Autism: Where They Lose Me

05 Oct

The phone rang suddenly, as it always does, and caused me to jump. Phones are so loud, and there is no warning that they are about to ring.

To answer the phone brings with it unpredictability. I suppose that if we had call display, and I always knew the numbers of the people who were calling, that might help a little – but such is not the case. Normally I do not answer the phone, unless I am expecting a call. Even then it is hard on me.

For whatever reason, I picked up the phone on this occasion – likely because I was standing beside it when it rang. I wouldn’t have avoided it if I had known who was calling, but it would have been hard just the same.

It was a women from our church inviting me to her place for a visit with her and a friend, also from church. Two months ago when they asked me if I would be willing to visit with them I said, “yes,” so there really wasn’t a decision to be made, only the answer to be given. I am supposed to say yes to these things, right?

Anxiously I waited for her to pick me up – we are down to one vehicle, and my husband was away at work.

When we got there, she showed me her beautiful house, and talked a little about her grandchildren. Then she had me cut some fruit for the visit.

I know I should be able and willing to do these things – I see it all the time with other women from my church. It is what they do. How do I explain how hard it is for me, then, to do what is natural for them? I didn’t explain. I started cutting, praying all the while I wouldn’t make a mistake.

I washed my hands before cutting the fruit, and a few times during (I don’t like my hands to feel dirty.) My hands tend to feel dry and irritated all of the time, and so I am constantly putting on lotion – constantly as in I have some sitting everywhere I spend any time, as well as in my purse for when I go out. I put it on my hands at least twenty times a day. I go through a lot of lotion.

While I had thought about it, I had chosen not to take my purse to this visit. I wasn’t driving, and I know from experience that I feel awkward once there when I have to carry it around. So I didn’t have any lotion with me, and I was painfully aware of that fact throughout my visit.

Then we walked over to the living room – her carrying the trays of food. The juice she had poured for me (I don’t drink coffee) was sitting on the counter. I paced a few times in front of it before deciding I should carry it into the living room with me.

Then I worried about where I should sit – but she pointed out a spot for me. As I was settling into that seat, she was rearranging her coffee table so it would be easier to reach the food, and I bumped into her slightly. Though that was hours ago, I am still getting waves of shame come across me over that. I apologized, and sat down hating myself quietly.

Normally I don’t eat or drink when I am at other people’s houses. What if they talk to me while I am chewing? What if it gets stuck in my teeth? What if I drop some crumbs on the floor, or spill some of my drink? What if the food tastes bad, and I feel nauseous eating it? Above that, I have trouble talking to people when I haven’t brushed my teeth before – so when I go visiting, I brush my teeth before, and don’t eat, so that won’t add to the reason I don’t talk.

However, she encouraged me to eat, and I thought it would be rude not to. So I took a little bit, and tried not to drop any, and tried to eat small bites so I wouldn’t be caught with food in my mouth, and pushed myself to forget about my teeth, and my hands, and still join in the conversation.

By then her friend had come. They were both very friendly and encouraging to me. They prayed for me in the beginning as well as at the end. I was able to talk quite a bit as there were only the two of them there, and they asked the right types of questions that I was able to answer them. It was a nice visit – but my hands were dry, and my teeth needed to be brushed, and I may have had some crumbs on my sweater, and I bumped her, and what if I cut the fruit wrong? And….

You see, no visit is easy for me. It takes a lot for me to go out, and afterward I am so hard on myself. I have been reliving everything I might have done wrong for the rest of the afternoon, with my thoughts often returning to how stupid I am, and how much I hate myself – even after a good, friendly, encouraging visit.

They are good. I am evil. I know I need to change those thoughts, but after a lifetime, that is very hard to do.

And then we reached the part where they lose me every time. They said if ever I needed anything, even just to go out for coffee or something, that I should call. They said to let them know what they could do for me – they want to help. And that is where I am lost because I can’t. I can’t pick up the phone and call. I can’t invite myself over. I can’t ask them to go somewhere. I can’t even ask them to pray for me. Even when I really want to – I can’t.

I know that is supposed to come from both sides. I am painfully aware of how much I am fallen in this. I know I am supposed to do this, and I can’t.

If they called, and invited me, I would go. If they came and asked me questions, I would talk. If they asked how they could pray for me, I would tell them. All of these would be hard – very hard – but for me to initiate that… I just can’t. And that is where people give up on me… always.


Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Autism: Out in Public


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4 responses to “Autism: Where They Lose Me

  1. wotsbooks

    October 6, 2015 at 2:50 am

    My wife is similar in some of these. But true friends and good people will listen and understand. I would rather my friends, NT’s or Aspies, just told me if they didn’t fancy coming round one day and if they bumped into me it wouldn’t bother me one jot. One question though, what are they praying for?


  2. Walkinfaith925

    October 6, 2015 at 9:33 am

    It isn’t that I didn’t want to go – but that it costs me so much after. I have a friend that moved away years ago, and we never visit in person anymore, however we do talk (write) online, and that works for me. My son, also, only visits his friends online – and I thought that wasn’t good enough. I am beginning to see why it is.

    They were mainly praying for help with my anxiety, and for the ability and finances for me to stay at home without feeling guilty – because again, it costs me so much to go out,and I need to save that energy for things that are really important.


  3. Walkinfaith925

    October 6, 2015 at 9:37 am

    It also helps a lot if my husband is with me when we go visiting, to act as a sort of buffer for me, and that I don’t have to go alone. It is still hard then, but it might only cost me exhaustion that day, rather than for several days after.


  4. kazst

    October 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I can be the same way with visits. It depends on who it is. With some people I’m okay, but some people just push my sensory buttons and I feel like a basketcase. I still cringe over an incident that happened about 10 years ago. One of my husband’s colleagues had invited us and a few other people over. Knowing that the proper etiquette is to offer to help in the kitchen, I did, even though I was secretly hoping she’d decline my offer. Unfortunately, she accepted it, and she said I should unwrap and cut up the cheeses and arrange them on the cheese board. What she didn’t mention is that apparently, only some cheeses are meant to be cut up; others are served whole and the guests shave a bit off as needed. I suppose there’s some kind of well-known cheese protocol that everybody but me is familiar with. It wasn’t long before she was shrieking, “No! Not like that!” My nerves became so rattled I could hardly function after that, and I still think about it to this day.

    I am also the same way with phones. I no longer have a landline and use a cell phone only. This works better for me because I have all my contacts’ numbers in the phone and they appear on the screen when they call. If it’s a number not already in my contacts, I don’t answer. My outgoing voice mail message says that if you have my e-mail address you should e-mail me, and only those who don’t have it should leave a voicemail (if people want to think I’m being too rigid, let them). Also, I have been able to find gentle ringtones (and for some contacts, make custom ringtones from songs I like) that don’t rattle my nerves. When I feel like I can’t handle any noise at all, I put it on mute and keep it where I can see it light up when a call comes in. This helps me a lot. I know cell phones can be expensive though. We were just lucky to get really good deal at the time (I don’t think the deals are as good anymore), and since long distance and everything is included, I don’t think it’s really costing more than when we had a landline. We’ll see what happens when it’s time to renew the contract.



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