533: Interviewing Autistic Individuals

 

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1. When being interviewed for a potential job, adults on the autistic spectrum may appear as one of two extremes: 1) overly confident with an almost false persona or 2) extremely nervous and apologetic.

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2. Rarely, during an interview, is an autistic jobseeker feeling at ease and content, and able to present a comfortable version of self. This is not an attempt to fool or falsify self, but instead an effort to try to blend in and be part of the ‘norm.’

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3. Without a clear guidelines of how to act in a specific role, in this case as interviewee, the an autistic can present as anxious, tense, aloof, frightened or extremely nervous.

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4. Partaking in an interview can cause extreme stress for days before the interview. The interview process will more likely than not be over-thought and imagined repeatedly, with multiple outcomes and scenarios. The candidate on the spectrum will typically relive the actual interview itself, repeatedly after the event.

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5. What might appear as a simple ‘not a fit’ or ‘no thank you,’ to the hiring agent, can be devastatingly crushing to a person with autism. It’s common to obsess over the reasons for failure and to catastrophize the outcome, incorporating all-or-nothing thinking, and self-torture, in the form of repetitive, obsessive thoughts regarding the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs.’

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6. During the hiring process the autistic job candidate might be set at ease with (kind) frankness, direct instructions, consistent reassurance, and clear expectations and goals. While such measures might seem as special treatment or deemed as ‘making exceptions,’ when given the fact that autism is primarily centered on social and communication challenges, taking such measures to decrease social anxiety ought to be considered an essential priority in recruitment.

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7. Knowing exact timelines and being exposed to consistent correspondence can alleviate all candidates’ stress levels, but this is particularly true for people on the spectrum. The sense of unpredictability and not-knowing can overcome and consume a person with autism; and this consumption will directly affect their relations with others and behavior, until resolved. In addition, sudden time changes, tardiness, and rescheduling, on the company’s part, can lead to candidates experiencing increased stress levels, panic, and nervousness.

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8. Before an interview, some candidates on the spectrum will create scenarios in their mind of failure and miscommunication, and have fear of not being able to express their true intentions and true self. They often have a fear of not appearing genuine and honest enough.

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9. Oftentimes, the autistic job candidate will want to be seen, heard and understood; as is such, it is commonplace for an jobseeker to provide information that the interviewer many not deem appropriate, necessary, or beneficial. Most autistics will in fact share thoughts and insights to their own detriment, unable to stop the need to be transparent and forthcoming. While the hiring agent might find this transparency refreshing or curious, the candidate will often feel baffled and embarrassed by their own actions, thinking, once again, they have revealed too much and not followed the ‘correct’ rules.

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10. The autistic job candidate will likely wish to have a chance to process with the interviewer as soon as possible to know exactly and specifically ways to improve presentation. For this reason, in some cases, if opportunity allows, the candidate will benefit from careful explanation regarding the reasons why they weren’t hired or considered for further recruitment.

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11. As individuals on the spectrum have coexisting conditions such as OCD, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress, and aforementioned patterns of thinking that create a type of self-badgering, it is vital for the recruitment team members to be sensitive to the possible detrimental consequences of the interview process. They simply are not going to respond like typical candidates. What might take a typical person a week to overcome, might take the autistic person years. Often events, particularly those that create a sense of failure, become ingrained in the psyche of a person on the spectrum for a lifetime. While it is impossible for companies to take measures to consistently provide potential candidates reassuring feedback after an interview, it is plausible that interviewers be trained in measures to take to prevent further trauma.

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12. Some autistics will have little to no trouble expressing self in various communication venues. But the large majority will have specific triggers to communication that can bring on various outcomes, including panic attacks, insomnia, inconsolable anxiety, and nonstop, rapid thinking.

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13. While the autistic individual is interviewing, they will often be acutely self-aware and preoccupied by their own nervousness and internal coaching, and be simultaneously experiencing two conversations at once—one that is shared aloud between the interviewer and interviewee, and one that is an ongoing internal dialogue. Often the internal voice will overshadow the external conversation and, as a result, gaps of time in the interview will be lost. What might appear as being not being present or distracted, is typically the individual attempting to balance the internal voice with the external conversation. It is suitable and advisable for the interviewer to provide ample time for restating questions, reassuring statements, and redirecting the candidate with ideas and positive input.

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14. Candidates on the spectrum will sometimes panic with open-ended questions, as most are very quick thinkers, able to connect information at rapid speed and reach multiple conclusions in a matter of seconds. While deliberating over a question, the candidate is also contemplating about what the interviewer expects, wants, and is hinting at. The more specific and direct a question, the better.

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15. Some candidates will give quick, short, abrupt answers and be mistaken for non-personable and not forthcoming; while others will overstate, be long-winded and go ‘on and on.’ This tendency for oversharing, or being short in response, will also be present in written documents, such as resumes. It is difficult for a person on the spectrum to judge when written word and spoken word is deemed ‘enough.’ Efforts to clarify, probe, and retrieve more ‘substantial’ information might cause further panic.

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16. In most cases, people on the spectrum communicate better in written form with time to process, rethink, and edit thoughts and ideas, than spoken form. When possible, some type of written assessment ought to be utilized during recruitment screening, such as an essay or instant messaging service.

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17. Autistics are used to being judged, ridiculed, and told how to fix their behavior. People on the spectrum are often subjected to unsolicited advice, tips, and direction their whole lives. It is best not to offer assistance or help, or a point of view, unless asked.

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This post was revised in the summer of 2017. 

Sam’s new book Autism in a Briefcase: A leading edge tool for putting diversity into action is coming soon!

