Holiday Season

Being autistic is hard sometimes.

What’s harder I think, is being diagnosed late in life and watching everyone struggle to align their perceptions of who you were with who you are, when in fact the two were never separate.

Projection

A well known autistic trait is being unable to deal with change, but I think this may be something we all share as humans. People will deal with change in a variety of ways, I found the most common ones, and the worst for us, are projection and manipulation. Autistics can’t always detect narcissism or emotional manipulation, so it’s easy for people to pass off their struggles as our problems.

Those around me researched autism when they heard about my diagnosis, but one instance stood out. They learned that we’re uncomfortable with physical contact and asked if that meant I wouldn’t want to hug them goodbye, to which I said yes. Their reply was that this made them upset.

A classic example of narcissism right there.

My sensory discomfort at being touched meant that they were upset, because “I’ve been hugging them for years, why is it only an issue now?”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m affectionate to those I’m close to, but I despised being forced to hug people throughout my childhood and teens. It represents a level of relationship and understanding that I just hadn’t reached with most people in my life, so being made to touch them felt profoundly wrong.

To anyone newly diagnosed, or even to autistics that have always known, don’t be afraid to call people out. They will try to make things seem like your fault, but in most cases this is just their projection.

Accountability

Something else humanity doesn’t like doing: holding themselves accountable for their own actions.

Finding out that you’re autistic, especially at 21 years old, means going over every event in your life, every memory, with a fine tooth comb. It means accepting where you’ve made mistakes, but also discovering where things have been caused by someone else.

I hate Christmas.

I will do anything I can to avoid the music, the decorations, the presents. Most think me a modern day Scrooge, but my ongoing dual with the yearly event stems from childhood trauma. I’ve always displayed autistic traits, obviously, the difference is that as a 10 year old it’s not acceptable to sit in a corner being non-verbal.

From a logical point of view, Christmas in the 21st Century has reached a point where it’s no longer about a religious holiday, but a celebration of capitalism in its finest form: giving gifts for the sake of gift giving. However, the red and green themed monstrosity is accompanied by masses of people, loud noises and weighted expectations. There is nothing I can think of worse than having a room full of people sitting and watching you open presents that you don’t like, want or need because “it’s Christmas, we had to get you something”

This is where accountability takes place. I carry this trauma as a result of being admonished and punished for displaying autistic traits, resulting in a yearly painful experience during a time that is supposed to be happy. People are impressionable, children moreso, but the figures that surrounded my upbringing to this day refuse to accept the part they played.

People hold family in much too high esteem, better are the bonds you make than the ones that were forced upon you. You may hold others accountable even when they cannot do it themselves.

And don’t even get me started on birthdays.

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