11:46am. I woke with a hangover from too much gin and got up later than usual although after two early mornings it was nice to have a lie in. Two coffee’s and breakfast cleared my hangover and I got to thinking about myself and my relationships with others. One of the things I was wondering about was ‘am I too structured in my thinking wanting everything prearranged and not flexible enough in how I am to others’?
One of the most talked about defining traits of autism is the need for structure and routine, having everything sorted in an orderly way so the autistic person knows what is happening and when. In a perfect autistic world this works but the world isn’t geared around autistic people and the world is far from perfect. People’s lives irrespective of Covid can be hectic and chaotic and what might seem a good idea in the morning can be impossible to do at night and it just leaves people feeling upset that they’ve had to cancel plans or that plans have been cancelled.
Getting a diagnosis of autism was a revelation to me, years and years of feeling out of sync with the world were explained to me in a black and white assessment and I adopted the ‘autistic persona’ without a thought. Some of the traits I have but I have been wondering if some of the other traits I adopted believing they were me, my behaviours and identity, without thinking it through and asking myself if these traits really reflected me as a person or if I was trying to be the ultimate autistic version of myself irrespective of who I really was?
I have met many autistic people and some of them do indeed need routine and structure in their lives to get through it. But not all. Some, like me, say they are autistic and can’t do certain things but do things that contradict this. So they’ll say they can’t plan and organise when they clearly can because they’re running a business. Yes they might need help but they can do it.
I’m as guilty as anyone of them in saying this trait and that trait reflects me and I can’t do this and that when I don’t even try. Why am I letting a trait I wasn’t aware of before my diagnosis? Why am I letting this define me and play a large part in my life when I shouldn’t be? I feel I am because I want to be an autistic version of myself instead of being myself and being less autistic and more me.
Am I missing out on friends and relationships? Opportunities at work and play? The opportunity to live a happier more exciting life when you get a message saying ‘are you free’ and off you go? I am. It’s time to stop this trait defining me and be the true me, be that person who someone can ring or text at a moments notice and they’ll drop everything for them without a second thought, be that person who will do anything to make the most of all the opportunities before them whatever walk of life they appear in.
If I am to complete my PhD I am going to have to be a lot more flexible and adaptable or I’ll never do it the same with writing my life story. The same with friends remembering that people have their own lives to lead and can’t always arrange everything to suit me.
Some things need to be arranged, that is life but not everything. Some things can be last minute and that makes life more interesting and exciting and less dull and boring. Routine and structure have their place in my life but they are not going to define me anymore.
4:08pm. I’ve been for a drive and had a think about being more flexible with people and less autistic and I can do it. I did it yesterday with Jill when she text me and asked if I wanted to go and see her dad and after when we went to Wagamama’s on the spur of the moment. So if I can do it in one situation I can do it in others too. Not all, not if I don’t know someone but other people I can and I will.
For some reason the thought of being hurt came into my mind too. I don’t know why and I don’t know the connection if any with being flexible but I have been hurt many times in the past by people I have believed in and trusted and it lays there in the back of your mind making you wonder why people are the way they are towards you and if they have an ulterior motive or if they are genuinely good, kind people who are interested in you and want to get to know you and help you and have your best interests at heart. Maybe it’s about me changing but I do believe some people are genuinely good, kind people who are interested in me and want to get to know me and help me and have my best interests at heart. I do trust them to be open, honest and upfront with me about everything, telling me when I’m right and when I’m wrong and I’ll do the same for them. Learning to trust again after you’ve been hurt so many times is hard but it’s something I have to do and I will.
I’ve just had soya mince in my stir fry instead of chicken. I’m making an effort to reduce my meat consumption and hopefully improve my health. I finished off the last of the chocolate Claire bought me for my birthday and then realised I’d left the stir fry cooking away! Luckily I didn’t burn the house down and a tin of chopped tomatoes will bring it back to life. I’ve got some plant protein sausages too to replace the pork ones I have on a night.
I’ve contacted the university library too about the possibility of a secure study space where I can go and study in peace away from home. It looks like the university is open from 10am till 3pm so I could go to the gym or for a run before going to uni and do the same after. If it works out it could be the routine and structure I need in my life right now and get me out of the house and in better surroundings more conducive to studying.
6:53pm. Done some editing on my life story. I’m happier with it now although the real test will be if a publisher thinks there’s something there worthwhile and takes me to the next stage. It’s good though editing, you take things out and add things in and your story begins to come to life.