There are some phrases that have always got me on the edge (angry, frustrated) because they are such stupid expressions and lies. Here a selection:
- “I know how you feel”
- “I know how you must feel”
- “Iʻve been there, or blah blah I can relate to you because [insert personal story]”
- “That must feel devastating”
- “If I were in your situation, Iʻd be angry/frustrated/some other negative emotion too”
Okay, those are enough. Ever heard or used those? See anything wrong with them? No? … so you mkight be neurotypical.
Let me tell you whatʻs wrong with those.
How do you expect to know how I feel? I have difficulties differentiating different emotional statuses, and I sure as hell have never had parents which would have encouraged the typical “how was your day?” and “how are you feeling?” talk. In fact I donʻt think my parents would have ever explicitly talked about emotions, feelings, or emotional statuses. Those were all things you are expected to keep inside you and not show like a typical American would in the culture I grew in. My emotional scale could be easily represented with a flat line, like this:
good________________________________ok, whatever______________________________________leave me alone
There, a straight line. It does not respect the Western standard representation of left = bad or past, right = good or future, based on MY choice. I am left-handed. So on this scale representing my “feelings” (inner emotional statuses) world, on one end we have “good” and that covers everything that is good. In the middle we have “ok, whatever” which is fine. Nothing special – and itʻs not a problem since Iʻve never understood the obsession about emotions some women in some cultures have. Then on the other end we have “leave me alone” which should be self-explanatory. Do I really need to explain it? Itʻs a case of “leave me the fuck alone”. I canʻt differentiate if Iʻm angry, furious, sad, OR if Iʻm in physical pain. Because it all feels the same, and I have zero desire to communicate about my physiological pain or sensory overload to other people. Let me get in my room, hide under a dark blanket, do whatever I do, and come back to the others when I want. There. If this “leave me the fuck alone” gets interrupted, Iʻm beyond angry.
So, youʻve read a detailed explanation about how my inner emotional scale works now. Now you can understand how I feel – because Iʻve even explained it to you.
“I know how you must feel” is even a worse statement. Why am I required now to have certain emotional statuses? I donʻt understand it. People can piss me off really royally, at which point they turn to be good as dead to me. They cease to cause any kind of emotion. I treat them like stale air – I donʻt see them but I can smell them in the same room. Open the door, and let them walk out of your life.
I was taught to use the phrases like above when dealing with angry customers.
But itʻs difficult.
Because to me any statement about declaring a person knowing how another person is feeling or expressing their inner emotional feelings is lies. You donʻt know what someone else is experiencing in their life.
If someone comes to me trying to sympathize about sight loss and tell me how [insert list of negative things] it must be, they can keep talking as long as they want. Dude, I know it is difficult for most people who once were sighted to adjust to their new life. But donʻt walk into my life putting words in my mouth. I am me: I am responsible for all my own emotional statuses. I am also fully capable of regulating my emotions – somehting that I donʻt typically see on neurotypical people. My emotions are deep, and my inner emotional scale above explains them. IF that seems shallow or boring for an emotional world, thatʻs your problem, not mine. You have your life. I have mine. And I donʻt want to be neurotypical.
I donʻt know how you feel. This is a true statement. When I know something about you, e.g. that you have a small child and a dog and like yoga or winning in x sports and volunteer in some religion-based charity, I can make guesses and assumptions. You most likely love your offspring and furry family, and take pride in things that you feel you get your achievements in, and feel good about making the world a better place. But thatʻs about it – I canʻt see or hear if my choice of orally spoken words might cause you a negative emotion. I donʻt know if my “tone of voice” comes off wrong because Iʻm only trying to speak and not in my “native languages”.
And often I have no clue what Iʻm supposedly feeling either. “Did you sleep well last night?” is a bit easier to answer than “how was your day?” and a billion times easier to answer than “how are you feeling?”. Please donʻt ever ask me that. I donʻt know how or even WHY to disclose an emotional status – unless they get covered by an NDA…