Days where I'm not allowed
I have been giving this issue a lot of thought since I first wrote about it two years ago and I am currently of the opinion that the days where I am not allowed are the days when I am not able to mask as effectively as I usually can. I suppose people are thrown by me appearing to be "different" to how I usually am and they're unsettled by it and treat me differently as a result.
It shows how important masking is to be able to just get on with life and be left alone to do so, and to get by without negative experiences due to the treatment of others. It also shows how easy it is for even slightly elevated stress levels to lead to a reduction in mask effectiveness and the ensuing negativity in interpersonal interactions.
This piece was written in 2020.
You might be thinking that the title is going to have a twist, because that seems like an incomplete sentence. It is, but it's also a complete sentence. There are days when I'm not allowed. Not allowed to talk, not allowed to ask questions, not allowed to have an opinion, not allowed to do things I'm normally allowed to do, like make a cup of tea or put the washing up away, not allowed to exist, effectively, as everything I do on these days is wrong and upsets people somehow.
I have been having these days all my life and I still, even after 36 years, can't fathom what makes these days happen. I don't know if it's something in me, after all I don't feel particularly different when these days start out (I'm often more upset by the end of the day than normal), I don't do or say anything different when these days start out, but then I wouldn't really know if I feel different or not, so perhaps that's not the best measure.
If we rule out it being something I'm actively doing that's causing these days to happen then what else could it be? Sometimes these days come on after I ask a question, one which on the face of it seems innocent enough (for example: would it be OK to move the washing basket a bit closer please?) but which is laden with some kind of vitriolic subtext I'm not aware of. Maybe I am actively doing something just by existing that causes these days to happen?
Is it some kind of collective higher consciousness that allistic people have where there are certain, unspoken yet frequent days where autistic people just aren't allowed to exist? If I knew when these days were going to be I could just not get out of bed and try and avoid the whole damn thing.
Is it some kind of middle ground thing where it's not definitely me that's causing me not to be allowed, but it's also not a general consciousness thing? In some way, maybe it's a kind of exhaustion at having to deal with me, which brings on a malaise aimed at me, but not due to any specific act or transgression, but more of a “I've had enough and I'm not taking anymore” type thing? I've often been told that I am "too much".
Recently there was a day I wasn't allowed, and it happened also to be a day where my physical symptoms (of other conditions) were also plaguing me. It started out innocently enough, I think, with me wanting to close the back door. I happened to be holding the door, no-one else was holding it, but I wasn't allowed to close it. I don't know why but it was made very clear that I was not to close the door (to clarify, the door needed to be closed, not left open, but apparently not by my hand).
Additionally, I had asked a couple of times the day before to be notified about the start of a certain task so I could move my car. When the task started I was not told, and when I went to move my car (as by prior arrangement) that suddenly wasn't the right thing to do. I then had to contribute something to the task which could have been done by anyone while I was moving my car, but it was made very clear that I had shirked that responsibility by doing the thing that had been previously agreed upon rather than making a different, undiscussed, contribution.
By now, it was clear I'm not allowed to exist on that day, so for the rest of it I tried to speak and do as little as possible that might possibly offend someone else, despite then battling against physical symptoms that were going to make me collapse if not addressed. It was made clear that this was unacceptable but I had no choice in the matter, so left to address the symptoms.
The rest of the day continued in the same vein, I was not allowed to be, everything I do/say/choose was a problem for someone else, and I continue to be an inconvenience who, for some reason is still tolerated, but only mildly and clearly under duress.
I'm sure I do act differently when I realise it's one of these days. I am more withdrawn and quiet, but no-one really intervenes at this sign of distress or upset like they would if I was neurotypical. Behavioural changes are a really obvious sign something's not right but that doesn't apply to me. Those behavioural changes seem to be taken as a conscious part of a plan to cause problems for people, although that's about as far from what's actually going on in my head as it's possible to be. Perhaps this comes back to me being "too much" and if I'm upset or distressed then I am even more "too much" to handle.
The only thing that can stop these days getting worse is if I put on such an act that I'm not even acting as myself, I'm someone completely different with different sensitivities, different feelings and different sources of enjoyment. Perhaps this reassures the allistics that I'm not a threat or a problem (for that day at least, despite years of experience and interactions contrary to this) so they stop hating me and directing negativity my way and find a way to accept me for a short period of time.
These days are so weird, because usually the people around me are quite supportive, undemanding and cognisant of my tolerance levels for socialising/noise/food/talking etc. There are just some days when I am not allowed.