Happy [Expletive Deleted] Easter…

Welcome to Easter. One of those days classified as a holiday. One of those days filled with confusion, and chaos for me. Where I wonder if everyone ate an entire container of Nutella, and washed it down with a liter of white whiskey. Where I wonder, “What the fuck happened to everyone?”

Easter, where everyone dresses up funny, and goes to church. Even people who don’t go to church any other day of the year. Even people who don’t ever dress up, for any reason. And suddenly, every church parking lot overflows with cars, and church goers are show off new dresses, new suits, new shoes, and new haircuts.

Easter, where suddenly everyone starts saying, “Have a Happy Easter!”

And I end up hiding in my house, waiting for the insanity to end, wondering why people think I’m nuts when I don’t become someone I’m not on Easter Sunday. When I wonder if the guy who said, “Happy Easter!” to my trans woman friend means it, or is just being nice. When I wonder how he’s so kind to her one day a year, when the rest of the year he wishes she didn’t exist, and wonders how I can talk with her at all.

Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, and how his blood washed away their sins. Then turn around on Monday, and declare, “Fag! I’m not selling you anything in my store! You people make me sick!”

Easter Sunday, where everyone does egg hunts, or does a gift exchange thing involving oceans of chocolate, and cards, and makes more of those things called good memories, as if they can’t make good memories on other days.

Easter Sunday, where countless stores that would be open for business on any other Sunday, aren’t open, and pretend it’s for the good of their employees. “We’re letting them have quality time with their families.” At least, that’s the politically correct statement businesses make. Except the ones that declare their Christian values, “Closed for Easter Sunday, because you need to go to church!”

Easter Sunday, when I wish God would protect me, because I don’t dare let anyone know I’m not having a good time. “Well, go somewhere and die, then! Don’t spoil my holiday!” And I get told, endlessly, directly, or indirectly, how I can’t be unhappy on Easter Sunday, of all days. “No matter how you feel, this is the day we celebrate being saved! Buck up, buddy boy, and get with the program!”

And my autistic self says, “What the fuck is going on with humans today? Did they all get brain transplants last night while they slept?” And I hide from life, praying for sanity to return. For normalcy to return. So people become themselves once more.

Easter Sunday. One day in a 365 day year. Just like any other day. Another Sunday, which always comes between a Saturday and a Monday.

What makes it different?

It’s a social thing, isn’t it. One of those social activities I don’t understand. Like Christmas, Labor Day, New Year’s Day, and all the rest. An event in the social calendar of the society I find myself living in.

And yes. I hear the words, every time I speak of the society I live within. “If you don’t like it, find another society, and get the fuck out of ours! We don’t need you!” But, the simple math states I would have the same problem in any given society. That’s what autism is.

So, I grit my teeth, and carry on, on a Sunday unlike all the rest, as best I can. And wait for Monday to arrive. Because I know on Monday, people will begin to behave once more, like they do every day, except on Easter Sunday, or the other holidays. Because I know, on Monday, people will be themselves once more. And I won’t have to hide inside, and wonder what the fuck happened to everyone.

Sensory Overload Time.

Well. Here I sit. In the waiting room at EVMS Internal Medicine. Pat’s doctors office. I’m the only one here. 20 chairs. All empty. TV on in corner. Lots of flourescent lights. One of those weird carpet tile floors. 2 foot squares of carpet that stick to the floor. In an alternating pattern. Typical dropped ceiling, hiding the ductwork, and wires. And the administrative services office. And I’m sitting here, overloaded.

Yeah. Totally alone, and I’m overloaded. Staring at the patterns of sunlight on the carpet, chairs, tables. Listening to the TV, the four people in the admin area talking, some on the phone, some to each other, the environmental (air conditioning?) system roar, watching the clock on the wall as the second-hand snaps from one second to the next. Magazines scattered on the table in the middle of the rom, and centerpiece of fake flowers. Several real plants scattered through the room. A water fountain stuck to one wall. Steel. Looks out-of-place. Pictures here and there. Three visible trash cans from where I sit. Big instruction signs taped to the back of computer monitors. Glass in the door and next to the door you enter the area from outside.

