478: Off or Amiss

“I have the hardest time when I try not to be me. When I collect all the dos and do nots from the world and then try to act as if I am okay. To pretend and hold in my truth. I can do it for awhile; I take on this false persona and carry on, some strong soldier who is above it all and will get through. But then I collapse fast. Spiral downward and weep. I become lost and confused by what I had held onto as truth. I get tired of talking so much, of seeing so much, of frankly knowing too much; and I try to pretend my way out of it. To lie to myself and think I am like everyone else, and can make my way through, if I just release parts of who I am. And that is where I fail myself miserably. Yes, fail–in refusing to honor my authenticity and in imagining I am innately flawed and in need of alteration. In truth, in my true inner truth, I am perfectly me, and loved for me.” ~ Sam Craft

Distinguishing between who I am and who I am not comes down to my core values.

When I am in a mental fuzz, processing through something I deem rather important, which occurs on average a few times a week, I always confide in my friends. For part of me must process aloud with another person to reach an understanding of my own thoughts. I don’t process out loud to hear myself speak; I’d rather be a quieter person than I am. I process out loud because I am driven to, almost to the degree I am driven to eat when I am very hungry or drink when I am parched, only with a pulsing demanding urge in my brain.

I have often thought and desired to talk less. I have tried to repress my words. I have tried to remain silent. But whenever I do, my need to process comes out as some form of angst.

I don’t just process with one friend about one event. I usually process the same event over and over with three or four friends through the stretch of one day. It is amazing to me that I can ‘hash’ out the same information repeatedly, sometimes the exact same phrases and sentences, and not get bored, overwhelmed or exhausted. This act of processing aloud is a direct way to lubricate my engine, to reboot, and to get my chain in my brain unstuck.

If I can’t process with friends, for whatever reason—perhaps I am very emotional or at a loss to what I am feeling or perhaps no one is available—then I process through writing. This is not what I choose to do. It is what I have to do. If I do not find an outlet for my thoughts, I feel for certain I will lose my mind. I have never experienced anything remotely as painful as bottling up my thoughts inside my head. As I have written on many accounts, the complexities of the ideas inside my head will overwhelm me and consume me, if I don’t have means of escape.

The very first point in which I find I am not being true to myself is when
1) I bottle up my thoughts and pretend I don’t need to process.

This stuffing process never ends well. I always end up in some type of breakdown, typically locked away in my room crying, pleading to God, and/or trying to sleep away my pain. In other words, angst manifested!

The second point in which I cease from being me is when

2) I take on for an extended period of time any negative emotion that does not resemble love, acceptance, patience, understanding, and/or letting go.

If I attach to any extreme emotion, for example anger over someone’s behavior, then I am not being true to myself. However, typically I have no idea initially that I have attached to an extreme emotion.

I have watched many people hold grudges and anger towards others, sometimes for a lifetime. I can’t do this. I don’t have the capacity. I have had reason to try; and I have repeatedly failed. I failed and failed, until I got to the point where I realized negative energy doesn’t suit me.

But I am still human, no doubt, and I experience disappointment, loss, rejection, and extreme hurts, like everyone else.

Just yesterday I was very upset with a friend. Normally, at my best, I can only hold onto upset over someone for a few minutes, if not a few seconds. But this was a painful experience. I became someone else briefly to process and escape the circumstance.

As I attempted to partake in my walking mediation around the lake, I had totally convinced myself of several things. I believed fully that:

1) My friend was unkind
2) I was worthy of more understanding
3) I would cut off all communication
4) I would not regret this decision
5) I would remain strong and steadfast in my decision

At the moment, which lasted a couple of hours, (long walk), I truly believed I was going to stay in this state of distance and judgment forever. That was it. I was done with this person. In order for me to think these thoughts, I become a version of someone else. I thought of myself as not having Aspergers. And I played random tapes in my head, in an attempt to rationalize my attachment to the feelings I was experiencing. Everything needs a logical reason, even emotions.

I told myself: “I deserve more.” “That person is a jerk.” “Get them out of your life.” “Stop focusing so much attention on this person.”

