No, don't smack me, I'm not being horrible! I'm not calling aspies stupid. I'm talking about when other people call us stupid, think that we are or make us feel like we are. And they're all very different things, aren't they?
I was thinking about the times when I've done or said something which seemed reasonable to me and had the other person look at me as if I just quacked like a duck, or laughed in my face. Or the sly snigger as they turn away - this one much loved by those who have an audience, so they can collude in their smirking.
It's not imagined nastiness, as I've sometimes been told it is. It surprises me how often other people have said to me, 'No, you're imagining it, I'm sure they weren't laughing at you.' Well, you know, actually they were. After all these years, you can tell.
Or when they mock you in an even worse way, by pointing out how ridiculous you've been and what an enormously stupid person you are. This one doesn't happen often, mainly as there are fewer people this mean, but it does still happen. And it's also the hardest to endure.
I remember when I was about fifteen, I was sitting in my mother's car while she did her rounds as a community midwife. It was Saturday morning and I liked to go out with her, just for the drive around, often taking my book to read. It was a restful way to spend a morning and signalled to me that the weekend was here and I could relax away from school for a while.
One day we were in a local village and someone I knew from school spotted me. Big sigh. We weren't enemies or anything, but we had very little in common. She beetled over to the car and rapped loudly on the window, grinning.
I wound it down and she asked me why I hadn't been at the party the night before. As usual, I gave the short answer, 'I didn't feel like it,' rather than the truth, 'I can't bear spending time with so many people, with everything loud and drink flowing and being expected to dance and socialise and suffer in so many little ways.' It's so much easier to shrug and say it isn't your thing.
She looked incredulous and laughed, open-mouthed, stating, 'I'm laughing at you!' Yes, I had noticed she was laughing at me but I guess she wanted to be sure I knew. Then she said, 'You should've come, you missed yourself!' There was more detail as to why I had 'missed myself', though I was distracted by then, wondering how I had missed myself, seeing as I was there the whole time.
None of the above was meant unkindly, it was my school mate's misguided way of telling me I should have gone to the party and had a good time. She had no way of knowing that by laughing in my face and telling me all the fun things I'd missed, she was actually reassuring me that I'd made the right decision in staying at home.
It's not that I didn't want to enjoy and appreciate some of the same things my friends did; it's just that I had tried them, and tried them a few more times after that, and came away feeling lonely and left out, knowing it was not for me. You don't want to keep putting yourself through that, do you?
I didn't try to explain any of this at the time, barely even explaining it to people who cared, let alone people who laughed in my face. It made sense to me and that was all I needed.
I must also say, the girl I mention didn't call me stupid, or even imply I was. But her incredulity was so large, she may as well have screamed FREAK! and run off down the street. This is the back story to every time people react this way, you see. They laugh, or make fun, or act mean, all because they see us as freaks. We are out of the ordinary, in a bad way, according to them. We do not know what to say and do, which makes us laughable failures, there to be despised or humoured, depending.
Not everyone thinks this way. The ones that do, though, tend to show it more and we come away, yet again, with the feeling that we needn't have bothered even interacting with them. What is the point, readers, in trying to communicate with people who decide that your inability to behave like them means you are a loss or a laugh?
Do I hear a small voice at the back talking about education? Should we make the effort, or let others make it for us, so that the people who behave this way become more knowledgeable about aspergers and so are less likely to be mean or silly in future?
Once, I might have agreed with this. Imagine the bliss of other people knowing how to behave around you and understanding, in some small part, why you say and do these things and how you feel?
Now, I don't mind, let them be as they are. If they wanted to know more, then their minds would already be open enough to take in the sharp look of hurt in our eyes as they make fun or the twitch in our mouthes as they say something cruel, then turn away.
Let other people educate them, if they like. For my part, I would rather they went their way while I go mine. They can mingle with people who appreciate their blinkered view and don't mind the caustic words.
I'll carry on mingling with aspies and friends, thank you very much. It's much more restful to me to communicate with like minds, who actually care about you. Or who are so intent on their own diversions that it never occurs to them to be cruel, for sport.
And take it from me, readers, if you do miss that party or walk away from the lonely feeling, instead of joining in, you won't miss yourself. You'll be right there, where you're meant to be, knowing your own mind.
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