531: The Balance Beam

I have a hard time giving to me. It’s not about esteem, as far as I can logically decipher. Nor is it about being selfless or completely altruistic; though I strive for those ideals, I highly doubt they’re attainable in my human suit.

I have a hard time feeling my achievements and accomplishments. It’s not that I don’t take note of my hard work and efforts, and even the path I climbed, (or sometimes slid down rapidly screaming for help), to get there.

More over, I don’t think I have the capacity to feel, essentially, who I am.

I can see that I am intelligent, kind, and for the most part understanding and forgiving. I recognize what could be quantified as a kind of ‘goodness’ in me, and even an over-riding sense of wanting to serve to serve and not to gain approval. I get all this about me. I see it. I recognize. But somehow I can’t feel the experience.

I don’t know if one would call it a sense of pride or fulfillment, or other abundant amounts of labels—but whatever it is that other people seem to get and obtain, in an abstract way after achieving a goal, I don’t seem to have that. I can’t even say if it’s a feeling or outcome, simply because I don’t understand.

Perhaps this inability to understand is because I don’t think the race or game, or what-have-you, is ever over; and to top that off, I don’t even believe that the race or game actually exists. I see the process of achievement as a cluster of something or another, all unrecognizable and indistinguishable amongst the rest of life’s happenings.

To me, I do to do. I give to give. I care to care. I exist to exist. There isn’t this motive or agenda underlying my actions or ways. And if there is, the motive, if not for others, feels heavy, poisonous, and akin to wretched waste.

I just am. And this way that other people sometimes maneuver through life baffles me: the secret schemes, the plots, the webs spun and re-spun. And furthermore, along the same lines, in comparing the declared ‘loser’ to the announced ‘winner,’ the latter seems nothing of grandeur in comparison to the agony of the defeated one.

With this said, I cause myself great harm in overanalyzing my every move. The spectator I am, observing self, tinkers about with scoping tools, contemplating if my action is suitable representation as reflection of interior. If, in fact, in the light of the day, what is said or done, matches my intention or desire. In a constant state of analyzing, I am aiming for the path that is in direct resonance with my soul self.

In addition, I cannot detect the idiosyncrasy of common conversational rules spawned by the associate facing me; yet, I can dissect with fine-fashion the inner-weavings of my own motives. So much so that I deliberate with self questioning if my words are appropriately suited for ‘proof’ (to self) of authenticity.

Is the exterior self accurately representing the unspoken self? I ask. Still with this perceived self-harm, I need this way of being. The manner in which I tread upon a dreamland stage, whilst all about more selves collectively critique the actions portrayed by the exterior, is a proverbial limb of my essence. To be without such manner of existence, I would find myself broken and obsolete, and abandoned, the same as wood for fire. And as tree, I would weep.

In honesty, the worst of the matter is when another enters my zone: the place in which I sit unsettled watching for discrepancies between what is intended and what was produced; distinguishing the gaps, molecular they might be, between what is felt intrinsically as truth and what is displayed as reflection. I hide within, in constant wonder-state, questioning if what I have done is honorable. And here the pain comes, as the mind blunders and rallies for evidence of what is honorable.

Again, I find myself today, in the balancing act of striving for neither perfection nor satisfaction, but rather the gentle center point that does more to extinguish self and lighten all. It’s a varying balance beam of grace that beckons me to be all I can be, but not too much.

530: Just Three Minutes of My Day (Aspie Exhaustion)

Ironically, after posting about ‘small talk’ on a social media site, I was in Trader Joe’s grocery store last night and the male checker locked eyes with me and asked, with a toothy-grin, “So, what have you been working on?”
What have I been working on? My face squished up in confusion.

Number one thought barged in: Glad I am wearing a winter hat to hide my burning red ears.

