Another Perspective

This one isn’t about me.

Today I listened to my dear friend cry, but I was smiling.

I couldn’t express the full extent of my understanding of her experiences she retold over the phone: I could predict them. I was chuffed I had analysed the problem correctly and now my brain was on the search for a solution in the background as she spoke.

The problem is exactly the reason why I write- to raise awareness of the existence of brown autistics. Yes we exist under a blanket of ‘genius’ or ‘gamer’, ‘just unsociable’. For females, it’s a life of being forced to conform, to be ‘proper’, stop asking questions, stop being awkward, abrupt, rude, moody, difficult, bossy.

For the males, the brown parents bow down and accept the autistic tendencies and therefore they don’t see any other way of being. The are just fed their interests and closed them off as just being boys. The need for emotion intelligence is alien. As long as they are good spirited, there really is no need to accept or teach the diversity.

And this was the issue. In the 10 years I knew my friend I seen her husband as being extremely technical, a geek in his own gaming world and no more. I didn’t see much more because his wife was so giving and accommodating. She was blind in her love and hope. Hope for companionship and emotional and social interaction. I was nowhere near beginning my own journey of discovery either. But now that I undeniably accept my own and my sons’ autism, with the curses and blessings, I totally see exactly what she experiences! She experiences an adult version of my teen, who would have grown with no accountability or self awareness. Thankfully I highlight my son’s differences, teach him to love himself with his limitations and enable him to own his autism. What I also do is actively teach him his sister’s point of view or spell out her feelings, and help translate the world around him.

I genuinely didn’t know what to do to make her feel better other than listen, acknowledge her experiences, tell her she is trying her best and it’s not her fault. This didn’t come out years ago because she had the energy and hope but now her mask was falling off.

Normally, it’s us neurodiverse ones who suffer the neurotypical world, but today I seen the other perspective. The only way I can help is by helping her understand the autistic brain, which is unique person to person, so even that is limited.

The biggest issue is his denial of neurodiversity. How do you get a person who doesn’t even acknowledge mental health or states because of his deep rooted misbeliefs stemming from subcontinental culture, to even discuss autism?

We are failing as a community so seriously and dangerously to acknowledge how diverse the spectrum is. For Asians an autistic is only the one who cannot speak and has learning difficulties with obvious behaviour problems. What about the other end of the spectrum? How can I complain about Asians who shun depression when I still struggle educators to shift their mindset about my own offspring.

I don’t want my future daughter in law to cry in despair like my friend did today. All she asked for is empathy, human touch, emotional connection. Unfortunately for her, her spouse isn’t wired like that. Being an Asian wife, she feels she can’t even take a break (yes in 2020) for fear of being blamed because he doesn’t do anything wrong. It would be understood that she is out to ruin her marriage because she takes a stand (oh do I know that feeling).

This experience she gave me highlighted how the world is so different for high end spectrum Asian men than women. (I know this is true for all cultures but more so for Eastern.) I bet if was born a boy, my mother wouldn’t have blamed me so much for my strangeness, apparent rudeness or angry outbursts and meltdowns. My gaming and screen addictions would be normal, my inability to be flexible would be accommodated. Imagine if I stayed in that state all my married life (and I obviously did have my difficulties and meltdowns, but they weren’t tolerated), I wonder if it would have lasted as long as it did.

Self Worth

It’s weird how throughout our life we pass many people. It’s like a bus where passengers hop on and off but some stay longer and others don’t leave.

It also depends where the bus is going which determines which kind of passengers get on board. We are the driver but not always in control of who we attract.

This week I faced the question of how do I present myself as to not attract the wrong people. Why are my loved ones so cautious of who I gravitate to, or vice verse. What vibes am I sending out?

Available to take advantage of”

“Keen to please”

“Seeking self worth”

Imagining my marketing boards right now!

I need to become more aware of how I bring people to me by looking at what I do in my initial reactions. When I give myself value, then, and only then will others attach value and respect to me. Easy, right?

