Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Today is Autistics Speaking Day

Emily on fearthemightyspork.tumblr.com posted Today is Autistics Speaking Day:

Today is a day for both autistic and neurotypical (non-autistic) people to express their experiences with autism.

I have self-diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome.  I’ve known for quite a long time how different I have been from everyone else…  Years, in fact.  But I never had a name for it, a proper name, until my mother and I watched an episode of House where he treated an autistic boy.  We learned a bit here and there and both of us fit the criteria we found for AS.  My sister is neurotypical.  She does have a pretty big reading disorder (that is as-yet undiagnosed) but she still functions better than both Mam and I did.

My mother died last year on 9 November, and in the last year, I’ve felt lost without her.  She and I communicated so much better than I communicate with anyone else.  Even now, my boyfriend understands me better than anyone else on the planet, but my mother was the only person who ever understood even the most inarticulate gestures and noises I made when I couldn’t pull the words out of my brain.  But she understood perfectly and we would laugh and have so much fun making jokes without making any real words.  I miss my mother intensely.

This last year has been so difficult…  But when I met my boyfriend, Chris, things seemed to get so much better…  No.  Wait…  They didn’t just SEEM to get better.  They became better.  Chris makes my life better.

I’ve wished for a very long time that I could be neurotypical.  I wrote a story once about a woman who was autistic and who was capable of marvelous artistic expressions.  She could play multiple instruments, recreate priceless works of art, and was scientifically gifted.  (I modeled her after myself, and I can do things she could, but to a lesser degree.  Write what you know, you know?)  Welp, at one point, she gets terribly upset and exclaims that she wants to be normal, and her sister explains to another character a little while later that “Luna would give up everything she can do, all the miraculous things that make her, her, just to be able to look people in the eyes as she told them she didn’t know why baking soda and vinegar react when mixed.”  Luna meets a man with whom she gets that normalcy, despite still being thoroughly autistic.

I wrote that story before I met Chris, but when I met him, I got what I gave Luna - that normalcy, that feeling of being both different, yet the same as anyone else.  Luna and I got our cake and got to eat it, too.  (-:

That isn’t to say there aren’t challenges in the story or in my relationship with Chris…  I’m prone to having temper tantrums in which I become overly petulant and sarcastic.  I had one of those on Sunday last, in fact.  And they hurt him a lot.  I wish I could flip a switch and turn off those sorts of behaviors, but I can’t.  I still feel absolutely awful for being so harsh, and I feel like the worst human being on the planet for hurting him so badly.  I don’t want to be a villain; his ex carries that role, and he doesn’t need another person to try to join forces with her, intentionally or not.  But I don’t know how to shut that off.  Granted, I don’t often get upset enough to get petulant and sarcastic, and when I do, I almost never actually speak what I’m thinking to the person with whom I’m fighting…

I wonder what Chris sees in me that keeps him with me.  He’s neurotypical and I wonder what it is about me that drew him in.  It isn’t the easiest thing in the world for autistics and neurotypicals to date, simply because of how differently we react to the same stimuli.  The sound of glass on glass, ceramic on ceramic, and glass on ceramic hurts my head and ears so badly that I stop what I’m doing and cover my ears with my hands.  I can’t do the dishes because of that, and my reaction to that simple sound is, as I understand it, the same reaction people have to nails on a chalkboard.  That sound has never bothered me in the slightest.  And the sound of dishes clinking together doesn’t bother Chris like it does me.  That’s just one example; there are countless more examples of the differences between my wiring and his.  I love him with all my heart and I’m so thankful he loves me, but I still wonder why he was ever attracted to me in the first place.

I’m not easy to get on with.  My personality is abrasive, my temper tantrums are primarily directed inward but when they aren’t, they’re quite vicious, sarcasm is my native language, I can insult people with words they’ve never heard of because I’ve read the dictionary five times and I can speak like one, too…  I’m obnoxious, in a nutshell.  I’m obnoxious and autistic…  Not a great combination.  But I love being like this, so I accept these things about myself.  What I just don’t understand is why he accepts these things, too.  My family accepts me because… Well, they don’t have much of a choice.  We’ll be related no matter what.  Chris has a choice whether he stays or goes, but he chooses to stay.  It’s a modern mystery for me, but I decided a while back that you know what?  I don’t have to understand.  I don’t have to know how Chris sees me, I don’t have to know why he loves me, and I don’t have to grasp what makes him choose to stay when he could leave anytime he’d like.

I’m thankful for being autistic.  I’m thankful for having had my mother in my life to make my autism something to appreciate and for it being something with which I could communicate with her.  I’m thankful for my boyfriend and the level of patience and forgiveness he exhibits with me (he surpasses Christ, and I am *SO* not kidding).  And today, I’m thankful for tumblr, because with this outlet, I can participate in Autistics Speaking Day.

Thanks for reading. *hugs*

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