The burden of being emotional

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 8:44 PM | comments: 0

Of all the things that worried me about Simon's ASD diagnosis, none were worse than the idea that he would not be emotionally engaged in an outward way. Fortunately, that isn't how things went. He might be socially awkward in some ways, but he is definitely very emotional and has a lot of love to give. As much as I compare myself to him at that age, he is far more outwardly emotional, but at least equally intense.

In that sense, it's amazing how upset he can get, often in unexpected ways. Over the weekend, on our cruise, we saw Pete's Dragon, and there were several parts in the movie where he completely went into sob mode. On our last night, as I was tucking him in, I asked if he had fun on the cruise, and his face turned to a frown, Tiger covered his eyes, and he began to cry because we had to leave the ship. Conversely, we coincidentally cruised with the family of Simon's best friend from school, and the intense joy in his face when we encountered them was amazing.

Simon's intense emotions I'm sure will be a mixed bag for him, as they have been for me. What I do hope is that he has more room for intense interpersonal relationships, an area where I have serious limits. My romantic relationships have all been super intense, along with a handful of other friendships, but beyond that I've simply never been able to commit to lesser, more trivial interactions (something I'm sure has been interpreted as an aloofness).

Being emotional is arguably the thing that most makes us human, and as much as I wish I could reduce it to brain chemistry, it's what makes us alive, if sometimes miserable. Therapists love to talk about "emotional batteries," and where our limits lie before requiring recharging. I hope my little guy has large batteries.


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