Damn, it’s bright in here.

Damn, it’s noisy.

See. I notice everything. No, I mean EVERYTHING. “EVMS – Your Opinion Matters!” “Accent Health” Even the typical EXIT sign over the door to the area. Even worse, the sign’s crooked. Yeah. Sucker hangs lower on the left end, by the E than it does on the right end, by the T. And look at all the ceiling panels. Gods. Some look like they’re hanging on for dear life. Some are a brighter white than others. Some aren’t quite cut cleanly on the edges. Blinds in the window. Mini-blinds. And they pull up, hiding behind a, what the hell is that? A valence? Same blue with pale orange dots as the friggin’ chairs. Hey, look. Flourescent light reflections on the screen of the TV.

I can hear myself typing on this Chromebook, you know. Oh, listen, they’re making copies of documents on the office printer in the admin area. Hey. Someone showed up. Talking with one of the check-in people. Did you know it’s not safe to leave the cabinet keys hanging from one of the locks to one of the cabinets? Yeah. That.

People from inside the offices, and patient rooms show up in the admin area every so often. The legs on one of the tables are crooked. Doesn’t look like it’ll collapse anytime soon, but it’s irritating to see it. This is where I do silly things. Like count the ceiling panels. 12 by 5. 60 panels. Roughly. I’ll settle for that now. Like all ceiling panels, they had to chop some up into wacky shapes to get them to fit the available space. Really distracting that the lights are shorter than the panels. They had to stick these inserts around the lights, and they’re not like the panels. Hey, look! There’s a seam on one of the walls. Bad drywall work.

Two people here now. Waiting. “They’ll call you back shortly.” What the heck is that constant background noise? Sounds like a big fan, blowing into a tiny duct. Breathe, Marcus. Breathe. And relax.

Yeah. Relax. That’s easier if I plug in the MP3 player, which I didn’t bring. So, instead of hearing must my music, I’m hearing 80 billion things. Dang, that’s a loud door. And that sounded like a toilet being flushed, whatever it was.

People being people. Talking to each other. Talking on the phone. And in comes one of the nurses, The door opens with loud clacking sounds, and she belts out, “Ray!”

I wonder. Do other people see all the things I see? Hear all the things I hear? Do they have built-in filters that cut out all the background information. God, those are ugly shoes. Pink laces, pink soles, on gray and white. Athletic shoes. I never will understand marketing. And more voices. Two more people checking in. Beeping from someone dialing a phone. Keys rattling. So many noises. So many things to see.

Of course, it’s chaos. Isn’t everything? But somehow, there’s order in there somewhere. I like how people seem oblivious to the chaos. I sometimes wish I was. Another door. And the second person in the waiting room got called back. The two that were at the check-in counter are now gone. Have no idea where they went, or why they were here.

Did I mention there are times I wish I was invisible. So no one could see me. No one could know I was here. No one would look in my direction, and verify I’m behaving. At least, that’s what it feels like. “Aieee! I’m being watched!” I wonder. Am I on a video camera somewhere?

And the water cooler cooling system just kicked in. Heard the click when it turned on, hearing the fan run now. Watching the admin people talk to each other. And everything seems to settle into a routine. The water cooler system turned off. Yeah. With another click. And now I can hear that air duct noise again.

I should probably get a system with a Solid State Drive in the future. They’re more resistant to vibration, and the Chromebook is enduring a lot of that now. My knees are bouncing. Wheee. Welcome to stimming. I’ve mentioned that before. I wonder. Do other people see everyone that walks through the are. Everyone that walks through their field of vision. There’s people on the other side of the admin area. Someone moves through every so often.

Did you ever notice how the outline around doors isn’t perfect. You know. That seam between the door and the frame. It’s not perfect. The top is more open that either of the sides. And one side is usually wider than the other. And the bottom’s so big light gets through, and shines in under the door. And you can see the shadow of the door on the floor. And why the heck are all the door knobs different? What’s up with that?

