What I want, no, need you to know about how my brain works.
What you should know is that when I play with my phone while you’re talking to me, it doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about what you have to say. It doesn’t even mean I’m being rude. By playing with my phone, or sometimes iPad, I’m keeping myself grounded in a world that’s scary to me. I’m stopping the thoughts and obsessions from spinning in my brain. I’m stopping the sounds and noises from pulling me away from reality.
What you need to know is that I am not lazy. For most people, going out and about is no big deal. But for me – it engages all my senses. I have the unfortunate combo of hypersensitive hearing in one ear and hearing loss in the other. It makes it easy for sounds to overwhelm me. Lights hurt my eyes. Everything hurts. Certain sounds even hurt my ears.
What I want you to know is that some of my interests are childish, despite being 28 years old. It doesn’t mean I’m childish, it merely means that this is something that comforts me in a scary world. Yes, I’m 28 with no kids and can sing a lot of the songs from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and countless Sesame Street jingles. What of it?
What I so badly need you to know is I’m not flaky. I’m not lazy. I’m not unreliable. If you knew me, you’d know I’m loyal, almost to a fault. Ask my best friend about the impound lot adventure from hell. If you need me, you bet your ass I will be at your side. But sometimes, even often, I cannot function. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It doesn’t mean you aren’t important. It does mean that my body just sucks and sometimes decides to go on strike or stage a mutiny. Or both, I guess.
What I need you to know, with all my heart, is how much it hurts me when you judge me. When you cast me the side eye for not being disabled enough. When you look at me funny for using the motorized cart at Target. When you judge me and my friends when we park in the handicap spots at Noodles & Company. I wish with all that I am that it wasn’t like this. I wish with all that I am that it was different. But it’s not.
I need you to know so that you can be my friend and that I can be your friend.