Oh no! It has just occured to me I’m nondescript.

I have a fear of dying and not leaving a legacy. Not fame or riches, but something I have contributed to making the world a better place. So far, I have contributed zilch. Other than my boys, zilch. Not a thing.

At high school, I was considered the one to go far career wise. At uni, I was the one expected to become a pseudo-French feminist, taking on the most complex minds in academia. Sorry, everyone. I failed.

I look around and marvel that I made it to middle age. I had not bet on that happening. I also am amazed I have two fabulous young men. My boys are my world. But then, I have equal parts of me absolutely devastated I have NO signifier of success. At all. An incomplete PhD, an incomplete MEd, no published works, no creativity, no friendships, no anything. It is almost like my life is barely registered as having taken place. Behind me are burned bridges and my funeral will be devoid of mourners.

Everytime I read about gifted autistics, brilliant Aspies conquering the world, I feel my soul sink a little more. Each year that passes, I am consciously aware of each wasted moment I’ve had.

The truth is, I am boring and completely average. I was told I was smart as a child. I was told I was intellectually sharp at uni. But I was also told many more things less savoury about myself. The crux of it is, I have no talent, skill, passion or ability that will leave a mark, my mark.

I am learning I am not particularly smart. I am not intellectually sharp. I may have been, but I dropped my identity being contingent upon these two aspects of myself. While I’be been freed from having to be master of obscure cultural theory, I’ve been exploring what life has on offer. Not much for a woman like me.

Oh, to have a talent! Oh, to make a mark!!

How I differentiate people.

Laina of The Silent Wave wrote a great piece on feelings of fondness of people. She explored how she positions people according to her feelings for them, and how her way differs from NT understandings of friendship and closeness.

I want to bounce off this and work through how I differentiate people in my mind. It is pretty simple. A person is either safe for me and my children to be around, or not. That is it. I don’t care if you have purple skin, follow a Mormon’s lifestyle, like to dress in pink frills, have not a cent to your name or cut your toe nails at the kitchen table (though that’s pushing me…!). As long as you do not hurt or take advantage of humans or animals, you are welcome.

I have always had a diverse friend base. I have only two friends now, both of whom live far away. But even so, I have no qualms speaking with anyone or inviting people into my life. As a result of my wide acceptance of folk, I’ve known some unique characters. I think that has enriched my life in many ways. The problem has always been having everyone in one room for celebrations. They just don’t seem to mix.

Other than my two oldest friends, I am not particularly close to anyone. It really does not bother me, generally, to never catch up with anyone. No one has bothered to want to be friends, and though I do feel pangs of existential loneliness, I am not perterbed by a lack of company.

I am not sure if that comes of getting older and more care worn, burned by past episodes or the effort of making new friends seems to be too great. I have my boys and they are all the company I need…for now. At any rate, I think part of it is accepting no one wants to befriend me.

I don’t see people as like/dislike. You are all somewhat the same. As long as you do not harm me or my boys, I am a friend. I cannot fathom how others can not accept people due to quite unnecessary differentiators. I have probably had a very large one sided friend list all my life! All these people I consider a friend because I have met them and they seem safe, yet they may not even know my name, let alone consider me an aquaintance!!

One warning, though. Lie to me to elicit a desired response from me, or hurt us deliberately – you are gone. Support me and see the beauty in everyone, and you have me for life. I am fiercely loyal as a friend.

An ‘appropriate’ companion.

I have this idea, that I should have allocated an ‘appropriate’ companion. Like the blind have seeing eye dogs, I’d love a pal who can read life and people for me. And help me find an appropriate way to be.

I feel like I’m a wayward grouch lately. I am too tired to put on my public face and too tired to feign politeness/responses/etc in an appropriate manner. I’d find using an autism ID card a bit pretentious, so a companion can speak for me, explaining why I am a social gumby. It would be great!

I really fouled up this entire weekend with my behaviour and moods. It took me three whole days to decompress the wound up soul within.

Yeah, nah. Maybe not. Then I’d have to interact with my companion. Just no way.

The diagnosis story.

First, let me assure you I shall finish my employment tales one day soon. I really need to be in the mood. The emotions it raises….yikes.

Ahhh, yes; my diagnosis. My boys are quirky, but H is eccentric and intellectually gifted. D is more classic autism in his presentation and as equally, but differently, gifted as H. They are chalk and cheese who meld together so beautifully. It is through them being flagged by teachers that I came to see me.

Since I was 16, I’ve been professional hopping, trying to find someone who might explain my rainbow coloured fleece. Having no mirror, I could not understand why all the sheeple would exile me and hurl metaphoric sticks at me. I baa at the right times, I follow the herd and I eat grass. What is the issue?!

