I do not write about my Aspergers as a rule, nor about autism in general. My experience as an adult Aspie with four fellow autists in my family and some autistic friends is that we all are quite simply quite different.
Many shades and colors on the spectrum.
But I feel a need to talk about it a little today.
You see I have a new friend…but one I already cherish.
That’s wonderful actually but also one of the really awkward situations for me.
As an Aspie, and one with two decades of social training under my belt, I usually just go with the flow. I can fake something close to normal for almost eight hours a day now (almost) and save for some oddities inherent in the way I think and speak (oddities most people don’t even notice), I can usually pass muster.
Now if I am tired, frightened, or sick, stuff does tend to come out. I’ll skip phrases in sentences assuming that because I thought them they were communicated, I’ll get distracted, I’ll launch into long long long monologues about stuff that is interesting to me but might cause a listener to commit suicide out of sheer boredom or desperation to escape the Niagra of words that is suddenly pouring out of my mouth. I’ll stop listening, or worse, forget you are there.
But on a good day, I am a good listener, a good communicator, and a good friend.
Sadly, there is another autistic hurdle.
We overthink and we obsess.
I have lost friends because I called, texted, emailed, visited or whatever too many times in one minute much less one day. I seem to decide on some primitive level that I need that person – and right NOW damn it – and at the same time to forget that they have needs and lives of their own.
It takes a very unusual person to understand that when I do this it is caused by a synaptic glitch due to my neurological condition and not due to some weird psychological stalker fetish. The two are unique phenomenon and have nothing in common. Stalkers usually want to “own” the person, to meld and mold and change them.
Autists just want that friend close – not to change, but to enjoy.
But both are dangerous manifestations of the apparent and stupid need on the part of most humans to make people things.
And to me there is no sin worse than making a person a thing. People are not their race, their gender, their jobs, their surnames, or their countries and anytime we categorize or pigeon hole someone we are to some extent dehumanizing them.
I have to note here that we all do it…sometimes in relatively benign ways. I mean I do it in the first paragraph above. While I have a neurological condition resulting in a different brain configuration that alters my modalities of thought, I am not my odd little brain. I am not Aspergers. My relatives are not autism. But the words “Aspie” and “Kanner’s autist” are useful descriptive terms…just like “black” is a benign and useful descriptive term if you are trying to describe which lady in a crowded restaurant is having the heart attack so the EMTs can get to her quickly.
But the lady is no more “black” than I am “Aspie”. A table is a table is a table but people are a whole new kettle of fish!
But most people don’t get that.
Listen to them talk to each other. People in the throes of getting to know each other ask the same basic questions.
“What do you do for a living?”
“Are you married?”
“Are you of a religious denomination?”
“Are you a Disney fan?”
I do this, too, to some extent…I just try to ask more profound questions.
I don’t give a steaming Messerschmidt is you are butcher, baker, Christian, Satanist, Black, White, gay, straight, or abuse Star Wars toys in the dead of night.
I care more about the Gestalt you – the you who thinks and dreams and eats and sleeps and pees and fights and feels sunshine on your face and in what YOU – the personal and individual you thinks of all of those things.
And I need the same.
Because of the hangups. And yes, people like that do exist. I can name five right now who have tolerated me for twenty years or more, and another dozen odd that have dealt with me for at least a decade.
And I am hoping this new friend will be the same – insecure but smart, witty, compassionate, and unique – I treasure her.
Which is why I am scared today…
because my brain is end looping around her and the medications and exercises are not helping. I made a request of her and she has not responded and my brain is thinking
“She hates you. You offended her, stupid. You said the wrong things during your last conversation. You were too needy. You were too honest. Or maybe not honest enough? You should call her/email her/text her/ beg her, get in touch, explain, but she hates you and you offended her and you said the wrong things and…”
so on and so on like a “go to” loop in a faulty program or like an endless cyclonic circle of destructive obsession and fear pounding across the plains of my mind and destroying everything before it.
So what am I going to do?
Remember I am a grown up. Remember this is the Aspergers and not me or who I want to be.
Remember that I care for this person already and that in doing so I MUST respect who they are even if that means they are not here with me or even if it means they have chosen not to be my friend. I must let the person be who they are and I must not try to change them.
You do not love things. You do not own people.
And I will turn off my computer, I will turn down my cell phone, and I will go out and do my errands and have faith that things will work out as they were meant to work out or failing that I will distract myself until this faulty series burns itself to a close and I can think of other things.
In the meantime dear friends and constant readers, all my best to you.
Primum Non Nocere and Dos Voydonya!