An Unexpected April Disclosure

In my defense, I thought I could handle it.

I firmly believe that we should not need to disclose our Autistic status in order to be taken seriously when we pass along the words of other Autistics.

So, I reasoned, I’d post things for April and just elevate other Autistic voices. It seemed like a great plan! And it probably would’ve worked.

Except that it made me extremely uncomfortable to see the reactions on Facebook when I began my April postings over the weekend.

This issue is not like the others I’ve championed over the years where I did successfully elevate minority voices and was able to field ignorant comments from people. This issue involves my very essence, my core. The key to finally understanding my life.

As the hours went past – foggy and difficult to breathe, my heart pounding – I resisted several urges to just disclose and have it over with. To tell my alleged “friends” that no, I actually know far more about this issue than they ever will and to stop spouting nonsense and arguing with my Autistic friends who’d graciously stepped in to try and help.

But I didn’t want to disclose in haste, for the wrong reasons. I didn’t want to disclose for anyone other than myself.

My discomfort grew to an almost unbearable intensity over the course of the day.

I’m reminded of late pregnancy when nearly everyone gets so uncomfortable that they’re willing to go through the difficulties of labor just so they aren’t pregnant any longer.

Comfort is a double-edged sword. Comfort is comfortable, but it doesn’t beget change and often the change is sorely needed.

A baby has to be born and sometimes a disclosure has to be made. Because to stay pregnant or to keep such a huge secret just isn’t possible any longer on so many levels.

The secret grew too big, just like my babies all did.

I waited as long as possible in all those cases. Putting it off, resting, relaxing, not trying to get labor started. Putting it off, ignoring, thinking, crying, trying to determine whether this was really the right time for me to bare that much of my soul to so many people.

I determined that it was the right time, so I did.

The weight that lifted off my shoulders after disclosing was an actual physical sensation. I felt and feel lighter. The person I’ve always been within myself is finally visible and more people can meet me.

Most importantly, I controlled the situation. I didn’t disclose hastily or in anger. I took time, I thought about it, and I disclosed in my own way for my own benefit, primarily.

A part of my deeply held beliefs involves the concept and actions of integrity.

Integrity

1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility

2: an unimpaired condition : soundness

3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness

The focus in my life has typically been on honesty, but it’s the 3rd definition that applies most accurately here. While I’m now feeling more honest, of course, I also don’t feel divided any longer.

It was stressful and difficult for me to be divided in that way. For some people to know and others not.

Now the only people who don’t know are some of my extended family members on the side of my family that has other Autistic people.

Everyone else does and it’s such a relief.

Yes, it was scary. It was terrifying. I didn’t know until I’d finished writing up my statement and posting it whether I’d regret it or not.

But the relief is incredible.

As uncomfortable as the situation that preceded my disclosure was, I’m glad in a way that it forced me to reevaluate whether I was ready to do this.

For Autism “Awareness” Month, I guess I’ve done my part of making people aware that, “Hello, I’m Autistic! Accept all of me or go away.” I will continue to self-identify as Autistic throughout the month and for the rest of my life. I’m done pretending.

This is my birthday month and this is one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself. The gift of unapologetically being myself and being honest about who I actually am.

I’m me, I’m Autistic. That’s who I am and who I’ll always be ❤

 

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13 thoughts on “An Unexpected April Disclosure

  1. Congratulations! What a wonderful morning post to read and start my day with! I’m so happy for you right now!!

    Made me tear up at the end because I just went through (and still am a bit) the metamorphosis of disclosure to my own family and friends that began last month.

    A sense of giving birth and a “lightness” is exactly how it has felt for me also. You wrote something that really opened up my eyes as to what exactly this lightness is for myself.

    You mention integrity in the action itself and how important this was for you. This part of the definition struck me most- “The quality or state of being complete or undivided. Completeness.”
    I see now that the action of revealing ones autism in and of itself, the act of disclosure, can bring about the feeling of completeness, as well.

    I have been walking around lately realizing that I now feel a new sense of being “integrated”. This is the opposite of the “splintered” or “shattered” self I felt like before disclosure. I get it now, and it makes perfect sense in how powerful that feels physically and emotionally. Integrity hits at the core of my being. Boom! You rock Mamautistic.
    The tremendous value and power of blogs like yours are continuing to astound me. Rock on, Mama!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your comment!

