I am 50.
50 years of, in the main, putting on the face of normality, performing an Oscar worthy acting feat in a daily basis, being not who I am, who I really am, but what society expects me to be.
And when I’ve done that, when I’ve played my part, I find it hard sometimes to get back to who I know I am. I feel diluted, watered down, a not quite 100% Aspie.
Much of this is down to my environment. Factors which have affected me. Factors which have intruded and dulled the edges. They haven’t changed me, I am, at my core, Autistic. I am, in my personality, thoughts, words, actions, a person with Aspergers. But the edges, the sharpness, has been worn away.
The sandpaper of life, the daily rubbing against neurotypicals in an environment far more suited to them than me, inevitably leads to adaptation on my part, to an acceptance that, to live the role they expect of me, I should sacrifice part of my Autism, even temporarily to satisfy their requirements.
I must give of myself.
It is not done willingly. It is a reluctant act. It is a stressful act. It takes energy and emotional fortitude to step into their world and be like them.
Outwardly the face I present seems normal. I laugh (often I don’t know why), I do “small talk” ( when I don’t know why I am doing it save to satisfy social convention), I act in an appropriate way (refrain, with effort from excess body movement, invasion of personal space, being over familiar with others) and I “fit in”.
This is exhausting.
Inside I scream at their untidy desks, their lack of dedication to the job, their idle chit chat about matters so mundane and inconsequential I want my ears to clam up in horror, the importance they place upon friendship and a hundred other things that grate against my Aspie soul.
But I smile, I nod, I feign an interest, I look as though I share what they are sharing.
Occasionally the facade will slip. I revert. I expose my core. My Aspie wings unfurl and I take flight. And just occasionally the normality sticks. It lasts longer than expected like a drug whose effect lingers when it should not. I am in unfamiliar territory, trapped almost, between the NT and the Aspie.
And the longer I linger in that twilight zone, the greater the effect, the less Aspie I become.
I find it harder to return to my original state. The transformation takes more effort. I have to shake it off, like a malevolent influence, like chains binding me in a place which I know is neither comfortable or safe.
But I know who I am. I am Autistic. I have Aspergers. I prefer order over chaos, organisation over disorganisation. My sensory issues, my inability to socialise and my intense anxiety about doing so, my inappropriate outbursts, my love of routine, my feeling of not fitting in, that knowing, deep inside, who I am and a thousand and one other things, make me hundred percent certain that my diagnosis is correct.
But 50 years of life, of those evil NT influences (joke) dull the edges sometimes.