Written by founder of myspectrumsuite.com  Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle Ciampi), M.Ed. is the mother of three boys, one adult son who is on the autism spectrum. She is the senior job recruiter for ULTRA Testing, an autism educator, the author of the blog and book Everyday Aspergers, and is active in autism groups locally and globally. Samantha serves as a guest speaker, workshop presenter, curriculum developer, neurodiversity recruitment specialist, and more. She is working on her second book Autism in a Briefcase, written to provide insight to employers and agencies about the neurodiverse talent pool. A former schoolteacher and advocate for children with exceptional needs, she appreciates the skills and talents of autistic individuals. Diagnosed with Aspergers in 2012, she enjoys the arts, writing, movies, travel, and connecting with others. (More people know Sam by Sam because it’s her community pen name.) see myspectrumsuite.com for more information.

528: Named IT

Most people likely wouldn’t wake up Thanksgiving morning (in America) with a yank-to-the heart to blog. Obviously, I am not most people. I have too many thoughts in my head to sit quietly, or pace silently, or do a number of things tradition dictates on this day.

I have been partaking in the familiar ride of merry-go-round, gluttonous (see original meaning of word) over-analysis of said self, said relationships, and said environment. And no one within close proximity of my bloodshot eyes is safe from scrutiny. It’s amazing to lounge back and examine myself in full dissect-mode. As if I don’t realize another part of me is watching the hashing of existence.

I’ve come to several conclusions in the last few years, one being that my brain is naturally resistant to simplicity, and with that notified and rectified, and barfed back out into my reality, it only makes sense, (IT being some abstract unknown at this juncture in time), that even the process of self-reflection and –analysis becomes jam packed with innuendos of thoughts suggestive of borderline outer-space-level, far-out-there, uncharted territory. I mean to say, I can’t simply think without establishing layers of miniature clans of dictatorships, hall monitors, and the rogue rebel here and there. I don’t get to do that—the all or nothing factor out trumps the simplicity and shovels heap after heap of soil into my already marked spectacles—I don’t get to see a straight shot view. With all the leveled parts of my thought process, and all the interior battles at play for center seat, I am left askew, searching for the optimal view whilst heart-set on still wishing to see straight and level. If this thought process sounds overboard and complicated and too fluffy, and perhaps profound, well indeed IT is.

I have been beefing through the meat of me, left with a nasty residue of discovery. My palate is unchained and begging for captivity, some found juncture in the time line of reprieve. And that’s the way IT is, always outstretched, outreached, and overboard on the outskirts of center ground. And here I am, leaning back on my leather loveseat wondering, once again, what life is all about, my purpose, and the reason for IT all. I could waste some more energy, and couple all the thoughts with self-pity and apologies. I could tie a yellow ribbon of pity and regret around my idling mind loops. Or I can bypass that ghastly no-point jabber and go straight forward into what is leaping about my neuro-pathways. I’d rather do the latter. I have apologized to self and audience of self enough in this lifetime.

I am at odds with the basic concept of how to reason in my own mind. I am at a standstill, petrified as ancient forest, with the changes all about me. My environment has altered: where I live, who I see, when I see. And my routine has drastically changed. Everything is not the same, because of the exterior world shifting. I am not on some psychedelic trip and nor am I imagining nor delusional. In factual, able-to-legally-notarize life, so much change has occurred in the last few months that I am left dumbfounded and immobile in thought. But not in a way that leaves me emptied and unable to form logical sequences. No, this is quite the opposite. I am thusly so preoccupied with an over-stimulating environment of change, both internally and externally, that I am drowning in a sewer of ‘where am I,’ ‘who am I,’ ‘where am I going?’ There is a true stench of tranquility, in the sense that wherever I go, whatever I am doing, and whatever I choose to involve my self in, I have an underlying hankering of unsteady and unsafe humming in my metaphoric eardrum.

I can’t be without noticing I am being. And I can’t think without noticing I am thinking. And all the while I am viewing myself and hearing myself, in full dialogue at multiple levels. I sound crazy, indeed, if such a word is definable. But I recognize what is occurring and why it is occurring. I have undergone abundant life changes all at once, and this process has left me swimming in a whirlpool of what is. My safety net of routine twice-removed, the predictability-factor of life swiped clean out of view, the knowings of day-to-day, the falsehoods of control, and the need for expectations-met, all gone in one blow.

And here I find myself with the torrential IT. Face-to-face with the reality that again and again everything changes, with my own doing and without, with a sense of manifestation and leadership, and with a sense of whimsical-tyranny outstepping my ownership of control. It’s all or it’s nothing. And I am left not knowing what or whom to trust in a world that used to not make sense, but at least had a constructed wall of illusioned-safety. With such walls torn down, and all concreteness turned abstract, I am struggling whole-heartedly to recognize where to stand and where to rebuild a foundation.

I am left recognizing how dependent I am on the false sense of security. How my mind craves routine and established guidelines and rules and pointing-arrows leading the way to retreat. I am left more confused than established in discovery, more torn open and exposed to the self-upon-self than secured in the ways of being; and mostly, I am struggling in a reality that no longer exists, because all that seemed paved with instructions of how-to-be and act has been upturned by the giant bulldozer named IT.

526: Tis the Season to Shop: Aspie Style

1. Prepare by getting items out ahead of time.
I find my keys when I am in a non-rushed state. I keep my keys in the same place at home as much as possible, although I am not so regimented in my ways in dealings with my purse. However, abyss-purse-mouth aside, I try to place my keys in my hand before I leave a store, to avoid the stress of searching in the parking lot. And before exiting my vehicle to shop, I take out my ATM card, coupons, tickets, or the like. Take out what I need and put it in my hand or a nearby pocket. I then repeat to myself silently where I am putting the item(s). I do this because regardless of my employed ‘coping mechanisms,’ I still get anxiety in front of strangers, and have found the mere act of reaching into my purse to pull out my wallet and retrieve my ATM, when there is a potential audience, makes me blush and nervous. In the grocery store, I think about the people behind me in line and the person behind the checkout stand, and can’t help but feel their eyes upon me. I know I am not the center of their universe, and not important to them in the slightest degree. But I can’t help but to feel nervous, (if perchance their eyes hover upon me for more than a millisecond). Having what I need out and quickening the checkout process, by even ten seconds, somehow helps to relieve my anxiety. Plus, it’s one less step I have to think about, rehearse, and employ.

