Sunday, May 13, 2012
The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
The question, "How do I feel?" brought back to mind another experience from my elementary school days. I kept this memory alive through the years but I think this is the first time I bothered to put labels on the emotions I felt at the time. I felt embarrassed, shy, disappointed in myself, and afraid to admit I had made a mistake. As it turned out, none of those emotions were necessary, but they influenced a choice I made.
It was an ordinary day at school - fourth grade, I think - except that I would not be going home at the end of the day. My mom had arranged for me to spend the night with some friends of hers. Their two daughters were several years older than I. In fact, the eldest girl would be driving us back to her house, so she must have been at least 16.
I remember we stayed after school for a softball game, and then we got into the van and drove off. The girls were busy talking to each other, and I did not need much attention. I was content to be left to think my own thoughts on the long drive . . . until I suddenly realized that I had left my overnight bag at school. I was horrified at my mistake, and my thoughts spun round and round while I stared at the floor of the van where the bag should have been. I knew it would make sense for me to speak up and tell the driver, in case she wanted to turn around and go back for my bag.
But somehow, I couldn't make up my mind to tell her. My feelings of shame were intense, and I didn't like to think about what reaction I would get if I admitted that I had been forgetful. Now that I think about it, fourth grade was a time when I forgot my milk money, forgot my field trip money, and forgot to have permission slips signed. (My mom says she was the forgetful one, but I forget now whether or not it was her fault.) Forgetfulness got me into trouble. So maybe that's why I was too nervous to speak up. After all, as an Aspie, I wanted to be perfect. I prided myself in being mistake-free!
Besides, I was a very quiet child and seldom initiated a conversation, even with my own classmates. To interrupt the driver's carefree dialogue with her sister would be rude, wouldn't it? That thought kept me even more tongue-tied.
I waited it out till we pulled up at the house, and the driver saw for herself that my bag was missing. I remember that she did all the talking about how it was a long way back to school and that she would ask her mom what to do. Then her mom did some more talking, told me I could borrow a nightshirt and use an extra toothbrush, and that my bag would still be where I had left it tomorrow. So I felt relieved and stopped worrying. But this memory stayed with me as an example of how my feelings, intense and unnamed, could override my rational mind in decision-making.
How this post relates to Christian living:
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.