There is one thing about autism that, as I get older, never gets easier to deal with…and that, my friends, is disappointment. I’ve never been good at handling disappointment, no matter how hard I’ve tried to tell myself it’s going to happen, and it causes very real problems for me when I don’t know what to expect.
If there are expectations and they suddenly change, I just am incapable of understanding the change immediately…sometimes forever. But the reactions aren’t any fun. Depending on the situation I will either get disoriented or frustrated, then I will get angry, and finally I will get sad and cry. It has definitely cost me friends and relationships throughout my life, although now being aware means those who come to know me understand it’s a reaction I haven’t managed to stop having yet.
I will say this is the reason why I try to never expect anything, ever, from anyone or any situation. Even when people promise me something, I don’t believe them, and that’s because most people I’ve known don’t keep their promises.
A promise isn’t made only when you say “I promise.” No, a promise is made when you say you will do something, period. This is called keeping your word and in general this is apparently a hard freaking thing to do.
And when someone does make a promise to me, one that I choose to believe they mean? Well, they break my heart when they don’t follow through and emotionally, that’s it. I will get so angry, but then I will cry, because I can’t believe another person has let me down. Then, I cry harder because I can believe they have let me down and hate that I was stupid enough to take someone at their word even for a moment.
After all, I know better by now.
It seems so easy. And people can tell me not to take things so personally, but I can’t help it. Plus, truly, should I never have any expectations of anyone at all? What’s the point of that?
When did it become okay for people to not follow through on what they say and to just let it go, to not rebuke them for wasting my time or energy or anything else? “Oh, just get over it” or “Oh, move on, they aren’t worth the effort” is just ridiculous responses to me. Don’t get upset over someone lying to me or treating me badly or breaking their word? Where in the world does that make any sense? Should someone not be held accountable for the terrible way they act toward others?
I am tired of people not respecting my time and my energy and my effort. I don’t need recognition of any of these things outside of the simple courtesy of people doing what they say will and meaning what they say, that’s it. It’s not that hard to do and I won’t let people get away with treating me that way no matter what anybody else says.
Which brings me to why I wrote this post.
Yesterday and for a few days now, I’ve been excited about my trip, because I thought I would finally get to see my ex and deal with some long-trapped feelings. You know, get some closure, that I so desperately need.
But you see, although I told him I wanted to see him on my birthday, and he said he would drive to see me where I’m staying, this morning I wake up to a message where he tells me that seeing me “isn’t doable” and that he is sorry. However, he hopes I have a good trip.
To which I flat out called bullshit and yeah, I got pissed. No reason, no nothing, like we were discussing something simple such as the weather! I told him he’s selfish – a trip I planned to see him specifically and where he said he was excited to see me – and all the sudden out of seventeen days, he can’t find one fucking day to visit me? I told him this and that he’s also a selfish bastard and then I told him to fuck off, because you know what, I’m angry at his zero respect for me, especially when he’s called me his friends for all these years!
Angry at being denied what I need to close an old, awful wound that breaks open every time I think of him, one where I can’t get rid of old feelings and memories because he won’t face me. And I guess I’m not his friend, not really, because last I checked friends didn’t treat each other this way, and I deserve better!
But that’s the worst part because what if I don’t? I mean, do I deserve this…is being denied closure my eternal punishment for not telling him the truth in the first place? And do people treat me badly because I’m such an easy target with the way I love and care for people I meet so easily and openly?
He let me down – after all these years, he shouldn’t have…he knew better. And I know he doesn’t deserve my tears if he would treat me this way, that’s what people tell me at least. Yet, it isn’t like that for me, because tears are the one way I’ve always gotten my feelings out. I wish crying would get rid of what haunts me and right now, I wish I could forget he ever existed.
But it won’t because I would’ve done it years ago if so.
Yet, now is when I’m thankful for my autism, even if it means I’m socially challenged and emotionally immature, because of the way it’s always somewhat protected me from the aftereffects of how others treated me, and in some ways still does.
Because today I will be disappointed and angry and sad, and then by the time of my trip I will enjoy myself because I worked hard for it. I won’t let him ruin it for me.
Because that’s me. I get up and keep going even when the people I cared about enough to love let me down, all while hoping that one day someone will know me well enough to not to, at least not on purpose.
Thanks for reading.
authors with autism, autism & disappointment, living with autism