2. Ignore the lines. Choose the safest checkout.
I used to examine how many people were in line and choose which line to go through based on the length and potential wait time. I realized, with much exposure, that the length of the line generally means nothing, unless absolutely no one is there. At any moment, short line or not, anyone can have coupons, or need a price-check, or forget something. In addition, I have some weird spidey-sense, in which I am able to choose a short line that inevitably takes longer than all the other lines about. When it comes to shopping, I know I have triggers. Some include loud young children, loud scolding parents, people with extreme body odor, carts loaded with heaps of junk food and ‘garbage’, women with low-cut shirts with much “boobage” hanging out, and male grocery clerks. I am certain I am forgetting a barrel-load of other triggers. I am shy around men. And more shy around younger people than older people. So I generally try to choose an approachable-looking older woman to checkout my groceries. When one is not available, I find I feel most comfortable with a person appearing a bit ‘unique,’ like with nose and lips piercings and scattered tattoos or blue and pink hair. I feel much ‘safer’ around the ‘odd’ person. Perhaps I sense they might get me more than the typical folk, or at minimum not judge some of my odd quirks. And forget about self-checkout. That stuff makes me panic. So many steps and so much to do. Just scanning books in the library in the self-checkout is hard enough for me. And visualizing trying to self-scan in the grocery store makes my heart pump to the tenth degree, every time. I mean I am the girl self-preparing by reducing steps, why would I add a heap more?

3. Shop off hours.
I typically go to shop during mid-morning on a weekday. When I happen into a grocery store during rush hours, such as weekends or early evening, I am usually shocked by the wave of panic and need-to-escape that I experience. I don’t like loud crowds. I don’t like large crowds. And crowded loud aisles where everyone is maneuvering is the worst. I can feel people’s thoughts. I can almost hear their minds raging: Get out of my way! And I start to take on the persona of those around me. I quickly become exhausted and impatient. And I find myself judging how people can be so oblivious and absent. I wonder what I am doing there, and then physical pain sets in. I am the same in rush hour traffic, and forever thankful that is not a part of my daily routine.

4. Make a list and rewrite it again and again.
I like lists. They soothe me. They make errands less stressful. Ironically, in chuckle-fashion, most of the time I lose, forget, or misplace my list. But it was never about the list to begin with. I like to choose certain pens and markers and feel the way they write. I like to look at the words on paper. I like to cross out and highlight and remember things by marking them down. It’s even fun to find old lists and remember back to that day and recall what was a priority then and there. Something about words and lists and sorting is soothing. If I have to shop, I might as well add some self-soothing measures. If I remember the list, that’s a bonus. But even when I do, I often don’t follow it. In the end, a list is just one more task in a very busy-bombarded mind trying to keep up with the following of the subculture of the grocery store.

5. Stim while shopping.
I relax in some stores, when the crowds are not about and the store is clean, and the lights aren’t bothering me, and the music is not excruciatingly painful nor blaring, and the greeters at the front of the store are nice, and the aisles are neat and organized, and the items are well presented, and the heat isn’t too high and the room not too stuffy, and the smells not chemical-filled or musty. Then, when my sensory system isn’t on overload, and all ‘feels’ well, I enjoy myself. In fact, I seek out stores. I go to them several times a week. Not so much to spend money or to even shop, but to escape. Finding patterns, analyzing displays, counting how many of something are left, figuring out where I would put something if I bought it, and largely living in my imagination, are all benefits of a comfortable store. I calm myself by going window shopping and by looking at item after item, in row after row, and then deciding on one tiny thing. Something about stores enables me to relax through the distraction of ‘what ifs.’ It could be a furniture store or antique store or anything really, where multiple items are on display. My mind naturally itemizes and categorizes, fixes and organizes, counters and projects, creates and elaborates, and being in a place with many ‘new’ things enables my mind to feed. Yes, it’s a feeding of sorts. Akin to a vampire requiring blood: My mind requires newness.

6. And regarding the capitalistic ritual of Black Friday in America, a cultural tradition that has seeped out of its Friday boundary into the bordering days, past and present, no way. Not going. Not understanding the need nor the hype nor the want. Feeling sorry for the workers. Feeling sorry for society. And wishing we lived in a place where people lined up like that to feed the hungry. Enough said.

