Sometimes, you just have to ask for it. Otherwise, you’ll never know what you are missing.
I’ve been wrong so many times in my life, and that’s fine. But, staying wrong—especially when it’s hurting you or someone else—is not fine.
During my period of autistic burnout, my ability to trust my intuition was severely hampered. I know my intuition is not always right, and that can get me in trouble.
But, at my core, I feel people’s emotions more than I can always understand them. And, it drives me insane when people are hurting, and I can’t help them. I know what it feels like to not be taken seriously, even when begging for help.
So, if I am wrong, or someone else is wrong, I don’t like it when there seems like a solution that would help everyone. It really pains me, and it becomes my obsession to make everyone see that solution. There is a problem; there must be a solution. Right?
Sadly, it doesn’t always work out. My parents, for example, refused to accept the truth I was trying to tell them, that there was an issue with their children. I don’t know for sure what could have changed, but they didn’t avoid the disaster that happened because they refused to listen to me and my siblings for decades. It finally caught up to them last March.
Not having all the facts is dangerous. I know from experience how easy it is to draw false conclusions. Autism has a way of magnifying this mistake, and getting latched on to an idea is problematic. We can be very stubborn in our thinking, once we’ve made up our minds. Or, we can be stuck in our overthinking, as often is the case for me. There is not so much truth in rumination as one might hope there would be. Being stubborn or stuck in this way is common with autism. And, that can end relationships, careers, or even lives.
Realizing you’ve made a mistake can be difficult. For me, it’s not because I care about being right. It’s not logical to think I will be right all the time. It’s actually idiotic to think anybody would be.
It is difficult because I know my mistakes typically result in others being hurt. Even though best intentions may have created the mistake, that doesn’t erase the fact it happened. It’s nice when people have enough compassion and insight into my thinking (and autism) to know I never meant to upset anyone. I try to give others the benefit of the doubt as well, even when most people refuse to do likewise. It’s just how I operate.
I’m not always wrong. I sometimes sense the problem well before others do. But, feeling something is not the same as knowing all the facts. And, knowing all the facts is not in itself a mandate to act or a plan to follow. This is why I often check with my therapists before any interactions I may have or will have with people. Usually, they are helpful. Sometimes, issues continue to occur, and that is very difficult. They typically try to tell me that it may not have been my fault, thought I have trouble accepting that. I’m not always wrong, but I certainly am not always right.
I know in the last year I’ve drawn some false conclusions, including big ones. But, I also know others have as well. In some ways, I think they fed off each other. To that, add a large dose of past trauma, some truly horrible timing, my family falling apart, everyone still sorting out the pandemic changes, and my brain in burnout mode. It’s not a recipe for success—for anyone, but especially for my atypical brain.
Now, the question is, once the “dust has settled,” and people have a chance to think rationally, who wants to know the truth? Who is willing to be wrong and set aside egos? The truth will set you free—free from the captivity you have put yourself in. And, with it, can begin the process of healing—for everyone.
I’ve tried explaining myself to others, and they didn’t seem to care or understand. That is extremely hurtful. Conversely, others tried to explain themselves to me, and I didn’t understand them. That frustrated them and upset me. I think I cared, but maybe they didn’t know that. Perhaps I just wasn’t in a place where I could process what they were saying. Certainly, in the past two years, that has often been the case. Likewise, they potentially were not in a place to process what I was explaining to them.
So, the question is, what do you do once you can process, once your mind is in a place to listen and consider ALL the facts, not just the ones your mind latched on to, often due to past situations and not the present one?
Here is a quick list, off the top of my head, of what you might consider. I am only the expert of my own experience (if that), so don’t consider it official:
- Do you want to know the truth?
- Are you convinced you know the truth?
- Do you care if you hurt others by not accepting the truth?
- Do you know that you are not hurting yourself by not being open to the truth?
Everyone gets to chose for themselves. Some will care, and some will not. Those who don’t will not be free.
My father, though he will likely never admit it, is a sad example of not admitting the truth.
On the contrary, my mother could tell you that freedom can come, even after a long time and many mistakes, ignoring many warning signs from your children.
My wife, I believe, is making progress towards understand some of her mistakes. It’s taken longer than was good for me, our kids, my siblings, and her (and those around us). But, she is now in the process of making amends for her mistakes. I know that is tough. I made her start with my brother, who couldn’t even come spend Christmas at his mother’s house with my family because of my wife’s inability to accept what she had done wrong. She’s also done the same for my sister, namely to apologize for dismissing the abuse my sister had suffered. She will be making more amends, and she wants to, now that she is seeing her mistakes of many years, no matter how cloaked in a Pollyannish smile and temperament.
I can’t be the perfect judge of myself, but I know where my heart is, so to speak. I know my intentions, and I know what therapists have told me. For starters, one doesn’t go to therapy for two decades if he thinks he is right about everything. But, that’s not going to solve all problems. Because I always assume I might be wrong, that helps keep me going, in an atypical way, I suppose.
And, despite many mistakes and wrong conclusions, I always want to know what is right and good. It’s not just for me, but for everyone. I don’t understand why anyone would want to continue to be wrong only from their apathy, spite, or arrogance. My therapists tell me most people don’t care as much as I do. But, that won’t deter me, though I usually end up crashing before I can do much good.
You can be both right and wrong. You can be right about yourself and wrong about others. Or, you can be incorrect about yourself and correct about others. There are many layers to truth, and there are many details. Some details are more important than others, but the importance may be different for each person. Therefore, the truth you seek may not be exactly what others are seeking. However, everyone can seek an overall truth together.
Everyone can decide what will be their motivation.
If you’re going to be wrong, be so for a right reason!
Be wrong because you care too much. Don’t be wrong because you don’t care enough. I’ve been told I’m too empathetic. That might be true. It’s also who I am, and I’m likely to make more mistakes in the future because I “care too much.” But, I accept this and know to be more vigilant.
Eventually, motivations do become clearer, the “dust settles,” and people can reflect on what they have done or left undone. What will I do? What will you do?
The truth is often just one thought away, but that thought may be with another person or several people.
I hope everyone will find a way to get the truth they deserve, for others and themselves. If, for no other reason because it’s the right thing to do.
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