Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Entry 11: Letting Go and Moving Forward

Disclaimer A

July. 14. 2012

I’ve been praying to help me make today an independence day. I pray for the courage to let go and be liberated. I feel that I've really had it with living in fear and anxiety due to my traumatic past with undiagnosed Asperger Syndrome, and the reality of my challenges today. I just want to be happy and at peace, because I really do love life, and life is a gift. So I have to face and accept my autism, my current health condition, and my past experiences... not use them as excuses to remain miserable.

The most important thing that I've ever wanted is to be accepted for who I am, but I need to start with accepting myself. If I truly accept myself deep down, then it won't be as painful when somebody else misjudges me and/or just doesn't get it. In todays’ world this is bound to keep happening.

I want to not fear rejection when I expose my real persona rather than all the modeled and mirrored ones in which I had learned by observing others. As weird and in fact terrified as I may feel; I want to be able to turn off the automatic switch in my brain, which tells me to "perform or else." It's just too energy draining, exhausting and frankly, painfully oppressive. My mental and physical health can no longer afford it, and it played a part in my developing health issues.

I feel that I eventually developed “fibromyalgia” (or whatever it is) partly because I "suffered" with hiding and prepressing (unknowingly) Asperger’s syndrome. The other part of it is genetics.

Yes, I had and always will have Asperger’s', a traumatic past, and chronic pain/health issues too… but I don’t want to suffer with them. We with AS, and anybody for that matter, should not have to mold ourselves into something we're not, in order to satisfy somebody else’s' standards or expectations. Nor should we have to completely isolate ourselves (although we need to balance the social with quiet/alone time to prevent overload) because we're too scared to face people as ourselves.
For the past couple years especially, I've struggled hard with having become avoidant in almost a phobic way, which just isn't healthy and beyond the normal social challenges of AS itself. That’s' where the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder begins. I'm acknowledging this now and want very much to recover from it.

It's double hard when I'm not always met with the support and understanding I need, due to ignorance about AS. However, since I can't always control this (although I can do my best to educate) it leaves me with no choice but to learn how to love myself enough, so that current rejections and misunderstandings won't matter. To be in a place where I stand in my truth, in confidence, regardless of how much or how little understanding I am getting from the other party.

I developed PTSD from all my bad experiences with social rejection due to social “mistakes” whence I “missed” the nuance and the rule. Although it has poisoned my mind and my physical health, I am determined to find a way to no longer let it. This may take me a lot of time.

It’d be nice if negative experience would stop, and thus would further PTSD developmenst, wouldn’t it? It’s a little hard to heal in the face of the former, but I’m still going to try my best.

I'll say it again: I simply want to be happy and at peace. I don't think that's impossible for somebody with Asperger’s', or with chronic pain/health issues, although it may be a challenge. I've been paralyzed in fear, even with simple things such as picking up a phone and allowing someone new to get to know me.

I guess now, I could use Asperger’s' as a somewhat valid excuse; given the fact that socializing and meeting with something new takes more energy for us than it does for NTs. However, it goes beyond that, and there's another side to it too.

I do like people, I do have a wicked sense of humor (especially when it comes to satire) and I do like socializing in some respects; yet I am not allowing myself. Or maybe, I can't…? Well, I can, but sometimes I can’t get help getting into overload in “script and schtick” mode. This can cause me a crash afterwards. I hold a lot to myself when I socialize, so if I’m just not up to it, I’ll totally shit down…sometimes for a while. This causes massive loneliness. 

So I need to let go and try to regulate, balance and learn new ways. It’s easier said than done though, especially with a lack of specific help for this. I just don't know how to socialize by nature, in a typical way at least. I'm tired of over thinking it, and performing it...even though I'm good at it.

I deeply desire to find and befriend people who will love me anyway, despite this. If I'm pushing any boundary without realizing it. I wish others would gently let me know while reassuring me that I am still loved.

