I walk these halls and feel so out of place, knowing I don’t belong. I am the odd one out, an Aspie living in a land of neuro-typicals. They set the rules. They set the tone. I have to adapt to their ways and when I can’t I am the one in the wrong.
I have come to understand that in the NT world it doesn’t really matter how I function in it. What matters is that I keep them happy and never make them uncomfortable. They prefer to blindly follow their emotion without any logic or reason (my logic and reason makes them uncomfortable).
I don’t operate the way they do, but I am expected to. And when I don’t they get upset with me, attack me, say things to me to alienate me even further and make sure I know that I don’t belong here.
I am autistic. It is the way I am; the way I always have been.
I am not defective. I don’t need to be fixed. I don’t need to be cured. I have things I can contribute.
Still, they expect me to be just like them.
Explaining doesn’t work because nobody is listening. Nobody cares. They want to fit me into this neat little package, make me function a certain way, act a certain way, think a certain way – just like all the other NTs. Because, after all, I am in their world.
The only reprieve I have is my church. I can’t wait to get to service! They care there and have taken the time to understand my way of experiencing the world. They have taken the time to understand that I am not like everyone else.
Best of all, they don’t treat me any differently or try to make me feel bad because I am different. They don’t try to force me to be “normal.” When I have sensory overload, they let me do what I need to do to feel better – and they never make me feel bad about it. To them, that is normal so there is no reason to even bring it up.
I’ve never felt I belonged anywhere the way I feel I belong here.
I had a lot of apprehension about moving to DC; it is a city of sensory overload, but God brought me to just the right place. He put me under a pastor who actually cares about me, who takes the time to know me and understand my issues with autism. The level of dedication to the church is amazing, he works full time, has a family, and pastors the church – and he really pastors. He knows us because he cares about us.
I am finally home.
Then I walk into this building with so many cruel people who do things to hurt me on purpose. Every morning I get out of bed, dreading getting off that bus and walking into that building. I love the job but hate the environment. People can be so cruel.
My church is the highlight of my week. We are all so close. Everyone’s busy, it’s DC, but they all take the time to spend time with each other. I’ve even gotten involved with the women’s ministry. Our monthly meetings, Wednesday morning prayer, and frequent get togethers have shown me that I can be close to people other than my husband. I can have friends.
And even though I am not like them and I act a little differently sometimes, they still believe in me. My pastor believes in me. He has me teaching Sunday school and I am on the rotation teaching the women’s classes. He and his wife support me in my ministry.
I did not even realize that I was a teacher. My husband is the one who is always teaching, always being called to lead the congregation in prayer, always being asked to pray for people during altar call – my pastor really believes in him too – but he is very anointed. However, my pastor said he had been praying and observing me and believed I was called to teach. Other people have said it as well, but my pastor believed that it was time to put it into action. He said I am very anointed.
No one has ever believed in me before. I thought I was useless, that God could never use me. My pastor said no and for the first time I see myself how God must see me. Before that, the only person to believe in me was my husband.
Our pastor’s wife has four children and she still finds time to make sure we have an active and close knit women’s ministry. This is my family. This is home. It makes my work like a little more bearable.
Out there, I am Miss-Understood.
When I walk in my church, they take me just as I am – and even if they don’t completely understand, at least they are trying.
The only thing is, I have this fear in the back of my mind that one day it will all be over. One day I will be ripped from the loving, nurturing environment and all of this will be a memory. Not many people, even pastors, would take someone like me and try to build them up the way my pastor has. Most of the time people just treat me like I am an idiot who can’t do anything.
I am not looking forward to returning to that life, but I am afraid that one day I will have to.
That makes me sad.