I can’t believe I’ve spent the last 25 days writing about autism, it doesn’t seem that long. It’s been good for me to gather my thoughts and begin to articulate a semblance of connectedness so that I am able to talk to others about my diagnosis and autism in general.
One of the things that helped me pass for so many years was my special interest in family dynamics, emotional landscapes and healing and recovery. I can spend hours and hours talking about personality tests, family arguments, grief, pain and addiction. I looked down on those who couldn’t have deep meaningful conversations as shallow and convinced myself that I was healthy and whole because I could wax on (and on and on) about everything I’ve learned in recovery, counselling and research into anything that had to do with personal growth.
I don’t know if my special interest grew out of a desperate need for an operating manual to this thing called life, but it helped a lot to be able to connect with people on a very deep level. I am the person many come to for counsel and wisdom, and I believed friendship. It was only later when they would evaporate I realized I was just the guy sitting at the top of a mountain alone that people would hike to, fill up and leave behind. So many times people who have bared their deepest secrets have gone on to hardly ever talk to me again. I truly thought I was making friends, little did I know that I was just a filling station along their path.
It’s only been these past few months that I have figured this out. I used to mock my father because of his special interests (we had no idea he was autistic, just the Garrison Kellor Minnesota Language Systems — we thought it was just him. Quiet as a church mouse until you got him talking about hunting, fishing or basketball — then you couldn’t shut him up.
I never realized it at the time, but I held up my special interests as healthy and good and his as a big, boring time suck… I was so arrogant. I am still shaking my head and laughing at the ah-ha moment that leveled the playing field between us. My special interests don’t make friends any more than his. People humor me like they humor him. Granted we probably both teach people a lot of good tips and methods — but neither of us are making real friends. I have only begun to notice their discomfort or body language when I have overshared or gone on too long. Being empathic I should have seen it earlier, but because we’re already talking about subjects that make people uncomfortable I guess I never noticed the cues.
Thankfully my special interest has given me great amounts of healing and wholeness and just like my writing, it’s for me — if someone else can benefit I’m glad, but it’s cheap therapy and I’ll take it.