Everyday Aspergers: THE BOOK

I invite you to take a look inside of my book Everyday Aspergers.

Take a look here.

(I just deleted an entire paragraph explaining why I am uncomfortable with self-promotion. I’ll spare you the details!)

My publisher, Your Stories Matter, took great care to provide this ‘book-to-look’ version of the second edition of Everyday Aspergers.

(I’ve truly failed at promoting my own book. I usually promote Steve Silberman’s book in my travels and teachings. Typical me!)

Over a year ago, I decided to move my memoir from one agency to another. I made this decision to ensure the paperback was available outside of the USA. Here are ten facts you might not know about E.A.

The second edition of Everyday Aspergers : A Journey on the Autism Spectrum can be purchased on Amazon in several countries. It makes a great gift!

The new book cover is by a talented autistic author and writer. The pages, of the new edition, have photos and images from my childhood. I added a new end chapter. The layout, pages, and style are different. It’s the same story in an enhanced casing.

https://www.book2look.com/book/KRksrIxTxr

My three sons and me in 2018.

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538: Assumption Junction… the truth of my Aspie words

People who don’t know me well, and some who do, sometimes jump to conclusions and assume things about my intention and motivation behind my writing that aren’t necessarily true. I write to write. It’s largely a processing mechanism.

The problem is that who ever is reading my words will interpret said writing based on his or her own opinions and prior knowledge. In other words, if someone is naturally confrontational then the chances of this same person thinking I am being confrontational in my writing is high. Or the opposite might be true, where a confrontational person might make a judgment call that I am weak because I am not displaying a countering personality. Wherein I might be explaining something for a thousand different strands of reasons, all of which pop in and out of my head through the process of scribing, he or she will make an abrupt conclusion about my intentions that includes perhaps two or three primary reasons (again, based on his or her experience). The worst part of it is when this said party then turns and suggests he/she knows what I was trying to say and why I was trying to say it. When truth be told, I have already played over in my busy mind a hundred times why I said what I said, how I said it, and why I said it.

People don’t often know how long I take to write a response. When I am dealing with an out-of-my-comfort-zone response to someone, for example via email or instant messaging to someone who I do not have a close relationship with about a subject I deem important, I take a very long time to write, upwards to an hour for revisions, rewriting, rewording, reworking, and rereading. I stim through the editing process itself to calm my anxiety over the situation. If I am triggered, particularly by what I interpret as an injustice towards another, it takes me even more time to write. What is difficult then is when I am accused by another to have written something in haste, without thought, at length, or without consideration to the audience or the communication rules of some company or organization. It is hard to digest this type of assumption because nothing is further from the truth. The receiver does not understand that I have painstakingly relived scenario after scenario of possible outcomes of how my words might be interpreted. That I have tried my hardest to follow any rules of communication. That I have pushed myself to shorten all I want and feel the need to say. That I have left out more than 75% of what is really on my mind, and sometimes much more than that.

In example of the revision process, I will write a sentence and then imagine the person/audience reading my words. I then evaluate their potential reaction and adjust in hopes of causing the least amount of miscommunication. It’s not about people-pleasing or avoiding conflict, it’s more so conveying my truth as I see it in the most gentle and kind way (and rule-following way) as possible. To do this I switch around words, I alter adjectives, I choose new phrases, and I clarify repeatedly through transposing my words and readjusting. A draft will be rewritten more times than I can count, and large sections deleted, redone, and deleted again. It never seems to be right enough. Not in a perfectionist way, but in a ‘this is my heart’ way.

I discern ahead of time feasible misgivings or upset on the upcoming reader’s part. This process is exhausting at all levels and causes physical and emotional pain. The most troublesome hurt follows if and when the intended recipient responds in one of the many non-constructive ways I had foreseen him/her responding, and then I see all my efforts were for naught.

People think that the length of my writing equates debate, that length = ego, that length = confusion, that length = selfishness, that length = not caring about the recipient, that length = non-professionalism, etc. etc. I don’t write at length to get my point across or to prove something. Once again, I write to clarify my inner workings and to let the person know my intentions fully. If a part of information isn’t shared that I believe at the time is a pertinent piece of the subject at hand I feel as if I am being deceitful, even as I logically know that by definition I am not. No amount of reasoning fixes this.

