This is an update for any who’ve been following my story since I joined the guild back in 2011. Back then, I posted a very long post about having a sort of breakdown because I still couldn’t figure out how to make my way in the world at age 50. It was titled something like “Long, deep post - I could use an ear.” I had a different forum name back then.
A few years ago, I got tested for and diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This has made all the difference in my life - by opening doors for avenues of support and defining my difficulties as something that our society understands. I no longer have to struggle to describe my differences and limitations to people who have trouble understanding me - I can just say “I’m on the autism spectrum” and everyone knows how to treat me accordingly. This is an amazing thing after spending the previous 60 years of my life unsuccessfully trying to get people to believe that I need extra help.
Perhaps the largest effect this has on me is that it tells me where I belong. For the last several years, my process has largely been about letting go of the superman that I (and everyone else) always though I was and accepting the small, limited reality of what I am. Following this path has led me to an understanding of the extent of my limitations. I can now say with near complete confidence that the limitations imposed by the way my nervous system functions leave me permanently at the age of 14.
This realization is still only a few weeks old, but it already feels immensely liberating and relieving. I say 14 because 15 brought admission to the social game of trying on personas, which was a level of abstraction further than my mind could handle. I am unable to enter into the adult world (in many ways) due to the limitations imposed by my atypical neurology. Having this clear view of the nature of my limitations gives me valuable information about where I belong and what parts of life and society I should never expect myself to be able to participate in.
Years ago, I wrote here that I had realized that I wasn’t transforming into a butterfly like most people talk about transformation and personal growth. Some of you encouraged me to still see myself as a butterfly, but I’ve continued to discover how it fits for me: I was never a caterpillar, even though everyone told me I was. I always knew I was different - it was obvious if you looked hard enough. I’m a centipede. I’m not meant to become a free, flighty butterfly. I’m meant to stay right here on the ground, continuing to go as slowly as I ever did. This analogy has helped me in my process of letting go of the pretenses of the past and accepting the reality of me that no one ever helped me accept or live with. Now, I’m happy to own the fact that I’m a centipede and not a caterpillar. As a 14-year old, I get to keep my authenticity and innocence and get to stay out of the complications and game-playing of adult society that my brain can’t handle. I’m 60 going on 14. Hehe. I finally know how to keep myself (relatively) sane.
Life begins at 60. Lol.