Oh, friend. You nailed it. Thank you so much.
I don’t know if you read this:
When You Discover, as an Adult, That You Might Have Autism
All the Ways It Doesn’t Matter…and the One Way That It Does.
but suffice it to say that I have a lot of knots to untie relating to pretty much exactly what you wrote: detangling the ornamental from the “real” (which I profess to be ‘learning to love’).
“I have never had a second’s doubt that when people seek out my company they are doing so because they enjoy my company, or that they respect my talents and skills and want to employ them.”
^This is luxury I have rarely, if ever, felt. I try not to envy, and yet I honestly do.
I have so much gratitude that you shared both your opinion and your perspective. They are, indeed, very valuable. When I imagine your life, as you describe it, and the depth of self-esteem that kind of liberation brings, I hope one day I can feel that. That is the work to be done. And, for the record, you sound like a beautiful person.
I haven’t made it all the way to believing that what’s inside me is enough, but I’m starting to do the things that will get me there, this surgery included.
Walking through the world with fewer of the trappings of the aesthetic ideal is progress.
The world will cling to pretty things. I’m still pretty and the world hasn’t stopped reminding me yet. But if that all went away tomorrow — and it will go away at some point — there is still value underneath. That’s the part of me I need to continue to get in touch with.
That’s the work.
Thank you for pointing that out.