I over explain myself in written word as much as I do in spoken word. Particularly when emotionally triggered. And such triggers can come from a variety of sources, especially from others’ behaviors that are not privy to the autistic experience. With all my spiritual studies and practices, a part of me would like to say I am ‘above/ being triggered, but that’s hogwash. I am neurologically wired to be more prone to fight-or-flight responses. (And in my case biologically/physically wired that way, as well.) So, I accept that I get triggered.

It is cumbersome and downright dangerous for me to write (without a lot of editing) after I have been triggered. I cannot help but let some of the emotional upset leak through. As much as I try to pamper and sugar coat the words, this ache of being triggered comes out. And then, even with careful revision, the trigger leaks through. In response, I am evaluated based on the characteristics of my writing. I am labeled emotional, reactive, too concerned, too sensitive, etc. This adds to the initial trigger, and to the continual compounded feelings of being misunderstood and misinterpreted throughout my life. Thus is the prospect of such an invisible disability when held by a person that primarily seems to function at a high-level of ‘normalcy.’

People with autism usually get me. And I in turn get them. I am the first to smile when someone sends me a very long online message. Usually the person is apologizing ahead of time for what they label a ‘rambling.’ And usually I am skimming some of it and finding the golden nuggets of what was written. I get it. I am the same way. I am going on and on about a particular subject whilst at the same time stepping back and observing myself and thinking: Why am I doing this? Sorry! Still, I do it. I process and I stim through words.

I can go through periods of purposeful semi-muteness, wherein I try not to talk at length to anyone. I am mad at myself and the world at that point. And don’t think I can function unless I change who I am, at least outwardly. Usually this state by nature turns me into some type of hermit, where I am only talking to maybe one person I know. It’s the way I retreat and I guess hide from the world. When I have had enough of me and I believe the world has had enough of me, I burrow like a wounded animal licking my wounds and punishing myself for having any form of self-pity and the brain I do. Not long after I come out of it and I am a babbling brook once again.

People who are wired like me understand. They know the ebb and flow of being this self. They know that even we get tired of the non-stop jabber and thoughts and processing. And they, for the most part, accept me unconditionally, with so-called flaws and all. It’s the others that just don’t get it whom I have a difficult time repeatedly associating with.

It’s like this, supposing I am blind. I use a different form of communication. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s accepted. After all you can readily observe I am blind.

And then it’s like this: I have autism. I use a different form of communication. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s not accepted. After all you can’t readily observe my disability and I should be able to change. I can adjust. I can conform. I can just communicate like you do. Follow the rules and protocol. And if I cannot, then I must be inconsiderate, impossible to train, or stubborn.

But it’s not that way. It’s just not. I cannot adapt without modifications and understanding, anymore than the person with a visible disability can. If I was an amputee, I wouldn’t be able to grow legs. If I was deaf, my speech would be affected. If I have autism, my brain is different. It doesn’t just change based on suggestion. It’s an impossibility.

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

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

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.

515: Invisibility

I don’t mind when someone challenges me, as I don’t take things as challenges anymore. As soon as I feel a rise in myself, whether that rise be quantified as anger, fear, sadness, or some deep powerful emotion, I stop and ask ‘why’? I don’t take the time to sit with the pain. I don’t think the pain is caused by another. I know all emotional pain is triggered by me. Triggered by my exact reasoning and in the resulting ‘truth’ I create based on what I choose to believe and what I choose to tell myself.

I lack the ability, anymore, to blame anyone for my own response and feelings. I own up to how I feel. It’s me. No one else is in control of me. No one.

I have learned that I can accept everything anyone gives out. I have learned, also, that I have the right and power to release what another gives—to kindly return it with a “thanks, but no thanks.”

No one’s thoughts, or words, or perception represent who I am. I know this fully. It’s not a concept I have to convince myself of, or remind myself of.

In many ways I am much more free than I was two years ago, during a time period wherein being in the public spotlight I held onto every stranger’s belief of me as truth. Had you told me five years ago that I would care about people but not care about what they thought of me, I would have thought you crazy, or at minimal an idealist who didn’t know me at all. How could I, so sensitive, so attune, so empathic, not ALWAYS care what people thought?

The truth is there came a point where I didn’t have a choice but to let go, because the two camps, my only options, were clearly marked: 1) Care about what everyone thinks about you and constantly yoyo back and forth in your self-perception and self-worth 2) Realize no one’s perception of you is accurate.

