Asperger’s / autism and self-acceptance (#IveLearnedToAccept)

Several months ago (I’m not sure exactly when–I only remember that it was hot outside, which narrows the timeframe down to somewhere between May and October of last year), there was a neat “hashtag campaign” going around on Twitter – #IveLearnedToAccept (“I’ve learned to accept”) – and many of us used that hashtag to describe various Asperger’s/autism characteristics that we’ve come to recognize/realize and make peace with.

I know that this is old news for my fellow Twitter neurosiblings.  I had indeed meant to write about this back then, when it would be more time-relevant, but the notes had gotten buried and today, they’ve been unearthed.

Autism Awareness Month is understandably a point of contention for many people on the spectrum.  The majority of us would rather see Autism Understanding and Autism Acceptance.  The way I see it, acceptance begins with ourselves.  Of course, many of us already accept ourselves as we are; my own self-acceptance is a new concept for me, in the grand scheme of things.

Over the past year, I’ve finally learned to accept myself as I am.

What does this mean?

I’ve learned to accept…

My quirks.  They make me, me.  Stuff like examining my hair.  Sitting on my jacket in the parking lot of our apartment complex.  Being awake.  Being fascinated with pathogenic microbes.  Pulling over to write down sudden inspiration.  Spotting the zebras while ignoring the horses.  Using zillions of emojis when chatting.  Making up my own words.  Making up my own world.

I’ve actually learned to accentuate my quirks.  That’s not to say that I’m looking for attention or trying to make my life more interesting (it’s pretty amusing and even frequently complicated as it is, despite my efforts to simplify it).

My limits.  Sometimes I can’t do what I had set out to accomplish on a particular day.  Sometimes I can’t even do what I did yesterday.  Sometimes I suddenly realize I’m spent and that I’ve had enough.  Sometimes I put my head down on my desk in the afternoon and take a two-hour nap.  I’ve learned to give in to these limitations when possible.  I’ve learned to go ahead and take that nap.  I’ve learned to go ahead and oblige my brain when it says, “yo – I’m done for the day.  Let me rest now”.

My needs.  Sometimes I decline an invitation to hang out with friends.  I’m so grateful to be invited, but there are times when I simply want to be invisible.  Sometimes I just need to recharge.  I’ve learned that ignoring these needs makes breaks me down–mentally, emotionally, and physically.  I’m slowly learning to listen to my body when it sends me subtle signals.

My introversion.  On one hand, I don’t want to be ignored.  But on the other hand, I usually pray that the passerby stranger doesn’t say hi, because then I would feel obligated to respond and I might get tangled up in a conversation I wasn’t prepared to have.

My social awkwardness.  I hardly ever know what to say.  So I sneak a peek at what others have said on message boards, social media, or their own blogs, and I parrot those words and phrases.  I’ve been known to look up words in the thesaurus so that I don’t sound too monotonous.  I’ve even been known to take my mobile’s autosuggestion.

My lack of fitting in.  I don’t look like other people; I wear no makeup, and my fashion sense is about 10-30 years behind.  I don’t care.  Yes, my clothes are that old. But the important part is that by now, they’re well-worn, which means they’re comfortable, and that is ultimately what counts.

My lack of eye contact.  I look away a lot, especially when I’m thinking or when I’m the one speaking.  I can’t think straight enough to talk if I also have to stare at them.  I’ll find a spot on their forehead to look at, or maybe their mouth.

That not everyone is going to like me.  I’m blunt at times.  I generalize at times.  I’m bitter sometimes.  I get short when I’m nearing my resilience threshold.  I don’t always filter what I say.  I don’t always check my initial impulses at the door.  I say what I mean, but I don’t always choose the best wording right off the bat.

My social fatigue.  Sometimes I get “peopled out”, and that often happens fairly easily, so I don’t go out much.  It takes a lot of energy to interact with people on an ongoing basis, especially in person.  This holds doubly true the more public the place, because there are more people to watch me, and I’m acutely aware of how many people like to people-watch.

My meltdowns.  They happen.  They’re a pain in my arse, but a part of my life, and they’ll always be both.  They’re inevitable, especially after a while.  Every few months–boom.  The seismometer registers activity.  If the earth trembles under your feet just a little wherever you are, that’s probably me, facing a Cleaning Day, or getting tired of my mess, or my physical health failing just a little bit more, I’m fed up with yet another technology mishap, and so on.

My shutdowns.  Sometimes I’ve had it up to here with another person complaining at work, or another instance of criticism, or getting called out by over-sensitive people about something I feel is trivial and not even a first world problem, or being trapped in the middle of another blow-up between friends on social media, or whatever.  Or maybe I’m grieving and can’t function.  Or maybe I’m having a PTSD flashback.