The bombardment of thoughts that followed went something like this: What does this question mean? I am embarrassed. Can he tell I am beet red? I wonder if it bothers him he is balding. I wonder if he is single. What does he think of me? Why would he ask this? What am I supposed to say? He is staring at me. Can he tell I am embarrassed? What is he thinking? How should I respond? I am taking too long. Do I look autistic, shy, or stuck up? I don’t want to look at him. I don’t want him to think I am in a bad mood or mean. I am not. I thought I was better equipped than this. I thought I was prepared. I bet I look stuck up. Just like in high school, always misinterpreted. The people in line are looking at me. I wonder if they are married? I wonder if they can tell I am so embarrassed. They are frowning. Are they tired or sad, or mad at me? I look flustered. How much time has gone by? Why did I choose the shortest line and not the line with the female checker? (That’s about half the thoughts, anyhow.)

Only seconds had past, but in my reality it seemed hours.

I refocused. All l I could think to say was: “What made you ask that question?”

I realized immediately that I sounded evasive, suspicious, and even perhaps flirtatious. Not my intention.
By this time, I wondered if he was perhaps psychic, and could sense I was working on many projects.

The checker responded quickly and easily, in a manner that screamed ‘this is so easy for me. “Oh, I was just making small talk to pass the time.”

Small talk. Small talk. Small talk! Should I explain there isn’t such a thing in my mind?

He stared at me, and I knew as the blood-shot through my cheeks and up to the bridge of my nose that in this communication game it was my turn to speak. I stuttered some, and then formed some shaky sentences about my new job and such, remembering of course, with screaming reminders in my head, to ask him about himself. By the time the three minutes were over and the checker had scanned and bagged my ten items, I felt I’d been to war and back.

Sam Craft, Everyday Aspergers

524: “Stupid NTs”

Author’s note:
NT is the abbreviation for the word neurotypical. It is a familiar term to those on the autistim spectrum and was originally used to describe those individuals who do not have neurological brain differences. NT is generally accepted as a substitution for the word ‘normal,’ as the word ‘normal’ is subjective. For some, utilizing the word ‘neurotypical’ is an active choice, for the act of using the word ‘normal,’ in reference to those not on the autism spectrum, implies that those on the spectrum are not normal.

On numerous accounts members of the autistic and/or Aspergers community have been alienated, ostracized, and pointed out by the majority as inherently flawed or wrong. Individuals on the spectrum continue to site feelings of extreme isolation from mainstream society and times of repeated criticism in which observers offer out measures in which the person with autism/Aspergers might attempt to fix or adapt him or herself to be more ‘normal.’ In short those on the spectrum are often criticized and taught how they might better behave in order to assimilate. I know of many who have contemplated or attempted suicide based on the intense isolation associated with Aspergers, and had a friend, who took his own life, just last year. I, myself, am not immune from the critics who want me to behave more like them. Not so long ago, I received an extended email from a professor of psychology, who, having had just found out I had Aspergers, felt it reasonable and justifiable to critique my correspondence and give advice on how to act and function as a professional at the university.

In a broad sense, as a people, recognized as the same through common characteristic traits, habits/routines, neurological functioning, gene/enzyme variations, ailments, and the like, those on the spectrum have been singled-out as different from the start, even as they themselves might not recognize the differences. To some, we (those on the spectrum) feel ‘normal’ to our own selves, as how we function and experience life is all we know, and will ever know. Yet still, despite our own inability to change to suit the comfort-level of others, we are told we are somehow made ‘wrong.’ To be told you are flawed or inferior based on various attributes, such as skin color, race, sect., or religion, is harmful and undoubtedly can lead to hurt. Though while the effects of discrimination often create the breeding ground for cruelty, and cause much suffering, there still remains a means for the oppressed to escape psychological affliction through the understanding that essentially they are not the color of their skin or the ideologies they uphold. However, it can be argued, one suffers without means for psychological relief when the majority proclaims that the manner in which a person functions and thinks is wrong. For how can one eradicate self from self, and become that which he is not?

