No Harm Intended
When someone gets mad at me I feel like my world is coming to an end. I literally do. I have thoughts of ending my life, about how worthless I am, and about how I am not fit or made for this world.
Conflict confuses me. Anger scares me. And any type of disagreement makes me wonder why there is such a thing as discord. Particularly scary for me is the silent treatment, withdrawn emotion, or the ‘cold shoulder.’ It’s not the action or words that scares me, not even the person, it is the way my brain responds.
During conflict of any type, I go into hyper-speed and live through the worst-case scenarios, having flashes of all the feasible most horrific things that could happen as a result of the situation. I experience my thoughts as complete visuals—full on scenery, liken to vivid dreaming, with emotions, sensations, full color and sound. I experience multiple mini-scenarios in a matter of seconds. And I come out bewildered and exhausted, and barely able to focus. With all of this, I have this emptiness as well. When I am triggered by conflict, I want to make a plan and make a plan fast. If I have a plan, I think I will be okay. I will find my way out and survive. If I don’t have a plan, I find it hard to concentrate on anything else. In order to have a plan, I must first evaluate the situation, find feasible reasons why the event is happening, and then set about to find solutions. I get stuck at each step, push myself out and then loop through again. My entire worst fears surface. Without doubt, I know it is the end. It feels like a death of sorts.
I am not afraid of the fighting itself. But I am very terrified of how I will react. I know with certainty I am not a wimp or codependent. I stick up for myself and state my needs, set boundaries, and make choices to protect myself. I am not afraid of hearing about what is on the other person’s mind or even taking constructive (or not-so-constructive) criticism. I am not afraid to fight back verbally, if I feel threatened. It’s none of that; the fear all has to do with the inner workings of my mind and my response.
I want to be myself entirely; so much so that the times I think I might not be behaving with authenticity, (e.g., using a tone that doesn’t reflect my inner thoughts and emotions), I beat myself up mentally. Inside there is some self-set standard of how to behave. If I am not true to myself there is a nudging inside that sits on me like the weight of a sandbag. How this heaviness exists and why it comes, I don’t know. How it determines right or wrong in relation to my inner ‘true’ being, I know not. With so much ‘not knowing’ going on it is amazing that this regulator of authentic self still exists. But it does.
In judging my authenticity I look at everything about my representation of self, including the way I walk, the way I talk, the manner in which I present myself, and each and every word I use. I do this repeatedly before I speak sometimes and always after I speak, wondering if what I am representing of self is self. I don’t know why this is so important to me—the act of over-analysis of self to find truth and authenticity—yet, I am psychologically locked in the same room as truth-seeking.
There are times I fight the being ‘real’ and want to turn it off, many times. There are times I want to tape my mouth shut and not speak. I can tell myself, even promise myself profusely, that I will not tell someone something. (This could be a simple fact, an aspect about myself, another or an event, a conclusion about an emotion, a revelation of sorts, or information that reveals an intimate aspect of a given situation.) But it doesn’t matter how I try to stop the train of what is words coming out of me. For despite my best attempts the locomotive comes, charging in with full force. And then I step back and think: “Here I go again.”
I can’t live burdened and in that way I appear selfish. But the truth of the matter is I don’t want to be this way. There is another driver beyond me: a director. He is the one making the calls. Personally, this me, this person now that is consciously aware and writing, she would like to stop, she would like to remain silent, she would like to keep something to herself, but she cannot. She isn’t ‘allowed’ to be false or non-genuine. She isn’t allowed to house secrets.
She is sworn to this all-encompassing law of ‘the truth shall set you free.’ Only the truth is confusing. Only the truth can be convoluted and mixed up and come with a whole bunch of strings attached. The truth can be buried under an avalanche of ego-will and manipulation and selfish desire. The truth can be jaded by subjective perception and personal collected truths.
Yet, to be as authentic as possible, the truth itself must be unmasked, dug up and examined. Here in lies more work for my brain. For all at once, in conversation and outside conversation, I am examining self, looking for clues of dishonesty and non-representation of authentic being, while dissecting the elements that classify true truth.
As a result of this instinctual given necessity to walk through the world as a genuine representation of me, I can’t lie without deep regret and remorse; for the act of not being true feels like a direct affliction to my being, as if I wound myself in the process of falsehood. I have lied, usually in times I am trying to protect another, think I am protecting another, or confused, lost and overwhelmed. I have lied, and in the act felt wounded and wrong. I always regret and relive lies, in a perpetual purgatory, no matter how small or how well-intentioned I thought I was being.
