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Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about something but I wasn’t sure what it was I was thinking about. That’s not an uncommon situation for me and I wanted a word for this something. For a couple of months I’ve been laden with emotion and a desperate need to lay out the causes and put them into something made of words. 

I thought about “unkind”, “thoughtless”, “insensitive”, then wandered down to the concepts of judgementalism, misunderstanding, friendship, betrayal, power. I’ve tried to unpick that old friend “empathy” and had a good wallow in the ins and outs of “compassion”. I’ve come back to the word “misunderstanding” again and again and again but it just wasn’t enough. Sure a misunderstanding can hurt deeply but when you know something is the result of a misunderstanding surely you can eventually pick up the pieces and begin to heal? Forgive and forget, even? Move on? If only… 

Now I’ll try to explain myself a little. 

Before I discovered social media (outside of my educational forums, that is), I hadn’t fallen out with another person for well over twenty years. And even the falling out I can remember from over 20 years ago was completely one-sided – I wasn’t interested in any kind of spat or animosity. I don’t like bad feeling and I go out of my way to avoid it. But not just that: I genuinely believe that despite all my faults (and there are many and I admit to them repeatedly) I am actually a nice person who likes people. And I really don’t want to fall out with people, ever. It hurts too much for too long, and I seem incapable of stopping caring. 

But about a year or so into discovering Twitter and Facebook (2009-2010) I fell out with someone I thought I had become good friends with. After many months of replaying the circumstances in my head, I came to the conclusion that we were in fact incompatible and if we hadn’t fallen out that day, it would have happened one day, and the good old-fashioned trick of avoiding someone socially until the connection fades naturally isn’t so easy in online acquaintances – you actually have to turn off the friendship. It’s that harsh. We hadn’t known each other long and I had misjudged the friendship. But I had learnt a lot from the experience and wouldn’t let it happen again.

But then a couple of years ago, it did happen again. I’m not going to discuss the details publicly but I knew immediately that it was over. I can’t express quite how painful it felt to know I had failed. And I do feel I have failed, still. I had been completely misunderstood and I didn’t have the energy to put it right. I felt it would have been futile and distressing so I walked away, at speed. It hasn’t gone away though. It will never go away but, boy, had I learnt a lot. 

More recently I haven’t handled too well the way words have made me feel and I have flared up at occasional mix-ups but I have learned to look out for something and that is the something I couldn’t put into words. I’m looking for this something from both sides. I have ceased contact with one or two people – without a fight – and decided to avoid people who make me feel anxious. This a new and very grown-up side to my online socialising: self-preservation without a battle. You don’t need to be defensive; you can simply turn away. 

But my heart is still hurt and aching from every detachment, and I still feel fondness for all involved. If I care about you, I care about you. That doesn’t change. So this is why a very recent detachment is causing me so much angst, and although it’s been a few months now I am searching for that explanation; that description; that word to help me find out why it went wrong. 

And today I found that word: 


And I have my good, strong, enduring, on and offline friendships to thank for this realisation. You see what I’ve noticed is that people who know me and care about me will not assume any ill intent in my words and actions they don’t believe me capable of. People who assume an intent which wasn’t there and you are not capable of, are judging you and don’t know you. And that assumption of intent is more about them than about you. 

Realising this simple concept of intent is crucial in any two-way relationships. It’s about trust: trusting in someone’s goodness; it’s about not judging: not seeing bad where it doesn’t exist, and it’s about holding back your own insecurities: don’t implant your bad experiences into someone who didn’t create them or blame them for your anger. 

I’m very very very grateful to a number of people who naturally live by those rules and have never assumed any ill intent on my behalf; who trust my heart, and keep my faith in friendships well and truly alive through times when I might have otherwise wondered if I would be better off in solitude. If you think it might be you, it probably is. 

I’m experiencing a real sense of “I won’t lose any more of you” recently, and now all I can give are my own good intentions. 


When do I get to impose my idea of fun on other people??? After all, I’ve put up with other people’s ideas of fun non-stop all my life – only stopping to cry for reprieve occasionally when I’m completely done in by it all. 

What’s that? I have to carry on putting up with it? – all the sensory overloads, the unknowns, the inconsistencies, the confusions, the fear, the sense of bombardment? And never complain? 

Sheesh , I feel like Ghandi sometimes, I’m so flipping tolerant. 

The funny thing is, people have no idea I’m being tolerant – they only see the valve giving way after a magnitude of pressure 



I took this shot with my phone this evening. I love how the poppies and campanula have moved in – uninvited but welcome nevertheless – and reminded me that I’m not the boss and that nature will take advantage wherever it can. 

I’m used to being out-of-control, so to speak. I’ve spent my life feeling a little as if things happen to me and I’m not really in charge of anything. Mostly I’m content about that. 

But today I’ve felt picked on. Things threw themselves at me – a mirror literally so, and my day was spent brushing myself off only to be hit by something else. 

We all have bad days, but an autistic bad day is like being bullied non-stop, punched repeatedly, and for me it’s as if I’ve had my hand/eye coordination removed and as if I’m operating a complicated puppet instead of my own body. Things go wrong again and again and again. I’m in a storm that no one else can see and I have to keep trying, keep pretending, keep picking myself up because the struggles and the battles are invisible and unmeasurable. 

It’s something I’ve always done. Always put up with. I wish it wasn’t so exhausting 

We do not heal the past by dwelling there, but…


Today is Dad’s birthday…

There are days, moments perhaps, when I need to listen to sad music and cry about my dad. It’s part of acceptance/healing/being human.

We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present, said Marianne Williamson.

I don’t believe grief ever goes away or that you ever stop mourning those you love. And I don’t believe in pretending. So I don’t entirely support Marianne Williamson’s quote; I think emotions are far too complicated for such simplicity and I think remembering is important. We learn from life, we take hurt onboard and we carry the past as experience and wisdom, and are better for it in many ways.

But the trauma of Dad’s death and the events surrounding it are memories that harm me and I can’t work over them or through them, I need to shut them away. After years of circling distress, I choose to ignore the day he died and concentrate instead on the day he was born, and be forever grateful that he came into this world.

He was complicated and at times difficult but he had an amazing brain and amazing insight. I believe he observed life in a very special way and saw beyond façades in a way most people seem incapable of, and today I celebrate his life with a pride so huge it fills my chest. And he’s not completely gone; his children and grandchildren (and future great-grandchildren) are making sure of that.

It is not easy to shake off elements of the past while keeping hold of that which is dear to us and that which is good for us but I think that’s what we should do: live in the present but bring the past with us. After all it’s made us what we are today.

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