I morphed into this headstrong person that no one could touch or damage. A person who was damn straight in the right! I held this mental state for a while, but it took vast amounts of energy. However, I believed myself. I truly did. I had changed. At least for that moment, I was done being me, and definitely done being Aspie.

Yet, after exerting extreme amounts of energy, I absolutely crashed and collapsed. I broke down. I became lost. I cried. I, as one might say, ‘wigged out.’

For my true calling is not to begrudge anyone or hold ill-will towards anyone. I cannot house discontentment or hatred. I can’t even house regrets. What is is what is.

At the point of emotional collapse, I came to a sort of bridge of truth, wherein this falseness of being I created deteriorated and I was made to walk over the ruble.

I surrendered.

And then I did what I had to do: be me.

And who is me?

Well part of me is this very, very truthful spirit that feels driven to process through any sense of discontentment. And the other part is someone who absolutely MUST talk to someone when something feels off or amiss. If I don’t confront the person directly, thoughts take over, and pieces rattle and rattle in my brain.

After I reach the breaking point, I speak my mind. I generally message a person and ask a question or write him or her pages of concern. This is my way. People who I hold close to my heart know this about me.

Once I speak my truth, I feel like I am me again. But the truth has to come from a pure place of heart, without ego, without manipulation, without want or need on my part, beyond the desire for clarification and peace of mind. If I act in any other way, I don’t feel right inside, and have a tendency to circle back through a version of someone I am not. Perhaps choosing a whole new line of rationalizations and ways of avoiding the issue at hand: the source of the discontentment.

After I get my heartfelt thoughts out, I am returned to a balanced state and I can focus. I can finally get those random chores done or fill out that paperwork. Until I am done processing something vital, though, I am lost to the rest of my world, even my children at times, lost in my head and trying to swim out of the currents to safety.

I am learning to observe myself more readily, as I move through these channels of thought and transformation. Ideally, I would like to catch myself before I have a chance to begin holding onto anything that doesn’t resemble peace. Yet, I understand that my avenues of self-processing are uniquely set to the way my brain is wired. That of a person with a builtin ability and survival-need to process, evaluate and reach a perceived endpoint.

471: A Beautiful Morning with a Beautiful Mind

It was a beautiful morning.

My Aspie son and I have such deep and complex conversations; I swear he must be at least a thousand years old. He speaks philosophically, in a manner of viewing life that I have only discovered in the ancient wisdom of great scholars across the globe.

This morning we spoke about truth, and the idea that when one threatens another’s truth by confrontation through disagreement or differing opinion, how the other naturally, quite instinctually, responds with a fight-or-flight nature. We opted for the agreement that this human response is based on human nature, on the idea of wanting to protect singular intelligence and mentality. I scaffolded upon the initial points, mentioning the concepts of limited and isolated perception based on the singular collection of reality from a limited scope of an individualized sensory input. He understood entirely.

I elaborated that I don’t hold a singular truth, as my truths vary vastly compared to how I interpreted my world five years prior, and that I am continually changing. He concurred and expressed that I had made sense.

Of course, most of this discussion was a dissertation on my son’s part. His theories of human communication and outcomes are right up there with the geniuses of our time. It amazes me that he is Aspie, and yet years ahead of his peers in understanding the complexities of human nature and societal responses to multiple environmental stimuli.

I suppose I have taught him some by example, and he has sought out his own form of awareness and truth through observation of others and the intake of literature and films; however, the intricate ways in which he pieces the found knowledge into linear and detailed outcomes and conclusions is awe-inspiring. If ever an old soul exists, I see this as my son.

When I offer a gentle reminder to him, at anytime and in any genre of conversation, to keep in mind that he views the world a bit differently than others, and that him and I have complex ways of interpreting events, he is ever so humble, consistently reminded me that he does not enjoy the comfort of setting himself above or beyond anyone else, and that all can see and comprehend as he does, but that perhaps they do not understand what they are doing or in some way do not observe the connections.

