Mutism? Aspie Triggered

Recently, a loved one pointed out, in a not-too-harsh, but rather matter-of-fact way, that I complain a lot. In my all-too-common fashion, I stepped back and watched myself wade through the elements of my rapid-firing brain. Or better yet, I observed the domino effect as one thought kicked another thought’s ass. And one after the other, I collapsed.

Here is a very brief scenario:

I complain a lot, I should kill myself.
If I am that terrible of a person, I shouldn’t be on earth.
If I think in this type of martyrdom fashion, like the last two thoughts, I am surely not worthy to have anyone love me.
How could he say that? Do I really complain a lot?
Is this his reality, my reality, or some other reality? Whose perspective is real? I should reread my Buddhist books for the third time. I have such a bad memory.
He is cruel and unjust, I am never speaking to him again.
Actually, I am going to be mute for the rest of my life. I will never speak to ANYONE again. If I still can’t get things right after this many years, I am doomed. What is right? I hate that there are rights and wrongs. They don’t make sense.

I can do it. I will start with one day. If I am mute no one will ever judge me. Well, at least not my spoken words. Should I still write? I will have to write. But to whom? And how much? I will be a saintly mute like the older lady on the popular prison show. I kind of look like her anyway. I wonder how my children will react. Would my silence traumatize them? Maybe I should slowly become mute. Little by little each day. I could write on a notepad.

[Intermission: I looped into a fantasy of my life as a kind mute.]

And then, anger: I will show that asshole. I shall never speak again!

He complains too. He is pessimistic. He is moody. He is….. It’s not fair he pointed this out to me. I hate him for doing this. I hate him. Doesn’t he know how much goes on inside my head already? How hyper-sensitive I am to everything? That I am trying my best? I don’t want to ever see him again. Ever! I miss being around people who aren’t honest all the time. No, I don’t. Yes, I do.

Tears (again). Well, I point out things to people and I am sure it makes them uncomfortable and they process. Or they just ignore. I don’t have the capacity to ignore. What would it be like to think everyone else is the problem and not self-reflect and not look at self? Freeing I suppose.

I am still caught up in this perfectionism. Damn him. Damn me. I don’t deserve to be here anymore. I just can’t do it. I can’t function in any type of relationship: friendship or romantic, not even casual. I don’t know how to do it. I hate being alive. Do I really complain a lot?

That’s it. I am marching up to my bedroom and I shall stay there and sleep the day away. I am locking my door. I am not coming out. [Toss and turn replaying all past hurtful things anyone has EVER said to me in my ENTIRE life…stab, stab, STAB] I can’t sleep. I will run away. I will drive away. I will just leave. No one will miss me. They will be better off without me.

Marching downstairs. (I actually step lightly but in my imagination I am stomping.) “Hi Violet, you want to go outside potty?” Asked with baby-talk inflection to my wagging-tail shadow. “Shit,” said out loud. I can’t be mute to my dog.

Mute plan demolished after thoughts of buying clickers, whistles, teaching my dog hand signals, and buying her extra treats, and after I’d already told her, “Good girl for going potty!” and her eyes lit up.

Drove away….Forever…. Logical me re-stepped in after one mile. Did errands. Paid bills. Texted a friend. Waded in self-pity. Analyzed self-pity. Analyzed myself analyzing self-pity. Analyzed my therapist’s thoughts of me having self-pity. Is it still self-pity if I am aware I am wallowing and analyzing the pity and making measures to eliminate the wallowing and admitting to martyrdom?

Analyzed general truism at the time: NEVER returning to my old life and ways. Like the victims in Body Snatchers, I shall arise reborn. Maybe half-dog.

Wondered if I begged really loud if my home planet would beam me up.

Drove home. Pretended nothing was wrong but planned on never speaking again. Forgot I wasn’t speaking ever again. Threw out that plan once and for all, but not before fantasizing about a commune where all mute Aspies lived together and developed telepathic abilities so not one person had to open their eyes. Wondered if people would miss my voice. Wondered if other people get sick of hearing their own voice. Contemplated if life would be easier sensory wise if I couldn’t see. Yes, it would, I decided, but not before mourning the feasible loss of an azure sky honey-combed in powder-puff morphing clouds above the evergreens. Sigh. I needed to see.