This continual bombardment of judgment of another based on his behavior, whether the bombardment be indirect, direct, or implied, wears down the spirit—chips away at the person’s understandings of self and the way in which he or she relates to the world. In essence, destroys the foundation of his existence. The confusion brought on by criticism brings about a distinct feeling of being misplaced and plopped down on the wrong planet. In addition, often people on the spectrum can’t recognize or do not know others that are like-minded, and therefore, don’t even have a company to retreat to for comfort and support when feeling judged. And if another, on the spectrum, did know such a people akin to himself, he might shy away for a variety of reasons related to the challenges of Aspergers, e.g., distrust, frustration, embarrassment, social insecurities, sensory- and processing-overload from being in a crowd.

Accordingly, as a collective, we are thusly isolated twice: once in our tendencies to be publicly noted in a not so positive light for our unique behaviors and attributes, and secondly in our tendencies to instinctually self-isolate for what we believe is necessary for our own protection.

Throughout history it is evident that people who have been oppressed and isolated eventually reach a point of having had enough. At that junction, two outcomes can occur: an oppressed subgroup can crumble—resulting in multiple scenarios of further oppression and breakdown. Or an oppressed subgroup can rise above the oppressors through the process of connection and action, such as action based on a collective-reckoning as a result of a people coming together and sharing mutual ideas, support, awareness, and so forth.

Singling out others as NTs and attaching attributes to the subgroup of NTs is an example of the Aspergers community rising above oppression through action to avoid further oppression and breakdown. The act itself enables a previously ostracized isolated sum to reclaim a sense of power and self-worth. In theory, when a collective recognizes the existence of another group beyond their ‘own’ group then the group they are a part of becomes more real. By merely creating further separation, between ‘them’ and ‘us,’ the existence of both groups becomes more substantiated. The stronger a group becomes in existence the more members sense their group is real; and accordingly, the more a member senses a group is real the more he or she feels part of a community, and the less he or she feels alone.

Naturally, based on repeated years of isolation, if presented with the chance, many with Aspergers gravitate towards the opportunity to feel less alone and more a part of something. Feasibly, before knowing others that are similar in our making, we have spent most of our lives thinking we are the anomaly and therefore alone on this plane. Finding a ‘clan’ so to speak, provides means of much healing and growing. Because of this, when supported within the makings of a group of like-minded people, a person with Aspergers might subconsciously reinforce the ‘realism’ of the group in order to build up the feelings of unity and tear down the feelings of isolation. In so doing, he or she might reinforce this realism of the group by perceiving others beyond the group as outsiders, and then perhaps accentuate the substantiation of his or her group more by creating or partaking in opportunity to claim the others as less-than, different, or not-enough.

Thusly, through the aforementioned, there is a justifiable reason (psychological sense of belonging), behind a person with Aspergers actions when he or she points out differences between his/her established sect and another. In this light, the use of the label NTs makes perfect sense. Furthermore, using the term NT in a derogatory manner also makes sense—as defining another outside the group as inferior brings about more distinction between the two sects, and as a consequence reinforces the subgroups realism further. Perhaps, along these lines, the creation of two subgroups, that being 1)Aspies and 2) NTs, was inevitable. However, arguably, a justifiable action does not equate a just action.

As mentioned before the breaking point of the oppressed usually leads to a crumbling of self or proactive action; and often, when faced with continual insult and injury, a person must swing to one side of the pendulum or another in order to eventually find balance. As a collective subgroup, we do the same. We swing upon the pendulum—we respond and hide or we respond and retaliate. Part of retaliation is in pointing finger and blaming others. Part of hiding is pointing the finger at self and blaming self. Neither is beneficial in the long term, and can wreak havoc on multiple psyches and relationships.

Regardless of the cause, clearly, there is evidence that through the act of calling others NTs and attaching derogatory meaning to the name NT, discrimination is being recreated in reverse.

People with Aspergers know what it is like to be ostracized. Perhaps to turn around and do the same with closed eyes is understandable. And perhaps, too, to do the same to gain a sense of me-ness and union, and that long sought after feeling of being a part of something, is completely justifiable. But to repeat what was done to us through reverse discrimination with eyes wide open is to start a new type of war, one in which we set out to be the victors and the others the oppressed. This mentality of ‘we verses them,’ or even the simplicity of ‘we and them,’ creates more waste—increased harm and debris that will need to be cleaned up and rectified. Eventually, oppressors become blinded by their own hate, as they fortify their creation of sect through a cyclic self-feeding process based on various means of separation. In the end, by choosing to separate from others, we create a world that is the exact definition of what diminished our worth and standing in the first place.

