I’ve wanted to write You this letter for years, but only now have I the words to articulate myself authentically. Only now, at the age of twenty-nine, have I the understanding of what has been wrong all these years. The right term for why You found me odd that first day in the playground. When I talked too much and You laughed at me and called me names. I told You too much about myself, naively thinking that You would understand. I still remember each time your fist hit my flesh, never understanding why, always wondering what exactly it was You hated so much about me.
To the girls I walked home with when I was nine, You were my friend. And then You weren’t. Now I understand the reason for You turning on me. It felt so unfair, there seemed to be no reason. I didn’t understand how strange You found me until I grew up, the scars you left still engrained on my memory, pallid criss-crosses drawn across faded glimmers of film. I remember nails digging deeply into my forehead, malleable like clay, indents of your fingers lingered on my skull for a day. I know You were damaged too, but why was it me You chose to do that to? I was an easy target, wasn’t I?
To the women I worked with during some of my most vulnerable years. Who pulled me in before spitting me back out, who ridiculed me and played games I didn’t understand. Who seemed disgusted at every choice I made and withdrew their support when I was in danger. You will never understand the agony you caused. Pain I still feel today. I have discovered what it was now. What it was that made me and You so different. The thing that has kept me on the outside staring longingly in for stretches of time. The thing that made me a heartbreakingly easy target for You all these years.
To the people who dragged me down, pulling and tugging until I was almost sucked beneath the surface. You tried your hardest to destroy me and it almost worked. You were so close. You pushed me out and made me feel alone again, but that’s okay, because I’ve felt the dark depths of estrangement for a long time. Not physically. But isolated from those who seemed to fit in with ease, who didn’t have to stretch and squeeze their skin to fit into all the extra cracks and crevices I seemed to have. I knew there was something happening inside my brain, zinging and sparking and jumping with electricity.
There was this thing in my brain all along you see.
To the bullies who beat me down, time after time, the girls who ridiculed me, the boys who offered me up as bait to the popular girls, who told on me to teachers who mistook my lack of understanding for disrespect. To the alcohol that clenched onto my life with a fiercely strong grip, supplying me with a way of being ‘normal’, a release from the headache of always trying, trying, trying to fit. To each of You who called me names and played games that only You knew the rules to. I have my answer now. I wasn’t just a weird kid. I was special. I am special. Not hindered. Just different. And obsessive and structured and talkative and blindsided by the lens I see the world through.
I am autistic.
This is not a pity party. This is merely a letter of release, while I breathe a sigh of relief at finally understanding one of the many things that makes me the complex human I am. I will not blame all my hardships on autism, nor will I let it change the person I have always been. Now I can understand a little more of what makes me who I am, this is a celebration. I finally understand why You didn’t want to be my friend. And I can finally forgive You.