I haven’t written for a while.
I haven’t really known what to write.
I’m not in a particularly good place at the moment. I feel as though I am fighting a war against an enemy I don’t even know.
It’s been almost exactly two years since the world I thought I knew came crashing down. Two years where I’ve had to re-learn almost everything about who I am and how I interact with the world around me.
Two years ago, I had barely heard of autism. And now, it seems to be all I ever hear about.
In the time before, when I was still managing to hide the cracks behind the thin covering of plaster that I used to try to mould to whatever I thought people wanted me to be, I had friends. I had a life – not necessarily a happy life, not necessarily an authentic life, but something that was there; something that was mine.
Getting a diagnosis has enabled me to glue the cracks together and create a more solid foundation. The cracks are still there and the glue isn’t that strong; a small amount of pressure can cause it to break again. But on the whole, the foundation is stronger than it was. I know more about who I am and what I need.
But the veneer, the covering, still seems to be moulded by someone or something else.
I no longer have the friends I had. That’s probably for a number of reasons, some circumstantial, some because I’ve changed or they have, or the threads of commonality that drew us together have been severed. They haven’t really been replaced. I haven’t been sure how.
Because it appears to me as though the only thing that people see about me now is my autism. It runs through everything I do. From the aids that I use to communicate when I can’t speak, to the behaviours that I can’t control when sensory overload becomes too much. I have strategies to try and mitigate most of that (I’m still working on how I actually manage to get through a supermarket unscathed).
I don’t mind people knowing that I’m autistic. I have no desire to hide that from anyone (I don’t think I have the capacity, any more, to hide it even if I wanted to). But that isn’t all I am. When I make the plaster mould to cover the cracks, autism will have a large place in shaping that – how could it be otherwise? But the other experiences that I’ve had throughout my life and the other aspects of my personality also need to be reflected in the final model.
At the moment, I feel as though I am being forced into adopting another persona that reflects what people want of me rather than what I want. I find myself constantly explaining; constantly justifying; constantly trying to break down stereotypes and assumptions. I am tired.
And it doesn’t feel great to know that most of the people I talk with are only there because it’s their job (I hope I’m not the part of the job that they dread, but I know sometimes I probably am). It doesn’t feel great to know that most of the connections that I think I’ve formed with others are probably less than genuine; formed out of necessity or convenience rather than mutual regard.
I wish more than anything that someone – anyone – would see me, rather than just my condition.
The people whose job it is to talk to me say that things can change. I’m not sure I believe that any more. I see my life as stretching out, day following day, like footprints on an unending desert. Always alone; any hope merely a mirage that vanishes as soon as I get close.
I often wonder what would happen if I could just stop.
I suspect that, like footprints in the sand, my mark in this world would soon disappear without a trace. Without anyone ever knowing that I was here.
I don’t know whether that thought scares or consoles me more.