Disclaimer: I say what I mean, so when I say, “I feel like,” I mean exactly that. I feel like….whatever. It doesn’t mean that I am, it just means that I feel that way. It’s an Aspergers thing.
I love my mom, my younger brother (my only sibling) and my twenty-year-old daughter, my only child. My dad passed away from colon cancer in 2002, several years before I was diagnosed with Aspergers, so he never knew about it. He probably just thought I was weird and couldn’t accomplish anything.
I also know that my family loves me, even if they don’t understand me. I don’t think it’s for a lack of trying, I just think our brains are wired different and thus we have difficulty communicating. It’s the same with a lot of us with Aspergers and the NT’s (neurotypicals, or non-autistics) in their lives.
Over the years my mom and I have had some epic arguments, mostly due to miscommunication. In the end, we both realized that we were on the same page, but getting from point A to point B was a huge battle. It still happens and it frustrates the hell out of me and I’m sure it does the same to her as well.
I believe that they all accept that I have Aspergers, but I can tell you for a fact that they don’t truly understand what it’s like to be me. In writing this, I mean absolutely no disrespect to any of them and I hope and pray that I don’t get any flak from them after this is up. Fingers crossed.
When my mom and I talk, often times my brain knows what it wants to say, but when it comes out of my mouth, it comes out in a way that she either doesn’t understand or she thinks that I’m trying to be difficult and start a fight. I’m not. I’m trying to figure out a way to communicate my thoughts to her, but I’m having a hard time.
It’s the same when she tells me things and I explain that I don’t understand and ask if she can say it in a different way. I get told that I do understand and I’m told to, “Stop it.”
Stop what? Stop having Aspergers? That’s something I can’t do. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten off the phone with her or left her house and cried on the way home because I’m trying my best and it’s simply not good enough.
From as far back as I can remember, I’ve been told by my mom that I’m not living up to my potential, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that she’s right. I keep telling her that in my logical Aspergers brain, not living up to my potential is the same as failing. I mean, if I was living up to my potential I would be succeeding, right? It doesn’t matter how many times I tell her, it never sinks in and I continue to hear it. to this day.
She’s right, though, I’m not living up to my potential. Those with Aspergers tend to have a high IQ. I say this not to brag because once I finish this paragraph you’ll realize that in my case it’s nothing to brag about. My IQ puts me in the 98th percentile of Americans, yet I don’t even have a bachelors degree. I find college tedious and the truth is that I’ve really done nothing with my life. I struggle financially, have a hard time with relationships and feel like a complete loser a lot of the time.
I know I can be successful in life if I could just figure out how and could get the right situation, but so far that hasn’t happened. Once again, fingers crossed.
My relationship with my brother who is three years younger than me is different. He doesn’t understand me either, but we generally don’t fight like my mom and I do, though when we do it’s typically a blowup.
In his case, he generally thinks I’m being negative. When we discuss doing something or a situation, my Aspergers brain starts running every possible scenario and coming up with possible outcomes. It’s whirling away a hundred miles an hour and when I tell him that something won’t work at all or that it won’t work the way he thinks it will, he tells me I’m being negative and to stop it. I remind him that I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic. But it doesn’t matter because I’m just wrong.
I do my best to stay quiet and out of things, but I want a relationship with my family, so, even though I know it’s not going to end well, I stick my nose in and offer my two cents.
Please don’t think I’m putting this all on them because I’m not. Just as I want them to try and understand how to better communicate with me, I try to understand how to better communicate with them. But again, it doesn’t always work out so well.
For a long time, I’ve wanted to build this website and write the book that I’m now starting so that I can share my experiences and hopefully begin to advocate for the high functioning autistic adult community, but I didn’t because I’m not living up to my potential, so why should I even bother. All it would be is a waste of my time, energy and very limited resources, I figured. Plus, who would want to read about the life of some loser who hasn’t really accomplished anything?
I can’t tell you the number of times I sat at my desk and stared at a blank computer screen for up to an hour, afraid to start typing because I knew what would come out would be crap and the last thing I needed in my life was another failure. But I did sit down one day and what should have taken me a couple days to build took a couple months and with the support of a good friend I made in Missouri, I started writing and am now sharing my experiences.
Will people read any of this? I have no clue. Will my family be upset with me for sharing this? Probably. Is it a waste of time? I’m not sure yet, but it’s probably therapeutic in some form, so I guess it’s not a total waste.
My self-esteem is in the toilet and has been for years. I do my best to put on a brave face, but it’s really just a mask to hide the pain I’m feeling on the inside. I don’t blame my family for any of this, but I wish we had a better relationship because I believe that if we did, it would help just a little. Most of the time I feel like the only one who understands me is my autism service dog, Tye.
I’ll just keep trying to find better ways to communicate with my family and hope that they’ll do the same. I’ll also keep trying to find something that I can be successful at and be able to support myself the way I need to so that I can stop feeling like a loser and learn how to be happy.
How about you? Do you have problems communicating with autistic family members and NT’s? If so, how do you succeed? Please share your tips with us as I want this site to be a forum and a place where we can all share and learn. If you’re a professional in the field and would like to write something, please use the contact page. I would love to have your input and expertise on here.
As this is a new site, I’m asking that you spread the word and share it with others that you think may be interested. You can also follow us on Twitter @NWJAutistic as well as on Facebook. www.facebook.com/notweirdjustautistic.