Being autistic and scared (trauma journal)

Content: Pain, trauma, death

 

The process of trying to understand my trauma is slowly going forward. Very, very slowly. One of the things that hit me earlier today is that during so many years, I experienced something that I had no words for but was (is) similar to fearing for my life. It’s not a good way to express it, but it’s the closest to a description that I have.

I was scared. I am scared. I’ve always been scared. Most of the times not because someone threatened to kill me (although that has happened a few times, but not when I was a kid), but because of the extreme reactions it caused me to having to push myself through school and the rest of my life.

Life was confusion and pain. Sensory pain, physical pain, emotional pain. I was so exhausted already as a kid that I thought I couldn’t live anymore. I was seven the first time I tried to ask for help because life was too difficult.

Living without being punished meant that I had to stop being me, that’s something that I figured out when I was around ten. I tried and I failed. I feared for the pain I had to go through every day but that I couldn’t explain and nobody understood.

I’ve feared for my life for so long because I knew (and know) that interacting with most people and being in most of the world is too painful. I feared that I was going to die emotionally, because I almost did. I can recall a number of times where all I could think was that it was better if I died for real because there was nothing of me left.

This is just… I’m rambling. I’m not making any sense because I have no words for this.

I can’t tell anyone about this because it sounds silly because there are no words. I was so scared because living as autistic in this world meant that I was (and still am) expected to harm myself all the time. But the harm isn’t recognized as harm.

It sounds so silly when I try to describe it. Going to school was so painful. And I still had to go there.

I need help to process my experiences of (not) going to school but when I see how psychologists, teachers and basically most people talk about autistic pupils I get even more scared. I can’t open up and risk getting that thrown in my face. Besides, how am I supposed to explain this to a psychologist when I have no words? I can’t.

I still live with so much fear that I can’t share with anyone, because I can’t explain it.

 

 

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“What if ADHD really doesn’t exist but is just symptoms of trauma?”

Content Warning: Trauma, Ableism

 

I admitted to my partner that I feel ashamed and guilty when he hugs me or basically every time he touches me in a way that isn’t explicitly sexual. Secretly, I crave it. When it happens, I partly love it and partly can’t enjoy it because it feels like I’m treating myself to something I don’t really deserve.

I’m trying to take care of myself, but honestly, it’s so hard. Mostly it’s hard because it took me so long to realize what I need.

When I was a kid I tried to protect myself but that was wrong. No human being is supposed to need what I need.

“What if ADHD really doesn’t exist but is just symptoms of trauma?”

What if being autistic and having ADHD means that I’m traumatized by stuff that NT people aren’t truamatized by, like too much noise or too little predictability?

What if I was harmed by being so exhausted from a regular school day but being told I misinterpreted myself?

What if I was traumatized by pushing myself to school one more day, despite it hurting so badly?

I was harmed and traumatized by having to perform NT. My senses were pushed to a limit that was torture every day, but when I tried to protect myself from the torture I was threatened with even more torture.

I was traumatized by stuff that people denied could be even remotely harmful.

I have secret dreams about people actually showing me the consideration I need. Like telling me what’s going to happen and not pushing me to talk with my mouth.

I have secret dreams about support that isn’t trying to discipline me into appear more allistic.

I have secret dreams about people expressing themselves clearly, so I don’t have to guess what they mean.

I have secret dreams of seeing teachers, doctors and psychologists respecting people like me and our needs.

I can’t get rid of the idea that I don’t deserve care and consideration.

I’m Not a Behavioral Problem

I inhale the spicy ginger sensations from my cup of tea, and feel the tase of chocolate melting on my tongue. In one moment, I recall and relive thousands of moments. Memories are flooding through me, memories that I have remembered so many times before but this time, one of them suddenly makes sense. In this particular moment, I understand a situation that happened months or years ago. Pieces of information that up to this moment were just chaotic fragments suddenly make sense. I understand a scent, somebody’s facial expression and what they said. Now, it’s a whole picture that I can grasp, not just chaos.

I process information deeply and I need time, a lot of time, before I can reach the meaning of certain types of information. The moments where some pieces of information fall into place are intense, because most of the times, I can experience so much in just a few seconds. Immense joy, deep fear, true surprise. I feel it all. These moments are overwhelming and I need a little while with some kind of stim toy and no more demands than to just exist.

This is what it means to be me. This happens to me almost on a daily basis, and I have accepted it. I’m okay with it but the world around me tends to call this a behavioral problem.

This is an attempt of a description of a tiny little part of what it means to me to be autistic. A part that most of the times demands a lot of energy from me and ever since I was a toddler, I have time to deal with it. Time to let the waves of processing realizations run through me. I need more time and peace and quiet on my own that what the world I live in thinks I should need. More time than it’s okay to need.

