Don’t be afraid. This is just me from this past Halloween and I totally enjoyed making myself up for the day. Now, it sort of fits my feelings. This post will be written as a specific comment for Jess’ post on “Diary of a Mom” blog in which she chronicals her family’s experiences, specifically with autism. I am responding to her post entitled, “I See Myself”, without taking up too much space in her comments, which is kinda inevitable at this point as my middle name is “Tangent” and at least here, I can go as far away as I want… hee hee. I almost did not read it because I’ve been rushing through my delayed morning routine which is to go through my morning emails and community sites I frequent before getting into much needed knitting this week. I read this post and saw myself and had to stop myself to breath. I am forever seeing myself, as she has. I’ve seen myself even before my son was diagnosed, but never knew it to be Autism. I mean, I see myself as being fine. Different, but fine. I grew up in the sixties and if I were diagnosed back then, it might have been for retardation, not autism and my life would most certainly be very different…. I don’t like to think about that. As a matter of fact, I don’t like to think about anything. As far back as I can remember, I could just sit there for hours, just staring off into space without a single thought. I still have these times, but not as much because, I suspect, solely because I have a computer with internet. Games? NO… My vice is just surfing from one site to the next without much thought or concentration. I LOVE information, and that is what I get though I rarely take the time to read each thing through… really. Wow, sort of the same thing except it’s external.
Jess, I know what you’re going through. The difference is that I’ve lived my whole life painfully knowing that I was strange, weird; and it was unexplained. I yearned to be normal, accepted as normal, make friends and be comfortable with them. I was acutely aware that I should look people in the eye, yet never could seem to get my eyes to accept my will. People judged me as being stuck up. Stuck up? I wondered how anyone could think that when I lived without the “things” in my life that I thought were instrumental for that assessment in other people, people I judged…. and it went on and on.
Eventually, I learned to compensate, but I was always criticized, chided by family for not seeking out peers, for being a wallflower, for never “making an appearance” when we had company in the house. I’d spend summers holed up in the basement, pursuing my interests, instead of being outside with the other kids on our block. I had a miserable school experience (I always have to add that in), but then later on, when I started working, I realized that I would meet people that didn’t know me and I could be whoever I wanted to be. I did that, but I soon realized that I’d have to spend time with friends if I wanted to HAVE friends… lol. How was I going to do that if I could not even hold a conversation without stuttering, without running? To this day I absolutely love to entertain gatherings, I find that I have a LOT of things to do in the kitchen, away from the people. It’s my refuge in some ways. I’m comforted by doing, preparing food and serving. This past Christmas, I was almost bodily forced to sit down with my own family.
I can remember one New Year’s Eve party. I was with a bunch of people, most of whom I did know. This was in the late nineties. I can remember not wanting to be the center of attention, I was cringing, I was frantically looking around, I was on the verge of what I can only assume was a melt down. I was shaking with pins and needles exploding into my skin. The irony of this is that I definitely was NOT the center of attention. As a matter of fact, I was not being noticed at all, a fly on the wall, sitting at a table, all alone. Yet, I burst from the room, into a bathroom stall–pretending. I was in my mid thirties and it was this night that, after 5 minutes or so, after the clock struck midnight, I first forced myself out of there to intentionally mingle. I tried to look normal, but felt far from it. I left soon after, but still, this was a good idea, I thought. I could accept and allow myself that social break when I needed it, but after 5 minutes I’d come back to people.
My own flashbacks include my dear hubby from the time our son was born, routinely would almost force me out of the house at least once a week to get out and take time off away from being a mom. He never wakes me up to get our son ready for school. Does he know something even from way back then that I am totally oblivious to? Believe me, he has his own demons, yet he either strives to make life easier for me OR he is merely sticking to his own routine which is so deeply embedded inside him. I like to actively believe the former. Jess, to this day I’ve never made it to the doctor’s office to discuss this possibility and probably won’t for a good long time. Heck, before my son got diagnosed, I thought I would be judged as a hypochondriac. Jess, that took a lot of guts and I’m inspired.
Last year I read “Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s” by John Elder Robison (little did I know that, at will, I would remember and spell his name correctly) I linked to the author’s blog. I don’t like it that Amazon has a monopoly on book links. I’d rather give the reader a little more than just the obvious. I gained a lot of insight into my son and myself from this book; and hopefully, it’s the template for future insights into myself.
Not sure if I should continue so I’ll stop dead in my tracks. It’s been my experience that I will repeat myself over and over, word for word because I wasn’t sure if I had anything more to say, but just felt that I should keep talking… and well, got nowhere for that effort. Oh maybe I got somewhere. I zeroed in to the Weird Zone.
edited to add:
Okay, of course immediately after posting, I decided that I’m not finished talking. There IS more I’d like to say. More about how I’ve adapted and more about the positives. Maybe these ideas belong in separate posts, so this is a good thing……