Women on the Spectrum RAWRing for Quality of Life

Unmasked at Last

Unmasked at Last - Amy K. AlwardUnmasked at Last:  Poetry of a midlife journey to identity and autism acceptance by Amy K. Alward (that’s me), hit the web this week!  Please go check it out on AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords (available for iBooks, Sony and other eReader outlets).  Spread the word, because the point of putting it up there is to share with those who might just be needing the outlet.

The last few years have been very difficult for me.  Midlife diagnosis (because my life had begun to implode) was not an easy thing.  The diagnosis was the bright spot in an out of control spiral to the bottom.  This is as it must be, as it had to be.  Now, as I begin to feel myself blossom as a redesigned autistic woman, I know that it is time to share my story.  There are others out there struggling with their identity, their autism, and their place in the world.  So I published a book of poems that tell the story of my struggle.  What I’ve learned is that internal measures of success (contentedness, self-love and satisfaction with life) go much farther to alleviate my autistic downsides than external measures of success could ever do.  It’s about quality of life and happiness, and for me the first step was to figure out what I was feeling in the first place–that’s where the poems came in.

If you’re a poetry fan, let me share them with you.  By the same token, if you’re struggling with issues of grief, loss, depression or identity, let me share my emotional journey with you and maybe give you an outlet for your own feelings.  Also, if you’re curious about ways to express your emotional self, or are having trouble doing so, please take a look at my book for inspiration and ideas.

The academic community likes to call us cold and unemotional, but what I’ve come to discover is that we have rich emotional lives–we just struggle.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have emotions.  It just means that they become, out of necessity, lower priority than coping with physical stresses and sensations of overload and emergency processing.  I think we train ourselves to operate logically as a coping mechanism and learn to not consider that funny feeling in the back of our guts or the back of our minds.  Yet, those feelings are there, and just as I was able to shove them aside and ignore them (as I did with hunger pangs or the pain from bunched up socks under my toes), I taught myself to pay no attention to them.  In order to find happiness, I have had to rebuild this way of thinking, admit that my emotions are a significant part of me and learned to connect with them.  My outlet for that expression is poetry, and I often find myself writing poems without understanding what I’m feeling, until I can reread my work a day or two later.  (Of course, in the initial stages, I couldn’t even tell when I was feeling something that needed a poem.)

Hope you will check it out, and at least take a look at the previews available online and pass the links around.  Here is a sample poem about having to manage my social life always with my own autistic self-care in mind.  It is a heartbreaking dance to always decline invitations when I emotionally want to see friends, but physically have run out of tokens or spoons.

Tea in a Thimble Cup

Late to life
Slow to love
This cup fills quickly.

No room for sugar cubes
In this china thimble.

Watch the clock
And wait for me
I will arrive —
Sliding in sideways,
Hurling apologies,
Thimble cup in outstretched fingers —
Coveting that sweet, hot refreshment
Which cannot be had alone.

Sugared, scalding bite of green steeped leaves
Boiled sunshine from faraway lands
Paper pressed memories of dreaming days fled
Cast open in communal bathing, in societal steam.

Over too quickly
This sip of life
Apologies and tears as I
Depart —
soiree in full swing.

Others sip sweet iced tumblers
Swilling whole pots in graceful,
accommodating cups.

Filled, I retreat.

Needing time

Needing space

To remember
To process
To live and




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