The Essence of Existence
“Thus we are neither behind us, nor before us in a luminous realm of values, any means of justification or excuse. We are left alone, without excuse. That is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet is nevertheless at liberty, and from the moment that he is thrown into this world he is responsible for everything he does.”
Jean Paul Sartre – Existentialism & Humanism
First, we must be born. Then we develop our purpose through the choices we make in life. Ultimately, we are responsible for our choices. Whether or not God exists is irrelevant – we are all abandoned. Inevitably, this leads to anguish and despair. Most of us live our lives in denial of this. Can this existentialist view of the agency of human action be applied to autism?
Sometimes it may seem that claiming something is due to autism is an excuse. I suppose to people who do not understand my perspective it may seem as such. Knowing a reason for something does not remove the accountability – at least in my own experience.
A life lived in the state of self is condemned to be free. The choice is not in the existence – it is of the essence. What we do with our existence is the only real choice we have. Can the same be said for the rest of the spectrum?
It would appear that the dark aspects of autism are little to do with choice. External circumstances beyond our control and the chemical chaos of the body can hardly be reduced down to any choice. The application of value to actions and emotions is a social judgement – one that is in flux depending upon intersectional aspects of humanity.
Perhaps we have such a hard time because society has made us feel bad for feeling bad. When we have difficulty controlling emotions – it does not help if someone further provokes intense reactions through lack of kindness. Is it any wonder why mental health is getting worse when the very structures of society are causing it?
Although autism and attachment disorder are distinct conditions, they both share behavioural traits such as difficulty with social skills, a need for the regularity of the environment, and unusual reactions to sensory stimuli.
The feeling of abandonment directly accompanies a broken attachment. When I discarded my original spiritual opinions, I felt as though I had found a community. That community started to reject me when I asked too many questions. I abandoned belief in God to return closer to my essence.
Whenever an attachment is broken despair ensues. Whether that attachment is to an object, concept or a person is irrelevant – the hurt is the same when intense emotions are involved.
There is a bleak kind of hope in the existentialist aspects of autism. It is liberating to take responsibility for how one reacts to situations beyond control. For better or worse – the acknowledgement is with optimism.
Humanity is attached to the notion that there is a standard of normality to which all deviance must be eradicated. This is a venomous idea that seeps into the majority of us. All we can do is prove otherwise.
We can learn from experiences that are beyond choice. How we learn from mistakes often defines the kind of person we can become. Had I not realised this over a decade ago – who would I be now?
Each day I actively choose to not let rage consume me – lest I cannot accept the consequences. If I cannot control the way I feel – I can guide my reaction into something manageable.
The bane of my existence is the absence of compassion.
The essence of my autism is magical creativity.
This can be an existential resurrection.
If I choose it to be.