We Need to Talk

I am many things.

I am a woman, a wife, a lesbian, an author, an individual with Aspergers, and I could probably think of many more things to add to that list. (I love making lists)

Some of these things listed above might make people’s eyebrows go up but there is a reason I am being so open about some of those things. In fact, for those who have their eyebrows raised right now, I am hoping you will continue reading- because this blog post is for you.

We all know what happened this past week in Newtown so I am not going to go into detail about it. We’ve all seen the news, so there is no need. I am not even sure how to process it. It’s almost too sad to write about. So let’s take a step away from the actual event itself for a moment, as that is not what this blog post is about.

This blog post is about the fact that I felt shattered when I heard someone mention that the shooter reportedly had Aspergers Syndrome. Do you know why?

Because I have Aspergers, soon to be grouped in with the new term “Autism Spectrum Disorder” with the DSM-5, and I knew what this meant. It meant that there would be people attacking the entire Autism Community and pointing fingers and saying this is the reason for the violence.

Now I am not a doctor, I am not a therapist, nor am I a research genius. But I can say with true honesty that I know there many people on the Autism Spectrum, including myself, that want nothing more than to help others- not hurt them.

I don’t know have the answer of where to point your finger. I am in absolutely no way defending the horrific actions that person took. This post is not about him at all. Don’t worry, I’m getting to the point- just stay with me here.

I am so incredibly tired of stigmas and stereotypes that this society has placed on quite a few of the things I listed above but I feel like we as a society are so incredibly quick to judge everyone. But guess what? I am so much more than that list- I am a person. Just like you. Human. Different. Unique.

Yes, I am married to a woman. It doesn’t make me disgusting. I kept quiet for what? Yes, I have Aspergers Syndrome and it doesn’t make me violent or rude. And let me boldly add another item to that list: Yes, I’m currently HPV+ and if you do some reading, I’m one of millions and it doesn’t mean I’m dirty or promiscuous. In fact, I’m just grateful we caught the pre-cancer before it turned into invasive cancer. I truly believe it was a close call.

You might say, I am showing a lack of boundaries by sharing all of this in a public blog post. I am doing it because I feel like if I don’t set an example by being real- who will? If we all hide who we are from each other, in fear of judgement, what is the point of that? At times I’ve wished that life was more like was a 1950s sitcom, but it’s not. Thank God, how fake would that be?

Can we please stop pointing fingers so quickly? This is not to say that we don’t each have the right to have our own sense of judgement. Of course we do. You don’t have to agree with my life style, that’s your right. I have the same right to feel the same way about yours.

But this isn’t about religion. This isn’t about politics. Naturally, I agree that everyone has the right to believe what they want, even if it isn’t something I agree with. I don’t believe you and I have to be friends. We don’t and I am okay with that.

We are a broken society. We’re broken emotional and financially. We need each other. I can hear Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” starting up in my head haha. We need to get excited to be a team. We are all we have right? We can do this but it has to be done together.

Let’s wrap this up and tie it with a pretty bow as it’s getting late and I need to get some sleep. I just want everyone to stop judging so quickly. Listen first.

Deal?

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About Gretchen Leary

I am 30 years old, I live in the Boston area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in Autism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to We Need to Talk

  1. Deal Gretchen. What a wonderfully refreshing post to read. I have pretty much stayed away from reading/listening to the media this weekend…it is just TOO much! Sleep well.

  2. No one could have said it better. I had to retire after a car accident at the age of 47yrs old. I worked with autism and asperger child BEFORE there was a DSM-5 code. I loved my children and how they helped me understand my fear of labels.
    I always felt I had asperger but have never been diagnosed. I also am a list maker…..many list and lists to go with lists. Sometimes I am argumentative and can go into what I call a “fit”……in seconds. My “fits” are not accepted by many have gone thru-family,friends and buddies. I see a therapist and now on some medication…..but still the same awful person. I am now 57yrs old and not a happy person. I really admire your honesty and envy how you can put yourself “out there”. I write, paint, or draw and make more lists in my journal daily.
    This is the most I have written that public can view. I get paranoid of the label and what people will think. You have touched my soul this evening and I wanted to just say “thank you” but my soul kept typing.

    • Thankyou for sharing your story and opening your heart. It’s so important, in my opinion, as it helps others do the same. *Hugs*

      • I talked to my doctor today and showed her my post. She said yes I am an aspie but she felt no reason to label me. I was born at a time where there were two labels: normal and MR My diagnose did not meet either so why start with a label now. I skipped two grades in school because I was bored and it seem to control my “fits” because I was challenged. However, I had no friends and did not attend my prom. I was valedictorian of my class but chose not to speak. I could hardly be I the auditorium for the graduation. Again I carried my list book with me and wrote more list to keep my mind quite(socially) and not to throw a fit. I promised my girlfriend that we could spend the night together if I made this graduation crap a success. I was happy for the first time in my life. Happiness comes and goes but you do inspire me. I would like start a blog including writings and many paintings and drawings. I’ve been told I’m compulsive about my art work and need to get out. Maybe by starting a blog I can get “out” of my mind a least. Then maybe the next step in life’s spiral path will come to me. Could you tell me how and where to start.? How do I get a page in WordPress or should I begin somewhere else? (((((((HUGS))))))) back at you.