Continued to cry sporadically when no one was looking punishing myself for yet another thing I do wrong, not right enough, and not good enough, and wondering how I could ever be enough for anyone, particularly my own self. Dead set settled on the fact that everyone who was ever critical to me in the past was right. Set about to analyze each and every person, and concluded they all have issues. We all have issues. But I suck the most. At least it’s feasible I do. Wondering what the world would be like without me and if my death would affect and hurt people. Yes, it would. Not a good idea in general. Questioned: Was I suicidal or just wallowing. Wallowing was the outcome, blended in with self-persecution and lack of survival plan or skills for this round, mostly-blue planet.

Held pain inside. Did not speak of it. Did not mention it to anyone. Stab. Stab. Stab. Decided to send emotional daggers out in every direction in attempt at self-preservation. Youngest son enters. He is miserable about something. Not him too! He states harmful statement projected towards me. I explode. I breakdown. I just can’t hold on. Freak out. Freak out more. Rush to fix what is broken. Rush to fix family issue. Rush to redeem myself and help my son. Sink back into temporary reprieve as distracted by other urgency, only to return to original funk of I am not good enough now accentuated by previous encounter with son. Sad. Very sad. Terribly sad.

I obviously can’t have relationships with others as I take things too personally. How can I dish out stuff but not be able to take it? That’s hypocritical. I am a bad person.

Cycle back through these thoughts and multiple thoughts, over and over and over. Project into future what life will be like without certain people in my life. Become closed off and quiet. Non-respondent. Function with normalcy, at least my normalcy, smile when expected, answer when expected. Nothing. More. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff with occasional stab. Bleed out until dry.

Finally arise, after days, at conclusion: Everyone complains. At least most people. But I can complain a bit less. It will be good for me. Having uprooted my ego-bits and experienced the pain of wounded self-image, begin rebuilding.

Logic again: Yes, I complain more than some, but likely about average for my kind. I think? But compared to what is in my head I only share one percent of what I hear inside. And I am so very grateful about so many things I think of constantly. Should I speak aloud all of those things to counter balance what is perceived as negative? Ought I just change what I think inside and not allow complain-like thoughts? And how do I separate what is anxiety from what is considered complaining? Triggers from what is considered complaining? Truth telling from what is considered complaining? How do I know what to hold inside and what to tell? When does withholding thoughts or information become an untruth? When do I stay quiet? How much? For how long? How much can I share about what’s inside before I sound like I am complaining? If it’s to inform and I don’t feel like it’s complaining and it’s just informational and logical with no emotion or intention, is it still complaining? When is sharing complaining? At what point?

Still contemplating general mutism after my dog dies.

I Am Too

I am Too
Sensitive
Honest
Emotional
Silly
Sad
Excited
Despondent
Straight Forward
Detailed
I am Too
Affected
Exaggerated
Off Center
Realistic
Hopeful
Critical
Logical
Worried
Frazzled
Careful
I am Too
Serious
Anxious
Self-focused
Self-involved
Introspective
Deep
Frank
Different
Obsessive
I am Too
Open
Transparent
Real
Intense
Forgiving
Helpful
Giving
Understanding
Trusting
I am Too
Confused
Overwhelmed
Naïve
Nervous
Stuck
Controlling
Impatient
Impulsive
Invasive
Needy
Clingy
I am Too
Talkative
Hyper
Sick
Tired
Attached
Aloof
In hiding
I am Too
Quiet
Distant
Inside my head
Contemplative
Analytical
Repetitive
Cyclic
Fearful
Determined
Pattern-seeking
I am Too
Hard on myself
Mean to myself
Unforgiving of myself
Self-punishing
Self-loathing
Pretending
Aching
Hurting
Wishing
Feeling
Isolated
Terrified
Reaching
Wanting
Dying Inside
I am Too

Assumption Junction… the truth of my Aspie words

People who don’t know me well, and some who do, sometimes jump to conclusions and assume things about my intention and motivation behind my writing that aren’t necessarily true. I write to write. It’s largely a processing mechanism.

