They thought I was being ‘dramatic’… when I was just actually autistic 

My mom is a very patient and loving person.  But despite nearly-endless patience, she would occasionally get exasperated with me.

“Come on, cut the dramatics,” she’d say.

But I wasn’t being dramatic.  I was being honest.  What I expressed was how I really felt.  I couldn’t think of any other way to say it.  I couldn’t think of any other way to be.  It never occurred to me that I was thinking and feeling everything so intensely.

As an adult, my brain often thinks of vivid, colorful, intense phrases to describe my experience of life.  Then the internal logic police come swarming in and the self-checking commences.

“Is it really that great/bad?” the self-police chief asks.

On the surface, no, it isn’t.  Someone else might not think it’s a big deal.  Someone else might not be as fired up about it.  But they’re not me, and I’m not them.  I do sometimes feel what I’m feeling to the extreme.  I may not prefer to be living on the edge, but it does add a dimension of depth and fullness.

I’ve come to the realization that I’m probably just living my experience in the rawest form, probably because I don’t know how else to live it.  Is there a correct way of experiencing?  Is there a right way to feel?

I’m pretty sure that it’s not I who was being over-dramatic.  Perhaps it was my family who was being under-dramatic.  Maybe I didn’t feel too much; could it be that maybe they felt too little?

I can never remember the specifics of these interactions.  Therefore, I can’t provide any useful context.  It’s my word against theirs.  And being a part of the equation, I’m obviously biased.

But does that mean I can’t be trusted?  I’m not sure, but I don’t think so.  My experiences are what they are.

It’s all about perspective, and each of us has our own.

It stands, then, that my family did not understand my perspective any more than I understood theirs.  It’s this mutual lack of understanding that gives each person the right to their own perspective and their own feelings, for no one perspective or feeling is The Right One.

And from my perspective, I often felt emotionally like an oasis in a desert.  That is to say that from where I sat, my family could sometimes appear devoid of emotion, dry and barren, while I tended to feel more deeply, more intensely.

Maybe those emotions ran too deep.  Or maybe theirs didn’t run deep enough.  Who’s to say?  Just because someone might be a member of a minority, does that make them wrong?  We live in a “majority rules” world, but is that the correct approach?  Sure, the majority are satisfied, but what about the minority?  Are we insignificant?  Should we be ignored?  Do we not count?

We should be counted.  We should be entitled to our own thoughts and emotions.  We should be entitled to our responses.  So long as we are not violent towards others, we should have free reign to be ourselves and we should be given to same respect as anyone else.

Whoops, I’m talking in terms of “we” and “us” again.  I might catch hell for trying to speak for the whole group, when I can really only speak for myself.  But should I only be advocating for myself and leave everyone else in a similar position out of the equation?  Is there anyone else out there who deserves any less?

I don’t think so.  Maybe that’s short-sighted of me, but (cue the black and white thinking) it just makes universal sense for this concept to apply to…well, anyone to whom it applies.

So I come on strong sometimes, comparatively speaking.  OK, probably a little more than sometimes.  Maybe I do this fairly often.  But I am who and what I am, and if other neurotypes don’t have to change their imperfections, then I shouldn’t have to, either, and I don’t think any of us should.

Assumptions hurt.  I think a better strategy would have been to ask me what was going on.  What was I railing against?  What did I feel so strongly about?  It might not have worked 100%, but it’s a lot better than the 0% progress made by taking the path of making assumptions and heaping the criticism.

Unjust or undeserved criticism is only a further trigger for me, after all.  Which only worsens the situation that much more.

I can’t stand drama, either–that is, people who are intense, but insincerely so, the ones who overplay what they’re truly feeling in order to manipulate someone into giving them what they want.  That’s an annoying practice, and that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about expressing a genuine emotion in full, without holding back, and being called “dramatic” because it’s stronger or more intense than someone else feels like dealing with.

Rather than admit their own potential callousness, they turn the tables on me, and pin the Blame-“Tail” on my “Donkey” butt and say, “you’re being over-dramatic”.

