Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Pearl - A Story In Three Parts

The Pearl - Lesson 4, Artist's Oracle Cards with Crystal Marie

part one

The Pearl Archetype:


Created under duress, the pearl is formed layer upon layer, year upon year. The rarest of all gems are those that hail from decades old mollusks, fetching upwards of a million dollars for the finest of specimens. 


The pearl depicts the origin story. The beginning is contained within the whole. It is feminine. It is divine. It is the beginning, the fullness, and the completion. The pearl perfectly illustrates the growth that happens throughout the developmental stages; and the experiences of one’s own life. It has the kind of strength to its spirit, that can only be born from adversity. 


The pearl is believed to have healing properties and wearing one signifies a commitment to the care and feeding of one’s own soul. Self-love. Self-care.


The pearl is truth. It has no need to strive for it. It just is. 

Out of balance, the pearl is rigid, distant, withdrawn, masked. A pearl without an adequate sense of self is still operating from the grit, rather than standing in its own truth. 


The pearl is the very essence of oneself. Beneath all the layers lies our truest most authentic being, with no shame for the fledgling beginnings. It is the most integrated version of who we are. Discovering the pearl is to unearth the most valuable of treasures—your own voice.


The pearl has been found at great cost and no price will ever be high enough to tempt you to let it go. 


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part two


Yesterday I sat, tears silently flowing, listening to the psychologist read me her findings and formal diagnosis over ZOOM. The diagnosis by this point, was not a surprise—ASD Level 1. At 55 years old, I am learning this thing about myself that explains all the things about myself that could never be explained. 


It took time in the beginning, to open to the possibility that this could be true for me. Time to unlearn and relearn exactly what it means to be Autistic. Time to shift my brain from its tightly held stereotypes and misconceptions. Time to learn that this isn’t an illness by which to be cured. Already, the psychologist had shared she had enough information to make the determination, but we finished the next few rounds of interviews and questions all the same. 

I was prepared to hear this news.  


What I wasn’t prepared for was the way I would feel hearing just how Autistic I actually am. How very, very, low my scores actually were. How highly indicative my responses were to the truth of this thing. 


Of all the “Below Average” scores and “highly indicative” fields of information the psychologist reported, the one that hit me the hardest was that of my Executive Functioning. I almost don’t want to, but I want to share because, fuck. Just fuck. I scored in the 8th percentile. 


That’s an 8. 




I’m going to sit here for just a minute. 




I stopped the Psychologist mid-sentence and asked her to clarify. Eight? 


Eighth Percentile. 


She tried to make me feel better by explaining that this wasn’t just out of all the autistic people. This was out of all of the people-people. But that didn’t help. "That means 92% of all the people-people have better decision-making skills than me?" 


She nodded and kept reading. 


When I shared this news with a friend, her reassurance came in the form of celebrating the truth of that score. How it means I’ve been operating far-beyond my functional level and doing a tremendous job of taking care of myself. 


And that there is the rub. 


That celebratory statement is the reason I sought out a diagnosis in the first place. I am utterly exhausted from surpassing my functional level and doing a tremendous job of taking care of myself. The behind the scenes of my life has been held together with duct tape. 


Bubble gum and spit. 


Sheer grit. 


I’ve described the last decade of it as a long, slow, unraveling. But I was finally getting to the place of feeling more secure with my identity. More confident in the feeling that I belong. Not to you. To myself. That sense of belonging you carry along with you, that allows you to enter any space and feel okay without the need for someone else to affirm it. 


In that split second of time—the length of which it takes to read the number 8, my core was split wide open. There was nowhere left to hide. I felt lost and I felt exposed. 


The thing is I already knew I couldn’t go on the way I’ve been. I already knew it wasn’t sustainable. I already knew there were changes afoot. And it scared me. How on earth would I survive?


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part three

The most remarkable thing has happened. 


The thing I’ve been singing to you about since the beginning of the unraveling-10, now nearly 20, years ago. The thing that led me to the table to make art when the unraveling left me splat against the wall so thoroughly, I could only describe what happened as a nervous breakdown--I didn’t know it was called Autistic Burnout back then-- it was my intuition that led me out of that fray.  


The only score that was above average of all the pages of scores on that evaluation, was that of my intuition. My non-verbal communication. In the 95th percentile, I could identify most of the patterns on the IQ test, but when asked, I couldn’t always explain why. 


My verbal score was nearly half my nonverbal. A pretty big blow to someone who finds creative writing a passion. But I can take as long as I need when I write. Having to respond verbally doesn’t award such luxury. 


I’ve compensated without knowing it over the years, for my immature executive functioning, by intuiting how to do the things I needed to do. Reading the report again on my own after the evaluation session was over, it fully hit me. 


This wasn’t the rub this was The Pearl. 


Of-course there are still changes that need to be made. I’ve been heading for that wall again at an accelerated speed. But already, intuitively, I have made a few adjustments in my schedule and the rhythm of my days that have given me hope. 


I am returning to the very essence of myself. The journey has been costly. 

But I wouldn’t sell it for any price in the world. 


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