A good place to start

I’m Stef. I’m 27, married, queer, a copywriter, grad student and keeper of bees. I live in Minnesota with my partner of eight years, my big cat, Spencer, and two lovely parakeets.

I was diagnosed three years ago after a long history of being misdiagnosed and over-medicated. My relationship with Jesse (The Neurotypical Wife) can easily be split into Before Diagnosis and After Diagnosis. BD we constantly struggled to understand each other, used coping strategies that never seemed to work and I believe our relationship survived only by the fierce determination of lovesick 19 year olds. AD I had answers for questions I never knew to ask but I had a lot of misconceptions about autism. I rejected that I was stuck like this, in a perpetual state of confusion and anxiety with no hope of medication or treatment to make me normal. Mostly, I grieved for the relationship I thought Jesse deserved but would never have. Thankfully, I was far too selfish to let those thoughts come between us.

The next two years slowly made way for understanding and acceptance. Jesse and I learned so much, about ourselves, each other and our relationship. But even with a new vocabulary and approach for communication, we still got things wrong. We fell into bad habits and unhealthy thought patterns about neurodivergence. A big part of the problem was that I was ashamed of being autistic and subsequently plunged us into isolation as we tried to figure things out. Those years were difficult but hopeful, as we constantly tried to find a foothold that would propel us into normality. Jesse’s infinite patience, open-mindedness and willingness to change felt like a protective barrier around our shaky relationship, keeping us steady from the outside.

Even while in partial denial, I consumed as much information about autism as possible and found my way to a community that celebrated who I was rather than condemning it. I discovered self-respect and confidence in the stories of other autistics and it allowed me to demand respect from others for the first time in my life. We finally discovered solid ground to stand on and in a new state, newly married and starting a brand new life, Jesse and I started dismantling our bad habits and learned a new way to love and accept each other.

I never thought I had anything I’d particularly like to say in terms of blogging but I’ve been given an incredible gift through the words of others and I feel the need to share my own experiences, painful and joyful alike, in an effort to repay that debt. Despite the wealth of information out there, there seems to be a gap. I sought positive stories of neurodiverse queer relationships, day-to-day narratives from both perspectives, anyone with relationship experiences that mirrored my own. Finally, Jesse and I are in a place where we feel we can fill that gap and that’s what we’ll try to do from here on out.

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