‘We’ and ‘us’ vs ‘I’ and ‘me’

When I first realized that I’m on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, it became paramount to find out more about autism as it relates to females, and those of adult age at that. 

I already knew what the Powers That Be wanted me to know about autism.  I knew what the charity organizations were touting.  Their “awareness” campaign worked, for their purposes.  The images of the most “severe cases” were etched into my mind. 

In discovering my own autistic nature, I suddenly realized that there was more to learn about autism.  Autism definitely includes little white boys ages 2-6, but obviously it doesn’t include only those little boys.  There are little girls, too.  And big boys and big girls.  And all genders of all ethnic backgrounds.  With all kinds of trait combinations.  Autism is indeed a spectrum.  To me, it’s also a vast sea that extends out beyond a horizon.

During this process of self-discovering and soul-searching, it also became paramount to find others like me.  To see what they had to say.  To see what we had in common.  To see if we had similar thoughts, feelings, outlooks on life.  To reassure me in what was otherwise a very unsure time and place.

Not only was I never disappointed, but the blogosphere must have sensed my pent-up need to belong, somewhere, anywhere, as long as it was correct.  Only the right place, the right vocabulary, the right descriptions would do.  Anything else was pointless, of course.  I found a home I had no idea I was homesick for.  I found a place I had no idea I’d been searching for.  And it was indeed like coming home.

Obviously, as with any family, one can’t choose all of the relatives, and no family, tribe, network, whatever you want to call it, is perfect.

But for the first time, I didn’t feel like I was standing on an island, howling into the wind.  I felt like I had an army standing beside me.  The ones who say, “me too!”  The ones who nod, eyes brimming with tears of healing and relief.  I know; I felt it too.  And I still do.

I’ve said before something about how reading blogs written by autistic people was like reaching a Holy Grail, receiving a Book of Secrets, the keys that unlocked my brain and indeed, my life.

Finally, no longer marooned on some distant and remote island, I could finally use terms that I never could before.   Terms like “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me”.  Plural forms carry so much more strength than singular forms.  A single person has to answer for themselves.  I’ve done that all my life.  I’m no stranger to it, but I’m also tired of doing it.  

I needed a break.  

Looking around while growing up, everybody else got to use those words, because they weren’t the only ones saying or doing what they did.  They always had company; they were never alone.

I always had been.

When I use those terms in writing, it’s not like I’m trying to speak for others or put words in mouths, especially where they don’t belong.  I’m not an authority of any kind.  I’m not a self-appointed guru.   Hell, I’m not even a guru.  I’m just a new kid on the block with a penchant for overcoming a learning curve.  

It didn’t take much, of course; learning the words to life’s songs you know takes a lot less time than absorbing the concepts behind superficially-familiar vocabulary words.  The learning curve flattened pretty early on.  Because I already knew; the vocabulary just gave me a more succinct way of expressing it, without all the fumbling I spent so much time struggling with before.

“We” and “us” had (and still have) nice rings to them.  By cloaking myself among masses, even if those masses are a smaller subset of the massive masses, there’s strength in numbers, a collective muscle.

But not all are on board the love-train.  I don’t begrudge them that.  Far be it from me to tell anyone else what to do or think.  I’m one voice, one example.  And if you’ve met one Aspie/autistic person, well, then, you’ve only met one.  I’ve said this from the beginning, and it bears repeating now.

It’s not self-responsibility I’m trying to shirk when I use a plural form; it’s solidarity I’m trying to find, it’s a lack of other-ness I’m trying to attain.  It has nothing to do with speaking over anyone, taking advantage of anyone, out-shouting anyone, or one-upping anyone.

With 500+ posts under my keyboard, that should be obvious right about now.  (It’s probably also obvious that I have–or make–too much spare time lol.)

For the ones who read closely, the casual use of “we” and “us” in my writing is almost always followed by words like “tend to” or “usually”.  This is a big belfry tower ringing a bell that says “(but not all/always!)”  

In so speaking this way, I’m drawing on that learning process I mentioned, in which I’m referring to the documented diagnostic criteria, or firsthand words uttered on social media, or perhaps the firsthand blog posts that I’ve come across.  I confess that I haven’t read every one of them, but I’ve read enough to be able to form a few patterns and generate a few generalizations.  There will always be outliers.  I don’t ostracize anyone for being one.  I only speak based on what is factually known and what I’ve experienced.  I won’t deny or dismiss another’s differing experience; and I hope that no would deny or dismiss mine.

