WHO ARE YOU?

 

**scroll down for a YouTube video**

 

Wondered if you are autistic

Like me

But can’t be, you lie

A Lot

Maybe you’re into a fantasy world

So it’s not deception

Just another guise

Across the page unfurled

Who are you, I wonder

The real you, that is

Or are the personas

All separate mosaics

Different names

Different elements

Producing patterns of

Universal familiarity

Ah, well, who can tell

Impossible to define real

We might as well be

Imprisoned in a prism

Facets of colors

Begging to be free

Perhaps someday

Our lights will collide

Inventing a new shade

On the spectrum…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Gandee Vasan/Stone/Getty Images

 

YouTube video: Who Are You, Fifth Harmony  https://youtu.be/hnhtI6IV9N0

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6 comments

  1. My father makes up entire personas (he is autistic too) and when growing up at age 10 I decided I would never believe another word he said. Because everything was a lie. When he joined the Army way before I was born he told them he was an Orthodox Jewish person and became the chaplain’s assistant although his family was Scottish Presbyterian and he had never met anyone Jewish. My mother only learned that he was from Omaha and not Belfast when she saw the marriage certificate right after the wedding. This was very disorienting for someone who takes things very literally and people have said to me he cannot be autistic because autistic people don’t lie. Now, it’s true that I cannot lie and that is the most valuable skill in the workplace , but what they didn’t understand was the level of the lie. I now realize it is someone he creates to be social . But as a child wanting real it hurt. He did not have a father persona. This poem explains it better to me. Because who he really is I don’t think anybody can know. It’s that persona that made him the only one in his family capable of having a career and a place to live. It’s interesting that he was the “not genius” in our family.

    Both his brothers had full scholarships to University of Chicago when they were 16. My father found out he had dyslexia in his 60s. But he had a PhD. Meanwhile his brothers hopped freight trains, surrounded him with poetry , first string violinist becoming a bluegrass fiddler and had barefoot mistreated children who ate apples rotten on the side of the road or drank or smoked himself into an early grave doing what we don’t know with computers in a flophouse not speaking for 20 years until someone asked him point-blank at Christmas where everyone ate dinner in a different room or facing a wall “why haven’t you said anything in 20 years?” And he replied ” nobody has said anything worth replying to.”

    As they were his older brothers they were who he mimicked. And then it was his British friend Patrick and later a Rastafarian friend David. Will my real father please stand up? Sadly no, he gave his backbone to a woman telling me ” I hate making any decisions so she’s in charge of everything.” Including me not having a father.

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    1. Heather, that is the perfect illustration of how different we all are on the spectrum. I feel like a bottom feeder, with no particular genius except, maybe, a unique way of looking at the world and people. Your explanation of your father’s use of personas, not lies, is an important distinction. I remember telling my son, who is also autistic, that he had to learn to, um, embellish, at job interviews. I recognize now that my parents were probably on the spectrum and I see it in my brother. I was always in denial about my son and refused to even think about myself until a friend “told” me to wake up and see how we are. We “are” kind people, smart, wanting to get along in the world…well, you know. Thanks for all your comments, Heather! I hardly ever get to communicate with others about this and dislike the stereotyping that goes on by do-gooders who patronize us or think we spend our entire lives “melting-down”! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This may seem silly but I wrote s omeone last night that finding your blog I felt like I actually found a possible friend. And one thing I miss being 45 and knowing people older than me. But your home about being autistic really did make me cry because finally someone got it right and understand my life and it will be reposted on my blog April 2. I wish I could have everybody I meet read that and understand. I would give it to them as a “this is what it’s like to be me” preparation. What is so obvious to me is you have genius. And I feel like I can picture you about the 1960s and I was raised by hippies although my father and his brother definitely are more Beat. But it’s a world that shaped me. My mother lived in the dorm with Black Panthers and taught yoga and meditation when I was a child when there was no clothing and you brought a towel. And it was Hindu not whatever not whatever calisthenics happening in gymnasiums are. I grew up without electricity, water or telephone with an outhouse and goats and chickens and my NeuroDiversity parents set up a trapeze for me because I was happiest Upside Down .

        The man I really love lives across the ocean and it’s been a very long unusual friendship started when I was 18 living in Ireland and we had a house that we shared. It didn’t work out being so long distance, except it did and it’s own way heal a lot of stuff for me.

        I was excited realizing I am autistic and thought that maybe some of our problems were communication based (we’ve always known we have the worst communication) so I emailed him saying that and went through where I thought maybe I misunderstood . What shocked me was he wrote back the doctor say he is low functioning autistic! He always has a job, he was an amazing father, he’s talented with art and he does have episodes of serious depression that are very Agoraphobia. I now realize there’s a combination of sensory overload and depression from loneliness or change like when his job and everything was transferred to India.
        We would Skype he never looked at me , he always watched the television or look at a book and that drove me crazy. But I understand better. Also when I was diagnosed with babesiosis/malaria he Pointblank refused to acknowledge it or discuss it and I was so heartbroken and furious but he said he was overwhelmed with being miserable – the level of empathy that autistic people are capable of is almost impossible to fathom . Everything I read in books to help autistic people are in the same books to help people with very high empathy. So where the idea we don’t have everything came from and is really strange to me. It can paralyze me. I can be overwhelmed and engulfed in that and it takes several days to process or even become aware of my own feelings underneath it.

        I never thought he was different except maybe gifted and he would make jokes about being too stupid to be my friend so I was stunned when he said he’s taking classes right now and he sits in the front row and raises his hand and speaks in front of the class and he said ” my whole life I thought I was stupid. It turns out I’m not stupid.” And I was shocked that he thought that and I was thrilled and it wasn’t true anymore. I know that his mother was really violent because he “spaced out” and at school teachers would punch him in the chest and there was a lot of violence with bullies, and it was not a Catholic school I feel like I have to tell people that.

        And two of my best friends who seem completely normal to me and have marriages that have lasted over 20 years and are happy and have well-adjusted children and are smart although working when it’s not from home and spending a lot of time with others they really don’t like . They were diagnosed autistic and I never knew.

        But one thing everybody seems to have in common is not ever wanting to hurt someone. The idea of being malicious for petty or manipulative or lying or gossiping or anything purposefully hurtful doesn’t make any sense . And that seems to be the main difference and problem with dealing with NeuroTypicals. My father doesn’t lie about the fact that he is lying. He knows he’s not telling the truth but when it comes to social situations that involve gossiping etc. he has a persona for doing that which is rather pompous and cruel that he cannot deviate from , that is Smalltalk. That’s him being NeuroTypicals and following the clues although I can’t stand it. It’s so uniform that he initially learned it somewhere from someone he must have looked up to.

        And that is something I wanted to talk to people about – what people did you take parts of for creating your social persona? For women who are unusual there wasn’t very much. Patti Smith? It was hard to find someone you can relate with to give you pointers on how to express what is you to the outside world . And I wonder if it’s common for a lot of autistic people.

        My email is sorchalefay@ gmail.com if you ever feel like emailing.

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  2. So happy you like this, Heather, as I said in my email. Just want to address the social persona model. Although I love music and literature so much, it was impossible to use any of my favorites as role models. Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Marina Tsvetaeva: suicides. Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse: drug and alcohol overdoses (suicide). So I tried to concentrate on their work ethics, their perfectionism, their belief in their art. Since I didn’t do well with drugs or alcohol, it was just me, naked, facing the world. When I had children, I tried to hide my fear of others and in fact, threw myself into social situations that turned me prematurely gray 🙂 I wish I knew I was autistic all those years. Maybe I would have been easier on myself…

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