458: Morphers Anonymous; What is ‘Self’

I am wondering if the female with Asperger’s Syndrome could also encompass a loss-of-identity-of-self element.

I have always had a hard time understanding my own interests, likes, wants, and needs. My desires become obscured and distorted based on my current love-interest. This could be a love of a person, as in friendship and/or romance.

I seem to morph in and out of existence based on my current lifestyle and interest. I can hold onto certain elements of self, primarily my special interests since childhood, e.g., writing, drawing, poetry, nature, animals, music, but other interests and ‘trademarks’ of my personality readily change without much effort and without me even knowing based on my interaction with another person.

Somethings that hold true and steadfast for my character and sense of self include:

Honesty
Integrity
Great Love and Passion
Processing
Lack of Manipulation
Lack of Game Playing
Intellectual in depth Processing
Tenderness
Kindness
Sensitivity
Intense Introspection
A Child-Like Heart and Spirit
Innocence
Hope
Trusting
Sharing
Giving
The Desire to Serve
The Desire to Make a Difference

The parts of my life that alter when I have an interest in another:

Spending less time on a past special interest or activity.
Focusing on new relationship, sometimes with nothing else seeming to matter, except pleasing the other person by becoming akin to their likes and interest.
Vast amounts of emotional energy spent on the person, in comparison to the amount previously spent on self or another.
Partaking in future planning regarding the person.
Over-analyzing and focusing on aspects of my appearance, habits, behaviors, and goals; effectually comparing myself to the other, and wondering in what ways my self could better reflect the other person.
Revamping of what I choose for entertainment, recreation, and sometimes food/drink, clothing, etc.
Taking on the likes and interests of the other person, including book, music, and movie genres, entertainment, social events and various activities.
Taking on mannerisms, dialect, ways of speech, or other unique characteristics of the person.
Taking on belief systems, philosophies and/or personality traits of the person.

This is usually not done at a conscious-level. Typically, I am blinded to my own behavior, justifying what I am doing with some mind-conditioning or logical sequencing, such as rationalization or total denial. This morphing differs in codependency, as I remain intact in my self-esteem and sense of worth. I do not enable. I have clear boundaries of what I will not tolerate or allow in my comfort zone. I maintain a sense of joy in my own life and accomplishments. But it is similar in codependency in my want to over-give, transform based on another, and my tendency to obsess, fantasize, and make the person more important in reality than he or she truly is. In some ways the person becomes like my god or sun, and I the dependent mortal or planet.

Even with all my growth and self-reflection, I still get caught in the pull-push state of wanting to be myself in completion and wanting to figure out how to be what another wants me to be. Even with this strong awareness, this morphing of who I am transpires without warning or clear indication, until I am in the transient state of a chameleon of my personhood.

This morphing is a common part of the female with Asperger’s condition; the female with Aspergers molds her own behaviors and mannerisms in a way that she believes will satisfy the need of her beloved.

The downfall in this behavior is foremost: losing self-identity.

The other issue at hand is the female with ASD cannot ever meet another’s expectations in completion, because the wants and needs of another individual (aka her ‘best friend’) are in constant transition.

It is important to note that this act of morphing is instinctual in nature to many females with ASD. She is seemingly programmed in the brain to morph based on attraction or interest in another human being.

I repeatedly try to transform my own ways and behaviors to meet the needs of another, without even realizing I am partaking in this behavior. Once I catch myself in this chameleon action, I pull back and wonder why I have once again fallen into the trap of losing self. From here I question the sense of self in all aspects, and become boggled by the concept of simply being.

During the morphing phase, I live my life through the eyes of one person. I see myself being watched by this someone at a distance. I see myself adapting, conforming, and molding in an attempt to fit some faraway expectation or goal, I have subconsciously created. I watch my own self through the eyes of someone else. I match my movements, choices, and even sometimes my thought processes to what I think this individual expects or desires from me. I do this without much awareness or analysis, much like a robot following a pre-instructed and installed program. There isn’t much thought to what I am doing or why I am doing it, beyond doing.

Usually this perspective, the way I interpret myself being ‘seen,’ and how I respond in word, thought, and action, shifts every year or so, depending on the duration of a relationship. Everything I do, I imagine and I believe is seen through the eyes of a human being beyond myself (boyfriend, lover, husband, best friend, boss). My movements, my words, my way of being, revolve around this someone beyond myself.

