Going into hiding

I think this is going to be a difficult weekend.

I’ve become so much more open with most people about my condition. There are strategies and aids I use to help me manage and communicate. I still get upset when I make social errors, but I’ve been working – with some success – on not being too hard on myself when that happens. (I remain hard on myself for most other reasons.) I’ve stopped being self-conscious about appearing in public wearing a rather obvious autism wristband; in fact, it’s almost become my safety net.

But this afternoon, I’m driving up to see my parents.

And I can’t be open with them. They don’t understand why the label has made a difference to how I act. They expect me to act in exactly the same way that I did 18 months ago. And I try to meet their expectations, because I’m scared that if I don’t they will cut me off completely.

But, as time goes on, hiding who I am now just gets harder.

Every time they visit me, I have to run around putting everything to do with autism or mental health in a hidden cupboard or high shelf – both literally and metaphorically. Every time I visit them, I have to remember not to pack – or to hide away – the things I use to try and keep myself grounded.

I feel torn between two worlds; two different ways of being.

I resisted the label ‘autistic’ for a long time. But I’ve become comfortable with that as part of my identity.

But it is part of an identity that I don’t think my parents will ever accept.

I think this is going to be a difficult weekend.

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