Reflections are so distracting. I always try to figure out what’s being reflected. And from where. Yeah. It never ends. One of the office staff came in to the water fountain. She’s cute. And I’m old. Holy smokies, look at those shoes! Those are hard to miss! Lots of pink, with what looks like blue. At least they look comfy.

Time to glance through the mini-blinds, and watch the parking lots, and roads outside. Yeah. I see that. Cars, humans on the sidewalks. It’s quiet out there today. I’m sitting here. Quietly. ‘Cause that’s what I’m supposed to do, isn’t it. Sit. Quietly. And not bother anyone. While I wait for her.

0910 hours. 2 hours and I’ll be rushing to get ready for work. Yeah. That. Same thing happens every day she has off, and I work. I end up rushed to get ready, ‘cause I try to spend time with her. We’re supposed to eat something after she’s done here.

There’s that loud clack, and the noise of the door opening again.

Realistically, fast food would work. But, she’s not much on fast food. She’s more of a sit down service person. So, I probably won’t get home until 1030 or 1100. And I’m scheduled to start work at 1200.

Did I mention I hate stress? Yeah. I do. And it’s everywhere. In everything. My left knee hurts. It’s a ligament damage thing. I do better when I get more exercise, more walking. Keeps the muscle strength around the bad ligaments up. And that helps keep the knee functional, and reduces the aches I feel from it.

Yeah. And you’d never know it was hurting to watch me walk.

The heat coming off the windows feels good. Too bad the aluminum frames around the windows are cold. I like it when those frames heat up in the sun. I can thaw my fingers on them.

She’s here today, ‘cause of the lab work last Thursday. When they stuck her to draw the blood for the blood work, they stabbed her in a nerve cluster. And her right hand and arm light up, so to speak, when she moves them certain ways. So, she’s having that checked out this morning. I’m expecting that to take longer than she thinks. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a pick up fast food on the way home to get me ready for work kind of morning.

If I close my eyes, that helps, but only so much. I end up hearing even more things when I close my eyes. I keep my eyes open, and I hear less, but see more, obviously. I’ve tried to explain to people how I see everything. How I hear everything. I process it all. And figure out what I’m supposed to hear. What’s normal sound. Once I class something as normal, it’s not that I can ignore it, or filter it out. I still hear it. I still see it. But it’s normal, so I don’t worry about processing it. But that takes a bit of time.

As I sit here, I’m doing that very thing. figuring out what I’m supposed to hear. What the “background” is in this waiting room. And deciding what to process, and what to ignore. I think, maybe, this is what people do, without realizing they’re doing it. I know they hear everything, but it’s like they don’t.

Of course, I pull out details. I can decide to process everything, and then describe what I’m processing. I’m not sure that’s normal. I think that’s a part of autism. A part of being on the spectrum. I like to think people can stop what they’re doing, and decide to listen, and hear everything, like I can.

But I’m not sure that’s true. And I have no way to really check on that.

I’m calmer now. Been here long enough to make a few decisions on what’s normal, and not worry about processing it. Yeah. Maybe this takes others a few seconds. Takes me minutes. Maybe a lot of minutes.

God, those lights are bright, aren’t they?

0930 hours. Yeah. 90 minutes, and I’ll be getting ready for work. 120 minutes and I’ll be on the way to work. And somewhere in there, I’m supposed to stuff a meal, a shower, and getting dressed. And it’s at least 20 minutes, probably 30, to the house.

The things I put myself through to support her.

I’d do this every time. Because, I’ll stand beside her. It’s what I do. It’s how I am. It’s what I believe. It’s what I want. If I have to rush to get to work, so what? I’ll be here when she comes out. And I’ll be able to talk with her, and hug her, and spend time with her, and help her deal with whatever comes of all this.

It’s what I want to do.

And now. I wait. Because. And that’s all I need to understand.

Commentary : A Rough Time

I’ve had a hard week. If I was a mythic night of old, I’d say the dragons won this week, and I lost. But I’m not, and life’s not that simple, and clean-cut. Life has oceans of colors, not just black and white. Not yes or no. It’s not binary.

Life’s complicated.

