Maybe writing this blog will help me work that out. Sometimes when you see things on paper or hear them out loud they become clearer don’t they? Well at least they do to me. When things are swirling around inside my brain it’s difficult to make sense of them, my head is soup!
So, I know what’s going on but I’m in a place where I can’t make any sense of it or decide what I’m supposed to do about it. It seems that I am some kind of ‘high functioning autistic person’. I always thought I had traits, they seem to run in one side of my family but I never made the connection between certain things I experience in my life and autism. But the more blogs I read and the more I learn about other people’s experiences the clearer it becomes. I’m autistic. For some reason I feel uncomfortable about saying that. It feels (at the moment) like I’m admitting a weakness I have. I’m really not good at accepting I’ve made a mistake or that I’m bad at something and I feel by saying I’m autistic I’m doing that.
I think my worries are mainly down to societies view on autism. When a neurotypical person hears that someone autistic (especially someone who has no experience or knowing an autistic person) they seem to assume this describes someone who is quite profoundly disabled and needs constant care and support with personal needs. Clearly this is a very distorted image as many people on the spectrum (on the outside at least) can appear to be managing daily life very well. The neurotypical population also seem to have the perception that an autistic person cannot lead a ‘normal’ life. Though there are challenges along the way there should be no reason why an autistic person cannot get married, have children and get a good job – do all the things society classes as ‘the norm’. It is these distorted views that affect parents when they learn their child is autistic. Parents quite often become frantic and think they need to ‘fix’ or ‘cure’ their child instead of embracing their child’s unique qualities. (I have been there by the way, I have 2 children diagnosed and I expect the other 2 are on the spectrum too.)
The reason for the title of this piece is, I have masked my real self for such a long time and tried to be ‘normal’ and ‘fit in’ with what society and those around me expects of me that now I don’t know who my ‘real self’ is. I constantly plan what I should say in a conversation before I have it so I know what to say. I avoid situations where I know I might feel socially uncomfortable. I don’t do or say things for fear of someone laughing or making a sarcastic comment (because that makes me feel pretty useless and inadequate). As for feeling or emotions it is a recent revelation to me that I have no idea what they are or how they work. That’s not to say I don’t feel them just that when I do I can’t identify them accurately and therefore do not know what the appropriate response to them is. Realising this for myself has also made me see what my children also experience.
The point is I’ve no idea who I am or who I am supposed to be anymore because in my head I’ve wanted to be something but forced myself to be something else due to the demands of society and now this ‘act’ I’ve put on for so long has taken over whoever I am underneath and I’ve lost her, I’ve no idea if she can be rediscovered and if she can how would I go about this? I’ve really no idea and it’s making me feel quite sad that this has happened. If only I had known what was going on years ago I could have done something about it… hen gain probably not because I would have still had to ‘fit in’ no matter what.