Understanding Why I’ve Never Understood the Things I Don’t Understand

by Femmeburger

Since my diagnosis, I sometimes feel like Alice after falling down the rabbit hole. The world around me looks so different. It is all too big, too loud, too bright, too everything. I’m chasing my own white rabbit, knowledge about living with Asperger’s, while seeking guidance from my therapist, the caterpillar. My fellow Aspies, diagnosed much earlier than I, are happily enjoying their tea party, content in the ways that they differ from the rest of the world. At the same time, I fear society, or the Queen of Hearts and her court, judging my differences and declaring that it must be off with my head. Like Alice and the “Eat Me”/“Drink Me” potions, I am constantly adjusting to fit my new world, not knowing what the end result will be or if I will find myself “going out altogether, like a candle.”

There are so many things I’ve never understood. What’s more, I’ve never understood exactly why I don’t understand. At least now I’m gaining some understanding about my lack of understanding. Things are very black and white for me, very logical. If you and I have a misunderstanding that leads to an argument, I feel like we should explain our positions, clear up the misunderstanding and end the argument. I don’t understand the need to keep talking about how we felt because we’ve already established that it was all just an error in communication. If I see a clear solution to a problem you have, I want you to take action and solve it, not talk about how the problem makes you feel.

This is not to say I am incapable of empathy. On the contrary, I feel enormous empathy. Perhaps too much, on occasion. My problem comes in expressing it. If you are hurting and there is no clear way to fix it, then I hurt for you. I just don’t have the capacity to give voice to that feeling. I have learned to say, “I’m sorry you’re hurting and I wish I knew how to help.” but that is rarely enough to make the point that I really, truly do care about what you’re going through.

I know I’m not the only one making adjustments and learning new things. I am accepting that this is permanent, because it is who I am. I am the Mad Aspie. Pass the hookah and pour me a cup of tea. I’m not leaving Wonderland.

About the Author: Femmeburger is a woman with Asperger’s. This piece first appeared on her blog, Femmeburger, and is reprinted here by permission.

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6 thoughts on “Understanding Why I’ve Never Understood the Things I Don’t Understand

  1. Blue Sky says:

    As someone who suspects that she is a ‘little bit aspie’, I’d love more insights from this lady 🙂 Really enjoyed reading this and can totally relate to it x

  2. Jean says:

    It’s so cool to get an insight inside the mind of a person on the spectrum. I’d sell my soul to experience how my son perceives the world. I also am aware that although my son doesn’t express empathy, that he’s loving and emotional…the difficulty is with his expression of it, not it’s absence.
    Great analogy with Alice XXX

    • Michael says:

      well, you have to understand that for most aspies their logic overrides their emotions. this is exasperated by not being able to relate to the “normal” world. we`re basically required to detach from our emotions to survive. in fact, if you see an aspie being emotional, it means that that emotion is very powerful indeed, to supercede their logic.

      it gets more complex because we often have “inappropriate reactions” to what we see or experience, so we learn to hide what emotions we do have.

      it`s much easier and safer to have empathy for animals and plants and inanimate objects. they make sense and don`t hurt us deliberately.

  3. Alienhippy says:

    Totally enjoyed reading this piece.
    My favourite bit and what I TOTALLY get is this….

    “There are so many things I’ve never understood. What’s more, I’ve never understood exactly why I don’t understand. At least now I’m gaining some understanding about my lack of understanding.”

    Every day I feel like another piece drops into that big old jig-saw of my life. Thanks for sharing this.
    Love and hugs. xx 🙂

  4. Sybil says:

    I can relate VERY well to the Alice in Wonderland analogy…and the part that Alienhippy quoted.I want to be happily enjoying the tea party but haven’t quite gotten there yet. 🙂

  5. Sam says:

    I’ve also been criticized for wanting to always swoop in and solve other people’s problems, instead of just listening. To me, that isn’t because I don’t empathize, but because I do empathize, a lot, and it’s very distressing to be asked to just accept that someone is having a really hard time and connect with them over that emotion instead of trying to take away whatever’s making them so sad.

    At some point I was even considering being a therapist and concluded that I just wouldn’t be able to handle it for that exact reason.

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