My admittedly trepidatious foray into the realms of the 50+ Aspergers support group last night went extremely well. Remarkable. And I enjoyed it so very, very much! There was a nice structure to the evening, and all of it was very clearly laid out, as well as pretty well adhered-to. I could see why some of the rules were in place. Not everyone followed them, and when that happened, things fell apart for a little bit at a time.
It was actually a huge relief to be in a room with a bunch of other Aspies in my age group, who had all been through the same things I had — and still are in the thick of it. Things that people talked about, sounded so, so familiar to me. Nope, I was not — am not — alone in this. There are other people who know just what it’s like.
And there were several other women there. All of them self-diagnosed. Which is to be expected.
I’m still letting it sink in. And I fully expect to be back again — as well as get involved with more activities like that. For all my initial reservations about these groups, they’re each turning out to be like an oasis in the vast desert of neurotypicality I inhabit each day.
Best of all, when I got home, my partner was open to hearing about my evening. She actually wanted to learn about it, and for probably the first time, ever, I was able to discuss my personal experiences with her, without the onslaught of anxiety and her trying to convince me (and herself) that I’m not an Aspie, much less on the autistic spectrum. We even reached a point where we both concurred that Asperger’s is much more of a difference, than it is a disability. I didn’t get into my feelings about how disabling it can be — and the world around me can be. That’s another discussion for another day. It was too big to get into last night when my bedtime was approaching.
So, that’s an immense relief. And when I lay down to sleep, I could actually relax. I slept for 8 continuous hours. I didn’t even wake up overnight as I usually do. I slept right through – at least, I think I did. If I didn’t, I have no recollection of waking up. And that’s the next best thing.
I feel like a huge weight has lifted off me. It’s tough, sharing your life with someone who’s afraid of the very thing that makes you who you are. But I’ve managed, all these years. And while it hasn’t always been easy, and there have been challenges, I’ve actually gained a lot through finding ways to live with the one person I love with all my heart that emphasize my strengths, manage my limitations, and focus on my positive qualities outside of diagnoses or labels.
Diagnoses and labels can be very useful as conceptual containers, to better understand and communicate. But they can get in the way — especially with Asperger’s and Autism, which are still terra incognita for so many, and come laced with so much anxiety and ignorance for so many.
We’ve steered away from that proverbial territory for decades. And now it’s no longer necessary to do that. I think maybe we’re both tired of keeping up appearances and doing the mental gymnastics of talking about A Thing without talking about The Thing.
There’s some benefit to getting older and being more judicious with one’s energy.
And there’s also a benefit to me having a much clearer view of how and why I’m a total Aspie, compared to how I was back in 2008. It’s significantly different. It’s just who and how I am, and my partner’s been living with me long enough, seeing the traits and qualities I simply have — and have learned how to manage — that I think it may be a relief for her to know there’s a name for what’s up with me.
Putting the Asperger’s word to it now… it’s a lot less scary. It even makes a lot of sense.
So, there we have it.
And now that these couple of hurdles are crossed, I can turn my attention back to my writing about my sensory experiences. Because apparently there’s a dearth of self-reported sensory issues in the Autism Spectrum literature.
Let’s see what I can do about that.