The problem is that who ever is reading my words will interpret said writing based on his or her own opinions and prior knowledge. In other words, if someone is naturally confrontational then the chances of this same person thinking I am being confrontational in my writing is high. Or the opposite might be true, where a confrontational person might make a judgment call that I am weak because I am not displaying a countering personality. Wherein I might be explaining something for a thousand different strands of reasons, all of which pop in and out of my head through the process of scribing, he or she will make an abrupt conclusion about my intentions that includes perhaps two or three primary reasons (again, based on his or her experience). The worst part of it is when this said party then turns and suggests he/she knows what I was trying to say and why I was trying to say it. When truth be told, I have already played over in my busy mind a hundred times why I said what I said, how I said it, and why I said it.

People don’t often know how long I take to write a response. When I am dealing with an out-of-my-comfort-zone response to someone, for example via email or instant messaging to someone who I do not have a close relationship with about a subject I deem important, I take a very long time to write, upwards to an hour for revisions, rewriting, rewording, reworking, and rereading. I stim through the editing process itself to calm my anxiety over the situation. If I am triggered, particularly by what I interpret as an injustice towards another, it takes me even more time to write. What is difficult then is when I am accused by another to have written something in haste, without thought, at length, or without consideration to the audience or the communication rules of some company or organization. It is hard to digest this type of assumption because nothing is further from the truth. The receiver does not understand that I have painstakingly relived scenario after scenario of possible outcomes of how my words might be interpreted. That I have tried my hardest to follow any rules of communication. That I have pushed myself to shorten all I want and feel the need to say. That I have left out more than 75% of what is really on my mind, and sometimes much more than that.

In example of the revision process, I will write a sentence and then imagine the person/audience reading my words. I then evaluate their potential reaction and adjust in hopes of causing the least amount of miscommunication. It’s not about people-pleasing or avoiding conflict, it’s more so conveying my truth as I see it in the most gentle and kind way (and rule-following way) as possible. To do this I switch around words, I alter adjectives, I choose new phrases, and I clarify repeatedly through transposing my words and readjusting. A draft will be rewritten more times than I can count, and large sections deleted, redone, and deleted again. It never seems to be right enough. Not in a perfectionist way, but in a ‘this is my heart’ way.

I discern ahead of time feasible misgivings or upset on the upcoming reader’s part. This process is exhausting at all levels and causes physical and emotional pain. The most troublesome hurt follows if and when the intended recipient responds in one of the many non-constructive ways I had foreseen him/her responding, and then I see all my efforts were for naught.

People think that the length of my writing equates debate, that length = ego, that length = confusion, that length = selfishness, that length = not caring about the recipient, that length = non-professionalism, etc. etc. I don’t write at length to get my point across or to prove something. Once again, I write to clarify my inner workings and to let the person know my intentions fully. If a part of information isn’t shared that I believe at the time is a pertinent piece of the subject at hand I feel as if I am being deceitful, even as I logically know that by definition I am not. No amount of reasoning fixes this.

I over explain myself in written word as much as I do in spoken word. Particularly when emotionally triggered. And such triggers can come from a variety of sources, especially from others’ behaviors that are not privy to the autistic experience. With all my spiritual studies and practices, a part of me would like to say I am ‘above/ being triggered, but that’s hogwash. I am neurologically wired to be more prone to fight-or-flight responses. (And in my case biologically/physically wired that way, as well.) So, I accept that I get triggered.

It is cumbersome and downright dangerous for me to write (without a lot of editing) after I have been triggered. I cannot help but let some of the emotional upset leak through. As much as I try to pamper and sugar coat the words, this ache of being triggered comes out. And then, even with careful revision, the trigger leaks through. In response, I am evaluated based on the characteristics of my writing. I am labeled emotional, reactive, too concerned, too sensitive, etc. This adds to the initial trigger, and to the continual compounded feelings of being misunderstood and misinterpreted throughout my life. Thus is the prospect of such an invisible disability when held by a person that primarily seems to function at a high-level of ‘normalcy.’

People with autism usually get me. And I in turn get them. I am the first to smile when someone sends me a very long online message. Usually the person is apologizing ahead of time for what they label a ‘rambling.’ And usually I am skimming some of it and finding the golden nuggets of what was written. I get it. I am the same way. I am going on and on about a particular subject whilst at the same time stepping back and observing myself and thinking: Why am I doing this? Sorry! Still, I do it. I process and I stim through words.

