By Kat, published with permission. Original blog posted here in 2015
I don’t know where to begin this story. I’ve lived in this narrative for the last 2 years. And yet I wonder if you’re missing pieces. In the assumptions you make as I walk through the door. Why now, you might ask. How could you know? Can anyone really be objective about themselves.
I’m afraid of being explained away. That in the telling, you’ll miss pieces – getting distracted by these blatant anxieties. The inadvertent monologues. The forgetting why I’m here. The doubting myself.
I sit across from you feeling terribly complicated. Why did you wait so long? Well, let me tell you about the circuitous route I took:
Across the street from an autism support program – relating and not knowing why. Finding bass and nearby conversation overly distracting. Learning to repeat and rephrase, wondering if I was the only one who had to do that. Slowing down again. Getting distracted. Speaking too loudly.
I took up too much space.
Do you ever wonder if you’re on the spectrum? She asked. I don’t remember answering. Just processing on my own – writing, poeming, sorting through thoughts.
Learning to be who I’ve always been – declaring an identity that remains uncertain. I’ve grown familiar with the befuddlement of others that follows accepting my weird. Acknowledging the things I’m bad at. Trying not to worry about others’ perceptions of me. Feeling judged, shamed – trying not to care; knowing I will.
So here I am – what do you think of me? Do I want to know? Just another overly anxious 20-something who’s arrived in your office. Just learn to be less concerned. That’s your job, right? Talking through and lessening.
But what if I want more? What if I want validation. Space to be who I am. Help in having these tense dialogues of gifts and limitations. In the space between can’t and won’t. Wondering if I’m just not trying hard enough.
Social disability is tricky – slows these sorts of conversations – as I learn to doubt myself. Wondering if the realities in my head – that world – exists at all. And yet the experience is real, but that feels conciliatory. Real to you – emotionally valid, but not in this objective space – as if that place existed.
We have imagined objectivity – constructing a linear narrative, we forget all the conflicting details. It’s easy to get lost there – not knowing where there is. Missing pieces, I wonder? But which ones? Neither one of us is objective – why can’t we just live in literary truth, created fictions – remaining in the narrative I’ve created, maybe found, when it’s not outside of me.
I tell you what I think is true – my version, experience of it, when there is no out there. There is only in here, between my words. You don’t have to believe me. But I wish you did. Will you? Sit with me in this?
I hand you a laundry list of difference, present a series of diagrams. Must I pretend this is outside of me? I am the expert on my own life. Not you. But I need help over these series of sessions. I have learned to repair myself. I grow weary of explanations; I wish we could start in the middle.
I keep talking. You keep listening, nodding, noting as needed. And the hour continues…