Living with Mistakes

Today I created this blog.

For me it’s a constant searching for a fresh slate. Something new that I can work at and make perfect in my constant and desperate pursuit of validation. Having read The Autistic Advocate’s recent post on validation, I felt I could do it. I felt inspired. I felt I could use blogging as a tool to validation. Perhaps I could find a way to relate to others like me, or let others who are not like me see something more real. Not the pretence I uphold as much as I can, at the expense of my mental health.

So today I made this “Building the Forth Wall”, a clever little play on the idea of breaking the forth wall. Something we’re not allowed to do. I’m thinking about masking here. Autistic people are constantly pressured into pretending, into assimilating characters to fit in to society. What’s worse is I hold myself to the same expectations. I realise I am also judging myself by society’s standards. If I fail at masking my autistic self I judge myself from an NT perspective. I chastise myself for it. I invalidate myself. I want to explore that, maybe I can find a way to see it differently so I won’t feel so hopeless, depressed and worthless when I don’t live up to these expectations, expectations I’ve created for myself and that the world has created for me.

I made the site on WordPress, immediately signed up to the paid plan I could afford. I’m a little impulsive with these things. It’s always all or nothing. It has to work and it will work. And then I made sure everything was working correctly, all the header images looked the same on each page, the title was the right size, the domain was working. All that was left to do was write my first blog post. I was putting it off. I’ve been putting it off for weeks and months, ever since my diagnosis.

I have this voice in the back of my head that I barely hear: “You’re going to fuck this up.”, “Who wants to hear what you have to say?”, “The other autistic people who read it will hate something, your language wont be PC enough, something you say will be wrong.”, “The NT people who read it won’t be interested, you’re not going to be able to communicate with them.”, “Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself you don’t want too see?” I could continue writing these thoughts. I can hear them more clearly now, now that I’ve realised my mistake…

Buildingtheforthwall.com. What’s wrong with that? Buildingtheforthwall.com. Buildingtheforthwall.com. I had typed it into a new browser window. I had begun typing it and it auto filled and took me to somewhere on the internet, but not my new blog. My husband began to explain, he’d typed it in earlier to see it live, as I’d initially been creating it all from my mobile. He’d typed it in and realised the mistake before me. Then I cried. Then I turned to my husband and demanded: “How could you let me do this?” “How could you let this happen?” That moment of realisation and the voice became louder in my head and was laughing at me. “I told you you couldn’t do it!”, “It’s only been three hours and you’ve fucked it up already!” If there was a written version of the voice it leaves comments like this: “Haha omfg you are such an idiot :’):’)) omfg lol”

The meltdown ensues. I say the things I always say in such situations. “What’s the fucking point!”, “I’m not standing for this”, “I want a way to punish everyone for how I feel right now!”, “I want to die, I mean it!” There is more verbal diarrhoea but I can’t recall it all now. It doesn’t make sense. I want to tear the house down. There’s a raw violence. I watch my husband try desperately to help me. He understands but he doesn’t. It’s worth mentioning now hes the closest thing I have to someone that understands me. It means everything to me. He’s the only person that sees this side of me. Unfortunately he has to see it too often. To make up for all the times I hide it, which is almost all of the rest of the time.

As it happens I work in care. I support adults with learning disabilities. Some of those adults have autism and I’m thinking of someone now. He asks often: “N – O – T – Y Naughty?” It was a mistake he made a long time ago. He spelled it in a test: Noty. It’s a mistake he can’t let go. When he thinks of the mistake I think he feels like I do now. If he feels like I do now, he thinks of the mistake. The mistake can’t be forgotten. It’s a loaded reminder of failing in general. Failing wholly. Being a failure. The cycle is maintained.

My husband is NT and he plays Fifa. He inputted his name into the game as the manager, missed out one of the l’s on his last name. He sees it every time he plays the game and it annoys him, but it doesn’t make him feel like a failure. He is reminded he made a mistake.

He argues his aunt has made a similar mistake: She’s been using an email with a misspelled name for years. When asked about it she explains she still gets her mail. It functions. It’s a little annoying but she can live with the constant reminder of her mistake, because for her and for my husband it does not equate to failure. It does not represent failing generally and stir up the kind of hatred and worthlessness that it conjures in me.

After a period of crying and chain smoking and having some more coffee, I look back to the laptop. I find a way to resolve the issue. I spend another $22 to register another domain. Buildingthefourthwall.com. I do all the admin and the mistake has been rectified. The other domain – it’s still registered too. I can’t erase it without cancelling the entire plan. It will be a stain on this new project. I can’t give up though now. Giving up would mean going to bed or getting drunk and spending weeks of mental energy looking for another new project. Then spending weeks after that having a silent yet pervasive dialogue with myself about value and validation and connection and worthlessness and ego and a million other concepts I’m not sure I can put to words in their entirety.

Living with this mistake is all I can do. The only other option would be not living, but I’m not going there so… I have to live with it, and find a way to accept mistakes in my life. Hopefully continuing despite it will be enough for now. I’m not sure about a resolution to it really. Then my husband suggested my first post should be about, well, what it’s about and here we are. If indeed you are still reading.

I wonder if this is something that other late diagnosed autistic people can relate to. I have a feeling it might be, but of course I can’t be sure. I wish this post could end in some realisation where I know what to do next with what I’ve written. I have a feeling posts here aren’t going to end like that.