      • Hello again πŸ™‚

        WordPress is amazing! You can upload artwork as images. You might want to google “blogs for artwork” but I love WordPress so I may be biased πŸ™‚

        My partner is an artist and has her own website. Thought you might like to see her art: onceinabluesun.com

        I’m proud of you to want to take that first step. Baby steps though! πŸ™‚ I don’t go out often after work but sometimes I go for a walk in the evening and listen to music (just as long as it’s not too dark, in that case I try just one earbud in to be more aware of what’s around me)

        You’re openness has inspired me as well. You deserve to be happy. I know the feeling of it coming and going but whenever I feel really down, I make a list (on paper or in my head) of what I am grateful for or I sing. Both help a lot.

        Feel free to stop by my blog anytime or send an email – authorleary@gmail.com

        Sincerely,
        Gretchen

  3. AspieSide says:

    (hugs) I’m so proud of your bravery. The judging and finger pointing does need to stop. If someone doesn’t like you, because stereotypical stupidity or otherwise, they are the one with the problem. You are a wonderful, warm, kind human being.

  4. I’ll point a finger at you.

    You sound awesome :-).

  5. vadess40 says:

    Beautifully written and well said. Don’t worry, we can stand above those who insist on using us, and our fellow aspies, as scapegoats in times like this.

  6. Nomad says:

    Very well written. Thank you.

    • Thank-you for taking the time to read it. It means a lot. I wasn’t sure what the response would be. In fact, I was nervous to be so open, but hiding from it isn’t my way. I’m not much of a leader in a lot of ways, but when it comes to respect or bullying or stepping it up for the Autism community, I do the best I can. I wish I could do more. Social anxiety makes big fundraisers really hard for me. I do much better one on one and to me, my blog allows me to speak to everyone – one on one πŸ™‚

  7. You are right!! “We are a broken society.” Mayhem will ensue. Things aren’t so good. 😦

    • As the cliche goes “This too shall pass” but the difference is…things won’t change unless we show others that being different isn’t such a bad thing.

      Financially, I am at a loss. We are truly struggling.

  8. Cathy Depew says:

    Thank you for your words if wisdom and the courage to write them publicly. My daughter is autistic- a very funny, sweet, caring girl, who would never hurt anyone. She’s only 6, yet the stigma that is being placed on you, her, her friends and classmates, and many others out there, is astounding, and its wrong.
    Thank you for being brave, for all the asd people.

    A mom

    • I think we are all braver than we’d ever think we were until we challenge ourselves. I was nervous to post this at all, and in the end the worry about posting it is what inspired the passion within that I had to post it- even if one person read it because my goal in life is to make a difference, not to hide.

      Big hugs,
      Gretchen

  9. thank you for your open and honest post. my son has Asperger’s syndrome and it really hurt him when they started blaming the asperger’s.

    • I truly believe honesty is key. It isn’t always easy and I’m far from perfect at always being honest 100% of the time but I find that when I am and when I do it in a loving way- only good things happen. Well usually πŸ™‚

  10. George J Lloyd says:

    You are making a statement, Gretchen!

  11. Seems like the media likes labels because it makes reporting easier. Congrats on your journey and best wishes for much happiness and success in the new year.

  12. Gretchen, thanks for visiting my site! I’m sorry for the late post, but this was a recommended poem when I checked your site. I’m glad I started here. My daughter has Asperger’s; I’m bipolar with PTSD and am a sexual abuse survivor (thanks, Dad). The Newtown incident of course saddened me, but the way the media have handled Asperger’s in particular enraged me. The Aspies I know are gentle, shy, creative, and probably the last people I’d expect to even own a gun, let alone use one.

    The mental health coverage in general is awful, too. No one in the media cares to deal with mental disorders until someone “climbs the clock tower and takes out half the town.” I’m a member of NAMI Stigma-Busters, and I am also the wife of a pastor – UCC, very open and affirming (Riley is also gender queer as well as Aspie). I stood up in church and talked openly about the facts on Newtown, on Asperger’s, and on the media. They all know my diagnoses and are wonderful people.

    You are a shining example of a young activist. Good for you. I’m 56 and have been an activist since I stuffed envelopes for Bobby Kennedy’s presidential run, at age 12. Never too soon to start making positive changes in the world. God bless you, sister. Amy
    http://sharplittlepencil.com/2013/01/27/extra-extra-editorial-comment-by-moi/

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