The “Middle Way”

Did you know..the saying “find the middle way” taught in Buddhism is actually so unnatural to my existence and the way I feel things and process things as a neurodivergent? It really was a personal goal of mine every single day encouraged by the live in bf but this darn brain kept getting in the way of feeling anything middle ish? That includes joy and happiness by the way. You aren’t supposed to feel anything too much including happy. You are supposed be in a constant state of calm and in the middle of feeling emotions. Oh god it makes me laugh now. What a completely impossible thing I was trying to achieve. No wonder I found it so difficult. Me feel anything in the middle…Lordy no. I mean maybe there were moments when people assumed I was calm and quiet. I’ve had people tell me “you’re so calm..”. But good god if they only knew what was going on in my head. If they only knew how hard I was masking and exhausting myself to appear calm and collected. Calm is not my super power. But masking really is.

It just hit me last night that this way of life was also a form of suppression that didn’t vibe with me. Maybe it would be great to find a middle way when upset or sad..but they also teach not to feel too much joy. And the happiness and joy I feel in moments is actually the good part of being autistic. Autistic joy is wonderful. It’s inspiring. It feels sooo good. It’s those moments when everything is good and perfect and there are these waves of electricity I feel that I never understood entirely until now. And the simplest of things can make me feel pure joy. Finding a fossil or cool rock or even a really cool old shard of China. Coming home after a long trip. A favorite meal. A favorite snack! Seeing and being around my children and grandchildren. Being with family period. (Well some family. Ha.) Traveling and road tripping and seeing things I’ve never seen before. But the simplest of things make me feel this joy. And when I’m really feeling it..I often feel the need to sing a song about that thing that brings me joy. My cats have heard many of these songs. I am constantly singing when I am in the throes of pure joy. I also do these weird kind of stretches and movements when I am in this state of pure autistic joy. I just realized this a couple weeks ago while having a favorite meal. I was sitting there stretching my toes in my shoes and just kind of moving in my seat happily stretching my legs and content AF. But I didn’t realize I did this before. How did I not realize all these things? Like I’ve said before..if you don’t know this might be an autistic thing..why would you sit there questioning your existence and all you’ve ever known? You don’t. You just are you.

But I was thinking about how my bf for years now has preached about my finding the middle way. And I guess I liked the idea and it made sense to me to a point. But the joy part..never made sense to me. Why would you stop yourself from feeling THAT?? Why would you do that while the rest of the time you were just holding on for those moments when all felt right and good? It just didn’t make sense to me. And now I know why. And now I know..that jive isn’t for me as well. I don’t want to suppress myself any longer. I mean I don’t want to act a fool and be angry and let that all spill out. I want some control over those moments. But now I know I can do things to calm myself and naturally work my way out of what I’m really feeling..which is really frustration and feeling overwhelmed. I am not naturally an angry or sad person. I wake up everyday feeling positive and hopeful and genuinely happy…considering the situation I am in, in that moment. But overall..I feel gratitude a lot. Even more now. The older I get..the more gratitude I feel. Mainly for even surviving life this long. All the things that could of taken me out..the friends I’ve lost..the scary situations and close calls..and here I am..still here. I feel a lot of amazement about that. I am grateful to be the ant who hasn’t met her demise yet. And that’s all we really are. Just a bunch of ants that somehow miss being squashed by a big giant shoe in a particular moment. I guess there are some factors you control but really…it’s just dumb luck in my mind and dumb circumstance. One person can afford cancer treatments and the next is turned down having it covered by their insurance. One person walked across the street at the right time avoiding being hit by a bus and the next didn’t. I see folks who live long ass lives and think wow..they beat the odds.

But anyway…where was I? Ha.

Oh ya the middle way.

If only that was a constant state for me. But then…would I want that? Would I want to not feel the good I feel and let it run through my body like some kind of self made and self induced joy tonic? In a life where I suppressed everything to just fit just just be okay…would I want to be somewhere in the middle of those moments when I felt very okay and focused. No. Nope. Life is too short. I only have so many moments where I feel all is right. I get so many moments and then that’s it. And in a life that can feel hard most of the time…I want all I can get. I want to feel it all. And if that means I feel all the bad and sad more intensely to be able to feel all the good more intensely too…I chose feeling all of it. And just figuring out how to talk myself through the bad and use the tools I am gathering to make it easier for me in those moments. That’s more doable to me. That equals a life worth pursuing. It’s a nice idea this middle way thing..but for me..what I would lose just isn’t worth it.

“Beyond the Center” by Anne Marie Price

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