Hi, my name is Anna and I am unsure about this.
I’ve been thinking about blogging now and then for a while now. About formats, about style, about how to frame posts and on what details to focus. Mainly because I’ve been following some amazing people online who let me have a glimpse into their lives now and then. A glimpse that sometimes helps me understand them better. Other times it raises more questions than it gives answers. If we are very close I usually ask questions. If we are not that close the usual cycle begins. I try to assess how to ask the things that I don’t understand in a way that will hopefully not offend anyone. That will hopefully get my point across and, if everything goes according to plan get me an answer I can actually understand while not alienating the person I’ve just bothered with my, usually overly complicated message that contained at least five different wordings of the same questions spliced with half a dozen apologies for bothering them. After sending out my question I am usually busy with imagining about 25 to way more scenarios how the response will sound like. I argue with myself, probably for hours, about how I could have worded that one sentence better. About how I stupid it was not to capitalise a certain word. I have an internal debate about just how bothersome and annoying that mail will be perceived and get my thick skin ready for being called names or being perceived as stupid. I could do something else, play a game, do some housework, watch a show or read a book to spend my time with something that I actually enjoy. Or I could sit in front of my monitor and stare, waiting for a reply that might not even come on the same day.
Hi, my name is Anna and I create my own problems.
I remember that I was almost equally as worked up when I had to phone my insurance a week earlier. It took me about three days of mental preparation (during which I got embarrassingly little else done) to work up the courage to call. My head full of completely mapped out conversations, rehearsed sentences for every little variation in response I could anticipate. If I’d try to write it all down it would have been several pages of imagined dialogue with a person I didn’t know. In my head she already had a personality. A personality who was severely judging me for wasting her time with stuttering through my request, for loosing my train of thought or for not speaking absolutely fluently. A personality that many people in my head whom I rehearse my anticipated conversations with have. They get short with me, they get annoyed and in the end they are most of the teachers I’ve had, most of the people I went to school with and at least three of the doctors I’ve seen when I was younger. They sound like all the people I’ve known who told me straight to my face that they couldn’t decide if I was brilliant or the dumbest person they’ve ever met.
Hi, my name is Anna and I dwell to much on the past.
They are my high school teacher who told me I was one of the smartest student he’d seen in decades but he would let me fail anyways because I „weirded him out“ and he „couldn’t pin me down“. (And yes, I did fail that year. Hard.) They are my first doctor who told my mother that what was wrong with me was nothing that „a little discipline“ couldn’t fix. (She never took me back there.) They are my second doctor who said he’d never seen a child with such a weird list of symptoms and put me on anti-depressants that made me slow and lethargic for years. They are the person in charge of my education who told me I’d be the best person for a certain job, but they would never consider me for it because the marketing people thought I was creepy. That I was either looking at them too much or not looking at them enough. That I noticed too many details but forgot what day it was. They were my third doctor who said „if you were a boy I’d have an idea about what is wrong with you, but you’re a girl, girls don’t have this.“
Hi, my name is Anna and I am uncomfortable.
By now the last time I’ve heard any of those things said to me is about a decade ago. There was a fourth doctor, and though I don’t see her anymore she was life changing. With an ear that listened and after about twenty years of searching: a diagnosis. Autism. Being impressed at how remarkably adapted I was she said while I was sitting in front of her, battling between crying and laughter. Crying of relief because the thing finally had a name. Laughing about the absurd notion that I seemed to be well adapted to her. People often talk about their comfort zones. How they sometimes just push themselves to leave them and how much they gain from that. I can’t relate. If there is a figure of speech I’d describe myself with it is „fish out of water“. I have no comfort zone to push myself out of. Or to retreat back in. I am always uncomfortable to a degree. At the best of times it’s a slight humming in the back of my mind. At the worst of times it is a cacophony that makes me unable to move or speak, regardless of my surroundings. I don’t understand what people mean when they do things „intuitively“. When they talk about their „gut feeling“ or how something just „felt right“. I over analyse everything, most of the time very quickly and almost unnoticeable to my surroundings. Decisions are based on pro and con lists. If someone wants me to be spontaneous and my lists take longer than a few seconds to compile I shut down, have to excuse myself and go home. All these are things I though everyone did and I was just particularly bad at, well, life until I got my diagnosis and I started to get into the topic, started to understand what was going on. Just knowing why was often already helpful in helping me stay calmer, a bit more sure of myself and a bit less afraid of everyone else. But old habits die hard and if your entire world view and understanding of people is based on microscopic observation and detailed analysis of literally everything around you it is still, ten years later, hard to shake off responses that have been so ingrained.
Hi, my name is Anna and I am trying really hard.
I still worry about every little thing I do. Reflect on every sentence I say and rate them on a scale of just how stupid they might have sounded in retrospect. It debate for hours with myself if I should ask that one friend if I could call that day. Even though they have never once said no. I struggle to tell my closest friends what I am thinking about something dear to my heart even though they have never given me reasons to doubt them. But the friends before had. And if that’s all you ever had for observation it sometimes feels like a hard-coded inevitability. So when that answer to my mail with my question actually comes it sits in my inbox while I take another hour to talk myself into looking into it. When I finally open it there is an enthusiastic response from someone who seems to be very excited to tell me more about the thing I asked. Who goes into detail and seems to genuinely be happy about having gotten a question. I file that one as a success and it lets me let out the breath I feel I have been holding since I hit send. It goes on the good pile of experiences. The pile is small. Steadily growing but still dwarfed by the decades old pile of bad experiences that seems like the Mount Everest next to a mole hill. The Everest is where I come from but the mole hill is where I want to be. One day I want that mole hill to be the first thing on my mind so I can hit send on an email, lean back and relax and think about the good things other people said to me first before I even catch sight of that old mountain. It’s gonna take time, persistence and probably more patience than I have most of the time. But I am moving forward, slowly, to a day where I will be able to say without any worries:
„Hi, my name is Anna and I have Aspergers.“