As though I’m getting blamed for a manipulative behavior that I wasn’t even engaging in, nor did doing so ever cross my mind.

And besides, I was a little kid.  Children don’t have the tools to express themselves fully.  There’s also a power differential at play.  And being autistic/an Aspie only made it tougher for me.

Although, this happens to me in adulthood, too.  I don’t get the accusation in verbal form anymore.  (I almost wish I did, so that I could set the record straight.)

Rather, I get the cryptic-but-palpable Disturbance In The Force, the change in their demeanor that I can’t quite fully decode.  The kind that makes one want to say, “what–was it something I said?”

And it remains the elephant in the room that will never get discussed directly with me, but it probably will to other family members, who will then demote their impression of me.

Ugh.

I was innocent, Your Honor.  I always have been.  And I will always try to be.

The Defense rests.

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This is one of my more popular posts!

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(Image Credit: Minjae Lee)

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34 Comments

      1. Hey do you think the character Forest Gump is on the Autism spectrum? I was watching the movie today and actually paid attention to how people treated him. Even though he was treated terribly by others who didn’t understand him, he did some pretty remarkable things. He was always compassionate and showed loved to everybody, he had special interests, and quirks. I think its important for people to make movies about autistic people and show them in positive lights without making it seem as if something is wrong with them.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I understand this completely, this is me. I did not settle down until I had undergone years of abuse and subsequently died a bit inside. Then I felt less, cared less. I still “over-react” but I hide it very well. I see those occasional times of intense emotion as proof that I am getting better, being more like myself again.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yep. Familiar word there. Can’t tell you how often it’s been handed to me over the years. Hence, all the cycle of tightly reining myself in so long I explode, get the word thrown at me, feel bad, and squash my feelings down all over again. It’s a slow process, but beginning to be more forgiving of myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, you too? I probably should have guessed, knowing what I know about what you endured 😘😘❤️. I hear you on the cycle you described, too; I’m just now beginning to put that together myself 🌺. So happy you’re reaching a point of self-forgiveness and healing 😘😘❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was wondering if this was during your teen years? I totally *was* dramatic as a teen. Both my daughters were too. All 3 of us NT.
    I know I used to feel things more. Both good & bad and now I stay in middle ground. I think all my life experiences wore off the extremes. It’s kinda sad but it is what it is. Be you my awesome DD. Always, exactly just you😘😍💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, luv! 😘😘. It was mostly during my younger years, especially ages 5-10. I was even being dead serious at the time, so for anyone to tell me I was being too dramatic at the time, I was like “WTF??” Totally confused lol. I totally hear you, though; I think most NT girls are that way especially during the teens. It just seems to be a natural thing 😊. Middle ground is awesome! Excellent strategy 💖💖😘❤️💛💚💙💜💗🌷😎🍻👍🏼

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      1. Little kids are kinda dramatic in general. Everything is SO new & important! It’s not nice to squash that😡 Everyone should be encouraged in their passions. Dang, life is hard enough without​ poopies raining all over you.😘😘💐💗

        Liked by 1 person

  4. There was a period I was feeling over-dramatic and emotional. Then I saw this interview of Tony Attwood which I thought explained what I was going through, not sure if it applies in your case.
    Here is the link (please WP, don’t show the preview😁 ):
    [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbZ2QRJnUVg]

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Boy, can I relate to this! It seems like a nearly impossible struggle to convince those who are bound and determined to view us this way and have already decided we’re incompetent. With those who have that mind-set it seems no explanation works. It’s a horrible feeling to have the awareness that no matter what one says there is never any possibility to work things out, be taken at face value, and not to be discounted by those people in the future.

    Some people cling tightly to their misconceptions and want to keep their ignorance whether they state them openly or just hint at them indirectly. I don’t know what percentage think so cynically, but it is disturbing that some people just refuse to be educated no matter what.

    Depending on what role these people play in your life and how much real power they have their actions can range from slightly annoying on a temporary basis to damaging of people’s lives on an ongoing basis.

