This is MY opinion, MY observation: FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) is at the level of public awareness as AUTISM was about 12 or 15 years ago. Science knows it is REAL. And Science is still trying to figure FASD out.
It is my strong belief that FASD idoes NOT have to be a "sentence of more suffering up ahead". True, some folks sadly are not going to be able to function independantly in our sociaty at this time. But many MANY who may belive they are lost CAN be found. Support. Heart. Compassion. Guts. Thinking from Below the Neck, Above the Waist.
The trick is to support them to FIND THEMSELVES. We do NOT need more victims in this world. We need more people who choose to do the hard work and rise to their full Awesome Potential!
I'm going to do my best (while also looking after my own rather tuckered-out arse) to help them do that.
At 56 years old I was handed my FASD diagnosis. And some might think that this might have been bad news for me, but it was totally a blessed (though surprising) gift.
I realized I wasn't BROKEN. I was BUILT DIFFERENTLY. For those of you who haven't been in these waters this might seem rather a strange attitude. But for me, after spending tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours on "trying to fix myself" this was indeed welcome news.
Not broken. Built differently.
I could finally go back to my Alignment, and Integration work. And move towards what I knew would be up ahead if I did indeed do this work: Celebration.
Well, Alignment was real f'ing easy: I had a physical and mental disability. The truth is that parts of my brain and nervous system (and as I would find out, parts of my body) would NEVER "run as expected". I could GIVE UP trying to tweak most of my psychological issues. It wasn't a software issue! It was a HARDWARE issue! The geek in me could totally embrase this truth and work with it.
Integrating it? Well, that is usually a bit more work than Alignment. It takes actual WORK. For me, choosing to give up on "looking normal" to people, my friends, my family - while still being committed to finding an authentic bridge that allows me to do so without alienating every "normal" friend or family member I have. I don't like to be alone in this world ;) (It's currently a pretty scary world). It's been an interesting few years since diagnosis. I'm not good at this yet. Being myself. And being committed to finding that "social bridge" for my expression of myself. Integration can take a while. I'll keep y'all posted. ;)
With Mom & Dad 2015
Now you might say "Geez ReinMan, what the heck you got to Celebrate?!".
Okay, for one thing... dramatic as it might sound, I did not off myself.
Even when this planet seemed like the most hostile thing in Existance, I kept hold of that little spark of Hope.
I'm still here. So... there's THAT to toot my horn about. I also Celebrate the fact that all my years of personal growth work and training and bumps n' bruises to psyche has left me with some good SH*T to share with my homies!! I feel very strongly that this new phase of my life, this advocay for FASD and other mental health issues, is going to be so f*cking interesting. And, I feel rather strongly, of value to a few folks out there who are doing THEIR best to keep it together but need a bit of a pep-talk from some 60 year old dude who (mostly succesfully) navigates the FASD spectrum every single day. :)
FASD: How To Survive Living With A Non-Spec Brain
I took me a very divergent (and 2+ years long) route to find my way to my own FASD diagnosis. My BIO talks a bit about that trip.
Here's the hard truth, for me: I almost didn't make it.
Before my diagnosis in 2016, I had pretty much given up on life. A life time of very hard work on my part and the part of my (I'm sure still confused) therapists had left me only feeling about 75% complete with who I was. It was getting pretty rough. I didn't uderstand how I could teach and support people in personal growth work, while the same work just didn't work for my own growth.
Many of us get lost along Life’s path. Some of us know we’re lost. Some are not aware of being out of step and can hardly realize they are wandering and feeling out-of-sync.
In my experience, it is hard to get to somewhere NEW if one doesn’t know clearly where one PRESENTLY is.
So for me, one of the first steps on making changes in one’s life is getting clear of where one is currently standing. Where one currently lives. How one is handling "how it is right now" right now.
I’m good at helping people sort through the noise, distractions, and non-integral side-shows of their lives and help them sift through the layers to find out where they truly are at the moment. Help them find out what REALLY matters to them at this point in their worldly travels.
How I Work On Improving "How Life Is"
Whether I'm doing my own personal growth work or supporting someone else in theirs, I usually put thought into the three concepts on this page.
Of course there are countless ways to get one's head shrunk (and thus maybe minimize its effect on our important life actions ;) but I've found these three cover what usually needs to be addressed to get one's self back on course.
As I'm on the FASD spectrum, it's only been recently I've been working on applying them to this very challenging disability. Want to get right to that hard nut? CLICK HERE.
Once we know where we are, we can make more effective plans to go somewhere. More "effective" translates into hopefully less bumps and grinds. And if one does encounter some opposition along the way one is more motivated to sort it out in the most straight-forward manner possible, as one is clear on where one wishes to get to.
Another important part of the Integration process is accepting what we’ve uncovered in the Alignment process that IS ours and can NOT be discarded.
Many of us spend a good part of our lives pretending we do not live with, for example, a Big Gray Elephant in our bathroom. (or it might be a hyperactive squirrel living in our attic. As metaphors go, I do hope you get the gist of this ;) If something is OURS, we need to accept it and find a way to be okay with it. Usually, when we do this, we find that it is there to give us an edge-up on our Lives and NOT hamper us as we had previously feared.
Heck! You’ve gotten THIS far and you’re still ticking! AND, bonus, you are reading this which means you are thinking about IMPROVING your life! That certainly, by itself, deserves a High-Five and a BIG HUG (if you are the hugging type. After 10 years in Vancouver area, I certainly am ;)
So often we have done amazing things to get to where we are. And the truly crazy thing is that we DON’T EVER ACKNOWLEDGE THIS. We tend to focus on what we DON’T have and what went WRONG in our lives.
It is so VERY important to be HONEST with ourselves, and that means paying attention to what is WORKING, not just the stuff that isn’t. So I help you give your bad ol’ Self a wake-up call to how actually awesome you really are. Now. Just as you are. It does a body (and heart and mind) GOOD!