Thursday, June 7, 2012
Exhausted by Exhaustion or the Prolonged Pain of Passing
I am having a couple of those days when I am exhausted and then I become exhausted by that exhaustion, by myself, by being me.
Having only come to know my Aspie brain in the last many months, I have spent a lifetime "passing." Girls/women on the spectrum are especially good at passing, at mimicking acceptable social behavior, at pretending to be "normal" in terms of interests, desires, needs.
As you can imagine, this is like being on stage 24/7 with barely a moment in your dressing room to relax.
My exhaustion makes sense.
But it continues to perpetuate itself.
There is no, "Oh, I am an Aspie and now I am totally MYSELF and FREE!" button that I just could switch on.
Nope. This process of learning about this brain is a process (and thus its name). It is an uncovering of all the ways that I was pretending, all the ways that I was stifling my true self in service of cultural and social norms, assumptions, requirements.
This uncovering takes a long time.
Then once you uncover some "rule" of "normal" that you were following out of obligation, there are still many steps to take.
You have to figure out what the heck would be your "natural" way of being/doing.
For someone who has spent over 40 years covering up those natural inclinations, it is a difficult thing, to say the least, to even fathom what that natural way would be or feel like.
I do not know my own mind, in the most literal sense.
Here is an example:
For all of my life, I observed the couples by whom I was surrounded. It seemed to my limited understanding that to be a couple meant to do everything together all the time. If this did not happen, my black and white brain said, then it must mean you are no longer a couple. Or at least, people will begin to wonder.
So I would force myself to do things that simply held no interest for me or over-fried all of my circuits and sent me into a trance of nothing for many days after.
This was not productive or comfortable for me. I brought nothing to the events or people that did this to me. I made Marcy worry -- worry about me having a melt down before, during, or after said event -- worry about my energy levels for the things that really mattered to me. Worry worry worry.
Why was I doing this?
Because I thought it was what was expected of a normal adult.
Marcy helped me to see how self-destructive this really was -- and how other-destructive.
She gave me permission (in that way that loving people do for us) to just be myself.
"You don't need to do this..." She would say over and over.
"We are allowed to be ourselves. We are allowed to determine what our loving relationship looks like for us."
It took me a long time and I am still working on this, but I am starting to understand and I am starting, just starting, to see that there are domino-like implications for just being myself.
Now before I agree to do anything, we review...do I really need/want to? What will the event be like?
Are there too many people, too many smells/noises/etc.? If I still want to do it, is there a way to make it easier? Are there aspie emergency kit items like ear plugs that would help?
Negotiating the neurotypical world can be exhausting, but we don't need to continue exhausting ourselves by forcing ourselves to not be who we are.