I thought begin with a little addendum to the previous post. Speaking about what anxiety actually is and there’s much more to it than what I wrote. With that said though I haven’t made much progress on that front.
It is complex and the chain of logic goes deep into what makes me tick. I realise that to some extent, I just want things to be fantastic but I expect things to be terrible. The cognitive dissonance arises and things just don’t feel right.
I did go back to the last two times I went to the local autism hub to maybe check in and see if my old friends were there. And they were.
I can only go to the conclusion that my life was so wonderful with them that I could just never go back to that state having made such a mess of things. The new expectation of being snubbed and dismissed just cannot be tolerated having know what was and what could have been.
It still remains the aim to be in a place where I can begin anew and replace those extreme expectations with openness. But to go back I must do something drastic to be able to change my outlook.
Some disappointing news from the hub is that despite a previous intention to restart the monthly social evenings, the socials have now been organised in the Friday afternoon drop in slot. So for people like me who work the usual 9-5 we cannot attend unless we book time off work.
There was a shock change around Christmas as the 2 most senior staff members quit without much warning so I can imagine staffing issues prevent them from expanding back into evening socials.
I occasionally drop in on my lunch break for half an hour. Been meaning to go recently but work is extra stressful at the moment. I’ve grown into more responsibility in m y role at work, currently just got my colleague his checker accred and training a new team member. We’re close to getting him signed off as well.
Work has been pushing daily productivity targets for several months now and I try my best to ignore them and just do what I can.
For the topic at hand, I’m taking some time to watch vids from the neurodivergent community. It struck me how the journey of self-discovery I’ve been on has never been far away from the political battle for better treatment of and understanding of us neuroatypicals.
When I say political I’m really talking about the morality and correctness of how society treats us and represents us. Are we a burden to be lifted? Are we a special snowflake that needs to be coddled? Are we just like everyone else in most ways?
Should we be discriminated against for our disabilities? Should we be singled out for special treatment? Should we be normaliased? Should we be raised the same way as everyone else?
Are we the archtype of advanced future Nu-Human? Are we making neurotypicals look bad? Should we care about any of that and just get on with our lives?
I think we can all agree it’s the height of evil to send us to the Nazi killing centres as Hans Asperger is now known to have done.
It all comes down to ideas of whether autism is an illness that needs to be cured or if its fine and doesn’t. I can admit there have been many times I have wished I didn’t have it. Wished my friends didn’t have it. Or at least some aspects of it.
Separate from that though is how society sees us and the messages people send when they deal with us. Reductive stereotypes abound. Unhelpful rhetoric. And of course the common trope of claiming to be an ally while speaking for us and over us.
Beyond the fundamental axioms of good and bad I wonder if there is or ever will be a correct answer.
I don’t really believe living according to anyone else’s standards and systems is of any benefit to me now so I’m quietly digging in to living life my own way. I’ll find out for myself what’s good for me and bad for me.
Its hard going but I slowly learn to accept other people shouldn’t have to live up to my standards either. Though I will offer my own perspective I’m not going to insist on helping people and trying to fix every problem.
I know I’ve never wanted to force my opinions onto anyone else. I don’t do it and never have. Always sit back and say nothing. Its not in my nature to think I’m better than everyone else. In my own weird way I always respected individuality and I like people who are truly unique and different.
I don’t like change I never tried to change anyone I didn’t like. Quite the opposite actually, I ended up trying to maintain consistency and predictability while trying to stay interesting enough.
So meek was I that I viewed boundaries as a repressive force and so I never said no. The last two years can be summed up as a long overdue blanket of saying no.
It is and can only be from those authentic voices of neurodivergence that I build an understanding of how best to behave around us.
The mutual support and friendship I found was wonderful. I would do anything within my power for them to the point of love-bombing. It would have been great if I could do it forever without any conditions or expectations.
Alas I was doing it because I wanted something and when I wasn’t getting what I wanted, soon enough I was no longer acting with the same kindness. But at the same time I felt that I had been pulled in with kindness and pushed away without kindness.
My experience has taught me not to trust kindness anymore. Through the same eyes I can see my best friend had plenty of reason not to trust kindness and she always made independence the most important thing in her life.
She was diagnosed a year or so before me and I think she had done so much to help herself already before I came along.
I looked for friends and social excitement before I had really begun to process and come to terms with my diagnosis.
She continues to have a massive influence on me as I continue to learn my lessons in her absence. For so much we had in common we are still different people but I find myself finally following her footsteps in valuing independence above all.
Outside of those times I was completely in thrall of her I can appreciate how stubbornly I’ve taken the lonely path of living in my own world to avoid the demands of normal society and live for myself.
I pride myself on how few people could realistically live the isolated life I live and how fiercely I fight to be by myself.
More and more I see the neurotypical crowd devote their lives to other people. The people who see me sitting alone in the pub and think there must be something wrong with me.
I’d rather be by myself now. Rather sit here writing my blog. I could have stayed at home but I like being among people so long as I can just chill out and focus on myself.
It’s amusing to think now that the neurotypical crowd with all problems that could do with fixing. I’m not gonna tell them what they should or should not be doing. Let them figure it out.
What truly defines my social anxiety is knowing that my words and actions could change someone’s life but not really understanding how. Social interactions in particular have the potential to change my life. Recent experience confirms that 1000-fold.
And those who told me that i shouldn’t try to change people, well they’re right in a way but isn’t that why we socialise? To bring some new opportunity, to open doors for change? To meet someone who can provide what we can’t do for ourselves? To see another side of life?
My problem was always how I couldn’t accept any possibility of affecting someone or being affected negatively. My deep drive to be perfect can be the best thing about me but it leaves me totally incapable of handling tough times.
To play devils advocate here, maybe this is the cross for us autistics to bear. Absolutely not generalizing here but experience with my friends tells me that it’s better to be flexible with friends than become dependent on them.
I find myself regretting how deeply I loyalty checked my friends when the truth is that they had every right to do their own thing. They would and maybe still will always be my friend but I wanted to know if they would be sad to lose me as a friend.
I wanted to know if I was a good friend or bad one. What I know now is that I’d rather be the only friend I need than ever be in that position again.
I overhead some pub talk from the normal folk and I feel distinctly unimpressed and uninspired. This is why I don’t feel any urge to join them.
There is no objective answer to the question of what is the correct way to be human. I only know what I feel is correct. Though the balance between doing the right thing for yourself and for others is a delicate dance.
To sum up and come to some sort of conclusion, society is not set up to benefit those of us at the fringes of neurodiversity. We are the ones who need to ensure we do what’s good for ourselves and we need to protect ourselves from the demands of others.
We need only to trust ourselves. At the critical point of confrontation I asked her if she still trusted me. She didn’t say yes so that is the real reason I could not stay friends. She was either right not to trust me or she was wrong not to trust me. Either way it spelt out something awful. But I had stopped trusting myself and that left me a hostage to a horrible moment.
Always trust yourself xx
Explicit addendum in edit. Trust cannot be freely given but has to be earned. Trusting yourself is I think the most important thing you will ever do but you cannot just give it. It takes work and experience. I hope that those who read my blog know how fucking difficult it is.
Trusting yourself becomes slightly easier when you stop trusting others so readily. But then it comes from walking a lonely path.
We all crave understanding but some of us have to go without it. Then we will know how much we matter if only to ourselves.
As always thank you for reading xx