My mom came to visit recently.
The usual circus : we had a few tense days, trying to adjust to each other.
We failed, as usual, and fought, as usual, then had an open heart conversation (OHC), as usual.
I always thought we failed to adjust because we’re different, and we live so far apart, and see each other so little that we forget how. And it’s true, of course.
But then, why does it work just fine most times over the phone?
And during our last OHC, she said something heavy with meaning.
” Tu es tellement différent-e pour certaines choses, mais tu as l’air normal-e en général. Parfois j’oublie que tu fais pas exprès.”
You are so different on some domains, but you seem normal most of the time. Sometimes I forget you’re not doing it on purpose.
That hit the spot, doesn’t it?
Allistics, by default, seem to think we autistics, are different (hear “annoying”), on purpose.
It’s not that they “reflect” on it, it’s just that by reflex, they think this way. Some of them anyway. Most of them maybe.
Most of us – I think – can feel that guilt they put on us. Most times we can’t put a name on that feeling, but we do internalize it in a variety of ways, around the topic of feeling like we’re constantly told we shouldn’t be who we are.
(Now I have to be honest, I used to think allistics did it on purpose too. The guilt thing, and being rude and violent, and being blind to my feelings, and so much more. I’ve learnt better.)
When I heard that, I remembered something else she often says, that she needs to remember “the specifics on which I function differently”. Meaning how I communicate (how to communicate with me), what my needs are (i.e. in terms of touch and silence), etc.
“Mom, it’s not that there is some points on which I work differently. You could think that way for someone from another culture, and that would work, because they still have some points of reference with you. After a while you’d have understood their concept of “correctness”, and you’d have adapted, and the other way around.
It’s not “some points” on which I am different and you need to remember those specific details.
I’m not from another culture, I’m from another planet! Everything about me is different.”
She smiles. I think she understands a little.
I’m from another planet, and that’s why it works over the phone, most times : over the phone, she knows I can’t see her, her body language, the context in which she is speaking, so she explains a lot more, and is a lot more careful with her rhythm of speech and chosen vocabulary.
When she comes to visit, I still can’t see her body language, and the context she’s in. Bur she sees a person, and forgets I’m social blind. She forgets I have an entirely different way through life, mostly unfathomable to her : entirely different values, needs, also entirely different reasons to do the things I do than she is capable to imagine.
Everything – is – different.