The latter took some hard looking and soul-searching, and some help from above—call it collective unconscious, angels, God, or aliens, no matter. There came a point where I was truly shown the light. I was given the vision of a room full of people, each standing on a soapbox and taking a turn to talk about me. Each was pulling from their random memories and past, from what they had chosen to collect, and then again chosen to remember. It was subjective to the third degree. Everyone’s view of me was first, and primarily, based on their own lives and gathered ideologies, belief systems, personalities, experience, etc. I was merely a random interpretation. I was a flower being dissected by multiple viewers. Some loved me for my sweetness. Some adored my beauty. Some merely saw me as a weed to be plucked. Some thought I stunk. Others inhaled and couldn’t get enough. Still, regardless of the onlookers, I remained a flower. Or at least that chance name I’d been assigned by society.

I theorized, in reviewing this vision, that it wasn’t just the loose interpretations of me that sporadically changed (and were skewed based on the onlooker and all the onlooker brought to the table from his or her past), but also the onlooker him/herself. Everyone’s view altered in any given random point of time. People were affected by their past (foundation they’d built up as truth) and by the moment in time they drew conclusions.

I realized also that any word, action, or subtle way in which I lived could bring about an altered interpretation. If I left my husband. If I abandoned my children. If I joined the circus. How would this audience interpret me then? And if they, the viewers, made any life changes, or faced crisis, or shifted consciousness or outlooks, how would their view of me change?

I saw how I had altered the way I looked at the world and others in the past years, and in so doing the people I thought I knew appeared different to me. It was only logical to conclude from my reasoning that I, ever-changing, would remain incapable of stagnant being based on continual transitioning. And that likewise others remained incapable of stagnant being, and thusly incapable of stagnant viewing of me.

In understanding I was nothing more than gathered evidence, and that the evidence itself always shifted based on the moment, circumstance, and the observer, I understood that I, this loose interpretation of I based on others’ viewpoints, was never stagnant in interpretation enough to be called factual.

With this, I saw that all opinions of me no longer mattered. Even the so-called ‘positive’ comments were not able to penetrate me. It made no sense to attach myself to fleeting ‘positive’ descriptors based on the once again random observers with their random viewpoints. Plus, if I was an information gatherer shifting my gathering, (what I caught in my positive net based on my shifting self), then how could I ensure what I gathered was substantiated by any form of non-stagnant truth?

Sure, I could know someone for years, and they could view me as consistently steadfast, sweet, and loyal, but what in that individual’s life made them an expert on those ‘virtues,’ and how much of me had she seen, had she known, and what had she missed? I could get a round about idea of who I was, but only based on a round about idea of who someone else was, (and where she’d been, what she’d experienced, and what ‘truths’ she momentarily upheld as valuable.) The complexities of attaching my being-ness to an outside source soon became an intellectual burden and a tiring mind-puzzle lacking any sort of sense-making end mark.

And beyond this, if I had latched on to semi-permanent, most-likely-true and reasonable interpretations of me, then how could I be judge and jury of self? How was I to decide what was me and what wasn’t me? How was I to allow myself to collect everything flowery and rosy and make this me, while disregarding and discarding the rest? How could that not be some extreme form of ego-lust and ego-building? It seemed logical that the only way out of the process and habit of decorating my self based on outlookers’ viewpoints was to disrobe myself of any and all doings and opinions of others.

From here it followed that in order to dispel the potential hypocrite inside of me, that if I were to discount others’ opinions about me in totality, then in equal balance it was essential that I discount my opinions about others. In other words, if others could not define me, I reasonably could not define others.

Next, the process became a matter of what to see, what to believe, and what to qualify as truth of those about me. And the only natural conclusion, that arose no further conflict or query within myself, was to apply love to all, to choose to see another being as another being and nothing more, to love the light in all, and to overlook the illusion of what appeared to be ‘wrong’ or ‘against’ me.

In a sense I had annihilated self through logic—the act of rationalizing no stagnant representation of ‘me’ existed. Without a true ‘self’ I had no true or stagnant opinions. In reality, my opinion couldn’t be trusted. My thoughts were just that: thoughts. Nothing more. Nothing less. Not bad, just not real.

If I had based my ‘wrong’ and ‘against,’ and the concept of me, on my limited scope of life, if I had based my judgment and view of the world on only what I had been exposed to, able to process and assimilate into memory, and able to recall with any ounce of reality, and then based all this recall on my current state of thinking, emotions, and environmental influence, if this be true, I was a constant changing judge. So to enlist my personal arsenal of evaluation on another was a form of temporary fallout and nothing more. It was adding illusion to illusion, and agreeing to be a game player in a game I no longer believed in.

