If you don't know yourself well enough to know what goal is truly important to you, you risk abandoning your task when the going gets tough. So self-knowledge is also important.
I think that's part of the reason why so many young people don't do that well in school.. they either don't know what they want or think they want one thing when they really don't. Once they mature, understand themselves better and so know what they really want then achieving it could become much easier (assuming they're not burnt out or too old by then).
Also, I'm not by any means a master at this, so I try to look to people who are, and learn from them. For me that means people who've been able to achieve amazing feats of endurance, like Robert Owens and David Goggins, or have overcome some incredible adversity, like Brooke Ellison and Kyle Maynard.
From some of them, I remember learning to focus on the present, on putting one foot in front of the other, in a kind of hyperfocus on exactly and only the very smallest thing you need to do right now, then doing it again, and again, and again, and again.
Another lesson I'm now remembering learning from many of them is that they built up a stock of achievements they could recall when the going got tough. Knowing that they persevered and succeeded before gave them confidence that they could do it again.
You also have to have hope, be willing to try (and try your best, no matter what the outcome), and somehow overcome depression and other mental issues, if you suffer from them. Therapy works for some, medication or other medical interventions work for others, religion for still others, but ultimately there are no sure or easy answers here.
Having a strong support network and mentors also really helps a lot. It's very difficult to go it alone, though some truly exceptional people manage it (though even then there's usually something in their early life that helped -- often parents or other sources of guidance)... I'm thinking of POW's and concentration camp survivors. Speaking of which, I can highly recommend Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, as it's about why people endured in the absolute worst circumstances imaginable.
 - https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/...
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is also excellent.
Everyone needs to chill out and read a book before they slide into becoming the thing they hate.
Man's Search for Meaning https://www.amazon.com/dp/080701429X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_2vFhDbQZMYKQA
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
The Last Days of Socrates by Plato
Must read (it's short): "Man's Search for Meaning" by Vicktor Frankl
Man's Search for Meaning https://www.amazon.com/dp/080701429X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_-PsjDb9HM8RDC
Dialogues of Socrates by Plato (whatever version, make sure it includes the four that are in this book):
The Feeling Good Handbook It's a DIY Cognitive Behavioral Therapy guide. (Half the book is about medication- you can skip all that). I followed the instructions and found it tremendously helpful.
Man's Search for Meaning It will put everything in perspective
Pick up one of JBPs Self Authoring products. Proven effective, and backed by clinical data. Figure out who you are and develop a vision and plan for your future.
Disclaimer: I am not a parent, I am not married and, I am not related to anybody who is neurodiverse. However-I have spent several years working within a few support agencies and non-profits in the field, and have worked with a wide array of individuals.
I do not want this to be a reply that assumes I know anything about your position or difficulties, rather, I want to share some of the most useful ideas that I have learned in the past few years. While these strategies have helped me greatly, I don't claim them to be a quick save for your exact situation. After all, I am able to leave work and if tension rise between me and an individual I am able to switch staff members. You have a far more difficult and long lasting challenge. I am hopeful that they can be of some assistance in any case.
