The phrase, "Fat, Dumb, and Happy" is stuck in my mind because I've been wondering what life would be like if I never realized I was "different."
There was a time, back in high school, when I was blissfully unaware of my differences. Sure, I didn't have a lot of friends, but that's because I was focused on grades to get free college ride. And I was a nerd. Lack of friendship was expected. But when I went to college, my eyes were opened. I saw that others -even nerds- experienced a depth in relationships I had never known. I saw that people treat me worse when I presented myself as "me," and learned how to project a confidence I don't really feel. I lost about 60 pounds, became part of the "normal weight club" and discovered just how horribly others thought of "fatties" LIKE ME. Even now I can hardly purchase groceries without worrying over whether people are judging me for what I throw in the basket, for I've regained a few of those pounds.
I know I should be thankful. These revelations have allowed me to ascend to a higher professional status than I deserve. To make more money than I deserve. To be more than the Goodwill Janitor prescribed by my psych eval no offense to my Goodwill brethren intended- I'm just saying I should be where you are, but praise God, am able to hold a better job. I also have more social interaction, participate in networking events, and are routinely invited to events with coworkers (though none are as fulfilling as my friendships with a handful of other intense Aspies).
But on the other hand, my days are shadowed by a growing dislike of my natural self and seething anger of the injustice of having to conform. Before I knew I was different, I was happy. Happy with who I was and what I could accomplish.
What if I still believed that everyone else out there processes information like I do, or that they all have the same level of social interaction as I do. To not know how they belittle me when my weight creeps up. To not know how they make fun of my strange behaviors (before I learned to control and hide them). I wonder what it would be like to go back to not caring what anyone thinks of me. And one day, when I secure my retirement, and buy my house in the middle of nowhere, I intend to do just that. But it won't be the same for me.
It takes every ounce of energy I have to put up the proper front during the day, leaving me collapsed in a heap at the end of the day, with little time or energy for the things that truly give me joy. Why do I continue? Because I want to keep my job til I can retire, and I want people to take good care of my son while he's under my care. Those two goals inflict a requirement to get along with others, play "the game," be mindful of what they think about my appearance, behavior, life, etc. I tell myself it will be worth it 10 years from now when I have a "check for life" coming in and my son is a confident, productive member of society. I also tell myself that one day I will accept myself for who I am, embrace the good and the bad, and stop holding myself to someone else's standards of who I should be.
But until then, I'll sludge along and try not to look back wistfully at the days when I was "Fat, Dumb, and Happy."