Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Entry 3: No Longer Conforming To What I’m Not

Disclaimer A

Dec. 4, 2011

I am feeling a little fired up. I just read an article stating that one can prevent themselves from being bullied by simply learning how to properly respond to non-verbal social cues. Well, that's pretty hard to do when you're on the autistic spectrum, I’ll tell you!

I eventually became very sick from doing it this way. The anxiety and maladaptive coping skills eventually led to gut issues, fibromyalgia, and an overall health crash.
It was all from learning how to properly respond to social cues.

It was basically forced conformity, against who I really am, and it was too painful to do without poor and unhealthy coping mechanisms. First I was a geek, and then I was a freak. Then I became a dishonest phony with a weight obsession and an alcohol reliance-turned-addiction, due to lack of real social trust and confidence.

I had been burned and all I did was further burn myself (especially my stomach), from the inside out. I was willing (or shall I say willful) to bend over backwards in order to never receive social rejection again.

Yes, I agree that for our own sake it's good to learn how to identify social cues, for the sake of functional relationships. However, doing what I did is going too far. I was mirroring others' personas in a way, which was so good it came to be very believable. It was simply not healthy for my sense of self, for my identity. I am living proof of this.

My life so far has mostly been taken up with undoing damage, rather than the pursuits I dreamed I would have been making by now. I have had to rebuild all trust. In sheer terror, I had to let go of the act I performed so well, for so long. My body just won't allow me to any longer. My central nervous system basically crashed!

However, now that I know I am an Aspie (Asperger’s syndrome) and that I have and always have been on the autism spectrum, I am proud of who I am! I now see myself in a different light, with regards to the past. I now see that young girl as a victim of discrimination, and of difficulty that she came by honestly. It wasn't her fault. It wasn't my fault.

Yes, I had fallen through the cracks in the way of help and support that I did not receive. It was never acknowledged that I needed it. Rather than an embarrassing, stupid, goofy girl that I was not only ashamed of but also loathed and tried to reinvent, I had simply been let down. I was only trying my best to help myself through a half-blinding fog.

Today I am a 26 year old mother, musician, poet, and artist. I'm an avid learner with a few good hobbies and special interests. I'm working hard to heal from PTSD as a result of being different and being misunderstood. I was isolated from help, support and understanding, for so long. Today, I am aware of who I really am. I also have an AS husband and one son who is autistic. We are all proud and accepting of who we are.

I use my unique type pop music (not sure how to describe it) art and writing to express my creativity and feelings. I am discovering things I didn’t much consider about myself such as, I am pretty decent at, and like, science and math, I like to use and learn about tools.

Never did I think that I was that great at those things, until I discovered I am a visual/kinetic learner, despite my difficulties in processing written or spoken instructions. I self-taught a bit, before knowing about AS, but after knowing, I really took off. 

I always thought I was stupid in some way, until I unlocked the way in which I learn. I've realized it's quite classically Asperger’s/autistic. I'm just different. I learn differently.

I am now realizing that I’m capable of so much more than I had ever previously given myself credit for. I have discovered that maybe, just maybe, I am smart. Today, I do not try to mirror anybody, I am myself.
I want to be myself, so day-by-day, bit-by-bit, I'm getting to know me for once! I do get weirded-out responses indicating that people think I am high, anxious, childlike or even flirting with them in some way. Yes, definitely. Do I care? I try not to, since I can’t afford to care anymore.

There’s still a lot of apprehension within me, in terms of about stepping out as the true me. However, I know that I can really only afford to heal right now. So no, I don't agree with conforming to how a neurotypical behaves, sorry! I don't really know if this is completely possible, anyways. 

This is an unhealthy and unwise suggestion to a young person who is likely on the autism spectrum, especially. It could take them down the same road that I went on: the road of secret self-disgust, perfectionism, neuroses, depression, and eventually health challenges.

Apparently, I wasn't as good of a performer as I thought I was, in some ways. According to some of the friends I do love and trust, who care for me enough to be honest with me. Apparently, I did seem try-hard-ish in a way that caused some people to disrespect, belittle, use and even make fun of me behind my back.  In retrospect, some people apparently found it cute and charming, in a quirky kind of way.

So, my act was seen, by many, as cute, charming, and even ditzy. I was seen as a girl who could be a pushover if you lulled and lured her. It was true, too, because I wanted so badly to be accepted.  Today, I am still nice, but no more Miss Overly-Nice! No more Miss Bending Over Backwards To Be Liked.

No, I will never again exist within conforming to what I am not. I don't agree with this article. I don’t agree that socially different, likely AS young people should learn to do this. It's best to improve on social thinking as much as we realistically can, but also be accepted for who we are. We should have supports in the way of advocates to help us communicate, if we need to and still have trouble. We have the right to that, I think. We need to be accepted and respected too. This way, we can still be ourselves, love ourselves and ultimately: No Longer Conform To What We Are Not.

Next blog; Entry 4, Under The Radar, A Little Girl With Autism Gets Missed

- Rose Whitson-Guedes

Diary of a Girl Outside The Box is also available as a fully edited/pro formatted PDF, for more info see 

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