And so the act of evaluating another became self-abusive. It actually hurt. It hurt because my mind was bombarded with this sequential reasoning that again and again reached the same conclusion, despite my ever-changing hypothesis: no matter what I thought at any given moment, it wasn’t permanent enough to remain true.

In addition, it is obvious to me, now, that I am dying off and I am regenerating. Some part of my body is digesting and decomposing, and another part is fighting and refueling. And just as the interior microscopic parts merge and shed, the exterior view of my life follows suit. There isn’t anything I can hold onto. And in this way there is no one I can hold onto either. I only have a fleeting moment in which I spot someone, and then he has changed as much as the rest. I cannot define self. I cannot define another.

And in this place of no definition and no judgment, I am freed. I am freed from the burden most of society carries. Freed from attaching to one ideal or concept or way of life. Freed from battling to make my opinion heard. But most importantly I am freed from needing to be seen.

501: The Isolation of Aspergers

Sometimes having Aspergers is the scariest thing in the world—not the name, or label, or stigmatism the word brings, not even the essence of Aspergers itself, but what it represents in my soul.

No matter how many friends I have, or people I confide in or reach out to, no matter how far I go in my search of self or how many ways I accomplish goals for relief, I end up back at the starting line. Facing forward with the force of the world against me.

Only someone with Aspergers will know what I mean; people not on the spectrum will think they can understand; they will look at their own depth, take in what they know, decipher their inventory, but with all of me I know it is impossible to understand the pain of Aspergers unless you have directly experienced it.

There is nothing more isolating than knowing myself completely, understanding fully the mind and the way in which I act and respond, and still being helpless to alter how I am. It’s not that I want to change me, but I do long for relief and a mild form of adaptation, minor assimilation, something that makes me feel I have made progress, even as I know I have nothing to progress from.

I am entirely an anomaly, in all ways, and in all forms. In fact, I am beginning to think I am the essence, the exact symbolism for yin/yang. For I cannot go out to one extreme of the pendulum without going full swing to the other side, in regards to emotions, experience, outlook, opinion, even circumstances.

To know so much is disheartening. To see so much, to be able to pick apart my mind piece by piece, and understand my inner-workings, and still remain what seems to be helpless is maddening. I can’t cease to think nor stop my methods of multi-faceted interpretation. My mind, some giant mechanism that grinds and grates to piece things together—every thing—including complex analysis of my own thoughts, emotions, and renderings.

Everything I am and everything I do, is adamantly dissected, without choice, including everything I watch, like some giant intertwined web spinning past my mind’s eye. It appears at times I am thinking three times over; that my mind is somehow capable of deciphering the immediate now, the effects of the immediate now, and the thought processes of the two previous aforementioned, and even the predictable outcome and by-product of the thinking process itself. I cannot help but become overtaken and mind-boggled, drowning in a perplexity of images and thoughts, some speaking over the other, some repeating, some making complete sense, and some the markings of a crazed woman.

Add this to the noise inside my head of all the rules I have been taught, (or more so taken in as truth), and I become cluttered with an endless echo of noise: my thoughts, my thoughts about thoughts, and their thoughts, as well as my analysis of all of these thoughts. I become so lost in myself, and this is only the first layer of a multi-dimensional sponge cake of mayhem.

Next comes the bombardment of guilt. The ways I should be, should act, the tools I ought use, the ways in which I ‘should’ think. The world is full of norms for the neurotypical, even full of remedies and concoctions for recovery and sanity, all of which do not work on me. I can’t go to therapy, as I know more than any therapist I have met, and can psychoanalyze them within the first moments of the first meeting—seeing straight into their insecurities, power-struggles and attachments.
I have proved doctors wrong, too, time and time again, based on my gift of keen research and self-awareness. I know myself inside and out; I know my body inside and out. And as a result of my intellectual and instinctual capacity, all the places ‘typical’ people seek out for comfort do me no good. In this there is no relief. There is no refuge. There is ultimately nowhere to go.

The only way is through it. Through the bleakness and drudgery. Through the hellish thoughts. Over and over through, until I come out returned.

