Thoughts on Bathrooms

I don’t talk about transgender legislation. I don’t talk about my feelings about gender or sexual orientation mostly because it’s controversial. I avoid conflict or even the very thought of conflict. And in general, I avoid conversations with people.

But today I’m going to talk about a specific topic that I cannot get out of my head. Bathrooms. I have always hated public restrooms. Not because of cleanliness or noise or lack of privacy, but because they are almost always gender specific.

There is a boys bathroom and a girls bathroom, and you have to choose which one to go into. For most people, it’s a pretty obvious choice. You simply go into the one that fits you without even thinking twice. But for someone who doesn’t fit, it’s like choosing between depression and anxiety, you don’t want either one but life might just push you into one anyway.

The worst is locker rooms. There is no privacy in locker rooms. And even though you go into the locker room that correlates to your body parts, you can never feel comfortable changing where you don’t belong. Even though I was threatened with detention every day I changed in the bathroom of the girl’s locker room, I still did it. I would rather be punished every day than be exposed every day.

For as long as I can remember, I have wished that there was another option. I wished that there was a middle ground where you didn’t have to choose between boy and girl, but could just be you.

I classify as gender neutral or genderless. I don’t associate myself with either gender or consider myself to fit into the categories of either boy or girl. I also classify as asexual, which means I feel no sexual attraction to either men or women. In a world of men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, being a gender neutral asexual person feels like being a rock in someone’s shoe. You just don’t belong, and you feel like you have no purpose and just get in the way.

I don’t expect you to understand. How could anyone understand if they have never felt like this? But I want you to know that I’m here, that I see the arguments. I see both sides fighting for what they believe to be right. I see my friends, most of whom have no idea how I feel, post about how wrong it is to choose to be something other than what you are.

I promise that I didn’t choose this. In fact, I choose to conform to what I am not every day. I choose to go into the women’s restroom despite the stares I get. I choose to go on the right side of the room when the teacher decides to divide everyone up by gender. I choose to wear a skirt even though it makes me feel gross inside.

I am not a man, but I don’t feel like a woman either. And I’m not sure I ever will. But I try. I try to fit into your world. I try to play along. I try to squeeze into the boxes I am expected to fit into. But please, before you post how wrong this is, before you tell the world to stop making things difficult, please, please know that for some people this has always been difficult. Please know that for some people, we would rather wet our pants every day at school than have to go into a restroom where we don’t fit in. And please, just please try to understand how hard it is to go through every day hating everything you are because no one seems to want you if you can’t be what they expect you to be.

Depression

I have been incredibly honest in my journey of life. Since my suicide attempt 7 years ago until now, I have told people how I feel and tried to find words to explain the darkness. But when I’m really suffering, there are no words to explain it. I just hurt.

Depression for me is very physical. In fact, it’s almost all physical. When I actually get in depth with someone about how I feel, I break down while explaining that my life is beautiful. My life is completely wonderful. I have amazing friends. I have a good job with friendly coworkers and an understanding boss. I love my church and what I am studying in school and my family. My life is incredibly good and I know it. But… I still feel this way.

I have never had depression like this. Every other time I had depression, there was something wrong with my thoughts. I would get in cycles of hating myself, thinking that I was flawed and broken, thinking that I wasn’t good enough. When I wasn’t insulting myself, I was scared and lonely and hurt.

This time is different. My thought patterns are positive. I see the good in me and in my life. I enjoy my life. I love what I do and who I do things with. But there is a pain that won’t go away. There is a darkness that surrounds me. The depression grips me so that I cannot breathe and I fall. I plead for the pain to go away, for the darkness to end, for relief.

Yes, depression is an illness. It is physical, mental, and emotional. It is not something that can go away with positive thinking. And it can be debilitating. It can mean lying in bed without the strength to move. It can mean wondering when the end will come. And yes, it is in my mind but that is the worst place for an illness to be because your mind makes the rest of you work. This illness of the mind permeates every other aspect of your body because the mind is everything and when your mind is not healthy, how can anything else be healthy?

2 Truths and a Lie

Truth- I sat in a class where we talked about substance abuse and drugs and alcohol and tobacco, and for the first time in my life, I thought maybe I should try that.

Truth- I posted on Facebook that I have been struggling with an eating disorder and drowning in depression, posting more and more about suicide because it sounds so good sometimes.

Lie- My friend asked how I was and I said okay, over and over again.

Why is it so hard to say the truth and easy to buy into the lies?

Trusting Someone

I made a new friend. Well, actually… She kind of made me…

It’s different though. It’s different from my normal friendships. She wants to know about me, and not just the surface stuff… But the scary stuff… She wants to know who I am, how I became who I am… She wants to know about the parts of me that aren’t okay. And she says I can trust her with the things about me that are broken.

I want to open up to her. I want to trust her. It’s really scary though. It’s scary to have someone you can tell things to. I’m scared that I will tell her things. I’m scared that I’ll tell her too much, that I’ll tell her too fast, that I’ll mess it all up.

