Monday, June 20, 2016

The Worst Thing to Say


In my life, and of the blogs where things have gone awry, there’s been one constant that’s been worse than any other event. When this happens the amount I ruminate on it, and the way it lingers in the air like the worse smelling rotten milk, is exhausting but the things is this; it doesn’t end. Much like that hideous smell of rotten milk that just won’t leave these words I’m about to tell you do more harm to me than any other and that is when someone says, “But Aaron, it’s not that difficult!”

In school, at my jobs I’ve had, or any place I’ve been when those words are uttered I’m devastated. Last year I was told those words in regarding to socializing and here’s why those words hurt; do you think I’m not aware that it’s easy for others? Do you think I want things that come easy for others to be difficult for myself? I’m a hard enough critic of myself as is but when others point it out and then think I can simply use willpower to make what’s difficult to easy is, well, damaging.

Damaging? Why would I use such a strong word? Because it’s true. I remember a teacher I had once said, “Words can only hurt if you let them” but I believe that to be a lie. My self-confidence is shaky at best and when I am demeaned in this manner, to be spoken down upon in this manner, has a ripple out effect that is far greater than the one area that others think shouldn’t be difficult. This rippling out effect also can last a while, and in fact the issue I mentioned that happened last year bothers me to this day.

There’s more to this than just the words because others do have the ability to move on. Yes, everyone requires time but it seems in my life, and others with Asperger’s, we can get hung up on things and simply moving on isn’t easy. Of course, if I speak this to the wrong person they would probably tell me that it isn’t, “that difficult” to move on, but it is. I’m sure those that I know, specifically family, get tired of me working through the same issues conversation after conversation but that’s the way it is and when you throw in another person’s snide remark it amplifies everything.

Do I want things to be easy? Of course I do. I don’t want to create confusion as to why I can do some things great and many things not as well, and as I wrote last week it has to be confusing as to why there can be this great chasm between being great and simply not being able to do it no matter how hard I try, but when another person uses a tone and those words of telling me that it shouldn’t be difficult, well, to be perfectly honest it creates a storm of self-hatred.

I know certain things are difficult and I know when these things occur I often retreat. I don’t know how others socialize so well and at social functions I look at the world in utter awe and wonder, “how do these people do it?” They make the impossible seem so easy and I have such a hard enough time talking to people I know. Now, for those that know me, they won’t think twice about it, but if someone didn’t and saw me, and let’s say they’ve seen me present, they would be confused because there’s a person that has great speaking ability appearing socially paralyzed so why is it so difficult? I get it, I understand the confusion others must face when encountering Asperger’s and maybe a select few will think that by saying, “it’s not that difficult” they are offering the best form of motivation possible. However, this isn’t the case and the seeds of self-loathing are planted.

This post could probably be long-winded so I won’t ramble on, but there’s a fine line between encouraging words and words that can do harm and telling me what is and isn’t difficult doesn’t help me one bit and I only wish I could give a long-winded speech to every person that’s told me something is difficult because I’ll tell them what is difficult. What would I say? I’d begin with the difficulty of trying to filter everything out in a room be it the noise of the electronics, the voices from other rooms, the noises outside, and the potential hum of the lights. I’d talk about the anxiety walking into a building and wondering if that person, or that person, would stop and talk to me. What would they say? How would I respond? How long would we talk? I’d tell them I’d analyze every potential encounter whether it occurred or not, and then stress as I passed them on whether I should’ve said hello only to redo the whole process once I passed the next person. I’d talk about the fear of eye contact, the draining nature of experiencing positional warfare, and the constant fear of being a nuisance to anyone and everyone because that’s how I often see myself. So, you can tell me certain things shouldn’t be difficult but I only wish you could walk a day in my shoes because I’ve adjusted quite well to simply gather the will to leave the safety of home and exit the front door because I never know when the next time a person is going to tell me I have, in fact, not got it together and things other take for granted, “shouldn’t be that difficult” and when those words are mentioned they are played and replayed in my brain for days, weeks, months, and potentially years to come. Of course, to some, this is simply an overreaction, right? Words shouldn’t hurt, right? It shouldn’t be that difficult, right? If only they knew how many thoughts and tears have been created by that sentence and for anyone reading this I want to say you’re not alone in the frustration of being told something should be easy when it isn’t. Would it be wrong for me to say that, for those that use that sentence, it shouldn’t be that difficult to understand how much heartache is caused by those words?  

7 comments:

  1. Very well said, Aaron. My 16 year old son has Aspergers (actually, officially "Autism Spectrum Disorder - Aspergers-like" and I've seen first-hand the effect such careless comments can have. I'm impressed with how eloquently and with such emotion you got your point across.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aaron thank you for this article! I rather lost my cool at a recent school meeting. A teacher stated she "informs [my ASD son] which work and behaviours aren't that difficult so he doesn't get stuck". I asked her wether she is always that judgemental and ill informed or wether she was making a special effort just for us. (sarcasm is my go-to defence when I'm starting to feel angry). I'm going to print your article and take it into school!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Aaron thank you for this article! I recently became rather angry in a school meeting. A teacher stated she regularly "informs [my ASD son] which work and behaviours aren't that difficult so he doesn't get stuck". I asked if she is always that ill informed and judgemental, or wether she was doing it especially for us. Sarcasm is my go-to defence when I start to get angry. I'm going to print this article and take it in to school today!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for sharing the effects of peoples words and the hurt they can cause. I work with tweens and teens on the spectrum and I'm trying to bring the "Think Social" curriculum to our school district. I'm reading "Socially Curious/Curiously Social" by Michelle Garcia Winner right now. It is amazingly well written with immensely detailed descriptions of our curiously complicated social world! I highly recommend it! And Aaron, being social is a confusing ever changing beast and it's HARD to UNDERSTAND! Please don't beat yourself up for not being good at it, learn from your partners in learning (we all have someone we can trust) and keep practicing! Just like any other skill it takes practice. Start small, go small step by small step. It IS Difficult! Be Brave & Have a Great Week! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for this. I am informally diagnosed with AS (I drop the Disorder part because it's not a disorder, it's ME!). From an early age, I had an interest in cars, and I understood mechanical things intrinsically. I am now fully trained and work full-time diagnosing faults on cars via the telephone and web. And yes, I have had to learn how to speak to people on the telephone to do my job.
    When someone says, "It's not that difficult [to socialise/to have a conversation/to read the social signs]", I ask them, "Do you know how to fix cars? Can you do it without even seeing the car? It's not that difficult."
    At which time, the point is made.
    Autism is a gift. Not a Disorder :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you, I struggle daily with pervasive disorder, I barely have friends, ppl misunderstand me and do not even try to understand me. I get overwhelmed being in a room full of ppl talking. This so explains how I feel. It just is not easy. So thank you. Because at almost 35 I truly wish things were as easy for me as they are for others. Good to know I am not alone

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you, I struggle daily with pervasive disorder, I barely have friends, ppl misunderstand me and do not even try to understand me. I get overwhelmed being in a room full of ppl talking. This so explains how I feel. It just is not easy. So thank you. Because at almost 35 I truly wish things were as easy for me as they are for others. Good to know I am not alone

    ReplyDelete