… and it’s several days since my return. I’m still feeling shaky from two meltdowns afterwards, in two consecutive days. Still feeling sick to my stomach, still feeling fragile, still easily pushed past the verge of tears over stuff that’s really nothing – or would normally not bother me at all.
I hate it when things get like this, and thankfully things haven’t been this bad in many years. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember this happening in recent memory. Well, I guess it’s par for the course, when you put someone in my situation into circumstances like the ones I was in for four days running, without realistically assessing how demanding it would be.
It’s been a long time since things got that bad. So, I’m out of practice.
I guess there is some good to be gotten from this – namely, that I’m forced to look at my limitations much more closely than I have in a long time. Only by pushing my limits, can I get a clear sense of where they are and how they affect me. Normally, in my well-managed life, I’m not exposed to the kinds of frenetic activity and high social demands, combined with dietary changes, schedule changes, and alterations to just about every aspect of my daily life that I count on for stability. I’ve worked hard to make it that way, and I can see (in comparison to how things were last week) that it has really been to my benefit over the past years.
On the other hand, it has definitely made it harder for me to adapt to these kind of conditions, which makes me wonder whether this current state of mind and body is a result of me just being deconditioned from constant change, or it’s me becoming more autistic over time. I’ve said a number of times, and I’ve also heard a number of other people say, that autistic traits can become more prominent as we age. I think the reasons for that are manifold – we have less interest in masking, aging erodes our resilience, we become more sensitive to things, we are less quick to respond to emerging conditions around us, and we also get used to having things a certain way. Those are just a few reasons I can think of. I imagine there are more.
In my case, I think it’s all of the above. And while I do wonder if that isn’t compromising my ability to just deal with things as they come, I have to say that it shows how much more considerate I am of myself than I used to be. I used to just push and push and push myself, no matter what, disregarding the pain I was in, disregarding the distress I was putting myself through, treating it all like some sort of cognitive behavioral Boot Camp that I was sure would refine me into a more acceptable sort of character. I’ve literally described situations like the past week as “character building” more times than I can count, and I supposed to some extent, it’s true. But more than that, it’s instructive.
It shows me that I really can’t fool around with his autism business. It’s serious, it has an impact, and it can severely compromise me if I don’t manage it properly. It is disabling, when I don’t handle it well. That’s not to say that I consider myself disabled – at least not permanently.
But I am compromised. I am impaired. And that’s because I did not get the accommodation I needed when it was most critical. I did not get consideration. I did not get patience. I did not get any of the things I really need just to get by under challenging circumstances. Instead, I got swept up in the neurotypical assumptions about what I should be capable of, that I should have no problem with doing, as well being embroiled in everybody else’s idea of A Good Time.
Note to self and the world – other people’s idea of fun does not match mine. And my idea of fun is pretty much unrecognizable to others.
So, there we have it. I’m still in a diminished state, still pissed off over the whole experience, still struggling to keep it together and present some semblance of reliable stability to the people who pay me to be reliable and stable. I know more about myself now than I did this time last week, I have more information, more data, more inputs to assimilate into my understanding of who I am and how I work. And one of the big data points is a hearty distaste for anything and everything that isn’t 100% in agreement with me.
As much as I do believe in meeting people halfway, I also believe in taking care of myself. More now than ever. And taking care of myself pretty much means extracting myself in practice from the ways of the neurotypical world, and making my own way in my own autistic sphere. The difference between how things are when I am halfway in their world, and halfway in mine, and how I am when I am 100% in my world, as dramatic.
The difference is like night and day.
And I’m just so tired of not having that hundred percent. I’m just so tired of accommodating everybody else except myself. I’m just so tired of having to expend the effort – and for what? A paycheck, sure. I’ll make concessions for that. But as for my family life and my personal life, in that I need to be 100% true to myself.
Everybody else is free to do as I wish. All I ask is that I give myself that same consideration.
And so I shall.