Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cleanin' out my closet: coming out Autistic!

(From Valentine's Day 2014)

So...I kinda came out this week. 
About my neurology, that is. 

In recent months, I've grown increasingly comfortable being fairly open about some aspects of myself in the semi-anonymous world of the internet. But IRL, it's different. 

While I am not ashamed of who my Lord and Savior made me to be, my diagnosis is relatively new and not that widely known. Plus, aside from the fact that people's incredulous "You? Are you SURE?" type of responses are draining (and annoying--yes, I GET that I don't fit most people's *stereotypes* of autism), there are other ramifications to disclosure. When you are a prospective adoptive parent living in a conservative state, the price a family might potentially pay for having a primary caretaker with a developmental disability is high.

But "God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and of sound mind." I've been an advocate all my life for different causes, but I need to advocate for myself. Because how can I look my children in the eye (or anyone, for that matter), and tell them to love themselves, and to stand up and fight, if I do not first lead not by word, but example?

So yesterday, as part of an exhibition for the Reel Abilities festival celebrating disabilities in our local community, I stood in a public place in the city I call home, and alongside many other proud Houstonians with physical and other differences, I permitted my face to be displayed next to these words:
"Morénike is an autistic adult who proudly wears the hats of wife, mother, advocate, and student. She is passionate about social justice, global health, education, adoption, and community empowerment."

Though I didn't nail my neuropsych evaluation to the wall, I still consider the closet door swung wide open. And totally emptied.

Happy Valentine's Day, friends, and God bless.

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