      I hadn’t realized beforehand that disclosure would feel so good and lead to a feeling of completeness. I’m still feeling quite good about it – haven’t included most of my family yet, but I doubt it’ll be long now before I share this information with them too.

      I’m so glad the birth analogy worked for you too. Birth is one of those topics that I can relate back to almost anything, but it really seemed to fit perfectly in this case. New birth, new understanding, new view (by myself and those who know) of myself as a person 🙂 Lightening once that information is shared.

      Integrity is so important! I felt its absence keenly and now I welcome its presence ❤

      Thank you again for stopping by and reading!

      Like

    2. Side note: I went and looked at your website – I love your slow life series! Just beautiful ❤ I am also a fan of the slow food movement and read voraciously about it for a period of maybe 6 months around 2008 🙂

      Like

  2. Bravely done! I’m happy it sounds like it ended up being a positive experience for you in the end. I’m also thinking about disclosing my autistic status to my FB-friends this year, but I haven’t figured out how yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! The process of deciding to disclose was horribly painful, but yes, very positive in the end.

      The reactions weren’t all positive and there’s still a good deal of inappropriate (in my opinion) silence from those who made me the most uncomfortable with their comments pre-disclosure, but their reactions don’t matter so much because I disclosed for myself and not for anyone else.

      I wasn’t sure how to go about disclosing either. Because of my situation, I ended up commenting underneath a post and just being bluntly honest about it all in relation to how disappointing and upsetting I’d found the previous comments. I did not apologize, but I did explain why I hadn’t disclosed sooner.

      A good friend of mine suggested that, moving forward, I just self-ID as Autistic by using the correct pronouns: “we,” “our,” etc when speaking of Autistic people. A very subtle, but still obvious disclosure. That’s probably what I would’ve done from the beginning if I’d thought of it and realized ahead of time that I couldn’t get through April without disclosing.

      The main thing I wanted to avoid was making a big new FB post with an announcement. I dislike making those.

      I hope that your eventual disclosure goes well ❤ My main advice, if you do disclose, is to do it for yourself and in whatever way you feel most comfortable 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sorry not everyone reacted positively. Even so, I really hope they took your arguments more seriously afterwards.

        I haven’t come across anything at all about autism on my feed yet besides in my local ASD group, so I still have some time to decide whether to disclose or not. I will probably go the rather subtle correct pronouns-route. Then it’ll be up to people to notice, after all. ^^

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! ❤

      Having varying results/reactions can be so discouraging. I think my worry about people's reactions was the main thing holding me back. I had to get to the point of understanding that I didn't care at all about how people reacted before I could go through with it.

      Kind of a "fuck it all, if they can't accept me as me then I don't care what they think" sort of deal. And yes, swearing was an absolutely necessary part of the process too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do care (about what a few people think anyway) and don’t think I can convince myself otherwise. 😦 I don’t care much what “people” in general think. But I know my wife does and so by extension I have to care. Transitive nature of “caring”.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can understand that.

        Husband stayed out of it in my case, although I let him know ahead of time that I was probably going to do it. He probably cares less than I do and that definitely factored in/helped in my case. Had the idea bothered him a great deal then I’m not sure what I would’ve done. It wouldn’t have been easy either way, I’m guessing 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Having known you since you were a bright eyed urchin who would boldly walk up to me and pontificate with the words and clarity of an adult, I can nod my head with certainty, yes. Yes, I can see it in you, when I think back. Autism makes perfect sense.

    And because you have now once again walked up to me with words of clarity as an adult, I can see it in me, when I think back. And Autism makes perfect sense.

    People come and go through our lives, but I made sure yours never strayed out of ear shot from mine. Because I felt a bond I could not explain although I seemed to know the tune. I loved listening to the far off beat of your drums, and not surprisingly realized my feet moved all too easily to your syncopated cadences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ❤ It's always so nice to have more confirmation from people who've known me a long time!

      I have also noticed a bond with other Autistics in my life. It's difficult to describe, but the way you describe it is very apt. Often I've felt that bond long before I knew they were Autistic or even before I knew I was. You were always a person I looked up to and wanted to be more like when I grew up.

      And I'm so glad that you're still in my life! 🙂

      Like

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