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Autism: A Better Mistake

It had been several years since I had been to the eye doctor. Even then, the last time I went I got contacts, and wasn’t given my new prescription for glasses. I was due for a new prescription, yet I am on a disability pension (federal, not provincial, which doesn’t have any benefits, and pays much less at that) and have no coverage, so couldn’t bring myself to go.

The last time I went, it was $150 just to see the eye doctor, and that didn’t include the cost of glasses. I can’t afford that.

So I have been putting it off, and putting it off, and meanwhile I have been getting more and more disoriented as I go out. My prescription wasn’t working for me anymore, and I had to do something.

That is when my friend told me about the vision clinic in the mall – there I could either buy glasses from them, and get the prescription free, or buy the prescription from them for $45, and get my glasses somewhere else.

I fully intended, when I went in to that appointment, on either buying the glasses there (ready in a hour – very convenient) or buying the prescription, and getting my glasses at the online store I have been using for years. Fully intended as in those were the only two options I had in my head going in – and I don’t change my thoughts quickly, especially when I am in a situation (such as going to an appointment and talking to some strange person) that causes me anxiety.

It happened just before Christmas, and my husband drove me down to the appointment. At least I didn’t have to deal with that!

She took me in right away, and said she had forgotten the appointment, and had put on some Eucalyptus essential oils or something – and asked if it bothered me. Not at all. I have sensory issues, but I actually like most scented products like that. If she smelled like smoke… or even unscented products (those are some of the worst for me) it would have been a problem, but not the eucalyptus.

Then she started with the vision test.

I might have been in there 5 minutes total, but…

The way vision tests are done is very hard for me. I can’t remember in between the lenses which one is better, and anyway, they pretty much all looked blurry.

I tried. I tried really hard. I even told her I was struggling, and that they all seemed blurry.

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We got to the end of the test, and she showed me the old and new prescriptions. They were both blurry, and I told her that – so she got frustrated and said it was the best she could do, and I should go to a proper eye doctor if I wanted something better. I couldn’t explain my struggle.

She had the prescription on the screen – both the old and the new. I was looking at it as I wondered how to solve the issue – could she try again? I couldn’t afford to go to a proper eye doctor. I stared at the screen as I tried to process this complication – but she sent me out without any options.

When I got home, I decided to order glasses with the new prescription anyway. I felt bad for not paying for that prescription, but she had said that I only had to pay for it if she printed it out for me – she didn’t even give me that option.

My old prescription was still in the system online, and my astigmatism hadn’t changes (she said that while I was in the appointment.) So I put in the new numbers, and ordered the glasses.

Meanwhile all the numbers I had seen were running through my head, and I realized I made a mistake – I put in both numbers for my left eye (old and new) and not the correct one for my right eye. I emailed them right away, and tried to have it corrected – but it was Christmas, and no one got that email.

Just before New Years I got the email saying my new glasses had been shipped – ‘great,’ I wrote back, ‘only I emailed saying I had the wrong prescription and asked to have that changed.’ They got that email, and said it wasn’t a problem, they would make my glasses in the proper prescription and I could send the ‘wrong’ ones back.

And then they came in…

I was just going to send them back unopened, but I wanted to see how bad they felt to wear – this prescription was -0.50 stronger than I was supposed to have for my right eye. I put them on and…

It was the best I have been able to see in years!!!

They were perfect. Comfortable. Didn’t make me dizzy at all. In fact, it was the first time since I started wearing glasses that I didn’t want to take them off. So wonderful!

I wrote again to say I wanted to keep this mistake. It was too late to cancel the proper ones, but they did give me a large discount. Since it was my mistake (and a very happy one at that) my husband and I agreed that I should pay for them.

The ‘proper’ prescription is good for using at my computer, which is pretty close to me. For everything else, I use the mistake glasses.

A better mistake I have never made.

 

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Autism: Confrontations

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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