I can’t just say “I’m autistic”. I have no diagnosis (I am) but even if I did, I could not just say it. When I upset people, I can’t just say it. When people react in ways that I do not understand, I cannot just say it. When I am sobbing in my kitchen, my children screaming at my feet because mummy is sad, I cannot just say it.
When I feel passionately about something, when I cannot stop talking, digging deeper, making things worse, not better, I cannot just say it.
When friends feel angry, alienated, attacked, I cannot just say it. Because it will fall as an excuse. There is no way to make it anything other than an excuse. I am an articulate adult who is responsible for her words and actions. There are many who would not acknowledge a disability at all. And I do not think I want them to. I am responsible for my own words and actions. I am bright and aware and there is no way to reconcile my intelligence with a lack of understanding or control.
Even I can see it. I can see that I should have realised. I can see that the words “But I am autistic” will sound childish and dismissive and palliating. I get caught up. I cannot let things lie. I argue to the death. I must have the last word. I seem arrogant and blinkered, unwilling to listen. I know what the other side looks like. But here is the problem – it does not feel like that on my side. On my side, my feelings are overwhelming. On my side, I feel so strongly, I must get them out. More than that, I cannot rest. I must explain. If I explain, people will get me. If I explain, people will appreciate my point of view. I must lay myself bare. Every thought, every feeling must come out – like an exorcism. The only way to feel safe, to feel better, is for everything to come out. There is no filter, no way to just cease.
There is never any ill will. In fact, there are usually not even any strong feelings directed at those on the other side. It is all inherently insular, inherently selfish. I see the flaw there, too. I know that living in such an internal world will never be a way to make people truly see me. It is always all about me. But I cannot stop.
People will see me how they see me. They will think me aggressive,
And I cannot say it. I cannot say “I am autistic.” Because what can that really do? What can it really excuse? There is no way forward.
I do not think that I am those things though. I am not even really selfish in a practical sense – just insular. Looking after others is something that I worry about, all the time.
I think I am kind. I think I hold grudges and abandon them in a flicker of a heartbeat. I never want to hurt anyone. I always want to fix things. Even when I am confused, wounded, I will always care. Even if you disagree with me, I will always care. I care about almost everyone. I cannot stand people thinking badly of me, even when I know there is no way to be everyone’s friend. I care what people think, I care about how they feel, I care about what I can do to make them feel better.
All the time.
Even this, now, is me not shutting up. This is me incapable of knowing when I should just shut up. This is me baring all to make it better, even when it is the opposite of what might help. But over and over again, it happens – a Groundhog Day that I cannot learn from.
And I cannot just say “I am autistic.”
For the record, I am not saying that autism is inherently selfish – the opposite in fact. It will always risk being viewed as such by neurotypical people, even subconsciously, because it is almost impossible to imagine the world as we experience it. Autism is the reason that I view things differently, and it is the reason that I cannot let things go – it simply is. This post is just about expressing the frustration that it is so difficult to reconcile the two viewpoints.