ACCEPTING MY AUTISM
“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
For forty years as I was transitioning from a child into a teenager/adult I was presenting a Nick McAllister to the world that I assumed was a true version of me.
Nothing that I did or said concerned me. I replied to questions or took part in conversations and gave what I assumed was the correct response.
As the years went by, I continued to feel like the ‘odd one out’. I knew I was different, but I just didn’t know why or how. I tried to constantly ‘fit in’ to a world that seemed so distant and so overwhelming and at times completely abnormal to me.
I struggled with all aspects of life, the things that most people find easy, I found really difficult; from socialising, making friends, learning new tasks that were not given with specific instructions, changes to my routine, school, studying and employment, and I felt like it was my fault.
I didn’t question this behaviour and why should I? To me it was normal.
I continued acting and behaving in this manner until I reached the age of 40.
Then this is where it all changed.
Once I had gotten my Autism diagnosis looking in the mirror, I didn’t recognise this person that was staring back at me.
It was a confronting experience for me, because the person who was now looking back at me wasn’t the Nick that I had known previously.
This was a new Nick.
Someone that I was going to have to acquaint myself with and begin to form a relationship with.
This new Nick had Autism.
Again, this was a whole new experience and one that I was going to have to research and become familiar with.
I was going to have to start piecing together not only my Autism but my identity as a whole.
Four years into being an Autistic Adult it’s still a challenge each and ever single day being me.
I’m navigating my way through something that I am still fairly new to.
Each time I pass a mirror I see someone that I still don’t fully recognise staring back at me.
This person is now who I am.
The new me.
The Autistic version of me.
Like the quote that I used at the beginning of this blog post this 100% describes both me and my Autism to a T.
I was presenting one face to the public, but it wasn’t an honest face.
It was a face that was hiding something a disability that I had no knowledge of having and to the multitude I’m sorry I didn’t know.
I hope you don’t think that I was deceiving you on purpose because I wasn’t.
But what is true is that I am still bewildered, and I am still getting comfortable and used to my new face.
But I am presenting what would be termed today as my ‘Authentic Self’.
I spent forty years of my life knowing something was different.
I spent many times blaming myself, thinking it was ‘my fault’ or that I was doing something wrong.
Getting that Autism diagnosis has changed my life completely.
It felt like a fog had finally been lifted. Everything from there on started to ‘make sense’.
I’m now at the age of 44 and I am still finding my feet as a newbie within the Autism community. I’m learning more and more about what it means to be Autistic and I feel that I can now utilise all of the fantastic supports out there for people living on the Spectrum.
Because finally a piece of the puzzle that had been missing for so long had been found and I can now fully begin to unravel and understand who I am as a person.
Carry on the Conversation
How did you feel when you could finally reveal the true you to the world?
Let me know in the comments below.
As always, I can also be found on Twitter: @AutisticNick9 and at my email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.
5 thoughts on “ACCEPTING MY AUTISM”
Hi Nick, I’m so glad that your diagnosis has helped you on your way to understanding and accepting yourself for who you are. I think that being our “authentic self” is something that is important for everyone, whether they are on the spectrum or not.
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Hi Karen, thank you for your lovely comment. Yes it was a very emotional confronting and emotional post for me to write but one that I felt compelled to as I hadn’t faced head on my Autism until now.
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I’ve found with the (currently self-)diagnosis of Autism comes a certain measure of both self-acceptance, and self-resignation. Self-acceptance, because now I’m aware I’m doing the equivalent of being a two-legged version of a four-legged beastie, and there’s a nice straightforward explanation for why some things (which require the metaphorical equivalent of the second set of legs) are so damn hard at times. Self-resignation, because with this realisation comes the equal realisation there really isn’t going to be any major change to the way I am short of complete neural re-wiring in some respects, and what I have to do instead is stop hoping for a miraculous change in myself which will transcend my existing limits, and instead start to work within them. Fortunately for me, I’ve already done something similar at least once in my life so far (when I came to the realisation in my early twenties “weight-loss dieting does not work for you”) so I at have a set of practices and attitudes to work with, and I can give up the fantasy of being neurotypical the way I had to give up the fantasy of being thin. Now, all I have to do is find that round toowitt I mislaid, and get the money and the time in the same place to get a formal diagnosis done.
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