Yes. Another post about autism. Wasn't this meant to be a blog about gender? - a plan that went wrong from the very first post.
Last night I was online, starting with multiple entertaining viewings of S#!T Ignorant People Say To Autistics which everyone should watch and never, ever say any of those things. That turned to hopping between autism videos on Youtube. There are so many good, educational videos - and some terrible ones too. Really terrible. Morally horrific. But we won't get onto the less than savoury aspects of Autism Speaks, or onto bleach cures, anti-vaxxers, other autism cure and prevention videos or any of the other rubbish that makes most autistic people so angry and only increases their pride and willingness to make good videos. No. We won't get onto those horrific things.
I happened on one of the good ones. Not perhaps a well made video but with excellent content. It contained a list I hadn't encountered before, of traits that may be seen in females with Asperger's Syndrome. And that video linked to the blog containing the list, yet another autism blog that I haven't seen before. So much to read and study. So little time and energy.
I found myself going through this list in some detail, not just a quick "Yes, yes, yes ... yes, no, yes ... ooh, nearly a perfect score there." - which was educational. Possibly is was a bad move because I didn't find the list until gone midnight and it took rather a while. By the time I finished, my drugs had long since kicked in and when I closed my eyes I could see and feel figures passing over my head and stopping to press my forehead in a most colourful manner. Either I was completely shattered or the angels were being very active! I really must learn to escape the internet earlier at night even when it is absorbing to the point of saturation. I must learn to say "The page will still exist tomorrow, Clare, go to sleep."
As I read the list and discussed each point with myself out loud, I was amazed.
Not by the amount of things I tick "Yes, definitely" to. I've got used to ticking "yes" on these checklists, and questions and tests. Clare is autistic. OK. Moving on. That's old news even if she hasn't worked out what that means for her life, her person, her past or her future.
But I was amazed by the way total honesty with myself last night led to the amount of things I tick "Yes, definitely, and I've always felt massively guilty or shameful for it and tried my best to stop this, get rid of it, not have it as part of my life."
So much shame. So much guilt. So much self eradication. And some of that shame and guilt are over things that I look at and wonder how I could have ever felt that way. The rest of it I know to be unfairly felt and applied, but can understand where it came from because those things are so often frowned upon in polite society.
You know when I said that accepting my gender makes a much bigger practical difference to my life than accepting my autism ever would or could?
I think I was wrong.
At this moment all the changes that have come through transitioning to live as "female" seem almost insignificant compared to the vast range of things that learning to be autistic includes.
Yes, gender is a big deal and dealing with it transformed so much. Dealing with gender pretty much cured decades of depression and a large black shadow that hung over my life even on the best of days. It meant I could smile more and better and learn what it meant to cry tears of joy.
While each facet of autism is small, they are beginning to add up to something bigger than gender, whether that's in the way I treat myself, the way I interact with the world, or the way the world treats me.
Gender tackled gender. Learning to embrace my autistic self tackles everything. Nothing in my mind, in my life history, in the way I think and behave is safe from the magnifying lens of the autism microscope.
Maybe if anything was safe then I wouldn't be autistic! After all, that list includes such things as "Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything continually." Yep. I don't just analyse. I over-analyse. Everything. Even the things that have no deep reason behind them. And get told about it frequently and told to stop it and just accept what is and get on with things.
So not only is dealing with this harder for me than gender transition, it's bigger too and, if I am faithful to this process, it will transform every part of my life.
Shame must fall away. Guilt must fall away. Into true self acceptance.
This is just who I am. How I'm wired. And how, at least in the broad strokes, countless thousands of other people are wired.
I have killed myself for too long.
Now is the time for resurrection. For self knowledge. For accepting without making value judgements about the so-called "good" and "bad" aspects of who I am.
Now is the time to learn to be autistic. To learn to be me. To learn to live.
Now is the time to love myself. To be proud of who I am. To be proud of what I am.
Now is the time to allow others to love me - and lovingly critique me - without rejecting that love.
And now is the time to learn better to love others. To be proud of who they are. To be proud of what they are.
Now is the time to build myself up. To stop falling back on forty years of abusive self criticism based on needless shame.
Now is the time for forgive myself for all the abuse I have poured upon myself.
Now. Now is the time.