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Autism: Confrontations

29 Feb

Confrontation.

You see, the trouble is, I am already so, so hard on myself. And if it is something I am doing wrong… chances are really high that I already know it. It isn’t that I am ignoring, or denying my part in it, but that I am working on that evil. I am working on it really hard, but change, for me, isn’t easy. But if I am confronted… you see, I already think of myself as being so much less than other people. So much more of a failure.

Or if I don’t know – it is still most probable that I am uncomfortably searching for whether what I am doing is wrong. I will learn. I will find out. I can be taught. But please don’t confront me on it. Maybe it helps other people – but my conscience already overwhelms me in telling me that so much of what I do is wrong. I am already worried. And that confrontation… it won’t help me to overcome, but it will cause me to hide, and hate myself.

And it is hard, really hard, for me to even participate. It is really, really hard for me to go out into the world and try. So if then, I find myself getting in trouble for my failed attempts – even if it looks really bad to you… and someone has to say something – it is like punishing a toddler for spilling their milk, which they tried so hard to pour carefully…

Maybe that is where my own feelings of unworthiness began… Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. Those childhood years where if children are praised for their attempts to do things for themselves, rather than punished for their mistakes, they will learn that they are capable, and can learn. If not, they spent their lives full of shame and doubt.

me at 7

I am not blaming my parents for this issue. I hardly even remember those early years of my life, and what I do remember doesn’t include being punished for spilling things… but perhaps that lesson didn’t end in those early years.

My hair was very dark as a child. In the first grade, my teacher asked us to stand up according to our hair colour, and when she said, “black,” I stood up. I don’t remember her exact wording, and I am sure it wasn’t cruel – but I do remember the shame of being wrong. I never let go of that shame, and it was college before I willingly gave another answer to a question that the teacher asked… even then, I was terrified of being wrong.

It isn’t just the confrontation itself that hurts, and it doesn’t even have to be said in a cruel way – but I think I am so afraid of getting it wrong, that anytime I am called out on it… well, I never let it go. Those words. That mistake. That failure, suddenly becomes so big in my mind that I relive it – seemingly forever, as there are very few (I don’t remember any) moments such as those that I don’t relive on a regular basis.

In my confusion over getting in trouble for not looking people in the eyes (as well as my tendency to daydream, and not see what I appeared to be looking at) I had a habit for years in my pre-teen/teen years of staring at people. It was so hard to know where to look. I knew I was doing it wrong, but I didn’t know what others were doing that was so different.

It was my grandparents who confronted me on that one – only not directly. Instead, they talked to each other about “people who stare,” while I was in their trailer with them. It didn’t hurt as much that way, but I still hear their voices whenever I am around people, and I still struggle to know where to look. These memories, even when done in the kindest way, remind me of how different I am, and how hard it is for me to fit in.

And then there are the rules of how to behave online (I am still working on what is appropriate out in public!) and I want to follow them. But the more rules there are, and the more details there are to them, the more I struggle I will have in meeting them.

So sometimes… probably frequently… I will get it wrong.

Like that time I copied and pasted someone’s status on Facebook. Lots of times, this is encouraged, and even expected – but that time I got it wrong. He confronted me through a message, and I cried for hours. I didn’t mean to get it wrong, but somehow I did. That was years ago, and I am still afraid every time I post something on Facebook. I don’t get over these things.

And then there was yesterday. I was going through Pinterest, when I saw a post about the rules for using other people’s pictures on our blogs. Apparently I got it wrong again. So I will work on learning. I will work on correcting my mistake. But it takes time for me to learn. In the meantime, I am praying… Please don’t confront me on this. I will get it. Please be patient.

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3 responses to “Autism: Confrontations

  1. kazst

    February 29, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I can relate to this. My whole life has been spent trying to figure out what to do and how to act, but I always get it wrong, and people always notice. Most of my work meltdowns have been triggered by some type of criticism. And I react that way because I am already tiring myself out by trying so hard, and that effort and exhaustion just increases my sensitivity. It is very important to me to do things well and get things right, so I am always trying my absolute best, so when I am criticized, I feel like my best isn’t good enough. Even more frustrating is when I get criticized for one thing, so I work on changing, and then I get criticized for the opposite thing, like first being told I need to learn to stand up for myself, then getting criticized for being too defensive. I just can’t win.

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  2. carly macaulay

    May 27, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    When i see that picture of you as a child, it reminds me of my daughter around the same age, also undiagnosed with Autism, says it all in the depth of your eyes. You have come into this world perfectly in all of who you are, the problem lies not within you, but the idealistic world around you. Who is to say what is right and wrong? Who is to decide what the rules are for our lives anyway? Follow your heart, be brave, don’t apologise for who you are, or your misgivings.
    Blessings Carly

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