He is insistent that his way is no better and that he is not superior by any means; to sit with the idea of being special is a great discomfort to him. And though my son may appear aloof, argumentative, and at the edge of his seat ready to engage in debate, he is at the heart of him a wise sage, insistent upon remaining humble. A concept I did not set out to instruct him upon, but one he shares with me.

I am continually fascinated by his mind. He grows in spurts that are ‘unnaturally’ fast; comprehending and taking in and retaining more than any student I have ever witnessed. And he reworks ideas in his mind to match his view of reality, a view that is extremely open-minded, whilst being seemingly narrow-minded. I mean to say that he comes across, to the typical observer, as strongly opinionated and limited in his viewpoints, but with careful analysis and granted the patience to listen, he is actually extremely open to reasonable and logical ideas that don’t initially resonate as truth with him. And, in fact, he will easily dislodge a chosen truth for a new truth, after taking in what another has shared. The barrier that exists between him and his peers (and some adults) appears to be that exact fight-or-flight mentality my son was theorizing upon. He speaks and if another interprets him as threatening to any degree then the other shuts my son down or out; no longer hearing what he is stating and instead closing off to possible connection.

We were weaving out of conversation this morning, and I found myself going down an interesting course. I had started a sentence several times, never truly completing the string of words, as my son was interjecting (albeit while apologizing for doing so) with his rapid-firing thoughts and connections. I enjoy the way he is ignited with ideas, and take no offense to his interruptions. I see myself a lot in him, and him in me.

I was trying to explain something to my son. At first I thought I was clear on my idea, but something inside of me self-corrected, in the middle of my thought process. I was speaking aloud. I had thought of the isolating factor of Aspergers. How we are so often misunderstood and ostracized. And on hearing my son talk so freely and blatantly, I imagined how this exact discourse might bring him further out of his collective circle of peers. (He attends a part-time academic school for children that are homeschooled). I began to speak from fear, but didn’t recognize what I was doing, until most of the words were out of my mouth.

“As you get older, son, I think it would be beneficial if you monitored some of what…”

The words came through at last, as one cohesive thread, and with that outpour I had time to recollect what I had shared. I immediately backtracked.

“You know what, I have changed my mind,” I shared. “I was originally thinking these past few minutes that you should be more careful around people who don’t love you unconditionally, so that you don’t live an isolated life. But I disagree with this. I think you should be exactly you, and that people will love you for you.”

We sidetracked for a bit to explore the concept of unconditional love. He didn’t understand the idea of choosing not to have someone in your life but choosing to still love them unconditionally: to hold them in love and light, to pray or keep them in thought, to hold no ill-will or resentment towards the individual and wish the person the very best.

He seemed to be taking in a lot more than I was saying.

My son looked at me, and gave me a sheepishly-wise grin. I knew that he knew. And we continued onward, back to the previous conversation, again.

I stated: “I mean, I tried the other way for years. To pretend and hold back myself and I was miserable. Why would I want that for you? I just want you to be free to be you, and others to appreciate you for who you are.”

He listened and answered. “I know. I thought you might change your mind once you said it. You realized you were contradicting yourself before you were finished. That is clear. I understand.”

I smiled. Still in disbelief at the level of this young man’s ability to comprehend others’ thought processes. I added, “I guess I just wish as you grow older that you can focus on being less injurious, if that makes sense. What I mean is there is a difference between choosing to say something that you are highly certain will hurt someone’s feelings and saying something and unintentionally hurting someone. If you are injurious, it will be harder to maintain friends. Does that make sense?”

“Yes,” he said. “And I already do that Mom. Don’t worry. I understand.”

We talked further about the complexities of human communication and the limitations based on others’ interpretations and emotional responses.

As we approached the school, he looked at me and responded more, “Thank you for such intriguing conversation.” He nodded, sounding much like the little professor I have grown to adore in astonishing amounts. “It was quite a good conversation.”

I half expected him to add ‘indeed’ to the end of his last statement.

