A friend sent me an email today, then frantically called me (several times) and messaged me on Google. He was trying to catch me before I read it. You see, he had not intended to send me what he did. He blogs, like I do, and he had intended to email it to himself, so he could finish it later after work. Instead, he sent it to me.
Mind you, this is someone I’ve known since I was 17, and have always been close to. Reconnecting after years of living our own lives has been a challenge at best, but those reasons are irrelevant. What I want to share are a few snippets of his entry, with his permission, that impacted me profoundly.
It is often excruciatingly difficult to illustrate to a non-autistic, just how our thought process works, how seemingly random things affect us to such an intense degree. We are called over-reactive, hypersensitive, or just plain neurotic. We get the added bonus of being called PSYchotic by the truly ignorant.
The challenges of explaining some things to him became so mountainous that our friendship was on the verge of complete dissolution, and in fact, as of Saturday evening, I was certain it had dissolved. I won’t divulge everything he wrote, as some of it is intensely personal for him, but I did ask him if I could share part of it, because it created a revelation within myself, and an overwhelming sense of “Eureka!”, and relief, that someone FINALLY “got it.” Someone finally understood the extreme difficulty that autistics, whether it’s classic Autism, or mild-borderline-high-functioning, Asperger’s, what have you, face when trying to explain our thought process and how profoundly things can impact us that NT’s find baffling because they can’t even fathom having trouble digesting or expressing. And the way he put it, struck me as maybe a way to help other NT’s understand when WE – the Autistic – can’t explain.
There was a great deal of fury and sadness and tears and hurt. We spent a lot of time covering old ground…and rehashing it over and over and over. I took a new tact and tried something completely out of character. I was convinced my new attempt would ultimately be successful and I held my course. But it went late into the night and nothing was resolved. In fact, the final moments of the conversation promised that the friendship was over and done with, dead and turned to dust.
So Sunday morning came and went. But as the day went on, something happened–a very strange form of communication. I won’t get into the details, but for the first time in weeks, I felt like we were finally talking to one another. There was no conversation. There were no words spoken to one another. No text messages or emails. But for the first time in weeks, I finally heard the other and clumsily responded. And then I began to look for other signs I had missed. And around 6 pm last night, I finally got the message loud and clear. It had been there for me all along; I was just too blind to see.
So what did I learn last night? I wish I could share the insights with you so you would understand them.
I learned I’m intelligent but I’m not always smart.
I learned that I need to learn to listen rather than talk. That’s common sense. But moreso, I learned that I need to listen with my heart rather than my head, because I am predisposed to hearing with my ears what my mind has already decided will be said. (*chuckle* That was not a deliberate rhyme.) Further, sometimes what the other person is saying with their words doesn’t match what they are trying to say with their heart. It’s confusing as hell and hard to explain. I will leave it at this, the conversation once your hearts communicate is amazingly simple.
I learned that just because the answer for myself and for 99.99% of the rest of the population is one thing, there is always that .01% of the population for which the answer will be different.
I learned that contrary to popular belief, not everyone wants to be free to make choices and decisions and to have control over a situation. As hard as that is for me to understand, as hard as it is for me to fathom because it goes against every value I’ve ever been taught and against everything I hold dear, not everyone can handle that responsibility. In fact, putting that amount of pressure on them can cause a complete and utter meltdown, leaving them helpless and afraid and alone. Worse, it leaves them completely isolated and unable to communicate the sheer terror they are experiencing.
I think I finally learned that just because I can do something, not everyone else can and just because something is natural for me, it doesn’t necessarily hold true for someone else.
I realized some things that shook my belief system to the core. I discovered that some things I’ve believed in all my life aren’t necessarily so. And I found that while there are things that I find to be wrong for myself might be right for someone else.
So…here we are.
The damage has not been repaired. The trust is still broken. The feelings are still raw. But for the first time since things went so badly awry, there is communication. Real discussion. For the first time since my betrayal, I feel like I have a fighting chance to make things right and eventually, over time, I will be able to regain the trust that I so thoughtlessly discarded.
What was the form of communication that contained no words? I was posting lyrics on Google, and songs that I was listening to because sometimes music is the only way I know of expressing such raw emotion, confusion, and pain.
If you have Asperger’s, you will probably understand exactly what I was going through without any explanation. If you know a Neuro-typical who has difficulty understanding, or you have difficulty explaining in a way they can comprehend, please SHARE this with them. If you are a NT, then I wholeheartedly and sincerely hope that this helps you in dealing with the autistic person in YOUR life.
He may not have intended to send me this raw glimpse into his psyche, but I am bone-deep and eternally grateful he accidentally did.
I do so love Serendipity. ❤