If I’ve ever mistaken you for another person, called you by the wrong name, or just not recognized you, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I feel terrible for how it might have been taken, and I would change this about myself if I could.
I’m not being inconsiderate or rude. I’m not stupid or unintelligent, as I had someone recently accuse me of being. I was always an honor roll student, earned multiple scholarships, and have earned awards at almost every job I’ve worked.
I’m autistic and struggle with face blindness, or Prosopagnosia. For me, though, it’s more than that.
I mix up who a person is if they have enough similar traits to someone else. It’s a very real struggle for me, and it’s exhausting to mask. It’s one of the many aspects of how my autism presents that causes me to struggle with making friendships and connections with people.
AutisticPride day was last week, and yet, all I could think about was how embarrassed I am by this aspect of my neurodivergent brain. How I may have hurt someone because of it. How it could be seen as a microaggression when I mistook a person of color for another person of color. It’s something that I cannot fix, and it distresses me that I might be hurting people and damaging friendships because of it.
It feels… inadequate and centering to try and explain that I do it to everyone. I don’t want people of color to feel sorry for me. I’m angry that our culture of whiteness others them to the point that people distinguish the difference between people who are not white.
Yet, I do this to everyone. It’s embarrassing that I can list at least five sets of people in my roller derby social groups that I routinely mistake for each other. That when a group of three family members(on my husband’s side) walked up to me wearing masks during a march recently, I had no idea who they were. They literally had to ask “do you really not recognize who we are?” before I figured out why they were talking to me.
I’ve fought long and hard to feel okay with myself. I’ve done my best to embrace this hard fought for diagnosis of autism. I want to be proud of this label, of who I am. I want to focus on the aspects that make me unique, that give me my artistic talents, my drive to learn everything I can about a the things I love.
It’s hard at times, to truly feel pride in something that has also brought me so much confusion and pain. That has caused me to be alone, that has resulted in trauma and anxiety and conflicts with people that has permanently damaged my ability to trust.
I’m working hard to set boundaries so I feel safe. I’m exhausted by the expectations of others and the fact that they so often use and abuse my desire for acceptance. I feel such a distinct lack of respect for my efforts and what I put into the groups I’m involved in at times, it’s hard to not feel bitter.
So just a few days after AutismPride day, I’m reflecting on these feelings. They’re important. They’re hard, and I hope that I will find some healing and a sense of pride in who I am once more. I’m just not feeling it today. And that’s okay.