September 15, 2016:
On Autism and Empathy:
Not having empathy or showing concern for the feelings of others is a symptom of autism. It is also a symptom of sociopathy, narcissistic personality disorder and a symptom of just plain being an a-hole.
My stoner friend called and said he shit his pants today and I laughed so hard I had to hang up. Is that “lack of empathy”?
“You don’t care about anyone but yourself”
“You don’t have the capacity to love”
These are just a few of the gems tossed my way, mostly from my parents, but also from guys later who just wanted to get laid.
I have always loved kittis – in fact, “Kitty” was my first (late) word –and because I could not express myself but could walk, my mother put bells on my shoes and took me for walks around the neighborhood where the kitties would come to me – I guess the bells attracted them.
Then I would pet the cats. Gently. And they loved me back.
The soft fur was and still is one of my favorite feels.
I also love how they sidle up and mold themselves to your touch.
I can pet cats nobody else can; they can’t get close enough. Cats trust me, I trust them.
Not the same with people.
I resisted having my diaper changed – only my father could do it-I struggled so much…
I hate kisses – sloppy, smelly, wet.
Don’t like hugs unless I initiate them and then only briefly; I am a more punch you in the arm to say “hello” type.
Massage? MMM-No. Unless it is really deep and I know the masseuse; it takes a lot of energy and strength to give me a massage. A lot of guys tried to segue into sex from massage, so I have some bad memories as well.
It took me a long time to realize the offer of a massage was actually something else, and then it hurt my feelings:
“Why can’t they like me for my mind?”
That a lot of this is typical teenage stuff didn’t make it any easier to deal with as I had no mentors or support system.
I left home at 15 when I was sent “away”, but did not stay long in any of those schools and group homes; I became emancipated at 16 and, when not in some hospital or group home, rented rooms and apartments where most of my contacts with others were with much older people. Males.
Did I mention I was precocious?
I was not sexually precocious, though, and definitely not promiscuous as I could barely stand to be touched and would beat the s^,& out of anyone who tried.
Let’s just say I was constantly fending someone off.
Did I mention my parents had sent me to a finishing/modeling school at age 12 to try to teach me to be more “ladylike”?
I actually got some ‘modeling’ jobs, working with channel 4 news: one job was a news clip about a game called “Simon”.
I really liked that game and had it at home.
My job was to pretend to be entered in a contest Milton Bradley (who had stock in KRON 4) was hosting at some fancy hotel in SF. I was to be interviewed (surprise!) and my job was to declaim on what I thought of the future of electronic games.
All is going well and I am in my element when I am suddenly pulled aside:
“You can’t win; you are officially an employee of channel 4”.
So I dutifully lost the contest.
What does all this have to do with empathy?
I wanted friends, did not want sex, wanted to be loved but didn’t know how to attract and interact with the right kind of people.
I was 16 and alone, but I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me – I was tough and a survivor,
– who is going to keep a weird girl around who doesn’t’ even give it up?
Already weird enough, getting pregnant was never an option
So I never did get pregnant and seemed to lack maternal instinct.
In public, babies were just a cluster of upsetting impressions: the crying, screaming made ME want to cry and scream.
I even gag on my own smells sometimes.
But, then, after years of being bombarded with, “You don’t care about any one but yourself”
Empathy seemed weak to me. And integrating the numerous daily sensory impressions consumed a lot of my time.
I liked to be alone.
I needed to be alone.
But I had to live in the world with YOU.
I was frustrated and took it out on you.
My harshness made me seem incapable of love but I knew, buried deeply was a kitty seed waiting to develop when the time is right.
And here it is:
Now this is not my baby, but it it is the first baby I have held and he is so soft and I think he likes me because he smiles when I singsong his name.