Picking up one of the threads of my last post, it seems to me that adult women who discover they are Aspie’s are like butterflies; for they have been tightly bound in an ever-increasingly alien and limited format for what felt like too long and then, ultimately, the extreme straightjacket effect of some sort of chrysalis experience prior to emerging through their diagnostic epiphany. Throughout all the childhood then adult years that they have been trying to convince themselves, and others, that they are a caterpillar, they have worked to keep all their free-range perspectives, sensibilities and idiosyncrasies within, diligently learning neurotypical ways so that they can do their version of adopting them, whilst still conducting themselves as best they can through all the stages of the typical life path; education, career, parenthood and so on. Yes there was a long road to get to where they are today, munching on a reality that never felt quite digestible; yet now that road and all they took in along the way is an inseparable part of them…transformed through a radical change in perspective.
Often, right before this breakthrough occurred, they had reached a stage where the only way to cope with the extreme differential between their inner and outer worlds was to pull deep inside for a prolonged phase, withdrawing to becoming the chrysalis that barely moves…Except, on the inside, the hardly containable reality of “how they really are” is still bubbling and reimagining like never before; reaching a kind of boiling point that can look like a crisis on the outside and which is really the start of a necessary breakthrough within. In hindsight, they know they could never have become who they are meant to be without patiently working through all these stages; for, like the butterfly, it is the compression-effect of all the hard years trying to be other than they are that leads to the metamorphosis process required for this powerful breed of hybrid women to emerge. They can never forget all those years as a caterpillar yet they straddle two worlds at the completion of the process; which is an important and necessary skillset to possess in these particular times.
Yet from that moment they let it all out, giving it a name, releasing and celebrating all the vibrant colours of the way they are truly made, it is like an unfurling of vast wings; and its as though all of Nature is suspended in breathless anticipation as it occurs. As they start to feel around a whole new, significantly more coherent, perspective of their particular a-typical life, a tiny beadlet of new potential is released into the atmosphere, to bounce and infect its joyful message to the world; that all things are possible.
Having now read countless books, websites and anecdotes written by late-diagnosed Asperger women, I am detecting this theme over and over again; all the utter relief of that unfurlment moment, then the explosion of true colours (ones which are as unique compared to each other Asperger woman as they are from everyone else) and the sense of sheer liberation on a scale that is like a midlife rebirth, complete with a newly realised skillset since to admit to differences is to discover what they are truly there for. These women become more of the very essence of “who they really are”, in the space of an eye-blink, than they have allowed themselves to be all their lives to date and its like a carnival procession to behold what comes out of the tightly-held space of their former lives. Their oddities become their very beauty spots, proudly worn; and now they can openly flit to whatever catches their attention, without such fear of stigma to do with being overly colourful or too changeable…since now they are the butterfly, in their very essence, and no one would tell a butterfly it was wrong to be what it is.
The thing is, when a butterfly flaps its wings for the first time, there is an effect and I think we all know what it is (here’s a simple explanation if not). Though it may be subtle, tiny, localised and unnoticed, the effects of that movement can be far-reaching and this is also what I sense abut the Aspie woman; she ripples change even as she “so simply” does what she does according to her nature, being what she is. Something about all that containment, sustained for so very long; and then the grand release, makes the ripple effect entirely possible so that, without need for grand gestures, her very existence is now a change maker and a marker in the sands of time, for others yet to come. She becomes the inspiration for a new generation of far more softly defined beings, who accept diversity like never before and who, in accepting, reap all the benefits. She is the change she longs to see in the world and the effect is more powerful than any more words than this could better convey, though her self-realised a-typical life tells its own best story from this point forwards.
There is a whole list of recommended reading in my Asperger’s Resources section but I particularly recommend I Am Aspien Woman by Tania Marshall and Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism by Barb Cook and Dr Michelle Garnett as anthologies of late diagnosed women’s accounts supporting the view that realising your own neurodiversity in maturity can be a powerfully positive thing.