I'm not sharing any pictures with this post, because none would seem right. Instead I want you to read something, about someone else, but how their story relates to me. And then...go from there.
This morning I was catching up on my RSS feeds and was reading a post on Mashable, when I saw a picture on the side of the page about a teen on the Asperger's spectrum and a recent encounter he had with some bullies. Being on the spectrum myself, I had to read it. And I followed the link to his Mom's facebook page, and what she shared there. Please stop for a moment and go and read it...I'll wait.
Not read it yet? Seriously go back and read it now.
Smart kid no? But I have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head about what the kid is going through, but I wanted to share this to point out a couple of things that I experience...still. On a daily basis. With adults. With teens. With people in between. While I've not had the physical bullying (at least not in a very long time), but what's said about him, being "weird", rude, uninterested, detached, etc...those are all things I've had said about me. The experience of trying to understand rules and then not understanding how to break them or when its ok to break them or that everyone seems to have different variations of what they consider the "right" rule...that's what I go through on a daily basis.
Do you know how hard that is? To just make it through normal life is bad enough sometimes, but to have to add in the fact that you don't understand social interactions when everyone else seems to get it, sucks. A lot. And I know, I know some of you are sitting there saying "Oh we all experience that from time to time." No...no you don't. You don't have the anxiety of watching people to figure out what they do, what they say, how you're supposed to approach that person that you're interested in, how you're supposed to talk to someone that you want to be friends with, how to just ask someone how to hang out with you over the weekend, how to hold down a job, how to talk to a boss, and thousands upon thousands of other things on a daily basis.
The only way I know I survive is by building rules into my head. If x + y then do z. And it gets more complicated as I get older and find that people do things differently based upon where they grew up, how they were raised, who they were raised by, what year they were born, what their life experiences are, and so on. And there's no manual to read! And if you don't instinctively understand it, then a lot of the time its "Fuck you! You're weird leave me alone!" Or "Fuck you! You seem like a nice guy, but you aren't. You're mean!"
That's what life is like for me. Every. Single. Waking. Day. I have to learn rules and then have to keep up with how they change for each individual person or each group or anything else. And its hard. It increases my depression and anxiety. It makes it hard to function on a daily basis. And people...god people don't make it easier. Some are just bullies to begin with. Others think they understand, but they get frustrated after a while of not acting exactly like them or in the way they think I should. And no...not everyone is like that. But a lot.
And I know some people are thinking, "why didn't you ever tell me it was like this? Why didn't you share? I would have tried to help!" And the answer is...for a long time, I thought this was normal. And then when I found out it wasn't? How do I put it into words of what I go through everyday? And sometimes...sometimes when I did share it and put it into words, people got scared and ran away. What do I do with that? Do I risk losing what I have, because of the possibility that everyone will react that way? How do I know?
And that's why.
I don't write this for sympathy or to badger people into changing, but instead for understanding. Understand that we're all different. Maybe the guy next to you really is an asshole. Or maybe he acts that way because he's on the spectrum and been hurt so many times he gave up on trying.
And one last note. Remember just because you don't physically hurt someone, doesn't mean that you aren't a bully anymore. Words can hurt just as much, if not more.
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