I wish! It’s about stepping back and reframing my mind. Stop seeking validation in end results but being happy with myself. I suppose I have always chased results as a way to prove myself to myself and my two closest relationships. It just didn’t happen so I went on doing more and more until burnout. I don’t know any other way of being other than being busy and achieving.

What if I allowed myself just to be content with me? Independant of benchmarks and standards, forgetting a lifetime of comparisons which I fell short of?

I have low self worth because I failed in other people’s standards, namely, my mother, husband, and recruiters. When it came to academics, each lecturer in four universities were amazed by my work, which I dismissed!

Time to take control of the bus, get the route map out for an adventure and only allow passengers on who want to guide, sing along, or learn with me.

Our Core Beliefs

Despite being in and out of counselling over the past 20 years, I don’t ever remember being asked what my core beliefs were. I find it difficult to look inward and pinpoint my feelings and causes of my thoughts and actions.

Everyone bangs on about self-care, which is a foreign concept to me. At least I thought it was. It turned out that going to CBT last year was the best self-care I could ever do.

Together, with the therapist, I managed to articulate three core beliefs that my world revolved around. They were:

  • I am not good enough
  • I don’t fit in
  • That’s unfair

Throughout that year, with the help of identifying these core beliefs, I worked on dismantling my negative self-perception and how to change these.

My Aha! moment was when I stumbled across a lady with Asperger’s, I couldn’t believe the connection I felt with someone I barely knew. Her experiences were mine! I made my way to stalk autistic Facebook pages more and more and suddenly I felt myself gravitating toward a community that wrote, thought, and experienced the world like me.

Suddenly one of my core beliefs disappeared. I belonged! I fit in! I joined the Scottish Women’s Autism Network, where for the first time when I read, I read things I could have written. Where being coloured or Muslim made zero difference and being a woman celebrated.

What I realised was that all my life when I felt or believed that I didn’t fit in, it was because I was looking in the wrong places. I was desperate for approval from people who couldn’t imagine what my world was like. Even the one who birthed me.

Beginning of My Blog

I’m not good enough.

01\07\20

I have put this off long enough.

I wanted to make videos but I can’t stand looking at my face.

But I want a voice. I want to be heard… Not for sympathy. But to let that girl know she is not alone.

You are out there. Feeling like you don’t fit in anywhere. Not good enough for anyone or any group.

A girl,  but not feminine, Scottish but not White. Coloured, but not Pakistani. Autistic, but not conforming.

That’s me. All 35 years.

Today I start writing. This is for me as much as it is for you.

This is about sharing my life because sadly it’s not unique. I would have taken consolation in the fact that my experiences are unique had they been. I don’t wish this struggle on my enemies.

This week I stepped up to help a sister who had suffered long enough at the hands of yet another narcissist. I listened and related to her, told her what to expect, the procedure, what happens now. When the chain comes off, the slave takes times to adjust to the newly gained freedom. Freedom to speak, move and think.

Not a unique experience, unfortunately.

“I did you a favour by marrying you…”

“I wouldn’t advice anymore to marry someone from a broken home/ with a child/ familial mental health issues / <insert degrading comment here>”

“If only you hadn’t <insert characteristic of individuality>”

“If only you listened to me”

“I suffered in this marriage. I have been kept back”

Familiar?

Wait, there’s more …

“Coconut”

“I am your master as stated in the Quran”

“You’re purpose is to serve me first and foremost”

“What’s the point of a wife if I can’t have sex when I want?”

I began to view marriage as halal prostitution. Only called upon when my services were required.

I felt ashamed, but I still thought it several times this week.

She is lucky. I wish I got that swollen eye and bruised arm.

Maybe the police and domestic abuse support charity would then have accepted me as a victim.

You see, I am a master of masking and understatements. On the surface, I seem to be articulate, confident, and able. Nobody cares to scratch the surface no matter what is underneath. Kind of like looking into a glass window only seeing your reflection and not what’s behind it.

This is going to be a hard read but before I want to leave this world I want to share my story.

Why? Because if we can entertain ourselves with stories of all sorts, then why not mine?

The Female Autistic Scottish Pakistani Muslim who didn’t belong.