“I don’t understand.” I say this often. It’s one of my catchphrases these days. I use it when people behave in a way that seems illogical and strange to me. I use it when I’m hurt.
I don’t understand why people can’t let me know if they’re running late. I don’t understand why people don’t just believe me when I tell them something hurts me. I don’t understand why people are so confrontational. I don’t understand why people don’t study people the way that I do.
I’ve spent a lifetime quietly studying the patterns of social interaction. Like waves hitting a shore you can learn how your actions will be received.
Anger always hits the sea wall and is thrown back. It’s rarely listened to. If anger and frustration is what you put out into the world, then walls get built around you.
I don’t understand why people don’t see that.
Even if others add their water to your wave, those who already agreed, those who already held those views, those who your anger didn’t crash upon but who were swept along in its wake, it doesn’t make those at the shore any more likely to listen.
We all have righteous anger. I have it. There is anger in me. I was an angry child and a furious teen. I didn’t understand and, even worse, I was terrified of anyone realising that I didn’t understand.
People didn’t understand me either. When my father joked that my siblings had worked hard for their exams, but lazy me had done nothing, and that it was unfair that I had done so well, he didn’t understand that I don’t know how to revise. It was beyond me. All I could do is hope to remember everything that had ever been said to me.
My furrowed brow has learned to understand things on a cognitive level, instead of an instinctive one. It sees what others do not, and misses what must be blatantly obvious to those in the know.
My patterns always work with a purpose. If my purpose is to let my anger out at the world, then I am free to rant and rage and tell the world it isn’t fair. Because it isn’t fair. That’s a pattern of the world, no cosmic justice, just life and living.
If my purpose is to be heard, then it doesn’t matter how righteous my anger, it will build walls against me. It will separate me from my intended audience. It’s so easy to ignore and dismiss. A sensory overload, just a noise, just a pain, not something real you have to hear and accept.
Things have happened to me in life that have hurt me. I don’t understand why the people involved gave themselves permission to do those things. I don’t understand how they still see themselves as good people, but they do. I don’t understand how they’re not torn up inside by their actions. I don’t understand how they lie so completely to themselves.
I see the bigger patterns too. I see how the world encourages certain people to behave in certain ways. I see how we’re all in a race, all in our own lanes. I see how each lane has different obstacles, different hurdles and different leaps. I see how those in a lane with no obstacles can’t see those in the other lanes, can only learn they are there by listening to those who are bruised by their falls.
Just the fact that I am educated puts me in one of the easier lanes. No cosmic justice decided on my arbitrary existence, in this arbitrary country, with this luck-of-the-draw brain.
Running in the easiest lanes doesn’t mean that you, as an individual, won’t suffer some of the greatest hardships, it just means the odds are with you. It means you’ll never have to encounter hurdles that other people will face daily. You’ll never even see them if you’re a good person, unless you listen. Yes you read that right, if you’re a good person, you’re less likely to see them because your motivations aren’t negative. If you’re not consciously building other people’s obstacles and you’re not experiencing them directly, you need to listen.
The bigger patterns can be deceptive if you look at them too long. Just like the differences between male and female brains. In a general study of characteristics across a large number of brains, you will find a general trend of differences. But when you compare individual brains there is so much variety that you will not find consistent differences. Link to New Scientist Article Here
Which means that you can categorise and assume, but look at any one brain and you won’t be able to tell if it’s male or female, we’re all a jumble in the middle somewhere, making do and trying to fit in. The general pattern is deceptive. It tells us there are differences that don’t exist in the detail.
That’s how the world works. Individuals are all just that, neurodivergent or not, we are all subject to our own uniqueness.
I don’t understand how people judge others based on a group characteristic. You can’t. You can only ever judge a person.
When I was a teen I remember a friend telling me that the French were arrogant. My first reaction was, “You’ve met them all?!” Which I passed off as a joke, when I realised that of course they hadn’t.
Any differences there are between us, vanish on an individual level. All of them. Even my autistic brain versus my husband’s everyday wiring. We are compatible as humans.
What makes us compatible? He doesn’t like olives and I do. That’s our main difference. It’s a difference that means I get to eat his olives, and he gets a clear plate. His male brain is more sensitive than my female one. He is logical, I am Logic. He loves music, I love images. He’s a worrier, I’m a risk-assessor. He adores babies, I think they all look better holding a cigar and doing a Winston Churchill impression. He judges his clothing on its fit, I judge it on how many pockets it has. I’m a passionate Welshwoman and he’s a gruff Yorkshireman.
I don’t understand why people focus on the general instead of the detail. It’s an autistic thing to see the detail. Maybe it’s something the world needs more of in a social setting. Now more than ever.
If you need to express that anger then by all means scream into the ether, but if you want to change the world then listen.
Frustration breeds frustration. Righteous anger creates righteous anger. Listening leads to communication.