When I was first validated by my therapist that I was on the spectrum, with what we both recognized as Asperger’s Syndrome, it felt like everything finally made sense. I finally had some reasoning behind why I didn’t “pick up” on clues other people seemed to easily recognize and some explanation behind specific quirks and tendencies of mine. And I was so excited to share this news.
But what I didn’t expect was the inadvertent pushback from people that I love and who love me. They didn’t necessarily say that I was wrong, but I found myself having to constantly explain things that I have or continue to struggle with, situations that I don’t understand, and/or specific ticks or quirks that I have. I was often met with “Oh I do that too”, “I think that’s normal”, and/or “I think everyone does that sometimes.”
Though I know that my loved one’s intentions were to let me know that they love me, indicate that they don’t think there is anything “wrong” with me, and let me know that I am wonderful the way that I am. What they are inadvertently doing is minimizing my thoughts, experiences, and struggles.
For the first time, in what seems like my entire life (nearly 30 years), it feels like things make sense. I am learning about expectations, innuendos, and social cues that I did not realize existed. I am learning that just because I don’t understand why specific rituals or conventions exist, I am not excluded from them. I am learning how to listen to my body and let it rest instead of consistently making it uncomfortable so I can try to fit in.
So, what I’ve come to recognize and accept is that I don’t have to share my diagnosis or excitement about learning more about myself with everyone. And that is okay, I am doing the work to better understand platonic, romantic, professional, and familial relationships, I am learning how to pick up on important social cues (to help keep me safe), and most importantly, I am learning how to give myself grace.