Confessions of an Autistic Lover

Nhu-Thao – The daydream becomes dangerous when it bleeds into reality.

Nhu-Thao, or should I call you Selena? The time I shared with you are some of my most treasured as I couldn’t seek the comfort of your physical touch. But much of my memory of our time together is troubled and clouded. I was still in great inner turmoil and was wreaking destruction on everything that was apart of my life, even you. Whilst my short-term memory is laughable at best, the parts that make it to long-term I never forget. Ever. But so little of it does that the gaps in-between manifest their own story, one that can be hard to recall. I’ve spent quite a long time analyzing my relationship with you, because it was the most unique, and the most emotional.

The final moments of intimacy between us were here, on this very site that I have you to thank for introducing me to. I wrote you a rather callous letter about how I could see no future for us because I had told you my greatest desires, what I lived for; and you shared that if we were to be together you would never allow me the chance. That due to your own childhood trauma you would never give the past a chance to repeat itself. I still feel that cut even now when I heard you speak those words.

Shortly after you replied in kind, telling me that that was not what you meant at all, that I didn’t understand. But there was no point in debating as it was over, just a far away memory. But I heard you say those words. I heard you. How could they mean anything else? The age gap between us was the same as between me and Julie, you were more mature and from a completely different culture. So I’ve spent the last 7 years debating with myself if my altered mental state caused me to misremember or mistranslate. But looking further back I can’t shake that maybe I was just too attached to a dream instead.

When we first started talking more intimately you told me there was nothing more than friendship between us. When you ousted me as behaving weirdly when I was seeing someone else I admitted that I was, and came out as unfaithful to you. You once again said that nothing between us changed, that there was never anything there to break. I didn’t know how to take those words back then, so I glossed over them. Painted the picture in my head that you were just being strong and polite, offering me a second chance to continue moving forward. That’s what it felt like to me, and that’s what I tried to do.

I heard you tell me you loved me on the phone. The only time I ever heard you reciprocate them to me, and you whispered them when you thought I was asleep. I can still hear those words in my head even now, crystal clear. But they share the same space with the words you told me when you confessed we could never be together. When I had broken your three-strikes rule. The timeline gets muggy in my head around this time, it all flows together. My record shows that you were already in another relationship before we had our last catastrophic meltdown. But you would have never lied about something like that to me, right? I recall just how much pain there was in your voice every time I tried to run away from you, how desperate you were to find me. Somethings can’t be faked and I don’t think, I refuse to believe, yours were untrue.

But even if my recollection is off, the timing is uncanny is it not? If not well before we ended you came out as dating him at most two months after we ended. I can only draw two conclusions from these thoughts, you had moved on from me long before I even knew there were serious problems, or I was never that important to you. Either option is very telling of how I must have been in the relationship, and neither leave me with good feelings. So what of this is true? What part of my memory deceives me?

I’ll never know, and it eats me up inside.

Every relationship I’ve had after you I always use you as the shining example of what a great relationship could be, and how bad it can go if one of them gives up. I’ve spent years bragging about how I managed to convince such a wonderful person like you to be with me, and lamenting that I hadn’t found you years later when I was a healthier person with a stable state-of-mind.

Now I can’t even fully convince myself that it wasn’t all a dream.

Oh the questions I could ask you right now, all of the unknowns I wish I had the answers for. I can’t let them go because the autistic part of me doesn’t want to. Your memory is too precious to me. I have kept everything you’ve ever sent me in the mail, and I would still have our texts and phone-calls if that phone didn’t get swallowed by the Humboldt River. Even if most of those final moments were painful I want to keep them all, because it was when I still had you. Because now all I have is memories, memories that I can’t separate the reality from the imaginary, and it’s agony that I’ve lost so much of you in the process.

I write much more regularly now. I can’t convey emotions well verbally, but I’m much more fluent with my feelings on paper. It’s a shame I didn’t discover this when you tried to share a common space with me. I keep a journal in the notebook you sent me, bookmarked in the special place you picked. Some dreams I dare not dream for how painful even the false pain can feel. I started it with the intention of sending it to you. I settled on the reason being you would get some understanding of how I felt, what I went through, how I processed and handled it, and how I eventually ended up where I am today, someone you might not even recognize anymore. But now that I’m on the final pages I keep asking myself the same questions.

What would I get from this? What message is this sending?

Whilst I’ve struggled letting you go, you have completely moved on. You have been with him for 6 years now. I’m not even a blip on the radar in comparison, and our last contact was over a year ago and consisted of me completely shutting down the conversation by not opening up. So me mailing you a journal out of the blue… what would I gain from doing this, what or how would/should you respond to something like that?

