Have you ever watched the Running of the Bulls? It is a part of Spain San Fermin festival, to observe how the patron saint died (trampled by bulls, obviously). People put themselves in harm’s way to observe this, to prove their virility, whatever. But I have noticed this is like talking to an autistic who can finally communicate-you can get run over by their anger.
There is an observation I have made when people like me finally find their voice: there is a lot of anger in it. Anger at what people think of them, anger at the way their voices were discarded all this time, and anger at the world in general. They have been mistreated simply because their forms of communication are not traditional, as in speaking. There is a lot of anxiety and frustration involved in the life of an autistic; I should know. But somehow, you have to get beyond your anger in order to survive it.
Don’t get me wrong; I felt and showed a lot of anger in my voice and choices when I was in my 20s. My voice had been discounted by everybody-except my mother, who had insight into my communication methods-in my life. I was made fun of throughout my school years, to my face and behind my back. I was exploited and abused by my sisters, who took my social security and forced me to work 40 hours a week, taking all of my money for their use. My father and his side of the family rejected the notion that autism even existed, because I was so smart, or they had some sort of baggage for this, maybe? It does not matter now. I am autistic, and I love me. I have also gotten beyond my anger at people who do not know, or think they know, but do not (Yes, I am talking to you, Benedict Cumberbatch). I had quite a journey that was, I admit, helped along to the beat of “the hots,” but it was a journey nonetheless.
To hear the man say autism was a thing of arrested development, it was horrifying, to say the least. I had been dancing around the idea of liking him for years. What if he came up to me and thought I was infantile in my thinking, if he knew I was autistic? Would he pose for a selfie then? Maybe not, so I would have to hide it. But then I thought, what if he had not been given the right information, that the knowing viewpoint inside autism had not been properly introduced to him? Statements and actions given about gays and Julian Assange would mean he might be open-minded enough to listen to me. That opened a whole new window of hope, in that he could be reached. So there was only one thing left to do: I forgave him for speaking out about something he barely knew about. So, I am no longer mad at him. There is a freedom in forgiveness that wipes the slate of your mind clean, that the power of a statement or action is no longer being played over and over again. It’s like a de-scented skunk: still alive, but powerless. Forgiveness is funny like that. I am no longer like the running of the bulls; you will not find anger in me unless it is new.