I think, for me… what it comes down to is the kind of person I want and choose to be.
I have fear of backlash for posting this, but in the end, if I can’t respect myself… I’ve got nothing. If I don’t speak, I can’t respect me. So.
I won’t speak for anyone but myself.
For what it’s worth. I’m an autistic, disabled, queer (pansexual, kinky, gray-aro, gray-ace, polyamorous) genderqueer person of mixed descent. I’ve spoken about it elsewhere on my blog, but my close ancestors are from four different ethnicities. European, First Nations, Latinx, and Black. I am a trauma, sexual abuse, self-harm survivor. I cope with depression/anxiety and several diagnosed chronic illnesses.
I was raised privileged being taught to pass (violently taught in some cases). I still pass, and because I do and have privilege (neurotypical, cis, religious, white… almost all of the privilege out there can apply to me) I still have a lot of unpacking to do.
They say that autistics tend to turn everything back to themselves when we talk about the experiences of others, it’s part of why we’re often misunderstood, accused of lying or other things.
But you see, when you’re autistic, (and speaking only of myself) a lot of the time that’s HOW you learn to understand what another person is experiencing. You turn it around and put it on like a raincoat to see what it feels like. So you can understand. We know it’s not about us, but that… trying it on, it’s how we make it fit into our computer-like brains, (or at least that’s how I do things).
Isn’t that what empathy really is? The ability to feel someone else’s pain for your own?
I suppose that’s a piss poor analogy, but with my heart weighing down the center of my chest like a fucking elephant, well… it may be the best I can do.
I’ve been asked often today if I’m angry. To turn it to me intentionally for just a second, all I feel is sadness for the family’s loss and the snuffing of a bright light far too soon. A diverse writer who the world really needed. I feel deep, abiding grief, and that’s all. No. I’m not angry.
The rest of this post, I’m just trying to explain the thoughts running like mice around my noggin… I’m not (though it’ll probably seem like it to the neurotypical) trying to center me and my experience. I’m only trying to communicate.
You see, I understand what it feels like to try so damned hard to communicate… and still not be understood or believed. To feel like you never will be.
I also know despair the likes of which causes a person to take their own life. By some random chance (and a cat) I didn’t succeed.
I know the utter rage, searing pain, sense of violation and lack of peace, the hurt, despair, all of it… when someone you love does succeed.
I know that one too well. I wish I didn’t.
He was my brother, it was almost three years ago (I promise I’m not trying to center myself or make this about me.)
Today is for her.
This post is for her, not me.
Two-dimensional words on a page are not going to get that through, I know that. They’re all I have.
For so many reasons, I can’t stay silent. It’s not really in my nature for one. She deserves better, for two.
What little part I played, either by not being outspoken enough because my life was in the way, or by not knowing, or by staying silent… by not immediately shutting down comments on my blog, by not knowing if I’m conflating separate arguments into one with privilege… by following who I want to follow on social media for my own reasons, I am sorry for the part I played.
None of us can know the ripples from the stones we cast.
Words are tricksy things. The saying of them and the interpretation of them, too.
Perception is the key and the only thing that matters.
See, that’s where so many writers have it wrong. Intent is meaningless. Desire is meaningless.
Not when it comes to pain and harm.
My intent/need to spend less time on twitter and more with my family caused me to miss things.
My life imploding around me with the move and the election and my family choosing to have nothing to do with me because of the way I’m born and how I won’t be quiet… that doesn’t matter either.
My intent to help other writers blew up badly, for all the wrong reasons and my intent there doesn’t matter either.
My desire and intent to educate on things that feel as plain as day to me is also meaningless, and I may be very wrong about some of it. I’m still listening and trying to learn what I don’t know.
I am autistic, I do see a large percentage of things in right/wrong answers. I also often fail to understand emotional and social responses, especially if the person isn’t standing right in front of me.
My desire to stay silent because I just didn’t understand what the hell was going on and I didn’t feel it truly involved me… that too is completely irrelevant.
It also doesn’t matter that I didn’t feel I knew most of the people at the center of the issues.
Harm, Pain, Life, Death… those are what matter.
Pain is real.
I’m sorry for pain I caused.
It doesn’t matter that I didn’t KNOW I was causing pain and harm. (FWIW I didn’t) what matters is that inadvertently, I caused the pain. I will try to do better. It’s all I’ve got.
Though I know more than most that at such a time, words are useless. I need to say them.
May your spirit fly free
Julie. I speak your name and remember.
2 thoughts on “Empathy”
I wish that whole situation didn’t have to happen. Just goes to show you’re playing a factor into someone’s life no matter how big or small, or whether it’s in person or online.
And whether you’ve any idea you’re affecting them or not. We can try our best to affect positive change, but in the end, we all each need to be responsible for ourselves and for those we know and care about. We’re supposed to look out for one another, not crucify each other.
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