483: The Void

Somewhere out there you are lonely. I see you. I feel you.
You have this compassionate void within, a great abyss, massive in girth and depth.
There is no end to it: your beacon home.
You grasp at straws, at significant concrete ideas, thoughts, and concepts, even people, in an attempt to understand this absence, this missing, this grand emptiness.
So grand is your space of void that you long to fill it with whatever comes.
Sometimes the comings are tragic, sometimes wild, sometimes fulfilling, sometimes long-lasting, but they always dissipate.
You are left with memories slathered in pain, no matter the causation. You are left abandoned to yourself and your doings, in a state of query and mishap, shaken and made awake. Further awake.
This happens again and again, this searching out with your great capacity, an opening of self to what is there.
You take into you this, this substance, whatever the measure.
And you embrace it there, in your deepest self, twisting and turning the angles, figuring out in your limitation what could be, and forgetting what is.
There is a dichotomy inside of you, in which you love yourself, the innate you, yet also punish yourself for false failings.
You long to be someone else, as you embrace who you are.
Deep within you honor and respect your light, your goodness.
But beyond that you become confused in this world, isolated, alone, burdened.
This is your journey, and my journey, lost in a way, and found just the same.
There exists an ache so substantial that you live to alleviate the agony.
Day in and day out such intense longing.
We mistake this longing for love, for future hope, for him or her, for this or that.
The craving is the loving search for source, for truth, for light.
And in here we bathe.
Reach not for what is there, but for what is within, and your answers remain, as always, readily attainable.
Turn not to another, for the other is not the way.
You are this ‘way’ in your effervescent glow.
I cannot remove such suffering, even as I try ten-fold to release myself.
The suffering stays, and only grows greater.
What I can do is speak my voice, my truth, and seek harbor in the safety of awakened awareness.
I can go to the core of self and bring up what is there beyond the mask.
This is your calling, too. This is the void.
To embrace yourself fully in all your perceived failings. To love yourself in completion, and in turn give to the world what you have found within your being.
Purge, die, renew your essence, and give back your true light.
I wait for you on the other side, my burden heavy, my heart pierced, my enemy awake.
I wait and wait and wait, until a thousand deaths fall upon me.
And then I shall rise, with us in the horizon, with us in the rising sun.
You are my answer and I am yours.
We must awaken to the dream that is us, and begin to live the dream that is now.

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.

467: Enough

A month ago I said the word: Enough.

And that was that.

I was done with living in fear of leaving the house and meeting people. I was done with looping and fixating and anxiety. I was done with not honoring my light and soul. Done with the whispers of still needing improvement or further self-analysis.

I don’t know how it happened, or why it happened, but it did. I kind of just shifted. Bing-Bang-Bam, and with my declaration of ENOUGH, I was reborn.

I know part of the transformation was from the shift of my self-perception. As I have said before, if I were standing in a room full of people who had had contact with me, and I asked each individual to stand on a soapbox and describe who I was, with certainty each and every person would have their own varying opinion of me, viewpoints based on the day he or she met me, the content, my mood, his or her mood, the circumstances, the timing, the longevity of communication, and on and on and on. Each person would not only have a differing opinion of me based on his or her own perception (a perception based on environment, upbringing, attachments, biases, judgements, spiritual belief system, food intake, hormones, etc.) but he or she would no doubt have a different opinion a year or two later, perhaps more complex, modified, or embellished, but nonetheless differing.

Through writing, I learned that praise is just the same as criticism. That each comes from a bias source. That neither is good or bad, right or wrong, true or false. It took others’ constant feedback to get me to this point of self-acceptance. Now, with the new found awareness of others’ perceptions not being the basis of my identity, I am able to continually let go of attachments to others’ opinions in all of my relationships.

I recognize I just am. And in this “AM-ness” I am just fine.

I’ve recently gotten to that deep, deep, penetrating place of fear-relinquish. I don’t regret a thing. Not one moment of this experience, or upcoming experiences, or anything. This is as it is. I love myself and if I need to forgive me, then I forgive myself for being human. It’s simple. I don’t attach to others’ opinions and I don’t attach to my own thoughts of me. And I don’t let anything fester or linger. I just release.

I don’t buy into others’ emotions or perceptions of reality. Their truth is about as real as my truth. And I know what my truth is: constant transformation. In no way am I the same person I was ten years ago. Some of her opinions and judgments would make me blush and giggle now. And in no way will I be the same person I am now ten years from now. With this knowing, I’d rather spare the future me embarrassment by not clinging onto anything significant, whether that be an opinion, conclusion, thought, concept or so-called ‘truth.’ I just would rather be, without the chains of having to act in any way, except in the process of releasing.

It’s a form of Buddhism, I practice. But it’s also a form of Christ-love, of human kindness, of radical self-acceptance that leads to love of others, and much more. I am not naming anything I am experiencing, not placing a label on what is happening. And in attempting to describe where I am at, through the limitation of words, I contradict myself.

Enough said of this or that.

At this moment I am thankful for the gift of the relief of constant self-analysis, self-focus, self-betterment, and self-evaluation. I am thankful for the clarity of mind and joy I feel.

There are a few things I am doing that I believe are contributing to my well-being.

1. I do become what I focus on. I have the ability to ‘perfect’ anything I give my time to. I have succeeded at being a teacher, a nanny, a poet, a writer, and an advocate. When I focus on Aspergers, I become the best “aspergers” possible. With this reckoning, I realize if I have the ability to become what I focus on, then why not focus on being a person who is anxiety-free, joy-filled, and no longer dependent on cyclic-thinking and depressive thoughts? I refocus my attention. I pull my train of thought away from who I was and how to ‘fix’ me, and shift gears. I decide to be free of Aspergers. And somehow, in many ways, I am.

2. I am doing things that scare me. I thought for some time, if I just avoided all that scared me, I would feel safer and better. But that’s not what happened. Instead, I became engrossed in my own time, my own thoughts, and forgot how to get out. Now I go almost every day to someplace that is ‘scary.’ I challenge my own fears. And I relish in the accomplishment of not only surviving but enjoying myself. I refuse to evaluate my social behavior. I refuse to worry about what others think of me. I just embrace who I am and in return love everyone around me. I try not to judge anyone, especially not myself. This is a pleasing place to be. Last night I went to a night club, approached a stranger I’d never met, asked if I could sit with her, and we became instant friends. I embraced her for who she was, and in no time we were up and dancing to the Brazilian music. I hadn’t danced in public in over ten years. And I wasn’t embarrassed (or intoxicated), the noise of the room didn’t bother me, and the strangers all about didn’t cause me to feel uneasy. I just was happy. I just let myself be happy.

