A big day?

Today is important. It’s also frightening. Big days are like that. But, is this a “big” day? That’s the curiosity, as there is no way to know for sure. Actually, the question might be in what way is it – or will it be – significant?

It’s difficult to comprehend that I’ll be back doing something I’ve not done for almost ten months! And, it’s somewhat sudden, as in on less than a day’s notice, at least in part.

I’m easing my way back in to “normal” life, not that I know what this is. Perhaps, I’ll be able to do it. This is a monumental test for me, not just in what I’ll be doing, but in getting there. It’s too far away for me! I hate driving, and some physical limitations make it very tricky. That may be my undoing.

Then, there are people. I can predict how they will be already. There will be the resounding praise and admiration that I am simply there, filling a need theyhave. That always makes me skeptical, as I’ve seen it before. It’s always calm before the storm, right?

The trick is for me to not be too friendly. I almost have to be rude, from my perspective. That feels wrong, but it’s the way people are. I have to do the opposite of what seems natural to me – that’s what “masking” for autism really is. As my boss told me a few times, “most people just don’t care.” That’s the cold, hard truth! So, why do I want to be around people again?

My biggest mistakes come when I think I can lower my guard, “unmask,” and just “be myself.” Those are the moments when I experience the greatest happiness, only to find it’s an illusion, and people don’t like me without my mask.

This is what I cannot explain to most people, certainly not my wife. It is why I ultimately may not go back to “normal,” as that has failed me. As excited as I am right now, I know that’s an illusion – just like “friends.” The predictable kindness is part of the neurotypical bullshit I’ve had thrown at me far too often.

Are there too many scars? I’ll find out. But, at least for today, I can go and pretend to be “high-functioning,” assuming my body holds up. In some ways, my physical limitations are a “blessing” (I hate that word!). They give me a valid and existential reason to not do things. Still, some don’t understand those, including – and foremost – my wife. Today helps me forget about that, at least for a few hours.

So, here I go . . . I’m going to think positive but not be surprised with any outcomes. People are unpredictable, and some of them can be downright selfish and cruel. At least I don’t know anyone I have to see today, and that gives me some protection, at least in the short run.

Eventually, I know it’s only a matter of time until they would wear me down, take advantage of me, and throw me out of their group. Therefore, I’m going to do all I can to never be part of their group! You can’t lose friends if you don’t have them! But, I have something to do today, and that is exciting. If nothing else, it distances me even more from the past, and that is a good thing.

My body is already causing me problems! This may not work out, but at least I’m trying. Nobody should doubt my effort, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. Now, I’m starting to recall again how unkind and deceitful people can be. I hope this was not a mistake. It’s just one day. What could go wrong? Based on my life, quite a bit. Yes, I’m scared. People hurt me, and some of them seem to enjoy it. So, it’s wise to be afraid, I believe.

A part of my brain is saying, “think positive.” OK, I’ll try that. Again. I’ll learn one way or the other, as my autism therapist told me yesterday. I just wish people would be honest and kind. They are in my imagination . . . but, here comes reality.

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