I didn’t lose my mind.

IMG_20190720_092451429

A little over a week ago, I attended my first book signing at the Writers on the River event in Peoria, Il.  I thought I’d share ten things about it.

1. Sensory Overload to the max. As an autistic, I severely underestimated my ability to handle the noise and chaos of 300+ readers in one room.

2. Writers on the River has brilliant organisers and some of the kindest volunteers. Highly recommend, though if you’re autistic, consider how well you deal with crowds.

3. I survived.

4. The best burger I’ve ever had from a dive called Burger Barge.

IMG_20190719_133801447_HDR

5. I learned I need to do better at respecting my limitations.

6. Everyone likes free candy. (And Reese’s Peanut Butter cups go first.)

7. Best cupcake ever.  Chocolate espresso cupcake. So good. OMG. So good.

IMG_20190719_152733822_HDR

8. Swag makes everyone happy.

9. I can push myself too far in an attempt to fit into the allistic vision of an author.

10. The Grasmere Trilogy paperback has by far my most popular cover.

*If you’re interested in learning more about how attending a book signing affected me as an autistic, I’ve vlogged about it over on my patreon.*

 

Red Flags.

giphy-downsized

Relationship red flags have always been a hard one for me to spot. As an autistic, I have frequently struggled to get a good read on people. The older I get, the better at it. I become through a very painful process of trial and error.

I thought I’d share some of my hard-earned lessons with you.

  1. Anyone who gets enjoyment out of your embarrassment or humiliation. Nope. Big red flag for me, particularly when it’s clear that you aren’t laughing along.
  2. They try to separate you from your friends/family. Anyone trying to isolate you is a big massive RED flag. Run, don’t walk.
  3. Physical or verbal intimidation. If they rely on scaring you or intimidating you into doing what they want, another warning sign. Don’t pass go, don’t collect $200.00, just go.
  4. Lies. Everyone tells little white lies, but if you’re with someone who lies about the big things all the time. Nope. Sorry. Not a good sign.
  5. Immaturity. Now, I don’t mind moments of childish enjoyment and silliness. But if someone is emotionally immature, it can be a red flag.

They are so many more. These are just ones I have personal experience with. It goes without saying if a partner is physically, verbally, emotionally, or in any other way abusive. That’s more than a red flag.

An Open Letter To Myself

….well, a letter to twenty-year-old me.

giphy-downsized (2)

Dear Self,

First, you’re going to be okay. Divorce is scary, but it’s not the end of the world.

Second, you’re autistic. I know you think you have some terminal illness because you get so tired after being around people. It’s okay. You’re autistic. And you’re going to be so relieved when you find out.

Third, you will fall in love again.

Fourth, the divorce was about him…not you. He’s been divorced three more times since you.

Fifth, you’re brilliant. And you can write. You just have to believe enough in yourself to try.

Now, stop crying into the ice cream.

He’s not worth it.

You’re going to be fine.

Love,

Me

 

A New Adventure.

giphy

Want more from the World of Dahlia?

Join my Patreon for exclusive flash fiction, short stories, vlogs, and a host of behind-the-scenes insights to my novels.

https://www.patreon.com/dahliadonovan

What’s on tap for this month?

Behind-the-scenes for my upcoming Urban Fantasy MM Romance along with an exclusive excerpt.

A Flash Fiction featuring Freddie from The Caretaker.

Storytime with Dahlia vlog.

A Q & A for the Main Characters of Here Comes The Son.

Plus a bunch of other fun stuff.

 

Own Your Shit. Dump The Rest.

giphy-downsized (3)

The gif has nothing to do with this post aside from the fact that I’m writing it on a Thursday morning when not even coffee is enough to get my brain in gear.

So, buckle up.

The other day I was playing a video game. It’s a multiplayer game. Now, I turn off the open chat because I’ve no interest in listening to the misogynistic nonsense that is prevalent in the gaming world.

While standing around waiting for an in-game event to start, another gamer began harassing my character.

This is how it started.

My character is literally just standing still playing a lute. (It’s a game emote you can do to kill time.) My character is female. Another gamer comes over and begins trying to engage me.

He swings his weapon at my character.

I keep playing my lute.

He gets tired of being annoyed, so he runs over toward a group of enemies nearby and uses one of his powers to drag the enemy over to my character which forces me to engage with the creature to avoid being killed.

I kill the enemy then go back to playing the lute.

This happened four times.

And I’m starting to get pissed off. Why does this always happen? I just want to play my lute and wait for the in-game event. Being pissed off causes me to also be stressed out, which is terrible for my blood pressure issues.

And that’s when it hits me.

You know, this jackass is just doing this to get a reaction.

So, I leave.

