In the Future I will Be

My stupid words bypassed the usually very good filter between my brain and my mouth today and I ended up unintentionally saying something uselessly cruel to R. We talked it through and things are fine between us and I’m glad.

But I also hate myself.

My words have hurt people before. Its a literal hallmark of Asperger’s Syndrome. I say things and people have emotional reactions to them that I did not intend to create nor do I understand and sometimes can’t even correct. I’ve been told by more than one person on more than one occasion that I am “cold, cruel, unfeeling” when I had no idea why they would think that of me.

The only thing I absolutely hate about being autistic is communication failures. It seems so easy for other people to talk to and understand each other. I see it happen every day. I know that there are miscommunications all the time but it seems so easy for others to say what they mean. I have a hard time understanding people some times and I’m okay with that. Its a part my autism and I can deal. If people think I’m stupid or a bit slow because I need them to repeat themselves several times that’s okay. If they get annoyed with me for needing specific written instructions that’s just a little stone life lobs at me. When I say something and people look at me like I’m from another planet well its something I can live with. If I have to rephrase myself several times before people understand me well enough to get the gist I’m all right. Its a pain but it can be done. And if all spoken communication fails then I can always write it down. I’m much better on the page than I am in person. Emails and text messages are great for that.

What I can’t stand is that my words hurt the people that I care about. I relax around them because I trust them and feel comfortable with them. This results in my careful brain-to-mouth filters relaxing too. Most of the time nothing happens but some times something from my brain makes it through my mouth unfiltered. Maybe I said something wrong and/or maybe the other person interpreted it wrong. Maybe I said something that sounded mean but had no malicious intent. It doesn’t really matter. Because now I’m in a hurricane of emotion. The people that I’m close to know me and we work it out just fine in the end because we both want to put the effort into our relationship. They know me. They give me a chance to explain, to rephrase, to qualify. And we patch it up like always.

But then comes the memories. Those from before I knew what it was that I was hurting people with. Before I realized how it could even happen or that my words had any effect on others at all. It reminds me of all the friends that suddenly wouldn’t talk to me anymore because I was mean. It takes me back to never having a partner for group projects cause the other kids didn’t like me. And sitting at the end of the lunch table with a group of kids huddled away from me because they didn’t want me to feel I could join in.

When was I mean? How was I mean? I wasn’t mean….right?

But its hard for someone to understand that you literally have no idea how what you said effected them. We are a wordy species. The ability to communicate is the hallmark of homo sapiens. The pinnacle of our evolution. To fail at it so utterly is to be in effect inhuman. To be unhuman. To be alien. And if you don’t know you’re autistic, like I didn’t back then, then what are you? Where did you come from? Why are you here? Is it always going to be like this?

I randomly found an old school assignment in some boxes when my family moved house several years back. Some of them were mine. One was a paper that listened goals, dreams, hopes, etc we had for the future. From the date I figured out that the assignment was from the end of my 3rd grade year. The very last statement was “In the future I will be” followed by a blank spot. I had written “a doctor”. But my first response, which I had erased, was still barely visible. I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t been sitting so close to an intense light source. I could see my first response. And it speaks to the fact that at the age of eight I understood what I didn’t understand. My response spoke to my understanding of what my future was going to hold. It spoke to the fact that I knew was fundamentally faulty in some manner than I could neither grasp, understand, or fix. To a loneliness I was too young to feel in its entirety and a hint of the bitterness and contempt that I would later feel toward others. It spoke to the long road ahead that has left me pitted and scared and with a hatred for myself that I now, thankfully, rarely feel.

My original reponse was “alone”.

“In the future I will be alone”.

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2 thoughts on “In the Future I will Be

  1. Jamie

    I wanted to thank you for writing this. The parts about elementary school could have been written by me because it echoes all the experiences I had and still have with my peers. I’m and adult with three kids (2 who are on the spectrum) and I struggle daily with not knowing what I’m doing wrong. Not knowing why my husband thinks I’m mad when I’m not. Why when I tell someone an honest answer they are offended. I read several blog entries so I may combine some thoughts. Also the anxiety that horrible things are going to happen. I always think many many steps ahead to sort out the different possible consequences of everything ever. It also made me realize my 12 year old who is on the spectrum isn’t just not paying attention to me. I had noticed he does better when I write down his instructions or text them to him. Reading this is literally going to make me a better mom and teacher. I thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really glad that my experiences can help you and your children. That’s why I started writing this blog in the first place. I also do better with a written list of instructions or tasks that need to be completed. It helps me focus and not forget.

      Like

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