No friends can help, definitely no foe. I don’t need foes. I punish myself enough. I shall never be good enough, kind enough, or loving enough. It’s not a matter of perfectionism. As I have said, the ways of the ‘typical’ aren’t my way. I am that dichotomy again, as I know I am good, I know I am enough, I know I am love, but then I know naught. There is that perpetual swinging, of self too, from one view to the next, never stagnant and never truly grounded.

Belief systems, religions, rituals, magic, or what have you, those don’t work either. Temporary bandages or bondages, considering the source, until I analyze them and their happenings to no end and find the loop holes, the questions, the reality behind the illusion.

I often wish I was more blinded to the ways of world, a bit more oblivious, a bit less aware, that I believed there was a something or someone out there in which to seek refuge. This isn’t to mean I don’t have faith, as I am sure some will conclude so, based on their perceptions and rigid belief systems. The truth is I have a faith, a blind faith, and that is what leads me to write, and teaches me the vulnerability of truth heals. Still, there is an overbearing loneliness in the rawness of truth.

The isolation is evident on all planes. I had for the stretch of most of my life sought out priests, reverends, psychologists, psychiatrists, spiritual healers, astrologists, herbalists, shamans, teachers, professors, energy workers, and the like. Over and over they saw in me what they wanted to see, and nothing beyond. No one could penetrate me and get through me. No one could truly see me. In the end, my search accentuated my isolation, only added to my fever for connection and knowing.

I live my life questioning truth: the truth of everything. And then reaching the conclusion and revelation of the lack of valid truth, I spin back into the oblivion of not knowing. I live my life questioning if I am truthful enough. I worry about the slight chance of accidental manipulation on my part that might occur based on my own want and desire. I don’t even like to wish. Who am I to wish? I worry about being self-focused. I worry about being me. And everywhere, in vast unwavering quantity, is this judgment, these unspoken rules; these people being who they are and questioning who I am. And I am ransacked by their ways. I hide, I escape, I try to be nowhere and be no thing, but then the isolation is magnified and brought up to jet speed, and I long for the company again. I take strangers and their judging eyes over nothing.

I am intense. I am remarkably smart. I am keenly aware. I am often misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misjudged. My only saving grace is in having learned to love others unconditionally. I see past it all—every preconceived notion and every label. I don’t care what you are or who you are. I just love. It doesn’t matter to me your job, your race, your creed, your habits, your ways. I just love. And I long to be loved that way in return, to be looked upon with the grace of the all-knowing, and to be penetrated with complete acceptance.

Sometimes I don’t think the issue at hand is coming to terms with accepting myself or knowing myself completely. Sometimes I don’t think it is about anything at all, beyond coming to terms with the fact that most people will never see my value and uniqueness because they are too blinded by their own disillusionment of fear.

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Pascal. We will miss you.

500: Unspun Love

Unspun Love

I am letting go of what was, of what I held on as truth, reality, this sense of REAL
There are webs upon webs inside of me, touching down in random places
With a stickiness of messiness, a buttercup of blood, daunting, unchanging, unforgiving
Had I been hurt, I could say so, but who is to say what causes the pain, whose action, whose way, whose plan
I can’t say that this is this because of this, as there is no definite answer, no exact knowing
No causation I can single out and assuredly point finger in proclamation
I do know there is pain; I know this well, and perhaps I know too, I blamed myself all of these years
Easier to blame self than another, I suppose, to take in what is poison than to spill out, making new suffering
There were numerous ways in which I taught myself falsehoods, temporary strings I weaved in hopes of categorizing my world
Into boxes I placed behaviors and actions, wishes and dreams, and watched the withering of my own undoing
I’d hoped that much would change without effort, in that I’d tried hard to keep trying, to keep going, to move
And prayers seemed increasingly unanswered or at minimum unheard
Mine was a dangerous labyrinth, the way in which my youthful days played out
Keeping time by the stars at night and the ringlets of towering trees, I danced
Always happy, I seemed, always light-filled and bright, Mother told it so
As did strangers and random passerbys; had I known to beware
One after one things left, disappeared, vanished, and were taken, gone before sunrise was woken
One after one I became teacher to the deepest soul-self, the tiny innocent creature named: me
And the lessons I gave were enough for the moment, as broken and rotten as they be
The world was a place of trickery and thievery; I’d remembered those men in Mama’s room
The town was a place of random violence, untruths, disbelief, and fizzled-out faith; I’d watched from my high-tower of soul
And everywhere, all about, the sense, I called ‘abandonment,’ erased a part of me
Built upon my cherished treasure, my beacon, my light, a bombardment stretched and pulled like dough into a gooey mess—rancid, undone falsehoods
I witnessed death; I witnessed children who vanished, family that dissolved, men and woman who made promises and then took sword to my delicate heart and severed
I didn’t understand laughter then, the type aimed at me; nor the glances of demise; nor the mannerisms masqueraded across the halls of scattered scholarly prisons
I didn’t understand what was outside, what seeped out of some and bleed into others
I knew enough to know that people weren’t to be trusted, that people caused harm, that people took what was pure and demolished it in the name of selfish ways
And yet, I knew, too, that I could not stop trusting and hoping, that I would forever be this someone locked in a cell of naïve-padded walls, unable to see beyond the rose-charm-pink that tinted my outlook
How I longed to be like the rest and learn, to take inventory, to observe happenings and conclude future meanderings through the mucky patch—my life
And still I wept in a prism of dichotomy, a blossomed keen awareness, lacking capacity to alter anything
Helpless was an understatement, a definition of warrior child turned fragile flower
For in the absence of assistance within, there would be no means in which to reclaim a foundation
Instead, I rather drifted in an open sea-sky of oblivion, blue into blue, not understanding the methods of instigators, nor where to house my love