I didn’t know it isn’t sheeple to go off on one’s own for adventures, act as though rainbow fleece is desirable, shield other maligned sheeple from hurled objects, or baa in different accents.

My boys are not sheeple. D tries to be, and has recently realised he is never going to be alpha sheeple of the herd. H has never bothered. I am trying to get the boys to revel in their uniqueness and embrace it as the B-boys of the East Coast hip hop scene did in the late 70s. But I had to acknowledge that the rest of the world was experiencing problems encountering my boys. And me.

I had a weird flash of an idea while in Bali last year. Autism, Asperger’s. I looked it up on Google and was surprised I obviously knew NOTHING beyond the so-called classic autism in non-verbal children; yeah, ok….boys. *shame face* Everything I read explained my boys, and if mini me H is a spectrumite….weeeell, it meant I am too. I looked up women, Asperger’s and adult. Whoa be still my brain!! I opened up a whole new world.

One of the first resources was Samantha Craft, which then lead to Tania Marshall and to Rudy Simone. It wasn’t until I found Tony Attwood that I became certain I am an ASDer too.

In my desperation to have myself FINALLY legitimised, I looked up diagnosis for females and found a service in the city. It seemed to have good reviews. I emailed them and received an apointment soon after. I delayed it, because I was fearful I was wrong about myself. I learned about masking and the nervous breakdown/mask falling off link, which made me feel better about progressing with a formal diagnosis.

I was asked to fill in some questionnaires and email them back. At the appointment (which was 2 hrs long), I was asked to elaborate on a stack of never ending questions. I took tangents, I free flowed….all in sheer relief I had someone in front of me who knew what planet I live on. It was exhausting, but I did it. I felt ill afterwards. What if I presented as a normal, faking woman??!

I suspect the questions were relevant; if not ering on the side of male presentation of autism, yet  HOW I responded gave three times as many clues. I was just myself, albeit nervous, nauseous and on edge a bit, and answered without trying to impress or cover over the ugly truth of who I am.

I came back the week after to be informed that I do have level 1 autism, as defined by the DSM-V. She said it was a clear cut case and I didn’t need input from my mum or others. She did note, however, my parenting of my boys and my descriptions of them really provided a lot of valuable information!!

It never occurred to me I might present as different to the world, in the same way I pick up on young women being deep, introspective, sensitive souls who bravely try to airbrush (clumsily) their differences away. My unkempt hair, fastidiously tomboyish but neat clothing, my sitting stance, my vacant-away-with-the-fairies stare…all this probably speaks volumes. I just don’t hear the music. People are surprised I am 43 yo. My greying hair gives it away, but my voice sounds young, I act immature (don’t say a word…), I dress like an introspective tomboy and I move like a teen. All this says something to the trained eye. I really could not have fooled the psych. She is NT and would see through my fakeness.

A piece of paper arrived a week later. It said I present as intelligent, have autism level 1 and any further reports can be requested. I am still in shock that others have had to go through much more for a diagnosis. Paet of me is pissed that I didn’t do fake NTing to my perfectionist level! All that effort and I didn’t pass?! Still, I am also pleased I know why I am not the usual cup of tea. In a world of English Breakfasts, I am a jasmine-lavender-rose-labdanum-carnation-clove tea. Take me how you like. I’m not too fussed.

I paid around AUD 800 for my two sessions, with no report.

H’s diagnosis a month later was very different. He went to an ASD specialist clinic. I provided my own list of reasons why teachers and I felt he has autism, I filled out two questionnaires at the clinic and I had an hour session straight after H had his. The psych knew within two minutes that H is a high functioning autistic (his words). H has a very strong personality with free flowing quirks that make him seem like a 4yo boy. Yet his IQ is up there *pointing upwards*. He has had his IQ tested three times already and it is very clear he is bright. H was diagnosed on the spot and a detailed 20 pg report arrived a month later.

I went ahead with a formal diagnosis to ease my mind. H got his diagnosis to prove to his school he isn’t willfully being a pain to some of the teachers. It is not US who need a diagnosis. It has always been others having a problem with us. We’ve had to pay for self portraits to be done to explain why we are so metaphorically ugly to the world. Putting the portraits next to others for comparison, it is clear that we are rainbow sheeple. Except H has sparkles in his fleece too. Poor D is yet to be diagnosed, but he is desperate to know why he is not alpha male worthy. He senses he has a fine set of ram’s horns, but he doesn’t yet know those horns have clown’s noses on the end. It is going to hurt him to discover this.

D is seeing the same man H saw. Wish us luck.

