Detachment?

by Spunkykitty

I wondered today, whether the generally / commonly perceived ‘detachment’ or ‘emotional coldness’ observed by neurotypicals in Aspies is due rather to being too attached, too empathic, too sensitive, and too synchronistic to others’ states, and becoming utterly overwhelmed by the ensuing tsunami of emotion to the point of shutdown.

Today, I found myself consciously withdrawing from someone else’s intense pain, and, like a mimosa, my entire being began folding inwards, and I found myself wishing I could dissolve into nothingness — no, not disappear, but just cease to exist. Such was my emotional resonance to this person’s pain.

And I feel guilt. Deep guilt at being unable to be there for this person, to act as confidante, perpetual sympathiser, and strong comforter. No, I cannot cope. I cannot deal with those terrible, powerful, dark emotional outbursts, that ominously malevolent self-destructive aura.

If there is a God, if prayer has any power whatsoever, I pray for this person — a desperate prayer for healing and resolution to all that pain. I know what pain is like. I understand that when one is in so much pain, nobody else matters, nobody else’s pain counts, and nobody’s empathy means anything at all. I understand that in such a state, healing has to take place from within, and there is nothing much people around can do. Yet, I feel the horror and darkness vibrating and echoing in this person’s mind. I can hear the silent scream, the wailing of the soul, a broken child’s anguished cry. And I am petrified. I am seized with the urge to run away, to flee, as if trying to escape from the soundwaves emanating from within me. Futile impulse, yet so very, very strong it is.

How could some people still believe Aspies are cold, unfeeling creatures? How I wish I really were. Then I would not be haunted so by others’ pain. I would not fear another’s nightmare even again.

Detached? Nay. For this Aspie, definitely not so, and to make matters worse, I think I have forgotten where the Off switch is. I am heading for a meltdown of tremendous proportions if I do not take my entire self out of this situation.

About the Author: Spunkykitty is an artist with Asperger’s Syndrome. This piece first appeared on her blog, Spunkykitty: My Wonderful World, and is reprinted here by permission.

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4 thoughts on “Detachment?

  1. Jayn says:

    I’ve been exactly there myself. When someone else is in pain, I just feel this intense desire for it to GO AWAY. Not because I don’t sympathise, but because I can’t cope. Support becomes more of an intellectual than emotional endeavour, because if I don’t shut myself off I am too overwhelmed to handle it in any real way. I get the same instinct for others’ pain as I do to my own–crawl into bed and hide. Not helpful.

  2. Nikki says:

    Yes, it is extremely difficult to cope with, feeling so acutely for another but not being able to help or to express it and feeling so overwhelmed you want to scream and just run run RUN. I really struggle with that.

  3. Nikki says:

    Yes, I very much relate to this. It is extremely difficult to live with feeling such empathy but being unable to help or to express it, and all you want to do is SCREAM and just run run RUN!

  4. I heard that forms of insanity were caused by the inability to have the basic filters of information, sounds, sensations so that all comes in at once constantly. I have often felt this about emotions, as from a young, young age, I simply could not be around a strong emotion, and it seemed like everyone was shouting with their body long before the lips ever moved. It still does.

    How this is turned off is only by turning to that which is absolute, the relief of a study of information or math (until you get to the level where it turns out that is a giant shouting match as well). I do not regret it though as it has enabled me to break through my own being and reach out to someone whose sadness is invisable, whose desperation goes unseen simply because it is unsaid.

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