Rudy Simone, Aspergirls :
To find out you're autistic is quite a realization to have in your teens, but in your 40s or 50s it means you have to look back at your whole life and re-frame everything; every incident, every moment, with this new lens to look through. It's like getting glasses after spending your whole life near-sighted. Obviously, the longer you've gone without the diagnosis the more work you have to do in looking back. And in some cases, the more damage to your spirit, psyche, and relationships you have to undo. There are stages we have to get through once we, as adults of any age, find out we have Asperger's:
* Awareness - We find out about Asperger's and the information speaks to us but it just hasn't hit home yet. We may experience some resistance or denial.
* Knowing - The irreversible understanding that you have Asperger's. The realization clicks.
* Validation - Asperger's explains so much in a life that often seems to have had no rhyme nor reason. This is not one moments that will continue for years if not forever.
* Relief - I can finally as the song says "Lay my Burden down". We don't know what our burden is until we're diagnosed but we can tell that other people don't seem to be carrying it.
* Worry - What does this mean for my future and my potential?
* Anger - For all the blame and misdiagnoses that may have been laid upon us by others or by ourselves. Hopefully we will then get to the next phase of our lives.
* Acceptance/thriving - We become keenly aware of our gifts and deficits and use what we have wisely.
I don’t know if I’m doing this in order, but I’m pretty sure I’m hovering somewhere around anger mostly.
Linguistics and the act of speaking itself, have always been among my keenest interests, but I did not become immersed in the treasures they awarded until I studied them in high school. Words, and everything about them, hold my concentration like nothing else. On my over-stuffed bookshelf sit several thesauruses, a half dozen dictionaries, famous quotations books, and a handful of personal reflection journals. Language appeals to me because it lends itself to rules and precision even more often than it does to subjectivity. Put together in the right sequence, taking into account things like tone, perspective, implications and intent, a writer can tweak and bend words until they say precisely what they should. I am fascinated with the opportunities words provide. I love everything about them, especially the power they yield. Some words can please my eyes, given that they have the symmetry of line and shape I favor. Other words can fascinate me by the melodies they sing when they are spoken. Properly handled – with care most of the time – words can work miracles on my sensibilities and my understanding of the world, because each one has its own personality and nuance and its own lesson to teach.
Not everything about this resonates with me. But what it does is remind me of that feeling of absolutely needing words to be right. Feeling them as images and physical shapes, and getting very frustrated when I can’t manage to find the right words to form the right pictures, and when people ask ‘but what is “right”?’ like I’m preoccupied with something that shouldn’t matter… Or why languages fascinate me and I feel like I need to learn more and more of them all the time.
Sometimes, the care I give to words can throw me into an obsessive compulsive ritual. I typically end up spending far too much time selecting which word to use and too much time reworking a sentence so that it looks and feels and sound right. This all translates into fixation that can grind my thought process to halt. When I get like this, I cannot concentrate on anything else, not a thing, until I have found the perfect term or phrase I need. This tendency can make my experiences with the written word tedious, at least in terms, at least in terms of time and other missed opportunities, but never meaningless or futile.
Unfortunately, in my case, I am not in the place yet where I would be able to say that last bit, about it not being futile. Also because sometimes, when I try to think about it too much, I lose track of all words, their meanings lose all colours and get all mixed up in my head. To the point where something completely different from what I intended comes out, and I can’t even tell anymore. I’m chasing myself between these two extremes all the time.
The point is, that even on those shittier of days of mine, the image that still carries me through those shittier days is the one of me finally holding at least one of my finished books in my hands. And it’s not about whether people are actually going to read it, or whether I’m going to try to get it published in the traditional way or put some money away and work out how self-publishing works. It’s about making it solid, and putting it in right words that will paint the right images and connect into that story that I’m trying to tell. And that voice in my head that keeps telling me that I will never able to do it because I’m broken in the head and can’t even connect words in sentences properly (unless it’s an angsty blog post) can just go and… suck on something nasty.
When I finally find the right words and manage connect them in the right way for the story, reading them back, feeling the tiny parts of it really come alive, makes me feel like home.
Which always reminds me of the Alfred Kazin quote.
“One writes to make home for oneself, on paper.”
For someone who doesn’t really have anything else that feels like home, this is sort of important.
One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted –
One need not be a House –