By Molly Murphy
My brother has Aspergers. I do not. But we’re not that different, my brother and I.
When we were young, ‘Aspergers’ didn’t mean anything to me. ‘Aspergers’ sounded like some sort of dinosaur that we had invented as we transformed into explorers and adventurers, and tore through the house in one of our imaginary worlds. He was my brother, and he was my hero.
As I grew older, I started to feel like there was an ocean between us. It seemed that in some ways, I shed more of that imaginary world than my brother. He never stopped being my hero, but I believed our journeys were so different that we would not be able to connect in the same way we had, and that I would not be able to access his thoughts and feelings as easily as I had when I was much younger. For a long time, I believed that we were very different. That I was developing very distinct ideas about life, relationships, love, and family, and that my brother was not. Or if he was, it was not rooted in a reality in which I existed.
But I was wrong. My brother has learned very profound insights about the human condition, and his way of learning is incredibly similar to mine.
He has learned from deeply engaging in the world of film, television, and theatre. He has always used his very intimate understanding and practicing of these arts to aid his participation in social, ‘real world’ situations and emotions. I always wondered if this was dangerous; if this kept him from really knowing the world and people around him. I wondered if this made him a distant observer, or gave him an excuse to not fully participate.
But wait. I’m that way! When I write, when I play and listen to music, when I create and share that creation, these are the times I’m most engaged, when I feel the most myself and who I’m supposed to be. I thrive, as does my brother, in one on one conversations, I thrive when I delve deeply, I learn as an observer, and I participate through my art. I thought I had shed more of my imaginary world than my brother, but I’ve found my way back to that world, and I know now that we both live and thrive in that creative space.
And it goes further: Not only does my brother truly understand the human condition in a beautiful and deep way, but my fear of him not fully participating in the world has all been for not. He actually taught me how to be more courageously open to the world and people around me, and to love what I love, what I do, and what I am without apologizing.
And all of this makes me think:
My brother, like many with Aspergers, thinks, feels, acts, participates in a different way, has a brain that is wired unlike any other brain, and just needs space in which he is understood and understands. He needs love and openness; he teaches love and openness. He is not meant to be any one else; he is beautiful and he is enough.
And how true is that of all of us?
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