Angry or Gentle: being misunderstood

Year one post-autism-diagnosis was a year of changing how I see myself. It was a year of learning to accept my changeable limits and deciding to work with my autism instead of against it. 

So far, year two is about other people. Those in my immediate circle, family and friends, have begun to feel comfortable asking me questions, they’ve mentioned memories I’ve long-forgotten and been able to apply correct motives to confusing actions. 

And now I’m moving on again, to interactions with other autistic people, and I’m finding a whole new view; how I come across to those who intrinsically understand how I’m seeing things. 

Growing up I would have been described as prickly, temperamental, angry, unpredictable, enigmatic, anxious, cold, detached, blunt. 

For the first time I have been described by a new friend as gentle, soothing, certain, brave, clear, powerful, even-handed. 

These are new angles for me, new ways to view myself. They are not distracted by my need to plan, my difficulties with change, my emotional reactions to sensory difficulties; those things are overlooked as default settings, they see through to the rest of me.  

I have always been careful not to call myself an anxious person, I do not think of myself that way. Any anxiety I have is a logical result of a situation and my processing of that situation. 

But oh how I love to be a gentle person. How I love to be the oil on troubled water. If someone can see that softness through all my apparent coolness, then how perceptive they must be. Why oh why is it the non-Autistics, with all their fancy social-wiring, that struggle to see beyond the superficial? Why is it the so-called “disordered” who have all the insight? 

Could it truly be that we are not disordered at all? That we just can’t translate each other properly across neurotypes? That the only advantage you have over me is numbers, the many versus the few? That we are equally at sea with our interactions outside our own brain-types?

Could it be that all my problems have stemmed from allowing non-Autistics to define me? As though I was answering the questions for a French Language exam, but you were marking me based on how well I wrote in German?

Could it be that I have the orderly disorder compared to the rest of you? 

The picture above is of a harmless beetle. Its black and yellow stripes scream, “DANGER! I will harm you!” But its true nature is harmless and its true voice is, “Please don’t hurt me.” 

It’s all in the translation. 

33 thoughts on “Angry or Gentle: being misunderstood

  1. “Could it be that all my problems have stemmed from allowing non-Autistics to define me?”

    I know this feeling. This sort of realization is why a diagnosis was important to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. It’s conforting to read stories that I can relate to, that let me know I’m not alone.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I completely agree that the problem comes from a one sided perspective. I think the language analogy is perfect. We cannot describe autistic people as having a “communication difficulty”, rather we should be describing different means of communication and that the difficulty lies in between us. If a German person and a French person are talking two different languages you can’t point the finger at just one person and say they alone have a communication difficulty. We all need translators. The world needs to meet autistic people where they are and not expect them to conform to the majority. The more I learn about autism the more I feel the real problem is living in a world that is not built for autistics.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Absolutely. I couldn’t have put it better. The problem is that at the moment it’s the autistic person who is expected to “learn the other language” and blamed for any mistakes they make. If we all met each other half way and accepted the great things about every neurotype it would make such a difference. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I completely agree, I am realising that I’m not disordered, I’m simply making the best of living in a world set up and run by a different neurotype to me, one that has the advantage of being the vastly larger majority. And we just have different needs, perceptions of the world (as in how our brains process our surroundings) and communication styles. Nothing more than that. None of us is better or worse than the others, each has pros and cons, we are just different.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a strong and powerful post.I believe sometimes people are just misunderstood due to the lack of comunication and because unfortunately our society always want to implement certain ideas and expect that people will react the same way. I think being diferent should be seen as a quality and not as a flaw.

    Liked by 2 people

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