Due to the fact that I “looked and seemed” normal and never had the AS diagnosis (until four months ago) I struggled to live up to people’s expectations. When I couldn’t, it hurt…and I felt like I failure. When I let myself go as a child, trying to connect with people, I was met not only with criticism, many times…and blatant ridicule too.

The messages were: "the way you are isn't acceptable" "you're a freak" "you're a dork" "you're rude" "you come on too strong”, “you repeat yourself too much" "you think you're a know-it-all and that you're better than everybody"(not true in the least) "you're too blunt", "you're annoying", "no one wants you around" etc. and those messages became ingrained in my brain.

After a childhood of demoralization from this, I developed low self- esteem in the form of self-hatred and shame for who I really am. That's how I got so good at pretending, and that's where I began to rely on things like alcohol to socialize, to relieve overload and to cope with changes.

I wasn't always good at "pretending to be normal" was like a game and sometimes I'd lose, in turn beating myself up for it. Despite my best attempts, at times I was misunderstood and misjudged, or I socially misunderstood others in various situations from parties, to attaining resources, to the work place. I didn't understand why I wasn't "up to par" and again, felt like a I internalized most of it and turned the hurt and anger onto myself.

So desperate I was, to please and appease, that I allowed myself to be bullied, bossed around, and even used. My emotional reactions to my social faux pas and sensory overloads were often self destructive, and then misunderstood and misdiagnosed as mental health issues. Psychiatric; when the real problem was neurological.

Today I have been blessed with a new and clear understanding: that whole time, I was had undiagnosed Asperger Syndrome. It wasn't my fault. With that I have a lot more awareness and acceptance for the way that I am, and better self esteem than I did.

However, the fear of being myself lingers, in and amongst a lack of awareness and acceptance for people who have high functioning, less obvious neurological differences. Maybe with my own increased awareness, that fear is even more prominent; but it needs conquering. I just wish that there wasn't so much ignorance and that people were more educated about AS. Especially AS in women.

I feel that I need to do my part in sharing about it, to the best of my ability, because people need to know Asperger Syndrome for what it is, and what it's not. The lack of awareness has us profiled in a very stereotypical way, which does not fit for so many of us.
This causes us to be missed, misunderstood, misjudged and prevented from accessing various resources; rather than being understood, helped, and even celebrated.

Everybody with AS, and any other brain difference for that matter, deserves the latter. Because it is lacking, many of us have alienated ourselves and have limited our trust to very narrow circles or family only, developing an "us and them" attitude. While it's incredibly gratifying to relate with other aspies, we shouldn't have to feel quite so marginalized. We've often felt cornered into that position.

Though it's not fair to us, it continues on and on, sometimes beyond our control. This requires us to do our best to integrate and carry on in the world, with acceptance and self-assurance, or otherwise let ignorance keep us in hiding and in shame.

I admit; attempts to explain my AS to people have been very frustrating, especially if they were people I knew on a more superficial level. They refuse to believe that the way I was acting was just that: an act. Though it had been a performance that I’d become very good at, it wasn’t intentionally out of dishonesty and deception. It was out of what I perceived to be self-protection.

How straining it is on the body, to be in constant self-defense mode. In all honesty, its’ disheartening when I get people looking at me; with this female, "normal-looking" face and based on the stereotypy, refusing to equate me with autism.
They find it easier to equate me with something more general like “oddball”, “childlike”, “overly flirty” or “crazy.” Again if they can’t open their minds despite my efforts, it is beyond my control.

Currently, it’s not understood that autism isn't always an obvious thing; and that it comes from inside. I can only do my best to speak the truth, but it’s up to the other, to either listen or not.

Despite it all; I've come to the conclusion that if people still won't accept me for who I am, regardless of my efforts to inform them; it's ultimately their problem, and I can't control that. I was born this way for a reason. I have to start allowing myself to love and accept the real me: quirky, eccentric, nerdy, sometimes blunt, sensitive to energy, crazily creative, intense, humanitarian, for the underdog and outside the box.

- Rose Whitson-Guedes

*Like what you read/wish to support? Diary of A Girl Outside The Box and others (Kindle) are available to purchase via the "books" link on my site!

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