And I can’t help feeling like this may be my only chance, but I’m not sure I can do it. I can trust. I can take the chance of getting hurt. But I’m going to say things wrong. I’m going to mess up. And I’m just not sure that I can keep from messing up horribly and ruining this, not just for me, but for her too.

Will I ever be whole? Will I ever be able to tell someone the hard things? I don’t know. I just know I’m scared, and I don’t know how not to be. But at least it’s a good scared, the kind of scared that you feel when life is about to change. I just hope this goes well.

Grateful for Honest Voices

I’ll continue with my letters tomorrow, but today I wanted to talk about something else for a minute.

I have felt very alone for much of my life- alone in my struggles, alone in my journey, alone in my loneliness. And when I started this blog, I felt alone in my openness. I stopped blogging for about a year because it felt too scary to stand alone in my honesty, in my vulnerability, in my humanity. I was scared to tell people that I was different. It’s not like it was a secret, but saying it or writing about it seemed like social suicide. And let’s face it, my social life didn’t need anything else to help it plummet faster.

But I am so grateful that I’m not alone. I am so grateful for all the other honest voices out there. I am so grateful for all the people who have shared their stories, who are sharing their stories, and who will share their stories. I am so grateful that this isn’t a one way conversation. I’m grateful that I’m not just a voice lost in the vast world of the internet. I still am just one voice, and a relatively small voice at that, but I can unite my voice to the many voices. I am so grateful for that.

So, thank you. Thank you to all of you who put yourself out there. Thank you to all of you who are honest voices. Thank you for being voices I can unite with. Together, we might just make a difference.

Vulnerable

There are certain things people never talk about. And if they do talk about them, it is generally only with the closest of friends in sincere moments of quiet understanding, or with relative strangers because we’re afraid of losing friends by being honest.

That’s why it is so hard to have a blog linked to my personal accounts where friends and family members of all types of relationships can see what I post. It is like putting a mirror in the middle of the road with a sign that says “please don’t break me.” Every time I post something about autism or depression or suicide, I pray that I won’t be broken. I hope that people will understand. I hope that it won’t make people afraid of being themselves around me or nervous to talk to me or resentful of how I feel or think about things.

Every post is a risk. Every post means allowing myself to be seen as human, and let’s face it, we don’t like being human. Being human is vulnerable. Humans get hurt. They die and suffer and make mistakes. We would much rather feel invincible. And it is easy to feel invincible in this world. We can hide behind our electronic devices, not feel the elements by staying in our houses or cars or offices, and social media is almost designed to make us seem invincible by posting only the moments we want to glory in. It is easy to feel invincible when there are metal, plastic, tangible machines always between us and the rest of the world.

However, most of us know to some extent that we are not invincible. Here is where the gap lies. We have an image of invincibility that we put out to the rest of the world, while silently guarding the vulnerable person that we see inside ourselves.

I don’t want to be like that. As hard as it is to be vulnerable, I don’t want to hide behind walls I myself create. I want to be me always so that no one is surprised when I do something human.

It is hard though. Even though I know why I do this and I wouldn’t want to go back to hiding, it is hard to continue to be vulnerable. What keeps me going though are the messages I get that say, “I connect with what you’re going through.” The times when people tell me they understand or relate to a post. And it reminds me that I have to keep doing this because being vulnerable is the only way out of being scared. It may be hard, but if it helps one person it is worth it. And I know it always helps at least one person, me.

Being Genuine

Today in church we talked about being genuine. One of my friends made a comment about how much she appreciates that I’m genuine. It was an interesting way of looking at myself because I’ve been thinking lately that I have a serious problem with honesty. I’m far more open and honest than I should be. And I tell people things they really don’t need to know or want to hear.

I mean, I don’t go around offending people, but I always tell the truth no matter what the question or situation. No matter how personal or trivial, I say what I really think and express how I really feel.

And I am me always. I don’t pretend to be someone else. I believe in owning up to my mistakes and not apologizing for my strengths. Especially with all of the new goals I’ve been setting for myself, I am even more myself than ever before.

It hasn’t gotten me in trouble yet, but I’m just waiting for the day when someone will say, “I really didn’t need to know that” or “wow, you are brutally honest.” And I won’t be surprised because I’ll know it’s true. In the meantime though, I’m happy that people see it as me being genuine.

Hate is such a strong word

People always say that hate is a strong word. But I think when you have autism, sometimes there is no other way to describe how you feel.

Merriam-webster dictionary defines hate as:

a :  intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury

b :  extreme dislike or antipathy 

I often think to myself that I hate something because of the first definition. There are things, stupid things, things that normal people wouldn’t hate, that I feel like I hate. Some of these things are the look of sagging skin on someone, the way someone breathes, or even people sometimes.

This is kind of hard to explain, but I realize that it’s normal to say you hate these things. It’s normal to strongly dislike these things and so you say you hate them. But for me, it’s not a strong dislike that makes me hate these things. My definition of hate is closer to the first definition.

