542: Self

self
self

I know what I am not but not what I am. I know when to stop but not when to stop starting. I can inch my way into the middle and get stuck in the molasses of neither here nor there. I don’t know how to swim upstream without pounding pain, and instead, in alternate route, float downstream away from the waters where all else abounds.

Somewhere I have forgotten myself, and I search to find her, thinking I have arrived, only to once more find I am at the backdoor looking into what was and thinking I had known then.

I cannot remember who or where I have been, anymore than I can visualize where I am going. I am lost, in a time maze of confusion, falling upon a self I cannot fathom or detect.

She is there, in the shadowed-tunnel, collapsing and reborn into another, faster than humanly feasible. She is multitudes unopened and reopened—an anomaly in form. To be and not to be. To care and not to care. To unravel into the very depths of reason and peer down into the pond of ‘me.’ Only to question what it is that stares back with such disregard and wonderment.

I am but enough and then I am unequivocally lacking, never measuring up to the enforced standards absorbed from the path I walk. I clamor for explanation and find a thousand books untouched, though in some fashion taken into the realm of reason. I can feel the words: the spoken, the whispered, the silenced, the ones that never came and ones that never speared the element that is I.

They make me. They form me. They penetrate me into something I know not. Clay to my mind. Dirt to my heart. Scattered residue of earthly wants and needs. Goods that I am neither capable of grasping or acquiring.

I am this existence that the observer watches. Reformed with the passerby. Morphed into their reality and then left, unscattered and splattered, broken and unbroken, in a pool of endless duality.

I am what I am—yet only for a fleeting moment; a chance to take glance towards the outline of my palm, the beat of my heart, the opening of a billion universes. Everywhere I am, and at once I am alone. Isolated. A loneliness no less easy to explain than the essence of what I have become. ~ Sam, 7/24/15

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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

527: Once More

Once more
Some happenstance
Of circumstance
Everything circumvents
Transparent facades
Of turbulence

Familiar and foreign
Anomaly of contrasts
Birthed in barren land
Where the seed of now
Searches for rooting-ground

Bedding down she finds no relief
Disappointed she flutters
As butterfly, to higher lands
Where chance planting might arise
Left
Shattered by the nonexistence

Myself here
Transpired
Greatest works
Long past expired
A lathering of doubt
Pulling up from the foundation
Taking in what are last reserves

Core-dripping real
Wavering self-confidence
Finite point
Of seeming happiness
Drowned out
By the bottom realm
Once more

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

522: Outside the Isolation of Noise

I am much like a computer. I know that. I feel it. I sense it. I hear it. I take in more than most could feasibly comprehend, and spit out just as much. I need to process, both internally and externally. If I do not process, I will explode. Not literally, but definitely by means of emotional shutdown, spurting out, or losing myself in looping cyclic thoughts. I need to be heard by others, and indeed by my own interior self. I also need to reflect a form of truth.

I partake in communication akin to a hunter stalking her prey. I am in search. I am digesting the elements. I am preparing myself for future claim. I am reflecting, too, on past hunts, and bringing the memories forward for analysis. To exist is to hunt—to search for the meat of the matter and pull it outward from within, and to furthermore seek out that which is externally available for clues so that I might make my way through the forest that is my world.

Everywhere are trees. They are thick and mossy. They are stoic. They are alive. And each tree stands with a thousand secrets—some spoken and some hidden. And in this way I move about listening. I cannot be without the sense of everything bursting with input. There is a non-surrendering aspect in regards to my thinking. Gallant knights at the wheel of knowledge aching for an answer they know does not exist, and yet, they, these rouge-pages-blossomed, chase time away in a merry-go-round of maybes. I cannot stop them, and I, the someone beyond them, am left victim of sorts, incapable of surrendering for the lot of us.

The forest makes me blind. I cannot see through the trees. And the knights make me bitter because I cannot rest with them at the reins. I ache like none would know, unless too trapped in the wooded causeway, reaping what is taken in at high-speed but smothered by the incoming. I get trapped in overload. Trapped in a glass-bowl incapable of knowing what is what, what is important, what is true, what is necessary to process. A fish with no water, yet still swimming in this notorious muck of something deemed needed by some distant part of self. I can’t get out, but I want to. And part of me doesn’t even recognize I am there. Part of me can’t tell if I am even here, where I seem to live in this land.

I am nowhere, in moments, true. Essentially lost to my own buried selves—the multitudes of me who are shuffling through the debris of information. Each questioning the other for validity: “Is this the accurate representation?” “Is this a true source?” “What is beyond this source?” “What is truth?”

The knights battle inside as I move through the whispering trees—further aspects of self sprung up through the gatherings of words. They multiply whilst seemingly traversing into a battleground of truth; each contemplating while incorporating the strongest voice in hopes of victory. A win for the team. A win for silence. The totality of self pushing towards peace.

There is chaos, interruptions, non-stop contradictions, quibbles of sorts, and primarily confusion. Yet, no matter their futile attempts, brought up to the forum of exclusion, they waver away from the foundation of adequate representation fortified by truth. This nothingness of beyond bearing down its weight upon the galleries’ guesswork. And thusly, re-measuring occurs—long rulers and yellow tape stretched out in endless mayhem—judgment and discernment in regards to what is set out as evidence.

I cannot find peace here, and still I travel so. My only outlet found in emotional exhaustion, high-energy spurts of fixation, or the letting out of my soul in form of discourse, be it writing or speaking.

And so it is many times in words and tears and high-interest, I typically find reprieve. I don’t know why or how, or the ways in which I work beyond what comes forth as fragmented awakenings. I only know that I live most hours amongst the churning of selves in the shadows of the talking forest longing to be heard outside of the isolation of noise.