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Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

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Joined: 12 Jun 2022
Age: 51
Gender: Female
Posts: 157
Location: NorCal

18 Jun 2022, 2:12 pm

I feel resentful that I have spent this much of my life learning social stuff. I feel like learning to get along on a day by day basis - but also the added effort of getting along as a woman - have meant that studying Being A Girl and making my special interest Social Stuff, have supplanted everything else in my life. I feel like I'm literally not allowed to hyperfocus or be too intense about anything.

And I feel like even "women's autism" discussions misses a lot of conversations of women's problems that affect a majority of women because when I was younger I found a lot of comfort in feminist writing, and that kind of shifted and the focus of feminist writing is very different now, and also very classist. For example, I feel like a ton of my "having adequate female social skills" is about maintaining a roof over my head in ways that a lot of female autism authors can't really relate to.

It's not like I became a therapist, social worker, or anything like that; this was just to Get By, and if I had made this same interest computer programming or something, I would have gotten somewhere (which at different times in my life, it was, but Being A Girl and Socially Getting By almost always end up pushing my other interests to the side, and I have to work much harder at those than other women do.)

At some point, I was going to discover the brick wall imposed by my actual neural wiring, which could not be overcome by knowing all the social theory in the world. For example: I am very self aware now about *why* I couldn't learn social stuff "live and in the moment" and what exact neural glitch is going on. My knowing, on paper, the *why* of this, does not actually give me any workaround, because there's no workaround. I'm just trapped in the body and brain that's glitching, watching it happen in silent horror, as the person talking to me has been talking to me for a full 20 seconds (this is one example) and I'm not aware that they're now talking to me and not the person next to me, or the times when I glitch out in a group and the people talking basically sound like the adults from Peanuts. When I was younger, I was not aware of this and didn't care, and didn't try to fight through it, I just had a life that fit around it better.

And what's ironic is being in a position in life now where older women are dependent upon *me* for help but I still have to conform to their normal and not hurt their feelings.

All of this learning has just shown me where my actual disability was, but what's more is that it's shown me actual class and gender based barriers that nobody would admit existed, that made a bunch of goals actually impractical.

Like - I learned a ton of social things and without the actual support and ability to get through school at the right time in my life, and as someone who STILL can't do socially based jobs, it's like... the social things only Get Me By. They hold my relationships together that keep a social support system under me. But I feel like I'm working for a living every moment of my life doing this and people around me have no idea how hard I work at it. My partner gets it because he sees how just spending time with him and his mother in the car together, with them talking while I'm driving, I often have to retreat to the bedroom by myself for an hour to not get a migraine.

And I've lost the window of my life when my burnout wasn't as great, and my executive functioning hadn't been as bad as it is now. I don't even feel like I could do full time school now if I wanted to, and my doing full time *anything* outside of the house has caused health crashes and burnouts.

At what point could I have turned this ship around? I don't know.

I know that I don't want to spend another minute trying to learn people skills, or makeup skills, or whatnot, it's not going to do anything for me at 48 that I haven't already achieved.

I feel like the people skills made it so I can fake my way into situations and basically kick the can down the road until I'm pushed out eventually in more invisible ways. It's like - the better I got at social stuff... the higher the requirements got. Having glitchy social skills as a teenager, when I was younger, got me a crowd of accepting people, but having really polished social skills puts me in the room with actual toxic bullies who are far less forgiving when they see me mess up. Also - it's not all just social skills, and I wish people could see that. Learning all of these social skills didn't undo the other problems connected to my being ND. It just means I'm painfully self-aware about it every time I mess up, and I know EXACTLY where I mess up - the moment I do it - and sometimes still can't take it back. It means I bend over backwards fixing mistakes. I actually miss my childhood and teen years and early twenties when I seemed to just kind of float along on a cloud of obliviousness. I knew enough people skills to keep my skill-based male-dominated work, and have a circle of autistic gamer friends, and didn't need to know more until I was basically ejected from that world. I feel like I wasted a ton of life trying to learn to not seem autistic that I could've spent *on actual useful skillsets* which I seem to no longer really be able to learn, post-burnout.

What do I even want to do with the rest of my life? I'm a 48 year old who's been massively underemployed since 2001 (the dot-bomb). I'm back in tech but struggling to work enough and it's because of executive function issues and learning issues that are much worse since my burnout, than when I was in my 20s. I have been back to college or trade school multiple times in my life; I was going to transfer to a 4-year after finally getting an AA degree in 2013, but needed a little bit of extra coursework, my burnout hit between semesters and I wasn't able to get through the final coursework for transfer, etc.