In addition to outright lies, I can’t tell a partial truth without partaking in deep reflection of why I did such a (terrible) thing. I concentrate on the elements I left out of the telling, the whys of why I only told half a truth, justifying and then punishing the act. And I do the same if I leave out a detail of a story. For instance, in recollecting my day to someone the times events occurred must be exact. To say even a minute less or more, or a time a few minutes off, seems wrong. The details must reflect the truth of what I recall as much as possible, not too complex or too long-winded, and not ever leading someone in the wrong direction.
After I say something, like a sentence or two, to another, I go into review mode, a whole audience stepping in to decipher if what I said was 1) true 2) based on the best of my recollection 3) reflected from a state of wanting nothing in return but to be heard 4) lacking selfish motivation, manipulation, or covering up of any sort 5) not said to win someone over or gain sympathy 6) not missing parts that would take away from the true meaning or events.
While I am in review mode, there is a background interpreter 1) reliving the past events through a pictorial overview 2) rewriting a script of how I could have said something in a more authentic or kinder/loving way 3) watching myself go back in time and correcting what was said to better amplify truth 4) justifying said actions and suggestions through connecting back to previous learnings.
Need I say this all gets rather exhausting?
My linear dialogues are parallel and happen at the exact same moment. I am endowed with the capacity to triple- or quadruple-think. That is to say I can process several thoughts along separate lines at the same instant. So while one process is happening, so is another. And there is a finite goal to this reasoning, in which the lines of thought are straight and contain their own predetermined want of outcome and motivation for completion. I am along for the ride like a passenger traveling on three trains simultaneously.
The linear thinking on multiple parallel levels happens continually, in all conversations, and even in quiet moments of stillness when I am reflecting back to previous events. I also do this with my thoughts and behaviors when I am alone, sorting through this maze of how to be, as if there is a higher power checking in on me for my authenticity, or another person standing in a far corner observing me and evaluating. It is more natural, in fact, to move through the day with an imaginary overseer watching, then to move in the absence of no one but self. In some ways I don’t know how to exist without thinking I am observed. I am not paranoid. I don’t think someone is actually there. I don’t think I have to behave for them. I only feel I can’t watch myself, or be myself, or move without first seeing myself through someone else’s eyes. It’s always been this way. I am a participant in a game of hide-and-seek, not hunted, just found—again and again.
No Intention to Do Ill Will:
To some I might seem selfish or manipulative or purposeful in my intention to harm. But to me this is impossible. I simply cannot cause harm on purpose without great detriment to self.
I have tried to be angry on purpose and it doesn’t work. I have tried because in watching others it seems easier to live in denial, deflection, blame, rage, finger-pointing and the like. To be able to not fall into an abyss of self-evaluation, self-blame, and over-awareness, seems key. But I have surmised that I am only me when I am authentic, and in so being authentic and in so knowing the whys of how I act and how I feel, I cannot place blame on someone without denying a part of myself that knows I am always partially responsible.
I can’t hold grudges. My anger only comes when I am confused and overwhelmed or dreadfully scared. And so when another person is mad at me, if she or he accuses me and confronts me for being selfish, or purposely deceitful, or callous, or any a number of things that I avoid at all costs, I don’t understand.
I don’t understand how they can see me that way. I don’t understand how they don’t know I am constantly seeking to be my best. I don’t understand how they could ever, ever think I would harm on purpose.
46 thoughts on “521: No Harm Intended, and other aspects of this Aspie Girl”
This actually creates pain in me just reading this blog! I understand all to well what is being expressed here. I have a difficult time wanting to read these blogs.
understood… me, too, sometimes
This message echoes the accusations from my verbally abusive husband demonstrated last night. He explodes when I use a word wrong and I begin to shutdown and examine how it is all my fault. It is no use to stand up for myself for I am apparently, according to him, full of passive-aggressiveness and cyclical thinking and his anger is warranted because he believes I am angry when I am not. I am completely shut down at the crossroads of help and hell.
yes, I hear you. Best wishes.
I totally get the Reviewing Speech segment! I am my own plaintiff, defendant, judge, jury, and executor. And some days I’m even my own bailiff and record keeper too. Thank goodness I have a well developed sense of humor, I get myself out of several bad spirals because it occurs to me how silly it could be if this was a cartoon, then I picture the aspects as cartoon characters, and I laugh and let myself off on probation. On the bright side, I don’t get lonely with all these people keeping me company!