3. I decided I wanted to increase my ease of mind naturally. I stopped all forms of gluten. I am walking almost daily. I decreased my sugar intake. I am taking certain supplements, under doctor’s supervision, in high-doses. I am getting plenty of rest. I do walking meditation. I read spiritual texts. I listen to music and sing loudly. I laugh a lot. I am surrounding myself with performing arts venues. I have attended stand-up comedy, live comedy theater productions, live music performances, poetry readings, and other venues. I am also drinking black tea twice a day to keep up my energy and increase my mood. I take no medications, eat healthy, and surround myself with positive people.

4. I am trying many new things and a variety of things. I am not focusing on one area of my life. I am not fixating on one event or one thing. I am exploring multiple avenues. I am going to pubs, to Happy Hours, and to other social gatherings. I am joining things I have thought about joining for years. I am doing things I have wanted to do for years. I am being daring, adventurous, and free. I am allowing myself to be happy over and over.

5. I thought before, if I left my calendar free, I would feel better. But that didn’t happen; it made things worse. I would worry about the one thing I had to do for the week. I would have that dread. But I also would have that extreme isolation of being at home so much. And because I was at home so much, I spent a large amount of time on the computer. I am sensitive to others’ energy. I know this. And because I was spending so much time on the computer, primarily social network sites, I was picking up on others’ emotions. I was lacking social interactions in the flesh, and I was becoming more and more lost in myself. I now believe I need to be out. It it good for me: the fresh air, connecting with other people, laughing with friends, exploring, learning, stimulating my mind, getting out of my own brain. Nothing has been better than jam-packing my calendar. I wake up excited about the days’ events. I have something to look forward to. I have purpose. I have fun. I am like a kid again. And I don’t get tired. Before if I did one thing, I was zapped of energy and tried all day. But now I am recharged, rejuvenated, enlightened, carefree. I am choosing to be this way. I am choosing to focus on the happy adventure and not the exhaustion. If I am tired, I take a little nap, or some more tea, or more supplements, or rebalance my diet, or walk. Basically, I have gotten to the point in my life where I refuse to be a victim anymore. I have a right, just as much as anyone, to be content and full of joy. I have a right to live. I have a right to finally live.

466: I am what I am Becoming

I was going to title this post: Chocolate Gives me Hemorrhoids.

Then I laughed, as I logically made a streamline of comparisons about my love of chocolate and my love of community, and how, much like chocolate, community always leaves me with an uncomfortable, yet very bearable, consequence.

And I chuckled more, as I deciphered the numerous ways in which I still over-share and over-quauntify my thinking.

Divergent, I am. This is true. Definitely true. But far less true than I believed two years ago.

I woke up with a flash this early morning. My brain wanted to write a post, my body adamantly disapproved, and fortunately vetoed the whole reckoning, and forced us back into sweet slumber. Yet, before I fell back to sleep, a good hour of delightfulness (not), I kept hearing these words over and over: I am what I am becoming. I am becoming what I am.

It made a lot of sense at one in the morning. Not so much now.

Still, I gathered this little summary, from my mind, this afternoon:

“Identity is a pendulum. Each individual is grasping onto what he thinks he is and releasing what he no longer believes himself to be. Even as no one is what he seems, and all is as illusion, we give and take based on temporary boundaries set upon the image of ‘self.’ In saying ‘I am what I am becoming,’ I recognize I am in state of constant transition, never stagnant, undergoing various degrees of transformation. In stating ‘I am becoming what I am,’ I am aware that I become those elements that I hold onto as truth.”

Indeed, the complexity of my mind carries on.

I have hesitated in regards to writing another post, as I had opted to give myself ample time off and away from the computer. I found myself being sucked into the online life, instead of attending to my very relevant and real existence outside the computer. In other words, I used technology to escape reality.

I did this escapism for about two years. I have no regrets. The journey was necessary, relevant, and fostered much growth. But I am done.

I thought I would soon be writing my last post. But I don’t think so, yet. I am not quite ready.

Since pulling myself off of the computer, I’ve made some dynamic shifts in my life.

Here’s a list. Because I love lists:

1. Recently, I have stopped going on social networks (Facebook), except briefly for one day a week. I might occasionally have a private chat with a friend there, but the rest I leave alone. This has been hugely freeing. I was spending a good four to five hours a day on Facebook, and though it felt necessary and even ‘good’ at the time, the energy I gave out and took in (from others) affected me greatly. Now with more time freed up, I find myself having as much energy for endeavors, outside of my home, as I did some nine years ago, when I would have easily been identified as a ‘social butterfly.’

2. I have adapted a bit of a ‘bitchiness’ to me. Likely because I am PMSing, but primarily because recently I allowed myself to get hurt one too many times. As a result, I felt the need to lather on a thicker coat around my aura. My husband reassured me this morning, without my probing, that yes, I was still overall very kind and loving to others. This came as a huge relief, because my little bit of bitch-waves feel like the titanic of disaster-moods. In actuality, I probably behave like most typical nice people now. I am just quick to say ‘no,’ set boundaries, self-talk the necessities of self-care, and make appropriate choices based on what is ‘best’ for me, not others! What a concept.

3. I jolted myself out of some dark place of self-wallowing and self-pitty; and to tell you the truth, when I observe similar behaviors in others now, I get kind of jaded and sick to my stomach. Like I want to barf and scream: Stop focusing on yourself! I feel I can do this because I have been there and done that. I’m surely not innocent. And I am not trying to judge, either. Just merely wanting others to find some inner peace and self-love. Somehow, likely through a series of letdowns and heartaches, I got a good look at myself. Somehow, the curtain to my current reality opened long enough to see that I was bleeding out with borderline narcissism. Yes, it was beneficial to spend some ‘cave’ time taking a good look at myself, my weaknesses, my strengths, my challenges, my hopes, my dreams, etc. But enough is enough! There finally came a day where I woke up and truly shouted out loud: ENOUGH! And you know what, I have barely had an Asperger’s trait since. Genius traits, yes. But stuff like looping, fixating, over-analyzing, worrying to extreme, and all that pain-in-the-butt nonsense, I just stopped. No pill. No magic. Just one word. Enough! And so it is, going on two weeks now, even as I enter the PMDD zone, that I adamantly refuse to drudge into the muck of self-pity, self-rejection, and agonizing fear. Like I said, I adapted a bit of bitchiness to get me through. But that too will pass. Ironically, it’s a nice change.