With this said, I ask you to keep in mind that a subgroup of any definition is at risk of adapting an elitist attitude. For this reason, as a collective community of people who support those on the spectrum, it is crucial to heed caution in the way we choose to see others in general, but specifically in how we choose to see and classify the collective group we name NTs.

~

Author’s Note: This post was originally composed when Asperger’s Syndrome was a stand-alone diagnosis. At that time, not much was written or discussed about females on the autism spectrum, particularly not the rules of semantics to utilize when referring to other autistic women. In the four years since my online writings began, much to do about semantics in relationship to Autism Spectrum Disorders has emerged. Even the word “disorder” is a trigger word for some, myself included. Today, I prefer to write “I am autistic” or “I am Aspie,” when referring to myself, instead of “a person with autism/Aspergers.” (People-first versus condition/diagnosis-first) Primarily, because I don’t have Aspergers—rather I amAspie. Aspergers is innately who I am as an individual and not some tagline—like a disease.With that said, while I am sensitive to the ongoing terminology debate and the growing trend (and need) to move beyond identifying one’s self with a “disorder,” in order to keep the authenticity and voice of the original works, including accurately reflecting how I experienced life and trends in the societal and psychological fields at the time, I chose to not make any specific broad-based terminology alterations in this post.

Samantha Craft (@aspergersgirls) compiled this page. She has corresponded with thousands of individuals touched by autism in their lives. Sam is the author of Everyday Aspergers, a revealing memoir, ten years in the making, about the everyday life of an autistic woman. More information can be found atSpectrum Suite LLC, myspectrumsuite.com

519: By Default

A relative of mine once said:

‘Everyone is selfish, even saints, because even if you are serving others, but ultimately you do it because it feels good, then that is selfish.’

I am pretty sure he is an Aspie.

People with Aspergers, particularly females with ASD, sometimes fear they are self-centered, selfish and/or narcissistic. The fear of self-centeredness is indeed one of my mental fixations—meaning I sometimes obsess about the fact that just being a human makes me a little narcissistic.

When entertaining thoughts of selfishness, I go into this weird cock-eyed, inertia state of over-analysis. Nothing new. You can find me on the couch in my Sheldon-like spot, staring into oblivion, biting my lip, and sighing deeply as I turn around conjecture-corners of reason, fearing once again, I am hopelessly self-centered. Tears come, then, as I further punish myself thinking this is just another exhaustive performance of ego, feeling bad about feeling good. And that maybe I am a genius narcissist in my ability to feel bad about maybe being self-centered.

Once the narcissism trigger slaps me, this whole looping-grasping tango starts, a looping process I have previously bleated out in abundance through metaphoric-saturated analysis, a state of mind in which I once again gather all the ‘truths’ from my memory banks in a futile attempt to decipher what is indeed fact and what is not fact, knowing all the while there are no endpoints. Thusly, the modifier ‘futile.’

This analysis of aforementioned subject matter involves bungee jumping through deductions, including thoughts of: a) life is an illusion, b) DSM-V is largely controlled by pharmaceutical purse-strings c) most ‘conditions’ overlap one another d) family dynamics, diet/nutrition, depletion of our natural nutrients in soil, pollution, chemical-poisoning, infection, mutated swelly-breasted chickens, etc. affect our minds e) genetics f) quantum physics, multiple universes, string theory g) the fact that electrons and living bacteria in yogurt respond to an observer’s thoughts and emotions h) and if the statement near letter A listed above is true then the rest points listed are a moot point

Then I start to over-analyze me, knowing far too much about the literature in the mental health genre-bowl in general, and knowing far too much about me (see previous 600 pages), and having housed psychology and counseling as my special interest pocket for most of my life. (My mother worked for the family therapist Virginia Satir; and I was pretty much swooning at the thought of emulating her since the age of nine.)