It is like constantly having an overseer observing me. I question would he/she behave like this? I ask, “Is this bringing me closer to his/her liking?” It isn’t as much a need for approval as wanting to match myself to this other. Interestingly, at the same time this morphing is transpiring, I still maintain my own self-esteem and self-love. I like who I am. I want to be me. But I somehow get lost in the process of befriending this high-interest person.

High-interest in the keyword and key point.

Without the high-interest, I am not drawn into the morphing and adjusting of self. With high-interest, my brain attaches, much like it does with a special hobby or activity, and I become a scientist dissecting the person, as if the person were a project. My brain’s natural ability to dissect, take apart, and rearrange pieces of a whole into a new whole takes over. I become a detective of self and other; again, not typically at a conscious level; though I have some awareness of what I am doing, a cloak to my full reality remains. This cloaking action resembles some sort of protective mechanism and functions the same way as in my high-interest projects, (aka: fixations). I cannot seem to pull myself out, or properly analyze and confront my own behavior, until the passionate interest has subsided; the stopping point/tilting point usually being a new special interest. I go from one to the other, a child on the monkey bars of a playground, not letting go of the one in hand, until the next in hand is firmly grasped.

Through this way of being, I lose track of who I am. Yet, I wonder if I ever was to begin with.

If I take time to process this sense of being, and the ‘whys’ of the way I respond in passion to another, I become confused in thoughts of ‘what is being?’ and ‘what is self?’ I have no idea of who I am, beyond space and matter, and a reflection of the universe. I am ever-changing and transitioning substance. I adhere to the string-theory, to ancient philosophies and belief systems—that of being nothing but the combined perception of others. In truth, I know a thousand others would have a thousand interpretations of this self I am, and in a year’s passing even these opinions would all transition. I am never stagnant, and awaken a new person not daily, but minute by minute. I have no general sense of self or of being. I am that I am. In essence I am nothing.

Perhaps because of the ‘no self’ theory, I transform without intention when fixated on another. Perhaps, like some spiritual teachers have professed, I am merely taking on the characteristics reflected in the person I am observing because I am only, and will always only be, a reflection. Perhaps, I am wired in a way, spiritually or biologically, in which I am not a solid form made to stay stagnant and unwavering; or perhaps I am more keenly alert and aware of the changes and transformations inside of me, to a point that the changes distract from me recognizing a fully forming personhood.

Regardless of my hypothesis, I get trapped in the cyclical repetition of morphing.

In the last season of inquiry, I have reached a new threshold, in which I have questioned: What do I want in another person? What makes me happy? What are my true needs?

The only answer I hear is: love

Beyond unconditional love and acceptance, (and beyond Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs), I don’t understand needs.
Any needs, to me, seem obscure and border on self-based, ego-needs. Who am I to claim a need without at the same time delegating to another how I wish him/her to be or respond (change) in order to please and satisfy me? And what is it inside of myself that is not complete and satisfied in which I need another to fulfill me?

With these thoughts, I become entangled in trying to contemplate the very basic nature of self needs and self-identity.

Post 250: It’s Raining Men

Anyone else roller skate to this music?

Lately, I’ve been admitting love.

I post love on my blog, on my social network page, and admit love to my friends.

It’s been very freeing and healing.

I’ve also been processing through past relationships with men.

Until last week, I saw myself as a real victim in love relationships.

In the beginning of my “dating” years, which actually started at age five, (No kidding; I always loved boys. My first “date” was at Keith’s house, where he introduced me to his favorite delicacy, peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. I politely gagged.)….

In the beginning of my boyfriend-girlfriend years, I attracted very safe males: sweet, kind, friendly, and truthful. I was fortunate to have two boyfriends in high school (at separate times), after I moved back to California, that treated me with the up most respect and love. But something shifted at about the age of twenty. Perhaps it was being away from my extended family and not having a father that adored me. Or perhaps the shift was brought on by insecurities surrounding college or finally “growing up.” Regardless, at the age of twenty I began falling for whomever paid attention to me. For seven years my relations with men were bleak and tumultuous.

So often, in my twenties, the man I “chose” was addicted or abusive or both. I felt used physically, and was often dumped out like last week’s beer bottles—left clanging and spinning down a steep hill of depression. For years and years I blamed these men for their character and callousness. I cringed at the thought of these people not loving ME! How could they not? What was wrong with me?