4. I have realized to a GREAT extent that I become what I focus on. It’s like my super power. I can become fantastically brilliant and fanatical at whatever I choose to spend time on. I can become so engrossed and impassioned with my endeavor and laser-focus that I pull others in with me. Case in point: this blog and my like-page, and the following. I reluctantly and without plan, became some sort of Aspergers super-hero. And I say this with no pride, whatsoever, but with a rather oh-my-fricken-godess sigh. Seriously? What was I thinking. Not that I don’t love people I have met and continue to meet along this journey. But the act of continually losing my self-identity and morphing into something brilliant I barely recognize as self has become quite the bother.

5. Recently, I became so much ME, I lost sight of the rest of the world. And I became so much ASPERGERS, I forgot who else I was or could feasibly be. I forgot that before I found out I had Aspergers I was highly-sucessful in social arenas. I forgot I liked going out. That I liked people. And that even though I was an introvert, I was what could be classified as an outgoing, very likable introvert. Somehow I convinced myself, in the past 24 months, that staying at home was a viable option of entertainment for the rest of my existence. I kind of became a Chicken Little, only the sky wasn’t falling, my whole life was.

I had five more things on this list and accidentally deleted them all; which is likely for the best, for the bitch in me was taking over a wee bit more than I am comfortable with. I will end this post with a brief list (yes, another list) of what I have done for myself in the past 12 days.

1. Joined several social groups in the area including spiritual groups, socializing gaming groups, jazz and music groups, movie groups. I schedule an event and then go meet an entire group of strangers. It’s so fricken scary and fabulous, all at once. And I am enjoying myself without the post-game evaluation of am I good enough and did I say and act the ‘right’ way. I don’t go there anymore.

2. I have started to practice my guitar more often and continue to take lessons.

3. I have rented dvds on Buddhism, set up a prayer table in my room, hung up cool white lights in my room, and have been reading books that aren’t in my typical genre. One currently is a humorous non-fiction book about a womanizing drunk.

4. I have given up gluten and try to eat very little white sugar. Though my intense moments of chocolate indulgences continue to surface; thusly I sit less.

5. I have bought myself some new hats and sweaters and boots. Nothing spiritual or ah-ha about that, but still fun.

6. I have made a set schedule so everyday I know what’s ahead. For example on Mondays I go to a quaint cafe and have the freshly made soup and salad and read and I walk three miles around the lake. On Thursdays I go to a coffee shop and go online with my laptop. On Fridays I make dates with friends and I go to the mall and play Netrunner with a lot of introverts. I am taking myself to see movies, too.

7. I try to walk five days a week 1.5 to 3 miles. Something I am ever so thankful I can do.

8. I am listening to my mediation and positive affirmation cds more frequently. Visiting the library to attain uplifting music; lately I’ve enjoyed Mozart. It’s a nice break from love songs that currently make me either gag or cry.

9. Tonight I am going to a poetry reading and bringing some of my poetry to maybe share. Tomorrow I go to a cafe that is having their monthly gathering on the planets’ alignments. I have tickets to many performing arts events, some with friends, some with my spouse, and some with strangers!

10. I have on my calendar to check out the weekly mediation at the Buddhist center and to join a community group, such as Rotary, soon.

The way I see it is: if I keep my interest varied enough, and nothing consumes me, I won’t morph or attach into any one genre, event, or way of being.

Until next time. Wishing you the best in all you are becoming!

300: Aspergers: The Stuff That Ain’t Working

1. Exposure Therapy:

For years and years I thought if I just socialized more, if I just connected more, and tried harder to be like everyone else, my endurance level for social gatherings would improve and my anxiety levels would decrease. I believed that through repeated exposure that things would get better. That hasn’t happened.

I don’t have a fear and/or phobia to any one thing or event; therefore there is nothing I can focus on overcoming or having less fear about. My anxiety isn’t caused by anything I can pinpoint. My anxiety is caused by the way I process the stimuli in my environment and the way I respond to my surroundings. I am hyper-aware and my senses are turned up to the highest degree. I am also, despite self-training and studies, unsure of how to act in a social gathering, (e.g, how much to share, when to share, when to stop, when to respond, how to stand, how to look, when to be less honest, etc.); and as a result of my uncertainty, I have a constant inner voice reminding me of how to be. A voice that also self-corrects continually.

I need and long for structure and routine. My fear can be reduced if the same events happen in a similar way. However, inevitably changes occur. To say I will get better with practice or exposure is not an accurate statement. First of all, I am not wrong or in need of improvement. I am uniquely wired. One would not tell a person with a visual impairment that if she kept staring at a picture on the wall the image would become clearer, and one would not tell a person with a hearing impairment to repeatedly listen to a song on high-volume to improve his or her hearing. In the same line of thinking, one cannot tell me to continue going outside of my comfort-zone, to eventually gain a sense of security. I do not have the physical capacity. This is not biologically possible for me.

2. Positive Self-Talk/Cognitive Therapy:

While Aspergers can, and often does, have the comorbid conditions of generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and depression, Aspergers is not the sum of its parts. A person cannot be treated for the comorbid conditions and then grow out of Aspergers. If anyone says they outgrew Aspergers or cured themselves, I don’t believe they had ASD to begin with. Unless they’ve feasibly learned how to reprogram their brain.

