A journey through grief with autism.

Alan Greenwell

6-Minute Read


TL;DR I am a mess.

A thought entered my head a few days ago when I was trying to engage Tam in some play, it was how about how I have perceived the world during my life. I think the thought came from trying to understand the world from Tams perspective. It has caused a lot of reflection and soul searching to fill the last couple of days.

Reflection can be both a negative and positive thing. I kind of decided that I had to look at both sides and take forward the good things and do what I can about the bad. Invariably the bad is what I have found the most of. But I have a lot of postives that I am thankful for, the biggest is the giggles I get from my son.

So, the negatives.

Well, I am judgemental. Very judgemental. I see people doing things and I cannot help but to think are they stupid. A simple example I suppose is seeing someone on a motorbike in T-shirt and shorts and all I can see is road rash and a poor nurse and doctor having to spend time fixing a mess that could have been simply avoided. Stupidity, damn stupidity. On my side stupid for caring about a stranger who has their own life choices to make and stupid on their behalf.

I don’t give my gut feelings enough credit. I have taken jobs for the wrong reasons, I have got into relationships for the fact of feeling lonely and I have made life decisions that I should not have. All these things went against my gut feelings. And all of these things I can look back on with regret.

Trust. I do not easily trust people. I prefer to watch them and see how they behave for a very long period of time before I trust them. I suppose my gut tells me that people have hidden motives and agendas. Lets be truthful about that, a lot of people do have their own expectations, wants and desires. Well this is something that I need to think about.

Sympathy. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people. I have loads of empathy but so little sympathy. I don’t know why but I have a lot of trouble being sympathetic to people. It feels false and disingenuous. It’s a skill I lack. You want empathy then I can give it in bucket loads even if I have not experienced the particular stressor that is involved. (shrugs shoulders)

Vindictive. I can react to someone taking the piss far too easily. Sometimes I am right but sometimes I should apply patience and empathy. In my defence I will just say that the reaction is generally short, measured and once it’s done I move on.

Grammar. I wish I had taken more notice in my english lessons at school.

Maybe time for some positives, this is getting me down.

Patience. I have patience in bounds and Tam has taught me to find new types of patience with both him and myself. Don’t take that as being soft on people giving excuses for not doing things, my patience in those situations will dissipate. Very very rarely does my patience melt into frustration, I will tend to have my say and work around things than get frustrated.

Empathy. Already talked about this one.

Technical skills. I was born just at the right time in history for my brain. I was born at the cusp of the information age. I was learning my skills just as the internet was born and when no one knew how to react to those kind of skills. Also in the early days people had no clue the value of the knowledge and for a while I got very highly paid for it. I am not going to say that I have been an angel with this knowledge and I could put a few negatives in relating to this, but I am not. So there. I also know the limit of my skills and will only use them when I am confident. At this point you should look back at the judgemental section. I cannot stand people who get into my field and show their lack of understanding. Oh hell, there I go being judgemental again.

Reading a room. I suppose this is in part the positive side of empathy and gut feelings. I can read people pretty well and this allows me to work out who is who. In a way this leads to the judgemental side of me. Is this really a positive? Well it’s going in the positive column.

Reflective. I do know when I am being stupid. I have only learned this since Bev died, but at least I have it now.

Inquisitive. I like to find things out. I also know that my google skills are not worth millions. I know when to trust research that has cost millions of pounds against my ability to read about a subject but I have been a life long learner and this is something I am glad of. I miss the drunken conversations that me and Bev used to have a quantum mechanics. Yes we really used to talk about quantum mechanics. I have subscribed to the Richard Feynman quote that unless you can explain something to a 5 year old then you don’t really understand the subject.

Childish. I still let the child inside of me loose sometimes. Fun times for me and Tam ensue. Great quote that is worth keeping in mind - “stay young and be foolish”.

So, I hear you say, what is the point of all of this. Well, for me having the mind space to reflect is a step forward. For me and Tam it’s me finding a more positive way forward. I need to be the best I can. Reflection helps me to weed out the crap and move on in a better way. Over the past few years I have been down to the darkest depths and never found a high that is meaningful. I have spent a lot of my time worrying about Tam’s future and what is in store for him. So this is my explanation of an effort to find a new better me for both Tam and me.

And with that I am going to stop. I am done reflecting and I am going to be mindful of the negatives and positives as me and Tam move forward. More of the positive and less of the negative. For the sake of my mental health.

As my Mum used to say “if you cannot be good be careful”.

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