Today, as I left my Doctor’s office, he reminded me, “You can call during the week. Any time during the week. If you need help to get through the rough parts.” He knows I won’t, unless I’m desperate.

I want, desperately, to learn to stand on my own. To learn to face the life that causes me such distress. To learn to live. Feel. Laugh, cry, dance, sing, play, care, sit silently, alone, help. I want to learn all the things I never learned.

My doctor knows I will face whatever comes. Not because I’m strong. Not because I’m proud. Not because I’m not afraid.

Because I want to learn.

Because I want to grow.

There are times I feel like an infant in a giant world. Like I just woke up from a decades long sleep, and have to learn how to live in a strange, new world. A work I don’t always understand. A world that hurts everyone.

Yes, I suffer from depression. No, it’s not something I can decide I don’t have. It’s a biochemical imbalance, aggravated by the life I see around me every day. It’s a serotonin imbalance, coupled with autistic wiring of my nervous system and brain cells. It’s so many things.

Then I remember what I see around me every day. I remember I’m awake. I’m aware. I’m learning. I’m growing. In a world filled with people who are sleeping. I remember I’m in a world filled with people who stopped growing long ago.

It used to make me angry when someone I worked with said they leave the job behind when they walk out of the building. They pronounced they work with this stuff 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and that was enough. They couldn’t and wouldn’t touch it at home.

I always answered them, “Go ahead. Stand still. It makes you easier to run over.” No one understood. They just looked at me like I was crazy, and declared not everyone was nuts like I was.

My doc and I have spoken of this very topic. He’s very much aware of the way people stop learning, growing, maturing. They fought through 12 years of education. Then four or more years of college. Then through any testing and certifications they had to have for their profession. Then, they fought for the job they wanted. The one they’d worked for all their lives. And when they got it. When they became successful. They stopped. As if they’d reached the end of the journey, and had no where left to go.

When I think of that, of what it means, of what it says about people, my heart aches. And my soul cries tears of sorrow, tears of despair. And my depression grows. For to me, those people are waiting to die. Waiting for the end. Waiting for the working part of life to end, so they can enjoy retirement, and wait, in retirement, for the end of life to come for them.

I pray to God as I understand and believe God is, and to the universe, and to life, for all those around me to wake up, though I know most never will. And most of those who wake up will push themselves back to the peaceful escape of endless sleep.

I won’t contact my doctor unless I find I am unable to find my way through this week. Or the next. Or the one after that. Instead, I’ll use all I’ve learned, and practice, and grow, until I learn to stand, and walk through life, as I continue along the path life has for me.

And I’ll cry a million tears across countless nights, for those who stopped somewhere along their own journeys through this life, and are lost somewhere in time, and don’t even know it.

#ThursThreads Week 62 : Not That He Knew It

I watched him pace back and forth across the far side of the deck, standing as far away from everyone as he could. He kept looking cross the deck at all of us, like he was watching us. Like we were some kind of science experiment, and he was recording his observations, and would try to make sense out of them later.

Becky nudged me, and asked, so quietly it was almost a whisper, “Is he OK?”

“Does he look OK to you?”

She shook her head. “He needs help, doesn’t he?”

“Yes. He probably does.”

Richard noticed us talking. “He’s scary, ain’t he? The way he stays off to one side, and just watches? It’s like something’s wrong with him. And I can’t tell what it is. And that’s just damn creepy.”

“Do you think he knows?” Becky asked. Her eyes told me she wanted me to answer yes.

“He’s gotta know. How can he not know?” I sighed. “I mean, look at him. The way he’s been getting stranger the last couple of months. He’s gotta know something’s wrong.”

Richard chimed back in, “I tried to tell him. They’re gonna fire him. Or something like that. Get him out of the workplace. Tried to tell him he’s becoming too disturbing and disruptive at work. And they get rid of people when that happens.” He shook his head. “So, yeah. He knows.”

Greg injected himself into the conversation. “No. He doesn’t. He’s not going to see Monday coming.” He tried to smile. “They’re gonna send him home on Monday. Tell him to apply for medical leave. And he’s not gonna know why.”

