This is going to be a challenge.
The challenge is to write a gratitude post for each of the days I have missed when posting in the Sunday Assembly Newcastle Gratitude Group. I try to post each day but even I have missed days.
Nine days so far. In six months.
The obsessive completist in me can't cope with that. I have to fill in the gaps no matter what. [Okay, so one of those gaps has been impossible to fill. The obsessive completist will just have to put up with it.]
It's going to be tough. For some of these days I have no photos to choose. And no Facebook posts to crib from. I'm going to have to guess. But here goes. This is me, doing my best to be grateful for things that happened weeks or months ago.
The first missed day. And the first with no photos and no posts.
But I know that it was a good day. On January 8th I left for Manchester to stay with Amanda. On the 9th we went to Bury together. On the 11th we stroked alpacas in Heaton Park. And the 12nd was a wonderful day ending with going to the Into The Woods (... to grandmother's house).
I haven't got certainty about what we were doing on January 10th but it would have been a good day. And I know that there was no post only because I didn't have the time to do it.
Here's what I think happened:
It was a Sunday. Amanda works for part of the day. I am pretty sure we went to charity shops in Didsbury on that day. If that's the case then I bought myself The Big Red Book, a big book of poems by Rumi. Then before Amanda began work we planned to walk round Fletcher Moss Park. But it was so waterlogged and flooded that we couldn't get far and retreated to drink tea in a cafe. And if that's the case I had a good time before heading back to her house and resting myself while she worked. Lucky me!
The second missed day. But I know how it began at least. And I'm grateful for that.
After 38 days away from Manchester, and 35 without seeing Amanda, I set off and caught the 7am National Express Coach and was with her again by the end of the morning.
I have no photos of the day so have no idea what we did for the rest of the day and evening. Did we stay in? Go out? Get visited? Eat curry? I don't know. But I know that we were very glad to be together again.
It was a day for finding all sorts of autism related things on Facebook. Images such as this.
And it was a day to sit at home posting all sorts of things on Facebook too. An excellent page on autism acceptance by Steve Silberman and also a whole bunch of actually autistic people. A page that sadly doesn't exist now. John Oliver talking about how awful Donald Trump is, how many false things he says and how often his businesses fail. Plus cheap humour about Trump not having the same surname as when his family moved to America. That's very cheap humour. Lots and lots of immigrant families changed their names, very often to avoid racism from American people. It happened in the UK lots for the same reasons. And if you want to attack someone for changing their name - well I changed my entire name in 2013.
There are photos from this date. Yay! It looks like I could have been grateful to have cleared out enough CDs so that they all fit on my many CD shelves. Considering how few CDs I've played in the last couple of years I have a heck of a lot of them.
Nope. No photos. No Facebook posts. But it was still a good day, whatever I was doing. It was the first of two days in a trip to Manchester. So it would have been good, just with no time for photos or Facebook or gratitude posts.
Working hard to remember. That day was 200 days since I had danced and played in the puddles with Amanda and ended the evening hoping and wondering if I might have found a friend. I think we celebrated 200 days. We made cake.
Guess what? Another missed day that happened when I was visiting Manchester. That's four out of five!
I couldn't tell you what happened that day. The day before we were in Stockport and I went swimming for the first time as Clare, which was a big overcoming of fear. The day afterwards we were blowing bubbles in Bury. But on April 12th, I don't know.
You know what? I think I may have been having a really crappy day. I posted this image on Facebook, shared from Spoon Shortage Sue.
But I need a gratitude thingummy so here goes: Grateful that the majority of days are better than that one. And grateful that I have a 100% success record at getting through the crappiest of head days.
I think I might have been feeling bad because I knew that I had to do something important, something that felt like a huge chunk in a total breaking away from the central reason I'd lived the previous twenty-five years. The next morning I formally resigned my church membership. And felt a lot better once it was done.
I know I was feeling bad. Bad about things that I had hoped to do and knew I couldn't. But I got out and sat outside a cafe with someone for half an hour. I thought it was going to be at least half a social thing but no. It was entirely about the starting of a business connected with autism, with big plans and a whole "here's what you need to be doing and we need you to be doing it." But I knew I couldn't do it. Not at the moment anyway. It's just too much and it's totally unrealistic. I wanted it for a while and felt awful about giving it up. But I did give it up, formally doing that the next day.
But hey, grateful for the sunshine. And grateful to be brave enough to give it up even though I wanted it and other people wanted it for me. Continuing to try would have continued to hurt me - and it was hurting me. Letting it go I think has been good for me. There is so much I just can't do. What I need to do is accept that and start to learn what I can do and what my passions really are rather than ever allowing myself to be driven by other people's passions, hopes for me, or enthusiasm for a cause.
I need to live. And I need to live as me. With all my limitations. And with all my strengths too. That's part of what learning to be autistic is about. To grow in my strengths and be proud of them. And not to be ashamed or guilty for all the stuff I can't do.
Blob Thing enjoyed the cafe anyway.
Lots of missed days in a short space. I have to confess I was considering giving up the gratitude diary. It's a group where most people don't post and there are fewer posts than at the beginning and without a few pretty faithful people the idea would have died by now.
It was a Sunday. And it was the Sunday Assembly. And I missed it. My head wasn't doing well enough and I knew that I wouldn't be able to cope with the theme or the promised extra amount of noise. I missed it in May too due to being away. And I'm booked to be away for the June assembly too. Maybe I'll manage to get there in July.
Grateful though. Because a friend was staying and was there for most of the day - for longer than she had planned. She is always welcome though and it's great that she is so comfortable here.
As I type this, May 7th is only four weeks gone. But I do not have a clue about the day. Not. A. Clue. No photos. No Facebook. Nothing. At all.
I can tell you that I had returned from Manchester on May 6th after an excellent time there. I can tell you that my mental health was pretty damn shaky when I returned. I was trying my best, and getting myself out as much as possible but I was finding things pretty tough.
Of May 7th I can't tell you a thing. Great isn't it. I manage to write something - no matter how tenuous - for each of the days I missed. But for the most recent one I have nothing. A big blank.
Oh well, one failed day out of the nine is a lot better than I was expected when I wrote out the list of missed dates. One out of nine isn't much. Or one out of 184 - including the two days I posted before the year began. It's pretty good. And that in itself is something to be grateful for.