My insomnia.  It’s been sitting on my shoulders for seven years now. I’m hoping it’ll go away someday, but I’ve made peace with it for now.  I’ve realized that I can get a few more things done at night.  Overnight, if I want to go outside, I feel like I have the world to myself.  It’s due to cumulative PTSD, that much I know.

My anxiety.  I can’t stand loud noise, especially intermittent, and especially if it’s close by.  I can’t stand the idea that I might have hurt someone.  I get overwhelmed easily, especially about finances.

My past.  I’ve been called all sorts of things, most of which were unjustified and inaccurate.  I flunked kindergarten.  I failed biology in high school.  My family came from a very odd walk of life.  I’m a member of a rare and dying breed.  It used to be somewhat of a source of embarrassment sometimes, but I’ve not only learned to accept it, I’ve actually learned to embrace it.

My learning style.  I thought I was the “Read-Write” type, but that’s just because that’s what I spent most of my time doing.  It took so much time because it was actually quite inefficient for me.  It turns out that I’m actually a visual person.  Pictures and diagrams are where it’s at.  I’ve learned to take the time to draw the picture and study off of that.

Being alone.  I’ve found that I’m actually not lonely when I’m alone.  I can entertain myself.  It used to be a source of pain, because it meant that no one wanted to hang out with me, so being alone was more of a last resort, a lack of options, rather than a deliberate decision.  Now, it is indeed more of a voluntary choice.

Having quality over quantity of friends.  I used to want a lot of friends.  Having a lot of friends meant to me that a lot of people liked me.  I know now that that’s not true; when you have tons of friends, you never quite get close to any one of them.  Now, I have just a few friends, but we’re close, and that means more to me.

***

This is one of my more popular posts!

***

(Image Credit: Vitalik)

Advertisements

45 Comments

  1. Yes! This is a big part of what I am working on. I have spent way too many years beating myself up for who I am-and who I am not. Thank you, friend. This is honestly great timing for you to share this as far as I am concerned. 🙂 ( By the way, you will probably see this moniker show up more often as I am not using my other account for much now.)
    Marisa ❤☺

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Acceptance is such a difficult concept, yet so empowering! Yay that you have come to a place of remembering who you are and why you are here on this earth. Yay that I get the awesome honor of reading your posts. Growing up neurotypical, I was easily conditioned to do and believe what I was told. It is through the incredible lens that my son has given me that I see the world for what it is. Most people have been so socially conditioned that they can’t think for themselves anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Omg yes!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. Nodding vigorously ❤️. So true 😊. Empowering indeed and also big nods to the social conditioning part! Oh my yes. This! 😊👏🏼💖

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m getting whiplash nodding along.👍😍. (cheesy Kung Fu movie voice) You have made much progress grasshopper… 😘👏Self acceptance, self love, self forgiveness… difficult path but the view from the top is so beautiful and peaceful 🙏🌻🌾🍃🌈🌊
    And yeah, makeup? I haven’t worn makeup in over 10 years. This is my face. If you don’t like, don’t look at it😂😎

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lol awesome!! I’m becoming convinced that you might be among us 😉💖

      Lol I love your references! (The grasshopper part) 😂🤗🌻

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg so true!! Once we know our true identity and the words for it, we can then seek out our community and make friends. That’s been my favorite part so far! 😘🌟🎉🎊💓

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your blog is so inspiring to me.. I am just coming to the realisation that I am an aspie… and there is so much ahead of me that I just want to hide under my blanket and not come out… Its so weird to me finding this out about myself and finding so many people who I identify with for the first time in my life. I am very empathetic and I cry at ads on tv and I cant watch the news.. I bawled my eyes out at what happened in Syria. Can I ask what you mean by meltdowns as Im unsure what that means exactly?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awww thank you so much for your kind words! 🤗❤️. It can be really really overwhelming; just know that you’re not alone. You’re never, ever alone 💞

      It is indeed a weird experience! If you’re like me, life may never be quite the same again 💜.

      My best pointer is to always give yourself plenty of patience, latitude, compassion, and alone time to process all this stuff 💓

      Meltdowns, sure! I can explain those–at least, according to me – other people may have different explanations. Here’s mine… (On next comment in case my WP app eats this one)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ok good, the app didn’t crash 😊

      What meltdowns look like: basically, an angry loss of control. A temper tantrum. Except that they’re not temper tantrums 😊

      What they actually are: the outward behavioral manifestation of a neurological response to being overwhelmed. Irritability camouflages what is actually anxiety and helplessness. It’s like you’re drowning but if someone asked you what you needed, you wouldn’t even begin to know where to start explaining what you need.

      Words often disappear, as does the ability to form sentences and translate thoughts into speech ❤️. Things can get violent, especially toward inanimate objects.

      What causes them: usually a buildup of “little things” that finally culminate. It’s like a volcano going off. Once it starts, there’s nothing you can do until it passes.

