Dreams I Had for Myself as a Child #Write31Days

Welcome to day 18 in #Write31Days. Today’s post is all about dreams and life visions. Specifically, I am sharing the dreams I had for myself as a child.

The first dream I remember having about what I’d be when I’d grow up, was a writer. I may’ve said as a KIndergartner that I wanted to be a princess or whatever, but as soon as I could write with some confidence, I wanted to make my career out of that. I remember my parents telling me pretty early on that writers usually don’t make a living writing, but I didn’t care.

As I said before, I started out wanting to write fiction. I didn’t keep a journal consistently until I was thirteen and fiction was all that I knew before then. I didn’t get access to the Internet until age fifteen, but by the time I had an Internet connection, I was hooked on non-fiction.

Another dream I had for myself as an older child and teen, was to become a teacher. My ideas varied as to which grade or subject I’d like to teach. I definitely looked up to my teachers, so it’s no surprise I wanted to be one.

When I was around twelve, I started to deveop a dream of becoming a psychologist. I wanted to help children who were likely to fall through the cracks, as I had a feeling I was. I started hoping every episode of my parents’ favorite news program had a feature on kids with psychological problems. Once, there was an episode on about autism and I was hooked. This was nearly ten years before my own autism diagnosis. I had a feeling I was somehow like the boy in the program. Similar with a seventeen-year-old girl who was being restrained in a psychiatric hospital in around 1997. She was too smart for intellectual disability services but didn’t belong in psychiatry either. Something clicked with me, but obviously I couldn’t put my finger to it. I still really can’t.

When I was sixteen, I developed another dream. I wanted to study in the United States once in college. I would be majoring in American studies at university in Nijmegen, which'd offer motivated, talented students the opportunity to study in the U.S. for six months in their third year. I was at the time pretty sure I'd be talented enough. I loved reading up about American cities on City-Data.com.

Looking back, obviously, I didn’t make any of my dreams come true. I write, but not for profit and I don’t intend on it ever at all. I have some education in psychology, but am nowhere near a degree.

At the back of my mind, there always was that seventeen-year-old girl in the isolation room in the psychiatric hospital. I’ve not become her either, but I’ve come close. Then I rose up above my fate and now I’m an advocate. I’m happy as I am now.

My Greatest Dream in Life #Write31Days

Welcome to day five in #Write31Days. So far this month, I’ve used a bunch of prompts from various sources already, each with a different perspective on personal growth. Today, I picked a prompt from one of my older collections of journaling prompts, a book of 100 self-help journal prompts by Francie Brunswick that I have in my Adobe Digital Editions. Adobe Digital Editions is no longer accessible with my outdated version of the JAWS screen reader, but I managed to get it working a little with NVDA, an open-source screen reader.

The prompt is to journal about your greatest dream or the ultimate goal you have in life right now. I do have goals, but if I have to be really honest, my biggest dream is to feel mentally stable and safe.

I have suffered with depression on more than off ever since middle childhood. My parents tell me that, before then, I was a cheerful, laid-back child. I still had social and emotional deficits, but they were manageable. According to my parents, my psychiatric struggles didn’t start until I was around seven. They blame it on my becoming aware of my blindness.

I am in contact with an autism-specialized consultant for getting me proper care. She says that many children with normal or above-average IQ and autism get stuck in school at some point. Usually the first point of actual breakdown is the beginning of secondary school. I remember this point really well. One day, in my first year of secondary school, only one month in, I wrote in my journal that I’d rather earn a high level high school diploma in six years than have to settle for a lower level with more special education support. In the years that followed, I kept hearing this inner voice: “YOu don’t want to go back to special ed, do you?”

The next point of breakdown usually happens in college. I finished one year of college only with a lot of support. Then I broke down at university. I never fully recovered.

Over the next eleven years, I resided in general mental health facilities until being kicked out for allegedly being dependent. People had control over my life all this while and I never felt safe. Now I’m away from the controlling professionals and my parents, living with my husband, but I still feel extremely unsafe.

I was originally going to write down my goal more specifically. I was going to write that my biggest dream right now is to get into long-term care. That sounds extremely off though. I’m still not free from the interalized stigma surrounding long-term care. Still, I think I should be too “high-functioning” for it. I’m scared that, if we apply for long-term care funding, the decision-maker will read this blog and say that someone who can write a blog, should not need 24-hour care. That’s a terrible misconception that could cost people their lives. And yes, that includes me.

Years From Now

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a fan of journal writing prompts. Today, I found a self-exploration journal on Amazon and, since it’s free, I didn’t hesitate to download it. It’s called The Self-Exploration Journal: 90 Days of Writing, Discovery and Reflection. The first prompt is to write down why you want to embark on this journey of self-discovery. I’m not even sure. I mean, I just write for the sake of writing. I don’t even commonly reread my blog entries, though I did often reread my diary entries when I still faithfully kept an offline diary in the first three years of secondary school. I loved that. Maybe I should make a habit out of rereading some of my blog entries too. But since I currently don’t, I don’t even know that blogging is going to help me discover myself.

I mean, who am I, myself? I see myself in so many fragmented aspects that I’m not even sure who “Astrid” is. All these aspects, parts or identities usually listen to that name, but even as I write this, I don’t feel “whole”. I’m just a part among parts that somehow, in an abstract kind of reality, make up the mind belonging to one body. We have just two hands, both of which we currently use for typing up this journal/blog entry. Which, I might say, is going nowhere.

The second question in the 90-day series asks me to write about how I want to look back on my life ten years from now. Well, I honestly have no idea. Four years ago, I wrote a lettr to my 38-year-old self. I think I may reread it today. Already nearly half of those ten years have passed, but I have no clue at the time what I dreamed about. I mean, three years ago, I did a post as if I was 79 already and looking back at the past fifty years. The only thing I remember that would-be-flashback including was that we’d still live in our current house. Now we’re not even three years on and my husband and I are already thinking of moving.

What does it say of me that I don’t envision that much progress even in fifty years? Does this lack of a truly progressive vision of the future impair my actual progress? Or is it the other way around? That I’ve learned not to expect positive change because the past taught me I’d always fail anyway?

The first time I did a “___ years from now” post was in September of 2006. A psychologist my staff were consulting had asked me where I saw myself in three yars. There were, or so I thought, two possible scenarios: one in which I lived successfully fully independently or with just a person reading my mail once a week and was at university and the other in which I needed substantial support. I explicitly wrote that this “black” scenario didn’t have to mean I needed 24-hour care, but that I needed support beyond that which is normal for a blind person.

Three years later, in September of 2009, I had almost two years in a psychiatric hospital behind my belt, of which I’d spent sixteen months on a locked ward. I wrote a flashback then and remarked kind of cynically that stuff couldn’t get much worse than they were now in three more years, or I’d have to be in a homeless shelter or prison. Then, I reasoned, I wouldn’t have Internet access so the whole wide world wouldn’t know. As it turned out, in September of 2012, I was still on the same ward I was on in 2009.

I finally left the hospital in 2017 and live fairly independently with my husband. I guess at this point, I’m pretty content with my life. That doesn’t mean I have absolutley no dreams, but I must admit I don’t generally see these as realistic indeed.