“I’m not real, I don’t exist.” This is what I would repeat to myself when I just could not handle things anymore, when I was lost and couldn’t find my way out. It always helped, if only a little. When I got older, I mentioned this particular repetition to someone, who took it as a wish to die. It wasn’t. I have never wanted to die, just to fade away for a bit, and come back when things are not so hard. You see, if I’m not real, if I don’t exist, then whatever is so wrong doesn’t really matter. If I don’t exist, if I am not real, then my world isn’t either. It always made a lot of sense to me. It never occurred to me that wanting to temporarily disappear would make others think I was suicidal. After that I didn’t do it as much, and remembered to never tell a counsellor about that particular coping method. Thinking about it, others are likely to misunderstand my ticking like a clock under my breath, and remembering that everything always ends, just as badly. They were a reminder to myself that I would always get through the bad things, if only I waited long enough. I don’t want things to end prematurely, I want to outlast what breaks me down. My mother always told me that everything will work out, and it always has eventually, with varying degrees of success. I believed her. I still do, most of the time. Even if I forget all the other amazing things she is and does, I love her for making it so I always have hope.
But even if I believe that everything will work out, that we will figure it out, I still often wish to disappear. To revel in the invisibility I have crafted for myself. You see, even with my strangeness and my piercings and my often coloured hair and my tattoos, I am invisible. I have been since second grade, when being smart and crazy turned into a bad thing and I lost all the friends I thought I had. And since third grade, when I made up a game to play with the friends I had left. Together we created a world of magic. I lost them too when I got accused of bullying. I still don’t understand why she didn’t tell me she didn’t want to play. And someone else created a rule I thought was a bad idea anyway, and said so. I got blamed for that too. So I started to create my own worlds. And because I am invisible, I was never bullied. Okay, maybe I just didn’t notice. Girls can be very subtle, and I certainly wasn’t included. But no one ever physically hurt me, or called me names or made fun of me where I could hear them. Except once.
Someone once told me nobody picked on me because they were afraid of me. Because I have a tendency to look angry, and I am strong and good at ignoring. So far this has been good. I can feel safe walking downtown streets at night. I worry someday It will bite me.
So perhaps I am not always invisible. But I can be. And for now I am okay with that. I listen and watch and learn. I pass for neurotypical most of the time, and avoid the stigma that comes with being openly autistic. I don’t point out the fact that I am aromantic and asexual, and therefore let others assume I am straight. I live on the edge of my life, looking in. But I hope that someday I can be seen, and be okay with that. That I can stim in public and not feel judged. That I can go to pride and not feel like I shouldn’t be there. That I can be colourful and loud and flappy and spinney. And while I hope that others will change their perceptions of acceptable, I will try to be a little more seen, regardless.