I lost a friend recently, to reasons that were all too familiar to me. She unfriended me after a series of escalating arguments that basically cumulated in "You don't understand me," even though she was telling me my life story and I told her this many times. Sometimes, when people are in too much pain, they are not capable of understanding that other people love and care about them, that other people understand. This is made more difficult when you are on the autism spectrum and already have communication difficulties. Sometimes, you think people have to have an exact match in life circumstances to be able to understand yours. I should know, because I used to be the same way. Tonight, I happened upon some instant messages I sent in 2008 that Facebook had saved. They popped up when I went to send this particular person a message.
I flinched as I read the old message and recalled the circumstance. There was so much anger, fury, and aggression in my writing. I bombarded her with statements along the lines of "How could you possibly forget how much pain I'm in" for asking simple statements about my health. I assumed that if people didn't state it explicitly, they didn't know or understand how I was doing. She was just trying to help, yet I verbally attacked her. I was in the same kind of pan that my friend who recently unfriended me is - the overwhelming, blinding kind of emotional pain where you can't see anything else. I was living with my parents and there was absolutely nothing going right about my life at that time.
Thankfully, I am no longer in that state. But when my former friend started chastizing me for not understanding her, it was all too familiar and I said to myself, "Man, is that how it feels to be on the other side?" I was both hurt by this person, let's call her Amy's verbal attacks and utterly fascinated at the same time. It was like seeing myself in a mirror. Seeing this message I sent in 2008 makes me think further. I complain more than I would like about my life these days, even though I have more than I have ever had before. I'm living in an apartment on my own, and have a level of independence and control over my environment (and the resulting increase in physical/sensory health that that entails). But somehow, I can never talk about the good things I have without also mentioning the bad. I don't seem to have acquired that ability so many seem to have to just be grateful for the blessings in my life. I am, quite frankly, terrified of the negative parts of my life. I am not content to live a life of just barely getting by, of surviving. I did that for too long. I want to be fulfilled to some degree. I want purpose and meaning in my life. I just don't know yet how to get them with all of the limitations I have.
I am no longer fighting with roommates or parents over smells, transportation, or things related to independence. I am thankful, but am I really? My worries about physical safety, sensory issues and physically getting to places have been replaced by a new batch of worries. Namely, what do I do with myself all day to make all the pain that is inherent in life worth living for? How do I feel part of the world, and connected to other human beings? These issues haven't changed in the last several years, it's just I was too busy fighting for physical safety and a fragrance free environment to be able to devote much time to thinking about them. Worries such as how do I handle the increasing level of sensory integration issues I am having with smells, with the feeling of my clothes, and how do I deal with the increasing level of physical pain in my body? How do I deal with these overwhelming physical sensations without having the level of social and emotional connection I need? Is merely surviving enough? I can't get these questions out of my mind. I want to be thankful that I'm not suffering worse. But life doesn't work that way. Does it? I want to fulfull my potential, not just survive, and that has got to be a very human desire. There is no road map to doing this, however.
I want to be thankful for what I have, and I don't want to get back to a level of suffering where I can't see how much other people care about me. But happiness is such a moving target. How can I develop an objective set of data to more accurately measure happiness? I am doing slightly better at communicating my pain and frustration in more articulate, socially acceptable ways. I have in the past year found a couple places in which I could go where I actually felt valued and wanted, and that helped a tremendous amount. I have gained more emotional independence. But nothing in my life comes easily, and the places where I felt safe have become largely not so, due to my chemical sensitivity issues and construction, and I find my mind often dipping back into the "My pain is too much to bear and no one could possibly understand" camp. Let me have the strength to not go there, at least not for too long, and to figure out how to trust others enough that I could possibly dare to hope that they *do* understand and *do* care. Let me have the strength to dwell more in what I can do rather than what I can't, because I may only go a few places but I have satisfying emotional connections, more times than not, with the people in those places. I need to trust this, somehow, and not spend all my time pining for what I don't have.
Signed, So Happy to Be 2014 Me and hoping I don't go back. Positive vibes create more positive vibes but there are times they can be awfully hard to find.
3 hours ago