Own your shit. I can only control myself. No matter how annoyed another person makes me, I can’t force them to change. So? Controlling my shit means leaving an area to find somewhere else to play. It’s a massive game, I easily found another event without the annoying asshole.

And that’s the dump the rest part.

That dickhead? Not my responsibility. I shook off my annoyance and continued to enjoy the game.

Why should I let a perfect stranger ruin my enjoyment?

I owned my shit. And dumped the rest.

Can you relate?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex on the Spectrum

April is generally considered ‘Autism Awareness’ month. I prefer Autism Acceptance.  I do not support Autism Speaks. I do not light it up blue. I am not a puzzle piece.

I thought for my second Monday Blog in April. I’d discuss another aspect of my life as an autistic adult.

giphy-5

One of the greatest dangers that face an autistic adult is not having sufficient information to deal with adult issues.

I’ve noticed a trend where non-autistics tend to infantilize autistics as teens and adults. They treat us as though we’re incapable of making decisions and caring for ourselves. And that is definitely not accurate.

It can and often does lead to a number of issues as we grow up.

One of which is sex and sexuality. I can only speak for myself here and my experiences, though. As we always say, when you’ve met one autistic…you’ve met one autistic.

I grew up in a very sheltered environment. I was the adopted child of closed-minded Baptist missionaries. I didn’t even know autism exited until I was in my twenties. I knew I was different, but not why.

Being sheltered and undiagnosed led to a number of issues. One being a serious lack of knowledge about sex. This all happened before ‘googling’ was a thing. I had no access to information–and no idea I needed information.

That, to me, is the most dangerous thing.

All these instinctual things non-autistics seem to grasp.

I didn’t.

I had no idea how sex worked. How safe sex worked. I had no clue that there were different sexualities.

It seems ridiculous and incomprehensible, but it’s true.

Education is important. CRITICALLY important for autistics.

I had to learn the hard way. I had to educate myself. I made humiliating mistakes. My dating history is littered with bad decisions I could’ve avoided with a little knowledge.

And I’ve completely lost my train of thought. Thanks, Brain. I’ll end this post here.

Bonus round of unrelated yet related things I wish:

– Society didn’t mock adults looking for information that people consider ‘common sense.’

– People wouldn’t say ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’ without meaning it.

 

 

 

 

Thanks. No Thanks. Thanks.

April is generally considered ‘Autism Awareness’ month. I prefer Autism Acceptance.  I do not support Autism Speaks. I do not light it up blue. I am not a puzzle piece.

I thought for my first Monday Blog in April. I’d discuss an aspect of my life as an autistic adult.

giphy-downsized (2)

The above gif is an accurate representation of how I feel about my brain daily.

True story.

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for over a year but struggled to put my thoughts into coherent words. Something I deal with quite frequently as an autistic. An experience this week made me want to make an attempt yet again–so please forgive any rambling. I’m trying.

I am autistic.

I live in a world that isn’t designed for the neurally divergent.

Let’s be honest, the world was made for the neurally and physically abled person.

The older I get, the harder it becomes to mask my way through life. (If you’d like to learn more about autistic masking, Neurodivergent Rebel has a fantastic video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZB38phQNzw)

And with masking becoming harder, it can be a battle to do specific tasks. All the author things I have to do with promo, talking to people, blogging, so many things. It can be overwhelming and some days impossible. I have days where I sit at my desk and stare at my to-do list for an hour without actually accomplishing a single item.

I get comfortable with people and routines, both of which help me climb these hurdlers within myself.

My life has been blessed with a core group of friends who go out of their way to help me…or at least not make my life more difficult.

The trouble is that I struggle with something that feels a bit like imposter syndrome. I know I need help. I don’t ask for it, but when I receive it.

I suddenly feel like I shouldn’t take the help. Like, I not only do I not need help. I don’t deserve it.

This past week offered a prime example.

My point of contact with my publisher is generally one of two people. As my publisher grows, more people are added to the mix. It causes me a lot of anxiety.

My beloved publisher graciously makes accommodations for me, so that I’m able to cope.

The downside of this brilliant kindness is that a negative internal conversation happens. I question myself. I don’t really need this help, do I? I can manage. I’ll be fine. I’m making their lives more difficult.

It’s toxic self-doubt.

I don’t know if many of my fellow autistics struggle with this.  I’m sure some must.

I do need help at times. I can manage, sometimes, but at what cost to my mental health and stress levels?

One of my goals this year was to be kinder to myself.

I don’t have to be extraordinary or superhuman to validate my existence as an autistic and person.

(This is one of my greatest issues with inspiration porn featuring extraordinary autistics with amazing gifts. It inspires non-autistics, but frequently leaves other autistics feeling as though they will never be enough just as they are.)

I’m trying to do better.

How do you handle accepting help when you need it?