Friday, January 27, 2023

The Normal Pain in a Foreign Land

An hour prior I had been staring at the Indian Ocean, and
 I had a sensation that I find rare and that’s a feeling of serenity. Typically, I’m over analyzing every aspect of life and a sheer moment of peace is hard to find. The usual processing of “what I’ll be doing in 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, two hours… 10 minutes…” is repetitive and exhausting. My brain is always thinking, always analyzing, always exerting more effort in absorbing my surroundings than is anywhere near necessary, except here on Réunion. However, that sense of tranquility was smashed, burned, and obliterated by the all too common pointing out of an autistic trait I have. 

We had come in from the beach, and I had spent about 45 minutes out in the lagoon. Life was good. I told my girlfriend that, “I could cry I feel so relaxed.” Anyone that knows me knows “relaxed” is a word I don’t use to describe myself. Ever. Anyway, we got back into our AirBNB rental and the owner of the place stopped in for some papers to be signed. 

My girlfriend had been chatting with him for maybe five minutes while I was finishing up getting cleaned up. I eventually joined the conversation and he was as nice as could be. For saying he didn’t speak English well, he spoke English rather well and the words he did know he spoke without any issues at all. Communication was a two way street, and he showed up places we should visit and tips on driving. It was a flurry of information and as my girlfriend asked questions I did my normal, “stand there and listen” technique. 

I’m not good speaking in a group. I never have been. One-on-one I’m great, and speaking as a public speaker is far too easy for me, but put me in a setting where it’s one-on-one-plus-one and I will give one word, or shorter answers. It’s simply too much processing, and my attempted timing is akin to trying to square dance to a 1830’s waltz. 

A few more minutes in the conversation went by and the owner, perhaps jokingly, looked at me and said, “you don’t talk much, do you?” My paradise, was just crushed. 

If you’ve never had something pointed out that you wish you could do but you do poorly, I envy you and you might not be able to relate. I know I’m quiet, or as he put, “in French we say ‘you timid’”. I know I struggle, but I try. To have it noticed, and thrown into my face, even in a joking tone, makes me not want to try. Why should I try? This is the second time this month a person made such comments, previous one was back home in Saint Louis, so no matter where I go I’m in line for a crushing dose of reality. 

It’s hard to rebound from this. The event took place 26 hours ago and I’m just now to the point of going from the numbness of an event like that to feeling the emotions. It’s not a fun ride. 

Society has a long ways to go in understanding the invisible wall that Asperger’s creates. I wish I could be vocal, and engaging in a group, but that simply, most of the time, isn’t possible with my brain. I do have great talents, I know this, but the weaknesses too are great and when they’re blatantly mentioned and noticed, well, it makes me forget who I really am. 

I’ve never let a social snafu like this being me all the way down, and I’m trying to fend it off now. It does however show that whether at home, or 10,000 miles from home, there is no running away from who one is. I hope I can get back to that feeling of serenity, but I also know that my timidness will be noticed in any language on any land. Perhaps I was foolish to think otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Aaron, do your best visualizing to get back to that wonderful feeling of serenity that you described so well. Read your own descriptive words. Hope you can get that feeling back. You have the invisible support of those who care deeply.