Before I found out I was autistic I learned really unhealthy thoughts to cope with the world around me. I believed for certain that I was born under an unlucky star. I thought no matter how hard I worked or how dedicated I was I would never really succeed. I believed that I would never find love, I would never have a home and I would never have a group of friends that loved me for who I was.
I was bullied mercilessly both by teachers and students at school. I tried to self advocate and tell people at school but no one believed me. And in their inability to trust my word as true, the bullying continued. I watched the people who taunted me develop friendships, relationships, go on to college, get married, have children. And I watched my life spiral.
I dropped out of college, I lost relationships, I found relationships with people that abused me because I had no real idea what boundaries were, as no one had ever respected mine, save for my Father and Grandparents who I only saw on weekends and holidays. It was so easy to believe that I was truly cursed because almost the entirety of the humans around me confirmed those beliefs. I did not develop them on my own. I was taught to believe them.
I want to beg with those who have autistic people in their lives. Please, please, please, build them up! Tell them how to use their gifts and their brains, tell them how to navigate sensory challenges. Teach them what healthy boundaries are. Help them learn how to emotionally navigate. STAND UP FOR THEM. Do not allow those who do not understand us to keep us small, to let us believe that we are cursed and better off dead or cured. We have just as much right as anybody to be here. We are not a mistake, broken, cursed, or any other dreadful thing that has been taught to use by the cruelty of others.
I learned how to love myself overtime. It was a long and slow process. It took almost a decade of therapy and studying of psychology, learning about neuroplasticity, and autism for me to realize that in fact I am totally and wholly worthy of love and success just as much as anybody else. PTSD was the after effects of a childhood like that. I am still healing and I probably will always need to work on defeating what I was taught to me about myself, but I will never give up on me.
I am finally angry for the little girl inside me that was made to feel so utterly worthless and broken just because she didn’t understand her differences. And if you are in that place now, please know that all those horrible thoughts are wrong. Please do what you can to challenge negative self beliefs. Find people that lift you up. Learn about healthy boundaries and healthy love. Do not allow anyone to treat you as less than and if they do, don’t soak up their behavior as a judgement of who you are. Don’t let them tell you who you are. I believe in you. You can find your way to self love too and once there you can teach others how to love you. Do not be afraid to use your voice, verbally or in writing, no matter how much it shakes you. You deserve love and you deserve to be heard. You deserve to be you.
I believe in you.
-Angel Marie Russell