Even me. Especially me. But I don’t express it. I don’t tell people when they hurt me. I don’t tell anyone when I’m hurt. I am not sure if this has to do with my autism but I suspect it does. In my mind I’ve tried to work out why this is. I think that somewhere in my being I have an (irrational) belief that showing my feelings is undignified behaviour. So I simply squash it all down inside me. Until now, perhaps. I can accept that my brain is wired differently from other people. But I can also accept that change is possible if I have the self awareness to do something about it.
When someone hurts my feelings, if it’s a friend I tend to run away and just cut them off. I feel as though I can’t fix it. I don’t want to fix it – I just want to get away from those uncomfortable feelings of anger and upset, draw a line under it and go back to feeling calm again.
The one time in my life when my heart was really broken was when my youngest daughter’s father left me, left the UK and refused to speak to me about the fact I was pregnant with our daughter. To this day, he has never met her and has never even asked me about her. I was in so much pain. But I never told anyone about it. I tried to rationalise away my feelings to myself and everyone. I cried in locked rooms. It was probably the most awful time in my life. I couldn’t understand how he could just forget me and disappear without a backward glance. But I also felt that I was not allowed to tell him ‘Hey, you hurt me so much. You broke my heart’. This all became much clearer during my 2 years of psychotherapy. I faced up to the feelings, only because my therapist worked hard to get them out of me. It was all so raw that I had flashbacks and vivid dreams. It was an unsettling thing to experience. But I now feel better.
But this whole thing isn’t just about how I feel. Shouldn’t people be held accountable for their selfish, unkind, cruel and nasty behaviour? If I don’t tell people. If I don’t hold them accountable for hurting me, doesn’t that enable their sociopathic tendencies?
It’s a work in progress. But I believe that I can improve my default response of ‘I’m going to hide from that feeling. That didn’t happen and even if it did feeling upset is pointless.’ Because I matter. My feelings matter too. I’m not numb to the world because I’m autistic. But you may not notice my pain because I have difficulty responding in the appropriate way.