Relief and grief ~ the reality of adult Asperger’s / autism discovery

When one is diagnosed as Asperger’s/autistic (or otherwise realized to be on the spectrum) as an adult, an interesting dichotomy emerges, fairly quickly.  At least, that’s how I have experienced this key piece of my personal reality.  And in talking with–and reading about–many others, once again, I know that I’m not alone.

The dichotomy is a yin yang of bittersweetness.

On one hand, I’m relieved. 

Relieved to have been set free, finally liberated.

Relieved that all of my quirks are imperfectly beautiful, and that they all come together from the corners of my being, to form a sharp-focused, fine-tuned high-resolution image of the Real Me. 

Relieved that everything I’ve wondered about, questioned, been chronically perplexed by, and even cursed at times, can all be summed up.  Not even with a simple sentence, but in a single pair of words: Asperger’s/autism.

I’m relieved that everything I had self-consciously harbored as embarrassing secrets (not because they were embarrassing in themselves, but because no one else I knew could have ever hoped to identify with or share them), were actually common phenomena experienced by hundreds of people whom I would soon meet.

Relieved to know that there was finally a plausible explanation for all this, and that I was indeed “normal” when compared with the right people!

Relieved to know that I could be myself, without shame. 

Relieved to know that I could stop trying to morph myself into something I wasn’t.  And in fact, the truth is that I should stop trying so hard to do this, because it was impossible anyway.

Relieved that I could finally let myself off the hook of striving for something I could never be.  Relieved to realize that I probably didn’t even want to be that way, because the general NT world is not without faults of its own, and sometimes it seems like ours are lesser faults than theirs.

Relieved to know that everything I had supposedly “failed” at wasn’t attainable, and I wasn’t characteristically flawed for not being able to attain it.

On the flip side, there is also grief.  I don’t grieve about my Asperger’s/autism itself.  I don’t grieve for the “loss” of the illusion that I was allistic (non-autistic).

Instead, there is grief surrounding what could have been, had we known the truth much sooner.

Grief over the lost time spent at futile efforts to attempt to achieve the impossible.  Grief over the energy wasted on doing this.  Grief for the good health I might have enjoyed had I not been tied up in stress-frazzled knots, as far back as I can remember…which is incidentally a long, long time.

Grief over the lost opportunities, the more compatible school I had never attended and the teachers I had never been able to work with and form supportive bonds with.  Grief over the supports I could have used throughout my entire 25+-year academic career, from kindergarten to med school.  Grief over the weekends spent with frayed nerves as I tried to make sense of the nonsensical, struggling to convert the plain meaningless words on a page into mental pictures I could grasp and retain.

Grief over the lack of time spent on recognizing my need for a different teaching method and learning style.  Grief involving the recognition and praise I never got, the grades I never achieved, because my only academic option was to be shoehorned into the mediocrity of mainstream public education.

Grief about the Gifted and Talented programs I had never been a part of or considered for.

Grief surrounding the friends I never made.  Grief regarding never having found other people like me in those schools and programs, never having had the opportunity to meet people more like me, never having been accepted for all the right reasons and for all the right attributes.

Adult autism spectrum discovery is a double-edged sword; for every advantage benefited from and every bullet dodged, there is also pain–a misunderstanding here and a faux pas there, an insanity that comes with attempting the impossible, trying to live up to unreachable standards, learning to live according to someone else’s values, when they diverge so sharply and conflict so violently with one’s own.

But what happened, happened.  The hand was dealt as it was, and the cards fell as they did.  The dice were rolled, set in motion sometime before birth, and my fate was sealed.  A fate that, incidentally, turned out pretty good, over all.  My code had been written before I had a chance to review it.  A code that I probably wouldn’t have changed anyway.  Maybe a tweaking here and there, but even that is up for debate.

I haven’t always been able to say that.  In fact, I gained the ability to be comfortable in my own being just about a year ago.  I was 38.  And a half.

And the world is what it is, too.  Outnumbering me anywhere from 50 to 100, to one.  The deck isn’t exactly fairly stacked, but again, it is what it is, and I accept that.  Call it internalized ableism or not, but my reality is that I have to learn to live and thrive within it.  And that means doing a lot of bending, until the rest of the world realizes that it, too, has some bending to do.

To have been released from my own prison of uncertainty and inadequacy also brought a life sentence of its own: a clear view of the invisible dividing line that separates me and others like me from the world at large.  It doesn’t matter that we were born into our native cultures; we never quite grasp their idiosyncrasies.

Ultimately, that’s OK, though, because I’ve since realized that many of those idiosyncrasies aren’t exactly worth grasping.  They’re overblown, overemphasized, overrated anyway.

