Finding Myself #Autism 

In 2014, my life shifted dramatically. I had sat down to write my story and suddenly realized it wasn’t the story I wanted to be living. That was a terrifying feeling. But what was even harder was making the changes that needed to happen. My life was full of unhealthy habits. My eating habits were off and I had gained weight. My marriage was totally broken. I couldn’t seem to quit smoking cigarettes no matter how hard I wanted to or needed to. I felt so broken.

When my ex and I parted ways (No need to discuss details), I realized something big: My need for change meant I was about to begin an uphill battle. It was time to re-evaluate my relationship with God and my relationship with myself as well. I was having a hard time looking in the mirror and being okay with what I saw. But that part of my journey was just the beginning of something that truly revolutionized how I view success and how I view myself.

None of the changes happened right away.  As urgent as they all felt, I had no knowledge of how to make things better. It was more like stepping stones that were really far apart from one another which involved lots of falling on my face along the way. I made a lot of mistakes, hurt some friends I’m sure, and lost some confidence in this plan of action. But I knew I had to keep trying; Giving up is never an option with me and I had a lot of learning about self sufficiency ahead of me. 

During the month of February 2016 I started seriously trying to quit smoking. I kept saying I would and failing and then on February 21, 2016 I won that battle and I have not smoked a cigarette since. Yoga helped me, drinking tea on the porch where I used to smoke helped me some, but to be honest there are still days that that addiction haunts me. 

My weight loss journey was a continuation of my journey to learn to love myself. Yoga was becoming less annoying and more healing, the cravings were growing less and in October of 2016 I sat down with a nutritionist (again) and started tracking my calories. Every. Single. Day.  (I still do.) 


This became less about the scale and more about learning to being gentle with my soul. Forgiving myself is not a strength of mine. (Neither is brevity. Haha. But I digress)  After some soul searching, long talks with folks from my past who are still awesome friends today and long talks with new people that God introduced me to, I started to find some patterns about my own heart that needed to do some letting go of.

That seems to be a common theme in my life and my greatest struggle. I struggle to let go of things, people, and ideas. But as I began to do from the start of this journey, something amazing took the places of each of those things and that thing is self respect. I had held on so tightly to the past that I couldn’t live in the present and I had held on so tightly to my fears I had lost sight of my faith. 

My weight loss journey isn’t over yet. I’ve lost just over 47lbs so far (194- 146.8.lbs) and I’ve got eight pounds left to go…But that isn’t the point. This journey is far from over. Our journey in finding ourselves is life long and so many things seem to come full circle as well. Since the start of that journey that seemed like a crippling ending and less of a beginning, I had to say some goodbyes to folks, to things, and to some ideas I thought I wouldn’t ever let go of. 

As an individual on the Autism Spectrum, change can see extra painful. But I’m so glad I made the decision to do so. Some of the things I thought were holding me together, were actually holding me back and tearing me apart. However, I couldn’t see it until I could see it behind me. 

Along this journey to find myself, I met someone quite extraordinary and that man is now my future husband. Amazing how that works isn’t it? Tonight I look back on that day when I felt like my life was over and didn’t know what to do and wish I could have given that broken woman a taste of the blessings that were coming. This has been one heck of a bumpy road but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The bumps that catch us off guard are often what teach us, humble us, and mold us the most. 

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About Gretchen Leary

I am 30 years old, I live in the Boston area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
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