    I wish I knew the answer to changing these public misperceptions, but I’m still having to put out these fires one by one as they come up, trying to educate those who have the wrong idea. I’ve come to the conclusion that probably 99% of the population will not understand me and about 1% will. I don’t know if the ones who don’t are that way because they lack the capacity to see beyond their own nose, or whether they are just too lazy to want to try. Maybe it will take a few more generations before mankind’s thinking is evolved enough to make this a thing of the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Boy, can I relate to this! It seems like a nearly impossible struggle to convince those who are bound and determined to view us this way and have already decided we’re incompetent. With those who have that mind-set it seems no explanation works. It’s a horrible feeling to have the awareness that no matter what one says there is never any possibility to work things out, be taken at face value, and not to be discounted by those people in the future.

    Some people cling tightly to their misconceptions and want to keep their ignorance whether they state them openly or just hint at them indirectly. I don’t know what percentage think so cynically, but it is disturbing that some people just refuse to be educated no matter what.

    Depending on what role these people play in your life and how much real power they have their actions can range from slightly annoying on a temporary basis to damaging of people’s lives on an ongoing basis.

    I wish I knew the answer to changing these public misperceptions, but I’m still having to put out these fires one by one as they come up, trying to educate those who have the wrong idea. I’ve come to the conclusion that probably 99% of the population will not understand me and about 1% will. I don’t know if the ones who don’t are that way because they lack the capacity to see beyond their own nose, or whether they are just too lazy to want to try. Maybe it will take a few more generations before mankind’s thinking is evolved enough to make this a thing of the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ll try posting it again below;

    Boy, can I relate to this! It seems like a nearly impossible struggle to convince those who are bound and determined to view us this way and have already decided we’re incompetent. With those who have that mind-set it seems no explanation works. It’s a horrible feeling to have the awareness that no matter what one says there is never any possibility to work things out, be taken at face value, and not to be discounted by those people in the future.

    Some people cling tightly to their misconceptions and want to keep their ignorance whether they state them openly or just hint at them indirectly. I don’t know what percentage think so cynically, but it is disturbing that some people just refuse to be educated no matter what.

    Depending on what role these people play in your life and how much real power they have their actions can range from slightly annoying on a temporary basis to damaging of people’s lives on an ongoing basis.

    I wish I knew the answer to changing these public misperceptions, but I’m still having to put out these fires one by one as they come up, trying to educate those who have the wrong idea. I’ve come to the conclusion that probably 99% of the population will not understand me and about 1% will. I don’t know if the ones who don’t are that way because they lack the capacity to see beyond their own nose, or whether they are just too lazy to want to try. Maybe it will take a few more generations before mankind’s thinking is evolved enough to make this a thing of the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so right!! It’s a nearly impossible struggle to convince others indeed! Because they are indeed bound and determined to cling to their misconceptions and assumptions. Ignorance abounds, everywhere. And like you, I’m not sure what it’s going to take to convince them otherwise. We’re among the 1% who understand each other 💞💞💞

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  8. I think the word “dramatic” when used to describe someone’s feelings or reactions is always a judgment and it’s one that people should just remove from their vocabulary, because it doesn’t solve anything, only discounts one’s perceptions and experience and casts a shadow of doubt upon the individual’s credibility.

    I hope one day that those of us who feel strongly about things will no longer be viewed as an abberation, but instead as people with something valuable to bring to the table. Those of us who feel strongly are more apt to be movers and shakers because we have a sense of urgency in getting certain things accomplished that others don’t. We may stay on task for a cause long after others have given up, and in my book that’s a strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Is it really that bad?”

    I’m having to admit (to myself) “yes, it ***really*** is that bad,” in that it describes just how I feel, (no, I do not need gaslighting; if I feel this way, then these are my feelings) and two, paying attention to these ‘feelings of quasi-cosmic dread’ are needed *to adequately prepare myself for real possibilities* – where failure is going to feel like the end of the world – and, in some ways, said feelings have a non-trivial portion of being justifiable. (E.g., “you’ll survive – but you are ***not*** going to like it at all, and the price is going to really hurt for a ***long*** time.”)

