All my life I’ve felt like I was alone. Like I’m in one dimension and everybody else is in another. I’m in the world, but not part of it.

Maybe that’s part of having Asperger’s. I keep hearing that I’m supposed to feel like an alien or a robot. But I don’t. I don’t feel like I’m that fundamentally different. I just….can’t connect.

It’s a common feeling. Especially for people with mental illness. (And writers.) It’s ironic how many people relate to not being able to relate. It would be awesome if we could stick together; create our own little realm of consciousness. But it doesn’t seem to work that way.

Most of us who feel this way don’t want to. We live for the times (mostly out of our control) when we are able to connect. Because sometimes we do feel a sense of oneness with other people. Like we’re all vibrating on the same wavelength with only slightly different frequencies. And if one person falls off, everyone else will feel it. Now if that’s what empathy is like, it’s amazing. It makes me feel whole.

Society doesn’t have much sympathy for people who have trouble connecting. They call us narcissists. They’re uncomfortable with people who come across like we’re not entirely there. Which I completely understand. I’ve written pieces that were supposed to be more affective than they turned out. I didn’t realize it until I read them later. Sometimes I didn’t even see the problem until I read the comments.

Emotions are the universal language. If there’s one thing you can be comfortable assuming, it’s that most people have a similar capacity for hope, fear, love, hate, disappointment, etc. If someone experiences a loss or accomplishes something important you can anticipate their reaction. It must be awfully unnerving to see someone not showing their feelings in a way you can relate to.

I don’t consciously feel lonely. It’s only when I connect deeply with someone that I remember what I’m missing. It’s such a heightened experience for me. Maybe more so than for people who take that kind of oneness for granted. When I’m with the right person and the stars line up just right I’m able to truly feel what someone else is feeling. And that slow burning anxiety that lives in my chest just dissipates.

I’m not sure if it’s autism itself or self-preservation that keeps me from connecting. But I do know it’s scary to feel like I’m part of something bigger than me. I know I always expect to feel heavy when I let the world in.

But it feels very light.