Thursday, September 25, 2014

Entry 52: Learning Social Limits

Disclaimer A

Nov. 9. 2013

I was at the store today picking up some things when I bumped into a lady from the health store my friend and I went to the other day. She and I got talking a bit about autism, genetic health issues, fibro etc., and I ended up telling her I was myself autistic. She replied, "Oh ok well that helps me understand now, I sort of thought you were a bit abrupt or something."

In fairness to her, she said it in the nicest way she could. I responded "Yes I was especially tired and overloaded that day: it was the Friday end of a long butt-busting week running around getting things done. I even warned my friend that I might seem like I'm spaced out, or that I'm not listening or don't care."

Today I find I have to let myself be when I'm that overloaded. I can mimic the behavior of a normal or “neurotypical” (NT) person, but it requires a lot of effort. If I carry on forcing myself to mimic NT-style social exertion when I'm tired like that, then I'm bound to have a meltdown later.

So I don't anymore, and I try not to concern myself with what people may think. I'm not intentionally angry, just speaking from what I consider a "neutral and not trying much" state of when I'm maybe not in the best of moods... if that makes sense?

On that particular Friday, I didn’t even want to leave the house, because when I'm like that I normally don't want to be in a position where I have to speak. I don't want someone to get the wrong idea or take it personally. It's hard to hear the sort of thing she said. When I'm not "bending over backwards" to be more social and scripted, and when I'm tired and don't feel like faking it I inevitably come across as rude, abrupt, or blunt.

In retrospect, I appreciate hearing truthful feedback given in a respectful manner as she had done. It helps me come to terms with myself. It's not her fault, she was just telling me her honest impression. Again, she was very polite and gentle about it. When I explained I was tired and am autistic as well as dealing with fibro etc. she was very supportive and responded with something along the lines of "Yes, well, of course, that's a lot for you to deal with."
It's just... I dunno. Part of it hurts.

Maybe I need to feel that grief to move into the next stage of acceptance. It's nice to hear truthful feedback of how I am perceived in that state – feedback which many neurotypicals would never have the guts to say (to my face at least). Ultimately, when I am too tired to be social, I can't naturally be social and so inevitably come across as unpleasant in some way. That just goes to show how hard I work most of the time, because I do want to show others that I care. I'm talking in circles, but I hope that I make sense.

However, it does hurt. It's like backbreaking labor, and the fibro especially makes it harder for me to bear that kind of internal conflict. I still will do it when I really must, but I don't like pretending to be chirpy when I'm feeling like that. I guess I still have some work to do, to figure out my boundaries. Obviously, the autism plays a key role in all of this, as well as the fact that it was late diagnosed and involves trauma. I'm rambling again – I'll figure it out all in time. This is my journey, and I'm grateful to have come as far as I have already.

- Rose Whitson-Guedes

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