His voice was monotone, without hints of rejoice; he made no eye contact, and he mostly huffed away as I said, “Enjoy your day, Baby.” But I knew how he felt. We’d connected at an intellectual level without judgment, without expectation, and with equally open minds and acceptance. It was another freeing moment, the way in which the two of us communicate; this unabashed arena in which anything said is okay and doesn’t affect the other’s equilibrium or sense of self or worth.

It was a beautiful morning, indeed.

462: Beneath the Skin of Conversation: an Aspie’s Interpretation of Communication

The hardest part of the communication process for me is in the act of sensing others’ expectations of me. In other words, when conversing in written or spoken form I can often detect the way someone expects me to respond in words and actions to his or her words and actions; and as a result, I feel an uncomfortable sensation and pressure to perform and live up to expectations, as if I have unwillingly been written into some theater script.

Sometimes, if I don’t act and sound the way another expects then he or she responds in a manner, e.g., with words, inflection, posture, body movements, tone, etc., that reflect defense or question. Often, during conversing, even online, I feel another person reaching into me: a type of octopus probing.

Before conversing, I prepare myself emotionally and physically for a bombardment of others’ expectations. Not out of defense or fear, but out of the constant exposure, and my resulting adaptation of self. It’s a type of communication assimilation, one in which I wasn’t effectively given a choice, but rather forced into the pattern of give and take in order to escape isolation and not feel entirely obsolete and ostracized. I rather joined in to release myself of the pain of being alone; not because I agreed or fancied the way the discourse presented itself, but because my only choice was to join in or remain outside the perimeters of society.

Recently, I have concluded that if others’ expectations of me bring me discomfort, my expectations must in turn, whether at a conscious or unconscious level, bring others discomfort. Thusly, I practice daily releasing expectations for all people. I have let go of my unspoken expectations to be understood, heard, comforted, loved, etc. Having let go of most expectations, the challenge now is at a deeper level of my psyche.

I know myself enough to realize I still hold onto expectations regarding others. I still want them to release expectations of me. Wanting another to release expectations of me is an expectation on my part. This is clear.

I now detect with great awareness many wants and needs individuals bring into a conversation, which at times I can perceive as much unspoken ‘unfinished’ business and emotional baggage. Most of these complexities of needs and desires are at a deep level hidden below the surface so that even the individual is unaware of what he or she is bringing into the conversation.

I theorize, even if others could recognize these needs and unspoken feelings in self, and I could attempt to appease and soothe their insecurities, nothing would be accomplished at the core-level. As their esteem isn’t based on my response or surrendering to a game of ego-stroking; their esteem is something that must be built from the inside out.

For myself, I take no issue to addressing my exact needs. I am in touch with my core being. I was born this way, I believe, as most are, but much of our core-self is hindered and hammered by the indoctrination of societal expectations. I, for one, have no challenge in admitting I am in need of comfort, I am frightened, or I am feeling insecure. I recognize myself as a human being with a full range of emotions. The difference I find between myself and many others, is I will simply state without fear, when I need something. I am matter of fact. “I feel ugly. Tell me I am pretty.” I don’t hint or create scenarios in which I hope another will fulfill me. I simply state what it is that I am experiencing, whilst also recognizing I am the only one who can build myself up into a state of wholeness. When I reach out, I reach out fully, without secrets.

When I sense others’ expectations, as the observer I am dumbfounded at times in how to ‘act’ in a conversation. To me, saying what I think another wishes for me to say is not truth, but instead a type of false-validation in which I am playing a role and fulfilling an unspoken expectation based on another’s deep-seeded insecurity. This might sound cruel, but I don’t believe it is. I think instead, I view things at a deeper-lever than the typical person. I see what is beneath the skin of conversation, and much like a doctor, I am able to detect through observation and study what the patient cannot readily detect alone.

I am diving in deeper to the analysis of conversation and recognizing a familiar truth established thousands of years ago by philosophers, gurus, and spiritual teachers. The truth of freedom in all things, including conversing, is truly in the process of letting go. Letting go is freedom that doesn’t exist with thoughts of the future. All expectations are woven into the future and created from material of the past: the remnants of material based on the scaffolding of personal interpretations.

