I'm sorry that you're sad

I'm sorry I didn't realise you were sad. It's not that I don't care or that you hid it too well; it's more because it is your sadness instead of mine, so I missed it.

I'm sorry I didn't realise the shape of your face had altered in those subtle, tangible ways which mean you have been crying and are hiding it. I didn't see your tears so I didn't see you had been crying and I even shared a joke with you. I didn't realise you could be sad and still share a joke.

I'm sorry I didn't notice your whole life fell apart while I passed you by. I did notice you passing by, I did think how pale you were and how focused on the road ahead. I just thought you were going somewhere very important, I didn't think you might feel like your journey had ended.

I'm sorry I didn't know you well enough to be able to put out my hand without having to say anything. I'm really sorry I still don't know you well enough to come round with biscuits and time.

I'm glad you have love, that the people in your life know and love you well enough to see when your face changes and you have been crying and to be able to hold you up when your feet don't know which way to go or you can't see the way.

I'm glad you know me as we are now, that I know you as we are now. I'm very glad I know you well enough to have shed some tears of my own for you, to have worried.

Sometimes I'm sorry I'm not enough like most people so that all the little things could be clear and obvious and I would know the right time to say the right thing.

Instead, I'm content that when you smile to greet me you mean it and we are pleased to see each other.

I'm sorry that today you will be crying and living through sadness filled with the light from a thousand gentle moments. When I see you again, I'll be able to see that, if not quite see your face.

I'm wishing you those gentle moments most of all.


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Becoming the aspie

I stretch out my little red legs across the car seat, smooth my patterned skirt and prepare to take another selfie for Facebook. This is one of those moments when even I can see my outfit is Not Normal. Instead of wondering if I should change, I hurry to take a picture while the sun is out and reflecting off the red tights.

In days gone by, I might have changed; or more likely I would have worried, but not changed, the small amount of bravery I had making me stick my nose up at the world and carry on. These days, I put on the tights and clatter out of the house and only wonder if the selfie of my legs should be done in the car or the garden.

Years ago, when I was trying and failing to fit in at school, I wore brightly-coloured clothes which seemed to clash. I say seemed because to me each outfit made sense, each colour choice carefully matched with something else I was wearing. My shoes matched a tone in my jacket, my socks blended with my blouse, my glasses kachinged with my trousers. As a whole event, my outfit must have looked like some rainbow accident but to me it was an on-purpose.

Somewhere in-between I went into black. I suit black and I felt good in it. I also felt it reflected an important facet of my personality at the time. Looking back this is a worry as it coincided with being newly married.

Then I moved on to more normal adventures. I still liked colour but over the years I experimented with looking like everyone else. You know, it can be nice to fit in, to feel like no one would notice you in a crowd. It took me many, many years to realise people who didn't notice me weren't worth my time and also that I still stood out in a group anyway.

Finally I worked my way back round to now. I think of these as the Post-Blogging Years, or the time since I started this blog and decided privacy was over-rated and what my life needed was the top ripping off it.

Since then everything in life that involves other people will, with a kind of soothing inevitability, be compared to this blog. Once I opened up online to anyone with internet access there was a reference, a way of looking at life that involves not just what has really happened to me but also the kind of person I am post-blog.

I am not the same person now. The lack of privacy has changed me: the talking about everything, the explanations, the introspections and the interactions with all the people I have met online. This made me someone else, with a different life online and also a new perspective on the life I have led - and still lead - offline.

There is a freedom to being yourself in at least one place in life and, given enough of this freedom, you start to relish it and then to feel resentful if it has to be relinquished in other places. So it is that a person who is free once secures it for themselves again. In very small ways this shows and in very, very large ones too.

There I go, out of the door each day and in colourful tights, patterned dresses and skirts, jaunty shoes and new things done to my hair that may or may not unravel to the delight of 8 year old students.

It is a very small thing indeed to match your red rights with a thread in your dress, or to know that the only thing your shoes match are your glasses. Compared to bigger changes, though, they are nothing and compared to opening up to the internet, they don't register as a worry.

In fact, I admit it: once you have freedom, you don't simply want it for other parts of your life, you demand it. Why not be free? Why not be the person you really are? There are many reasons we face but they mainly boil down to not being who we are because of how other people will treat us. Will they leave? Will they worry? Will there be words behind closed doors?

