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I'm Not Rejecting You; I'm Overwhelmed

I wish people could see into my brain and understand why I do what I do. It would make my life so much easier. After a lifetime of being misunderstood (and misunderstanding myself), all I really want is for people to understand my true intentions. I can’t tell you how much I’ve struggled due to my lack of understanding of social cues.

Today I had to walk to the park to pick up a book my daughter had left and I saw some neighbors walking around. Immediately my task became how to sneak into the park and grab the book without being noticed. I realized that perhaps I would be noticed and it might look like I was intentionally ignoring or rejecting these neighbors. But that wasn’t the case at all. I was tired from a long day of sessions and I felt overwhelmed by the idea of interacting with non-family humans. That is when this blog post came into my mind, I wish these people could know that I am not rejecting them but that I am just too overwhelmed to be seen by them right now.

Time and time again, autistic clients echo this same issue in their therapy sessions with me. They misunderstand social cues yet desperately want to connect with people and be understood. They want to be able to socialize without forfeiting their own needs. And this is a tricky thing to navigate because people don’t automatically understand why they act the way they do. It is easy to misinterpret their actions because they may seem rejecting when in fact they are simply overwhelmed or overstimulated like I was.

Navigating life as an autistic person is challenging and many of these challenges are invisible to others. Other people cannot see how much we internally struggle with issues such as interpreting social cues correctly, dealing with rejection sensitive dysphoria, and managing issues such as sensory overload. A lot of these issues are dealt with only in our heads. But just because they are invisible to others doesn’t make them less real.

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