Dear Sharyn

My dear, sweet, sparkly Sharyn,

In all those years ago when I spent time in your company, I’d watch how you interact with your world. You had an aura of purity, joy and kindness around you. Everyone who met you or interacted with you came away feeling like a better person. I marvelled at how you twinkled under any set of circumstamces.

I admit I felt envy. I wanted just ONE person at some point in my life to feel about me for one minute the way they felt about you. I was never begrudging of your personality and the goodness it brings, but wondering how I should go about capturing it and copying. I have never been able to be like you. I tried.

I now watch from my trench at your marvellous career, beautiful and healthy family, and your success in all the other realms of your life. I wanted all this too. It hasn’t happened. I cannot stay sad at that. I am so very happy you have a beautiful life. You really do.

I don’t deny that I wish I had one thing you could see as being magnificent about me. But you are not the sort to think this way. You are not autistic. I am. And in that, we will forever be divided; however much I wish I could be your mate. You’d never understand me. I’d always be in your shadow.

It is ok. It truly is. You keep on sparkling, beautiful Sharyn. I release you from the burden of my envy and desire to be just like you. How can I keep you from shining in the universe??!

When we next meet I hope I’m able to stand as my own light, two of us twinkling.

Always your friend,

K

The big dark cloud.

I felt the presence of this enormous cloud all this week. It is work related. It has culminated in me wondering why I am doing this job. With it comes a huge burden of responsibility that I am probably not cut out for.

Part of it is work’s fault. I have been begging for help to get my skills up and I have been working alone for 18 mths. I have been struggling to get my voice heard, let alone my needs met.

Part of it is me. My autism looking at it all through my very hazy filter and not understanding things that are obvious to others. I need feedback, clear instructions and I do not read between the lines. Some mistakes have been made lately and I am left feeling ill that it is all put back on me. It is always the autism’s fault.

I don’t see where I go wrong through life. I don’t get why I am blamed. I don’t understand why people get annoyed and angry with me. I genuinely do not. It is confusing, disheartening and enough to make me walk away. Were it not for my boys, I’d be saying good bye.

I want the hurt to go away. I want the dark cloud to visit someone else. I want to be like everyone else. I am tired of being a scape goat. I am tired of the dark cloud. I just want it all to stop.

I’m at a very low point…again. I get tired of these moments. I am sick of the internal quicksand. I am so very tired. I need sunshine. Especially internal.

So sorry for the decline into my internal abyss. I wish I could explain it better; be articulate like others. But I can’t. I’m a mess. That is all.

Misery guts.

I’m not terribly positive lately, nor am I able to see the sunshine behind my self imposed clouds. My posts have been quite angry or gloomy. You are right to glean a disgruntled old lady; for that is how I am feeling.

I am struggling with making sense of myself and my environment. I lack the ability to know where I am doing well and where I need improvement. I need down time to potter and ponder, and naturally, I am not getting it  this down time helps me process everything. Without it, I get ridiculously tired, and with that, I become jaded, cloudy minded and all my radars go into melt down. Or limp mode; a term used by some vehicle manufacturers.

I have no idea how I am doing at work. We only ever get into trouble. There is no positive, constructive feedback or praise. I don’t need the praise, but I need to know where I am going right. Without a light to guide me, I often end up on the jagged rocks of my mind. And that is an expensive exercise in damage control.

There is the interaction with other humans issue. I am freaking lonely, but I am too tired to invest in anyone. Because I am such a misery guts, no one seeks out my company. If I seek out people, they quickly make an exit. I find myself boring, empty and devoid of animation. I am keeping a tight rein on my emotions, conversation and rules of being in company, but it isn’t working.

Some days, it is too much. I want to pull my hair out, scream from a cliff or be called back home (‘Home’ is where my soul loves to be. I am not sure why I was even born. It was never my idea to leave home. I have no fear of anything after the actual moment of death. I know the place I will go to is the right place for me.) But, I trudge on, waiting for the day something shifts in me and the day is no longer a bland, grey, drawn out bore.

I remember I was asked to make a list of what I do each day, and I was to give it a minus or positive score, based on how it made me feel. So, I begin the day at 100 and work takes 80 out of me. Gym takes at least 20. Already at zero. My boys give me 30, but cooking and cleaning for them takes 20. My bath gives me 10 and my perfumes give me 20. My mother takes 20 from me. That gives me a score of 20. No wonder I am mentally exhausted. I used to be in the red for so many years. I’m not sure how I did it.

I so wanted to leave the world with something to make it better. I have not done that. I have to consider I may leave having never made any difference at all. That depresses me enormously.

It is time I find a psych. I cannot continue so disheartened like this. I have lost my joy, my appreciation, my gratitude. It is just so bloody sad I have to pay a stranger for things others have friends and family for.