“How can you say that? How can he not know?” Becky was always concerned for him, for some reason we could never figure out. “The way he behaves. The way people act around him. The way we avoid him. How people like Richard talk to him, and flat-out tell him what’s going on, and what’s going to happen. How can he not know?” She took a deep breath. We all did. We needed it. “Hell, I’ve even talked to him. Told him he needed help.”

Greg just grimaced. “He talked to me, Friday.” He nodded at Richard. “Said you talked with him. And he had no idea what you were trying to say. Something about people who don’t behave appropriately being removed from work. But he didn’t understand why you were telling him that.” Greg just sat there, closed his eyes, and shook his head. “Yeah, we know he’s screwed up. And we know they’re sending him out on Monday. And he’ll get angry. And who knows how it’ll end.”

“It’s not going to be a problem, is it? Sending him home? He’ll go. No one will get hurt?”

Greg shrugged. “How can anyone tell? Can you tell? I can’t tell what he’s going to do.” He took another deep breath. “They’re sending him home Monday Morning. First thing. They’ll call him in, talk to him, send him home on leave without pay. Tell him to talk with his doctor about getting put on medical leave. It’s going to happen. Not that he knows it.”

Becky always chewed on her thumbs when she was nervous, or stressed. She did then. Put a thumb right up to her mouth, and left tooth prints on it. “How can he not know?”

We found out, three months later, that he hadn’t known. He hadn’t seen it coming at all. That he felt betrayed by all of us. And, we found out too, he’d been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. And never even knew he’d been acting in ways that were disturbing and disruptive to all of us. Not that he knew it. He didn’t. He just knew we all felt he was a problem. One we’d had to get rid of.

And his diagnosis with an ASD was the last nail in the coffin of his time at work. We all knew that the day we learned about it. Not that he knew it. But he’d learn. Like he’d learned his behavior was unacceptable. He’d learn. People like us don’t work with people like him.

None of us ever spoke to him again.

It was just better that way.

I’ll never forget that night, even after I’m dead.

755 Totally Disqualified Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 62. It’s somewhat over the 250 word limit, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

I’m Not Broken

Overwhelmed.
That’s a good word.
Very descriptive
Of how I feel
So very often.

Like now.

I keep telling myself
I’m not broken.
I’m not defective.
I’m not a failure.

I’m just different.

I keep reminding myself
There are others like me
Out there.
In the world.
That I’m really
Not alone.

And sometimes,
Despite everything.
Everything I’ve learned.
Everything I’ve experienced.
Everything I’ve been through.
I still feel
Broken.
Wrong.
Defective.

So, here I am.
Sitting at my desk.
Staring at the display.
Reading posts on facebook.
Reading tweets on twitter.
And oceans of flash fiction
Challenge entries.

I’ve tried explaining this
To my lady.
At least a billion times.
I’m not sure she understands.
But at least she knows.
What every day is like
For me.

Have you ever sat at a table,
In a restaurant,
With a group of people
You work with?
One of those lunch out things.
Someone’s leaving.
Someone’s getting older.
Someone’s getting married.
Yeah.
A lunch like one of those.

I bet you didn’t sit there
Praying to God above
You had any clue at all
About what was going on.
Wishing you could understand
How people could so easily
Talk to each other.
Moving from one conversation
To another.

I bet you didn’t sit there
Trying to figure out
How the person next to you
Knew when to smile.
Knew when to laugh.
Knew when to shut up
And be quiet.

I bet you didn’t sit there
Feeling like a failure.
Because every time you look around
Everyone but you
Is talking,
And having fun.
Telling stories.
Telling jokes.

And you don’t have a clue
How they know to do
The things they do.

It’s like I missed something
When I was growing up.
Like I never learned
A certain set of skills.
And now,
I’m stuck.
And never will.
No matter how hard,
Or how long
I try.

I was too stupid
To learn.
And now,
I’ll always feel that way
When I’m in a group.

I bet you don’t feel that way,
Do you.

I’ve left people behind
Many times before.
Because I couldn’t bridge the gap
Between myself and them.
Because I couldn’t understand
All the things they took for granted.
All the things they knew
Every body knows.