Worse still, will there be shouting and finger pointing and those phrases we have heard over and over again for most of our lives? There might be.

And still, today it will be bottle green tights with an orange-patterned dress and those shoes which make the satisfying clump as I trot along, swinging my big file under my arm and reflecting, as I manage not to fall up someone's step, that this is who I am and this is now who people expect me to be.

The biggest freedom of all is in not fitting in. It shows in the clothes you wear, or your smile, or what you do next that you never did before. This is becoming who you are and showing it so often that people would be surprised if you were anyone else.


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Going Full Aspie

I've failed miserably at being normal this week. It's as if the controls I've had in place broke just a little last week, then this week, as soon as I tried to use them, they fell apart in my hands. With no time to make more and no chance to calm down, I started jogging along and haven't stopped since.

Super-busy with my tuition, I've dashed about meeting new students and almost-new ones. Usually I come across as eccentric but okay: you know, eccentric in a good way (I hope) but still able to show children how to do their school work. Then this week the eccentric side took over and I've been running to keep ahead of it without realising it was already in front and waiting round the corner.

The control to stop me over-talking has gone - I think I heard a clunk as it hit the floor and rolled away. Wow, conversation anybody? No, me neither, you can just listen to me have enough conversation for both of us!

Desperately trying to make the best of over-talking, I filtered quickly so that the torrent of words was at least relevant. So the Maths lesson became Fast Maths because, with over-talking, you rarely have anything like slow.

Fast English too and Fast Parent-Speak after the lessons. What a mess!

Then as if that wasn't bad enough, I keep going the wrong way, getting lost, forgetting instructions, times, appointments, you name it. And how does that look?

No, running a business as an aspie is always a balancing game, always a gamble. Most often the gamble is seeing if you can keep it going, withstand the pressure and succeed in what you need to do. But this week the gamble has been going trying to do all of the above while in Full Aspie.

Door steps have waited to trip me so I fall into people's homes, my hair has been exciting, my file, books and papers have been like things possessed, escaping as soon as I stop looking at them. And don't even mention loose rugs.

That little detail in your ceiling is now my secret nemesis and I must not look at it through the whole lesson. Your child's drawing of an antelope is all I can look at. The child's father's teeth are all I can look at. My hand, my own hand in the middle of a lesson, like wow, look at my hand.

Anything and everything that can happen to distract me from behaving in a real-life, sensible way has happened.

The bonus is that I have a feeling my students have got through more work this week. Perhaps they've been somewhat rushed and with explanations decorated grandly by flailing hands, funny faces and hastily drawn diagrams. But they have worked, and looked exhausted, by the time we were finished

It still happened, you see. Full Aspie and the business carried on together; new students were inducted into the Hall of the Rainbow Spectrum and unsuspecting parents endured my Warner Brothers approach to social interaction.

Some of it was fun - young children react very well to Warner Brothers anything. And, oddly, my older students looked pleasantly surprised then amused, as if what they expected had not happened and instead they got an inappropriate version of Mary Poppins.

Now, this end of the week, I am exhausted but feeling calm again. Perhaps we all need to go Full Aspie sometimes, just to stay mostly sane. Or, more likely, working 6 days a week doesn't leave me enough time of my own to be myself so it leached out into the work time.

Whatever caused it, I made it through. I can now dance on a loose rug without falling, pick everything up I just dropped in record time, charm angry children (yes, of course I could do that already), ask strangers for directions (thanks to over-talking - yay!), turn round in very tight places and scream loudly while driving up unexpected alleyways that weren't meant for cars.

Really, I should have filmed it all and kept it for when life is dull. Maybe I should even throw off the shackles and go Full Aspie every week?

No, though, no, I shouldn't. There should be only so much edge of the seat excitement because if I carried on like this I would become a one-woman variety act and I do need to make a living.

That said, I've decided not to fix the whole of my broken control unit. I thought it might be better to leave some of it in pieces and have a little extra freedom in my working world. Then, when I need to be myself, I can let it happen without breaking anything and without having to run on the spot when I'm meant to be going somewhere.

And I can continue to charm angry children and their antelopes.


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