Before I begin, I need to say that this is not meant to be a “downer” blog. I want to present an honest, open, candid view that remains “fair and balanced”. That being said, this post was tough to write. Tears fell several times. That’s OK, because it was therapeutic. It needed to happen. It needed to come out. Please bear with me; this is probably a much-needed attempt to heal my Inner Child or something.
For those of us who use Facebook, we know that Facebook invites us to add a profile picture. This picture appears next to our name in every post and comment. Those of us who have ever tried to change that profile picture will probably notice that the change not only applies from that point on, but it is also retroactive; if we go back to review previous (pre-picture-change) Facebook activity, we don’t see the previous picture next to those posts and comments; we see only the new picture.
Realizing that I’m a member of the autistic community was (and is), for me, like changing that Facebook profile picture and gazing back at my life, seeing myself through a new–and clearer–lens. In my earliest memories, I see the autistic/Asperger’s traits emerging, and emerging stubbornly, for they will not be ignored.
I see the confused, lost little girl, trying desperately to get a grasp on the world, to learn how things are and to follow the rules. I see her floundering in the tides of volatility and expectations, vulnerable–with her savior, her mother–as her one life jacket.
But Mom couldn’t be there with the little girl throughout the school day. She couldn’t always be there when the little girl got off the bus and Dad was the only one home (my father is an excellent man, but he was suffering through his own issues at the time, and his moods could be quite stormy). She couldn’t always be there in those moments during which the girl became painfully aware that she was different from the other kids and endured the resulting relentless teasing and exclusion, even when the girl finally mustered the courage to ask the other kids if she could play with them, only to receive cold reception in return.
In an attempt to erase the invisible dividing lines and break through the social glass ceiling, this little girl attempted to erase those parts of herself that made her different. She made every attempt to bring about these changes forcibly, to forget herself and everything she had been before, to harden against the teasing, to deny that it mattered and hurt, to pretend that she was something she wasn’t, and to pretend that she wasn’t something she was. It is to this little girl that I need to say…
I’m sorry. Deeply sorry.
I denied you, turned my back on you, pretended that you didn’t exist. I made you observe and mimic others, trying on their personalities for size, to see if they fit, because I had been embarrassed to be you. I stuffed you down, tried to hide you, tried to forget you, to leave you behind, to abandon you.
I know now who you were. I get it now; I understand. I know now why you were the way you were. I know why you had to escape. I know why you grew that outer shell.
I see you now; I acknowledge you. I value you. I admit that I was wrong. I made a colossal mistake. I made you miserable. I demanded the impossible: that you change your core.
The truth is, you didn’t have to try to change your core. You were good enough the way you were. It was the rest of the world that was wrong. They were wrong to be mean. They were wrong to make fun. They were wrong to tease and taunt. They were wrong to bully and single out. They were wrong to nitpick and judge. You, on the other hand, did nothing wrong. You always tried to be nice. You always tried to stay out of the spotlight, on the sidelines. You minded your own business and simply tried to survive each day, which usually began with butterflies in your stomach and an urge to pee, and often ended in tears at night.
It’s long overdue, but I want to reconnect with you. I want to bring you out, to let you shine as you are. I want to make peace with you, to humbly ask for your forgiveness.
Sometimes I cry for you. The pain you endured should not have ever happened, and it wasn’t you who should’ve had to change. You were already there, light years ahead of most of them, wise and insightful beyond your years. You had already reached a (rather advanced) level of maturity for your physical age; it was everyone else who had to catch up.
From this point on, I will see to it that you never again have to seriously compromise who you are, especially for the sake of strangers who would never dream of doing the same for you. If I had it to do over again, I would fight on your behalf. I would see that justice prevailed. I would hold out my hand and throw you a lifeline. I would stand and walk proudly beside you and never leave you behind.
I love you.
Note: Please know that I don’t mean this to be a pathetic attempt at “self-love”, attention-seeking, or drama-saturation. 🙂 This is more of a serious atonement for the mistakes I made as a child and young adult, as I tried desperately to forget and deny some very core parts of myself that really didn’t need forgetting and denying.
I’m also not meaning for this blog to sound narcissistic. It’s just that I’m a little new to the concept, and thus I don’t feel like I’m in a position yet to provide any expertise, so all I can do right now is share my own experiences as I see them in hopes that they can help someone else.