I have a very active fantasy life. I live more inside my head than outside in the “real” world.
I am in control in my fantasy world, and no one can get me, can see me, or judge me, unless I say so. And I always look fabulous!
Outside of my fantasy world, I am vulnerable.
I create very elaborate fantasies, more often than not, about the future. It is not living in the future or goal-planning; it is living in the present and in the now, only inside my mind.
My fantasy nurtures me and fuels me. I am motivated and calmed by repeating the same scenario over and over; perhaps a conversation in which I picture the people and their exact dialogue. Often I am very aware of what I am doing, meaning I know I am fantasizing, and am an actual observer of my own behavior.
Sometimes I can live inside of my head for over an hour; basically rerunning the same images and conversation repeatedly. I start from the beginning and then do the whole thing all over again. Kind of like being on an endless ride that loops. The fantasy could be a minute long or a few minutes long, but it is replayed so many times, that it feels much, much longer.
My emotions match the fantasy; sometimes I physically feel the fantasy. The fantasy is not typically sexual, but more than likely involves a deep emotional connection with another or an elaborate design, such as reorganizing or decorating a room.
I am coming to understand that when I have a fantasy I can turn to, whether the fantasy is a future job, vacation, friendship, or other, I do not focus on the concepts of illness and death, which are normal triggers for me in real life.
Sometimes the fantasy is of an upcoming real event. For instance, before we moved into this house I spent countless hours organizing and rearranging all of furniture and belongings into the house inside of my mind, including what went in what drawers and cabinets.
For me, I see this as a type of mental stimming, a way of relaxing and calming my whole being. I have seen people do this with words, where they have to repeat the same few sentences aloud over and over; for me, it’s the same scene over and over in silence.
When a fantasy ends, typically because a future event I’ve imagined comes to be, or because reality sets in and the fantasy no longer seems feasible, I am left unnerved and searching for cover. If my fantasy is about a person, as was common when I was in relationships when I was younger, and the person disappoints me, this is detrimental to my fantasy. If I lose a person in real life who was an active part of my fantasy life, then I feel a deep loss in all parts of me. I feel a loss of the real life relationship and I also feel a loss of the fantasy relationship. Always, without fail, the loss of the fantasy is harder than the loss of the real person. I mourn over the images I created in my mind, and who I made the person to be in my mind. I then might confuse the fantasy person with the real person, inflating a person’s image. I do not mourn over aspects of the real person as much; except in unusual circumstances, perhaps after a very close connection or a long time together.
I mourn over what could be more than what was. In fact, I could feasibly mourn over what could have been for years after a romantic breakup. A part of me believes the fantasy was attainable and very real. A part of me knows it was not realistically ever going to happen and that I would have been miserable. But the fantasy-seeking part of me typically wins out, creating havoc and heartache.
The worst type of fantasy involves death and illness, in which the worst-case scenario plays out in my mind, over and over again. I slip into that illness/death fantasy-type when I don’t have a more positive fantasy to focus on, when I am under extreme stress, and sometimes when someone else is sick and I pick up on their stress.
Another reason I fantasize is to avoid the stimulation of the environment. I often have sensory overload where the sights, sounds, smells, and textures are putting me into overdrive. Inside my fantasy world I can momentarily forget where I am and what is happening. In addition I can forget my physical pain or pending unnerving plans or upcoming events.
I can be engaged in a conversation, and like a robot turn on “standard communication mode for humanoids” and still be deeply involved in my fantasy. I will nod when appropriate, smile, make occasional contact, and come up with reaffirming and validating statements, or perhaps a question, yet still be in my fantasy world.
I don’t see this as rude. I see this as necessary. I liken this process as me entering an oxygen chamber ever so often so I can continue to breathe, and if I don’t enter I will die. If someone wants to talk to me while I’m am rejuvenating my very breath, then so be it, but I cannot stop rejuvenating to give focus to a current predicament or circumstance. I do not view this is selfish or uncaring. I care and love people, and value them enough to want to listen. There are simply just times I cannot be entirely there.
Conversation alone is often too sensory overloading for me. Not only do I have the nonstop chatter in my head telling me how to act and what to say, but I also question if I’ve done the communicating job right; all the while reminding and critiquing myself inside my head. I’ve done away with the critical voice, thank goodness, by the expert coaches and evaluators are up in the bleachers shouting their observations. Take that along with the feel of where I am sitting, e.g., hardness/softness of chair, temperature of room, humming noises from electricity or fridge, clicking clocks, children talking, music playing, air fresheners, and the feel of my own body (pain, taste in mouth, tightness, cramps, etc.) and I am struggling stupendously just to remain inside my body. Add following the conversation so I can reply in the appropriate way, and I’m ready to collapse.