I think I have been paranoid about the possibility of losing my mind since I first sat hunched over in a bush (literally) at the age of eight, contemplating the vastness of the universe and what was outside the universe. My son with Aspergers is similar, but ripened earlier than me; he asked me point-blank while twirling his toes in his car seat (age three), “Mommy, who birthed God? And who birthed that person? And how do you know?” So there’s that.

My point is that I have concluded over and over that there are (infinite) murky areas in the realm of mental health; so if anything had the capacity to drive me batty, based on the subject’s lack of pinpoint-ability in regard to conclusive evidence, it would be this psychological mumbo-jumbo matter.

Of course, I realize, some people, regardless, require medication for their safety and the safety of others, and/or to function in life. And yes, I have empathy for those people, some being my friends. But I wonder where the lines are, as everything seems to bleed into the next, and so many people have their different theories, answers, and remedies. It’s very much a disaster for anyone with a mind like mine to even consider all the loopholes and unanswered questions in regards to mental health. I guess I am glad I have a neurological condition, and not a ‘mental health’ condition (yet), because, as we all know: neurological conditions are so cut and dry! Hahahaha!

(I am wondering what cut and dry means, and for some reason picturing a pioneer woman hanging raw meat on a line of string. Beef Jerky! Gasp. We are so much a conditioning of our environment.)

Anyhow, if you are an Aspie Chick or an Aspie Rooster rest assured you are likely not narcissistic. I don’t know for sure, but I’d say if you are constantly worried about it then there’s a good chance you aren’t. Chances are you harvest far too much genuine love for people not based on your own self-gain, and that you over-think that you are too self-centered. Also, there’s a possibility, too, if you are like me, that you get down on yourself, not because you aren’t elevated in status, or not performing well, or not gaining attention of peers (narcissist’s idea of failure), but because you are or might be! Goddess forbid if someone pays attention to me in a positive way! It’s like we have this humble-stinger stuck in our butts! Oh crap, I feel a little good about myself, someone noticed me, someone complimented me so……..something must be wrong with me. Self-inflicted gluttony commenced—whip, whip, whip.

I mean seriously, I don’t know how many times I have cried about how afraid I am that I might be too self-centered. I mean I know I am self-focused, because I hyper-focus on everything, e.g., other people, special interests, fixations, pending danger, the fly on the wall, the speed in which I type, the grumble in my tummy, the octave of the fridge hum, etc. And I just happen to be another focal point, and also a case subject (guinea pig) for my own HUGE special interest: Aspergers. So following the logical dots, then yes, I am my own special interest, but by default. Seriously, I’d much rather jump into your mind and write about you. Any takers?

Trust me, I go into these weekly fits of self-loathing and wanting to stop writing in which I wish to cash in my creative hankering for the life of a meditating (naked) Zen hermit who does nothing but focus on light.

On the same topic, interestingly enough, my fifteen-year-old Aspie son, no longer in his car seat, said to me a few days ago: I think I might be slightly narcissist because I realize I care more about the enjoyment I might feasibly gain from a new gaming system than the other things we are talking about that other people would think matter. But that doesn’t bother me.

I gave him a reassuring, logical response.

I wasn’t doing him any favors.

He’d already concluded, within seconds:

“Narcissism is part of the human condition and without people who were hyper-focused on their own self-interests nothing would get done in this world. I find it best just to accept the illusion of life and enjoy it as much as I can without purposely causing harm. I see it. And I accept it…The world doesn’t really have any antagonists.”

Okay, so I definitely think he’s smarter than me.

514: Aspergers: The Potency of Knowing

Today, I know more about myself and my makeup than any other time before. Today, I know more about my world and my place in it than I ever thought possible. I understand concepts at a deep intellectual and spiritual level. A grasping that even I gasp at from moment to moment. I see interconnections everywhere, and I reach conclusions at a constant and continual warp speed. I am and I am not, and I feel forgotten and fed at the same instant, spread out and dipped in a breaded-pudding for some type of monstrosity to munch and munch upon. I am twisted, and I am broken, and I am entirely undone into myself. And I am lonely…again.

