Salut, ami! A head’s up, I’m going to be writing a paper on the pro’s and con’s of conforming, so if anyone has any suggestions for it, I’m all ears. Not literally, however, because that would be gross and weird and I’d probably be in some government lab somewhere being tested on if I was. I just mean that I’m interested in your comments and concerns regarding that particular subject. However, in today’s random rant that’s really not that random, I’m going to talk about what it feels like to be different.
As an autistic individual, a person with the autismo, as The Sarcastic Autist, I’ve always known that I was different than the other kids. I preferred to play by myself or read a book. I hated field trips because school was for learning, not games. And there was just something fundamentally wrong with me. At the time, I wasn’t diagnosed with Autism, I was diagnosed with depression and Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which is like Autism, but not really. Not that having a proper label would have been real helpful, seeing as the other kids would torment me regardless of any adult’s intervention. Hell, I couldn’t even tell I was being bullied. I thought that was just what kids did; be complete jack-asses to each other.
My best friend was my brother, growing up. He was always able to describe and explain things to me in a way that made sense. He’d help me with maths and I’d help him with English. I knew I was different than my brother. He got really good grades and he had lots of friends that he hung out with outside of school. I always looked up to my big brother. I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have any friends that wanted to hang out with me outside of school. I thought maybe it was because I was too smart, so I stopped answering the teacher. When that didn’t work, I stopped reading during lunch and class. I still had no friends but was bored on top of it. I’d put my head down on the desk in class instead of paying attention. I wanted to be invisible.
I went to a small elementary school with only one class for each grade level. In the third grade, I had won a school-wide writing contest for a short story I had written. I was so excited to win this cute little stuffed puppy. It was white and red and I named it Rose. Everyone clapped politely when the story was read out loud, but no one cheered for me like they cheered for the runners up, not even my brother. I didn’t understand why no one celebrated like they did the other kids until my teacher, Mrs. 3rd Grade Teacher, said it was because they probably didn’t understand some of the words. I was already reading at a post-secondary level.
I had a lot of behavior problems. If I didn’t understand something or if something was too loud or the routine was interrupted, I would have melt downs. I ended up being sent to a special school for kids with behavioral problems and got worse because I was so bored and no two days were the same. And I was labelled as being so different than ‘normal’ kids that they wanted to lock me up with all the other ‘special’ kids. I was 10 and I was severely depressed.
Depression causes a sort of dissociative state in me and those couple of years I spent at that special school are largely ignored in my mind. I haven’t been able to process it and I hate when I remember anything from it. I hate analog clocks because of it though. So there’s that.
My parents split up when I was 12 and my brother, mother, and I had to go live with my aunt and uncle and their 5 kids. I hated living there. I had to share a room with 2 other people, I had no time to cope, no therapy to help me deal with the sudden upheavel from my childhood home and my 2 dogs. And I was labelled ‘different’ in my own home. It wasn’t much of a home, because you shouldn’t feel like an outcast in your home. I guess I would just call it that place I had to reside at for a few years.
If little kids are jack-asses, then middle school students must be employed in the first level of hell. I was teased and bullied for being weird again. I, in my infinite trusting nature, would constantly get in trouble for doing things other students told me to do. I thought that if I did what they wanted, they’d let me be their friend.
We moved yet again, the entire household of 10, to a new house in a new town near the end of my 8th grade year. This was the first time I made any real friends. At this time, I had been rubbing an eraser against my skin and occasionally scratching myself. I had started pulling out my hair. I experienced a lot of anxiety when I had to go to school in the years prior, but moving to this new place was argueably the best thing to ever happen to young me. I met my friends Midget Goth, Wanna-Be, and their pack leader, Two-Face. Midget Goth tried to help me fit in and Wanna-Be made me into her Barbie doll. But I was happy and had friends for the first time. They taught me it was okay to be different. Two-Face ended up not being a very good friend and would constantly trash-talk me for my social retardation. (I didn’t realize this until college, though. My own personal brand of the Autism makes it next to impossible for me to recognize it when people have malicious intent.)
In the 10th grade, my brother, mother and I got our own place outside of my aunt and uncle’s. I didn’t mind being home again because I was no longer the strange difficult child. I was just my brother’s little sister. But my brother was different. He never wanted to hang out with me. My mother ignored me. All I had were my friends, but they never wanted me to talk about what was wrong. I didn’t know why, I still don’t understand why except it’s not socially acceptable or some bullshit reason.
Looking back on it now, I can see that, while my brother hit puberty and grew in maturity, I have pretty much stayed the same mentally. In the here and now, knowing that I still act like I’m in high school, I can see how Autism is a developmental disability. I’m pretty much stuck at the age of 17. To be completely honest, I’m using that as the oldest I act. I’m not even really interested in sex. Masturbation, sure, why not. I think masturbation is perfectly healthy and normal. But being touched by boys felt weird and gross and foreign. Being touched by girls felt a lot better and boobs are amazing. Everyone loves boobs. I’m just not interested in sexual relations yet, I guess.
Being different now, as an adult, I can’t always pinpoint how I’m different. I just have this innate knowledge that I am. It’s a feeling of being alone, of being an alien amongst earthlings and such. I know that there’s something wrong with me because if there wasn’t, I’d be able to make friends and be normal and fit in. I just don’t understand why or how I’m different.
A lot of times, I wish I wasn’t different. I wish I could go to a 9-5 job and have 2.5 kids and a picket fence. I wish social interactions weren’t so confusing and hard. I wish I wasn’t so childlike and trusting and innocent seeming so I could stop being victimized by abusive people. I wish I wasn’t so confused by how different I am so I could have friends and go to parties and clubs and do all the things non-autistic people do.
Sometimes the loneliness my differentness causes me, makes me wish I wasn’t me. Sometimes, I wish I could cease to exist and disappear. Sometimes, I wish I just wasn’t.
Mostly though, I wish others could accept me with all my differentness and that maybe I could experience that unconditional love from someone other than my cat.
-The Sarcastic Autist