When I was a kid I was both hurt by people in power and bullied by peers. As a kid I wasn’t very self aware and didn’t realize I processed things differently. When the hormones of teenagehood hit, I became painfully aware that not only was I “weird”, different, a convenient target, I also thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me to cause people to mistreat me so much.
They put me in smart kid classes because I could spell, read, and do math beyond my years, but half the time my different way of processing things meant I didn’t understand conversation. I felt like a dumb kid pretending he was smart. I was convinced they had made a mistake, and eventually, my processing skills did not advance at the rate of my age mates and I was no longer a “smart kid”. I almost failed regular math in grade 11 and 12.
I internalized the thoughts that I was worthless and that no one liked me for a long time. It led to some hard roads. A combination of my worthless feelings and my autistic obsessiveness led me to develop anorexia. It was going through treatment for that that started me on the path of really being able to take an objective look at myself.
It’s been five years since I wrestled my life back from anorexia, and slowly since that time I’ve been able to change those old messages.
It wasn’t my fault I was a target.
I was not a dumb kid.
There are people who appreciate me, weirdness and all.
But best of all, I appreciate me. Weirdness and all. Especially weirdness.
It was hard to get here. I’m not even completely sure how I did it, but it took some emotional maturing, a better understanding of myself, and a few experiences of community.
People have said to me “wow, you’re really self aware for an autistic person.” I don’t think autistic people are any less self aware in general. Some are and some aren’t. I think it’s just that I’m more self aware than the average *any* type of person. My life led me to be that way. In order to survive, I had to learn to examine myself and understand. I wasn’t born with this understanding. I worked hard for it.
And what I’m finally starting to develop after more than 25 years, is a sense of self esteem. As I start to understand my own strengths and limitations, I start to see the beauty in my life. As I start to lovingly project the real me to the world, people start to like me.
It was never going to just bang down my door as I hid in the dark. Life does not come to you, you have to seize it for yourself.
I’m not a victim any more. I think I’m a pretty cool guy, and if someone doesn’t agree, that no longer diminishes my own flame.
It took me 28 years to get to this point. I can’t wait to see what’s next.