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Autism: A Brain Like Mine

06 Jul

The thing about a brain like mine is that it doesn’t let go. Whatever I am fixated on – be it housing, food, a show I am binge watching, the loss of a pet, the loss of a child – will remain, locked in, set on repeat, until something else comes in to take its place. Even then, it is only gone for a while. For a while, until that thought, that pain, those pictures come back, and the process is repeated again.

The thing about a brain like mine, is that so much comes at me in pictures, and my memories are the strongest, clearest pictures of all. So I step outside, and for a moment – just a moment – I see my dog at the door waiting for me. In the hallway, on my bedroom floor, wrapping himself in my blankets on my pillow. Just a moment, and then he is gone, and the pain washes over me.

I close my eyes, and see them. My dog. My cat. My children. Myself as a child, looking in a mirror. Or worse – myself as a child looking out. Memories. So full of longing. So full of pain. And when those pictures are gone, the sadness or the fear remain.

me at 7

The thing about a brain like mine is that nothing becomes ‘long ago.’ When I think it, or see it, remember it – it isn’t something that happened in some far off moment. I am there. I am there, yet I can’t reach out and pull those I’ve lost through the memory. So close, yet nothing I do will get me there, and it breaks me. It breaks me.

The thing about a brain like mine is that it isn’t easy to distract. If I am sad, if I am scared, if I feel lost, or ashamed, or broken… no amount of positive thinking, or breathing exercises, or… will take away the emotion. In fact, it is more like an attack, and that feeling, that thought fights back and becomes stronger.

The thing about a brain like mine is that it is standing on a fine line between fantasy and reality. And while many see reality as the goal – that to let go of a grasp on reality is to become unstable – the reality of this world fills me with such pain that it is hard to stand.

Reality is not a place I would choose to stay. Instead I spend much time reaching for this imagination, which will carry me away, and make it easier to endure. Would it be so bad, for instance, if I could see my lost animals, and lost children, and lost family with me along the way – rather than feel this pain and emptiness that will not let go?

The thing about a brain like mine is that I am more likely to cry out against these chains that bind me to the knowledge of life as it is, than to seek help for the moments of freedom where I can believe that even that is possible.

The thing about a brain like mine is that I see this world too clearly, and over and over again it breaks my heart to look out over this broken world. If I could let go a little. Even just a little. Maybe I, too, could find joy in a pain filled world. If only I didn’t see it.

As I was about to start writing this post, the phone rang. I knew that number, and I answered. “Is this Jennifer,” she asked. “I just wanted to let you know that Gryffindor’s ashes are ready to be picked up.”

Broken.

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