I do not think there is a way to change my brain. And as hard as my life can be at times, I don’t like the idea of my brain changing. Aspergers is not a mental illness. The “disorder” of Aspergers is believed to occur in the frontal lobe of the brain. Why and how the condition develops is still largely unknown. Though there seems to be a large genetic factor.

While positive self-talk has many benefits and can decrease episodes of anxiety and depression, and perhaps even diminish some OCD tendencies, it does little to help with the condition of Aspergers itself. No matter how much self-talk I give myself, I still respond in a fight or flight response pattern, when I am in a public place or at a public gathering. I do not want to feel this way, and do not choose to feel this way, but this is the way I feel.

Self-talk and cognitive behavior techniques can sometimes do me more harm than good. When I am panicking, no matter how many times I incorporate positive self-talk or implement cognitive behavioral techniques, (e.g., replace negative belief that is a falsehood with a true reality-based belief), my body continues to respond as if I am in danger. When I do in fact implement the self-talk, in an attempt to do the “right” thing or to “fix” myself, I then feel guilty when the technique does not work. I then question why I was not capable of applying such a simple concept to my own way of thinking.

No amount of practice, hard work, or scouring through books has increased the effectiveness of cognitive-based therapy techniques for me. And the more I use them, and fail, the more I feel as if I am wired in a way that is wrong.

What does help me is letting go and realizing that the panic is something I have to go through, and realizing that when I am on the other side I will be okay. And that there is nothing wrong with what I am doing or going through. It is just the way I am. So in a way I am using positive talk, but not in the traditional sense. I am not finding a false statement or belief that needs change and fixing it. Instead I am self-soothing and reminding myself I will be okay regardless of how I feel at the moment.

I use my thoughts as more of a security blanket. The best thing for me to do in times of anxiety is not to retrain my brain to talk better to me, but to retrain me to treat my brain better. The key being letting go and acceptance.

3. Thinking if I am more self-aware I will be able to control my thoughts and/or anxiety:

I can’t control myself sometimes. I thought if I read enough and studied enough that I could reprogram who I am at a core level. To a degree, spiritually and perhaps energetically, and maybe even genetically, I might be able to alter myself, depending on what doctrine I deem to hold some semblance of truth, but overall I cannot change this elemental core of Aspergers; and if I feasibly can, the answer repeatedly stealthily eludes me.

I have tried every way imaginable to knock some sense into me when I go into a mode of shutdown, and there is nothing I can do, beyond pushing through the uncomfortable emotions.

When my anxiety is high, I become immobile. I cannot do simple tasks. I become extremely fatigued and unable to think in a linear fashion. I become trapped in a cycle or loop of thought. I can step back and see myself doing this. And the odd part is, I know what tools to implement that should supposedly pull myself out, but I also know they won’t work on me. I have tried. Nothing works to stop the anxiety when it is in full swing. It is like I have to go through the tunnel of darkness to come out cleansed and regenerated at the other end.

Days filled with too much sensory overload lead to days of shutdown. During this time life seems bleak and not worth living; however, it does not feel hopeless. I feel fed up more than anything, and exhausted by thought and life. My good hours are usually from when I wake up until mid-day. By mid-afternoon, I often become overwhelmed. This is when I can do little more than sit on the couch. I cannot listen to someone talk for long. It is like I am a computer and all my memory has been filled up. There is no more room left for input.

I have thought to scribe a list to remind myself during the high-anxiety, shut down times of what I need to do to feel better. However, when I am in shutdown, I know that no list of any sort will help. It doesn’t matter that I know why I am overwhelmed and exhausted. My brain is in lockdown. I am protecting myself from short circuiting. The last thing I need is logic or steps to follow. This cognitive reasoning only leads me into further shutdown and retreat, further bombarded by the outside. The only method that works for me is releasing control and letting myself go through the emotional process. If I do not let myself retreat, I will likely have a meltdown, in where I shout and cry. I need time to decompress and be alone. Time to process and discard of my abundance of emotions and thoughts.

4. Thinking that by knowing I have Aspergers I will be more likely able to change myself.:

With self-recognition of Aspergers my behaviors have shifted, but I haven’t changed. Before I didn’t understand my emotions. Before a major event, like a party at our house, when I didn’t know I had Aspergers, I would get extremely controlling and high-strung. I would order my husband around and start arguments. I would create chaos so I could release the tremendous fear building up inside of me. I didn’t know the fear was from thoughts of the upcoming events. My husband would often ask me why I was so angry and touchy before a party. I didn’t know. I thought I was a controlling person and needed everything to go my way to be happy. The problem was I knew innately I didn’t want to be a controlling person and I was never happy, regardless.

It wasn’t until I realized I had Aspergers that my behavior changed. Now, before an event, I no longer subconsciously create drama so I can release emotion. I didn’t consciously decide to change this; the change happened naturally with the discovery of my Aspergers. Now, I am hyper-aware of why I am upset. I recognize my emotions in detail and the triggers that set me into a state of anxiety. It might seem that knowing myself more would make the anxiety level decrease, but actually the anxiety is more intensified, because I am no longer subconsciously utilizing displacement. I am not displacing my own dread about an event into another event. I am not using or finding a scapegoat. I am not creating drama in order to diffuse my own tension. Instead tension keeps building and I have no way to release it.

Now that I am more aware of my own behavior and emotions, and the triggers, I do much more stimming, e.g., I flick my nails, flap my hands, clear my throat, click my teeth, and so forth. I also have anxiety dreams related to a planned event. And the day of the event, I have extreme fluctuations of emotions, and sometimes physical symptoms such as hives and/or stomach aches. I am now taking in the full of the experience and my body is responding. I don’t know if this is better or worse than the displacement. What is also happening is instead of “freaking out” before an event, I am often “freaking out” after the event. I feel very much like a child who holds herself together for the better part of the day, only to go home and have a meltdown.