The title of this post is actually sort of a misnomer.  There’s not a whole lot of “vs” between “we” and “us”, and “I” and “me”.  You’re a part of me and I’m a part of you.  We run the same basic operating system, even if the version or its apps are different.  We’re part of the same community–at least, whoever chooses to be.  That’s just how I see it.  It’s OK if someone sees it differently; that’s part of the spectrum-ness in Autism Spectrum.  And to zoom out on the landscape is to realize that humanity itself is composed of many spectra.  If something as mundane and globally truthful as snowflakes and human fingerprints can be completely unique, why not brain wiring?

And there will always be discovery.  New plants, new planets, new truths, and…new selves.  New members of the Asperger’s/autism spectrum.  New realities and new code-keys.

Whether I use the single or plural form of the first person perspective doesn’t really matter; it doesn’t change each individual truth, each individual situation, each individual reality.  It just takes the weakness that I had only ever known and replaces it with a position of strength, community, and connectedness I’d never had.  

And the comments pour in (read with such gratitude I could burst!), reinforcing the idea that I’m not alone.  Lovingly adding to the chorus of “we” and “us”, showing each other that We were onto something all along. ๐Ÿ™‚

โค

โค

โค

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41 Comments

  1. the plural is to we
    as the city is to the see
    you and i
    are not
    and i to my shame
    took your words away
    cos i wanted some part
    of you your laugh your smile
    so i am alone
    with one son disowned
    cos i can no longer abide or ride with him
    the other
    is mean
    and i find
    fuck him
    and i will
    find solace
    in the long and winding
    words i leave
    here
    peace
    laina!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Omg thank you!! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’–. I promise I will go back over each and every post, try to locate the artist/source, and link to it. I’m thinking it would be a great weekend project ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ’Ÿ๐Ÿ’Ÿ

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      1. That would be amazing! The heart picture in this post is something I would like painted on the wall in our future bedroom. It could be a project for me and my partner. I hope she has drawing ability because I don’t, I can help paint it though!! โคโค๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™

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  2. I’m glad you’ve gotten to this point of being able to freely use those terms. Unfortunately I have not. I still don’t feel “accepted” by the autistic blogging community at large because my perspective and experience is so radically different from the majority.

    I’ll never question or downplay anyone else’s experiences and I wish the community wouldn’t question mine. Given how my life has panned out it would have been easier had I had a cure available to me (and to some extent this is still true). Just because I’d rather not be autistic myself doesn’t mean I think everyone else on the spectrum should feel that way.

    So where has this led me? To still be using singular pronouns. I’m caught in limbo, probably never to be largely accepted by either group. I came into this world alone and that’s probably how I’ll wind up leaving it.

    Oh well. What can you do?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I totally agree, bro ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. Everyone is entitled to feel and think the way they do, especially about their own situation, for any reason ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’“

      Of course, all of us are alone in that we’re the only ones who have been through our unique combinations of experiences. And I don’t think any of us is *truly* alone ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŒบ. Yet, it seems that some are indeed more prone to loneliness than others, and with greater frequency and intensity than others. I think that, too, is sort of a spectrum, in a way. I definitely feel you; I have felt very lonely, and intensely so, fairly often ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™

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  3. What resonates the most for me here is how you came to and described being a we/us. I never really thought about that. I too now have people “in my court” in this online blogging community who share similar experiences, feelings, fears and shame. I am a “we/us.” I feel comforted by that.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t use “we” because neither do I want to speak for anyone nor do I feel the need to belong to some group. But I appreciate alternative viewpoints and thanks for explaining it. I think “we” can agree on that ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I enjoyed this post. I only “know what I know” from courses etc. But what really interests me in your post is that strength in the plural. That’s precisely what I find in my blogging. Knowing that I am only “Exhibit A” but that there are plenty of others with a similar experience who can nod, smile, cry and say “me too”. Yes. Much better than howling at the wind and not even hearing so much as an echo of one’s voice !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I’m so happy you enjoyed ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š. I love your term “Exhibit A”; that’s awesome!

      Yep, you nailed it – you understand ๐Ÿ˜Š. Thank you for that ๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž

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