I can go through periods of purposeful semi-muteness, wherein I try not to talk at length to anyone. I am mad at myself and the world at that point. And don’t think I can function unless I change who I am, at least outwardly. Usually this state by nature turns me into some type of hermit, where I am only talking to maybe one person I know. It’s the way I retreat and I guess hide from the world. When I have had enough of me and I believe the world has had enough of me, I burrow like a wounded animal licking my wounds and punishing myself for having any form of self-pity and the brain I do. Not long after I come out of it and I am a babbling brook once again.

People who are wired like me understand. They know the ebb and flow of being this self. They know that even we get tired of the non-stop jabber and thoughts and processing. And they, for the most part, accept me unconditionally, with so-called flaws and all. It’s the others that just don’t get it whom I have a difficult time repeatedly associating with.

It’s like this, supposing I am blind: I am blind. I need a different form of communication format to write to you. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s accepted. After all you can SEE I am blind.

And then it’s like this: I have autism. I need a different form of communication format to write to you. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s not accepted. After all you can’t SEE my disability and I should be able to change. I can adjust. I can conform. I can just communicate like you do. Follow the rules and protocol. And if I cannot then I must be inconsiderate, impossible to train, or stubborn.

But it’s not that way. It’s just not. I cannot adapt without modifications and understanding anymore than the person with a visible disability can. If I was an amputee I wouldn’t be able to grow legs. If I was permanently deaf, my speech would be affected. If I have autism, my brain is different. It doesn’t just change based on suggestion. It’s an impossibility.

Getting over myself

I am more black and white in my thinking than I’d like to believe/accept, and it’s come to a point where I am going to cognitively fight back, primarily by ignoring the non-stop running commentary in my head that seems to think by exploring all avenues an endpoint answer will readily arrive.

Here are some simple observations and what I will do about them (or try my best to do).

1. I know too much (a lot) about religion and spirituality, as it was one of my many special interests, well my primary special interest since I was a small child. Being such, I have analyzed and critiqued each and every spiritual practice and religion I have studied. I have reached a point in my life where finding community and support is of primary importance, and the fact that a section of people may adhere to some beliefs I do not adhere to, even practices, is no longer a reason to segregate myself purposefully from others’ support and companionship. Therefore, I am thinking outside the box, outside the rigid rules I have set upon myself about where I can and cannot go based on opinion, fear, and exaggerated expectation of what might happen. I am going to take care of myself and use caution, but at the same time dare to make some new friendships, and hopefully a pseudo-family in an arena that before now I have made so black-and-white that I preferred extreme isolation over breaking my own rules of what other people should be like and/or what practices ought be practiced.

2. I pick apart friendships. I make expectations. I want everyone to be my best friend. I want to have a friend that is basically my twin, attached at the hip. I want a neighbor friend who walks with me and has tea with me everyday. I kind of had this once, for a year, and I miss it. But it was a blessing. And it is a rarity in this world. I pick apart my friendships and find what parts are not enough, what parts hurt me, and get lost in a dance of what I want and deserve. For now on I will cherish the time I have with my friends, openly aware that my needs are my needs, and that most are not going to be able to fill this need. I will cherish the aspects of my friendships that I do have. And if I only talk or see a friend once a year, or once more in my lifetime, that will be enough. This is hard for me to admit. I don’t consider myself a judgmental person, but I do think I pick apart everything and everyone into parts and attempt to rearrange and reassemble, and in the rebuilding I lose aspects of myself and that person, and I hold onto the hurt. I am tired of holding onto the hurt. From now on I will try to appreciate what I do have while building new friendships in which there are commonalities we have so we will have common time to spend together, such is community gathering or hobby.

3. I destroy romantic relationships. I obsess. I control. I try to figure things out. I dissect. I create and recreate all the worse case scenarios in my mind and then I do it all over again. I hide a lot of this inside and torture myself. But of course it comes out. I am also hyper-alert, hyper-aware, and at times hyper-critical. I know this is part of the way my mind words, and part of how I dissect and over-analyze everything. But I refuse to let my Aspergers/mind processing/outlook be the reason to cause myself and my loved ones harm. I am tired of making pros and cons list in my heads. I am tired of wondering about the future. I am tired of thinking ‘if only’ or waiting for things to get better. I am going to enjoy this time, this now, this day and stop waiting for a better tomorrow and a more-perfect partner. I am enough and so is the person I love.

