I have a friend, who reminded me of some things the last few days. I realized why I felt her situations so deeply and had to step back and regroup. Yet it took me until today after a situation with Em to have that epiphany. Sometimes stepping back and taking a break gives you better perspective and while things aren’t perfect, I’m still here. I’m always there for my friends, even when they don’t realize it. Sometimes things hit a little too close to home for us, even within our communities and realities, that we struggle to relate to each other.
Em is a gentle giant hearted girl. She struggles to communicate her thoughts and emotions though. She will be like that puppy dog desperately seeking acceptance and love. Often, she gives more and more chances to people to be her friend. It doesn’t matter whether they deserve those opportunities or not, she still gives them.
You see, with Em, she does EVERYTHING with her whole heart. I mean her WHOLE heart and EVERYTHING. She gives 110% and will push herself to the brink of collapse ~ physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically. She tries to fit in and it will exhaust her because of the whole heartedness.
So when she struggles online to figure out what and how someone means something, it takes every ounce of concentration she has. Sometimes it doesn’t work out the way she wants when she is in Minecraft. She will get demoted from a position she worked hard for or banned from the server. Sometimes it’s for the best. Sometimes it’s about her not having the words to explain herself the way she meant too. Sometimes it is just someone being the way they are in life, ugly.
So as I sit as a bystander on the sides sometimes I have a hard time getting involved. It hits too close to home. I hug my baby. I comfort her. It drains me. So sometimes I just need to step back. I’ve learned from her to love with my whole heart. I’ve learned to be patient and kinder to everyone around me as I don’t know their struggles. Sometimes I have to step back for my health and my family’s health but it’s also because it does hit so close to home.
It takes a toll. I’ve worked hard with Em so she can see where she could have said or done something differently. It’s not always easy to see that she made mistakes she should have known and understood but she is starting to see patterns in how people are. She also takes responsibility when she realizes her mistakes and will go back and try to resolve them. Sometimes she will say that she knows she is on the spectrum but she needs to figure out how to communicate better. It’s a never-ending learning experience for her.
To those of you in her shoes I have a few words of advice that we’ve given to Em; Exercise patience with those of us not in your shoes, don’t assume or think we are all out to get you ~ sometimes it really is just a misunderstanding, inform us of you Autism if you think you must but know that some people will take it the wrong way and others may think of it as a crutch or excuse instead of an explanation. The best way to work through things is to foster dialogs and don’t read between the lines.
For those of you finding yourself interacting with an Emelie, I have some words for you too. First and foremost, don’t read between the lines and assume everyone who tells you they are on the spectrum is trying to play a sympathy card or use it as an excuse. They may be trying to open a dialog to remedy a situation and want to find a place to start. Also, be honest but not judgmental. And above all, just listen. They don’t always need us to respond. Sometimes they just have to know they are being heard.
If you need to step back, please do. If we do step back, please understand it may have nothing to do with you or the circumstances. After all, we may have learned from you to be bigger than we are with a giant heart and need to work on giving our all and being gentle hearted too.