I have found, to date, the best way to handle my anxiety is to not turn it into the enemy, or something to be eradicated and ejected, but something to be accepted. The more I fight the anxiety, the worse I feel, for there isn’t any avenue that saves me or leads to rescue. I have to go through the discomfort in order to feel relief. The process is similar to a minor panic attack or adrenaline rush, but it passes, and the more accepting I am of the process the quicker it passes. I’ve noticed the same with my dog’s epileptic seizures. They used to last up to twenty-minutes; now when they begin I hold her and release my own fear. I accept she will go through the seizure and be okay. I send this feeling of acceptance to her, and do not fight her seizures. I then let her go, or hold her less closely, and ignore her in a compassionate way, as if telling her: This is not a big deal. Don’t give it power, and it will pass. Since incorporating this method, my dog’s seizures have decreased drastically in length, generally only five minutes, and sometimes less than a minute. My own anxiety is like a my dog’s seizure; if I just let go and trust it will be okay, it passes much quicker.

5. Believing that by making plans I will feel more structured and therefore I will experience less anxiety:

Sometimes lists help me; especially if there are no deadlines on the list. I like to make lists of chores or errands, and to cross out items as they are accomplished. I also like to rewrite new lists and to see how much the to-do items have diminished. Lists are my friends. Appointments on the calendar are not my friends.

I remember my father would always tell me a similar thing. I would ask him if we could get together on such-and-such day, and he would typically respond that he couldn’t tell me yet, and that deciding at that moment didn’t feel comfortable to him. He did better with last-minute plans. I didn’t understand at the time why my father acted this way. I felt cheated out of his life and not important enough to plan for. But today I understand my father more. He didn’t want to make plans because he didn’t want the stress of worrying about an upcoming event. I am the same way. I have been my whole life.

To me, the best days are days nothing is on the calendar. Even one appointment or obligation can make me anxious for hours beforehand, sometimes even days beforehand. The thought of having to pick up my son up from school each afternoon causes me stress. I leave at a set time daily, and the trip is short, easy, and non-eventful, but the stress does not dissipate.

Usually two hours before a scheduled event, I start to become very preoccupied with the time and the steps I will have to take to leave the house. Simple tasks, like showering or getting dressed, feel overwhelming. I can spend several minutes, processing and reprocessing the pros and cons of showering. I can create in my mind a half-dozen scenarios of what sequence I should follow in preparation for my departure. Even before I’ve started the process of getting ready, I am often mentally exhausted.

When I see an event on the calendar, I have a small panicky feeling inside, as I realize that soon in preparation for an event, I will experience something similar to post-traumatic-stress-syndrome.

This seems contradictory in nature to me: the fact that I do well knowing what to expect and with routine but at the same time I dread plans on the calendar. I look forward to well-structured days indoors at home. However, the repeated isolation and lack of adult company can lead to depression and feelings of isolation, loneliness, and inadequacy.

There is a continual pendulum of want inside of me. On one side there is the longing for company and stimulation outside the home, on the other side there is the longing to hibernate and not have to experience the anxiety involved in going out. This pendulum moves back and forth. If I am not careful, I can self-punish myself by wishing I was different and more normal. I am in a constant state of fluctuation, never centered, and always wanting.

6. Believing if I can just let go of Aspergers and get on with my life, I’ll be fine.

I joke with myself sometimes. I think if I write enough and share enough, I will process the Aspergers right out of me. Some silly part of me believes I’ll wake up and be cured of Aspergers, and if not cured, so much better able to function. The truth is I don’t need to be cured. I am not sick, or ill, or broken. I have been born with a brain that is different from the general population. If society was different, I would be responding differently. But society isn’t different.

I have tried over and over to change myself, to try to fit in, and to try to function, but the more I try, the more I find myself battling the same resistance. What I have found that works is contact with other people who understand me. I feel safe with most people with Aspergers, and to a degree safe with people who would classify themselves as a bit “quirky” or “shy.” I fit nicely with the odd balls and misfits.

I don’t need to let go of Aspergers, I need to let go of isolation and thinking there is something wrong with me to begin with. The more lovely souls I meet with brains wired like mine, the more I learn to appreciate my uniqueness and beauty, and the more I recognize the depth of my own intelligence and empathy.

I was created differently, but different is not wrong, and need not be terrible. With the right balance of release and acceptance, and with the right connection with like-souls, I am learning to navigate myself in this world. Where I used to believe I was dropped down on the wrong planet, I now believe that I am right where I am supposed to be.

299: The New Day

I’ve decided
I’ve decided that you deserve more
More than what I am offering
With my clinging and self-doubt
You are not the key to my self-worth
So I shall work on being less dependent
On you
I am ready to pull away some
I think
I want our friendship to be nurturing
And I am tired of being so needy
I understand what is happening
I am self-harming
Through you
I build you up into someone you are not
So you can disappointment
Or rather
So I can think you are disappointing
For then I experience a rawness inside
A Terrible Ache
That reaches into the heart of me
It is only then
With the coming ache
That I feel alive
Without this intense angst
I feel numb
For no one can fill my depths
With the love I need
And thusly I am left hollow
And alone
In desperation and with desire
I grasp on to Love’s cousin
Pain
And pour him into me
I use
My addictive substance
Over and over
To exist
Because I feel alien
In this world
In both form and experience
I have been using
Using you
To feel real
Using
To wake up
My sleeping soul
I am sorry
For clinging
For aching
For suffering
Through you
But I still choose you
I choose you again and again
Only this time
You are chosen
For your beauty alone
For your light that shines through
The darkness in me
And opens my eyes
To the new day of us

~ Samantha Craft, January 2013

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