    Normdom commonly gets a pass, when – too often – I get no such thing (and it isn’t just me; it’s common for autists of *all* presentations* to be ‘expected to be perfect’/ ‘live life under intense scrutiny’. Hence no slack, and no help, either)

    Normdom tends to do a lot of things adequately ‘on autopilot’. They don’t routinely need to deal with movement disorders (i.e. lifelong clumsiness), sensory overload (like a semi-permanent ‘boozeless hangover’ or migraine; gets worse when sick or sleep deprived) need for an organised environment (so I can find things quickly without frustration) – oh, and feeling as if every third person is a well-hid ‘social predator’ who’s just waiting to get his/her ***bully*** cranked up.

    Too many times I’ve been gaslighted under the moniker of ‘cognitive behavioral therapy’; while some of these people were ignorant, I suspect rather more had bought into Orwell’s statement(s): “Power is in tearing human minds into pieces, and putting them back together in ways of your own choosing,” and “power is in inflicting pain and humiliation.”

    If they can change your thinking, such that you do as they say (unthinkingly) then they control you, and you have become, in part, their slave.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yup, always told I was over reacting, being a drama queen, for as long as I can remember. Especially by one parent, but I now know this was a result of her gaslighting. Others use the phrases when they just dont like how I’m reacting to things, but as you say our reaction is just that, our reaction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally! What’s up with that; why do they do that? Gah lol. I’m so sorry you endured the gaslighting. That is *so* not fair. I wish the people you describe had more empathy! I’m sure they wouldn’t like having their behaviors done to them. Oh how I wish I could turn the tables on a few people! 💙💜

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s as if most of what is done *to* us proceeds from certain presumptions, the chief one of which seems to be that we ‘are not fully human’ – much as if the outcome were predefined and foreordained , and the justification needed to be concocted to support the desired forms of abuse.

    Shades of the holocaust- Binding and Hoche, ‘permission to destroy life unworthy of life’ – a chief resource for Nazis current and historical. But the trouble is that no such studies, et al are needed by Normdom.

    No, Normdom knows ***this*** matter instinctually. It needs no thought for the average Normie to render us as ‘subhuman and defective’ – and himself/herself our great superior – a veritable Nietzschean Übermensch compared to we lowly pismires (in vulgar terms, ***piss-ants***)

    The chief issues are – why does Normdom do this? In what way do our abusers – for this is, indeed, abuse – profit? How do they ascertain the chance of reward? Just what ***are*** these rewards? Are these rewards individual, collective – or both?

    In answering these and related questions, we can get insight into Normdom’s behavior – possibly being able to anticipate it, and then protect ourselves – and, ultimately compell a – hopefully – binding bargain, presuming that is possible. (I currently have my doubts – if the average Normie is instinctually driven into ‘the mouth of Narcissus’ by the presence of vulnerable people, then we may have but two valid choices: avoidance, or subjugation – beating Normdom at its own games, and then destroying the vanquished ‘without mercy, relent, or tears’ – much as if we were indeed dealing with incorrigible demon-ridden psychopathic criminals who scored thirty or more on the PCL-R.

    I currently tend to view ***all*** questionable Normie behavior as if the one committing it were a personality-disordered sadistic criminal; and I explicitly distrust anyone in a position of power over me. If I must assume anything, I assume this person is ‘intoxicated with power’, and they are very possibly thinking and acting as if they had a cluster-b personality disorder, e.g. NPD or ASPD.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re definitely onto something there! Having looked deeply into Cluster B personality disorders, and considering the fact that they’re so grossly under-diagnosed and even less-studied, there is a gross metric shit-ton of Cluster Bs running around out there, wreaking havoc on the populace at large, (I would venture to say) AS peeps the most (because of our generally-spoken tendency to disengage ourselves from head-game-playing and Bullshizz). But that’s just me 😉

      I thoroughly enjoyed your comment! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼💗

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