I’m home again. Yay. My cat gave me the warmest greeting, and then seemingly remembered that she’s pissed at me, and has been snubbing me ever since. It’s so adorable. Unfortunately, my levels were too high to safely do the surgery today, so they postponed it. I wasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, I can’t help that I’ve had a huge grin on my face since the moment I was told of my test results. I’m the queen of telegraphing my emotions. It’s not a good thing. At least it wasn’t in the Army. Learning how to deadpan while laughing on the inside is one of the hardest things I’ve ever mastered.
I blame it on a college student who worked with me when I was a kid. She would come three times a week for an hour after school, and work with me one-on-one to learn how to appear more neurotypical, and less Autistic. That wasn’t the stated reason my Mom had her do this, but that’s exactly what it entailed. Her name was Anna, and she was a Special Education major at Augustana. She was kind, and I’ve decided that my time with her was more helpful than harmful. My life. My rules. At the time, I was 4 or 5, and thought Anna was the most annoying person who ever lived. She made me feel exasperated. But at the same time, I liked that she payed attention to just me. It must have made me feel good. So I tolerated her.
Whenever she spoke to me, she would hold my chin, and try to force eye contact. When I began running in circles, she would gently catch me up and assist me in staying put. She wore too much Charlie perfume, and it burned my nose. She would squish my face like it was made out of Play-doh™, which would make me laugh really hard. It was the shock, combined with the silliness that was so funny to me. That’s still what makes me laugh the hardest. I adore corny jokes. I’m relieved to have this reprieve. I always feel like I’m figuratively holding my breath when I’m away from home. The urge to breathe again becomes more intense the longer I’m gone. The timing was perfect, and it’s long enough to recharge a bit before going back.
I read information from Autism activists on Twitter that sometimes inspire me, sadden me, frustrate me, and once in awhile, anger me. I try not to let it get to me when I read something that I know is intended to be loving, but accidentally comes off offensive. As I’ve stated before, I have a no malice, no foul policy regarding being offended. If I can tell they weren’t trying to hurt me, then I’ll take care not to hurt them when I inform them that the wording was a miss, but the intention got through anyway. Most of the time, that’s the case. It’s what I expect. But every so often, I’ll read something by someone whom I normally agree with, and am shocked by the sudden contrast. Usually, it’s due to different cultures. We tend to base our conclusions on our own experiences and observations, so this is a no brainer.
One of the things I find myself disagreeing with is attitudes surrounding passing as neurotypical when in public. In the Autism community that I pay attention to, it’s generally frowned upon. The general attitude seems to be that we are who we are, and we choose to be accepted as we are, rather than by pretending to be more like a neurotypical person. I think that’s a beautiful choice. I, unfortunately, don’t have that luxury. As a woman of color, appearing as other than neurotypical could be fatal in specific situations. I don’t know the statistics, because they would depress me. But I do know that 9 women of color have been killed by the police so far this year. I also know that more than one of them identified as being mentally ill. While Autism isn’t a mental illness, it gets lumped in with them more often than not. Especially in the news.
What I’m saying, is that there is a need for a group called, Mentally Ill Lives Matter. And Transgender Lives Matter. And Impoverished Lives Matter. There’s more, but I don’t want to cry right now, so I’ll stop there. It’s good for my life expectancy to be sufficient at passing as neurotypical. I would prefer being myself all the time. I understand and accept that it’s not an option for me, and others. The ideal is not something we can all aspire to, but I do think we can all remain open to, and tolerant of one another. I usually love irony, but I despise it when it mocks the startling levels of intolerance among (some of) those craving tolerance the most. I absolutely think that if you ask/expect me to be tolerant of you, you owe me the same courtesy. And yes, it is a courtesy. People who are courteous will happily oblige. Those who are not, will not. There are usually no consequences either way. But the non-reciprocants won’t raise my ire. Only my ignorance of their existence.