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Autism: Overwhelming Empathy

11 Nov

Last night, I got three hours of sleep. It wasn’t even all together, either, and I am really feeling it today. The thing is that I have been so nauseous lately that I end up eating all the wrong foods just so I can eat something. Yesterday that included English muffins with peanut butter. I know that wheat gives me insomnia, but that is my ‘go to’ food when I am nauseous (which has happened more often than not throughout my life) and I didn’t know what else to eat. If I didn’t eat, it would have just made things worse. It is pretty bad when one of the main activities for staying alive makes it so hard for me to live.

Anyway, as a result, I am hardly accomplishing anything today: A couple of loads of laundry, my lessons, and hopefully this blog.

I picked up a ‘new’ book to read last night, and for the fifteenth time in as many years read the chapter that hurts every single time I read it. About one hundred and forty years ago, someone’s dog died. The tears began before I even read the words – after all, I have read this book fifteen times: I knew it was coming. It wasn’t just a few tears, either, but such a deep heartache that I felt in every fiber of my being.

The dog died. That is just so wrong.

It doesn’t matter that he was old, or that he had walked so very far, or that he survived several books earlier when they thought he had been lost. I mean, yes, I was thankful he survived back then. I was thankful to read that he had lived many years after… the thing is, it is never enough.

This wasn’t my dog. She wrote well, and I felt that I knew him, but it wasn’t my loss. Still it hurt. It hurt a lot!

The tears started, and grew, and grew, and pretty soon I was near hyperventilating.

Her dog died, and she knew that she was grown up, because now she had to move forward alone. I cried for her being alone. I cried for the dog who was buried by the path he loved so much, but who would not be moving along with them. I cried for them, despite the fact that they lived so very long ago.

I cried for my dog, who died suddenly four and a half months ago. I cried for the dog that I read about in the news, who died in a house fire beside a young boy, who also died in the fire. I cried for the boy. I cried for the dogs in shelters, and the ones abandoned or abused. I cried for all my dogs who have died, and for my cats, too. I cried for my dog who is alive, but won’t always be.

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I cried for all the losses I have experienced, and I cried for all the pain that is in the world. I cried for hungry people, and broken children, and broken adults, and all who are lost and will never find their way home.

I cried for about two hours, and then I washed my face, and said goodnight to my husband. As he fell asleep, I started crying again – for the pain of nearly one hundred and forty years ago is just as real, and felt just as strongly today. And I feel the pain of the world, and I feel it so deeply that I can hardly move on.

So you see why I have to block it out? You see why I might struggle to respond well to the pain of another? It isn’t that I don’t feel, but that I feel so much, and so deeply, that I become overwhelmed.

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