Something happened recently that brought up a whole swell of stuff I did not want to deal with when I’m six days into a flu that has me feverish and in pain for hours at a time followed by sweaty and exhausted.
I got accused of something really insignificant that I didn’t do. It was turning off a lightbulb. And then I got a lecture about it. It felt like a huge injustice. But the feeling had little to do with the insignificant accusation and more the implication that I would be thoughtless or capable of doing something careless. And all of a sudden I was a child again who knew how to take mental images of everything she touched lest she get accused of doing something wrong later. The consequences were never pleasant.
I’ve been reading a lot about theory of mind (ToM) while stuck in bed and it really clears up a lot for me. Basically, ToM is what makes you able to understand that what’s in your head is not necessarily what’s in other people’s heads, and autistic people, regardless of IQ, lack this. This is what leads to social deficits.
I lack it, but I’ve made up for it with built up intuition that works like an echo locator. Basically, I use the autistic superpower of systematizing to gather a lot of data, sort it, analyze it and then form conclusions. From those conclusions, I can build diagnoses or projections. It requires a lot of cognitive attention. I have to register verbal and nonverbal communication, factor in the person’s intellect, experience, energy level and my prior interactions with them, and then look for aberrations. Then I have to trace those aberrations back to a source. The mental computing this takes could give SETI a run for their money. But I’ve gotten very good at it. I could play high stakes poker if I ever showed any interest in it.
But it’s not natural. I only came upon this in my 30’s after I figured out I had autism. Before that I was seriously hopeless.
Meeting others with autism shows me why it is that people think I don’t have autism. I come across as natural, the way a prima ballerina looks graceful. It’s hard fucking work but you never let them see you sweat. I don’t know if this is something I can teach others or if I’m just an aberration myself. My mother never really developed a ToM and, because of it, her accusations were so off base as to be comical, if they hadn’t been so menacing.
I’m at a philosophical crossroads of sorts, where I’m trying to understand if accepting a person for everything they are means practicing a lot of compassion–maybe a taxing amount–or if I can just relax and not make things my problem. I already consume so much mental and psychic energy doing tasks that others do without hardly thinking that there isn’t enough left over to walk tightropes and navigate around laser fields. I simply can’t accommodate everyone’s deficits and egos. And I feel like I need to spend a lot more time alone, doing the things that are important to me, completely unapologetically. That is always when the Magic has happened for me.
I know I’m not here to save anyone or teach them or make them repent. I’m here to present my truth and maybe just add to the discourse. But the more time you invest in someone, the more difficult this quandary gets. I can’t be fake to save anyone’s feelings. I can be kind and I can be silent but I can’t actively say something that is untrue. This does not make me a saint. This makes me a bad liar. Lying takes up too much CPU processing time. My brain defaults to truth.
I worry that I am broken, especially on days when I’m sick in bed. I’ve always been sickly…maybe that’s what made me an arm chair philosopher. Or a twin mattress philosopher if you will…. I see how autistic people, brilliant people with good intentions, get stuck in these infinite loops of their own making that they can’t escape. You could point out the door to them, and it still wouldn’t matter. I ask myself, is that what is happening to me? Do people think this of me and never tell me because they assume I just know? It sounds paranoid. But it also sounds like an adult autistic who is grappling with social deficits out on the open sea with no safe harbor.
It’s easy to lose touch with reality when you’ve been bedridden for almost a week with high fevers and no food. I know that none of this might make sense tomorrow. My depressions and my marijuana highs always have a way of making me think the worst about myself. But, regardless, here I am. Wondering if I too am so broken as to be lonely forever and unable to help myself out of it.
Lonely, me. It’s kinda funny. A person who has friends on all except one continent at any given time. Who lives in a city of millions. Who gets read every single day by strangers on a silly little blog. Who gets asked advice by mothers of teen girls. And gets invited to new experiences with a high frequency.
Lonely isn’t in the outer atmosphere. Loneliness is found in the viscous bell jar I call a brain. And even amongst the like-minded, I find myself alone.