right destination (even when it felt like a mistake, it actually wasn’t).
Even better, I have learnt something along the way. And boy, did I need to learn. When I was fifteen, I thought people in their 20s held the key to knowledge. When I got into my 20s, I didn’t quite feel like an adult yet, so I thought maybe it would change when I got to 30. The truth is, change was happening all the time, in my head and in my heart, but the catalyst to becoming an adult for me was holding my daughter in my arms for the first time. Nothing compares to creating a tiny life through love, whatever the sacrifices it entails.
My life is so different now: a full-time working mum of one, on a slippery slope towards forty; a public transport commuter dreaming small dreams of literary self-fulfilment, a close wife to my soulmate, a daughter, sibling and friend in the distance (though not distant) to a handful of lovely people.
Our learning curve has been different from others. Our daughter was diagnosed with Autism, and so we started a journey nearly three years ago which brought me back to Church. I needed to reach out for love and acceptance at a time when my life fell so desperately different from what I yearned for. And when the first time I walked into a church was to meet a vicar whose son also had Autism, I felt God had given me a sign from above – To me, full of imperfections, who cannot recite any passage of the Bible by heart, and whose faith had tiny holes all over, like one of those colanders you get in the pound shop.
It was the beginning of a journey when I learnt that you can find love and peace in unexpected places. Progress is slow and some days can be full of thorns, but you get up and start again. I have been privileged enough to meet some amazing people along the way.
Challenges will always remain (my ability to be only in one place at a time, my need to sleep, how acutely I can feel loneliness or the weight of misunderstandings). It is not autism’s fault, it is a society where many don’t yet know or don’t want to know. But I have felt, more often than not, a chain of invisible hands supporting me along the way. So I can continue being someone who lives life, and share the love on.