Losing myself…

We were all lazing around the resort pool on a hot tropical afternoon. I was a bit bored and remembered that someone I know, who was on the trip, used to brag about her “gaydar”. So I went up and asked her to guess me. I wasn’t that interested in the label, I just wanted to see if she actually read my posts.

“Kath,” she replied, “you’re not going to like this but I see you as being lost, lonely, and desperately looking for labels.”

I was simultaneously shocked and angry. Shocked that she could think such a thing and angry that she paid that little attention to my life. I’ve been identifying as an asexual for around four years now and panromantic for almost as long. I never mention it anymore because the label gets too long but I’m still demiromantic too. We have to be friends for me to be interested in a relationship. The last four people have been friends. I’ve only ever mentioned two of them though.

A little while ago someone who’s very close to me told me several things, all having to do with “the old me”.

“These days you put yourself in so many tiny boxes. The old you wouldn’t do that.” and so on. I’m assuming the boxes are sexual orientations.

Most of the conversation washed past with the “the old you” comments stinging like a wasp’s bite. I know I’m not the same as the old me. I have memories, both my own and on Facebook. I know I could do a lot more before my breakdown. I didn’t need daily naps and didn’t go to bed at 8pm. I didn’t struggle with making simple meals. I used to meal prep on Sunday, something I think I posted recently, and had no problem doing so even though it took most of the day.

Being told I’m not the same as the old me makes me feel like the new me is an inferior copy, one that can never succeed.

It’s noon on Monday and I’m still in my pjs. I’ll get dressed soon but will likely pass lunch because there’s nothing I can think of that I want to eat. It’s okay because I’m not hungry anyway.

I try my hardest to be a good and decent person. I hold doors open for people, smile and hold a cheery (albeit brief) conversation in the elevator. I always make a point to smile and say “hi” to the homeless people downtown and give any food I have, which is usually my own lunch. I support people on Facebook, helping talking them down from suicide sometimes, giving relationship advice (mostly how to tell if it’s abusive). I’m not qualified for either but somehow I’ve fumbled through and helped. And all of that feels inadequate because I’m not working 40 hours a week anymore then coming home to cook from scratch. I’ve always tried my hardest, it’s just that my apparently my hardest isn’t good enough anymore. And I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t go back to my old me. She’s gone now and I have no way of bringing her back.

It’s now 1pm. I’m up and dressed and even fielded a phone call from a Facebook friend of mine. I’ve even made my bed. So now’s the time to wash the handful of dishes in the kitchen and take a nap. I’m going downtown this evening to support having a rainbow crosswalk (or two). I don’t want to leave this post on a down note so here’s a song I sang while my friends and I sang karaoke. My apologies for the couple of flat notes in the beginning and I don’t have a clue where that half a line went. But it does get better, hopefully just like me.

 

Autism support…

People say they love autism. They love changing their profile pictures and banners to “light it up blue”. They love the little puzzle pieces. They love pictures of cute, adorable autistic kids and videos of them behaving properly (ie neurotypically). If you ask them, they’ll tell you that of course they support autistic people. And they do… as long as the autistic person keeps on being “normal”.

Autistic people aren’t “normal”. We rock and flap our hands. We sometimes make strange noises. We get overwhelmed and have meltdowns, which range from standing silent in the corner to screaming and crying. We eat the same thing for weeks… months… years on end and wear the same clothes day after day. We wear headphones in public, even during conversations, and cover our ears when there’s loud noises. We lack mouth filters and sometimes say things that are horribly rude without any idea of such, at least until the berating starts.

And the attitude follows us online too. We get laughed at or yelled at for mistaking a sarcastic meme for a serious one. We have no idea which emoticon to use for complex posts. We get accused of missing the point of posts when we didn’t miss it, we just felt a different point was more important. But our view doesn’t matter because it isn’t “normal”.

We don’t stay sweet, adorable children. We grow up. We’re your strange neighbour who wears the same clothes every day and talks to himself. We’re the person crying on the bus because we’ve done three transfers already and now the bus is stuck in traffic and we just want to be home. We’re the person online who’s trying to be helpful but misunderstood the meme and now looks unsympathetic. We’re the person you’ve known for two years and is “so rude” because we still haven’t learned your name, even though we know your favourite colour and you only said it once a year ago. We’re the person who will. not. stop. talking. about. ducks.

Next time you tell yourself that you support autistic people, change the word autistic to weird, strange, eccentric. Do you accept those people into your life? Because, if you don’t, you’re an autism poster supporter. So stick up that puzzle piece in April, even though autistic people don’t like it, and tell yourself you’re doing your part. But at least try to be honest with yourself. If you don’t support us in all our messy, glorious rainbow of existence, you don’t support autistic people at all.

special interest