When I say I hate something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I dislike it. What it does mean is that it makes me feel a sense of anger, fear or injury. I say hate because I feel hate. Whether the hate is justified or not, doesn’t change how I feel.

When I say I hate something, I mean that it makes me want to explode inside. It makes me want to become violent or run away or try to comfort myself. I couldn’t tell you why certain things make me feel the way they do; sometimes they just do. It doesn’t make sense that I feel so strongly about something that really doesn’t matter, but it is the reality.

So, how do I deal with these feelings of hate? I focus on something else. If I focus on the object I hate, I will probably get upset and may even have some sort of meltdown. Instead, I have to change my focus to something I like instead. Then, I can usually “forget” what I hated and move on.

I know that when I say I hate something people tend to question if I really mean that I hate it. But like the dictionary says, it gives me a strong sense of “hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” Whatever it is that I say I hate makes me feel some sort of pain or anger and therefore is by definition something I hate.

I don’t always feel this way about things, but it does happen every once in a while. It’s not really something that you can just stop either. It’s an automatic reaction. So if someone with autism says they hate you or they hate something, try not to take it too personally. It’s just that we feel uncomfortable, in pain even, and that’s why we say hate.

How do you say the hard stuff?

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. A whole lot of mistakes. And there’s so much I need and want to do to fix things. But trying to figure out how to fix things is so hard sometimes. I know what I have to do… I just don’t know how to do it. There’s so much I want to say and so much I need to get out, but I don’t want to make things worse. I don’t want to make a mistake… again… So, my biggest question is how do you say the hard stuff?

How do you say I’m sorry for being someone I’m not?

How do you say I miss you and want to be friends again?

How do you say I’ve changed?

How do you say I’m sorry for hurting you or scaring you or worrying you or not appreciating you or not being a good friend to you?

How do you say you knew me at my hardest and worst time of my life?

How do you say can we start over?

 

I keep thinking that maybe I just need to do it, just be honest and straightforward and get everything out. But then the thoughts creep in, “is this my autism talking?” “do people want to hear from me after all this time?” “do people even care or think about it anymore, and if they don’t, should I remind them?” “would it matter if I told someone what I feel I need to tell them? -would it just be an annoyance?” “what if I message someone and it backfires? -that’ll defeat the whole purpose of the message in the first place” “am I worth it? am I worth resolving my past with others? am I worth trying to fix friendships? does anyone that I need to talk to even care about me still?”

And the biggest question is still, “how do I do this?”

Simple

I have often said that I am a simple person. Some people may disagree with that statement, but I feel it to be the core of who I am. I may sometimes seem complicated or hard to understand, but the reasons behind my actions are usually incredibly simple. I don’t know if my simpleness stems from autism or simply from my personality, but I guess you can decide what you think about it.

So, how am I simple?

1. I have simple pleasures.

  • I like soft things. I like the feel of a fluffy blanket after a rough day. I like hugging a teddy bear or a pillow. I like running my fingers through the soft fibers of things around me.
  • I like food (most of the time). I like the feeling of chewing. I like the sensations of sweetness and crunchiness. I like the smell of my favorite meals or the ripeness of a beautiful fruit.
  • I like beautiful things. I like watching the sunset or picking shapes out of clouds or examining the flight path of a bird. I like seeing the budding of a flower or noticing the patterns in my skin.
  • I like being alive. I like the feeling of relaxing and breathing deeply. I like hearing the beating of my heart or feeling the flow of blood in my veins. I like feeling the movement of my legs pumping as I run or the bounce in my stride when I walk.

2. I’m not really a deep person. I just see things in the world around me that others may not notice.

  • I notice the beauty of nature and comment on how it reminds me that God is the greatest artist to ever live.
  • I notice connections between shapes and patterns and facts of life.
  • I understand the pain and the hurt and emotions of others because I recognize them from having those feelings myself.

3. I’m straightforward and simple in how I say things.

  • I write my insights in a simple way and my poetry is straightforward and easy to understand.
  • I’m not good at being abstract and I tend to answer questions directly rather than jumping around the topic.
  • I’m not good at telling white lies and generally tell people what I really think when they ask me something.

4. I simply express my emotions.

  • When I’m sad, I don’t pretend to be happy. I may not want people to know I’m sad but I don’t pretend to be something I’m not.
  • When I’m frustrated, it’s pretty obvious that I’m having a rough time.
  • When I’m happy, I can’t help smiling and laughing.

5. I’m still a kid at heart.

  • I still like to play and have fun.
  • I like listening and singing to children’s songs and and watching animated movies.
  • I like spending time with my family and friends as often as possible.

 

I don’t know if me being simple is a good thing or not, but I like being simple. I think I’m a pretty easy person to read and I wish I could read others more easily so I could understand them better. Maybe if we were all simple people we could understand each other more and be more accepting of differences. I think sometimes people may get frustrated with my straightforwardness or that I show my frustrations with meaningless things, but it’s who I am and I wouldn’t change it for the world.