We’ve been married for 20 years. You would think after two decades of sleeping next to the same woman, a man would be able to remember his wife’s face.
Chris has always told me he doesn’t remember faces. I’ve struggled to really grasp what he means when he says he just can’t SEE a person’s face in his mind if he thinks about him or her.
Having autism means Chris’ mind works differently than most. He’s tried to explain it to me…that he thinks more in ideas, puzzle pieces…not images.
The other day when I came home from work he handed me this post-it note. He said, “I drew a picture of your face from memory.” I laughed. Surely he was joking. But, no, he wasn’t. I mean, I didn’t know if I should be hurt, surprised, or sympathetic. I think I may have been all three.
I replied, “You’re under-exaggerating, right? I mean, you at least see my EYES right?!” He responded that if he closed his eyes and tried to picture me in his mind, this is literally what he saw.
What an incredible insight into how my sweet husband’s mind works. If he can’t picture MY face, no wonder he never remembers if he’s already met someone.
We all see things differently. We all offer different gifts and talents, and we each play an important role
in the world. True diversity is understanding and appreciating each other’s differences. For Chris, social situations are difficult. But he finds great joy in a discourse of ideas because that is, literally, all he can see. Silencing the ideas of someone like him is like putting a blindfold on the rest of us…it inhibits his ability to truly feel and understand the world he’s in.
We can’t put each other in boxes and try to make people act and feel the way we want them to. Some of us were made to be out in front; some of us were made to be the one behind the curtain. Chris will never be someone who enjoys networking or works a room…but he will have incredibly thoughtful dialogue with you if you give him the time. Though he may not see things visually, he does often see things that the rest of us don’t.
I have this post-it note taped up where I can see it every day, to remind me that we each approach the world differently and I should never expect anyone else to see the world the same way I do.
May we always be known for encouraging others’ individualism and unique capabilities. I don’t ever want to be the one tying a blindfold on someone else.