This issue is so confounding for me because I understand why I want to do it, I want closure, and want to feel close to you in some capacity again, my own special way of telling you I still care. But is that how you will interpret it? Would this do anything positive for you? I can’t help but feel that my reasons are selfish and warrant the idea as bad. But if I bail on it now, after working on it for years, I will just be sitting on a finished product, having failed to deliver by giving up. It’s the repeat of our relationship but only affecting myself this time. So which option is correct?

This is the part of autism that makes life hard. Even after all these years you affect my life in ways you can’t possibly imagine now. I battle between wanting to tell you just how much you meant to me, but doing so by digging up an old and painful past for you, one I never buried. I wish I could just let go of this desire to reconnect with you without giving up your memory, but I fear that as that memory fades, my want to reconnect will only grow, such is my curse.

So for what it’s worth I finish my confession to you with the most emotion I can give in this moment in time.

Tôi yêu bạn. Tôi luôn luôn sẽ.

Confessions of an Autistic Lover

Confessions of an Autistic Lover

Julie – Some wounds scar, to be a reminder of what shouldn’t be.

Julie, even after all this time I can’t truthfully say I have any reason to forgive you. I do know you were raised in a foreign foster home as an infant, and were suffering from having lost one of your adoptive mothers, but instead of a healthy healing cycle you chose a self-destructive spiral and tried to drag as many people down with you as you could. As someone who had suffered much like you did, I can’t relate. I’ve never tried to actively cause as much inner-turmoil to someone as you did me.

As an autistic person that had never seriously dated before I can only assume there were countless red flags I was completely oblivious to. My two closest friends at the time and your best friend cautioned us both about our relationship. I didn’t know any better, I was still naive. You simply didn’t care, I was a means to an end and you were willing to take as much as I wanted to give. You acted as a catalyst for both my suicide, and my recovery. You always managed to string me along just enough to hold out some desperate hope that maybe my unconditional love would someday stop falling on deaf ears. Eventually that came true, they just weren’t your ears.

Thank you for showing me genuine happiness when we first got together. You took things very slow and let what felt like real trust build. You showed me how to have fun when I not only didn’t think I could have fun, but when I didn’t want to. You were so pivotal in creating my headspace for me that when I feared I lost you I immediately relapsed into suicidal thoughts and attempted several weeks after, not being able to accept my life was just miserable me again. I understand that caring for someone like I was then can be very draining, I had to experience someone like that myself to understand. But unfortunately I learned to handle it just as bad as you.

Thank you for showing me just about every red-flag imaginable. You were so thorough in hitting almost every major area that since I’ve dated you I’ve been able to identify them with relative ease, and have even used this knowledge to curb some of my own flaws that I was oblivious to. Thank you for graduating and never putting much effort into contacting me again. Blocking your phone number after you sent me a random text asking how I was months later was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever experienced and helped put me on the path of better self-reflection.

You are a cheater, and you cheated on me. When you finally felt genuine feelings for me you became guilt-ridden and confessed to your friends. You came to the conclusion I didn’t need to know, and then kept cheating. You got caught by me when you had unprotected sex and contracted an STI that you then gave to me. There is no sugar-coating that, and your attempt to cover it up months later by pretending to be a rape victim was in extremely poor taste. There are no hypotheticals to consider as these series of events were lived by me, corroborated by many, and witnessed by everyone who knew us.

I harbor no ill-will against you, just a strong desire to never have anything to do with you ever again, because you helped build something special to me and used it to hurt me over and over again even as I begged you to stop. In the end I made you stop, and now I’ve become a more learned person because of it. I can only hope that you learned something, like I did, from our time together. You needed it arguably more than I did.

Confessions of an Autistic Lover

Confessions of an Autistic Lover

Taylor – Once again it starts with you.

I associate much of my pain and failure in high-school to you. You deliberately used me to achieve your own goals and when I was no longer useful you tossed me aside. At least that’s the past I choose to recall. How much of it is the truth?

Only my side of the story exists, not because it’s me telling the tale, but because you never shared your side with anyone, at least not in a way that could get back to me. But how different could it really be? I benefit from embellishment and have nothing to gain from lying here, I simply write to help myself cope with parts of my past I still struggle to overcome. But how much of this are you really to blame for?

I didn’t have many close friends in high-school. I knew essentially nothing about most of them, except you. Would it come as no surprise to many that you being my only source of attention and affection that I had so longed for that I could have simply mistaken your kindness for attraction? If this is true why didn’t you ever say anything? You were incredibly nice and welcoming to everyone, could you just have not seen it and only realized it later once people started asking if we were together? I don’t find it hard to believe since you knew very little about my personal life; perhaps you just thought I was really friendly and enjoyed spending time with you. When what I and everyone else saw was completely different.