4. When I look back, I don’t have regrets, but I mourn. I mourn that almost every moment of my adult life has been anxiety-ridden, that my moments of joy have been torn down and constricted…limited by my mind over-thinking and over-worrying. I have a constant fight-or-flight mentality that makes each day a battle and each memory a previous day of exhaustion. All things good become white-washed by this fear and fret. I don’t want to, in fact I refuse to, look back ten years from now and see the past decade as the same as the decades before this day. I refuse to see myself in constant wonder of ‘when will things be okay.’ Of scoping out the bad in the good. In thinking of the alternative ways of improvement. I am missing my life by pre-planning for betterment. This is as good as it gets. And I am going to embrace this. I am tired of the pitty-parties. I am tired of the waiting. I am done standing in line for my own life to begin. Now is now. And that shall be enough. I don’t want to die a sad lady, who wasted her days fretting over when happiness would come.

5. Life is hard. PERIOD. It’s hard for most everyone. No one is perfect. No one is normal. 99.9% of people struggle daily with hardship of some sort or another. Hardship of a stressful relationship, a broken relationship, and severed relationship, a sense of isolation. A sense of no purpose. Health issues that hurt and that cause various challenges. Dooms-day thoughts. Anger at the current healthcare system. Anger at the legal system. Anger and/or sadness at the world. Financial woes. Body woes. People woes. We are all pretty much in the same sinking boat. Fact is we have one another. And usually it’s not as bad as we make it out to be. I am tired of whining, of complaining, of highlighting what is hard, what is a battle, what is difficult. Truth is that yes I might feel things more intensely than others because of who I am. Truth is I likely have had a few more hardships than the common person on my block. But truth also is that we are all human beings experiencing suffering, let down, fear, pain, and a path to eventual death. I am not that important. My pain is not better than another’s. It’s not about proving anything to anyone anymore. Especially myself. I will not feel worthy through my pain. And I will not feel worthy through my suffering. I will feel and know that everyone else for the most part is feeling, too, and that every pain I have another has had. I will understand I am not alone in this pain and in this agony. I will understand that there is no more learning to be done through my pain, only through my awakening to the truth that life is hard and that’s okay. There is no silver lining, there is no vacation from life, there is no spaceship coming to beam me up. So I will do what I can do. I will embrace my attributes that give me purpose and meaning, and I will love me for me. I will love me through the pain, and take the waves as they come, attaching less meaning and worthiness to the acts and happenings that bring what seems to be chaos and accepting this is life. In the end that’s all I have: Life. And it’s still worth living. Worth trying. If only to touch another and for her to know she is not alone.

6. The next time something happens (stuff happens a lot everyday) that I want to make into a big deal, I will step back and recognize the more energy I attach to the issue/incident/trigger/news/outcome, the more I will create chaos within and the more I will think it’s a big deal. In my mind anything can become a big deal. I could find a thousand things to worry about. I will not exhaust myself by worrying over and over about things outside of my control and even those within my control. I will choose to step back and observe myself go through the fear and fret, and will allow it without judgment, but shall not feed into the fear. I shall rise above, beyond, through, within/without the anxiety, and believe all is as all is. That this too shall pass and that more shall come. There is no calm coming. There is no storm. Just stuff. Just more and more passing stuff. And I the actress in the endless play shall survive. I shall even do more than that. I shall prevail. Not into a realm of happiness and joy, but into a realm of acceptance. Shits going to happen. More and more shit. Somewhere in my mind I believed this place would be a joyful place, and in truth there are moments, but for the most part, it’s just plain hard. But it can be a type of joy. It can be a calmness of the mind. It can be a serenity. It can be a sense of everything is all right. Even the extreme ‘This is not Okay!” can be okay. I am tired of feeding the monster inside of me who looks for discrepancies and disappointment and unwelcomed surprises. That’s LIFE! Get over myself.

Far

I still exist.
I am still here.
It’s just that I have slipped away, some.
Into that faraway, in between place,
of lost tomorrows,
and thrown away yesterdays,
of wondering and wanting to forget,
and of a thousand upon a thousand shards of pain,
entering slowly,
and staying,
far too long.
I see you still, amongst my daydreams,
In that distant corner,
My sister traveler,
My brother’s keeper;
I see you,
in the way I am,
And I ponder:
How did we make it this far?