Nobody really cares about me, and that’s fine.
I was very young when I had to come to peace with that idea. My parents lived in their own worlds, asserting their own needs, and were not able to come into mine.
I never saw this as evil or nasty, even if I found it frustrating and felt a bit lonely in my own space. It was just the way that the world around me worked, and as a kid, I didn’t know any different.
Tracking some activity here, I searched again for texts about being raised by an Asperger parent. I found two articles by Jody Smith that have seeded discussion, one from 2009 and another from 2015. Smith is a kind writer, her own challenges allowing her to offer compassionate ear and deep understanding of those who felt erased and silenced during their development, their feelings and needs pushed aside.
Wanting to end on a hopeful note, though, she suggests that our own real obstacle may be finding and trusting our own voice.
As someone who has worked very hard to find that voice, to make myself visible, I have found that isn’t enough. We need to actually be heard and mirrored, understood and validated, learning to feel the safety, trust and valuing which was denied to us when we needed it to develop healthy.
The neurotypical have a real problem understanding people who don’t think like they do. Autism spaces are full of mothers wanting their kids fixed, railing about what broke their children; was it vaccines?
This means that the idea that you can find a mental health professional who will understand the experience of growing up with (in my case) two Asperger’s parents is severely problematic. Clinicians by in large work to offer coping skills by taking you back to a time before trauma, a time when you had security, stability and affirmation in your life.
For children with AS parents, that time just doesn’t exist. Harlow’s classic wire monkey vs cloth monkey mother experiment illustrates how having a non-emotional and non-physical parent causes a lifetime of trouble. Our experience of apparently narcissistic and distressed behaviour is not just a bit of maladaptive behaviour to be addressed, it is the deepest.
I spent my life as the target patient for a family with two Aspergers parents, meaning I not only was the scapegoat, the target for pain, but was also the one who developed mature coping strategies. I did the therapy for the family and I took care of them for the last decade, translating the world with hard won skills and massive amounts of self-denial.
The emotional costs of my life, though, continue to pound at me, no matter how much therapy I do. The body keeps the score, as Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk notes, and without effective mirroring, people who can understand and reflect the experience rather than finding it incomprehensible, finding ways to develop the trust that never was supported in early development is impossible.
One person note that for her, looking at Developmental Trauma Disorder was useful, a generalized diagnosis offered by Dr. Van Der Kolk. The roots of our problems may be incomprehensible to most, but the needs for reclaiming what we never got is the same.
I have written extensively about my experiences on my blog — https://callan.wordpress.com/?s=asperger — but I assure you that no matter how much I talk about my experience, without those who can listen to and understand my experience, it continues to be a massive obstacle.
Mathijs Koenraadt understands the issues, writing about them with power and grace. His experiences are both very different than mine and much the same, being a kid who could only strive to make sense out of the family he lived within, a family that other people bathed in assumed normativity.
I learned early that nobody cares about me and that’s fine.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t love me, only that they are so consumed by their own world that they cannot enter mine. I need to be able to enter their world if I want any contact with them. They do care, on some level, just not in any way that lets them be really present for me, and that’s fine, or more precisely, that has to be fine because that’s the way that it is.
The same understandings I created as a child are still in play today; I am just too emotional, too smart, too intense, too hip, too queer, too everything for people to connect with, just as I was too neurotypical for my parents to ever really understand. Lifemyths start early, you see.
Sure, I can go into the world and service people, pulling out the concierge skills to be there for them, but expecting them to be there for me? Nobody really cares, and that’s fine.
It’s not finding a voice that has been my challenge. It has been finding an audience. A quick and kind response to a comment may be sweet, but it is also shallow, far too shallow for someone with the depths of experience packed into my life. A kind hug doesn’t bring up the time when I felt safe and cared for, rather it reminds me of all the times when I felt alone and hurting. Nobody really cares, and that’s fine.
“I need to learn how to trust other people,” I told a partner.
“That’s fine,” she responded, “but can’t you do that by yourself?”
We tend to attract those who are broken in the same way that we are, don’t’cha know?
Nobody really cares about me, and that’s fine. God grant me the courage to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Changing other people is beyond my ken, so serenity it is.
And that’s fine. Or, at least, it has to be.