I’m content as I am.  I am now free to say that, and mean it with sincerity.

It is said that “the truth shall set you free”.  Whoever came up with that must have been an adult-discovered Aspie/autie 😉


Related Posts:

The Silent Wave” ~ April 28, 2016

One Aspie’s ‘Autism Discovery Soundtrack‘” ~ May 1, 2016

Now I Know Why” ~ May 7, 2016

Everything Old Is new Again ~ My Vocabulary Transformation” – May 8, 2016

‘Serenity’ ~ A Pleasant Surprise Guest Post” ~ May 26, 2016

My Experience of a late Asperger’s/Autism Diagnosis As Seen Through a Creative Writing Filter” (my alternate “lyrics” to Disturbed’s “Sounds of Silence” cover) – July 26, 2016

Positive Aspects of Asperger’s/Autism” ~ July 31, 2016

 

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48 Comments

  1. Don’t mourn for would’ve/should’ve/could’ve. Remember that every single experience, good & bad, were necessary to become who you are today-an intelligent, funny, caring & totally cool person!😎😘 I think we all wish we hadn’t had to live through some of the painful things in our past. It’s the painful things that teach us the most. Overcoming obstacles gives us strength & confidence. Not to mention, compassion for those fighting their own battles. Your generosity and kindness are present in every post💖 Thank you for sharing your journey and thereby teaching and helping others. You rock dude!💕💓💞💗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Omg thank you for your kind and encouraging words! I’m so touched right now that I’m fixing to go all Happy Flappy with my hands lol 🤗🤗😍. Your words are so true – my momma always said that everything happens for a reason. When I first heard that as a young kid, I was perplexed for about 30 seconds (“even the bad stuff?” I thought). But once I’d processed this, I quickly realized that she was right, of course 😉💖. Sometimes our struggles and roads not taken, or what appear on the surface to be “failures” are actually blessings in disguise, and things turn out to be the way they were meant to be 💚💙

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Happy Flappy, yay! My happiest moments are when King Ben jumps up & does his skip/trot/jump around the room making his “happy noises”😃 I’m glad I could make you happy. 😍😘
        My mama always told me “go play on the freeway” 😯 needless to say, we don’t speak much these days😏

        Liked by 2 people

  2. “the truth shall set you free” – John 8:32, according to the person who wrote the gospel, allegedly by Jesus…
    For a full diagnostic evaluation, read the rest 😇
    I’ve used it quite a lot, until I learned it to be the CIA’s motto as well, the known defenders of truth 👽
    Oh, I’m having my own “oficial” diagnostic assessment 🤓😱 Thursday. I’m sort of freaked out, or not 😵

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Omg!! I’m so excited for you 🤗🤗. It’s a harrowing experience, for sure! I have been there; I wrote about it a few times, in late October and/into early November. As secure as I was that I’d been correct in my self-identification, and as cool as my psychologist was and as comfortable as he made me feel, it was *still* an emotional shakeup lol. I didn’t mean to turn your comment into “all about me”; I guess what I’m trying to convey is that you’re not alone; you’ve got friendly company here 💜

      I wish you the best of luck with your evaluation! I hope it goes smoothly and that you get the confirmation you’re looking for ❤️

      If I may offer a few unsolicited points 😊
      1 – I was surprised by just how drained/exhausted (although not in a bad way) I was after my initial interview. We reviewed my life as thoroughly as can be done in a 2-hour session. I’m glad people gave me a heads up about this; I reserved the entire day, even though my assessment took place first thing in the morning. So glad I did! I was spent after that.

      2 – I wasn’t quite prepared for the torrent of emotion that I felt that day, especially before the assessment began. I was really emotional about everything; the slightest well wishes and encouragement (of which I gratefully received a lot!) brought tears to my eyes 💞

      3 – I didn’t sleep much the night before, but I slept really well the night after.

      4 – I found it helpful to write out different aspects of life that came to mind that I felt might be useful or relevant; I had this “cheat sheet” in front of me so that I wouldn’t be stressed out about remembering it later.