HA! What a great description. Thanks for the smile. Yes, sense of humor often saves my day as well. Thank you for sharing
Any time! I like to make people laugh. =)
Sometimes I want to show your posts to people in my life and say “look, read this, this is my brain in another person!” I think this post has resonated with me so much Sam, that I am astounded, validated and comforted beyond words. Thank you.
you are most welcome
Your post shows up at a time in my live, where I re-examine the term co-dependency yet again. To me, this is the trickiest of all loops. My unwavering need for authenticity in itself is contradictory to even creating a platform for co-dependency. I am so outspoken – most people cannot take it, and yet, like you: ‘When someone (SIGNIFICANT, like lover, family memeber) gets mad at me I feel like my world is coming to an end. I literally do. I have thoughts of ending my life, about how worthless I am, and about how I am not fit or made for this world.’ I get so incredibly panicky within a fraction of a second and I feel so ashamed of it. I cannot hide I am visibly losing my composure. I literally go from being truely authentic and in my power to a pittyful, jittering mess. There have been many a times in my life where certain significant others would use this opportunity to cut me down in size; ‘…too big for her own boots…’ I thought, I had gotten away from that loop. I thought I had gotten out of co-dependent relationships…but perhaps this isn’t about co-dependency? I crash everytime due to my total disbelief at how someone, who I have shown myself to comletely, could perceive me as callous, manipulative and thoughtless. ‘I don’t understand how they can see me that way. I don’t understand how they don’t know I am constantly seeking to be my best.’ But why does it render me so helpless. Why can’t I function ‘just’ because I am not beeing seen for who I truely am. Why do I want to die, just because I am not acknowledged…..isn’t that a co-dependend characteristic?
very good questions.Each of us has to find our own answers, as everyone has a different idea about codependency. My fear is triggered by my brain processing and a instinctual fight/flight response but I have no fear of being myself, taking care of me and stating my rights, and I say no…. so it kind of depends. The best to you 🙂
Sabine, just a look can destroy me. I completely get what you are saying. I can feel myself fragmenting, thus my life is all about avoiding any kind of conflict. It can lead you into co dependency behavior I think.
PS. I can think of no other way but of sponge osmosis where you absorb their emotion and then in addition to your own, it creates an overload which causes the present construct of self to disintegrate. Hope I am making sense? 😉
You are making perfect sense Carol, and I used to be a complete sponge. I am not really absorbing other’s emotions anymore (and am a loner as a result 😉 I guess my huge longing for acknowledgement alone stes me up for the fall. There are very few people who have the stamina to go into such deep self reflection. How then can they acknowledge me? I understand it. I do. But I still want to be heard. I feel so foolish as a result. It makes complete sense to me that a ‘truth seeker’ needs to be able to stand alone. But I feel I lack the survival skills….
For the most part I can catch the truths wanting to come out of my mouth and swallow them if I feel they will upset someone, or that the person is not ready to hear what I know to be true. I never lie, just keep these things in. But it comes at a price. I often feel there is no one else I can share the complete truths with except myself. It is so incredibly lonely! And it is so exhausting to always analyze, review, and edit or withhold what comes to my mind. But if I do speak these truths out loud, people get defensive or upset, and being misunderstood feels equally lonely. My coping mechanism is to talk to imaginary friends in my head. They are usually loosely based on characters in books, movies, or persons I read about, but have never met.
I have the same fear of my response to someone’s anger. It is such a huge struggle! And I get so tired of it.
I hear you. I have learned to recognise when it would be safe and useful to share the truth and when not, but I cannot hold it in…so I get rejected. Wait, I think, I just answered my own question – the question of co-dependency. Surely, if the panick was a result of co-dependency, it would be enough to stop me from sharing truths that wont be well received. Hurray! Thank you for letting me anravel!
thank you for sharing. I get it. 🙂
I understand you fully
Sabine I have stopped spongeing too. I have limited my contact as far as possible with the outer world bar some people who seem to like my quirky views. Very little TV, no news and only occasionally some music.
I do feel better for it. I am a bit envious of aspie women who have understanding partners but I think that is OK to admit. 🙂
This post is eerily timely for me as I just had a major blowout with my Aspie teenage daughter. (I am NT). I try to hard to help her with things she is struggling with, things she says she wants my help with…then in the blink of an eye she will be defiant, reject any help or guidance I may give her, and go into a complete self-loathing kind of abyss because she reads my frustration as anger towards her. I think she reads my intent to help as criticism of HER, and then my frustration when she rejects me as anger. Sigh.
