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Communication is like a bucking bronco

There are two things needed for an honest conversation and only one of them is honesty itself.

The second thing you need, a vital ingredient to making the honesty work, is the ability to express yourself. Without this ability, honesty becomes just a momentary bolt for the door, or a brief splurge of feelings, as and when they happen.

It's rather like saying to the bread dough, 'Now, Dough, I've held up my part of the bargain: you have yeast, an oiled bowl and I've kneaded you straight through five songs and an ad break on the radio. Whenever the heck are you going to start rising?'

The bread would feel even more deflated at this, having no idea why it can't rise. Imagine the sad lump of dough in the bowl, still not touching the sides, still as you left it an hour ago. What can it be doing wrong?

The bread knows you did everything you could. It knows about the yeast, the bowl, the kneading. It remembers the endless radio noise as you went to work. It realises that now all it has to do is hold up one small part of the bargain, and rise.

What it doesn't know and what you forgot is that it needs some warmth too.

Without warmth, you will probably get some rising, eventually. You will still mainly have a sorry sight in the bowl though. It wasn't the dough's fault that you forgot it needed warmth, it only understands part of the process.

Okay, aspies are not bread dough, though we also require some warmth to grow. What I am trying to explain is, we rarely have the full picture, not when it comes to ourselves.

Sometimes, we are desperately wanting to express ourselves and be honest and all we manage is a small sentence on  how we aren't feeling too good. Often we divert and think we are ill instead, thanks to the twisting stomach and the frantic headache brought on by nerves.

Someone else might need to step in and remind us why we don't feel happy, or to ask pointed, direct questions to get to the heart of the matter. It is no good expecting answers when you haven't asked the right questions. How many times have I wondered, long after the event, what someone really wanted to know after a conversation with them! If only they had come out and said, without expecting me to remember or know.

Other times, people don't want you to be honest so they avoid asking the important questions, instead pretending to themselves (or conveniently deciding) that if they don't ask and it's really important to you, then you'll bring it up yourself, without them having to risk the question.

This is where stupid hurt feelings come in, as when the aspie trips gaily on their way, oblivious to all this tortured sub-text, the best beloved is left in the dust, full of self-pity at their heartless aspie and wondering what they did to deserve such cruelty.

If you would like to know how an aspie feels, ask and risk rejection or horror or the sight of heels disappearing in the opposite direction. But also be prepared to prompt and help along the conversation.

Do not push in and say, 'But you said you were desperate to go to Valencia!' only to have your aspie remember, quite clearly, that it was you who was desperate for a holiday in the sun. Try instead, 'What exactly worries you about Valencia?' (I have nothing against Valencia, by the way, feel free to go on holiday there with my blessing).

Be brave and ask questions, be forthright - give honesty in the hopes of receiving it. And do not, in any way, play games, expecting your aspie to know what their part is or that anyone is playing at all in the first place.

Above all, remember that communication is a constantly evolving, tumultuous beast, only dressed blithely in summer clothes because the human race decided communication had to be a civilised thing. In real, human relationships, where people want to communicate, not just get along or pretend to be friends, then communication is a primeval and vital component, ever-changing to suit the needs of the moment. It must be ridden like the bronco, steered as well as you can, holding on and feeling for the next move before it even happens.

This, after all, is what communication is like for aspies most days of the week. Try it in its basic, pre-dawn form and see how well you get on. At the very least, you'll start to see each other in a new light. Being kicked off into the dirt can do that for you.


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