I am autistic.

I am bright and loud when you know me. I don’t speak in hushed monotones. Sometimes, I don’t even speak at all.

I see the lines in my hardwood floor and feel compelled to try to replicate it in a painting. I hear a song and visualize what those sounds sound like.

I feel like everyone else around me has the answer key to life, and I’m having to take the test with what limited notes I could write down in time for the next important points. Because everyone was more concerned with stopping my self-harm behaviors — banging my head, hitting my hand on hard surfaces, biting my hand or arm to the point of blood, digging my nails into my thighs — instead of teaching me how to express and articulate my emotions in a healthy manner when I was a child, it takes me every fiber of my being not to do any of those things when I need that skill.

It’s like everyone knows how to be and act and coexist, and I’m the toxic person who screws everyone else’s lives up. I’m autistic, and it mostly annoys everyone. My brain can only process well the beginning and the end, and everything in between is poetry and tragedy and stumbling around until the results. I work best with data. I know data. Numbers are comforting, predictable and homely — no one rolls their eyes at numbers. Numbers are facts — real, substantial answers to unsolved problems. I am good with problems that involve numbers, data, feedback, and algorithms.

Non-autistic people do not care much for algorithms. They want the real stuff — the authentic connection that relies on participating in small talk, even though neither person cares how the other is actually doing.

Sometimes I wonder if my neurodivergence is the reason I was abused, even though countless professionals have told me they simply did not have the capacity — or maturity — to love and provide for me as they should have. I know it’s supposed to make me feel better, but it’s not comforting to know the people who were supposed to love me lacked the capacity to do so fully.

The dishes are piled up.

I want to yell.

My head hurts; the pain is ceaseless.

I’m cold, but I sometimes feel like I deserve to put up with it because such is my punishment for never knowing or understanding my emotions completely.

This world makes literally zero sense whatsoever.

I can’t justify using hostility for social justice. I don’t even like social justice anymore.

I make boundaries, I’m chastised — the boundaries challenged.

I’m replaceable in the workplace. Work culture perceives this to be a good thing.

My microwave beeps when things are ready and beeps again 30 seconds later, and I can’t turn the stupid, horrendous sensory-disturbing feature off.

Pressure builds.

My face is hot.

I am autistic, and my autism plays a major role in my personality.

So, like every other autistic —

I breathe out through my nostrils.

I ignore the cold.

I don’t smile or frown; my countenance simply rests.

This is the result of no neurodiversity.

Thank you, ABA therapy, for teaching me how to feel like there is no place for me to be me.

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