Thank-you Orange #OITNB

Dear Ms. Kerman, Ms. Kohan & the OITNB Cast,

Inspired the emotions I felt while watching the Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, I began contemplating (yet again) writing out what my own childhood and teenage years were like. I guess I had honestly blocked most of it out of my mind because it felt like a terrifying tsunami wave of emotion as I began my manuscript. My fingers were trembling from the get go.

I felt anger. I felt joy. I felt sorrow.

Writing my story felt extremely intense. It didn’t matter that I have never arrested nor have I ever been to prison. That had nothing to do with any of this. There were so many memories buried that I unearthed. Some made me weep, some made me laugh, and some made me really re-evaluate where I have come from and where I want to go in life. As I wrote my story, I felt like I was looking at myself through a totally different lens. I found myself judging my own actions in a different light. I started recognizing patterns of behavior that I had never fully owned or accepted about my past.

It felt like looking into a broken mirror.

It wasn’t a pretty picture. At times, while writing the chapters I would cringe as I considered how someone else might view a mistake I made at eighteen. I would feel this flood of panic and want to delete it and then realized that I couldn’t just erase history. We all make mistakes and now seemed a good time as any to take ownership and responsibility instead of pointing fingers. I reminded myself that a decade has now passed and that girl that I once was has changed for the better.

I reminded myself that I am human.

The times that I was stuck living in a motel, the times that I trusted people I never should have trusted, and the times that I had such little sense of self value that I hid in someone’s shadow out of fear are over. But I as I finished my manuscript I realized that my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome at twenty-three seemed like a pivotal moment in my past, present, and future.

It was like someone turned the lights on.

Big thanks to Piper Kerman, the author of the book Orange is the New Black, Jenji Kohan, and the show’s amazing cast for showing the world the art of vulnerability and inspiring the world. I had been waiting for years for the inspiration to write my story and now I have. It’s finally done.

I agree with those that say that the past is in the past.

I agree with the sentiment of letting go. But I also think that sometimes we have to look back to remember just how far we’ve come, to remember where we are now and where we are going. As I wrote the final sentence in the final chapter, I had a rather startling realization. I had finished writing about my life until now…but where would tomorrow lead?

I have such big dreams for the future.

I have such intense passion to help the Autism communities voices’ be heard. I feel such a deep sense of gratitude for those who have gone out of their way to share their story for the world to read and the greatest part is that I have so many more chapters left to write.

This is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see Season 3!


Gretchen Leary


About Gretchen Venters

I am 36 years old and I live in Montana. God has set my soul on fire to serve others through writing.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism, Dedications, Equality, GLBTQ. Bookmark the permalink.

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