As for why you never said anything, why should you? You didn’t have to prove or disprove anything to anyone, same as I. If I was in your shoes and I discovered that a close friend of mine was infatuated with me via other people questioning when we were going to come out as a couple I would freak out. I would have distanced myself as best as possible and hoped the other didn’t make a big scene. This is exactly what you tried to do, and whilst I didn’t make a scene, I didn’t need to. Everyone else did it for me.

Regardless of if the above is true or my initial recollection is true one thing remains clear. We were both wrong in how we handled it. I should have been more upfront about my feelings for you much sooner instead of letting you find out otherwise. If you were as close of a friend as I thought you were you would have at least confronted me and told me how you felt, I would have listened as knowing is so much less painful than wondering like I am now. However, I also failed as a close friend. When you dated someone other than me I should have still been happy for you, and I shouldn’t have let others rise up for me and berate you over some inane possibility that may have never existed to begin with.

When you texted me months later to ask how I was doing, instead of being friendly and welcoming to you I was heavy and spiteful. I told you the truth in some of the struggles I had been facing and laid the blame heavily on you. So I do not blame you for never attempting contact again, or for denying me any chance to contact you as well. It was only fair after everything, I wouldn’t want to be associated with anyone that accuses me of such things either.

While I may never know the truth, I don’t feel I need to anymore. That time in our lives was but a drop in the bucket. Both of us moved on to college and far, far away from any and all of our high-school piers. I now know that many of my high-school misfortunes were from me being completely undiagnosed of all my mental problems and my autism at the time. Now knowing the truth I can no longer unfairly place the heaviest burden of blame on you; it falls back on myself where it rightfully belongs.

So for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. You’ll never know this, but I hope it doesn’t haunt you occasionally as it does me.

Confessions of an Autistic Lover

Confessions of a Heartless Lover

Me – The only constant in my life, yet you may as well be a stranger.

All of my life I’ve tried to understand how I work, why I act and do the things that I do. I thought I had a firm understanding when I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. I hated myself and didn’t want to live anymore. After I attempted to take my own life I discovered for the first time how much I meant to those around me, especially my family. I realized how selfish I was living my life and wanted to change.

So I started changing my thoughts, I replaced the self-hate with acceptance. I slowly learned to embrace the things I didn’t like about myself as they made me unique. Instead of brooding over my past as mistakes, I turned them into learning opportunities that I could learn and grow from. This served me well when I dated Valerie, she admired the maturity it took to do what I’ve been doing. But is it really that noteworthy?

Almost a decade after I was diagnosed with my mental illnesses, I thought I had conquered them, but my world was absolutely rocked by a surprise diagnosis from the same time that I knew nothing about. It came when I was talking to my mother. I was talking to her about my conversation with Valerie, about how I just couldn’t understand why I feel so isolated and unable to connect on the emotional level I’d like to with anyone. That even though I love my mother, and other members of my family, I feel more like I’m trying to prove to myself I love them, just saying a word, rather than actually meaning it and loving them.

Then she told me I had Asperger’s.

When I was initially diagnosed with bipolar disorder and major depression, I was 17 years old. For whatever reason I was also diagnosed with Aspergers yet it was never disclosed to me. Not by the therapist that diagnosed me, or my parents whom he told. My own mother had been carrying this as a secret from me for almost 10 years. 10 years I’ve been searching for an answer and a solution on how to ‘fix’ my barriers. Just like that I had my answer, that I had a genetic condition that was incurable, and I will spend the rest of my life coming to terms with the fact that the answers I was hoping to find don’t exist. I will live like this forever and my only hope to cope is that I find a means to accept that I will never understand what love feels like other than what I want it to feel like for myself.

I have no satisfaction with this reality, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

I lost trust in my mother that night. To think that the one person who has been there for me longer than anyone else, that has helped me fight every step of the way, was intentionally hiding the most profound of my conditions from me. It hurt, it hurt more than I thought it would. Yet I still feel no change for how I feel for her. Perhaps I was expecting to love her less; but I don’t know how that word is supposed to make me feel, or what words I could use to describe how I feel for her now. Or for myself for that matter.

I thought I had learned to love myself, but perhaps all I did was learn to accept that I was different because of something that I couldn’t describe then. Something that I now know has a name, is more tangible, yet still just as untouchable and unreachable as before. It’s frustrating, and so very isolating. I’ve always lived my life revolving around one paramount fear, a fear that has changed little over my life, but changed nonetheless. At first it was a fear of death, then it became a fear of silence, next was a fear of being alone. Now it’s something new, a fear of never being able to truly connect with someone else. That one day my existence will end and I will feel as if I’m still a stranger that nobody can understand or connect with, even myself.

So what can I do from here? I must confess I don’t know, but maybe it goes something like this.

Confessions of a Heartless Lover