I feel kinda broken

This is a post about me. And, fair warning, it’s written off-the-cuff, with only a few days of thought behind it and no editing to speak of. We’ll see how it goes.

It starts with Robin Williams. I’ve seen a lot of talk after his death about a whole range of topics. About suicide, mental illness, depression, disability, the way society seems to believe that it’s better to be dead than to be disabled… all sorts of things. Many of them could make topics of their own. However, what I want to talk about is one little (huge) thing that came up on my facebook feed, and the comments generated.

Basically, someone posted about looking at old pictures of Robin Williams, and seeing that he had “sad eyes.” Then there were several comments by people agreeing. That even in the pictures where he is smiling, his eyes are sad.

… I don’t see it.

Now, I struggle with feeling broken and worthless a lot. I live in a society that is obsessed with work and view people who don’t work as… well… I’m not even sure what. Something very bad. Worthless. Broken. Having weak moral character. That sort of thing. My previous attempts to work tended to leave me screaming and bashing my head into whatever was nearby, so I don’t try anymore because I don’t want to wind up like that anymore. I hope someday to try again, but I will need to be VERY careful. Because, you know, of that screaming and bashing my head thing. So I try to not feel like a broken human being and sometimes it’s really difficult but I get by.

This, the failure to see his sad eyes, has left me feeling like I’m broken. It hit me SO HARD. I’ve looked at pictures, and I’m trying to see what other people see, but I can’t figure out what they are looking at. So I asked facebook to see what kind of answers I’d get. The first couple of replies were heartfelt and genuine, but completely unhelpful to me. One reply was more about a “whole picture” thing, and another talked about no longer seeing a “spark.” What is a spark in someone’s eyes? I mean, a spark is what you get with electricity, or hitting flint and steel together. I do not know how to translate this into the metaphorical eye spark that people are talking about.

I want to know where it is. Now, I know I don’t see facial expressions the way NTs do. I get that. I know that it’s hard for me and I only seem to see expressions in crude, simplistic ways. I try to compensate the best I can, be open about it and ask that people be direct with me, and otherwise just live with the way I am. This is one of my difficulties. But again, this time… it got to me. It got to me a whole bleeding lot.

Eventually I did get a reply talking about muscles in various areas of the face and THAT was way more helpful. I’d need assistance to learn how to see it or not, but at least it is the direct, literal expression that people are seeing, which they translate into “sadness” or “spark” or whatever else. This is why it can be so difficult to get help – most people aren’t even consciously aware of what they are seeing or how they are translating it or the fact that what they express is a metaphor. So when I need something in terms of muscles and skin, people struggle to help.

They don’t see the world the way I do.

I’m different.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “I feel kinda broken

  1. Possum

    Andrea,

    I usually think of myself as about average with reading facial expressions. I decided to test myself to see if I could pick up his sad eyes. After looking at a lot of Google image and comparing them to a singer I liked as a teen (who will go unnamed as my tastes have changed), I decided I could see the difference, then couldn’t, then could, etc. I asked myself, if I couldn’t does that make me broken? If I could does that make me more whole?

    This isn’t meant in any way to negate your feelings. I get what I think are similar feelings. Although I usually do pretty well picking up on nonverbal stuff because using whole body language rather than facial expressions in isolation works for me, I all too often often suck at recognizing people and can’t depend on that to happen. Which makes me embarrassed and frustrated with myself for not having that ability.

    For what it’s worth I think a lot of your (and my) abilities are different, in ways that aren’t immediately obvious or understood. Different but not broken. Difficult but just different.

    Just my 2¢.

    Possum

  2. Hi Andraya,
    First of all a hug. If that is acceptable to you. 🙂 I am sorry that you are feeling this way.
    Have you seen psych me up, a free app at http://www.mindhabits.com/mobileapps.php It may be helpful to observe facial expressions.
    V

  3. Trudy

    I am a 28 year old female and was diagnosed with Asperger’s 6 months ago. Since then I have been trying to find out everything I can about it, to try to explain it to others. Your blog is gold. Thank you so much for putting your thoughts out there, I think you are brave. It’s so nice to find out I’m not the only person out there who has problems with this kind of stuff!

  4. Pingback: What I meant/What I said | Aspergers and Me