Processing deeply is actually something beautiful. It’s painful too but I can see beauty in the intense experiences it generates. But it’s not considered beautiful or even acceptable. It’s deemed bad and it means that I’m considered having behavioral problems. I see teachers, psychologists and doctors claim that this isn’t okay. I’ve been called rude when I’ve asked for more time to think before responding. I’ve been told that this should be fixed, even though there is no way of fixing this.

This isn’t some kind of behvaioral disorder that I can get rid of. It’s not an external thing that happened to attach itself to me. How I process information IS ME. How I experience the world, how I think and fell – it’s me.

When the world tells me that this should be fixed by me hiding it and denying it, you are telling me that I shouldn’t exist.

Because this is me. This is my autistic me.

Beauty

The other day, I was talking to my kid about different countries, their capitals and where they are located in relation to each other. After, my kid went out on the balcony and called in through the open window in my bedroom:

– Mom! It was so much fun to talk about countries.

Indeed it was. We had fun. We talked about in very autistic ways, which means ways that most of the allistic world will never understand, and will certainly not see the beauty in. This makes me sad and happy at the same time, just like so much of the interactions with my kid.

I see beauty in it. I see so much beauty in my kid’s way of thinking and communiticating. In my kid’s being. For me, it’s like I finally have someone to share my intuitive self with. Interacting and being with my kid means that everything that I tried to extinct about myself is possible to see in the light of authenticity, purpose and yes – beauty.

I know that the allistic world will never understand the joy of stimming. I know that you will only see deficits and never see the affirmative bond created when two autistic people are allowed to interact in our ways. You will never see the beauty in info dumping.

I’m happy because I know what we have, me and my kid. I’m sad because I know that the world around us will always belittle it.

We have our autistic beauty and you will probably never understand it, but I will always fight for our right to keep it.

Creating a Proper Person: Part 2 – Protection

I want to continue the story of how I have spent all of my life trying to be a real person. I need to write this to be able to grasp this and move on, but it’s hard. It’s painful and it’s a messy story with too many elements to parse, intertwined beyond what I can follow.

The other night, I was thinking about my obsession with the idea of somebody giving me permission to protect myself, or even helping me protect myself. I don’t know what that would feel like, but thinking about it is like daydreaming about some kind of utopia. I feel bad for writing this because the truth is that my partner actually does a lot of things in order to protect me, but there’s some dimension of it that I have no words for but that I long for intensely.

Interactions with other people was for a long time something that always, without exceptions, meant being pushed by others into discomfort. After a while, maybe when I was around seven years old, I became complicit and started pushing myself into discomfort all the time. Being autistic means being a human being in ways that the world can’t even imagine is possible, and all interactions with other people mean that everything that is me collides with deeply rooted notions about how to think, what to like, how to feel in order to be human.

I don’t have the words I need to explain this and I keep repeating myself but I’m not getting to the core of my experiences, because I don’t know the terms to describe them. Not in English, not in my first language, not in any other language.

There was something deeply frustrating about learning that my interpretations of everything were wrong but never getting a good answer to the question why my interpretation was wrong. The few times I have come far enough in processing confusing interactions with other people and been able to ask why my way was so obviously wrong I have most of the times not received any reply at all, but just been dismissed as a weird or untrustworthy person. Belittled, humiliated and succumbing to shame I’ve learned not to ask.

My head is messy now. I want to connect the two main points of this post: Being wrong and longing for protection, because I can literally feel the connection inside me.

Being human in a way that is considered so wrong that it made me not a human being anymore means that I have always had to focus on deliberately constructing myself as a proper kind of person. Practising what to say, how to move and what to feel, analyzing other people’s behavior and always watching myself is exhausting, but it also means that I have to push myself into very much discomfort hand harm. I wasn’t allowed to protect myself and nobody protected me. Since I’m now an adult with an unfulfilled need to be protected and being allowed to just exist, without making an effort to appear allistic, I don’t know what to do with myself.

I want to learn to just exist, without masking, but I don’t know how. I can’t come out as autistic because that could harm my kid so getting professional help isn’t an option.

For me, having to construct an allistic persona and always trying to play that part successfully (and always failing) has harmed me so badly and I didn’t understand the full extent of it until recently. Now, the wound is open.

It’s harming me to see teachers ans psychologists praise autistic children who appear allistic. It’s like having to see the horror movie of my childhood repeated again.

I wish so hard that somebody could have protected me against the harm that masking did. I wish I could have had some kind of experiences of what it felt like to interact with someone without exhausting myself when I was a kid. I wish I had a sense of self-worth, and a value as a human being.