love · relationships

Loss in Autism

A year or so after we broke up, I asked a beloved ex-boyfriend, “If you were going to warn a potential partner about anything in me, what would it be?” Given that I’d already had an extensive psychiatric history by then, and that it was he that had broken up with me and not the other way around, I was prepared for a doozy. What he said surprised me. His warning to you, dear Future Person? “Mind what you say, because she’ll remember every word.”

I was intrigued. The biggest issue with me is that I’ll recall everything you say?? I’m not a savant—in fact, I’m so Not A Savant that I’m bummed when people assume everyone with autism is. It’s not a direct correlation; some of us are just kooky, with no great talent to compensate for that. But, apparently I remember more than some might. This has its pros and cons.

Jeff was bothered because he had tried to “get away with” things. A deceit here, a bold lie there, an affair off to one side. When someone is referencing your past words, and those don’t align with your actions today, ugh. He experienced me as a walking lie detector. That can’t work.

Other people like it. A person who seeks to live truthfully—who is driven to align one’s life with one’s ideas—can enjoy this quirk. I know it’s why I go to great counsellors! They listen so well, from such a clear still place, that they remember. When they remind me of my own words weeks or months later, this helps me.

But there are days I don’t love my recall, either.

When it resulted in Jeff and I splitting up, I was devastated. We were mismatched in some areas (as most people who eventually break up are), but I loved him, he was important to me, and I loved our easy companionship and vigourous sex. So for some years after, I wished my brain didn’t “do patterns” the way it does.

Today, I find myself holding that dream again.

A dear friend has decided to leave our circle, because we are “not religious enough.” Fair enough; as a group we’re not actually religious at all! But, I would perhaps not be devastated except for my brain’s old trick. All it has done since last night is remember what she had said, in the days and months previous. “You are my family.” “We love being in this community.” “We’re so happy here, we’re committing to staying.” “Let’s do this activity together!” “I can’t believe finding a community that is so open and loving.” “I’ve been begging the universe for a true friend, and in you I’ve finally found one!” “We are available for…”

And then, without warning, they left.
“Not religious enough.”

I’m aware there are other matters that may be of influence.
This is the time of year many up here go off our rockers.
We get depressed.
Our therapists go to Mexico, so we limp along.
OCD flares.
Even thieves become wildly active.
It’s a tough time of year, and in that, we can lose each other if we’re not quite careful, quite intentional.

Right now, I wish my brain could not remember all the happy, affirming things she’d said.
The phrases push in as though a dam has broken.
I know they’ll continue to do that until I’ve somehow integrated this news, this change.

And I know that protesting this news with, “But, but you said…” has no impact.

She has done nothing wrong.
She spoke what was, I believe, true for her 120 days ago, 30 days ago, 5 days ago. And last night.

That last night was an extreme, sudden, and entirely unanticipated departure from all her previous words doesn’t make them untrue.
Something has come up in her.
She is allowed this.

And me, I’m allowed to struggle under the weight of yet another loss, to hurt, to grieve, to make the decisions that honour me in this too.

2 thoughts on “Loss in Autism

  1. Aww. 😦 Sorry, Joon. I try to appreciate lovely words while being aware that until I’ve verified the constancy of someone, those words may not be true or lasting. It sucks, trying to do that, because I’m by nature pretty naive and prone to taking things at face value. And I remember things people say, too. Sometimes I think it would be a better skill to have the ability to forget!


    1. Oh, thank you, okits!!!

      Yes, I would like to be able to forget some things, lol. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, anyone? I’m going to be starting EMDR again soon, and that will helped with a backlog that seems to be developing in my neurons.

      But, some good-ish news too: When I managed to reveal my heart to said friend, she affirmed her love and her desire to stay connected…and backed that up with a standing dinner date at her home every week for as long as we all want! Great! (Time in her home and her dinners are pretty incredible gifts in and of themselves.)

      So, while they felt the need to leave our community, I was very relieved to learn they want to keep me 🙂 I’m still very sad that they won’t be playing in our group anymore, several layers of loss for so many… and it still feels oddly like a break up in my body. But, not as devastating as it was!

      I’m really glad I worked hard to get to a place where I could bring my heart to her as is, be respectful of her need and decision yet also honestly share my fear and pain. Her response was gorgeous. I will learn more about what’s up for her as time proceeds.

      Yes, constancy is so good and so helpful and so healing and trust-building! And, every relationship involves risk and, though I’ve been hurting over this the past week, I’m glad I’m still taking that risk with new people, and deepening that risk as things arise.


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