An Autistic Love Story

Years ago I read an Donna Williams’ autobiography–I wish I knew where I put it–Nobody Nowhere. Two twin loves stories have haunted me lately, though I can’t reread Nobody Nowhere right now, as I don’t know where it is. I wrote on my blog about it not too long ago. Yet I want to tell it as one of those tales a favorite writer of mine, Milovan Djilas–I’ll describe him another time–as “True” in the Heart. The stories from Nobody Nowhere are about an autistic woman’s loves. The first was of a man who was good to Donna, even in Donna’s memory, but whom Donna was not good to in return. The second was a man whose cruel beauty seduced Donna and yet who was abusive towards her. Donna left the second and found the first, who had moved on, and he and his girlfriend let Donna stay with them as she recuperated. I am not sure to those who do not understand autism, Donna might not have seemed like “just a slut.” People are so hard on people who are different, and Donna was at that point in her life completely diagnosed. No, I have imagine people thought of her as “Jesse” in one of my favorite pop-songs,

From a phone booth in Vegas Jessie calls at five a.m.
To tell me how she’s tired of all of them
She says, “Baby, I’ve been thinking about a trailer by the sea
We could go to Mexico; you, the cat and me
We’ll drink tequila and look for seashells
Now doesn’t that sound sweet”
Oh Jessie you always do this every time I get back on my feet

Jessie paint your pictures
About how it’s gonna be
By now I should know better
Your dreams are never free
But tell me all about our little trailer by the sea
Oh Jessie you can always sell any dream to me
Oh Jessie you can always sell any dream to me…

Donna appears, like Jesse, to be a “slut” type, a girl who can’t be nice to the nice guy who loves her even as she falls passionately in love with her abuser, as though a fan of cheap romances who believes that she is the Scarlet who can make Rhett a nice man. Yet Donna is not truly that way. No, Donna rejects the nice guy because intimacy is painful to autistic women, and accepts the nastier man for two reasons: 1) Donna can not distinguish between cruelty and love, all because of autism; and 2) Donna’s own mother was abusive, making fun of her for playing a song she thought she made up that was truly Beethoven’s. It was the irony that Donna Williams’ mother revealed how beautifully her daughter played music while making fun of her as having “no talent.”

Autism involves the inability of the brain to distinguish in importance a person’s facial expression and a fly on the wall. That is why autistic people can not “read” facial expressions. That is why though they may love they have difficulty understanding the feeling. That is why when they are touched physically, they feel pain. They lack “empathy.” Supposedly they do. Donna Williams’s friend Temple Grandin practically has a sixth sense where animals are concerned. Yet they have trouble doing things like reading novels because language is not a strength of autistic people. And while Temple Grandin is well adjusted to having autism, Donna Williams has written that her autism is a prison, and she longed for romantic love the way people say autistic people cannot feel. Temple Grandin and her husband–Temple did marry–peacefully sleep in separate beds, content with companionship but knowing sexual intimacy is something that is too complex and disturbing for them. Donna Summers, I believes, has wanted to chart and perhaps has charted the darker waters of romantic love her whole life.

Someday soon I shall write about the Bipolar Schizoaffective Love Story. It is the polar opposite of what autism appears to be: unemotional, detached, cold. Bipolar patients go through emotional extremes of ecstasy and despair. Schizoaffective Disorder involves “hearing voices.” Someday I shall tell it. Yet not today. I will only say now that because I have Bipolar Schizoaffective Disorder, I cannot accept that the .5 percent of the population with autism or the larger percentage of the population with “autistic spectrum disorder” do not feel. If I could, I would prove even Borderline patients, the so-called “Psychopaths” are really broken people deeply wish they were normal and just as deeply wish to be loved.

That is why I write about Donna Sommer’s two tragic love affairs, though by rights to write about her I ought to have thoroughly reread Nobody Nowhere and read Somebody Somewhere for the first time.

Published by hadassahalderson

I am a professional author who lives in Wichita, KS. I went to Friends University and spent one year at Claremont Graduate University. My published work includes: The Bible According to Eve I-IV and Faust in Love.

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