That is the question.
Nobody knows who I am. Who I really am. The painful truth is that this is partly my own doing.
Living with Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, is difficult. If you are high functioning, therefore able to make yourself aware of how the world sees you and studies you to be, it is even more so.
The world tells us we are not ‘normal’. We are not ‘correct’. That we are wired differently to neurotypical humans. In books, articles, websites, blogs and magazines we read that despite all efforts, despite all those who try to understand and love us, we are fated to always be alone.
Well, I have never believed in the word that is normal.
Yes I am wired differently to the neurotypical human, this is why to them I am not ‘correct’. That is fact.
My doubt comes to when copious people, including members of my own family, tell me I am to live my life with this continual feeling of detachment from everyone around me. Alone.
All the years leading up to my diagnosis, I was described as:
All words that amounted to meaning the same thing. Different.
As a young girl, growing into her teen years, you don’t wish to be different. I did not anyway. As someone who was bullied continually through my school years from age 8 and upwards, to be different was not a positive trait.
Then to turn 16, to be given my diagnosis of Autistic a week later… More words are inevitably added to that list:
Those your age, or close to, come up with some words too. Retard being the most memorable…
My point is. I was always described as different. By strangers, friends, family, doctors, teachers. Therefore, after finding out I have Autism, I studied everything about it. How much of it applied to me. What my ‘giveaways’ were. I began work on looking and seeming like your neurotypical human. Some giveaways were that when excited or overwhelmed, I used to flap my arms and hands. I would jump on the spot. When anxious I would find myself in a rocking motion. If unsure of the social situation I would take myself away mentally and physically in a interesting fashion. For example, a 14 year old me once got so upset because of a communication problem with a history teacher that I crawled under the table and started humming to myself waiting for the moment to pass.
According to those who study Autism, it is normal for Aspie’s to speak in a blunt and factual manner which can come off as rude and unfriendly to those around them. It was not normal to reply ‘yes’ to someone if they looked fat in an outfit and asked you about it. It was not correct to ask a dying child to ‘just die now’ so they would be out of their pain and those around them were not holding on to false hope. These are not the correct ways to behave with people.
All these ‘symptoms’ as they are called, I worked hard on compressing and internalising so that on the outside I acted and seemed like any other person my age.
I do this now. Nearly ten years later. What I am learning is that this is an incredibly common practise for Aspies, particularly the females. In fact this is one of the reasons we get diagnosed so much later than the male sex do! We are better actors.
Here I come back to that ‘Those with Autism are to spend their lives alone and detached’ theory.
Maybe the reason we feel so alone, why we never find our people, is because we are never free to just be?
I can’t speak for all my people. Yet I believe a majority will agree with me on that we spend so much of our time in our daily lives trying desperately to understand, to be like the neurotypical humans of this world. Maybe it is time that you NT’s try to understand us, however instead of changing who we are and how we think… Please just accept us for who we are?
Obtainable it could become then, that us Aspies don’t spend our lives alone in this world. That we can find our place. Our people.
Here is my challenge for myself. I won’t hide. I won’t lie. I won’t act. From this moment on I am just going to be who I was born to be and see how this world takes it. Let’s call it an experiment!
To be, or not to be. That is the question.
I’ll get back to you.