2013, August 13th:
“I’m autistic. In other words, mentally disabled. Pretty severely.[ It’s not just “mild Asperger’s Syndrome”, as we thought for so long.] I cope( cover for it) well. Very well. So well that most of you who have met me don’t think of me as disabled, & those who do think it’s great how well I have dealt with it – & then forget that I am ALWAYS still dealing with it.
“I have spent over two-thirds of my life observing & analyzing people & learning to interpret their actions with millions of rules, each of which has between dozens & thousands of exceptions & special cases. I have memorized these billions of possibilities & interpretations, because as an autistic person that is my ONLY means to comprehend things that, for a neurotypical individual, are instinctively obvious; & I spend hours & hours every day imagining dozens or hundreds of possible scenarios & how those algorithms might apply, as well as organizing myriad facts in my head that will affect the outcomes.
“Still, it’s far from perfect, I get predictions wrong or encounter surprises that slow me down hundreds of times a day. People often accuse me of overthinking, well, YOU would be overthinking if you thought about your interactions with others this much instead of just using your instincts; for ME that same level of thought is the only way, what with lacking those instincts, to avoid missing or misunderstanding literally( & I MEAN literally) everything anyone says & does.
“& I know that I can be difficult to understand or react to when lost in thought, & I can cause stress to others when I am emotional, sometimes seemingly at random from their perspective; but I wonder if anyone ever appreciates that EVERY interaction I have with anyone, EVER, even the pleasant ones, is potentially just as taxing for me as I am at my most difficult for them. When I am close to people, know them well, it gets much easier, yes; but it is NEVER effortless. It is NEVER simple. It is NEVER, EVER not difficult & draining; at _best_, it is like working hard at a tough job you really love; it is worth doing, eventually some little things are second nature, & either the job or the results are fulfilling for you, but you still end up exhausted when you do it for hours on end. Often, though, it is harder, MUCH harder, even uncomfortably hard... just like listening to me have a breakdown or get frustrated & pissed is uncomfortable for the other people in my life.
“I don’t generally whine about it because that really doesn’t help, & I don’t want to be seen that way. Everybody talks about the weather... So I fucking did something about it. I learned. I spent around EIGHTEEN YEARS learning to do this, to even _speak_ to you. To look you in the eye. To have the *slightest* inkling of what you might mean when it’s not identical to what you say. To interact with the world in a way that not only makes sense to me, but also does not stress other people by appearing excessively strange( I know I will always be somewhat strange, so I strive to just not be unduly stress-causing with it). 18 years is a good deal longer than it takes many people to get a doctoral degree, & I had NO mentors, NO role models, no one who even understood what I wanted/needed to learn, including me sometimes( nothing is more important to know than what it is you don’t know).
“It took( & still takes, not done learning or implementing), *fuck modesty*, a brilliant mind, a lot of fucking talent, a will of adamant, & enough love to see Hercules through 12,000 labors. & out of that love I try to do the best I can, for everyone, all the time, & see the best in most of the worst folks; because really, we’re amazing, human beings: 3 pounds of little grey cells & a couple hundred pounds of other, & all this stuff I work so hard on is just, *automatic*, for the ones who aren’t broken like this; & in addition to that, somewhere in most of us humans with our 3 lb. brains is the capacity to take other unfamiliar things & just do what I did, put in the effort & *make* something, a system or a tool, to handle just about everything else; not only to survive or feel good, but even to try to make the whole world better, in accordance with our own ideals of what that means.
“How can you not admire, & so come to respect, & so, inevitably, come to truly love anything so wondrously unique & unlikely, & so brimming with power & potential, as a human being? Every single person embodies all that, & I can’t not know & see & feel that, even when I find them difficult.
“So I’m sorry if it comes across as selfish & weird & maybe arrogant when I’m a little frantic to understand or plan or deal with things; when I’m impatient; when I don’t make perfect sense, when I ask or tell you to do something without a good explanation beforehand. But, sometimes, when someone close to me is shutting down on me because I am wound up or confused, & I am asking dozens of questions s/he doesn’t think matter, or upset about something s/he doesn’t understand & won’t/can’t listen to me explain; I wonder why, if I suck it up constantly & deal with all of you( who all make just as little sense to me in my true mind) someone who likes or even loves me can’t suck it up & deal with the more uncomfortable side of me once in a while?
“& maybe a part of me is afraid, in my insecurity, that no matter how good at playing normal-ish I get, I’ll never be good enough for anyone but my parents to love me that much.”
Thanks for reading.
[To comment, for now at least, click over to this post on the main D.R.T.Y. blog. Sorry about that!]