538: 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.

Sam’s book Everyday Aspergers is now available internationally on Amazon.

More information can be found at her company: myspectrumsuite.com

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

521: No Harm Intended, and other aspects of this Aspie Girl

No Harm Intended

Anger:

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.

Authenticity:

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.”

Truth:

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.

Reviewing Speech:

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?

Linear Dialogues:

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.

Someone Observing:

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.

516: A Gallant Longing

I process everything. I am a processing machine. I even process the process of writing. Today I feel ‘guilty’ for yesterday’s writing, as it didn’t represent the ‘true’ me. Even as I search for the ‘truth’ of who I am, stumbling again into myself and not knowing where I fall, I somehow still manage to pinpoint who I am not. It’s strange, even to write. But seems to be the way of it. All so complex and bothersome. Like most days, I wish I was rather emptied of myself.

Yesterday my post ended with freedom, with the removal of ‘self’ and judgment, with the capacity to move into this world unseen and to be okay with that. Yesterday that was a true statement. Today it’s not.

I didn’t lie. I meant what I said. I was in a brief over-confident mood. I was in an I-will-will-myself-all-better-state. I get that way from time-to-time. I wouldn’t call me hopeful or resilient or ‘positive’ during these moments of zealous confidence. More so, underneath my skin somewhere, when I approach my writing with such voice, I am a bit perturbed at life in general. I guess you could say I was sporting an under coating of frustration and trying to paint over myself with some form of strength.

I tend to only feel good about the words I have scribed that provoke a soft appeal and gentleness. I tend to be attracted to my sharings which display an intense vulnerability and a vast uncloaking of self. Yesterday’s post wasn’t one of those posts.

I am not ashamed of the writing, and not regretting it, just, I guess, wondering how I can so easily shift and transform. It’s unsettling to say the least, when the person I was a moment ago isn’t the person I am now. Perhaps, I say in jest, I have some advanced multiple personality disorder in which I am both congealed and disjointed all at once with legions of aspects of self bursting into bits and pieces of everything.

Yesterday, I was PMSing. I ‘suffer’ from PMDD, endometriosis, and an autonomic blood pressure condition (closely related to POTS), as well as hyperjoint mobility syndrome, each of which are triggered by fluctuations in hormones. PMDD is enough in and of itself to drive me batty, but the physical pain sometimes leads to a week of being couch bound. This has been an on going event for most of my adult life. It’s not new, and it’s not strange or unknown. But somehow the debilitation is still rather scary and depressing, particularly, as I was hospitalized about a year ago from an extreme episode. Anyhow, I really don’t want sympathy or to rant or complain, just to explain.

I suppose in moments of couch-bound, sloth-mode, semi-hibernation, I get particularly prolific in my writing. One reason being that there is really nothing else I can physically do, beyond playing computer games, watching movies, and reading, oh, and the occasional romp to the kitchen to binge eat. Having the capacity to write during these hormonal nightmares most certainly brings me a sense of purpose. Also, I think the hormones, or what-have-yous, affect my thinking, in that I have more thoughts and that I am more vulnerable to outpourings. And too, to be totally truthful, sometimes I write during my PMDD only because if someone reads my words I will feel less isolated.

I force myself to write during these times, not because I have to, but because I want to. And that is the primary difference in the particular self-focused writings (like today’s and yesterday’s) versus the majority of my writing.

Most of the time, believe it or not, I don’t want to write, but feel driven to write. Usually, I don’t hear my own singular voice, but more of a collective gathering of thoughts. I have surmised, after continual coincidences, that I somehow tap into the collective Aspie condition. As silly as that sounds, this has been my truth for the span of over a year. It appears Aspies jump into my brain and stir me up. As much as they’d like to believe I am reading their minds, I tend to think they are invading my thoughts—little hitchhikers whispering. Or, rather, we are all just splashing is some giant heated pool of knowledge, and I, by some odd twist of faith, have been granted the capacity to spurt out what we are swimming in.

When I write, I see images and sense words. I don’t actually hear anything. There isn’t a voice I can describe or even an intonation. There is more of a feeling of what I believe is a type of communication I don’t readily recognize as familiar. There is no emotion beyond love. And an easiness and comfort exits without effort. There isn’t a questioning of what I wrote or a judging. There often isn’t much editing involved. It just kind of IS. And I like that.

The process of writing in most cases takes away some of my Aspie thoughts—those perpetual queries that ransack my brain.

I believe the intention behind ‘my’ words creates the overall feel of the work. Much like a painting, my heart is reflected in the renderings. If my intention is to share and nothing more than the words are light and airy, filled with a sense of hope. In this manner there is a radiating wellbeing resonating from the writings. A knowing everything will be okay. A connection, a reaching out, a holding and a holding ground, in which travelers come and visit, and find a place of respite.

I miss that peaceful flow, that rescuing-retreat. I missed it yesterday. I miss it today. I guess I’d rather be part of a collective than this ME. I’d rather sit with a gathering of us than alone—a gallant and worthy longing, indeed.