      Again, I hope it goes really well for you! No matter how it turns out, you’ll always be my Neuro-brother 😘 But I think it’ll be an easy play to call; I would be very surprised if you *weren’t* an Aspie, and I mean that as a compliment, of course 😉😘❤️

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much SW, I really appreciate all this, especially since I’m “naturally” paranoid about these matters. In the letter it says one and a half hours, the clinician is a psychiatrist, female as I understood. Two hours would be great, even though I remember my Dyslexia/Dyspraxia/Visual Stress lasted nearly 9 (yes nine 🙀🙀🙀) hours…
        Yes, I’ve already prepared a smaller notebook with relevant information, otherwise, especially since I don’t know her, I’ll most probably freeze and confuse myself as usual…
        Tomorrow I’ll type it in clear and print it out, also take prints of my RITVO and the rest of other scores, just in case.
        And yes, I am freaked out, on top of all, the last 4 weeks I’ve gone in and out bouts of severe rhinosinusitis, which was -it turned out yesterday at my ENT appointment- to be also medicamentosa worsened by two decades of using oxymethazoline decongestant sprays 🤧🤒😷
        Horrible, horrendous as my sinuses started to clear 🤢🤢🤢, sorry for the details…
        So here I am, on antibiotics and steroid nose drops (I’ll grow muscles in my nose like Schwartzenegger 🏋💪👃)
        Thank you ever so much for your kind support (I am so terribly sorry, but I could never use other words beyond “kind” as I am truly emotionally dumb, and I have no idea how to express what I “feel”, because it’s rather metaemotional???) but it means to me much, much, much more than my words 🙏🙏🙏

        Liked by 3 people

          1. You’ll rock it, brother ❤️. Just remember – there’s no such thing as a wrong answer 😊. This is probably the one encounter in which you can take off any mask you might have put on for the world before, and be your very true self. Just be 100% honest, and 100% yourself; the person doing your evaluation isn’t going to judge you as a person 💖

            You’ve got this! By the time you read this, it’ll probably be all over 😊.

            See you on the other side! 😘💞

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Hey SW, and anyone else reading this 🙂
            For now I prefer to share these news only with my closer tribe 🤓 leaving the “official” post for when I’m completely through.
            Today I had my first assessment, to be followed by the final one in 3-4 weeks. The psychiatrist was kind and friendly, nevertheless due to my absolute incapacity to refrain from taking every question on a tangent 😜😂 she had to firmly take me through the three assessment questionnaires a bit quicker than my selfpsychoanalitical tendencies. But we did it, and I also left her the 5 page detailed sheet I prepared about what I considered important (everything…)
            It went from childhood to now. When I asked in the end what is her opinion for now, she said “I pretty much suspect you are on the Spectrum”🖖
            I’m relieved for now, thank you for your good thoughts and kindness 🙂 Moshe

            Liked by 3 people

          3. Oh wow, cool!!!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. You did it! And (deep sigh of relief) that part is over now ❤️

            Omg 3-4 weeks seems like a torturous long time 💞. I had to wait one week (mostly due to my schedule during the rest of the week, not my psychologist’s schedule) and that was nerve-wracking! 😂. Hang in there, bro! ❤️

            Yep, if you’re not on the spectrum, than I don’t know who is 😊. I concur with your provider 💙

            Sending you continued happy thoughts!! 💪🏼💓💓

            Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally! Absolutely yes 👏🏼👏🏼😊. Everything really does turn out the way it’s supposed to. All we have to do is utilize it the best we can 💞💙

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We so enjoy your passion for sharing deep from your heart and experience. We often ask ourselves why it took so long to realize these things. I realized its a process and requires patience the later of which I got a long way to go in, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Totally! In my early days of discovery, I asked myself the same question; it was like I was hit over the head with a light bulb. “Omg! DUH!! Of course I was that way (etc); I’m on the spectrum!” Lol 😂😉❤️

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, indeed. There is so much I think about in terms of what might’ve been. Mostly, I think of how much more accepting I might’ve been of myself, things I might have become had I grown in soil I could thrive in. Yet, there is so much to see through new eyes in the here and now, so many insights that can help not only me but also my kids, I can’t let myself spend too long on regrets. I think I can only appreciate the freedom I have now, honestly, because I knew what it was to feel caged.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Amen, girl! Absolutely 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. I love the idea of “seeing through new eyes” – what a glorious and liberating concept 😘❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve sort of list my grief for what m8ght have been. My eldest was diagnosed within minutes late last year (oh, he’s quirky!) and my youngest is going for assessment tomorrow morning. My eldest says a diagnosis helps to shut others up about their expectations of him. It has given him a pass to be himself in some peace. He adds that nothing much has changed. No one seems to magically know what he needs to succeed the way they wanted him to. It is almost as if he is now free to determine his own success; the problem being support still aims to normalise the child.

    As for my youngest, he kniws a diagnosis will not remove the existential angst he carries within. He knows that is his burden to carry. He can share it, but I fully understand he’ll need life and time to work that angst out naturally.

