Winter 2022-23: Hey it's Me, AuDHD
To listen to this newsletter in audio format, click here.
I have been having a deeply intimate experience of what it means to be a wounded healer, walking through the Underworld unpacking a lifetime of trauma that I have suppressed and held in my flesh.
Living in my mind has kept me (seemingly) safe from feeling it all, but it came with a high price: disconnection from my heart and body. As I take on the painstaking task of reconnection, I am feeling everything that I've been afraid to feel. And it is rocking me to the core. The feelings come in waves so intense it feels like I will explode unless I lean into the sensation and shake my body. This is a compulsion I've felt my entire life, but heavily masked for fear of ridicule.
Now that I know I am autistic* with ADHD (#AuDHD) and C-PTSD, I understand that this behavior, known as “stimming” is a completely natural way for me to regulate my nervous system and calm myself when overstimulated. I have found that a major component to “unmasking” is allowing my feelings to flow through me in a primal way, and allowing my body to move the way it needs and wants to.
*I have a confirmed diagnosis of ADHD from a healthcare provider, but have decided NOT to seek a formal diagnosis for autism due in part to reasons laid out in this article by Devon Price, author of Unmaking Autism
I am happy to report that I found a licensed mental health therapist in my area who is not only neurodivergent but also deeply spiritual and is open to discussing my challenges from both a mystical and clinical psychology perspective. (this is something I was worried I wouldn't be able to find, and was one of my excuses for not starting therapy sooner.) We have been seeing each other in person every week since the beginning of October and our relationship is a safe and sacred place for me to practice being my authentic self and unravel the knots that keep me from feeling safe enough to be myself in the outside world.
Shortly after learning that I am neurodivergent, I began to look at all my past experiences from a totally new perspective. So many troubling memories have been healed simply by realizing that I was expected to operate in a neurotypical way when I'm not built for that! One childhood memory that sticks out strongly happened in 1st or 2nd grade. We were doing a paper mache art project and I got so hyper-focused on the sensation of glue sliding between my fingers onto the strips of newspaper that I completely forgot what the project was and just kept building up more and more layers. The teacher got upset and scolded me for not following instructions and for using up too many materials (because paper and glue are like, rare resources or something.) This broke my little heart 💔 and affected my relationship with my creativity well into my adulthood.
Now I know that this person probably shouldn't have been teaching art to children if they react that way to a child enjoying the process of making art.
Now I know that I wasn't the problem.
Now I am WAY more compassionate toward myself.
I'm using Shamanic Astrology as the framework for a full life review, going through all of my transits, starting from birth, writing down everything I can remember from each time period, looking for repeating patterns and bits of wisdom I can apply to my life now. I am calling this project my “Book of Life" and I have visions about this being a prototype for something I will be teaching others how to do at some point.
I've also started learning about Human Design, a system that combines the wisdom of astrology, I Ching and the Kabbalah Tree of Life. It uses your natal chart to create a bodygraph that indicates the best way for you to use your energy. My energy type is pure generator with sacral authority. I am in the process of clearing my energy channels (which have been cluttered up with thoughts, ideas and emotions I've picked up from others) so I can regain trust in my body's wisdom and remember what my “yes” and “no” feel like.
At the same time I've been doing this deep, personal work, I have been experiencing a gentle opening to the gift that has come out of my trauma; a clearer understanding of my purpose as a healer. This journey has ignited my powerful desire to be a light for others in the darkness that I've felt alone in. The closer I align with my purpose, the faster the synchronicities show up and it's like living in a magical waking dream where the messages and clues are delivered at just the right moment to show me the next step on the path.
Synchronistic conversations with multiple massage clients have inspired me to learn Craniosacral Therapy. I will be attending a CST Level 1 class with Upledger Institute in April. I feel called to become certified in CST and SomatoEmotional Release and specialize in working with neurodivergent people like me, whose bodies hold trauma from a lifetime of masking. I've even had visions of how Craniosacral therapy could be integrated with Shamanic Astrology to help my clients understand their soul's intent for incarnating and then help them release physical restrictions that keep them from being able to embody and express that soul purpose in their lives. To say that I am lit up by this is an understatement! This feels like the sacred work that I have been growing into and that will sustain me for the rest of my life.
During my exploration into this modality, especially its component of SomatoEmotional release, I realized that I need to receive this therapy as much as I need to learn how to offer it to others. I found a certified Craniosacral therapist and scheduled my first session on the day Saturn moved into Pisces; a fitting way to begin this transit that is all about softening up rigid structures and dissolving long-standing patterns of tension. During the session, as she performed intraoral massage, I realized that the extreme chronic tightness in my jaw is a physical manifestation of my lifetime of masking. I am now incorporating CST into the full spectrum of self-healing modalities that I am making space in my life for.
This includes art therapy. After a 5 year drought, I am making art again! Not with the intent to create a marketable product, but as a shamanic healing practice. I've been using the exercises in Painting the Landscape of the Soul by Damini Celebre as a guide, as well as following my intuitive hunches. I'm going slow and letting my authentic style emerge. I haven't posted any of these work-in-progress photos on social media, so you are the first to see what's been coming through.
And that's all I have for you today, friends. If you're interested in learning more about neurodiversity, autism, and ADHD, below are some resources I've found helpful.
Divergent Mind by Jenara Nerenberg
Unmasking Autism by Devon Price
Embrace Autism website
Jackie Schuld's writings on Medium.com
Samantha Craft's Autistic Traits Checklist
Signs of Autism in Women with ADHD
Be wild & make your magic! 🧙♀️✨ Amy