A few days ago, I suddenly had a knowing. I suddenly saw in full picture, a truth. I wasn’t a victim. I wasn’t used and tossed out. There wasn’t a right person or wrong person in my sexual drama. I attracted men at the same level I was at spiritually and emotionally. (I had to leave out mentally, and just giggle. I was always smarter! Lol.)

But most telling, I realized at the center core of me the profound truth: that in fact I USED THEM.

In my mind I had thought that their “crime” was using me physically; and how could any crime be worse than that type of invasion? However, my crime was equal. I was a “villain” too. I used them. I chose to be with a man I didn’t like and didn’t respect, in order to not be alone. I used men!

Suddenly this ah-ha moment swept me away, and time stopped. I traveled back to a dozen relationships, and revisited and swept clean the energy attachment. Within seconds, I’d forgiven the men and myself. The labels were released. The words of scumbag, loser, liar, addict, etc. that I applied to the men, vanished. And then, presto, the labels slut, stupid, blinded, desperate that I’d branded to my energy field disappeared too! I began to see the men as other spirits on their journey. I began to see I was never victimized. I understood that using is using, whether it be of flesh or emotion. And then I released the using label, too. We weren’t using. We just were. We were existing, surviving, journeying. We just were. And so it goes.

Here is a prior entry about my experience with men

(reposted from past entry)

The Dance with Don

(notice the tone of this…written before my ah-ha moment.)

The highlight of my dating career had to be the season I spent with the habitual lying, sexually addicted Don—a spineless man five years my senior who behaved ten years my junior.  At first glance I’d fallen head-over-sandals in love with Don.  The summer day he confidently strode through the Catholic daycare where I worked, I’d tucked myself halfway behind a shelf of books and drooled over his perpetually sun-kissed skin.  He was everything I’d wanted, dark and handsome, and tall enough to look down at me with his bedroom eyes.

The times Don and I were together weaved in and out sporadically through a span of half a decade.  When I first met Don he was separated from wife number one; when I last reunited with Don, he was struggling to patch it up with wife number two.  I was the in-between, but one Don swore up and down he intended to marry.

The majority of our relationship played out like an ill-plotted soap opera, with me as the dimwitted, star-struck mistress and Don as the notorious villain.

There were definite reasons I stuck around. With Don came a familiarity of unpredictability.  He was my locomotive, the one I could catch a ride on and speed through the world with a view I remembered—one of constant change and chaos.

For a long while, I’d do anything I could to win Don over. I’d forgive his shortcomings and mysterious disappearing acts, and demean myself in different ways.

In our first months together, when I was still hopeful, there’d been major red flags.  Don had no home phone number or address.  His scorned, soon to be ex-wife, had warned me to have nothing to do with Don.  And Don’s truck was mysteriously breaking down, in an accident, short on gas, or had a flat tire, many of the nights he was supposed to be with me.

I was good at rationalizing his actions and taking his lies as truth.  I found reasons to stay, like the fact that Father liked Don and that Don eventually showed up.

I was twenty-years-old and newly accepted into the teaching credential program at the university the weekend I learned of Don’s other woman.  It was either the Saturday I’d scrubbed Don’s toilet, or the time I’d obsessively lined his kitchen shelves; no matter, it was the eventful afternoon I came face-to-face with a woman out for blood.

I’d been oblivious of course, hadn’t a clue Don had flirted with a seventeen year old outside of the construction site where he worked, slept with her, and possibly fathered her baby.

For some time there had been hints of another woman.  All along Don had pushed back our framed photos or even turned them face down, forgetting to place them back up in their right position when I arrived.  And I love you posters and cards I had made for Don had been rearranged on the wall or re-taped in another room of his cheap apartment.

The one of many climatic events of our relationship began with a loud knock at the door, an initially startling noise that momentarily displaced me, until I assumed Don missed another rent payment or lost another spousal support check.  By the second series of knocks, I’d headed toward the front door, and would have unlocked the knob, if Don had not, in one swift pull, yanked me backwards by the tail of my shirt and whispered, “Don’t.”

It was then I heard her voice for the first time, a high-pitched scream to the tune of:  “Open the damn door, Don.  I know you are in there.”

I wasn’t that far gone in my oblivion love state, not to recognize the voice of another woman.  With immediacy I scowled at Don like he’d taken my only prized possession, and pushed my palms into his chest, wanting to hurt him like he’d just pained me.

