Sorry, I Can’t “People” Right Now

asd, autism, Musings

Sometimes I want to write but don’t know what to write about.

A thousand and one things rattling around inside my head that are eager to be expressed

but life takes up so much time,

and I take up so much time mentally decompressing after a flurry of activity.

I went home for the holiday and that was nice to be home.

It was also intense and peopley.

But really nice.

It has taken me a week to decompress.

More holidaying to come will mean more time to decompress.

I am lucky/grateful in having time off over this festive period to do just that.

Mental decompression.

It’s an underrated healing tactic.

Process of Acceptance

Acceptance, Assessment

So I felt pretty good on Friday about my diagnosis but now I’m hitting this weird temporary wall of denial. I keep taking the AQ test over and over and keep getting the same “autistic” result. I had a gruelling session with two highly regarded professionals leading the way for accurate diagnosis of women. It’s obvious this is what I’ve been my whole life but having a label to it now is making me feel … sort of all over the place. More so than usual. It’s raising a million and one questions and concerns like:

  • Who do I tell?
  • Do I announce it with a mega phone or keep it quiet?
  • If I keep quiet, I won’t help educate more people about how diverse autism is.
  • If I am vocal, I’m not really ready for the potential negativity (and you know there will be because there’s always THAT ONE GUY or GAL).

I’m not so sure I’m ready yet for the:

  • “You don’t look or seem autistic,”
  • “But you’re really smart,”
  • “You only want attention,”
  • “You’re going to be a problem now,”
  • “I don’t know how to act around you.”

I have told a handful of people so far. Those people have been supportive. They’ve said I am still me with or without a label.

That’s great but I don’t really know what that means.

And having the label is what is making me feel weird right now.

I’ve had 34 years of painful experiences that have deeply impacted me because I was autistic and no one knew.

Had I known I was autistic sooner, I or my parents could’ve negated some of those experiences.

I also think my father was autistic but he has passed away so we will never know for certain.

But, alas, no one was diagnosing high-functioning autism when I was in school let alone in girls or women.

So the label is useful for practical reasons.

And I am not sorry for who I am.

Nor will I keep it a secret.

But wearing that label is like breaking in a new pair of shoes.

It’ll fit perfectly in time. Not everyone will notice or like my awesome new shoes but others will love my new shoes just like they loved my old shoes and none of it will even matter because it (as in life) is all beautiful.

Finite Assessment. Infinite Revelation.

Assessment

My assessment is on Friday.

Pretty scared to be honest.

If it’s not this then I hope it’s something.

Because something is better than nothing in this situation.

If it’s nothing then I guess I’m just crazy.

And everyone is crazy.

So maybe crazy isn’t such a bad thing.

But if it’s crazy then I’d like to be able to communicate with crazy a little better than I do now.

So, I guess, it’s all a win in a way.

Still scared though.

Life = journey. Life=journey. Life=journey.

Spring on Earth

Musings

Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons. I like the crispy, cool air and crunchy leaves of Fall and breaking out the sweaters and knits after relishing in strappy things and shorts for the summer.

Right now, the earliest hints of Spring are beginning to blossom. The sun feels brighter, warmer. The air is beginning to become perfumed with the aroma of early spring blooms. Shedding the bulky winter coat for something a little airier and possibly even sporting bare legs again always feels so refreshing.

Seeing nature awaken from the deep slumber of winter is always inspiring to me. Watching the sleepy bees buzz in the sun, little gnats darting and zipping in clusters made visible by sunglare and the hint of green springing up from the ground is miraculous. The synchronised systems that pull the pulse strings that intrinsically link nature, the earth, the sun, the solar system, the universe fills my rib cage with the most electric hum of transcendence.

That all reads very abstract, but I don’t know how else to say what I mean. It’s not even really something I can articulate. It’s a profound feeling at the deepest point inside that vibrates on the same string that links nature, the earth, the sun, the solar system the universe.

To be able to experience what life is actually like on a planet rather than viewing it from a satellite from a great distance is…is beyond words.

