“Why?” she asked. “Why have you burned all the bridges that you have been building?”
I knew she was upset. I’d known she would be. And to be honest, I could understand why. After all, she’d spent months talking with me. Trying to understand me. Trying to understand why I said the things I said. And why I did the things I did.
I very much thought of her as my friend. And friends mean so very much to me. I’ve always had so very few friends. And for some odd reason that I’ve never understood, almost every friend that I’ve had left. Very few indeed have stuck around.
Now, of course, I had to find a way to explain what I’d done. Because I had certainly not burned any bridges. Either in the literal sense, or the figurative sense. To burn a bridge, there has to be a bridge. And there’d never been a bridge to burn. At least, not that I was aware of. Of course, be being unaware of any of those non-physical bridges people talk about wouldn’t have been a surprise. After all, living as I do, on the Autism Spectrum, there were a lot of those non-physical things that I just didn’t get at all.
“I didn’t burn any bridges. There has to be a bridge to burn, for me to do that.”
She looked at me as if she was looking at a two year old. “How can you say that? You know that what you’ve done hurt people. Upset them. Disturbed them.” There was a tone in her voice that I’d heard countless times. From friend after friend. And from a lot of other people too. “Don’t you know how much what you’ve done hurt me?”
She looked right smack at me. I so hate it when people do that. ‘Cause I don’t have any idea what to do. Clueless. Suddenly, it’s like I’ve been backed into a corner, while my wrists are tied together, behind my back. Surrounded by wolves. With very sharp teeth. And me with no escape. And no hope at all. Absolutely terrified. Hell, I couldn’t even speak at that point. All I could do was shake my head, indicating no.
“How can you not know that your actions in the past week would hurt people? How can you not know that what you were doing would hurt me?”
I wanted to answer her. I did! But I couldn’t talk. It’s like I get completely lost when this kind of thing happened. It was like my brain shifted to a different plane of existence that had no connection with the world. And abandoned my body to fend for itself. I’d tried to explain it once to my son. “There are times I just go stupid.” This was one of those times. So, my now helpless physical body, which my brain had abandoned, tried to fend for itself.
“I… I… I…”
That summed it up. That was the limit of my vocabulary at that moment. That and nodding my head to indicate yes. And shaking it to indicate no. Oh, yeah. I was really communicative when my brain tripped off-line.
“This is why people always leave, silly! Because you do these things. You say things that get them upset. And they can’t understand why.” I just stood there. Wondering when my hands would start to shake. Vibrating like great big tuning forks. Wishing I could connect my brain cells back to the rest of me, so I could talk. So I could talk with her. But I couldn’t. “Talk to me! You have to talk to me!”
Yep. That’s how things always went. Now, she was angry. I could tell that. Angry that I wouldn’t speak. It’s a sad thing. I know that. There I was, oceans of words racing through my head. Full explanations. Full answers. I knew exactly what to say. My brain cells were pouring themselves out. Explanation after explanation. Some of them in parallel.
But there just wasn’t any connection at all between my brain and the rest of me. So, me knowing all the words I wanted to say. All the words in my head. Was meaningless. Useless. Because I couldn’t say them. I couldn’t speak. “I… I… I…”
Very eloquent, wasn’t I?
And there I stood. Everything that I’d said, or done, in the past 2 weeks replaying in my head. Like a hundred movies set to fast forward all at the same time. I found myself wishing that she could see the movies in my head. All of them. All at the same time. Then, maybe she could understand why I couldn’t talk. Why I couldn’t answer her. God, that had been all I wanted to do. To just answer her. To tell her why I’d done what I’d done.
Do you know how frustrating that is? When you want so badly to do something, and your entire body is ignores you. When, on the inside, in your mind, you’re screaming. Your giving the answers. And you’re saying, over and over again, “Here’s why I did what I did!” But, you just can’t get your body to say the words. When all you can do is just sit there, inside your useless body, and just watch. Do you know how frustrating that is?
Happens to me all the time.
So there I was. Standing there. Wanting so very much to talk with her. To give her the answers she was asking for. And I simply couldn’t. “Why won’t you talk to me?”
Funny thing about the whole experience was that I knew I could write. If she’d let me, I could have written the whole explanation down. And then, using a pen and paper to make notes, I could work through the words I’d written. And give her the answer she wanted. But, for some reason, people just don’t do that. They have to talk. To have voices. And faces.
Oh, how I wished I could tell her. I knew what I’d say. “I didn’t burn any bridges. I didn’t. I did just the opposite of that. I tried to keep from hurting anyone. I knew if I stayed there. If I didn’t leave. That my different views of everything. My different understanding of everything. Would become a problem. That how I don’t agree with the views of everyone else there, would be a problem. That I knew everyone there would expect me to change. Expect me to behave like they do. Expect me to be like them. And I’m not. And I can’t be.”
I knew I’d tell her that I had done what I’d done to prevent my presence from hurting anyone. To protect everyone from me. From my different understanding of things. From my different views of things. From my different ways of doing things.
“It’s no wonder no one gets along with you. How could you do that? How can you be that way? I don’t understand you at all.” She shook her head. And then she walked away.
And when she was gone. I put my fist through the dry wall. And wished I could just die, and go to hell. Like I deserved to do. Damn, but there are times I just hate having my Autism Spectrum Disorder…