Damned if I do, damned if I don’t 

My experience as an Asperger’s/autistic person is sometimes a confused existence.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever “get” the unwritten code of social rules.  Maybe my code book is outdated.  Or maybe I just flat-out never received one.

My Aspergian/autistic existence is also a no-win situation.   No matter what I do, I’m missing something.  No matter what my answer, it’s the wrong one.

As usual, I’ll explain, complete with examples (grin).

If I don’t smile, people think I’m crabby or depressed or humorless.  If I do, they get suspicious, wondering what’s so funny or why I’m happy.

If I don’t go into enough detail, then the misconceptions ensue.   If I explain more thoroughly, it’s too much, it’s overwhelming, and suddenly I’m a boring, self-absorbed know-it-all who lacks the social skills to know when to stop.

If I don’t disclose or get personal enough, I’m being coy.  If I get deeper and reveal more, I can almost feel the people thinking “whoa, TMI!”

If I don’t show enough emotion, I’m heartless and aloof.  If I do, I’m childish and dramatic.

If I’m honest, then I’m blunt.  If I hold back, I’m “playing coy”; if I’m diplomatic, I’m suddenly accused of being passive-aggressive.

If I don’t try hard enough to connect, I’m antisocial; if I try harder, I’m clingy.

I either try too hard, or not hard enough.  I’m either doing it too much, or I’m doing it too little.  I’m either going too far, or not far enough.   I try to walk the tightrope.  But Goldilocks I am not, and I can never quite seem to get the balance right.

Either way, assumptions get made, and those assumptions are wrong.

Either way, feelings get hurt, whether theirs, mine, or both.

Either way, everyone’s doing the best they can but no matter what, it’s not always enough.

This isn’t something I can grow out of or learn to master, any more than the “other side” could see the world as I see it, from where I sit.

Because one doesn’t simply “grow out of” Asperger’s/autism.  I can learn–and have learned–to grow with it, according to it, in cooperation with it, but despite the hardships that sometimes arise from the glitches that sometimes form during interaction between two neurotypes, I wouldn’t want to leave mine behind.  I don’t always enjoy the tightrope I must walk or the disasters that sometimes ensue, but I do enjoy being me.  I have grown into having fun with my neurotype. As for the times when the results aren’t so fun, well, it is what it is (grin).

I have a thesis statement to make: even though I find myself in situations where I feel like I can’t win, I do.  And to be clear, just because I win, doesn’t mean that anyone else loses.  There doesn’t have to be a loser in order for there to be a winner.

I win because even at the end of a challenging encounter, complete with its misconceptions, assumptions, and maybe even hurt feelings, I don’t lose myself.  I don’t give up being who I am.  I don’t attempt to trade my personality characteristics in for others.  I don’t shame myself.  In my post-Asperger’s self-discovery world, even my self-criticism is limited, having softened its tone and relaxed its demands.

Sometimes, after a difficult interaction, all I can do is one big proverbial mental (or literal, physical) shoulder-shrug.

I tend to say “it is what it is” a lot. I’ve adopted that stance in place of trying to do the impossible: transform the core of my being into something I’m not, and something that I’d rather not even be.

So even when it seems like I can’t win, even when it seems like my best efforts will not always be good enough, the deficit is limited to the perceptions of others, because my best is good enough for me.  It has to be, because it’s all I can do.  I know in my heart that I’ve done my best, and in the end, I’ve walked away intact, even if damaged a little.

The important part is that I’m still me, and the more-important part is that I’m OK with that. 🙂

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59 Comments

  1. Don’t worry about what people say. Be you, say, what you want, its your life, your brain, your mouth. Just be you because you aren’t getting anything wrong by being yourself. Code books are given to a select few but who says we have to adhere to it??. Adhere to your inner code not someone else’s.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No problem. Plus, in my class this week we learned about how leaders need to be vulnerable and open to show humaness. We also learned leaders should use discernment in certain situations where vulnerability may require limitations. You’re a leader is all, so lead on!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your choice to make winning mean something other than others losing. Brilliant post and I think in truth, regardless of the conditions involved, communication is one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of being human. We are all wrestling with one another’s preconceptions and insecurities, and need to find this place of self-acceptance I feel. To unburden the moment.

    Peace
    Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! The general consensus is that diversity is a good thing, and some do practice what they preach, while others look at me like I’m from Mars lol. I’ve decided meh; let them think what they want 😊👍🏼💪🏼💞

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is great, I relate so much to your experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out I’m Auspie too 🙂 It seems to me many of us share similar characteristics, we’re just so diverse and this is beautiful. I admire your self-acceptance too. Great post ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Having had a few bad days, feeling overwhelmed, then having made a mistake at work that had consequences for others, which has led to me beating myself up big time this evening, and lots of tears and feelings of inadequacy, I so needed to read your piece and how it developed. Thank you for reminding me that sometimes I need to just shrug my shoulders and think, this is who I am, it is what it is. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my lovely, I’m so sorry to hear about the bad days. Bad days suck 😣. I really hope sunnier skies head your way soon! 🌤☀️🌞. I’m so very happy that you found some solace in the post 😘❤️. I totally agree with your synopsis! We are who we are, and it is what it is indeed 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼💞🌷

      Like

  5. Very relatable. It feels like you can never do anything right in the eyes of others so might as well just be yourself, and try not to let other people control the way you are. It’s difficult when you’re trying to fit into this world as an autistic person. I know before I found out I was autistic, I ended up becoming more like them, so over the years I’ve just been trying to unravel the real me bit by bit. It changed the way I naturally move my body (stimming) and I so desperately need to get it back because it relieves so much anxiety and it’s how I express myself. They told me I was wrong for the way I stim, so I pushed it away, and it has left me feeling so off without it. Thank you for writing about these topics because it helps us feel less alone in the world, and you explain things so beautifully. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Can I please flip it? Just because I am bad at conversation does not mean you are good at it 🙂 People take for granted that the autist will be the poor conversationalist but believe me, it works both ways.

    Like

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