As of late, I have noted certain people trigger my own need for ego-stroking. I give my power over to the ones I supposedly ‘love’ the most. However, at closer look, I give my power over to those I ‘attach’ to the most. For in my view, love does not encompass fear or expectations, not even needs. Love is enough in and of itself.

Today, I am facing the challenge, a journey which often feels equivalent to being scraped on the inside with a razor blade to spirit, of releasing expectations of validation from those I love most deeply.

I am granting them the freedom that I desperately wish granted to me.

This is an all engulfing and brutally life-transforming, releasing process. Yet, I find in the moments of solace, in-between the effort and pain, I can at last breathe, in that I have shed the hypocrisy of self, by treating others as I truly wish to be treated.

459: Aspergers: The Marathon

Sometimes I forget the complexities of my own Aspergers. I forget how much goes on underneath the obvious and observed. I forget the complexities and complications. Forget that just to navigate a single day is to run a marathon.

Here is a list of significant challenges associated with individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. (This is based on my experience with myself and son; as is the case with all people, we are each unique, and experiences differ.)

Completely confused by small changes to a familiar situation or environment

Feels threatened by hugs

Overwhelmed by bright colors

Frightened by loud noises

Voices can be painful

Capacity to hear may be better than to see

Lethargic and tire easily, moving from one position to another requires a great deal of energy

Poor sense of self, of body in space, and underestimate how to safely move and navigate environment

Will stick to strict routines and avoid playing with others

Aversions and oversensitivity to certain texture, sounds, colors, people, scents, tastes

Oversensitive to bright lights and sounds, like the humming of the fridge, certain light bulbs, and electric currents that other people may not notice

Difficulty sitting still and getting comfortable

Low tolerance for constant repeated noise or loud noise

Overwhelmed around a lot of people, especially new people

Unable to focus when distracted with visuals, such as clutter of pictures on a work page and/or decoration in a room

May do the following to avoid performing a task or listening: throw a tantrum, refuse with defiance, hide from the situation (under jacket hood, beneath a desk), complain of fatigue, make a rude comment

Short attention span

Difficult maintaining balanced level of emotional arousal, either too low or too high

Impulsive behavior is often a result of a perception of someone’s high-expectations

Doesn’t anticipate the consequence of her actions

Multi-tasking is overwhelming

Weak visual-spatial planning, e.g. bump into walls, objects, and other people

Mentally cannot organize new situations and becomes frightened

Hard to perceive problems

Meltdowns/Tantrums from sensory overload

Constant insecurity about what possibly might happen and how others may or may not behave

Uncertain how to behave in new situations

High anxiety

Risk of self-injury and depression

Feels under pressure to perform and behave

Doesn’t anticipate the consequences of her actions

Every day experiences seem random and unpredictable

Can be violent towards others emotionally or physically, and not perceive own behavior or strength

Difficult judging appropriate behavior

May take risks without knowing how to evaluate danger of the situation

Fears and phobias

Obsessive thoughts

Can have internal pressure to escape a given situation, but lacks the ability to formulate a plan to relieve pressure (no escape route)

Irritated by sensations on skin, such as itchy scalp and arms

Makes repetitive noises, e.g. a vocal sound, tapping, scraping, nail clicking

Bores easily

Doesn’t understand why she is bored by interests others find intriguing, such as common structured play

Sensitive to sensations, such as hunger, a full bladder, dry skin, taste in mouth

Frustrated by inability to perform a given task and/or excel

Preoccupied with details

Meltdowns and outbursts

Over-stimulation

Feelings of insecurity, anxiety and fear

Feelings may be manifested in physical ailments and actual body pain

Overwhelmed

Difficulty grasping humor and seeing the a different perspective or point of view

May choose one word from a discussion and base his/her individual response on the one identified element, instead of the main point of topic

Focuses on the details of one specific part of conversation, over and over, in the mind

Verbal impulsivity and nervousness, as well as a need to fit in, may lead to interruptions, babbling and hurried speech

