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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296: The Star of My Post

I panicked this morning. I pulled my husband out of the bathroom. He was stripped down to his boxers. And I was mean.

I don’t like to be mean. I hate it, in fact. At the core of me, I am nice. But this mean, panicky part of me surfaces at times.

She especially appears when I am feeling bombarded with change and sensory overload. When my normal routine is drastically altered I get a bit crazed and then my scale of unpredictable outcries is undeniably both potent and dramatic.

This morning, the birthday sleepover for my youngest boy was almost over. There had been much noise and upheaval as the boys celebrated together and tore the daylight basement apart with their slathering of snacks and soda. I’d not fallen asleep until nearly two am, and I’d cleaned and organized and shopped and prepared the entire day before.

My husband had been a great support, as much as any human could be who didn’t possess super powers, but by morning, he, like me, was exhausted. And unlike me, he was ready to get out of the house and start a course of errands. He headed downstairs to shower, as I was wrapping the party up, and awaiting the arrival of the two last guardians to pick up the children.

After twenty-minutes of feeling a kneading, unidentifiable discomfort inside, suddenly a shock of revelation hit me. Two strangers were about to appear at my door. As I thought about this fact, I was bombarded with what ifs, and what to say, and how to stand, and how to smile, and how to be, and how to stop my own very self-consuming fear of being seen by another being.

As I processed, and my anxiety grew, I realized I wanted to duck under a blankie, to escape, and to not face anyone.

Suddenly, and without warning, an all-encompassing fear bit at me like a disobedient hound leaping to snatch food from an innocent bystander.

I logically processed. I figured this biting and uncontrollable fear was part of my Aspergers, part of how my brain worked, part of who I was and had always been. The feelings weren’t unfamiliar, not even more intense; but I was more aware.

Still, even with the understanding, I could do little or nothing to calm myself down. At any moment the door would knock and a stranger would appear.

I talked to myself in silence. I reasoned. I tried to logically stop the worries and concern. I knew there was nothing to fear, but yet I feared. I knew there was no threat, but I felt threatened. I wanted to run.

The doorbell rang. It was the first stranger. She was kind and courteous, and we didn’t have opportunity for small talk, as her nephew gathered his things and left quickly enough.

I shut the door, wishing them well, and sighed in relief. I felt half of the anxiety leave. Only one to go. Only one to go, I told myself. I attempted to self-soothe, to talk myself into the fact that I was safe. But I couldn’t. Though half the anxiety had left, the remaining panic was newly fresh and alarming, clawing at me from the inside out. I just couldn’t do it. Not alone. Not by myself. Not with all the uncertainties.

I rushed then. I darted down the stairs in a state of meltdown. I was imploding and exploding all at the same time. The outside me, the observer that sometimes watches, and takes note of my behavior, and who is often able to laugh or offer sound advice, she’d been swallowed up in the confusion of my emotions.

I had to find my husband, make sure he was dressed, and get him upstairs, right away. There was no time to wait. My soul was on fire!

I found my husband in his boxers, doing something in front of the mirror. I don’t remember what. Everything was a jolted blur of rush and chaos. “Please hurry, he will be here any moment, and you know how I am,” I whined.

I looked my husband over and realized he hadn’t showered yet. It had been twenty minutes, and he still hadn’t showered!

“What have you been doing?” I queried rudely. “This whole time you could have showered, and you didn’t. Why didn’t you? Why did you leave me up there alone? Why? You don’t get me. You don’t know me. What do you not understand about Aspergers? What do I fear the most? What do I fear the most!”

My husband stammered with his eyes and braced himself against the bathroom door. I could see he was processing my emotional state. I could sense the familiarity of his experience: how he knew I was on the verge of freaking out and that his next move would either create a domino effect of me collapsing into hysteria or serve to bring me out somewhat from my spinning panic.

He stepped closer, and waited for me to finish my thoughts, waited in a way and with a skill I have not yet learned, and fathom I shall never learn. I felt a reckoning of sadness, a knowing I was different, odd, and displaced on a planet where my skillset had never been completed, where my tool box of communication skills was vastly depleted.

I wept inside, until the fear rose. I went on fast then, and with an unrelenting urgency. I knew what I was doing and what I was feeling, and it all felt so ridiculous and unnecessary and unfounded and just plain stupid, but I couldn’t help myself. I was trapped in a prison of jumbled thought and worry.

I said more, my words not chosen carefully, my panic taking the wheel. “You abandoned me. You abandoned me. You say to me ‘You take it from here; I’m going to shower,’ and you leave me to face the strangers. You know how I am? How could you do this?” My eyes were welling with a mixture of tears and rage.

I was on the verge of flipping my husband off. About to mount the stairs, and with a quick turn of my back, turn and give him the finger. I was so confused. My emotions all jumbled and twisted into a crisis.

I stood my ground, even as I saw another path of what I might have done, how I might have taken off as I told him off. I stared past him, fighting back the urge to yell, “I hate you!”

He didn’t move or even flinch, but looked at me with such profound and unattainable patience. I knew I was being childish. I knew at that moment he was the only adult in the house.

“Your worst fears are talking to strangers, especially at the door, and to men,” he replied. He then said, with a sigh, “I’ll wait to shower. I’m coming upstairs. Be right there.”

Within two minutes, I was back on the couch, hiding behind my laptop and my husband was in the leather chair twiddling his fingers and playing with his cellular phone.

I said, “Stop picking at your lip. That bugs me.”

I said, “I don’t understand. Don’t you care? Why did you do this to me?”

He looked at me blankly, and replied. “I didn’t shower. I came up here for you because I love you.”

I waited for him to be triggered or upset or to show emotion. I needed him to be emotional. I needed him to take me out of my emotional state, by means of his emotional state. For me to be able to focus on his wavering feelings, and to blame him, so I could escape self-blame. I punched at him with my words.

He didn’t care. He didn’t. He didn’t know how to show me love, is all I could think.

“Our problem is the Language of Love. You show love in service and duty; I show love through emotion and affection. I really need a hug right now and compassion.”

He got off of the couch and came to my side and held me. But I didn’t feel release. I’d wanted to blame him and make him act a certain way, thinking his behavior would relieve me. But it didn’t.

He stayed at my side and looked over at me as I maneuvered through the stream of my Facebook wall. He was watching the posts, watching me, and in my space. I looked at him and said, “Thanks for the hug. Can you go away now? I don’t want you near me. Please leave.”

I recognized the cruelness and impatience in my voice. I sensed my selfishness and sporadic ways. But I couldn’t help myself. I was in the middle of a breakdown, and nothing my husband did or said or offered could help me.

My husband rolled his eyes and shook his head. And I offered some half-apology for my behavior, knowing I’d been terrible. I tried to make him laugh. “Well at least you might be the star of my post,” I offered.

I don’t think he smiled.