Letter about asking and being a burden

8th of August 2019

Hi A.

It’s been a busy week.

Work is going well. I’m getting better at getting up in the morning and out the door. And I am getting used to being back there. I’m tired from the commute. It’s hitting harder than it used to. Some mornings I get up and get ready and go out the door, make it to the train, change to the bus and arrive at work victorious that I made it all this way and so far that was the only goal. And then I sit down for a moment and almost want to cry because now I realise that I’m tired but need to start working. I enjoy the work, so it’s okay. But the feeling of victory fades to exhaustion. Because it’s not just a few hours of work, it’s also the same trip home and then making dinner and make sure I’m not so drained that I can’t do anything tomorrow.By the afternoon I’m doing better. As I said I like the work. Getting home is hard some days but not too bad. It’s getting through the door at home and not collapsing on the floor unable to do anything for a few days that’s the challenge. But I make it. And that is enough for now.

My parents helped me get curtains and a lamp up and I now have light in my kitchen in the evening and darkness (well, less light) in the morning. The way I like it. My brother came by and helped with cables for the Play Station. My nephew was with him and he found my sonic screwdrivers. Even though he has no idea what Doctor Who is he played with them and that made me so happy, imagining a future where he might want to watch the show with me. And he built us a fort under my dining table on his own while I helped my brother. He is getting big.

There seem to always be a few things I haven’t got done in the new apartment. I still haven’t got a lamp for my bedroom. I’m curtains for the bathroom. I need a shelf in the kitchen. Small stuff, but it adds up. And I haven’t had friends over yet.

The loneliness is still strong. I knew I had lost a lot of friends over the last 5 years, but it has hit me a bit hard in the last couple of months how few people are left. Not because I necessarily miss the people who are gone that much. Just that… my need for intelligent conversations and feeling like I matter to someone isn’t being met.

I know I matter to people around me. I know I have people who like me and care about me. But I don’t feel it. In part maybe because I always have to ask. Ask to be seen, ask to be talked to, ask for attention and time.
I know a lot of people care a lot about me. But I very often feel unloved. Not because I am unloved. But because I feel so disconnected and alone.

I am so lucky. And I am thankful. I’ve been having a hard time for so many years. And I am a burden to the people around me. I feel a lot like a burden and when I take a step back and look at it, I am a burden. My family spends a lot of time helping me with practical stuff. My brother sometimes picks up the phone and talks to me for half an hour when I call him crying because everything is too much. My mom washes my clothes and sometimes helps me clean my home. I need help with grocery shopping and meal planning. I have to call my dad to help me write emails and make phone calls to people who are not my friends.
I so often have to ask my friends if they have time and energy to talk to me because I am having a hard time or a bad day. And they do so much to be there for me.
I am a burden. And I hate that. I hate it so much. I don’t want to be that. I don’t want to add more work to the people in my life because every one of you, have so much hardship to deal with. And here I am being a burden to everyone.

But I’m trying hard to see it as a gift. I have people in my life who care about me. Enough to tell me that it’s better that I am a burden than dead. They ask me to be a burden on them. They tell me to please call if I need it again. They don’t make promises to always have time or energy, but they tell me they care. They tell me to just ask. And I keep asking, even when asking makes me feel like an unreasonable burden that I don’t want to ask anyone to carry.
But it is a gift to have people not only allow you to be a burden but encourage you to be one.
And no one tells me I am a burden. No one tells me I am too much. Even when I am. Maybe because they are just trying to be kind. I hope that it’s also because they know I am self-aware enough to already know it.

I think having to ask, for everything all the time, makes me feel even more like a burden.
I can’t remember the last time someone who wasn’t my mother called and ask how I was without me reaching out asking to talk first.

I have one friend who text a lot. I’m not that much for texting these days, so with this friend it’s partly a matter of our communication styles not matching. But I try hard to always answer and keep a conversation going even when that is difficult for me in text form. Her writing to me like that means a lot to me. And we’ve met up a few times since I started work, because her school is nearby. But I can’t have the kind of conversations that I miss with her. We are both on the autism spectrum, same diagnosis, but we are so different. I scored high on empathy test, where she scored low. I feel a need for some kind of connection to the right kind of people and she mostly just want to be left alone. My special interests are more diverse and changing, where hers are very hard set. I value this friendship a lot. Sometimes it’s great to have someone who understands even though they feel the complete opposite of how I feel. But other times our differences makes me feel disconnected. Through no fault of anyone.

At some point I want to write a letter to you about care and the act of showing love and feeling loved. It’s been on my mind a lot. How I know people care, but somehow feel deeply unloved and uncared for. I want to explore that contradiction. But not today. Today it’s enough to just name the two things and acknowledge that they exist at the same time. That feeling unloved isn’t the same as being unloved. And that is okay to feel unloved even when you know in your mind that you aren’t-

I write a lot of “Thinking of you” texts to people. I try hard to make them very short and concise and make I very clear that it’s just me sending good thoughts out to people I care about, so they know someone cares, but also that they don’t need to do anything. I’m not expecting anything back.

I don’t know if the people I send these to need them. I don’t know if I’m being annoying or helpful. But I sometimes feel guilty if I have a hard time and don’t reach out, or if I don’t show care for my friends who themselves are having a hard time. I guess I feel very strongly about making sure no one I care about feel like they are not cared about. Of cause because that is exactly how I feel.
I try hard to transform my caring into actions. Because I want it to matter and make a difference. Maybe the feeling I have when I think about a person a lot and wonder how they are and hope they are doing well, is restlessness. All I know is that I feel a need to act on it, to make sure that it isn’t just me feeling and thinking something alone that the other person have no way of knowing or feeling. I want to make a difference. To make the world better. Even if it’s just for one person and even if it’s just a little. And I don’t know if writing those messages helping me make a positive difference to the people I write to, but that is my intent. And I try to make it clear that if these messages are unwanted I’m grateful to be told so.

I am very aware that it is an act that comes from my own loneliness and that it’s a desperate attempt to connect to people. But I make a big effort to turn it into something I give and not a place where I ask for something. And I try to make it a thing that tells people that I am someone they can ask something of or lean on if they need it. Because I know how hard it is to have to ask and how hard it is to keep leaning on people long after you feel like too much of a burden.

I never feel like the people who lean on me are a burden. I feel grateful and honoured that they trust me to catch them when they feel like they are falling. When people turn to me I feel happy that I am someone they thought of in a time of crisis. But even if I felt like they were a burden, I know so many people I would rather have as a burden than not have in my life. You are one of them A.

And look! I managed to write a bit about stuff that matters to me. Writing for this week accomplished. That makes me happy.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

P.S. This week I learned that it was rats in my old apartment. Lots and lots of rats. The entire floor had to be removed and at least one wall (the one next to my bed, the one I had complained about the noise from) was full of them too.
It was rats! I lived with rats in the walls for at least 8 months. I’m so glad to be away from there.