Lacks ability some times to determine appropriate moment for closure during conversing, and instead speaks incessantly

May recognize he is talking too much but cannot stop his impulsivity to continue to talk

Grooming and hygiene issues, as well as difficulty evaluating own appearance, presentation and attire

Gullible, unable to always understand the punch line of a joke or hidden meaning of a statement, and easily persuaded by others

Difficulty with nonverbal body language, inappropriate body proximity and facial expression

Fluctuating tone, rhythm, volume, and pitch of voice

Timing of speech and delivery varies

Short attention span

Prefers familiarity in people and surroundings

Difficulty recognizing what behavior is expected in a new situation or event when compared to another past experience—may run, scream, jump instead of sitting

Nervous habits and repetitive behavior

mar

After two days of high-functioning behavior, aka navigating the social arena, I shall be in bed hugging my Mac laptop.

(Much of this article was taken from a past list I compiled, which has strategies for helping children in the educational environment. The link is Working with Children.)

456: Osmosis

I am from a different dimension watching the happenings in awe, taking notes, mental calculations of everything about: the climate, the temperature, the ups and downs. But not just of the environment, but of the people. Mostly the people.

Everything is taken in, at both a conscious and subconscious level. There is a sense of no time, and a sense of too much time at other intervals. Much transpires in a quaint amount of minutes, and the mind becomes lost in some labyrinth of intricate and dynamically complex ponderings.

In viewing the situation, the actual being in a room with others, the actual processing of the brain, and the very real presence of self-observation, coupled and quadrupled with observation of others, there is a dutiful evaluation unfolding, a recollecting of past knowledge, gathering of nearby circumstantial evidence, and a preponderance of scaffolding—taking the old and making new form from prior existence.

Both the complexity of thoughts and complexity of creation of newness propel the observer forward into another space. Minute time spans get lost, placed somewhere else, as the mind interjects the mind, interrupting self; something akin to rapid thoughts, but far beyond even the concept of thoughts.

It’s as if the machine is oiling itself, feeding itself, spinning itself, dissecting itself, and spewing out product all at once. To say I am “adrift” is far from factual. To mention the words wondering or surmising, not even close to justifiable. The state of existence is beyond the scope of man. Far reaching, like a power still undiscovered; some creature hidden in the far region of a deep forest, not yet classified or identified, and in so being undiscovered, unable to place a face on his own face, a name to his own name. He just is. A living entity with a breath that is neither here nor there, but nonetheless existing evermore.

To say I enter a room untouched is foolishness. Everything reaches out to me, begging to be gathered. I am overwhelmed, spun, juxtaposed to self, and then brought back to reality, to the present; only to be spun out again—some exotic rare yarn undone and spread throughout the room, feeling and touching with my softness of inquiry my whereabouts, needling myself back through loops and holes, gathering the loose ends and reassembling substance into understanding. Making myself a shape to match the surroundings. Osmosis and inquiry warped in union.

I am what I am, here, in this state, some constant creature of transition. I am hyper aware that my existing affects my being. Hyper a tune to the ways of the world, in how the people move about: the motives, the causations, the wants the needs. Here, thoughts prick at me, trickle in, more like clinging vine than cool running stream. I am pinched and prodded by a foreign entity, and left to breathe in the unfamiliar and daunting. All about me is information—the exterior and interior of bystander intertwining and creating pictures in my mind.

I know not what to do with self, as self is transformed by the collected data; the shapes and forms, the meanderings of thoughts, trying to stumble through the input. A part of my engine made to live. A part that knows not how to sleep. All is alive and real, subscribing to me, as if I were the words expelled—the entities around me, whether forged with their own thoughts or merely spinning molecules of substance rock, connecting to me, reaching, collecting the avenue I be. I become to them what they are to me, some highway of transgression of thoughts.

We combine in a dormant way, hiding behind some wall, filtering our way about one another. Feeding and living in the backdrop. I know no other way to describe this, except that I dance with that which is all around me. To walk into a room is not to enter a space. To walk into a room is to transcend self, and to be returned forever changed.