I feel weird. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I don’t feel quite right.
I am tired. I don’t think I’m hungry although I didn’t eat much today. My back hurts and I’m fed up with it hurting. And my hip hurts.
I am feeling sad about a few things I guess. I am sad that people seem determined to believe the worst of others. There have been a couple of conversations I’ve read recently where friend’s comments have been taken completely out of context and blown out of all proportion. I don’t like that side of Twitter. The side where people can choose to respond in anger and then disappear without explanation, when that would be all it takes to diffuse the situation.
But then, I’m a pathological conflict avoider. I have developed chronic listening as a coping mechanism and have transferred this into my social media usage. There are many interesting debates that I would like to get involved with but I hang back out of fear that I won’t have the full picture and will make a horrible blunder because of it. I have opinions but am too afraid to share them for fear that I won’t be able to explain fully enough before someone gets offended.
I’m actually not sure that either stance is worse than the other. Fight or flight? Such a natural dichotomy.
I have also been thoroughly confused/saddened (something like that) by finding the anti-neurodiversity lobby. People who don’t believe that autism is a different but equally valid neurotype that society should adapt to accept. This was news to me, only having been diagnosed nine months ago. It seems to be mainly run by autism-moms and, admittedly, a few autistic adults who would like to fit in to society as it is now.
Actually, I guess I’m sort of angry about this too. I am angry that people would seek to discredit my struggles (past and present) because they are not as bad as someone else’s. People have often told me to cheer up by thinking of all the people worse off than me. This concept absolutely baffles me: why should I want to use other people’s suffering as a springboard to my happiness? How could I? I do not see how this is possible. If other people are finding life hard, that also makes me sad. My suffering and their suffering are not linked in any way (in my head in any case), the increase in one does not diminish the other; they are separate but equally-valid entities.
I do not pretend to understand the emotions that go through someone who is loving and caring for an autistic person, watching all the struggles and challenges that are faced daily. I cannot put myself in other people’s shoes easily (that is one of the ways being autistic often hinders me). But I am autistic. I do understand the struggles and challenges first hand. In many ways the obstacles I face will be different to other autistics, but there will also be common themes.
And no, I do not wish to be ‘cured’; I do not believe I could be and still be me. Autism is not some sort of shroud over ‘the real Beth Williams’, there is not a ‘normal’ me just wishing to get out. Beth Williams is autistic.
And don’t be fooled by the worldly qualifications (job, marriage, house, etc), given just my level of pressure I will act as ‘typically autistic’ as you like. I will scream until I’m hoarse, curl into a ball and rock (in public if need be), jam my fingers in my ears to block out your comforting words, bang my head against a brick wall until I bleed and strike out at anyone who comes too close. And you ask my husband in that moment if he wouldn’t do anything at all to take this burden from me. He loves me: he would.
But I choose this. I choose an autistic life. Not because the good outweighs the bad (I’m not sure it does on balance), but because this is me: there is no other choice. You take away autism, you take away me. So I choose to fight for society to change to suit me and my needs, rather than to be erased so that the social norms can continue. I believe that the is enough space in our society for autistic people (and those of other groups who don’t fit with the norm) to live in our own unique ways which minimise our stress and anxiety without fear of abuse or ostracisation. More than that, that our unique profiles will be accepted.
… It seems that was the source of my unease. At least for now!