I’m writing this on a plane on my way to Norway, having successfully navigated Gatwick Airport (which is, in itself, no small feat). My strategies still seem to be working, which is definitely a good thing.
One thing about travel: it gives you time to think. And what’s been on my mind today is help.
Asking for help is something I’ve always found difficult in any situation. So what’s tended to happen in the past is that I’ve been criticised for not seeking help, so then I’ve asked for help and been criticised for asking. (That used to happen all the time at school, and then I got told off for insubordination when I tried to clarify when, exactly, it was appropriate to ask for help…)
And over the years, I gave up asking, and it became more and more difficult to accept help when offered. Because I never knew whether people meant it or whether it was an empty offer. I didn’t want to get it wrong; to be different, to be ‘other’ yet again. And mentally, that’s still pretty much where I am. The problem is, at heart, I don’t believe that I actually deserve help.
Even today, in a situation where the need for help was really clear cut, I couldn’t ask for or accept help. At the moment I can barely walk; I was limping through the airport using a walking stick. And I was asked four times, by people whose job it is to help, if I needed special assistance, but turned it down. Because I should be able to do it myself (& I did… but not without a great deal of pain).
And that’s in situations where there’s something clear cut that could be done for an obvious (hopefully temporary) physical condition. But today I couldn’t accept a golf buggy ride, or ask for a seat when I was in quite severe physical pain. Asking for or accepting help for autism is about a thousand times harder for me. So that’s a bit of a dilemma really. And I don’t think there’s an easy answer.