This is my journey of self realization, realizations i’ve had recently about past events. it is poorly organized, but I hope it gets the points across.
When I was younger I was diagnosed with NVLD and this was fine. Lately, after extensive research, self-reflection, and talking to “professionals,” I’ve been finding that more and more labels are applicable to me. I’ve become more involved with disability rights stuff (nothing for us without us type stuff) recently, and I’m realizing more and more that my diagnosis was either wrong or should be changed to autism because it is essentially the same thing. My only difference from autistic experience that I’ve read about is that most people now enjoy being around me. But I’ve realized, I’m really fucking autistic.
I think this lack of self knowledge is why I’ve yet to have “sex” and why the activity that I’ve been involved with previously happened without my informed consent in the context of a relationship I was abused in. This was my first relationship and she was the first person who ever told me, “this is how relationships work,” and I accepted it as true. She was lying and taking advantage of me, or alternatively the same thing happened to her and she was even less self aware after that relationship than I was after our relationship. I thought I loved her, she told me that I did anyway. I now can’t talk to people I’m attracted to or their friends about my attraction because I worry I’d abuse them or they’d abuse me, and I honestly don’t know which I’d think was worse.
How do I move on? It has been almost 5 years. I want/need to be with someone at least sensually. I’d like to also be romantically involved, but thinking about it causes me quite a bit of pain.
I also hate that I’m autistic, I don’t want a cure, I just want to be how I thought I was. I also don’t know if I should continue passing or just be more of who I’m realizing I am.
I’m terribly sorry that happened to you. No one deserves to go through that. But I want you to know that not every relationship has to be like that. My boyfriend is also on the Autism Spectrum. I knew him for a few years before he told me (we were coworkers), so I would like to think it didn’t change my behaviour towards him. People have these unfortunate conceptions of disabilities that tend to slant their judgement of people. I would never encourage someone to feel like they have to hide who they are, but if it’s really a concern for you, maybe forgo the announcement until the person you’re interested in has gotten to know you first? Let them form their own opinion, without the associated stereotypes. Then, bring it up casually. Remind them that it doesn’t change anything they already know about who you are as a person, and that you are more than your diagnosis and your previous (negative) experiences.
I’ll admit that when we first starting dating I felt a little intimidated by that fact. ‘How is this relationship going to work? Do I have to take any special precautions not to take advantage?’ In the beginning, I asked a lot of questions and we talked a lot about what each of us needed from the other in order for things to work. Maybe your previous partner didn’t know what she was doing, maybe she did. But by being direct as possible with a new partner, you can give them an opportunity to avoid making her mistakes, or, alternatively, if they don’t seem to listen to what you’re telling them, you’ll know early in the relationship if they’re not worth keeping around.
I’m speaking to romantic relationships because that the only thing I have any experience with. I hope it helps, and best of luck!