I am not somebody who will likely qualify for disability though I suppose if I'm going to have to apply for that at some point, maybe my partner and I shouldn't get married. Which is also deeply depressing to me. And my partner's career is finally taking off and now we're moving in spaces that aren't me-shaped and I have secret pain about this that's even hard to talk to my partner about.

Am I going to get to survive long enough to do anything with myself? I'm an only child surrounded by elders, and I feel like I'm staring at a very very tiny window of life left in which my life isn't going to be completely absorbed at some point by caring for them, while possibly having nobody around to care for *me* when I am done.

I resent the time I spent learning about people because if I had known it would just not even get me very far, would I have bothered? Knowing all of this stuff made it impossible for me to sit through psych classes, for example, later, and the social barriers to becoming a therapist or doing anything with a social science degree, are insurmountable for me. (Nobody will even admit they exist. My partner was going to be a therapist and had to do a different profession after graduating because of basically being middle class in origin and not actually rich.)

My mom has a ton of the same issues and just hasn't worked in 20 years and is a housewife and is able to chalk it up to Women's Issues because of her generation. But my partner's married male friends are all married to high-achieving girlbosses. So I can't even really commiserate with my mom about this. Because maybe for her generation, it's a gender issue - but for me it's definitely a disability and class issue. Even work she was able to do, was more available to her - there isn't that much one-girl-office work anymore for people without a college degree, not like when she was in her 30s and having to make it on her own.

I feel like my life has been a treadmill but the incline keeps getting steeper. It was relatively easy to "keep up" in my 20s. Now it's not.

And I wish I had spent my earlier life studying just about anything else besides the obsessive focus on People. Whether it was obsessing over social science stuff, or obsessing over relationships I was trying to hold together, or obsessing over finding a partner/who I was presently interested in, etc.

It is really easy for my partner's and my life to look really normal, because of the lockdown, and because he had a two-bit job for a long time (until recently getting into tech work), and because my upper middle class friends all live very far away and they only see curated me through a computer screen.

But at some point, the lockdown will be over. He will actually be faced with how different I am from the professional women he has to move among - and granted, that is probably why he's with *me* as he is (somewhat invisibly) physically disabled and has dealt with ableism from women in the past, especially professional women, and the reason he was underemployed for so long as because of ableist career barriers in the field he has his Master's in. But he's becoming a professional now himself in a different field.

He is incredibly extroverted, and has so many friends, but once he can actually afford to do the things he wants to do, and the pandemic is over, what then? I realize I am looking too far down the road, admittedly.

I mean... I've been ditched before by people who leveled up their career, and I didn't fit their new world. I know this will not likely happen to me with him (we have been close for a long long time, prior to becoming partners) but when I feel like an alien in every social setting I'm in with him, and come home from practically any situation with allistic women feeling gender dysphoric [1] I worry a bit about it. But I also worry a bit about "keeping up with the Joneses" being a factor because of all the girlbosses in our social world, and I think he has hope that we will keep up with all the two career couples. Basically I have just kinda scraped by my entire adult life and I'm concerned it's not going to ever get better. I am trying to "level up" to the next part in my career but am feeling like I'm hitting a wall where I'm not even able to learn so much material anymore, since my burnout.

I don't feel like my life will ever be able to be any "bigger" or "out in the world" than it presently is, during the pandemic. I don't know if he really knows what he signed up for with me.

[1] this does not happen to me in any other setting and in *my own case* my autism diagnosis actually eased many many feelings of discomfort with my gender. But whenever I am around allistic women, I feel profoundly different from them and not even the same gender as them.

"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." - Franz Kafka

ASD (dx. 2004, Asperger's Syndrome) + ADHD

Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

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Joined: 11 Mar 2021
Age: 47
Gender: Female
Posts: 28
Location: Washington, DC, USA

21 Jun 2022, 9:35 am

Well I hear what you are saying and you have every right to be frustrated.

One thing is, if you made different choices, you might be wondering now, oh what if I had spent just a little more time trying to fit in? Maybe I could have this, this, and that. Right now, you know that you gave acting like a neurotypical woman your absolute best effort. No one can say you could have tried harder. It didn't work out in the way that you wanted, but so many of us end up partially employed and burnt out no matter what we try.

Sounds like you have a partner and you have friends and you have a job, which counts for something, right?

It's your right to mourn what could have been. Process and rant away.