      Once it passes: there’s often a refractor period of recovery. Shame is common. So is a desire to be alone.

      Then, calm. And relief.

      And finally, balance once again 🌺

      Like

  5. Lovely as always. As I was reading this post, I realised that reading your blog this month has been really good for my emotional well-being. Your writing really cheers me up, even when the topic isn’t optimistic. Bottom line is, I really needed this today (this week, month etc) so I’m happy I decided to read this entry before going to bed. Thank you ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, luv! ❤️🍄❤️

      I’m so happy to have helped you smile, or even help share some hope 💓💓. Thank you very much for reading! Beaming 😊🌻

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Reading about how you’ve come to accept yourself fills me with such hope & happiness. Getting DXd has helped me forgive myself in many ways, but I still have a long way to go. I also feel you on enjoying being alone. I enjoy my own thoughts and company, I can keep myself entertained.

        Also, I’m still awake and not very good at going to bed.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you, my lovely! 🌷. It’s definitely a process 🌺. Two thumbs up for keeping ourselves entertained! Yeah! 👍🏼. You’re in good late-night-owl company, too 😊❤️

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: 1100 – aspiblog
  7. I discovered I had a different learning style too and approach to my work. Before, I would try to observe everyone, thinking they had it all. I’m actually an auditory learner, but I don’t learn from other people; I like to discover and talk through (sometimes even criticize…haha) the answers for myself or rearrange the information in a way I can understand. I especially like using a system to approach new tasks so I don’t have to improvise every time.

    I read up on how Aspiewomen reacted when they first received their diagnosis, and one thing they said stood out to me: I wasn’t a failed allistic. I was actually a successful Aspie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love how you described that! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. I can definitely relate, especially to the rearranging information for more efficient learning 😊. And my favorite part is the “not a failed allistic; a successful Aspie” – yeah!! Thank you very much for your comment – you totally made my entire evening 👍🏼😊🌺💖

      Like

  8. My current self-acceptance challenge is to be at peace with the fact that I am not a multi-channel communicator. I can’t read between the lines. I don’t get what you really meant to say and I sure as hell don’t get the information you’re encoding into the harmonics of the words you’re using. I am in love with words and language and delight in its careful, colourful and, in the archaic sense of the word, nice use. I say exactly what I mean and mean nothing more than what I say. I also need my interlocutor to do the same. If they don’t, we just ain’t gonna communicate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective! Yep, I can totally relate, to 100% of this 👏🏼😊❤️

      Like

  9. I have just found your blog, and spent a couple hours reading and laughing. And this post I can relate to so much. Much of your list I recognise although I havent reached the acceptance stage – its only recently I’ve realised I’m Aspie and why I am the way I am. Hopefully the acceptance will follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you dear! Welcome to the…whatever we are 😉. I like the word “tribe”, but some don’t lol. That’s awesome!! So happy to know we’re not alone. And always, always grinning to know I made someone laugh 😁.

      How do you feel about this whole thing so far? Doing ok? 😊

      It’s a process, for sure. Take all the time you need to process things. Give yourself lots of patience 💖. The acceptance will follow in time 😊. Meanwhile, I’m always here for you whenever you want or need me; just hit the contact button in the menu whenever you like – I’m often delayed in responding (oops! 😳) because I miss things in my email or I get busy at work or something, but I won’t blow you off 💓. My window is always open 🌺

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the kind welcome. The laughing was out of recognition of things I could so easily have written. Its been a common reaction to reading personal accounts since I realised this was the big ‘why’ I’d been searching for for over 40 years. When my Aspie husband first suggested I was like him, I dismissed it based on my own limited knowledge, but after seeing the play in London – The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Nighttime and a comment he made during – it clicked and I started researching like crazy and the floodlights came on. It was a relief more than anything to finally know. The reactions of others to it is more the cause of anxiety, especially the medical profession whom I dont exactly trust based on past experience. I have to face it today, for another health reason which will raise my lifelong SED issue, also never before revealed to a doctor. I’m dreading it, sick to my stomach and awake at a ridiculous hour because I cant sleep. We wrote a letter which I sent in last week to try and explain beforehand, but I know my anxiety is likely to cause me to become a little hostile. Just realised I’m babbling, my brain is in a hurricane state right now and not very coherent. Thank you for your offer, btw, there isnt many I have to speak to directly about this.

        Like

      2. Thank you for the kind welcome :). So much you have written I could have written hence the laughter. TBH finding the ‘why’ after 40 years of wondering what the hell was wrong with me, was a relief. Doesnt make the revealing it to others any easier though. I have to face it big time today though and I’m sick to my stomach with dread. Thank you for the offer btw, there isnt many I can talk to directly about this.

        Liked by 1 person

Please feel free to add your thoughts!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s