I have spent five plus years now on Facebook, trying, hoping, wishing, not just for friendship, but for understanding of just what autism is, and yes, honestly how it affects me. During this time I have shared literally hundreds of articles, memes, and personal antidotes from myself and others as to how autism is difficult, and how it – for lack of a better word – begs understanding. I am NOT the same as you. I am, but I’m not. I do not think like you, I do not hear like you, I do not feel like you, I do not taste like you, I do not process information the same way you do. To put the same paradigms around me that you employ in your own world is not just not realistic, it is often just plain cruel. For all of my 63 year life, I have FOUGHT, every day to understand you. I have worked harder than hard to try to fit among you, and be (excuse me) accepted by you. (Are you aware that there is an entire movement called “Autism Acceptance”?) Yet, I have been scolded and ridiculed even by those who use the term friend to describe me. Even those who say they love me. Yet, the beginning of love is understanding. Love would predicate a desire to understand and care for another – the way they wish to be cared for. During the last five years, I have asked more than one person if I was “doing okay” with them, only to be assured that I was, only to know and understand that their behavior said I was not. Only to explain to them that I care, and would change the things I did if necessary, and to again be assured I was fine— yet know that not to be true by their lack of acceptance of me. Acceptance. Publicly sharing my problems. Things I have been admonished for. Yet how am I to live in a world of people who do not try to understand if I just pretend that their understanding is not needed. It is not just me. You can read the writing of the Neurodivergent Woman, or Agony Autie, or many many other autistics who share the same issues as I have, some writings of which I have tried to share… Yet they at least are fortunate enough to have a supportive family, and a circle of friends, something my life and my upbringing has not afforded me – leaving me with nothing but a wish to share love, and no life experiences or guidance having given me the tools to do so.
It has become more than just frustrating. It has become more than just painful. It has emptied me to the point that I am just not even certain I want to go on trying to find a place within a society that has determined not to make that easy… or arguably even possible. Life is not easy for anyone. But add to that “not easy” chronic pain (which I have), and more crippling even than that, add the need to work continuously to understand people who do not try to be understood, and to try to be understood by people who do not try to understand. I am tired. I am exhausted. I have tried to reach out, I have tried to explain, I have tried to share that it is tiring. Yet I feel so much that the “Neurotypical people” (as other autistics also share) resent being asked to understand us, when they have no qualms about asking us to fight harder than hard to understand their world.
Society is built around feelings. We can live alone, and keep those feelings to ourselves, but when we live in a society, it is not only a given that our feelings might be affected by those around us, but it is in fact the basis of what a society is. It is a mutual existence, where one does not live in isolation, but together to reflect each other, understand and support each other, build each other up, help each other, love each other. Without that, what is the point? Many people speak of oneness… yet how can you say you understand yourself, if you are part of a One you do not seek to understand? I am as much part of that “One”. All autistics, just as much as those of any color, race, gender, or any other grouping are part of that One. To leave any out – makes it in fact not “one”.
The people who have hurt me (incredibly) over the past few years are still just as much part of my heart as ever. There are no apologies asked, there is no forgiving needed. Just a wish that we can in fact be more “one”. That we can seek the understanding that makes us that, that articulates the love that I have heard others say they have for me, and that I know I have.