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“Relationships” by João Carlos da Costa

João Carlos da Costa
Relationships - Friendship and Love

I want to confide in you something that has occupied my thoughts for a long time. 

The topic has to do with relationships as an autistic person.

Most people think that we are associates and like to be in our ball.

What I want to tell you is that this is a false sensibility of yours.

Autism doesn’t take away the will or the joy of having a love or friend but it does give us an enormous faculty of hypersensitivity to what is not genuine or based on other premises than truth and authenticity.

I look around me and see most of them surrounded by people, but totally disconnected. They walk around with alienated looks on their faces without knowing how to differentiate between their own and other people’s wishes, and they stay in love or friendship relationships out of habit, conviction, or because it has always been that way. 

Where is the inner flame and the affection that they claim to be from the neurotypical world?

The value of friendship

What I have been feeling is a deep joy, because in the course of my twenty-four years of existence I have felt it only twice.

The first time was in 2006. My friend was someone with whom I shared a lot of joy and companionship.

I had moments of complete dedication and surrender. I felt that with him I could learn a lot and evolve.

He even taught me how to ride a bike and with him I lost my fear of dogs. Whenever we were together the energy of mutual recognition reigned.

As time went by, however, I felt that I put up walls between us, and as time went by he disconnected from me and forgot me.

Sometimes people are afraid to give themselves up in whatever relationships they have and in an attempt to protect themselves from love and friendship they cancel out a part of themselves.

I still like my friend and cherish him, however, I respect his distance and belief that deepening bonds of friendship or love generate soul commitments that not everyone can handle.

In this day and age affections are something that make many people uncomfortable and when it comes to dealing with difference things are even more daunting.

Autism brings with it many challenges, including in terms of affections, because people either withdraw because of our characteristics or close themselves off so as not to get involved. In any case, the man who shields himself in surrender or lack of courage lives by halves.

At the moment I have an assistant with me. It is obvious that there is a professional link, but I feel a sense of commitment. When there is a commitment, a safe haven of trust is created. With my assistant I feel protected and loved.

There is much beauty and growth together when we feel that between us and the other there are no defensive walls.

Friendship befits us when our vulnerabilities are embraced by the other as a meeting point and not a defense.

Love

What many people think is that the disabled or autistic person does not have the gift or the ability to love another person, and here I don’t mean parental love, but to feel attraction, desire, or willingness to have one or a partner.

When you suffer from a disabling condition it is almost as if the ability to live life is doubly taken away from you.

Do you want to know if I want a relationship? I tell you that I do. I want and desire it with all my heart and I look at the opposite sex with admiration for its beauty and charm and think how I would like to hold someone in my arms and tell her that I want to love, protect, and make her feel that her happiness is important to mine.

Those who don’t give themselves body and soul are a product of fear and live by halves.

I have never dated, which doesn’t mean that I haven’t loved. I have loved and I love and I suffer in the middle and physical locks, but I think that in the face of what I see I am more qualified to love. I love with the courage of knowing that I am currently deprived, but in the midst of it all I cherish the love I carry. I want to begin to externalize my feelings about love because it is a feeling that is above any condition. Having something very disabling does not mean being detached from the will to love.

I look at the world and observe how oblivious they are to everyone experiencing difference. I think we are often treated with invisibility and as if we are devoid of desire.

Do you think that the feeling of love and the need to be loved to the detriment of our parents is something absurd? Do you think that we do not have within us the desire to have a friend or a boyfriend?