I’m a person. A whole, actual, living person. I have thoughts, dreams, hopes, and feelings, just like anyone else. There are people out there who would have me define myself as a broken thing, a puzzle with missing pieces, something that needs to be fixed. And even though there are many times when I certainly feel that way, I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing about me that needs fixing. I’m on the autism spectrum, and I don’t need a cure.
I need to be treated like everyone else.
Please stop treating me like I’m a disposable commodity that you can use up and then toss aside when some of the more difficult facets of this disorder pop up. Yes, I process things differently than neurotypicals. But, it’s not like it’s a secret. If you know me for even a short stretch of time it’s readily apparent. So it continuously blows my mind when a neurotypical will take advantage of all the good things about me, and then tell me: “Sorry, you’re just too (insert a piece of my personality here) for me.” “You’re welcome, for giving my all to you in whatever you needed (because that’s how my brain works), and getting literally nothing in return besides lip service.”
That’s if I’m lucky enough to even be told why I was shut out. I very often get ghosted by those I love, and I have spent months turning myself inside out trying to figure out why someone could abuse my heart in that way. One time it took an entire year of pain before I could start to move on, and I still can’t think of that person without a twinge of hurt. I wish I could say that was the only time something like that happened. Do people think that kind of crap doesn’t hurt me?
One of the stereotypes about autism is that people on the spectrum don’t have or show emotions. That’s incorrect. While it would be wrong to paint the spectrum with a broad brush, and many times emotions aren’t displayed in a way people would expect, I can tell you firsthand that on the spectrum, not only are there emotions, but they’re often much stronger than “the norm.”
My feelings are probably one of the strongest forces inside me. Imagine all your emotions turned up to 11, and then imagine having very little ability to filter or compartmentalize. These emotions often crash in on me with very little warning.
And now imagine almost everyone in your life knowing this about you, and yet blaming you for the disorder you were born with and can’t change. I don’t use my diagnosis as an excuse, but on the other side of that, where is the understanding? Where is the effort on the part of others to meet me where I am? Why can people put so much work and effort into others, but not into someone with autism?
All these enormous feelings feel every bit of the rejection I get from people.
What does it feel like to be autistic? In my experience, lonely. I have poured years of my life into people, only to have them take all my love, loyalty, and hard work, and cast it – and me – aside. I’ve been replaced with a neurotypical by friends and even partners. And why?
I’m too emotional. I feel too much. I’m awkward. I can’t express my thoughts in an expected fashion. I don’t know how to explain my feelings sometimes. And that has always been too much for everyone I’ve ever cared about.
I wish they’d just speak the truth: I’m too autistic, and they wanted all the good things I have to offer without having to accept all of me. They wanted the puzzle piece and not the entire picture.
So in a way, I am a puzzle piece, to so many people that I care about. And every night when I lie awake and think about all my lost dreams and painful memories, I wish for someone who will finally look at the whole picture that is me, and not pluck a piece out for their own use while leaving the rest behind.
I’m not a puzzle with missing pieces. Stop treating me like I am.