I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but a little while back, sometime after finding out that I “have” Asperger’s/autism, I shed part of my mask. I realized I’d been “acting” all this time, and I gave myself permission to drop the act (at least, most of the time).
The reason I’m only writing about this now is that I only became conscious of this act-dropping and permission-giving more recently.
During an insomnia bout last week, I verbalized to myself the following…
I’m just going to be me.
If I need to stim, then I’m going to stim. (Sometimes I have little choice; I can stop if I really concentrate, but the minute I begin to focus on something else, the stimming resumes.) If I want to rock back and forth, then I’ll rock back and forth. I find that very relaxing.
If I want to be straightforward, I’m going to be straightforward. If I want to say something, I’ll say it, and tell it like it is. (That does not, however, give me any kind of permission or excuse to be a jackhole; I’ll simply be straightforward, calling a spade a spade, in what I plan to be a neutral-to-positive way.)
If I want to hole up in my apartment, then I’m going to hole up in my apartment. If I don’t feel like going out, then I’ll stay in. If I need to say “no” to going out with my two-to-three local friends, then I’ll ask for a “rain check” (next time) and I won’t feel guilty or ashamed. Maybe that means I’m a “hermit”; maybe not. But either way, I’m OK with staying inside.
If I want to engage in a special interest, then I’m going to engage in a special interest. (This is, of course, given that I have the time to do so, without any pressing/urgent or time-sensitive personal or professional obligations.)
If I don’t want anyone to talk to me, I’m going to close my door. I’m not going to chide myself for being “antisocial” or “looking bad to other people”. I will have informed other people in advance that my shut-in is nothing against them.
If I want to talk to myself, I’m going to talk to myself. (I might even answer myself, too.) I’m not going to criticize myself for being “crazy”. It’s not like I’m hallucinating or otherwise hearing voices; I just think out loud–a lot.
If I want to let my thoughts carry me on a journey, then I’m going to follow them. I’m not going to be the disciplinary authoritarian who limits my mind to only the immediately-surrounding tangible reality; if I want to dream or brainstorm, then I’m going to do that.
If I don’t want to make eye contact, then I’m not going to make eye contact. It doesn’t mean I’m being dishonest or hiding anything. It just means that I don’t feel like feeling as if I’m on candid camera.
If I feel like I’m getting edgy or starting to “buzz”, I’m going to give myself permission to leave that environment as soon as possible. If I start to feel overwhelmed, then I’m leaving then, too. I’ll go out and enjoy nature instead; this is one of the quickest and most efficient ways for me to recharge and “reset” myself.
Above all, I’m giving myself permission to preserve my sanity, retain my ability to function, and be kind to the quirks of my nervous system. And I believe that each and every one of us has these rights. We should recognize them and follow through with them. We should accept them with self-compassion. We should do what’s best for us. I’m going to do what’s best for me. If we can’t look out for ourselves, who else is going to? No one knows us like we know ourselves. We know when we’re getting apprehensive or overwhelmed. We know when the stimuli and stress are starting to accumulate. We know what happens when the tipping point is reached. We know what happens when the dam holding everything back is breached. We deserve to be who we are; after all, we’re not broken or defective. What we want, need, and do is not wrong. It might be different, and it might be puzzling to some, but it’s just as valid as the wants, needs, and actions/activities of anyone else.
There’s a (heavy) cost involved in trying to stuff and hide our true nature. We don’t deserve to pay that price. We don’t deserve the punishment it would levy upon us.
We are us, we are here, we’re not going away, and we shouldn’t have to. 🙂