    So, the moral of my anecdotal musings is that diagnosis isn’t becessaroly better earlier on or later in life. It simply is what it is and all eventuarions come with pros and cons; usually outside our control.

    As such, I am free from my self imposed grief and wistfulness. Ahhhh…

    Liked by 3 people

      1. No worries, luv; honestly I didn’t see many; I was mesmerized by the content and the heart with which you wrote it 😊💞🌟💞

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, thank you so much for sharing your story ❤️❤️. Your children sound absolutely amazing 😊.

      You know, it’s interesting that you mention how there are pros and cons to being diagnosed early versus later in life; would you believe that a couple days ago, I started the outline for a blog post about that? 😊🤗💖

      Sending you thoughts of peace, good luck, contentment, and just about every other happy sentiment, for your son’s assessment! I hope it goes smoothly and that it’s helpful to you all 💚💙💜

      Liked by 1 person

  6. have you ever noticed that the sort of people that rail against (and discredit, without expertise of their own…) all self-diagnosis, are often the same people who use “autistic” as a slur or joke that other non-diagnosed people are?

    “oh, im against self-diagnosis– go see a professional… ME diagnosing someone else without being a doctor, thats another matter!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. I have noticed, (with some exceptions, of course), that many of the people who object to self-diagnosis don’t seem to like themselves or their Aspergian/autistic neurotype very much. And the hypocrisy is pretty astounding. I want to tell them, “let me get this straight: you don’t think *I* have the right to identify as Aspie/autistic, but you think *you* have the right to tell me I can’t?”

      You should see a comment (which I have not yet approved; it’s currently in limbo) from exactly such a person. It’s only my third comment of this type ever, at least in the almost-11 months that this blog has been around. I’ve even written a(n as yet unpublished) response to the comment in the form of a blog post. Trying to decide how to handle that 😊❤️

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Exactly 😊. I thought to myself, “did this person even *read* the post they’re bucking up against?” Everything I had to say was there 😊

          Liked by 1 person

  7. to make these: < > in a comment, you must use the code &lt; &gt; but heres the fun part:

    if using &lt; &gt; makes < and > … then how do you comment &lt; and &gt; ?

    well thats simple 🙂 you have to say &amp;lt; and &amp;gt;

    and how do you say &amp;lt;? you have to say &&amp;gt; (lol, everytime you explain how to do one, you have to add another.)

    its sort of like the acronym for “gnu”: gnu’s not unix. what does the g in gnu stand for? (it stands for “gnu”) 😀 (how do you take a picture of a camera?)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol I love your info! 👏🏼❤️.

      And how do you reflect a mirror? 😊 (isn’t that neverending tunnel you get when you put too mirrors facing each other creepy?). Sorry, tangent lol 😂😉💜

      Liked by 3 people

          1. you know how to tell the difference between a dogwood and a dog?

            to answer that question, simply build two sheds– make one out of the wood of a fir tree; and the other one just use the leaves of an oak.

            wait for a gust of a wind, and youll have the answer:

            “one shed leaves, and the other shed’s fir.” sorry, a friend of mine and i are having a pun contest, and thats a bi-product.

            Liked by 3 people

  8. Congratulations on the courage to get your diagnosis. Mine took some guts – and more than a few years worth of procrastination as well

    But it is liberating is it not?

    There are parallels with homosexuality I think in that, once we remove the moral judgment from the equation, the sentiment, spoken or unspoken, that being attracted to one’s own gender is wrong, a sign of illness, we come to accept that homosexuality is part of the broad spectrum of human nature and, with that realization, comes, I imagine, a sense of relief that there is a place on that spectrum for one’s particular and peculiar wavelength.

    And, perhaps a realization that the preceding paragraph could have done with a few more, and shorter, sentences.

    Being diagnosed Aspie is like that for me. It has given me a frequency on the spectrum of human nature that I am tuned to and a sense of feeling that that’s OK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! Thank you for sharing your thoughts 😊. I think all your paragraphs are just fine 😉❤️.

      It’s very liberating indeed! I kept getting this feeling, as I found more and more information (especially the firsthand information from blogs and such), that I was gradually-yet-quickly being released from a prison of sorts. So relieved 😊

      And oh yes, I can’t help but to draw so many parallels between the Asperger’s/autism spectrum and LGBT+ that it’s eerie in a really cool way 💙💜

      Like

  9. Relief and grief, and thats without the formal confirmation. Relief will come with that I suspect. Mainly grief that I wont be the person I wanted to be, who I thought I should be, that it isnt a phase I’m going through, that I wont wake up and find I’ve snapped out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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