To Be Frank Instead!
“The ultimate mystery is one’s own self.”
Sammy Davis .Jr.
Ask anyone on the spectrum about ‘masking up’ and they will have tales a plenty about the survival kit required to fit into a demanding and unforgiving society. Planet earths’ so called social order is a demanding beast, unrelenting in expressing its desires and wishes from everyone sharing the same space. You have to conform if you wish to be seen as ‘normal’ [don’t even start me on that subject!], toe the line, comply and imitate what everyone else is doing. You must be seen to not rock the boat or make waves for that vessel and above everything – fall in completely with the common line of thought and thinking. You mustn’t under any circumstance be seen to be different or unique and for goodness sake don’t do anything that brings attention to yourself and separates you from the crowd!
RINGING any bells with any of you yet?
For years l trudged this path, and became very successful at it in the process – that is on the surface. Meanwhile underneath l was starting to burn out, drain away, dissolve and otherwise melt! Living an uncomfortable life and pretending to be someone l wasn’t took its toll on me. There were only so many masks l could adorn my features with and l was starting to become chaffed.
At home away from the maddening crowds life was a very different matter – meltdowns, shutdowns, self-harm, anxiety attacks and sensory depression! Life was very hard for me during those years and this was long BEFORE diagnosis! Long before l remotely knew what was happening in my life, just that l always felt different, like l was always looking into the room rather than being in the room and above everything else, the age old line of ‘who are these people or worse, who the hell am l?!”
By the time my actual diagnosis arrived l was a complete mess, so it was received with welcome arms and a giant sigh of relief.
Saadi said ‘Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy’
And there are no truer words than those spoken, the diagnosis also came at a cost before my own acceptance and understanding took control.
With the reality, came the memories of what was once, and with those memories travelled the anger at those who had caused me harm along my journey. This period of readjustment lasted for a few years as coming to terms with the new me, the real me and the original me, needed to be explored and rediscovered and unearthed like a frantic archaeologist!
It is a lot to take on board and in many respects relearn when you are in your early forties. To suddenly realise that you hadn’t been the dingbat, lame brained loon everyone had hinted and suggested at!
But, it does get easier; it just takes time to wade through the enormity of a new you. You have to get back into the swing of accepting you for who you are and not what the others think you should be. However, NOT everyone takes on board their diagnosis the same way l did. They fight it, they resist who they are and create and cause more internal conflict than they need to.
Eradicating years and years of white washing Neurotypical society driven propaganda isn’t achieved in a day, and because of that many on the spectrum both in the know and only suspected do not wish to take that awkward safari underneath a colourful umbrella. The fear of retribution and being ostracized by their family, peers, friends, colleagues and even acquaintances is still way too heavy a burden – and so they sit in the wardrobe of the closet for ever or until it is more acceptable to be seen. I can understand fully why so many suspected autists wish to remain hidden – it is a tougher choice to ‘come out’ than some other once taboo traditions were.
I live a very different life to the life when l was younger. When the hustle bustle of society was seen as a challenge and an excitement to be involved in – the very vibrancy of life, the colours and the richness were like a drug that l became addicted with.
“It’s hard to understand addiction unless you have experienced it!” Ken Hensley
The biggest and most painful drawback to addiction is of course breaking the habit, because ALL addictions are bad, they will lead to your demise if not moderated. But being enslaved to society like a child with a sweet tooth was causing me to disappear.
So, l had to break loose and the diagnosis helped me achieve this. My cold turkey was researching into not just who l was, but who l could be again and then trying to become that person. Being at ease with who l was, l am and me.
I am finally happy with who l am, it takes so much for me to say that, but l am and in truth if you don’t like that – l really don’t give a damn!
But this was my journey, what was yours like or is like now?
“Self-love has very little to do with how you feel about your outer self. It’s about accepting all of yourself”