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Posts Tagged ‘autism’

Obscura

And so it has been nearly three years since I last shared anything here. It hasn’t been an empty three years, by any means, nor one devoid of writing. I simply lost touch with my desire to be heard. Or to hope to be heard. To want anyone to want to hear.

And as the end of the year draws near, I find myself, like many others, looking back over the past several hundred days and measuring the growths and contemplating the achievements. And my greatest achievement, perhaps, within this past year is my self-identification as an autistic person. It is a realization that has rocked my foundations, and one I still grapple with on a daily basis. I am still in awe of the magnitude of my discovery, and I am grateful that it finally found me.

But while I see my experience of life through much different lenses now, it will not be a topic that I post about any more than others. This isn’t a blog about autism; this is a blog about me. All of the posts from the past twelve years are about my autism. All of my future posts will be, indirectly, about my autism. It is everything I am and everything I ever will be. And that is totally fine by me.

I remember a project I did while studying art in college. I was a senior year photography student, so we were basically allowed to do whatever we wanted and call it art. For this particular project I selected a blank sketchbook and began writing: all of my memories, starting from the first, and proceeding all the way up through my childhood years, trying to be as thorough and meticulous as possible. I believe I got somewhere through my seventh year of life in memories before the project was due and I had to move on to other things. But when it came time for the class critique, I simply sat on a chair in front of my classmates, with the book on my lap. I told them what I had written, and I told them that they were free to read it. But they had to ask me, specifically, to see it, and they had to hand it right back and not pass it off to anyone else. Only those who asked could see it. Surprisingly, there were a few who did ask, and it meant a lot to me. As for the others, they didn’t understand why I would go through so much trouble to create something and not share it more openly. I explained to them that it is because this is how I am. I am a closed book. Inside of me is a world of memories and thoughts and ideas and fascinations and fears, but I never offer any of that to anyone. You have to ask.

I didn’t say this or know it back then, but I would say it now: I don’t know how to share myself if you don’t ask me to.

Back then I would have thought of myself as a very open person: I would answer any question you asked me, no matter how personal. But again, back then, nobody was asking me any questions. I can only remember a few people from my art school years who I would have considered myself to be on friendly terms with. I didn’t know why, back then. Even now, twenty years later, I still struggle with my disconnection from my peers. I can’t tell you why, on a molecular level, I find it hard to put anything of myself out there. Even though I know that I have gotten better – a lot better – at doing it.

And I now know this better than I ever have before: my insides don’t match my outside. I am like a snow globe made with mirrored glass. From my vantage point inside it is all glitter and chaos and beauty and me, self-contained, doing my own thing and thinking this is all so neat and complicated and difficult, and aren’t all these other snow globes around me cool too? But those snow globes are clear, many of them. They are marveled at and appreciated and treasured because their beauty is so apparent. Whereas I, and others like me, are attractive only to those who are curious and willing to press their faces up close to the mirror to see what is going on behind it. And there is a lot going on behind it. And it is a glorious mess, let me tell you. And I am grateful for those who have been able to look past the mirror, because they have made it just a bit easier to want to be seen on the other side.

If you have been around long you may remember that my very first blog post in 2009 mentions my desire to start opening up more: becoming more vulnerable and letting my words be heard. I still lose touch with that sentiment from time to time, but it always comes back to me in one way or another. Writing is the one thing I can do that can give others a tiny glimpse into my inside– why not encourage that to happen more? Who knows: someone might actually see something they can appreciate.

You don’t have to ask, any more. But you are still more than welcome to.

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