All the things they tell me
I’m supposed to know,
That I don’t even know
Are there.

I find myself feeling
Even now,
That I should burn
More bridges down.
Un-follow everyone on Twitter.
Un-friend every friend on Facebook.
To keep them safe from me.
So I won’t hurt them
When I do something,
When I say something,
I don’t know
I shouldn’t.

I find myself terrified,
Once more,
At the thought
Of being told,
“You can’t be that way.”
“You can’t do that.”
“You can’t say that.”
“What’s wrong with you.”
Once more.
Like I’ve been told
So many times before.

And always when I ask
That one word question,
“Why?”
I get the same answers,
“Because.”
“How can you not know?”
“Everyone knows why.”
“Quit playing games.”
“Grow up.”

No one understands
That I don’t know.
I really don’t.

And have you noticed
No one ever can explain?
No one ever answers
That single question,
“Why?”

I used to think
I was broken.
Defective in some way.
Because I never could fit in.
But I’ve learned otherwise.
I’ve learned the truth of me.
And others like me.
Living in a world
We never made.

In my case
It’s all caused
By my Autism Spectrum Disorder.
And I find it downright funny
That it’s been named
A disorder.

Kind of like saying
That a V8 car engine
Is an anomaly.

It’s not a disorder to me.
It’s just the way things are.
The way that I was born.
I’m just wired
A little differently.
That’s all.

There’s nothing wrong with me.
I’m just different.
As I’m supposed to be.

And I’ve learned.
When I get that feeling
That I should block out
Everyone.
To keep them safe from me.
I’m just feeling tired.
And overwhelmed.
By the time and effort
That it takes me
Just to keep up with
People around me.

And all I really need
Is to give myself some time
To step through all the things
That have me overwhelmed.
And process them.
And when that’s done
I know.

I don’t have to leave.
I don’t have to run.
I don’t have to burn
Any bridges down.

I just have to let the people
That I know,
The people that know me,
Know that sometimes
I just have to take a break
To catch up to everything.

That I’m not like them.
That it’s hard for  me
To keep up with
More than a few people
At one time.

And keeping up
Just overwhelms me
From time to time.

And once I take that break
Then I’ll be OK.

Until the next time
I get overwhelmed.

It’s a cycle
That will never end.
I know.

But that doesn’t mean
That it won’t change with time.
As I learn to let the people
Around me know.

I’m not broken.
And I’m not going away.
That I really can
Be the way I am.
And they’ll just have to accept
That every now and then
I get overwhelmed.
And just have to stop,
And take a break.

I’m not broken.
I’m just different.
OK.

Now,
About that break.

Memories : Lunch At ODU

It was 1980. And I was trying to be normal. Do things like other people did them. Like being more formal. Dressing more professionally. Carrying my stuff in a case, not in my hands. I’d been trying this for several weeks. And I thought I was getting used to it. Adjusting to the way it felt.

I was so terribly wrong. I found that out one day at lunch. When I made the simple mistake of going to lunch alone. In a place I’d never gone. The cafeteria at Webb Center. I did OK getting there. I did OK getting in line. But then, the line lead to where the food was. It was like this giant buffet place. And there were hundreds of people stuffed in there. Picking what they wanted to eat for lunch.

And there was me. With my case. Waiting through the line. Trying to figure out what to eat. And feeling all my coping abilities crumble. One-by-one. As my ability to think coherently slowly failed. As my ability to process my environment failed. As I become overloaded with information.

I have no idea what I ate that day. I know I ate something. And I know I had something to drink. Most likely a can of Coke. I know I sat at a table. And ate. Alone. Surrounded by an ocean of people. So many people. Too many people.

I remember standing there. In the line, with a tray. Waiting for my turn to pick out food to eat. I remember thinking to myself. I remember very clearly what I thought. “Marcus. No. It would not be a good idea to stand in the middle of the room. Spinning around in a circle, like a top. Rapidly. So your case acts like some kind of giant wrecking ball. And bashing anyone that comes near you. As you scream, LEAVE ME ALONE! Nope. Marcus. That would not be good.”