On of my personal difficulties in supporting individuals at work is balancing their freedom alongside their health/betterment. Full freedom means they will spend all their money on Snickers and a TV without buying soap and socks. A betrayal of their freedom would be me dictating their foods (WE MUST BE HEALTHY), controlling their social life (you can't be friends with them), and forcing them to obey a strict schedule (Bedtime. Now.). Nobody wants that. Instead, we must find balance among the two and learn to pick the fights for the greater good. Sometimes they could have a rush of energy and really need to channel that toward something- often times they could kick the wall or headbutt me. The compromise is that we re-channel their energy; allow them to still decompress, but without injuring me. One resident LOVES to rip newspapers into shreds. Another likes to break down cardboard boxes. I've noticed that if they feel what they are doing is constructive to themselves or others, then the task is more compelling to them. Which leads to another observation:
It is remarkably easy to say that the disabilities of a person mean they have no responsibility- but we long for responsibility. I know of one individual who used a electric wheelchair because he had no muscle function below his neck. He was remarkably depressed (common among the neurodiverse) and had made several attempts on his life. He had sat in on a support group that was reading Man's Search for Meaning (highly recommended). The book is written by a psychologist who is describing his perception of how humanity finds meaning from his firsthand experience in the concentration camps. After finishing the book the individual spoke to the staff member leading the group (this was the first time he had spoken in literal years, to the staff's knowledge). He wanted to know how his life could have any slight amount of meaning. After working with him, they found that he could push a large broom through the halls of the support center where he stayed. To my knowledge, he has been doing this for years- and the idea that he has been able to support those who support him has brought him back from some of his darkest moments. I currently work with another resident who has recently stopped a lot of violent behavior when we taught him the "game" of organizing cards. By color, by suit, buy face value, all of them. He loves the idea that he can contribute his energy to anything productive in a world that offers to do nearly everything for him. Lastly:
All of the biggest melt-downs that I have encountered, among all individuals, have often come from staffs (myself included) inability to de-escalate the situation. I do not mean that we were at fault because of incompetence, I mean we were at fault due to our ignorance. And there is little more that we could do in those situations than try to learn from them. Example: I worked with an individual who was pre-diabetic and on a diet, but the guy loved to snack (don't we all?). Our goal was to get him to eat less junk food. My error in the situation was in telling him that he couldn't eat the junk food. I established myself as an authority over him that told him "no." That was a mistake, and not the proper way to support him. Rather, I should have reminded him of his goal, and further, reminded him whose responsibility that was. I learned that a better tool to work with this individual later on was to remind him of his own responsibility to his health. If it was a game of him disrespecting authority? Always. If it was a game of him disrespecting himself? Never. I don't claim this would work with everybody, mind you, but its a case where I needed to test the waters to change both his prospective and mind towards something that was more constructive for both of us.
All that said, you are in a remarkably difficult position. I can say that it will get more difficult, but at the same time you are going to develop more skills and tools to ease the burden. My biggest hope for you and your family is that your development of tools is much faster than the increased difficulty of problems. You are doing just fine! Your child likely cannot communicate their appreciation and affection to you in a clear way; but do not, for a single moment, allow yourself to believe that they do not love and care for you with the same intensity that you do them.
Maybe reading "Man's Search for Meaning" will help you find the right mission for you.
No problem. I hope it helped in some way if only a little. Thank you for your kind words too! I hope the same.You're really hard on yourself which I'm only saying because I am the same way myself and I recognize it easily.
Being alone doesn't have to be empty or hollow. It really depends on what you do with it. You kind of have to learn to make friends with yourself. If you can sit alone in a room, in complete silence and find peace in that.. what can't you do? Thats the benefit and goal of some kind of self reflective/meditative practice. I had a friend who worked in psychology that once told me if people could walk and work directly through their problems without trying to avoid them, he wouldn't have a job.
Your unhappiness is not shallow. It's not fair to compare and contrast our pain and disasitfaction to others. What we feel is always valid and it's trying to get us to change something. Denying your pain won't lessen other peoples suffering, it will only make yours greater. Don't do that to yourself.
That's the pit fall of being hyper-goal oriented. I would be foolish to say goals don't have a place but it's a balance like the rest of life. Usually the extremes are easier, they just don't bode well in the long haul. If you can be somewhat neutral and walk the middle path, its most likely the way to go.
When nothing is moving me, I find that sometimes we need to jump into things even when the feeling isn't there in hopes that it might come about after. Are there any specific causes you'd like to help with? Charity and things of that sort are pretty good for feeling some kind of meaning as long as you aren't using it like work, to drown the feelings out.
It might sound funny but I'm actually glad to hear you only have your basic needs met because that means there's a lot of improvement to look forward to. I say a big yes to being adventurous because it seems like there could be no better time. Travel brings so many enriching experiences. It's usually quite stimulating although, it can be isolating if you don't make an effort to seek people out.
I'm not much for religion myself, especially organized religion, but I do like more secular and or obscure things like the aforementioned humanism, philosophy, etc. You don't have to believe in a god or sit in a pew to get the benefits religion or even prayer can offer. Pray to love. Talk to yourself, as silly as it might feel.. You'd be surprised.
Buddhism can be a great place to start too and I can't stress enough how great books are. Definitely read the epics! Do more of the things you've always wanted to. You have so much to gain.
