When Being Comforted Means Being Erased

Earlier I wrote that I won’t mourn forever, now I’m not so sure. I’m stuck in my mourning, and I think one of the reasons is that I don’t share it. There are a number of reasons for this, for instance I lose my ability to shift focus when I’m upset so I’m incapable of participating in a dialogue. Sometimes I can write (or even talk) or I can read (or even listen), but I can’t switch rapidly back and forth in the way that a dialogue usually requires.

The other reason is about erasure and my desire to be comforted. My longing for consolation is a deep, intense, burning part of me. I’ve spent years in therapy trying to learn to allow myself to feel sad and receive comfort from other people. I’ve tried so many times. Most of the times I ended up thinking that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. There have been a few exceptions, but most of the times it’s like my reasons for being sad are incomprehensible to other people. The friend or partner I’ve tried to confide in has started to comfort me about something else. Not to be mean or disrespectful, not to intentionally hurt me, but it did hurt me anyway. It hurt me deeply because my experiences were erased. Since this happened repeatedly, important parts of me were erased. I was erased.

As I wrote, there have been a few exceptions. I have a few friends in my life now who have given me the gift of truly relating to what I tell them. Not because they always share my experiences or magically read my thoughts, but somehow they can grasp what I try to communicate. But the fact that I have had a few different experiences over the last couple of years doesn’t change the 30 years of erasure before that. (Erasure that still happens in a lot of situations, just to be clear.) My default expectation is that my experiences will be dismissed, ignored or belittled. Combined with the cognitive difficulties of a dialogue, a lack of words for many of my experiences and a heavy load of shame, I can’t imagine what it’s like to feel comforted about the most painful parts of my mourning.

As much as I want to be comforted, as much as I probably need it, I don’t think I’m ready for it. It’s incredibly sad, but having my autistic experiences erased for so many years has made me incapable of receiving comfort. I really hope it will change.

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