Every day, I read lovely comments on my blog, of beautiful people who generously share their experiences. And every day, I read the lovely posts of other people on their blogs. Their words mirror mine, and my words seem to mirror theirs. It has this eerily cool, endless feeling, like what you get when you face two mirrors toward each other.
I’ve realized that some of my stock phrases have inadvertently become “you’re not alone” and “you’ve got plenty of company”.
And for a moment, the self-consciousness of sounding so repetitive begins to stir; the only way to tamp it back down is to remind myself that I’m merely speaking my truth. No longer am I trying to mask and impress and posture to mirror those whose brain-wiring differs too much from mine to be able to make any sense of how they operate. This time, my stock phrases aren’t for show or to say something agreeable to cast myself in an acceptable light.
It’s for real. The mask is off because for the most part, there’s no need to mask in cyberspace, especially in a virtual room filled with people of like minds.
We’re not all the same, of course, and not all of us can relate to all of each other all of the time. But we share enough in common to be able to relate and empathize on some level, probably a deeper level than most of us have ever been able to before.
It’s a beautiful synchrony. But it’s also a sad one sometimes. Because a lot of what we share in common involves pain or difficulty or challenge of some kind.
It’s always reassuring to know I’m not alone. That reassurance is comforting and therapeutic. That all of my hardship wasn’t Just Me. It wasn’t a character flaw that only I possessed. It wasn’t even a character flaw at all.
When the world at large observes a phenomenon that they don’t understand, its first instinct is to fear it, to call it “weird”, to label it “abnormal”, and to confine it into a box, usually coined as a “syndrome” or “disorder”.
A “disorder” or “abnormality” is often simply a difference they don’t understand and can’t explain.
But the terminology only adds to the pain and loneliness that so many of us feel, that sense of being “othered” throughout daily life. It only widens the invisible divide.
This seems to happen to so many of us. Online life often becomes our solace, our liberation, in a way.
And in another way, it can compound the sadness sometimes. Although it can be comforting to find out we weren’t alone in our aloneness, it doesn’t change the fact that we might have felt alone and powerless before, and it doesn’t always help these days when those feelings visit again. In our immediate surroundings, then and now, we’re still physically alone. We’re like one-person armies, dotted about the landscape. The good news is, there’s now an online community to share it with.
That in itself can be a double-edged knife. Through the droplets of people processing similar experiences at different times, memories and their associated emotions can be ignited inside, brought back to vivid living color in an instant.
But at least, it wasn’t that something was wrong with me, or any of us. Unbeknownst to us, many others were going through our own versions of similar personal hell.
It’s “sweet” to know that I wasn’t the only person in the world who faced these challenges. It’s “bitter” to know that many of those shared challenges hurt.
I feel comfort in knowing I wasn’t actually alone. I feel at peace knowing it wasn’t due to some failure on my part. But I feel empathy and also a knowing sympathy for all of us, because we frequently faced daily hell for simply being ourselves, simply operating on our instincts, being called “wrong” even though we weren’t after all.
I want to make it clear that I encourage anyone and everyone to continue to share their experiences and thoughts. It’s OK that there’s a “bitter” in “bittersweetness”; for me, any pain it may bring up is part of my processing. I believe that one must face in order to transcend. I don’t want to be held down, held captive, by my memories anymore. Those who leave comments and share their stories only facilitate healing. For me, the pain I might experience is temporary.
The healing, however, is not.
For the record…
Keep talking. 🙂 ❤
Asperger’s / Autism and Loneliness ~ September 4, 2016
How It Feels To Find Your Tribe ~ September 23, 2016