You’re Not the Only One With Attachment Issues


You can only lose what you cling to. ~Buddhist proverb

Raise your hand if this made you cry buckets

Those wonderful geniuses over at Pixar…they have some secret formula when it comes to tweaking my emotional center. Whether it’s the semi-dysfunctional relationship with my overprotective parents (Finding Nemo), the collective horrors that exist in my subconscious (Monsters, Inc.) and, most noticeably, the bittersweet nature of love and loss (all three installments of Toy Story), I’ve been known to sob uncontrollably at the endings of these flicks. And that’s what great moviemaking is about…touching your audience in that most poignant way.

It’s a toss-up between Up and Toy Story 3 for me when it comes to tear-jerking. I’d say TS3 edges Up by a nose just because nobody dies at the end of Up. And, if I can get a little personal here, it spoke right to me. Having Asperger’s is hard to explain to outsiders. Just one piece of that mysterious puzzle is my strange attachment to things and not people. When my grandfather died I could barely move myself beyond a few token tears. When I had to give up my favorite stuffed animals, I practically needed psychotherapy.

Why does this strange contradiction exist? For us Aspies, things, and animals too, are a lot safer than people. They’re not going to chide us for being too heavy or too inquisitive, or not pretty or athletic enough. They’re totems and fetishes, like the equipment of a modern-day shaman. They take on meanings and deep symbolism. People, on the other hand, move in and out of our lives like breaths of air. We forget our people and remember our things. This is often hard to understand for the NTs (neurotypicals) who love an Aspie.

Every Aspie needs a t-shirt like this

One of the most difficult lessons I’ve had to learn as I’ve aged is that it’s OK to give up certain things. Sometimes it’s even necessary to give them up so we can move to the next level. When we’re young, we eventually have to give up our training wheels. Later, as we go to college and to work, we give up the comforts of home and the protection of our parents. If we don’t, we’re considered, well, a little strange. And some people never do (we make movies and TV shows about them because they’re easy targets.)

So, about those attachment issues. I’ve got ’em. Oh yeah, do I ever. Like the crow, I’m a collector of trinkets and objects and shiny little things that catch my eye. Usually my treasure trove is a sampling of whatever my special interest is at the moment (for a long time it was Xena, then Pirates of the Caribbean, now The A-Team.) I’ve had those moments when, like Andy going off to college in TS3, I look at those beloved objects with a mixture of nostalgia and regret. I can’t take them with me. Not all of them. Some of them are going to have to go. That’s where I find myself now, with several boxes of A-Team goodies.

I must haves it, my preciousss....

But this, as I keep telling myself, is a healthy loss. I’ll be gaining a few extra bucks (desperately needed) and more importantly, making some other fan happy. As an Aspie, if I perform acts of altruism, I prefer to do so anonymously. Like Batman, I prefer to do good from behind a mask. It’s that whole attachment problem. The important this is that I *am* doing the right thing by getting rid of the old baggage. An old master once gave me a good litmus test. If the object is no longer a benefit to have around, it’s time to let it go.

That certainly doesn’t make the separation any easier. For a while I may be inconsolable. I might cry the way I did when Woody, Buzz and their pals found a new owner for the first time in years. But, as it turns out, I’ll soon move on. The nice thing about being an Aspie is that I share a lot of traits with the crow. A curious mind, an eye for obscure detail, and, more importantly, the ability to quickly forget.

I suppose I’ll always remember, and I’ll always feel that tear beading at the corner of my eye when it comes to some of my lost treasures. Then again, as that same master said, I can’t take them with me anyway.

So, in the wise words of Woody, I’ll prepare to say “So long, pardner.” Just make sure you have a box…or two…of Kleenex ready for me, all right?

Aw, man, I'm crying just looking at this

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on August 21, 2011.

One Response to “You’re Not the Only One With Attachment Issues”

  1. I love the knickname aspie! I have not heard it before. I am an “NT” supposedly, hehe, and it makes sense that things are just more friggin’ reliable than people. i get so lonely though….if only I didn’t get that one feeling….

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