Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Understanding Why I've Never Understood the Things I Don't Understand

Since my diagnosis, I sometimes feel like Alice after falling down the rabbit hole. The world around me looks so different. It is all too big, too loud, too bright, too everything. I’m chasing my own white rabbit, knowledge about living with Asperger’s, while seeking guidance from my therapist, the caterpillar. My fellow Aspies, diagnosed much earlier than I, are happily enjoying their tea party, content in the ways that they differ from the rest of the world. At the same time, I fear society, or the Queen of Hearts and her court, judging my differences and declaring that it must be off with my head. Like Alice and the “Eat Me”/“Drink Me” potions, I am constantly adjusting to fit my new world, not knowing what the end result will be or if I will find myself “going out altogether, like a candle.”

There are so many things I’ve never understood. What’s more, I’ve never understood exactly why I don’t understand. At least now I’m gaining some understanding about my lack of understanding. Things are very black and white for me, very logical. If you and I have a misunderstanding that leads to an argument, I feel like we should explain our positions, clear up the misunderstanding and end the argument. I don’t understand the need to keep talking about how we felt because we’ve already established that it was all just an error in communication. If I see a clear solution to a problem you have, I want you to take action and solve it, not talk about how the problem makes you feel.

This is not to say I am incapable of empathy. On the contrary, I feel enormous empathy. Perhaps too much, on occasion. My problem comes in expressing it. If you are hurting and there is no clear way to fix it, then I hurt for you. I just don’t have the capacity to give voice to that feeling. I have learned to say, “I’m sorry you’re hurting and I wish I knew how to help.” but that is rarely enough to make the point that I really, truly do care about what you’re going through.

I know I’m not the only one making adjustments and learning new things. I am accepting that this is permanent, because it is who I am. I am the Mad Aspie. Pass the hookah and pour me a cup of tea. I’m not leaving Wonderland.

1 comment:

  1. Hi -- I love this post. Would you give me permission to repost it on the Autism and Empathy website (www.autismandempathy.com)? If so, please send me a message at rachel (at) autismandempathy (dot) com.