Every week, since 2008, I’ve been seeing a counselor in the same building about an hour’s drive from my home. I’ve worked with two different counselors on a variety of everyday issues — most of them logistical, a few of them emotional. They’ve helped me through a lot of difficulties, helping me to find my way through the maze that is my ultra-autistic life, and make positive changes that have really made a difference for me and my partner.
I worked with one for about 8 years. And for the past year, after the first one moved away, I worked with another, who was a colleague of the first. Neither of them ever acknowledged or addressed the important role that autism plays in my life, but I worked around that. I managed to extract from them more than enough help with my issues, so it almost didn’t matter that they didn’t “get the whole autism thing”. The important thing was that they were there.
Now that’s changing. It turns out that this current counselor is changing her business model and will no longer be working with certain patients. I’m one of those patients, and unless I’m willing to fork out the equivalent of two days’ pay for a one-hour session (not worth it to me, in all honesty), I’m on my own.
Okay, fine. So, I’m on my own.
The thing that’s upsetting is not that she’s no longer accessible. Some days, I can take her help or leave it, to be honest. It sounds harsh, but I’m much more upset about the schedule change. I count on Monday afternoon being my me-time, when I focus on my issues and figure out ways to handle things with another person whose job it is to help me. Whether or not we discuss Aspergers, is moot. The main thing is that I can talk things through and get some honest feedback from a trained professional.
And that I keep my schedule going the same as usual.
… pause to reflect …
Actually, now that I think of it, this change is probably for the best. See, I burn up so much energy on Monday afternoons and evenings, getting to her office, that it kind of sets me back for the rest of the week. First, I have to leave work early (which bothers me), then I have to drive about an hour. Then I talk to her for an hour. Then I get back in my car and drive through Boston rush hour traffic to get home, about 2 hours later. It gives me a chance to stop and buy a good piece of fish (Monday is “fish night” in our house), and I don’t get home too terribly late. But by the time I’ve “landed”, I’ve been driving about 3 hours total through Boston traffic. And that’s a drain.
The worst thing about it is that it wrecks my chances of doing anything else all week. There are different things I’d like to do during the evenings on other days, but I generally don’t have the time or energy left for them, because of the Monday demands. Don’t get me wrong – I have benefited from all those sessions (more before, than recently). They stabilize me and help me structure my life. But it comes at a price. Everything comes at a price.
Now I have to fill that weekly slot with something.
So, I shall.
It’s actually not going to be hard. There are lots of things I would like to do, and now I’ll be able to do them. Not ALL of them, mind you. But now I’ll be able to pick and choose. And I’ll actually be able to get more involved in the different autistic support and social groups that I’ve been kept from, because I can’t drive into the city more than once a week, if I want to stay balanced and steady.
As much as this opens things up for me, I’m still unsettled by the change. I’m feeling left behind. Discarded. It’s not accurate, I know, but that’s how it feels. I’ll adjust. I always do. I just don’t want to go backwards. I need to keep moving forward.
And so I shall.