To be honest, I don’t exactly know where to start as I feel like I am just beginning this journey myself. Since realising I am autistic, I have thought about so many moments throughout my life that were pointing to autism, all of which were either overlooked or misunderstood. I enjoyed dancing (which I believe was my masked form of rocking), but experienced a meltdown when I was placed into a formal dance class (tap, I believe). In 3rd grade, I remember that my Mom let me decide for the first time ever how I wanted my hair, and was so disappointed when I got it cut really short- she liked my hair long. I wanted it short so my cousins would stop touching it and trying to style it any way they saw fit. In school, I remember always trying to do what the “cool kids” did in efforts for them to like me more… or at all. In reality, my information was never valued, my honesty was always rude, and my collection of tiny rocks was not interesting. I don’t know if it ever got better or if I just got better at hiding it through high school. I did notice some things throughout my school years that maybe should have stood out more, but most of it was just strained relationships that seemed to dissolve. I now know that I got too comfortable with people, and they in turn became uncomfortable with me.
My difficulties surrounding relationships continued on into adulthood, specifically at work. In one instance, I had co-worker (A) say to me: “Ya know, you aren’t as big of a b*tch as co-worker (B) says that you are”. I said “thank you”, because I had no other idea how to respond to that. Like, does that mean I am still definitely unpleasant to deal with, but not as horrible as expected? Or is it more “oh I didn’t expect you to be nice at all.” I thought that co-worker (B) was at least civil with me, even though I had no delusions that we were friends (despite knowing each other for several years before working together). I didn’t think she disliked me enough to talk like that to other co-workers about me. I guess I was horribly wrong. Luckily that didn’t happen too often. Maybe I have struggled so much with peers because other people don’t often appreciate the logical point of view. They are often offended when you tell them that if they are unhappy they should change it. I am also admittedly very bad at taking logical advice sometimes too. I tend to think the best of others, even though time and time again they have proven they are not the best.
I don’t know how much of this actually translates into anything, but all I know is that when reading posts from other members of the autistic community, I have never related more to anyone in my life. I was so happy to find out that I was not the only “super weird one” out there. I know those aren’t exactly the right words, but I feel like I rarely have those when speaking to others. Most people either avoid talking to me, or for whatever reason, seek me out in a crowd to ask for directions or advice or something of that nature. I usually can help them because I am paying attention to the details around me, but I don’t think that they get what they thought they were asking for in interacting with me. I think I more often than not gave them way more information than what they were looking for. I mostly struggle with communication, having my plans messed with outside of minor inconveniences, and things losing interest very quickly when they become overwhelming or too many steps become involved in the task that I am trying to complete. I know that my facial expressions have scared off some people I found fairly intimidating.
I will be seeking a formal diagnosis in the future, but for now I am just gathering information in my mind so that when I do talk to someone formally, I will hopefully be understood. I have read so many tedious stories of women trying to get diagnosed later in life. I don’t know why I feel like I need the formal diagnosis, maybe I have just learned not to trust what I think or what the internet thinks, since it seems to be cancer no matter what’s wrong with you.
The internet also portrayed that ‘everyone will probably be on the spectrum in some way’. To test this, my husband took the autism quizzes. They revealed that he wasn’t likely to be on the spectrum, but I was. Despite my lack of formal diagnosis, my Husband supports me and hasn’t been led to feel any differently about me. In that respect, I am very lucky.
I am, as I said, still very new to this journey and all I can recommend right now is to remember nothing actually changed, even though everything feels very different. I am hopeful that I can learn more about how to provide self care to my autistic self. I know some of it just from listening to my body, but I do feel like there are areas that I would like to work on to improve how I react to life further. In turn, this will hopefully cause me to be less tired. Previously, I had pushed myself to be “normal”. For example, I would push myself to respond to things before I was ready. I often need several days to really decide how I feel about big events, or events that I initially perceive as being big. Sometimes, after a few days, I no longer believe it to be a big deal and I can just move on. Other times, I have structured my thoughts in a way that I can hopefully convey them. Feelings are sometimes complex and difficult, I am now working on allowing myself that time to decide how I feel before relaying my feelings to others. I am also working on giving myself more quiet time to work through these things. I am very thankful that I do not have to work right now while trying to figure all of this out, because I do not know if I could handle that on top of all of this. I will continue this journey with confidence that it can only get better from here…right?