I have twice-forgotten why I am here: my mission, my purpose, repeatedly dreading what is to be and what is to happen, and immersed in a fear-state regarding what has already transpired. I see now that I have lived in a constant state of reliving fear. Everything has been about anxiety, everything wrapped in misgivings and in the sap-trappings of my flight/fight mentality. I am inspired by mishap and mayhem. Miss-shaped by my potentiality to turn each and everything into imaginary illusion and puzzle. I don’t know how to live—say be—without deciphering and analyzing. I don’t know how to look upon my own world, without seeing the impending danger. I’d like to believe this isn’t true, and I’d like to believe further more—with enough belief, say faith—that if I believe enough I can make it so. And I’d like to believe that I can change. But now I stand at the crossroad of wondering if indeed my very nature, my very infrastructure, is not one of exact design predicated by the intense longing to solve. And if so, if I am mere machine set out for deciphering, if my mechanism be one of constant discovery, and if I am have stumbled or purposely fallen into hyper speed, then what is to become of me? And have I not, by simply being as I am, caused my own fate?

I am confused, but not entirely. And I am torn open, but not fully. There is a part of me strong, always strong, holding on, just as the child clenching to her mother’s drapery, the curtain the last plight, the last hope, the last saving grace. If I just hold on, no one can tear me out of the house I am in. I am that hero on the swinging high bridge, the last rope unraveled, the planks removed, flanked and flailing in the unforgiving air, thinking if I let go, even for moment, I tumble to the death of me. And then again, I am. Lost just as before.

I can think, and that is my burden. I can think into depths I don’t understand. So deep I can dwell that in seconds I unravel information that by all rationalization should be data that would take another decade to retrieve, if not eons to fathom. I say this not as pompous one or know-it-all; abundant am I in feelings of guilt and regret. I say it merely as fact. I think, and I fall into a deep abyss of what is. And I come out having reached conclusions and understandings that are beyond my own grasp, yet somehow sticking to me much the same. I am removed, and yet still dwelling in this place of knowing. And in this knowing, I know I know not. I know that each and every place assumed reached is still another empty finish line. I know that everywhere are rules that do not exist and answers that are mere ghosts whispering their bent truth—like the rays of light manifesting mirage. What I see is naught. What I know is naught. And still I dive, twisted into misgivings of self and universe, the same.

This is how I live, from day-to-day, from moment-to-moment, somehow lost in myself, and still alive and here. Still performing the medial and mediocre tasks, whilst deciphering all about me, and all that lines the walls of the interior self. I am a complexity so entirely complex that I segregate myself, dividing and re-dividing to the ultimate-power trying to manage what is layered and layered within. I am the worst enemy and the staunch supporter. I am the fuel that keeps my churning and the water that attempts to douse the rioting debtors’ quarrels. I am that which turns the key and that which wishes to stop the engine. All at once, I am made to be without wanting to be—and here in this state I wander about, alone.

You cannot reach me, because you cannot find me, and my mind is unknown to you. Unless, you too, are this sort of mechanism made to churn and to long. To understand you are the machine and the person all at once. To understand that you are made up of the essential elements that make whole, and to watch yourself transition instant upon instant, morphing with each choice, each thought, each word, each influential force. And everywhere and everything is about. To be sensitive to the cycle itself, to the give and take, the yin and yang, the light and dark, the here and there, the wait and see, the envy and love—to watch self as bystander and take note upon note upon note of what is. This is to be awakened. This is to be semi-exposed to the power of the now and the power of the singular demolished and whole eradicated. To watch as the power is seen in all. To watch as the demons, too, turn into angels and warriors. To see the universal connections both outside of self and inside self, and to know, beyond doubt that nothing is of this being named I. And to still shiver and shake, thinking the potency of knowing must somehow diminish with enough discovery