I wonder if all people have a need to be seen?
Whilst at the same time,
Wanting to hide,
What do others feel,
When they are getting a compliment?

I feel nothing,
I hear the statement,
“I really appreciate your input on that”,
Or something some-such,
And maybe I will acknowledge it,
With a smile,
Or a bit of a head bow,
Or with a few words,
“You’re welcome”,
“It’s fine”,
Or, “no problem”.
There are times though, when I do nothing,
Because I feel blank,
And I don’t want to expend the energy,
So what is there to react to?

By saying nothing,
By doing nothing,
I am being myself,
I am being congruent,
But I know,
That is not what the social rules dictate,
The rubric says I should reply,
But on what basis?
I think I am suppose to feel gratitude?
Or feel appreciated?
Perhaps a touch of pride?
A sense of achievement?

If I know you well enough then I will bat the statement back,
“Thank you for your wonderful hospitality”,
And I will say,
“Thank you for coming to stay”,
“Thank you for dinner”,
“Thanks for coming round to eat”,
But I am being a bit shallow,
Because a full disclosure would be,
Recognising the physical,
And the emotional cost,
Of not only spending time with you,
But thinking about what to cook,
The shopping,
The  preparation,
And creating to a defined time,
Trying not to get anxious,
About what to talk about,
Trying to let go of,
Having to get dressed up,
Balancing the need,
To make you feel special,
And me functional,
As best I can.

I try to see the meeting,
As a celebration of our friendship,
A renewing of our connection,
And an investment in the future,
But sometimes,
It can feel like a chore,
Or an unnecessary use of my time,
Which are really the red flags,
To say,
I am not actually up for this,
I’m not coping very well,
I am heading,
Towards a meltdown.
Are compliments and appreciation integral to relationships?
I think most people,
Would say,
But I wonder if we miss the non-verbal replies?
Or are we,
Overly negative in our assumptions?
If you produce a meal,
And I eat it,
Do I really need to say,
“I like the food”,
And if I want seconds,
Does the comment,
“This food is lovely”,
Really need to be made?
What about when I don’t like the food?
I will try to eat it,
Because I appreciate you put in the effort,
And out of respect,
I suppose,
That effort requires a reciprocal reply,
Do you want to hear,
“I am struggling to eat your cooking”,
“Because I don’t like it”?
I am not rejecting you,
Just the food,
I wouldn’t be here,
If I thought there was no point.

And why do you go to more effort,
Because you like a person?
Is this food more special,
Because you think I am special?
I don’t understand the connection,
Why does my status matter?
Surely a good BLT,
Can be appreciated,
By anyone that eats bacon,
Bread and butter?
Or are there standards and etiquette,
At play here too?
I guess different people,
Like they ham,
Cooked in different ways,
So what suits you,
Might not agree with me,
But then why bring me into the equation at all?
Do the best you can,
Make the sandwich you like,
Let the others,
Whether to eat it or not.

Am I really so obsessed by food?
What started with a thought about compliments,
Has turned into advice on cooking,
I guess that is the way,
The cookie crumbles,
When you have an autistic mind.