Don stepped back, taking my hands into his, and mouthing, “I’m sorry.  I love you.  I only love you.”  He then released my hands and tugged down nervously on his neon-green tank top. “I meant to tell you.  I swear,” he said, widening his dark eyes in remorse like I’d seen him do a dozen times before. “If I told you, if you found out, I was afraid you’d leave me.  And she was a horrible mistake.  I didn’t want her to be the reason we lost such a good thing.  I love you so much.  You know I do.  You have to trust me.”

Before I could make up my mind about what to do, there was one final series of knocks, and the voice came again, only louder and more determined: “If you don’t open this damn door, I’m going to kick it down!”

What happened next still amazes me, and proves once again the strength that can be found in pure rage.  Within a few seconds of her last knock, there was one heavy kick of her foot, followed by several more, and then, without warning the door broke off of its hinges, the side paneling splintering, and the whole of the door slammed down inside the apartment.

There, amongst the settling dust, in marched a skinny girl, no taller than five-feet, cradling a screaming newborn in her arms.  Boiling with revenge, she charged Don like some creature from a Japanese horror flick, with her arms outstretched growling for revenge.  On reaching Don, she punched him once in the chest and then shoved the baby at him.  “Take her!” she ordered, back stepping and turning her head with a whip of her dirty-blond hair.

From behind the couch, I tracked the baby’s wrinkled arms flailing, and then gasped as the girl moved towards me.  Her eyes were on fire as she shouted at full-throttle, “I’m going to kill you, Bitch!”

Without thought, I ducked around Don and attempted to make my way to the doorway.   Don didn’t waste anytime.  Before I had a chance to maneuver myself around the girl, Don had tossed the baby on the couch, grabbed his bike, carried it down the apartment stairs, and rode off.

For a few seconds both the girl and I stared out the doorway with disbelief, and then we stared down at the tiny infant crying on the couch, until the girl’s raging eyes met mine, and she roared, “You’re dead!”

From where she stood, prepared to launch, I could smell my scent on her, the expensive bottle of perfume I received from my father for my birthday, which had recently gone missing from my bathroom shelf.

As the girl stormed forward, I managed to swerve around her.  She lunged at me, barely swiping my shoulder.  I jumped over a small ottoman, snatched up my car keys and practically flew down a flight of concrete stairs.

In the narrow carport, I started my sedan and backed up.  Just as I was about to turn out of the apartment complex, the frenzied girl’s enormous boat-of-a-station wagon came charging forward and blocked my way out.

Seconds later, leaving the baby wailing on the front seat of the car, the girl marched across the parking lot to my car window and ordered, “Roll down your window!”

Caught between a place of disbelief and hysteria, I shook my head and whimpered, “I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”

The girl’s face turned from one of frozen-ice to empathetic-disgust.  She tapped on the glass of the window a few times, and then rolled her eyes up letting out a long heavy sigh.  Finally, seemingly understanding my predicament, she waved me off with a shake of her hand, before stomping back to her car.

After she sped off, I remained in the parking lot, uncertain of what I’d gotten myself into, and more uncertain of how I would ever find my way out of my contorted labyrinth.

Day 56: Nothing But a Heartache

 

At any given time, from the age of fifteen to twenty-seven, I tried to have a best friend and a boyfriend. This pair of people anchored me: the best girl and the best boy. In some ways, people would consider me lucky, as I seemed to attract the handsome boys. But some handsome boys, and boys in general, I later discovered, could be bad boys, too.

Many people with Asperger’s Syndrome have reported that they didn’t have a romantic relationship for a long time, if ever. Me? I instinctively clung to boys starting at the age of five. Probably as a result of the gap I needed to fill based on the absence of my father and the busyness of my single mother. Being an only child in a world of ghosts, precognitive dreams, and extreme sensitivities to people, places, things, while having an acute sense of sight, sound, hearing, and touch, left me longing to cling to something, if only for balance and retreat.

As I reached my teenage years, I became liken to a high-quality, food storage, plastic cling wrap. I’d seal a male over with my entire essence, and remain stuck there, in full-grip mode. I remember thinking I was experienced with relationships. Keen on how they worked, what to do, and how to keep a “man.”  But I wasn’t.  I was weathered for certain: rusted around the outside like a metal pole set out in the rain one too many winters. But I definitely wasn’t experienced.  I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to take care of my needs and wants, beyond lassoing a male to do things for me.  I was quite pathetic, in an unintentional, hadn’t-meant-to-be, way.

