In my defense, I thought I could handle it.
I firmly believe that we should not need to disclose our Autistic status in order to be taken seriously when we pass along the words of other Autistics.
So, I reasoned, I’d post things for April and just elevate other Autistic voices. It seemed like a great plan! And it probably would’ve worked.
Except that it made me extremely uncomfortable to see the reactions on Facebook when I began my April postings over the weekend.
This issue is not like the others I’ve championed over the years where I did successfully elevate minority voices and was able to field ignorant comments from people. This issue involves my very essence, my core. The key to finally understanding my life.
As the hours went past – foggy and difficult to breathe, my heart pounding – I resisted several urges to just disclose and have it over with. To tell my alleged “friends” that no, I actually know far more about this issue than they ever will and to stop spouting nonsense and arguing with my Autistic friends who’d graciously stepped in to try and help.
But I didn’t want to disclose in haste, for the wrong reasons. I didn’t want to disclose for anyone other than myself.
My discomfort grew to an almost unbearable intensity over the course of the day.
I’m reminded of late pregnancy when nearly everyone gets so uncomfortable that they’re willing to go through the difficulties of labor just so they aren’t pregnant any longer.
Comfort is a double-edged sword. Comfort is comfortable, but it doesn’t beget change and often the change is sorely needed.
A baby has to be born and sometimes a disclosure has to be made. Because to stay pregnant or to keep such a huge secret just isn’t possible any longer on so many levels.
The secret grew too big, just like my babies all did.
I waited as long as possible in all those cases. Putting it off, resting, relaxing, not trying to get labor started. Putting it off, ignoring, thinking, crying, trying to determine whether this was really the right time for me to bare that much of my soul to so many people.
I determined that it was the right time, so I did.
The weight that lifted off my shoulders after disclosing was an actual physical sensation. I felt and feel lighter. The person I’ve always been within myself is finally visible and more people can meet me.
Most importantly, I controlled the situation. I didn’t disclose hastily or in anger. I took time, I thought about it, and I disclosed in my own way for my own benefit, primarily.
A part of my deeply held beliefs involves the concept and actions of integrity.
1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2: an unimpaired condition : soundness
3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness
The focus in my life has typically been on honesty, but it’s the 3rd definition that applies most accurately here. While I’m now feeling more honest, of course, I also don’t feel divided any longer.
It was stressful and difficult for me to be divided in that way. For some people to know and others not.
Now the only people who don’t know are some of my extended family members on the side of my family that has other Autistic people.
Everyone else does and it’s such a relief.
Yes, it was scary. It was terrifying. I didn’t know until I’d finished writing up my statement and posting it whether I’d regret it or not.
But the relief is incredible.
As uncomfortable as the situation that preceded my disclosure was, I’m glad in a way that it forced me to reevaluate whether I was ready to do this.
For Autism “Awareness” Month, I guess I’ve done my part of making people aware that, “Hello, I’m Autistic! Accept all of me or go away.” I will continue to self-identify as Autistic throughout the month and for the rest of my life. I’m done pretending.
This is my birthday month and this is one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself. The gift of unapologetically being myself and being honest about who I actually am.
I’m me, I’m Autistic. That’s who I am and who I’ll always be ❤