[ dear reader, if you have any expertise, or insights you feel highly worth sharing with me, please do. ]
From my most revered activist sister in Texas: Are you autistic by any chance? ( she was responding to a really wonderful, really extraordinary, really insightful article I shared with some of you yesterday and posted on this site, and article if she really liked.
My reply: Never diagnosed, but I have a long-held suspicion that I am somewhere on the spectrum.
What we consider social skills in this society, mine are absolute zero. I prize, I treasure, my interpersonal skills as it comes to problem solving, diagnosing, healing and helping, and when it comes to being self serving they are 0. The self-serving social skills we prize in this society are morally abhorrent to me and have been since my earliest memory. I was a straight C student all the way through the end of high school. I could not study the stuff they put in front of us. I could not. I could not. I could not pay attention to homework. I could not pay attention in class. Could not. Could not. Could not.....
But put me out in the woods? Put me in front of great art of any genre?.... and my peers are clueless, my peers are totally uninterested when I was young, or now, & I was totally absorbed, totally got it.
As a young person, put me in a room full of low feeling, self absorbed, socially adept people, and I want to curl up and die from the agony of alienation and embarrassment from feelings of inadequacy. Now, I'm just totally disinterested and unwilling to waste one nanosecond on such things. Lol.
Ask a young person, put me where someone is suffering, someone is unhappy, and I feel it, I empathize with it, I share it, I respond. Put me in the presence of someone who is being persecuted, someone who is suffering injustice, and the agony is mine. Oh, I was pathologically selfish, but I could not not feel, the suffering of others, & I could not not respond.
And on questions of right and wrong, figures like Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, King... my young peers were beyond yawning, beyond disinterested, and I was totally absorbed, totally feeling like I was paying attention to my real kin.
Put me out in the virgin forest, all by myself, hour after hour after hour, after day, after week... and I am happy as a pig in x.....
So, I don't know. Was I on the spectrum? Am I?
her reply, she has extensive knowledge on the subject:
you sound like you have a whole lot in common with my late teen nephew.. Another thing he cannot do? He can't lie. If his life depended on a lie, he couldn't do it. Isn't in his nature. I always considered nephew a little Budda. And he never had a friend. zero social skills. ha
my reply: that is really, really, really helpful to hear. I can and do tell small lies when I think it can be constructive in a situation. When I think it is destructive it is impossible for me, it does not matter the price I have to pay personally. Not possible. autism or not, the article I shared makes me think a lot of you. No?
by the way, never a friend. I never had a friend. well, sort of my dad. He was 1 trillion percent devoted to me, and I to him. Come to think of it, we probably had the same diagnosis, exactly. But up through high school, never a friend, and then my friend, he was the most socially skilled guy in school. I loved him dearly, and he and his family had some weird, deep, affection for me. But we were opposites, and have had no relationship since. And then I married the most brilliantly, highly, socially skilled person I have ever witnessed besides Bill Clinton. And that unleashed 27 years of solitary hell for us both. Lol.
another friend, trained in psychology, with extensive personal experience concerning autism replied:
After reading about you and your experience as a child, I would have to say that you are not on the autism spectrum... You are however a truly compassionate person who was sensitive to his surroundings and not sparked by the teachers or family members to engage in social interaction or given the proper sensory input to maintain intrest. Environmental deprivation. You are amazing just as you are. I do wish things had been different for you as a young person!
my reply: You are so wonderful to have read and reply. I pray that you read both those articles. The article on highly sensitive people, I don't recall ever reading anything where I felt so spoken to, so recognized. I say that in the context of your compassionate statement that you wish I had had a different childhood. That article on highly sensitive people speaks to the fact that those of acute aesthetic sensitivity, which is what I believe describes me young med and old, such people experience higher levels of pain than others, including isolation and solitude and loneliness, but they also experience substantially higher levels of joy, and that has always been my life. So, no, although I didn't understand it at the time, I feel so undeservingly blest with every aspect of my life situation. I never have envied anyone for quality of life ever