I’m going home this week.

It’ll be nice to have these spring-time feelings there as well.

The Truth Hurts Less If Open

Communication

People are surprised when I tell them I struggle with communication.

They often tell me that it doesn’t seem like I struggle.

The truth is that I’m faking it.

I’ve had 34 years of watching what others do around me and mimicking, with a lot of error, what those people did in social situations.

I don’t really think I did well with this skill at all until I uprooted my life and moved to the UK from the USA for university.

It was hard.

Reallyreally hard.

It did force me to excel at camouflaging and trying my best to “fit in” or whatever.

Nowadays, I’m so good at being uncomfortable that I don’t even notice it sometimes.

The giggles, smiles, forced “Have a good weekend” or “Happy New Year” and other general conventions of conversation.

To give you some perspective, I couldn’t even really mutter a “hello” or “goodbye” until I was like 27.

I legitimately do not understand the concept of “hello” or “goodbye.” This caused me a lot of problems including being fired from a job when I was a teenager or people thinking I was a rude human being.

Taking various psychology courses in high school and community college has helped me learn the structure of effective communication so I guess this is why people think I do it well.

I don’t really mean any harm to anyone. I don’t mean to be rude or anything like that. I try my best to hide my inability to understand and usually default to the giggle mentioned above if I don’t know how to respond. I’ve gotten better at saying “I don’t understand, can you please explain it more clearly?” but that doesn’t always work out in the best way.

I still struggle if I do not receive a direct response or action. Passive aggressive behavior is basically my kryptonite.

Written words are no issue. Verbal words are another matter.

I have had meltdowns over communication.

I guess we all have our own preferred methods of communication and I am still surprised by the amount of ineffective communication that happens (i.e., dramarama) over silly things that would be prevented if people were honest and open with each other.

It’s a funny thing, this communication business.

Hello. Hi. Hey.

The Beginning

The truth is I don’t really know what kind of child I was.

Whether I was happy or sad or kind or mischievous.

I was more often than not tucked away in my child-mind; playing in other mental universes in the confines of a fenced backyard.

Mermaids. Faeries. Superheros. Labyrinths. Treasures. Sorcerers. Oracles.

I have many different childhood memories; some significant, others less so.

I remember telling other kids not to pick flowers because they were hurting said flowers.

I remember picking up worms from stormy street gutters and putting them back in the grass.

I remember apologizing to inanimate objects if I bumped into them.

I remember being fixated on my kaleidoscope, staring into its trillions of colors and patterns for double-digit minutes; the world evaporating around me.

I don’t remember the desire to want to play with other children. I enjoyed being on my own. I didn’t enjoy speaking to people.

I remember studying the faces around me to learn how to react to different situations.

I remember having very disconnected thoughts such as “This is strange behavior, why are we doing [insert child game here]? This makes no sense,” or being annoyed by children my age just being children. Example:

kid: “There are two suns in space, one at your house and one at my house.”

me: “There is only one sun that the planets orbit. It looks like there are two because of the distance the earth is to the sun. You are stupid.”

We were four.

I remember not recognizing my own face until I was close to 12.

I knew it was me but it didn’t look like what I knew as me.

I remember my memories becoming more bleak as I entered school and adolescence.

The inability to communicate or to “fit in”.

The inability to understand the concepts of greetings and why people use them.

The perceived “extreme shyness.”

The negative comments about my monotone voice.

The white-knuckled anxiety around numbers.

The teacher saying something wasn’t quite right with me but not sure what it was.

The teacher who called me “stupid.”

The bullying.

The meltdowns.

The beautiful landscapes of my imagination juxtaposed with “reality”.

The noise.

The disappointment in the outside world.

The whispers of nature that kept me going

and the comfort I found in written words.

There are a lot of memories I am not ready to revisit yet

and many more that I am.

Finally, after 34 years of feeling like a non-human in every way possible, I am on the journey to discovery.

As cheesy as that is say.
What does “cheesy” even mean apart from extreme amounts of cheese in food?