Dear People I’ve Wronged,
I wish I could write you each individually. In fact, for many of you, I have. I’ve written you emails. Years ago, I sent you Facebook messages when that was the only way to reach you and I was still on social media.
I apologized for my behavior. I owned my wrongs and wished you well.
Here’s what I was missing though: the knowledge that I’m autistic.
This is most important for those of you who were repeatedly offended, wronged, or negatively impacted by me. You may have found my behavior confusing. At one moment, we were able to have great, connected conversations. At another moment, I was completely overwhelmed and snapping.
So let me tell you now what I didn’t know then: I’m autistic.
Why does that matter?
It explains why I got so easily overwhelmed. It explains why I had energy at times, but not at others. It explains why some things rubbed me the wrong way and I snapped. It explains why I said things in a way that was far harsher than I would have liked.
It explains why I was so damned judgmental (I swear… you can read my essay on I Used to Be Judgmental) and focused on being and behaving a particular way (you can read my essay Behaving the Right Way as an Autistic).
None of this explanation is meant to excuse my behavior or negate the impact it had on you. I don’t want to pretend the pain I caused you never happened. I am deeply sorry I hurt you.
I was really lost and confused. I was trying my best, and knowing I was failing. There are some of you that stick out particularly strongly in my mind. I think you know who you are. Those of you who had no choice but to be around me due to our volunteer work, educational setting, roommate status, or job together.
I wonder how things would be different now that I know I’m autistic. I wonder if those life circumstances were repeated, my self-knowledge could somehow prevent some of the pain. If I could say, “I’m sorry, I’m feeling overwhelmed, would it be alright if I took a nap?”
One frustrating thing about being autistic is that I’m not always the best gauge of my impact on others. I’m not really sure how much of me you hold in your memories. I’m not sure if I’m over-exaggerating my impact, or maybe I had far less impact than I’m imagining right now.
Whatever the case, please know I do acknowledge it. I hope your lives are going well. I hope I didn’t negatively impact your experience on this earth in any long-lasting capacity. If I did, and you're still thinking about it, I would love to talk. I promise I can do a better job of listening now.
With My Heavy Autistic Heart,