There is no question about it. People with Asperger syndrome are often let down, ignored, and even abused by others. Forms of bullying are beyond imagination these days. Some are the classic obvious kinds of abuse we are all too familiar with, but some are very subtle, so subtle they are invisible though just as devastating. In my latest book, Safety Skills for Women with Asperger Syndrome~How to Save a Perfectly Good Female Life, I talk extensively about bullying and abusive relationships. After I finished the book I was confident maliciousness would never touch me again. I reasoned all the difficult introspection and study on my past brushes with nastiness, had given me the tools I needed to shove future mistreatment out of my path once and for all. I was wrong. A few days ago I received notice that someone I considered a friend, was taking measures in court to avoid paying me back a significant debt. Anger, resentment, frustration, disbelief and disgust went through my mind like a shotgun spits out buckshot. In my mind, I loaned money to a friend in good faith for all the right reasons, only to be systematically rejected without so much as a simple apology or humble explanation. Regardless of my opinion, I am now left to sift through my charred emotions; emotions I have felt dozens and dozens of times as life has bulldozed over my heart.
What to do now? I find myself at a crossroad. Clearly I can take the high road and tell myself this situation isn't about me, it's about someone else's disregard for personal promises and obligations. Or I can let cynicism and distrust drag me to the low road. Obviously, it is healthier to refuse to accept anyone's trashy behavior. The question is, how?
*Keep a thankful list. After being taken advantage of or summarily dismissed by another person, it can be very helpful to remember the good people and good things in your life. On days when I feel particularly vulnerable, I tend to stay home and spend time thinking about happy memories or simple things that make me pleased to be alive. This takes the power away from those who have hurt you and puts the responsibility on you to find good things from within.
*Give in to the anger, embarrassment and frustration... for a while, not forever. Cry, punch a punching bag, scream, run around in circles, do something that transfers your emotional anger into physical fatigue. When your anger is released, picture it floating above you in an air bubble that will never land near you again.
*Forget or at least forgive the person who failed to have the common decency to treat you with dignity. As an Aspie chances of forgetting will be darned difficult, but working on forgiveness is possible. See the failure of the person who harmed you as THEIR failure and not anything even related to you. View their behavior as their character flaw and as something they will unleash on others, not just you. Sometimes seeing yourself as truly the innocent person in the situation is very freeing.
*Chalk the event up to a life lesson that can be stashed in your background of experiences giving you power to keep a similar incident from occurring in your life. Remember you are probably not the best at generalizing one life lesson to another, but at least let a lesson learned keep you from making the exact same mistake again. In my case, I will not lend anyone else a penny. I'm sure the predators in this world will abuse me again, but at least my pocketbook will be snapped shut forever more.
*Send the memory of what happened packing. Yes, this is much easier said than done for people who perseverate. But with practice you can eradicate bad people's actions away from your day to day life, if not your deepest memories. I try snapping my wrist with a rubber band every time I think of how angry I am over this abuse or that mistrust. I allow myself a few minutes to think about the past evils, and then I snap the band and move on. Each time I remember past issues, I find it easier to move on quicker.
Trust is a precious commodity. To vulnerable people with Asperger syndrome, it is as important to our self-esteem as shelter is to our body. When someone has proven himself (or herself) to be untrustworthy, regroup and realize you did not cause the person to abuse your good nature. Rather, you were the innocent victim. You, have nothing to be ashamed of! It isn't easy getting over an a betrayal but with time and practice, you can move on.