I was never safe with you

I am neurodivergent
Exactly what I’ve said is what my words meant
We’re unheard when
People see the mask and think that that’s the person
How perturb’n
We fell in love and had emotions surging
“You’re safe with me”
Then the mask slips and the relationship is curtains

I put the work in
To be “normal” but I’ll never be a Norman
I’m rewarded
With unreal expectations of interpersonal performance
I conformed when
I could but that just set me up for torrents
of tears and fears
’Cause jeers came from the one issuing warrants
Who I adored and
wanted to be with but she judged me as abhorrent
After dismissing my pleas for help,
and understanding with my comportment

How unfortunate
That’s it’s come to this, a not so fond adieu
I should have known deep in my bones,
That I was never “safe with” you

This poem is one of many that I started writing after an emotionally devastating breakup with the woman I thought would be my girlfriend/partner until I died. Days before we broke up things seemed great. Unfortunately everything blew up in spectacular fashion and she kicked me out of our home without explanation. This was particularly upsetting to me because when we decided to cohabitate, we both agreed that if things didn’t work out we’d talk about it and work out the living arrangement as adults, since I was taking a risk in splitting my time between our place together and the place I have with my wife about an hour away. When M decided she was done she basically told me to get my shit in the most callous and cold manner I can imagine.

Therapy Session #1 (trigger warning for those who have suffered autistic abuse and/or a partner’s BPD/CPTSD outbursts)

I am autistic. When I looked back at the timeframe leading up to the breakup it became clear that to me that part of the issue between M and myself was the lack of understanding and compassion for the fact that my brain is different. I tried multiple times to let M know that I want to meet her emotional needs but that to do that I need help. It may sound stupid but yes, I really do need you to tell me when you’re upset. I can’t always read it in your face or your voice; yes, I do need you to tell me that this is the situation you told me about before where you just want me to shut up and hug you; yes, I really do need you to answer this seemingly trivial/stupid question because not answering it directly leave my brain fixating on a missing piece of information; no I can’t infer what the answer is. I know that most people can. I am not most people, my brain doesn’t work that way. I thought that because I was being upfront and honest bout my challenges and concerns, she would take that to heart and help me to meet her emotional needs. Instead she got hurtful and abusive.

Over the course of about 15 days she’s went from saying things like “.. this is permanent…” and “…you are safe with me…” to extremely toxic psychologically manipulative and abusive behavior. To be clear, I’m mostly of the opinion that she didn’t intend to be abusive and wasn’t aware of just how toxic her behavior was. That doesn’t change the fact that it was abusive and toxic. So toxic that I was sent into a PTS episode that lasted about 2.5 weeks from what I could tell at the time.

After writing the poem above, I shared it with a group I’d recently found online for autistic people and their partners. I wasn’t really expecting much to come from it. I thought that maybe one person would be kind and comment that it was a decent piece of work or maybe that someone could relate to a part of it. What I got instead was a flood of support, immediate recognition, and insight from others who had been through the exact same thing. Just from reading what I’d written when I was in complete and utter dissolution, others saw a piece of themselves and decided to share with me.

It’s because of that feedback that I created NDEnd.com. In discussing what I’d been through and finding out the parallels that exist in the tales of others, I made some revelations:

  1. I’m not alone in this. Not only does what I went through happen to others but the cause of it has a name, Cassandra Syndrome
  2. I wish there had been a helpful resource for me to use when I identified the need to try to clarify things for M.

This site is my attempt at being the change I want to see. For years I masked so well that people had difficulty believing me when I’d tell them that I was autistic. I saw that as an advantage until I realized that because people don’t understand that my brain is different, they don’t give me the compassion I need to be successful in navigating social interactions with them. This has the result of me being judged most harshly for the things that they see as slights that are genuinely just part of who I am. When my mask slips and they see a blank expression on my face, they don’t think “oh he’s autistic, he told me about his emotional blindness and that must be what this is.” Instead they think “what a fucking asshole! He’s totally mocking me…”