I understand. Wishing you the best
Wow, I related so much to what you wrote! Thank you so very much for sharing it. 🙂
you are welcome. thank you for taking the time to comment
thank you all. tears might not heal but at least they leach away some of the present pain. Gawd it hurts to read ‘me’ in your words/thought/feelings. Huggz!
hugs… they take toxins out of your body 🙂
In some ways it is hard to read this because I can see how much of myself is probably revealed to people when I am trying so hard to cover up the constant panic I feel as I try to maneuver this world. I am reminded of being sent from my psychiatrist to a MFC and after a few minutes with me, she actually looked at me and said “I can’t help but notice that you talk an awful lot.” I was so dumbfounded by her statement and her decision that I did not need to come back (which I agreed with), but I still cringe at what seemed like a criticism of my need to explain myself. But isn’t that why I was there?? I hear the voices of other women who through the years implied or told me directly to loosen up or let things go when I simply couldn’t. My need to constantly sort it out and make sense of my own self and to be authentic ~ it left me thinking that others really did not want to know the real me at all or that the real me wasn’t not likable but actually just a pain in the ass and not like other girls. I love your posts AND sometimes I just cry to realize that I was so much more different than I ever realized and now I know why when I look back and see pictures of my childhood, I am never smiling. Most of the time I look nervous and a bit scared. I thank God that I know more now. Thank you for another great post. ❤
I really feel this Patty. I have been told ALL MY LIFE that I talk too much….too intensely etc. A counsellor once said to me ‘it seems that you only feel alive when you talk’. That shut me up!! He had my number!
I feel alive when I talk, I feel like I am dying when I stuff things inside
I hear you. Thank you for your sincere words. Much love to you.
I can’t remember if I thanked you for sharing. Very heart-felt. Many thanks
Ty for this post! I came across your blog while researching friendship among those with Aspergers for my own blog and started nodding as I read the posts. I am a 50ish female electrical engineer who is also an Aspergian and will be following your blog.
thank you for the contact and kind message
First of all, everyone needs to realize they are not perfect and give everyone else permission not to be perfect, because the fact is that nobody is perfect. I used to struggle with deep depression where I would go to bed for a few days over someone who hurt me. Now, I would never give them the ability to control me that way. I can honestly say that reading the Bible daily has helped me gain perspective that no therapist could give me.
Truly, I know how you feel about feeling like your world is coming to an end when you are hurt. I have had those same thoughts. I wonder if I am just as hard on myself as others have been to me over the years. I don’t let my mind go there anymore, because having faith in God and studying the Bible has taught me that I am worthy (to God if no one else). i thank you for your blog. An “unworthy” person would not have written it. It’s obvious to me that you care about helping others on the autism spectrum.
thank you 🙂
thank you for this (and all of your posts) this one especially struck a chord with me. Like many others have said ‘it’s like reading about me’. I struggle to verbalise feelings and basically want to just point enthusiastically at this. I want to share it with my friends would like to either link to this or ideally link + quote part of this on my not-yet-existing-but-soon-to-be blog. I see you have explicit copyright rules, does that break the rules?
Anyway, thanks for sharing 🙂
copying small parts for friends or sending links are entirely fine 🙂 all the best to you
You have a beautiful mind and I relate to this article almost completely. I’m pleased to have found this blog.
thank you very much ❤
I am glad I found this blog as well.
This was very on point. People have often told me I am selfish and sometimes hurtful, when really all I ever do is trying to do what I think is good and correct. I feel misunderstood, and I know if they were in my head they would never think that about me. I fear other people’s anger constantly and it affects every day of my life and every choice I make. I always view myself from every angle, as if I were surrounded by a group of judges, and it is exhausting. Always reviewing myself and always having to watch my tongue, going through what I just said to make sure it was alright and at the same time be present in the conversation I’m having is a lot to deal with and I feel like when i slip, say something wrong or forget to ask enough questions or forget to say thank you it is percieved as ignorance or disrespectful behaviour.
This blog has helped me because all my life I have felt very alone, I have always wondered why these things seem so simple to everyone else. Reading my own feelings, thoughts and fears so eloquently expressed by you makes it easier. Thank you.
wonderful. thank you 🙂
Yes. This. So much!The over-analysis of authenticity, judgement worthlessness. How to survive it though?