Preformed Performing

Reflections on my life and activism after re-reading “Clinically Significant Disturbance: On Theorists Who Theorize Theory of Mind” and being so tired & wordless lately.

I have been a painfully honest person performing a preformed lie. Obsessed with accuracy in every other area of life, I still found myself trying to blend in. Trying to be as accurately inaccurate to who I am as is Autistically possible.

I am tired, wearying more. The purposeful breaking of character (that character whom I spent my entire life trying to be) grows ever more essential to my wellness and ability to survive, let alone thrive.

I cannot keep up the façade, however carefully constructed and curated after years of trial and error.

I do exist beneath that outer surface. There is a person in here, an Autistic person who doesn’t want to constantly try and perfect what will get the least amount of (negative) attention from others.

Even when I seem to have the words, they aren’t really heard. Actions and sounds beyond my control hold more sway with others than what I actually manage to say. Which is still far less than I wish to convey.

So. What is even the point of pretending?

Even when I appear to be like them, I am not. So why try to appear that way?

The inevitable is only delayed.

The misunderstandings, the thinking that my actions and words somehow reflect indirectly on them.

Protip: If I’m going to reflect on someone or something, it will be direct. I directly reflect.

They are wrong. Horribly, tragically, wrongly wrong. Incorrect in the extreme.

But in some ways…. I feel responsible for them being wrong.

Because I constructed the character, I’ve lived the lie, I’ve preformed the performance. As their assumptions I try to mend, I also try in vain to blend. To say the perfect thing that will accurately convey what I actually mean.

Blending is a protective mechanism. It feels safer not to be noticed. But is it really? I’m not certain it is.

Safer in some ways, sure, but if it inevitably leads to hurt then I might as well be loud and proud from the first.

Acting as if I’m able is not sustainable. I cannot do it, I am disabled.

Less speaking, more writing. Less people, more hiding. Demanding that my ways of communicating be respected, even if not expected. Conserving my energy, not being afraid to run away.

Even when I appear to be speaking and hearing the way others do, it’s mostly an illusion. People expect too much, I can’t keep up.

The most important things are left unsaid. Assumptions attempt to fill the gaps, but other people aren’t in my head. They can’t make accurate leaps.

Their reasoning can’t keep up with my reality. And conversely while conversing, I can’t keep up with their leaps and lacks of understanding.

I can’t speak the way they want or need me to speak. I can’t move the way they want or need me to move. My discourse is discursive, my movements give no meaning that they can discern.

So I’ve begun to untrain, relearn, reclaim, remain myself.

Autistic normalization can be my vocation. “Experts” may pathologize, but I will still rhapsodize.

After all. If I, a white mother of slight frame – very nonthreatening – cannot reclaim or remain myself and get by; then what hope is there for those Autistics far less privileged than I?

11 thoughts on “Preformed Performing

  1. Interesting post. I don’t really know how “authentic” I am. I’m sure at least some of my public persona is a construct, but it’s difficult to figure out where the mask ends and the “real me” begins. But I find that trying “to say the perfect thing that will accurately convey what I actually mean” as you put it, is actually an obstacle to blending. Because as I grope mentally for the most exact choice of words, that’s when I slow down, there’s a pause, I look away from my conversation partner etc. I don’t think anyone I interact with on a daily basis is astonished or offended by this though. As far as I can tell they’ve accepted is as the way I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Usually my attempting to say the perfect thing is done online, where I often still fail spectacularly to prevent people from reading all kinds of bizarre things into the words I thought were very clear 😦 But I’m gradually releasing the sense of responsibility for what people read into my words. I try to be clear with my meaning and that’s really all I can do. I can’t control people’s reactions to my words or their refusal to listen to my clarifications.

      I generally script a great deal in real life to minimize pauses, but have stopped doing it as much with people I see more frequently. I figure they can deal with my pauses and me asking them to repeat things if they want me to actually participate meaningfully in the conversation. If they don’t want my meaningful participation then it’s likely I shouldn’t waste my time and energy on them anyhow.

      Liked by 1 person

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