I’ve had a couple of really tough incidents involving other people on the spectrum (or, as one claims, formerly autistic) in the last week. One involved one autistic woman calling another’s size “huge.” The accuser was actively engaging in eating disordered behavior; she said she was a size 3 and wanted to get down to 90 lbs so “a size 8 is huge to me.” The woman she accused was recovering from anorexia. I sort of stepped in and tried to moderate, explaining to the accuser how, even though she wasn’t trying to be accusatory (she wasn’t), that those words could have really hurt the other woman. I tried to explain how, even though she didn’t mean to be rude, by apologizing, she lets the other woman know that she didn’t think badly about her and didn’t mean to be nasty.
I don’t know if she “got it.” I don’t know when to say, “Well, autistic culture is valid, and if she doesn’t feel the need to apologize, then she shouldn’t,” and when to say, “She needs to make sure her words won’t send the other woman throwing up over a toilet for the next month.” I don’t know.
Another incident involved an adult male, also autistic, who I’ve had issues with in the past. Years ago, he asked for my help on a “theory” he had developed that, he claimed, had allowed him to overcome his own ASD and all his social issues. I remember thinking the theory was ridiculous and trying to converse with him about different aspects of it, and him saying I wasn’t being helpful “enough” and giving him enough to go by (he was paying me a small amount for my help). I also remember things getting slightly ugly and me asking for no further contact, which, there was none, until a year ago, roughly, when he emailed a large group (he said this was the group who had helped him previously) about another, totally unrelated theory. I ignored that email, and the next few (all theories about off-hand subjects)… until the most recent, which made a factually inaccurate comparison to something (I don’t recall the thing, if I even read far enough to know what it was) and aspects of diabetes. He did not qualify that his facts only applied to type 2 diabetes, and he made inaccurate claims, i.e., diabetes causes obesity. I tried to tell him that he had some factual errors, and he insisted he didn’t. I said, listen, this hits close to home… when people (like he) make inaccurate statements about diabetes, that is why people ultimately end up asking me why I don’t just “eat less and exercise so I don’t have it anymore” (I have type 1, juvenile, diabetes; I’ve had it since age 3 and will for life). Diabetes is related to my many, severe health issues, though not exactly the cause… and I don’t appreciate feeling like others blame me for my condition.
So, he went on to say: “This old man has had juvenile diabetes since 1943 and he eats a low carb diet and HE isn’t super sick like YOU are so why is THAT?”
Yeah. He did.
I flipped. I told him that he has no idea what my situation is and that he is COMPLETELY out of line to attack me like that, to claim that I could have somehow prevented my situation if I just “ate low carb.” I was also angry because I never said that low carb wasn’t healthy, just that type 1 diabetics will still need insulin regardless of carb intake. He totally twisted my argument.
Then, I said, “People like YOU are the reason that the public thinks autistics are assholes. You claim you cured your autism, but you’re still an asshole.”
Yep. I did.
Here’s the thing… I’m quite a majority made of sugar… super, super sweet, kind, loving, very gentle. Buuut… there’s a decent portion of feisty in me… and a really, tiny, almost-never-comes-out biting side. I can pull out some seriously biting words.
I totally embrace the feisty, quirky parts… but I’m not brought of the nasty words. Sometimes they’re almost impressively purposeful and clever… but hurting people isn’t “me,” and, even in situations like the email-asshole, I want to reflect Jesus, not the world’s idea of a woman who can hold her own. Even if I CAN hold my own in any battle of will, argument, or words… and I can. Trust me on that. I don’t want to be proud of that ability, because I don’t think it reflects humility and grace.
My classes are off this week for spring break, and so I’m spending a few days with my parents (and, more importantly, MY KITTIES!). One of my family members and I generally struggle to get along. I honestly feel like he follows me and searches for reasons to get angry with me, and I get really frustrated, because I feel like I walk on eggshells trying to please him and, truly, there are many times that I am damned whether I do or don’t. If I ask for help, he’s mad, but if I don’t, he’s mad. He was angry because I slept until 9:30 this morning and I could give you a list of reasons as to why that’s totally ridiculous and hypocritical, but…
To what end? As I was venting to my mom, she said, Lyd, you’re “stuck.” Maybe I was, I don’t know. Maybe I was just getting the frustration level down to a point that I could spent the day with him. I wanted to argue with him and prove my point. I wanted to be cold to him all day. I wanted to vent… I deleting my retelling of the events and reasons why he was unfair several times just as I typed this post.
But it would not serve anything positive. It’s so, so hard for me to bite my tongue! I crawl out of my skin when people make comments on Facebook with inaccurate information. I want to scream. I go around correcting everybody, and I totally realize I’m a know-it-all. Often, it has nothing to do with wanting to be right, but more that I simply want “right” information to be conveyed rather than things that aren’t even true.
I think about the way my family member lives… looking for wrong, for reasons to get upset, for things to correct. I honestly feel sad for him.
I realize I’ve nearly gotten to the point of a Rampage for Right, of correcting, arguing, exacting…and I go on to realize that it’s not always about being “right,” but about building each other up. It’s easy enough to correct someone, but it’s far better to speak encouragement to them, to focus on their hearts.
I apologize to the people I’ve snipped and snapped at and to those I’ve upset with my overly-correcting behavior. Take this as my pledge to try to see through grammar mistakes and factual errors and see through to what matters. It can be such a fine line, and I’ve been through the gamut of experiences this week, ones that call for stepping in… and those that call for grace and moving on with peace.
And, if you see my making weird faces, just assume I’m actively biting my tongue, as it may sometimes come to that to curb my willfulness!