By my early twenties, after graduating from college with honors and starting my first teaching job, I was deeply ashamed of the woman I’d become.  And more times than not, I didn’t know the part of ME that I played in life—didn’t know my lines or even where to find the script. From one moment to the next I was changing.  In one scene I played the role of the dedicated soon-to-be school teacher, and in the next a desperate crazy fool clinging to whatever man she could get her hands on.  A fisherman in the game of love, I’d learned to bait my hook and cast my pole, but hadn’t known to catch and release.

As time passed, each man I met, no matter where or when, who showed the slightest interest in me, soon became my new love interest.  I was fortunate in high school to have had two boyfriends (at different times) that treated me tenderly and with respect. However, later, I dated men from all walks of life, most of whom were extremely damaged in someway or another.  And all who were addicted to something or someone.

The worst of being with a man came in not what they ever did, but what I let myself do.  I made men my bed, and I slept in them while walking through life.  And I fooled myself repeatedly into thinking I was content.  It didn’t matter if the bed was too small, or too big, or if it had lumps.  It didn’t matter if the mattress was missing all together and I was made to sleep on the cold hard floor.  It only mattered I was in the bed, or at least what I’d thought to be a bed.  My mind fooled me.  My heart fooled me.  My logic fooled me.  While all along my spirit wept.

There has never been such a horrible part in my life as the years I walked half-blind to my own wanting.  In essence I was a prisoner, unable to move forward, sideways, or even backwards without pushing, dragging, or tricking myself in any given direction.  Best to stand still in one spot—best not to move an inch—if that was possible.  But it wasn’t.  I had to keep going.  I had to keep stepping somewhere.

The highlight of my dating career had to be the season I spent with the habitual lying, sexually addicted Don—a man five years my senior, who behaved ten years my junior.  At first glance I’d fallen head-over-sandals in love with Don.  The summer day he confidently strode through the Catholic daycare where I worked, I’d tucked myself halfway behind a shelf of books and drooled over his perpetually sun-kissed skin.  He was everything I’d wanted, dark and handsome, and tall enough to look down at me with his bedroom eyes.

The times Don and I were together weaved in and out sporadically through a span of half a decade.  When I first met Don he was separated from wife number one; when I last reunited with Don, he was struggling to patch it up with wife number two.  I was the in-between, but one Don swore up and down he intended to marry.

The majority of our relationship played out like an ill-plotted soap opera, with me as the dimwitted, star-struck mistress, and Don as the notorious villain. I can laugh now, find many lessons in the journey with Don, even thank him for the crash-course in what-not-to-do ever again; but back then, having no other models for beneficial love relationships and no avenue for escape, I was stuck in the mire of pain and misery, a self-invented trap that I had no idea of how to release. I cried daily. I wrote dark or needy poetry. My focus from morning to-night was Don. My life was Don. My reason for living was Don.

There was the time I dialed his number obsessively, about twenty times, just to hear his voice on the machine; the time his lover called me and said: “Just so you know I’ve been sleeping with Don every morning after he leaves your house. I’m those ‘business trips’ he’s been on.”; the time he totaled his uninsured truck out-of-town, and called me to come get him from the hospital, even though he’d been secretly rendezvousing with another that day; the time Don and I threw a Halloween party (which I obsessed and over planned about) and no one came (except a few of my teaching program college mates), because all of Don’s “friends” didn’t respect him; the time I drank an entire bottle of wine and slammed my finger in the closet, because I’d yet again been waiting for Don to show up.

He had a habit of just not showing up. Just not being there. I’d come to expect it. To recognize the raw acid-burning pain in my chest that signified the abandonment soon to come. There was pain continually lurking behind the wall of my psyche. I’d be in bed, the only one awake, and ritually would cry up to the heavens, begging for a way out, for understanding, but mostly for a way to make him love me.

I didn’t know any better. No one had taught me. And Mother, though I love her, hadn’t prepared me. Everything I’d learned from romance came from Mother or movies, or maybe from watching soap operas or another person. I didn’t have standards. I didn’t know what standards were. And I didn’t know why someone wouldn’t or couldn’t love me. I thought everyone was good, everyone just, everyone honest, everyone sorry.