Hello online world I wanted to write about this aspect of my autism because it is something I struggle to understand. I am on the whole quite good at explaining aspects of my autism in a way which people can understand (they will come in later posts), though not this one. Empathy. Many people, researchers, professionals believe that an autistic individual cannot feel empathy. Well I have an argument for that. It’s not that we autistics don’t feel empathy necessarily we process it differently and therefore respond differently. Though the way we respond and process it is not easy to explain.
A person I know has recently gone through a breakup and is understandably very upset. Now on the other hand I have been for probably one of the first times in my life been truly happy with how my life is going and who I am. Happiness is not an emotion I often feel which makes it even the more special now that it’s here. Not that I was in constant state of sadness I used to feel a bit nothing most of the time, going through the motions. I’ve had my dark days as we all have, thinking about what is the importance of my life. But for now that chapter’s behind me. And this chapter is looking bright, fresh and ready for some great adventures this year. But on the flip side the person I know is going through one of the most difficult moments in their life.
I don’t know how to act around this person. I’ve never been good at talking things through with people I just kind of nod along and every now and then say words like ‘yeah’, ‘of course’, ‘definitely’. They seem to get you through most conversations you’re lost in. People who know me have said never become a psychiatrist because you’ll probably just say to them ‘get over it’. My voice is non expressive naturally, I try and give a compliment like ‘you look nice’ they’ll say ‘shut up’ even though I’ve genuinely meant it they don’t hear that in my voice. But they don’t get it. I want to feel bad that they are hurting. I want to be able to say the things that make them better but I can’t. It’s like I say I’m my head ‘this is a sad piece of information’ but my brain goes ‘does not compute’ and just dismisses what I’ve said completely. A bit weird I know. It’s just not in my brain. The thing as well is I don’t understand the point of repeatedly talking things through. The person might as well go to someone else better equipped than me. I have my strengths, I can provide sarcastic humour or talking random stuff to distract. That’s how I empathise. Thats how I make them feel better. That’s my empathy.
Now this last part is going to be difficult to explain so here goes. We as humans are expectedly to constantly sacrifice. But at what cost? People judge people for thinking about themselves and not others, though when they begin to think about others they judge them for not thinking enough about themselves. This is where my dilemma comes in. How important is my happiness to me? I want to cling onto this happiness for as long as possible. I never understood why people were so fixated on being happy because I’d never really felt it before, it was too abstract a concept before. But now I do I just need it to stay. So I don’t know if I can afford to take on the responsibility of someone else’s pain. I am not strong enough. I don’t have the words. The life experiences. I’m not good enough to keep my happiness and fix theirs.
I want my happiness. I need my happiness. But I want them to be happy too. So when you see an autistic person and you think they are not empathising look for the subtle things they do. A joke to make you laugh. Talking to you (I specify to). A touch of the hand. A quick glance. It may not be your empathy but it could be theirs.
Thanks for reading the post I hope you liked it. Would love to hear thoughts and opinions as I feel it’s a very interested topic. Peace out!