I wish I could go back. I think I’d like to cancel. Hit the delete button. Erase.
More than anything right now I’d like to go back to the minute before the penny dropped and I realised I ticked rather too many boxes on the Autism spectrum. On the one hand, so much suddenly makes sense. I had about 24 hours of thinking Oh my God, that’s me and the whole of my life makes sense now. But on the other hand I feel faulty, defective. Autism spectrum disorder. It’s a disorder. My brain is disordered. The best word I can think of to describe my feelings about My Self, and I separated that into two words deliberately, is discombobulated. In the space of just a few seconds I felt all broken up and the pieces unable to come together neatly again. I’m still me but I’m not the me I used to know. Or I’m not the me I thought I knew.
I suppose the sense of self is how we think we fit into this world, how we reference ourselves against others and how we believe we are perceived by the rest of humankind. I’m trying this minute to think of a way to describe the old Me but my previous sense of self has become strangely illusive. I was primarily a stay at home mother, and career childminder (as opposed to one who does that for a few years because it fits in with having young children at home). I read and absorbed as much as I could about child development, attended courses, and put my all into providing the best nurturing environment for my own children and those I was paid to care for.
I know I’m bright, there has never been any doubt about that, but I also developed a sense of being a good carer, of all of my family, children, husband, pets (many of them) and home. I thought I put others before myself and therefore I must be a good person and that means I wasn’t difficult to live with. I was normal, typical, like the majority, like everyone else. At least that is what I thought.
I’m now told, yes I’ve been a good carer (all those child development books I read, from birth to 18 paid off). I have brought up well balanced and successful children, I have cared for my husband and home in a way that has allowed him to have a good career and bring home good money. It’s allowed him to work long and unpredictable hours, as the home always had someone there to keep things ticking over and the children always had a parent with them. I like DIY, so I’ve kept the house in good order without costing too much, I’ve had a decent system to keep myself in order with household admin so things have generally been paid on time etc. This is all confirmed by family.
However, I’m now told I’ve not been easy to live with.
I am over emotional, volatile when stressed or under pressure and sometimes for no reason that they can understand. I can have melt downs for apparently small things and I’m slow to calm down. I can be a know it all (I tend to absorb all sorts of information from goodness knows where, and then I like to share it whether the other person wants to know or not ), I like to correct people when they are wrong and I don’t back down until they submit. I’ll go to great lengths to prove my point or that I am indeed right. I think in black and white, it’s either right or wrong, to me there aren’t many shades of grey. I’m no diplomat, I tend to say things as I see them and I can hurt feelings although they can see that I’m upset at having done so and usually baffled about why it was hurtful if it’s the truth. It’s hard to converse with me, I hog the conversation and ignore anyone else’s attempts to move the subject matter on. If I divert off topic I lose me thread and go all over the place. But it’s my place, no one else gets a word in edgeways (I do know this, and it’s a source of great embarrassment for me, but I can’t seem to stop doing it). I can bore everyone with my never-ending monologue and not notice they’re all on the verge of falling asleep, I just plough on. My untidiness is an embarrassment to my kids when bringing friends to the house (and to me also 🙁). My work colleagues thought I was aloof to the point of almost rudeness when I started my job, it took well over a year for me to fully settle in. And I was often confused by what their intentions were when they spoke to me, I couldn’t work out who to trust and who not to and I was confused by some of their humour until it was explained to me. I still am at times to be honest. As for my relationship with my husband…. I have a habit of pointing out every highway code rule he “breaks”, no matter how minor, and my insistence on being right, in all circumstances, makes him feel small and insignificant. And the only reason I can write these things, despite cringing, is that my allegiance to the truth often overrides everything and everyone else.
So I’ve been analysed by various people and come out not looking quite as nice as I hoped I was. I’ve always suffered from low self esteem and always felt like the person just outside the circle. Even when all my grown family are home, say at, Christmas, I usually feel not quite part the of the group. I don’t mean they exclude me in any way, far from it. It’s simply that I perceive myself to not quite belong, as if I’m just outside the laughing, happy, bonded group of people filling my living room. That’s very odd, even to me, as they were my babies, I pushed them out of my body, fed and nurtured them, held them, sang to them, I can hold more eye contact with these people than anyone else, but I still manage to feel like the odd one out. I’ve never admitted this to them, I’m afraid they’ll be upset, but sadly this is true.
So. I’m not all bad, but I’m rather a long way from who I wanted to believe myself to be and I wish I didn’t know this. I wish I could go back to my innocent state of ignorance, Before. Life wasn’t easy, but I did have a simpler sense of self. Now I have no idea how to define myself. And this is a very uncomfortable state of mind.
I don’t know the way forward. I’m doing the usual thing that Aspies do when faced with something they don’t know or understand, I’m engaging in deep research, reading every book I can get my hands on, every blog I can find, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube. I’m gaining a greater understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and without a doubt I do find I fit much of the profile of a high functioning autistic person, but as yet it’s not a comfortable fit.
In a few days time I start the process of official assessment for ASD. I’m not looking forward to it. But I’m really hoping that with a deeper understanding of myself, I will be able to move forward and build a new self image that I’m confident and comfortable with.
In the meantime if you are going through this same internal turmoil, hang on in there, and let’s all believe there is a way forward. I’ve read of many who have found their own path, so I’m sure this too will pass.