Just when I think things are starting to get better, something happens to make me feel as though life is impossible. Just when I think I know and accept who I am, something comes along to shake my confidence. To leave me wondering whether people actually see me, or just my condition.
The last few days have been hard. There have been a lot of tears, and not much joy.
I’ve tried to rebalance that a bit today. Although it’s not easy. I don’t want to be alone, yet here I am with no-one to reach out to. I try to do the best with what I have; to try and find comfort in any way that I can.
It hasn’t entirely worked. I am still desperately lonely.
But I have managed to find some small happiness today. And I’ve discovered that gardens are full of analogies.
It wasn’t the obvious day to go and visit a garden. It’s been raining off and on for most of the day. Only a few people were there, and those that were there weren’t staying for very long.
But even in those circumstances, there was a quiet beauty to be found in the winter garden.
Not showy, not what anyone would think of when they think of a pretty garden. Yet there it was, all the same.
Walking down a pathway flanked by evergreen trees, all the trees having their own particular shade of green, the grey light filtering through the branches, like walking through the cracks and flaws of an emerald.
The shape and colour and strength of one particular tree, leaf-less, nameless but still alive and strong.
The sight of trees bleeding into their reflection on the still lake.
At first glance, you wouldn’t notice the beauty. But if you take the time to look closely, you start to see the different facets of the garden. Start to realise that there is more than you first thought. Even where there appears to be little life, little colour, there can still be something worth seeing.
And that all seems to be a good analogy for living with autism. Most people just see the condition and move on. They don’t want to engage. Or they engage, but they want to change what they see; to plant different seeds; to shape the garden into a more conventional ideal.
Very few people look beyond the label. I don’t know why. Perhaps they are apathetic, fearful or something else entirely.
Everyone I have met with autism has more to offer than the condition we share. Every one of us has our own place in that garden, albeit obscured in better weather by the plants that people fawn over and photograph, that people come to see and leave remembering.
We are just there, unseen and largely unappreciated. But the garden would be a poorer place without us.
It’s just a shame that more people don’t realise that.