Defining the Obligation?
It’s been a while since l penned a post specific to my Asperger’s/autism because in many ways l haven’t felt the need to, l am under ‘no obligation’ to continually write about it. However what l tend to do is gather my thoughts when writing posts on this subject and those thinkings/thoughts may be spread over several months before l decide to actually create a post. This particular one has been in the background since November 2017 and since then several moments and incidents have come together and said ‘Now you need to write about it.’
But also a post that l RB’d today from My Dream Walden provided the last prompt’ if you wish. … BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXY
Most of you will already know if you have read my blog and my previous posts about autism, that l was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2008 so l have in the eyes of the ‘officials’ been on the spectrum for ten years. However the realists amongst us know full well that l didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly declare to the world at large, “Oh l know, l am going to be autistic for the rest of my life starting right now!” Because l was born on the spectrum, so, l have been autistic all of my life anyway.
Now ten years on since the proverbial ‘can’o’worms’ was opened, l have rediscovered and reidentified who l want to be, and truth be known l managed to secure that golden nugget by around 2012. It took me four years from the 2008 diagnosis in somewhat hostile territory to come to understand who l was, and l was happy with the outcome. I knew that my life had moulded me into the person l was and that if anything all the presence of Asperger’s really meant was that it was a part of me, just another aspect of my identity or personality embroiled into all the other parts of me. It didn’t define me.
Over the years both pre and post diagnosis, l always knew l was different to others, my family, my peers and so on. There were times admittedly pre-diagnosis when thoughts/actions/behaviours bothered me, but l just accepted it and tried to make the most out of sometimes negative situations by finding positive outcomes.
Additionally, over the many years l have known many people and had many friends – note the inclusion of had. I don’t have a lot of ‘real life friends’ as in people that pop in to say hello, old school or college buddies and so on, and l am not bothered. I don’t get lonely, although l do understand perfectly well ‘being alone’, but there is a significant difference to being alone over being lonely. I don’t go out of my way to be involved with lots and lots of people, nor do l crave interaction on a daily basis, l am very content with my own company and can fill it very well.
Sometimes people have referred to me as anti-social, which l do take umbrage to, as l am NOT anti-social, quite the opposite, l am actually a very social person as long as it is on my terms, and that is not meant to read as arrogant as others have suggested in the past. It simply means that l am all too aware of my limits and boundaries when it comes to people, too few people is more my thing in comparison to say too many people. I don’t do people, and l don’t miss them. If anything l am selectively social.
One of the things l love about WordPress and the blogging community is that it allows to be social on a more regular basis at my own pace, instead of having people thrust at me from all angles in comparison to say if l was walking on a busy street in town. This allows me to be selectively social on a busier basis without becoming overwhelmed. Through comments left and reading posts l can glean more of a person at leisure than if the situation was forced. There is no pressure to it as in one way and only one way.
An incident in November 2017 [here is a classic case of Asperger’s overthinking] made me look at things differently, another incident in May of this year on Facebook and a further moment in the last week next to Dream’s post of today have all come together to create this post.
In November of last year, two people l considered good friends and l parted company, we will never talk again, and whilst l don’t hate them or anything as childish as that, our friendship has bitten the dust. In my eyes it’s just another one that has gone its own way. Suze is still friends with these people, and that’s fine it is her perrogative, l am not some ogre that stops people being friends with others that l don’t like, but Suze is a person who doesn’t like conflict and whilst there has been no conflict from them to her, in a roundabout way the conflict they would talk of would involve her. But, Suze is a grown woman, so the choice is hers.
These ‘friends’ and l fell out because of their behaviour towards me and their perceived point of view on my mental health and my Asperger’s last year. Some of you may recall the reason l started my blog in September 2017 was because l wanted to write about my mental health. As it happens l have turned my mental health around since then, and the blog l initiated has indeed changed the way it looked. In other words the blog l created for reflection at the time is a far cry from the blog you read today – there is very little trace to that content to the content of now.
I got better, l pulled my mental health out of the gutter, and forced my depression away, l buried my demons and l awarded myself a fresh breath and with that motivation was able to start my blog afresh which l did in the middle of November.
In November, my so called friends attacked me and said in basic terms that they had “tolerated my Asperger’s and my issues” but they had felt saddened by my mental health and the way l had coped with it. Which for the reader today and l feel sure many of you might be able to relate to this, is that l retreated into my own, so as to handle it better. With my depression and my mental health, the only ‘people’ l actually spoke to were Suze and Scrappy as they are my closest confidants.
I have learned through trial and error and been burned through bitter experience that the last thing ‘close friends’ really wish to hear of is another friends’ depression. During this period of retreat, l didn’t tell them my inner workings as l didn’t consider it to be their business, l was exorcising my demons and that was for me to deal with and not others. Most of the time l didn’t even tell Suze of everything going on with me, because l wanted to protect her of that, whether that was right or wrong, matters not. My friends accused me of not being honest with Suze or them because l didn’t confide everything about my depression and tried their very best to make Suze see that l was NOT the right person for her. [So you can perhaps see how Suze was indirectly involved in this] which hurt me even deeper.
Thankfully Suze wasn’t swayed by their opinion, but she remained friends with them, and whilst l don’t object to that, that did cause some friction to begin with. But that is the past.
The friends wanted to have it out on the table with me and l declined, because l did not feel that l had to defend my depression with people l had only known for a little under two years, but also, if they had pushed me into a corner and demanded to know things l would have blown, and my temper can be volatile, so l tend to keep away from situations that may explode. Instead l proffered an olive branch and suggested that we simply start afresh, but they declined this looking for an argument which l decided wasn’t worth it.
The end result was that we parted company, however one of their parting shots was that they said l had allowed my ‘syndrome’ and mental health to define who l was.
Recently [May 2018] someone whispered me in Facebook and asked why l was no longer writing autism specific posts in my blog? Was it because l no longer felt obligated to be autistic?
“Obligated to be autistic, is that how you feel?” I wrote back to them asking.
“Well yes, do you feel obligated to be autistic because you are on the spectrum?”
“Not at all, are you obligated to be this stupid?” I answered. “I write in my blog every day as a person with autism, it’s not an obligation, it is who l am. I don’t write about autsim or my Asperger’s daily in so far as specifically, because l ‘am’ on the spectrum, and therefore l am autistic and l am an Aspergian, but l write about my life both pre and post diagnosis as an autistic person writes about their life, but no different to how someone who might write on occasion about their mental health or their hobbies or whatever is going on. I don’t need to detail autsim in each and every post, because l don’t allow my autism to define me, it is simply part of me.”
Another friendship lost. They walked away. Might’ve been my reference to their stupidity!
Last week someone said to me “Why did l allow my autism to define me?”
That they knew of other autists who never made mention to their autism and they lived perfectly healthy lives. When pressed to explain what the hell a statement like that actually meant. They too came back with “Why do you feel obligated to be autistic?” Like it was some kind of fashion trend.
“I am not obligated to be autistic, l am autistic, and l don’t let it define me, l define who l am by my actions alone. Autism, my Asperger’s are part and parcel of me, my identity, my personality, they are unique to me. But they are NOT all of me, l am all of me, l am me. I define who l am.”
Long before l ‘knew’ l was on the spectrum l lived my life, my oft quirky and troublesome life, my experiences in living life moulded who l am today, the autism is not an obligation, l have accepted it freely into my identity because it answered so many of my burning questions about my personality and l am so totally comfortable with it that l don’t need to justify it by writing about it every day, it doesn’t define me and if anything all it has served is to just make me more complete as a person. More importantly my autism and my acceptance of it simply allows me to define my autism.