Heartless, Ruthless Me

I went to church last night.
And I learned something
That I’ve never known
About myself.
Something that disturbed me
Very greatly.

I sat there,
On the pew in church.
And listened to
All the praises that were made
To God.
Thanking him
For all kinds of things.

I looked around,
And observed,
Ever person that was there.
And the way each one of them
Behaved.

I watched the emotions
Displayed upon their faces,
And in their body language.
And couldn’t help but notice
How they all behaved the same.
Almost as if somehow
They all felt
The same way.

I watched them
As they bowed their heads
And prayed.
Some of them
Almost on their knees.
Some of them
Leaning up against
The church pew
In front of them.

And all of them were moved.
All of them listened
To the words of those
That lead the prayers
Last night in the church.

And I sat there,
Coldly, and methodically
Watching everything.
Studying it all.
And as I did I thought
About what I could learn
From my observations.
About how I could better mimic
The behavior of them all.
So that I would blend in
That much better.

It was like I was enhancing
A computer program.
Adding new features
And new details
To the functions
It performed.

That’s when I realized
How very different I am
From each of them.
That’s when I began
To understand the words
I heard so long ago.

“You can’t live like that!”

I lost count,
Very long ago,
Of the number of times
That I’ve been told that.
By people of all kinds.
That I can’t live
Like I do.

You can imagine
How very hard it was
For me to figure out
What they were trying
To say to me.

Because I wasn’t like them.
Not at all.
I didn’t experiment at all
With drugs.
Or sex.
Or anything like them.

Compared to everyone my age,
Back in those days
So very long ago.
I was very well behaved.
Given that,
How could anyone say
That I couldn’t live
The way I did?

And every time I asked
Any of my friends
Why they said those words
To me
Time and time again.
I got the same response.
The looked at me
As if I were nuts.
“You just can’t!”

It was as if
They had no way
To explain to me
What they meant.
And they always looked at me
In a way that seemed to say
“Everyone knows why!
And so do you!”

Now,
35 years later,
What they said,
And how they behaved
Makes some sense
To me.

They were trying to tell me
That I was not behaving
In an appropriate way.
According to the social rules
That they all knew,
And all observed,
And lived by and within.

But me?
Back then I didn’t know.
Back then I was not aware
Of my own condition.
I didn’t know at all
That I have an
Autism Spectrum Disorder.
And now I do.

And my ASD
Left me almost totally
Unable to observe and see
The social rules,
And social ways
That they all followed.
That they all understood.
That they all knew were there.

I never saw those rules.
Never understood them
In any way.
And I still don’t today.
And I know I don’t.
All because of the way
That I behaved just yesterday
In the church that I go to.

Since last night,
I’ve spent a lot of time
Thinking about this.
And I’ve realized,
Much to my dismay,
And shock.

That there are times
When how I am,
And how that leads me
To behave.
Makes me appear
To the people
Around me.

Like I’m a heartless,
Ruthless
Me.

I’ve never understood that
At all.

Until today.

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