My Independence Day

The Fourth of July celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, not of actually gaining independence. That took several more years and they had to fight for it. Hard.

Today is Independence Day

I’d like to share with you something I wrote on the Fourth of July in 2019, because I find that it resonates with me strongly even now.

It’s about how, when you finally figure out what’s going on your whole life—whether it’s finally understanding yourself as autistic, or highly sensitive, or a diagnosis of EDS or dyslexia or whatever it is—that understanding changes everything. 

There’s a period of looking back and reframing your whole life in light of this new understanding, grieving what could have been, trying to make changes but getting mixed results, flailing, and flip-flopping between acceptance and hope and discouragement.

The journey not easy, but if you can stick with it a little longer, you’ll get to a point where determination takes root and new possibilities open up, new strategies present themselves, the people you need come into your life, and real, positive change starts gaining momentum. 

But that’s only the beginning. The changes you want will take a long time and a lot of work, but they will happen. That’s where I was at when I wrote this. 

I had been making real progress for a long time at this point, and it finally clicked what had been happening. This progression made sense, and I knew that I still had a long ways to go, but I was already well on my way.

For a little context, I had just visited the house where I had lived in New York as a young girl, and was grieving the people, school, and feeling of acceptance that I had left behind when we moved away.

Alright, no more preamble, here’s what I wrote in 2019:

The Fourth of July celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, not of actually gaining independence. That took several more years and they had to fight for it. Hard.

My Independence Day

Right now I am sitting with an only okay view of fireworks in a small town in Vermont to celebrate the 4th of July, and here is what is going through my mind:

The Fourth of July celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, not of actually gaining independence. That took several more years and they had to fight for it. Hard. But making that declaration, making their intention known and official, is worth celebrating.

Making a plan for a better life, too, and fighting for it, fighting hard, no matter how long it takes, is critical to actually getting that better life.

And today, right now, I am officially declaring my independence, making my intention known and official, to be free from the things that have been holding me back. 

Free from the fears, free from the defense mechanisms, free from the hurts, free from the coping strategies I developed that no longer serve me.

Those first US citizens had been working toward that moment for several years before they declared independence: discussing their grievances, building momentum, clarifying what they wanted (whether to remain a colony on better terms with England, or independence), and deciding how far they were willing to go to get what they wanted.

I have also been working toward this for several years, gaining momentum and working through the most accessible layers of psychological and emotional hangups, and clarifying more and more what I want out of this Journey and out of my life. I still have a long way to go, but this feels like a major turning point for me.

Crying for the little girl who lost so much when she left New York was a deeply healing moment, and it explained so much about myself that I feel in a very real way that I now have a chance for a second life. 

Not a second chance at life, but a chance for a second life. Like I can start fresh now, and become a new person—or rather, more truly the person I was created to be. 

I’ve decided that I want to do something big for my birthday this year. I’m not sure yet what, whether a non-party celebration with a few close friends (I don’t like parties), an event, an adventure, or something else. But I want to do something to mark the beginning of my second life.

A life I love. A life in which I love.

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Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Heather Cook is an autistic writer and autism coach. She finds joy in helping neurowonderful adults, teens, and parents find and remove the hidden barriers that are holding them back, so their natural strengths can shine.

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