499: Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes I will be emotional, sentimental, sappy and lovey-dovey
Sometimes overly
Sometimes I will wonder about myself in regards to you
Sometimes I will wonder about you in regards to me
And sometimes I will get the two of us confused

Sometimes I will be giving, accepting, forgiving and supportive
Sometimes exceptionally
Sometimes I will create chaos out of something to distract from something else
Sometimes I will do this to avoid the potentiality of a deeper something
Sometimes I will undoubtedly face the hurt

Sometimes I will over-talk, over-share, over-think and over-process
Sometimes is an understatement
Sometimes I will wish you could dive into my heart and see how much I adore you
Sometimes I will attempt to dive into your heart so I can rest there in your light
Sometimes I imagine this is the safest place on earth

Sometimes I will review, reevaluate, revisit and readdress
Sometimes to exhaustion
Sometimes I will focus too much on us or me, or a combination
Sometimes I will forget to take a breath and look at the situation with clarity
Sometimes I will need your guiding hand to show me reality

Sometimes I will second-guess, request, demand and need
Sometimes like a child
Sometimes I will surprise you with my insight and knowing, my intuitiveness and my honesty
Sometimes I will need reminders that I am good and kind and loving
Sometimes I forget who I am

Sometimes I will be my own worst critic, my worst enemy and my worst villain
Sometimes I will collapse inside
Sometimes I will need you to pull me up, lift me and set me straight
Sometime I will do the same for you
Sometimes I will think you are an angel sent just for me

Sometimes I will cry openly, weep deeply, share freely and cover my face in tears
Sometimes I will not be able to stop
Sometimes I will look at you and think you are the world, the divine, the answer, the one
Sometimes I will know you are
Sometimes I will use every ounce of my soul to thank God for you

Sometimes I will be a pain in the butt, stubborn, irrational and panicky
Sometimes I will not like this about myself
Sometimes I will apologize for being me even as I love me
Sometimes I will love me even as I apologize for being
Sometimes I will not be able to tell if I love my life or hate it

Sometimes I will be the warm shelter you require, the most loyal friend, the sweetest confidant and greatest lover
Sometimes I will smile at this part of who I am
Sometimes I will love you with the deepest love imaginable
Sometimes I will love you even more than that
Sometimes I will sacrifice myself for you

Sometimes I will be tender and open, soft and gentle, feminine and submissive
Sometimes I will seem stronger than fathomable
Sometimes I will be magical, whimsical, youthful and wholesome
Sometimes I will bring you into my fairyland and mystical dreamscapes
Sometimes I will think you are the sweetest dream of all

Sometimes I will be silent, retreat into isolation, run away and hide
Sometimes I will wish for you to find me
Sometimes I will think I am not enough for you
Sometimes I will want to show you myself more fully
Sometimes, almost every living moment, I will think I am the luckiest person alive to have found you

498: Call Me Aspie: The first part of a thousand-page manual

I have Aspergers, and I tend to:

