Last night I had an interesting dream about someone I hadn’t thought about in a long, long time. In this dream, I was once again being antagonized by a boy I knew many years ago in my early teen years. This boy really hurt my feelings more than he will probably ever know. Although he was around me a lot and even hung out some with the same friends I did, he made it clear almost from the start that he did not like me. Now, I will have to be fair and say that at least he wasn’t like the girl bullies I knew who were passive aggressive and exceptionally cruel at times. Instead, he was very upfront about his feelings concerning me. What hurt was how misunderstood he made me feel.
You see, I didn’t know at the time that I had Asperger’s Syndrome (a type of autism), so I had no clue that I was neurologically different than most people, nor did I understand that I was very ignorant of social norms and such. This boy took a dislike to me because I was “weird” and would say so right out loud in front of everyone. He would also explain how it didn’t matter what anyone said or did to me because I had no feelings and nobody would ever hurt me. To him, this justified any ill treatment of me. He thought since I didn’t cry or get visibly angry or show other strong emotions that I felt nothing. But he was wrong. Very wrong.
I felt it all very deeply, I just didn’t know how to respond or react. I often wanted to dispute his feelings and make him see who I really was, but I didn’t know how. I wasn’t sure how to put my feelings and emotions into words. I could easily discuss practical or logical matters and personal interests, but when it came to putting my feelings into words and sharing them I was often mute.
I still have those problems to this day. Often, by the time I do figure out my feelings and how to express them, it is long after an event or discussion has ended, so I feel that I should just keep them to myself because I don’t want to dredge it all back up or I just honestly think the people involved really don’t care to hear what I have to say. Sometimes I do try to talk to someone long after something occurs in an effort just to try to help them understand me better, but often those conversations turn into them thinking I am just immature and unforgiving. They don’t understand that I don’t want to discuss a situation until I feel confident that I can understand and express my feelings. They also often misread or misinterpret what I say and feel, making me feel like the bad guy, which makes me less likely to keep trying.
So in case you were wondering what my point is, please keep in mind that some people may not outwardly show strong feelings and emotions, they may not even know how to decipher their emotions right away…but it doesn’t mean they do not have them just as strongly as you do. And know that many people with problems like mine are walking around undiagnosed (especially the women) and may not get a diagnosis for a long, long time. They may have no idea why they react the way they do either. So please just be careful when throwing around labels like “weird”, “immature”, “selfish”, “unfeeling”, “uncaring”, etc. You may not know it, but you could be very, very wrong and deeply hurting a gentle, caring human being who just has a few communication problems that make life far more confusing.