Plus, I always have this little voice in side my head that says, “Boring. Can I talk now?”
I know it’s rude, and I am not more important than the person talking, and what I have to say is likely boring, too. But I feel so much better when I am talking aloud, because I can process so much, and relieve so much tension. And when someone else besides me is talking, her voice and tone and pitch and ways are likely hurting my ears and adding to my inability to pay attention. In addition, besides monitoring my own self and communication skills, I am monitoring the other person’s skills, and noticing miniscule “flaws” both in communication skills and in physical attributes. Even the tiny hair on that freckle can distract me for a full minute. Then I have to come back and figure out what the person was saying before I was pulled into a freckle. Then I worry about his or her expectations and if I am a good enough friend or listener. And then I wonder, over and over: are you this distracted and bored when I talk to you?
In addition, each word a person says triggers an avenue of feelings and possible alternative avenues for me.
For example, at mention of dog, inside my mind this might happen: Did you say dog? Oh Scooby; I miss my dog Scooby; have I told you Scooby died. Why did he die? Maybe it was……Oh no! She is still talking and I missed most of what she just said. Should I tell her or just nod? If I nod is that lying. I should remind her I have Aspergers. Or maybe I should just pretend.”
That’s just one word. Typically a conversation has much more than one word.
That is why online communication is better for me. I can forgo a huge section of people pleasing. I can pause when I want to, skip sentences, reread for clarity, and take a long time to process information. Heck, I can ignore the person, go grab something to eat, and come back later. I can even scratch, fidget, or even doodle or work on something else, and the person isn’t offended at all!
In person, I concentrate better in conversation, if I can draw or listen to music or look at my computer or do the dishes or walk. I don’t want to try to give my full attention. I slip away too fast when I try to give my full attention.
I dislike when my husband comes up to me to tell me about his day, if I’m not in the place to listen. I might need more time to process something, to listen to music, to slip into my fantasy world or to write things out, before I can actively listen. Otherwise, I too quickly slip back into my own thoughts and barely hear the first sentence spoken.
This can be hard on him, as he feels rejected, ignored, or unloved. But I really cannot help it. I need my oxygen chamber. I just do.
My easiest moments are with my middle son who has Aspergers. We get each other to a degree people without ASD cannot. On our walks he will say to me: “I will likely talk a lot about video games, and probably repeat the same things over and over, and you might be bored, but I need to talk, and you don’t have to listen to everything.”
As he is talking, he doesn’t check in to see if I’m paying attention. Pretty much whatever I do, my son will keep chirping away, unnerved and unbothered. At home I can turn my back to him and do the dishes while he talks, giving him no validation and not engaging at all, and he still talks. He doesn’t care. He just needs to get it all out. He understands this, and I am happy to be available for him, even if I’m only catching the bare bones of what he has said.
Sometimes I think people demand too much in communication. They expect someone to be their everything, to validate not only what they are saying but also their worth and existence as human beings. It’s all wrapped up in confusing innuendos and masked self-doubt.
For me, it is easier, if someone is just really honest and speaks from the heart (for example): “I think I’m ugly and unlovable, will you tell me you love me and I’m pretty,” instead of rambling on and on with only hints of inner turmoil.
Like I said, I get bored; especially of boundless surface talk, when the heart longs to speak.
I don’t get bored with deep philosophical conversation or conversation filled with emotion and fantastic news, only with the dull mundane. I really don’t like to hear a review of someone’s day, unless there is something of importance or something I can help with. I don’t mind listening. I’ll listen for a long, long time. I just will check out and back in again.
Of course there are times I can truly hyper-focus on someone, especially when he or she is in need. I will do my very best and likely pick up most of the conversation, but the cost will be utter exhaustion. Last time I was a listener to a friend for an hour on the phone, I spent the entire next day in bed. It’s more than the words, it’s the energy of the person, too.
It’s a paradox and a half, as I long to be listened to and understood, but lack the skills most time to reciprocate. That is why writing is so very necessary and vital for me. I can write and write and not have to loop in my head or ask someone to listen to me.
I’d like to say I’ve grown a lot as a communicator, and really enjoy someone’s company, but the truth is, even when I’m with someone in person, I’m still inside my head 80% of the time. I think this is why Aspies are naturally drawn to other Aspies as mates. There is an unspoken acceptance of one another as is and a forgoing of all the typical social standards, and this creates an environment of rest and retreat.