1. Fixate on a certain problem or puzzle, and process this for weeks, if not months, until some part of me reaches a solution. During this time, I may seem frantic, melancholic, elated, discouraged, confused, shattered, and exhausted. As soon as I have a sense of closure, I might feel bewildered and ashamed of my behavior. There will be a brief reprieve, until my brain latches on to another puzzle to solve.
2. Over-process certain events and happenings, particularly exact words used and sentences used by others, as I try to determine the underlying facts and supposed truth. This will reveal itself in multiple questions and inquiry on my part; sometimes the same questions over and over; the repetitive nature is involuntary and necessary, as it brings some relief to the messages circling in my mind. In such cases, it is best for me to confront a person right away and ask a brief question than to burden myself for a day, becoming incapacitated and virtually numb from all the over-thinking about feasible meanings and outcomes. The over-processing can and does burden other people, and leave them questioning their own ability to have patience. I will apologize and mean it, but will not be able to stop the over-processing, even as I am hyper-aware of my behavior and possible consequences based on my actions. Telling me to not over-think is not helpful and not feasible.
3. Lots of giggles. I will appear more childlike than most, and find humor in things that most adults won’t. I find the beauty and fun in many occurrences and statements, and can act a bit immature at times, focusing on little events that make me chuckle. I also will giggle nervously or crack a joke in an attempt to relieve tension and discomfort, even as it might appear nothing was said or done to cause unease. In times of nervousness, particularly when getting to know someone, I will make inappropriate comments, lacking the ability o filter my thoughts and having a desperate compulsive desire to share. On the other hand, others quite enjoy my company, and my smile can be contagious and enlightening. Cherishing the little things does have its benefits; and some will find this behavior refreshing.
4. Over-share. I will share more than most. It is part of who I am. It is difficult for me to determine what is appropriate to share, what is too much to share, and what is enough to share. I like to talk about myself, because I want to be seen and understood. I like to listen about other people, too. But if I am nervous or uncomfortable or preoccupied, these states of being will pull me away from the ability to focus on another. I have to be 100% there to listen to another; and if I cannot be, the attempt to be there seems a waste of time. It is better for me to get everything out and then return to my friend and support them fully when I am able, then to ‘pretend’ to be listening when I am on overload with thoughts. Initially, I might monopolize a conversation or become dumbfounded and not know what to say or how to relate. I survive, in conversation, by analyzing the other participant, and trying to match my style of communication with that person’s style. If I cannot see the person, such as on the phone, I might become nervous and uncomfortable, wondering how the person is reacting to my responses. This is not about people pleasing. But it is about adapting self, so that I do not drive people away with my tendency to over-expose self and trust fully.
5. Be Emotional. I am triggered a lot. Little things trigger me. A simple word, an expression, a reference, a link to a website, a song, a memory, etc. Because I am easily triggered, I might be very content and happy one minute and then turn morose and in deep reflection the next. These states are generally temporary and I can evaluate the trigger quickly. Once the trigger is noted, I have the capacity to take steps to analyze how to pull myself out of deep contemplation and to alter my state of mind. In other words, with practice and self-awareness, I can quite readily pull myself out of a ‘dark’ emotional state. If the trigger is extreme, I will need to talk and process the event to bring relief. Often a hug or human touch might help from certain people whom I deem safe; other times human touch is the last thing I want and any form of human contact, even attention, will actually cause me to retreat and pull away.
6. Be extremely loyal and honest. I have high integrity. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I don’t take anything lightly. I have the ability to have fun and be light-hearted and to forget about my intensity, but my integrity and sense of being the best person I can be never falters. I carry extreme guilt if I try to deceive another and can rarely hold anything inside, particularly events that seem to demonstrate a semblance of betrayal or untruth. This inability to hide things can hurt another person without intention. Some things are perhaps better withheld. But secrets and lies eat away at my soul, and I can concentrate little if I feel I am not being transparent and authentic in my dealings with others. In some cases if I kept my mouth shut, I would feasibly come out ahead, with more gained than lost. Opening my mouth is risky, and can often lead to a loss. Regardless, I was born to speak my truth, and have yet to find a way to make this stop.
7. Love deeply and forever. Once I love someone, I always love someone. Once a friend, always a friend. I can pick up with a person I haven’t spoken with for years, and the reunion feels like yesterday. I don’t care why a friendship ended, if someone wants to come back into my life, my door is always open. I have learned to take some measures to guard my heart against those that might cause harm to me, but for the most part, I will love a loved one for always. There is little anyone can do to make me dislike him or her or to make me remove him or her from my life. I love easily and fully, and love to give. Receiving is sometimes difficult and feels uncomfortable to me, but I understand that the ability to receive is a gift to the giver, and work on this act often.
8. Get upset when others are emotional. Even as I am an emotional being and cannot stop myself from expressing my feelings, others’ emotions frighten me. It seems hypocritical, but the reality is I am not comfortable with emotions. I tend to overreact to simple displays of emotions, such as slight frustration, fleeting anger, or momentary confrontation on another’s part. While I long for passion and emotional connection, I also run from outward displays of feeling. I feel guarded, in a sense, to the deepest source of love inside of me that is afraid of being harmed or invaded. I would rather feel numb and dead at times than have to figure out what someone meant by their tone of voice, words, or actions. I will literally freak out from the slightest alteration in someone’s tone of voice or mannerism, if the upset appears to be directed towards me.
9. Second-guess my own statements and how I express myself. I re-explain myself and overcompensate for mistakes I might have made. I like myself. I like my mind. I am for the most part comfortable in my skin, despite my challenges, but I fear that I have come across the wrong way and represented myself in error. It is of upmost importance to me to clarify and to check for understanding; this action of revisiting a discussion to add clarification is a natural and instinctual part of my nature, as much as flight is to the eagle. I cannot suppress the behavior, even as I watch myself going through the process and doubting the effectiveness of said actions.
10. Dream and Imagine. I spend more time inside my head than outside of my head. Based on my intense ability and natural tendency to fantasize, I often create realistic scenarios in my head of what could or might be. I go down a thousand different avenues of feasible scenarios of a given situation. Over-analyzing each aspect and evaluating the possible outcomes. This is almost done at a subconscious-level, and continues practically nonstop until my mind has reached a conclusion that brings about some form of comfort. Uneasiness of mind is found in the ridding of possibilities, unknowns, and a state of limbo. If something is open-ended, my mind attaches to the concept of the unknown like one Velcro strip to another. I cling there, in this hyper-state of awareness, attempting, without much effort or detectable impulse, but tons of energy, to factor in each and every variable, in order to attempt to make sense of what seems to be the foundation below me slipping. I float here, in a dream state of possible happenings inevitably until closure is reached. During this time my ramblings, processing, and evaluation after evaluation is often processed aloud or in written form. These bombardments of thoughts manifested into visual or auditory form can cause feelings of discomfort to some. Yet, this is how I function.