I never really understood that memory. Until 14 February 2011. When I was clinically diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. That’s when so many things began to make sense to me. My inability to cope with certain environments. Big crowds. The way they overwhelmed me. Left me totally confused. No knowing what to do, or how to cope. And just clinging desperately to a list of instructions in my head. As I tried, desperately, to not panic. To not run. To not scream. To just remain inconspicuous. Invisible. A nobody.

That’s another sign of my disorder, you know. My memory. That I can remember things like that instance when I went to the cafeteria at Webb Center. More than 30 years ago. And I can remember every detail of how I felt. And what I thought.

Don’t tell me I can’t be this way. Don’t tell me no one can be this way. I am. And I know that other people with Autism Spectrum Disorders are this way too. Where a simple walk through the local shopping center on Valentine’s Day, or Christmas Eve is a terrifying experience, and pushes me to the limit of my ability to cope.

In a world I never made.

“Just Be Yourself.”

Ah, the words.
I’ve heard them
All my life.
In answer to the question
“How do I fit in?”

“Just be yourself.
And everything will be alright.
Just be yourself.”

Yeah,
Right.

I’ve tried that
Time and time again.
Tried to be myself.
To behave naturally.
To just be me.
Around other people.

And every time.
Everybody
Left.

Yep.
That’s the honest truth
Of that.
Seems that no one
Can deal with me
When I’m just me.

I just don’t get it.
They tell me
To just be me.
To be honest.
To be real.
And then
They kick me in the teeth
When I am.

No one seems to understand
That for me,
Being in the same room
With most people
Is just like being
In a meeting at work.
There are rules
That you have to follow.

And if you break those rules,
There’ll be trouble.

There are things
I just don’t understand.
Like how come people behave
As if nothing’s wrong
When they work with someone
That’s deathly ill?

What the heck’s up with that?

I’ve heard this answer
Many times before.
“I don’t want pity
From anyone.”

My autistic self translates that
In one way only.
“I have my pride!”

So tell me, fellow humans.
Does the word “pride”
Have the undocumented meaning of
“stupid”?

And why is it that people
Who obviously care
About someone they know,
When that someone
That they know
Is so very hurt,
Refuse to ask that someone
If they can help them
Get things done?

I don’t get that one
Either.

It’s like I told my doctor
Half a billion times now,
“And people tell me
That I don’t make sense.
When they do such
Irrational things.”

Where’s the logic
In the way that works?
It’s broken math.
Like saying “2+2=8“.
Let me do the math
For you.

Jimmy has a broken leg.
He can only walk
With crutches.
And can’t put any weight
On his broken leg
At all.

So he hops down the hall
When he gets to work each day,
Using his crutches.
Carrying his lunch box
By the strap
In one of his two hands.

Watch that sucker
Bounce around
As he hops along.

But by God,
No one help him.
That would just be flat damn wrong.
Now wouldn’t it?

No one asks him,
“Did you need some help?”
Or
“Can I carry that for you?”

Why the heck is that?
Hell,
Anyone with eyes
That work like they’re supposed to
Can see
That he could use a little help.

It’s like there’s some
Unwritten law.
That you’re not allowed to help.
That the injured person
Has to do things
On their own.

It’s the kind of thing
That I see around me
Every day that I’m alive.
I see this happen
All the time.

I flat don’t understand
Why people are this way.
Sometimes I think
That people would watch
As the whole building burned
Right down to the ground
Instead of helping someone
Put out a tiny fire
That got started
By an accident.

And it’s these people
That try to tell me
That to fit in
All I have to do
Is just be me?

Yeah,
Right.

I can’t just be me.
Because just being me,
I’d help someone
When they are hurt.
I’d do what I could.
It’s just the way I am.

And that’s just not
How other people
Behave.

So don’t tell me
That I should be me.

Because I know
That the words
“Just be yourself”
Are a flat out lie.

No one wants me to be me.
No one at all.
All they want
Is for me to be
Just like them.

And I thank God
I’m not.