I have no doubt in my mind that you can find what you're living for if you commit yourself to it. It's not easy or comfortable but it is worth it. When people grow up and are asked what they want from life and they say they want to be happy, they usually mean they want to be fulfilled and if that isn't worth trying to find, I don't know what is.
Actually speaking of books, check out Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. He was a Psychiatrist who lived through the Nazi death camps. The first half of the book talks about his accounts and the second offers a solution to creating meaning in your life. It was a great read and it's not too long at all. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is a great myth book as well. Again, wishing you nothing but the best and I'd love to hear how you get on. :)
I don't have career advice for you, but I would suggest r/stoicism to help deal with fear/anxiety.
Maybe this book could help with your "search": https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/080701429X
In terms of not wanting meaningless repetitive work, any job can be fulfilling with the right attitude. Maybe this book: https://www.amazon.com/Flow-Psychology-Experience-Perennial-Classics/dp/0061339202
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
I have been in a position where I felt that no one valued me - a couple times (for very long periods- years). I've gone through a lot of pain already in my life (I'm only 25). I don't have confidence in everything. But I am ok with my weaknesses. My mindset is that this is my race, I'm the only one running this race. I'm not running any one elses and no one else is running mine. Every race is different. I have to constantly remind myself that this is MY race. It doesn't matter when I finish or how far I get, it matters that I keep going. I give myself space to mess up and to just take it easy. I try hard to just live in this moment...in this one breath that I am taking right now. Thats the only breath that matters. The one right now.
I still have really down days. I try to always say three things that I am grateful for to myself. I try to move everyday (movement heals). I shower everyday and get dressed like I'm going somewhere (even if I'm not).
The book Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankle has been a huge help to me. I've read it numerous times. The TV show Westworld has also helped me - i've watched the first season 11 times. Please read the book Mans Search for Meaning. Its a short read. If you don't have the money (or desire) for it I will buy it for you and send it to you.
This is your race. It does not matter what anyone thinks of you. It only matters what you think of yourself.
Treat yourself! Go out to a movie tonight just by yourself and buy some expensive candy and just enjoy it.
I'm sorry that you are going through this OP.
But there is nothing wrong with you. The only thing that is wrong is that society is very heteronormative which focuses on the idea that being straight is the ideal way to live. Everyone, including LGBTQ people, deserves to be happy.
Here are some psychology books that might help:
You Are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life https://toptalkedbooks.com/amzn/1583334831
-This books explains a technique to deal with toxic thoughts which has helped people with OCD and anxiety.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are https://toptalkedbooks.com/amzn/159285849X
-This book talks about how to deal with feelings of shame (not for being gay but in a broad sense which still helps). Her next book Daring Greatly goes into further detail.
10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Improve Their Lives https://toptalkedbooks.com/amzn/0997389826
-This book is focused on the coming out phase of a gay man. You are more than welcome to email him if you need help because he helped me.
Man's Search for Meaning https://toptalkedbooks.com/amzn/080701429X
-This book is written by a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist who explains ways of finding meaning. The first part of the book talks about his experience in concentration camos. The second part of the book is about his practice.
No matter what, as Brene Brown (the author of The gifts of Imperfections) said in her book:
"You are always worthy of love and belonging."
 - https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/... - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logotherapy
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logotherapy
The one book I wish my colleagues would read and learn from is "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankl .
"Between stimulus and response lies a space. In that space lie our freedom and power to choose a response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness."
I am a existential therapist who works with suicidal people on a daily basis for over 20 years. Here are a couple of sources I have found to be illuminating.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl Very widely cited but no less moving, written by a psychiatrist who loses everything in the Nazi concentration camps of WWII this book provides a template towards finding personal meaning in context of great suffering.
Less popularly well know is the author, Dr. Irwin Yalom PhD who explains existentialism in context of doing practical therapy. Existential Psychotherapy discusses those aspects of the Existential philosophy as it might apply to everyday life and personal meaning with special focus on death, freedom, aloneness, and meaninglessness. Dr. Yalom is a truly original highly regarded theorist in psychology but also a very accessible writer for layman. This book has richly informed not only my professional practice but also my personal life. Plus he cracks a bit on Freudian Psychoanalysis and Skinner behavioral theory, always a fun sport IMHO!
Man's Search for Meaning is a good read for those interested in the topic.