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.