This post is dedicated to Lisa, Alyce, Jennifer, David, and Ryan… fellow Aspies who never give up on me. Thank you. ❤

496: When ‘Aspie’ isn’t You…

When “aspie” isn’t you….

I will never be like you. You can try to understand me, and you will see glimpses, but you will never get me, never. Trying to explain me is like trying to explain a color that doesn’t exist, a color I can readily see and am familiar with in all its shades and forms, but still a nonexistent color to you. It’s like trying to explain what a wish is to someone who doesn’t believe in magic. Or showing an alien artifact to a scientist and expecting him to interpret the unknown elements. It can’t be done. I can’t be done. I can’t be undone. I just am and you just are. And here we are: two distant stars.

You understand this planet, at least to a degree you do. I don’t. I never will. I don’t get the things some might call simple. I don’t get the things some may call average or familiar. I don’t understand lies. I don’t understand life without immense passion. I don’t understand why anyone would dare to hurt anyone or anything on purpose. But I do understand hurt. What is it other than the bleeding soul?

I long for you to understand me. To hear me. To see me. But so many, this you you are and the other you’s out there, they won’t. They just can’t. It’s not about lacking capacity or something that is better or worse, or something that is special or odd. There are no labels. Where I come from, wherever that be, the boxes, the names, the titles, or what have yous—these invented ways of deciphering and existing—they don’t exist. So it’s not about dividing or exacting. None of that matters.

What it is about is separation, the split, the way in which my mind and the heart connected cannot fathom the ways of the world, and how, in this separation, I am left isolated daily, walking outside the existence I lead, feeling more than any soul ought to, and knowing more than I recognize.

You can’t see me. You can’t truly see me. You can’t understand. And I hide behind this smile, though genuine it be, waiting and waiting for the time to come where the veil is lifted, and once again, I am here, no longer isolated in a land I don’t recognize.

Sam Craft, Everyday Aspergers
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