Once upon a time I wanted to write a post about conflicting desires. Specifically, about my desire to fit in and pass for normal, but also my desire for people to recognize and remember that I’m different. I have a note on it sitting in my list of possible blog topics to write about.
My desires, however, are getting less and less contradictory as time goes on. Oh, sure, I can get tired of my constant status as outsider, of the fact that I never really feel like I’m part of a group… but “outsider” is increasingly part of my identity, and I have found that sometimes I am more a part of a group than I perhaps had thought.
However, it’s the second of those desires that I’m actually wanting to talk about there. The desire for people to just bloody remember that I’m different, that I’m not like them. I won’t act like them, I won’t think like them, and I will sometimes flub up because socializing is expletive hard and I do my best but sometimes my best just isn’t expletive good enough.
Earlier today (the today of writing this, who knows when I’ll actually post it) I wrote this on an online aspergers group:
I’ve found that as an adult, the expectations on me to understand socializing are much higher [than they were when I was young], and the consequences for making a mistake are also higher. People will often assume malice when I make a mistake as well – that I must have intended to be rude. The better I pass for normal the majority of the time, the worse it is when I flub something up.
This seems to be the way that it works. I make no secret of the fact that I’m on the autism spectrum. People who know me generally know this particular piece of information about me. Yet sometimes people, people I’m close to, forget. I know this because I’m been told as much quite directly. Someone pushes me to do a thing I cannot do, and will say “I forgot that you’re different” when I get all “what the hell?” on them.
I do make social mistakes. Sometimes I hurt people. Not because I want to, but because I’m not very good at navigating the treacherous social waters. When it comes to social waters, I’m not very far above kiddie pool level. And it does seem to happen that way. Assumptions of malice, I mean. When I muck up, I want to know about it. I’m happy to apologize and do what I can do make it better. I try, I really do.
But the assumptions of malice wear me down. Reading intent into a mistake, it gets tiresome. It gets frustrating, and I get downright angry about it. Even worse is the assumption of malice in self-preservation. Like that time someone assumed all sorts of intent when I wouldn’t look at her, when in reality I just couldn’t handle that much visual stimulation. It happens. I don’t like looking at people at the best of times. I’ll let you look at me even though it makes me uncomfortable, so maybe let me not look at you, ok?
Mostly, I wish people would stop thinking they know why I’m sometimes so odd. A mistake is just a mistake. Looking away is just a direction. And please remember that I’m not like you.
I want to find a way to make it easier for people to remember that. I want to do it without actually making more mistakes. The effort I spend to handle myself and not make those hurtful mistakes is something I intend to continue. However, I think this is part of why I want to just keep on stimming. It’s why I want it to be ok to be odd, when those things are just differences. I don’t want to blend in anymore. I want people to notice that I’m different. I want this not just because I want people to be a little more understanding at my inevitable mistakes, but also because I want people to see *me.* Really me. Not some other me that pretends to be like them, or a fake me that is totally typical, but me. Autistic me. A me that makes twitches and stims and sometimes loses body parts and doesn’t want to look at you and is passionate about my interests and yes, sometimes makes mistakes.