Friday, August 12, 2011

Being understood

With the help of my husband, I found a psychologist who are knowledgeable about Aspergers. I had an hour long session with him on Wednesday. During the hours and days leading up to this I felt very anxious and apprehensive. To begin with I felt unsettled because the day would be a break in my usual routine. And then I did not know what to expect at all, I was also scared of being disappointed once again.

I am very glad to say that my fears were unfounded. It is hard to describe what an intense experience it was talking to an expert who understood, validated and knows more than I do about Aspergers. I was close to crying the whole time, but held that in because I did not want to waste the precious time on too much emotion.

I have so many thoughts and feelings running through my head now, I so wish I could hide somewhere alone for a few days to rest and start processing it all.

One recurring thought, accompanied by a wave of emotion every time, is "So this is what it feels like to be understood!" It is overwhelming. I do have people in my life who love me and accept me and try to understand me. It is a blessing, and I appreciate it more than I can express. But in all these relationships I am the expert when it comes to Aspergers. Naturally I usually end up explaining and educating, and mostly in a detached, intellectual way - sharing emotions and fears is too threatening when I am rather sure of not being understood. And these explanations can so easily cross a line somewhere in my head and start feeling like excuses. After a lifetime of believing I am just not trying hard enough, I still sometimes feel as if I am just trying to justify myself. Trying to convince myself and others that I am OK and trying. And when I achieve something, it is not really satisfying first having to explain why it is an achievement before getting some appreciation. I really do not want to hurt my loved ones, I value them so much. But to talk to someone who understands without any explanations, who applauds my achievements and sympathizes with my fears and struggles - it took my breath away.

We talked about many things, and once I have processed more of them I will write about it. It is hard to put my thoughts down now, I feel very emotional and tired.

I want to end this post by saying thank you to my wonderful husband, who cared enough to make this session possible, something I would not have been able to do on my own.


  1. That is great Cecile, I can't imagine how that feels to find someone you can connect with like that.

  2. I'm really happy for you that you've found such support. I know exactly what you mean when you say explaining can feel like making excuses: I feel the same way sometimes. It's such a relief when you talk to someone who understands. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Dankie dat jy dit ook met ons/my deel. Selfs vir my wat so min van al hierdie dinge verstaan,beteken dit so veel. Ek besef nou en glo dat ek nou kan verstaan, en elke dag meer en meer sal besef waaroor alles gaan. Dankie.

  4. It sounds blissful. I wish i had someone who understood like that, rather than me having to explain all the time! I so know what u mean about that. I'm really pleased that you've found this source of support.

  5. So, so happy for you. I had that for a little while but lately have felt that it's too much of a stretch for my current therapist to deal with.

  6. Wow! That is so wonderful! I hope I can write a post like this at some point. I really like my current psychologist - she's absolutely wonderful - but she's the first to admit that this is as much a learning process for her as it is for me.

    I know what you mean about wanting to be alone for a few days to process things. I often have the same need, and I hope you do find some time to hide away and do what you need to do.

    Congratulations on finding such great understanding!

  7. Thanks for your comments. I've been very emotional, sorry for not replying earlier. Being understood, being validated also means that the disadvantages of Aspergers are real and will not go away. It is something that one knows, but does not always really want to think about.

    And the session also brought to the fore the realisation that 99.99% of the time, I am not being understood and I will have to keep on either explaining or hiding my struggles.

    I hope to feel more positive again soon, still feeling a little overwhelmed.

  8. I just came back to re-read this, and I became happy for you all over again that you found someone understanding. My therapist has been learning a lot, and I think sometimes I say something that clues her into some aspect of what ASD is like for me.

    It's true what you say, that being understood and validated also means that it's all real, and it's also a reminder of how much you're NOT understood and validated outside of your therapist's office. But that situation can change somewhat, too.

    I think my parents are really starting to understand what it's like for me. I know they don't "understand"-understand, but I know now that they at least know it's been very difficult, that my nervous system is different from theirs, and that I have to work very hard to do things. They didn't get to that point overnight, and I still have a lot of explaining to do, but the process is definitely in motion. They asked me to send them things other people have written that I feel describe something well, because they know that that will be easier than me having to explain everything on my own. It will be difficult, but perhaps that's something you can do with the people in your life as well?