526: Tis the Season to Shop: Aspie Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

518: The Barbs

I can sense fear, well enough. It doesn’t come in needle form. It isn’t injected by an outside source. There is no fluid that enters through a prick or an invasive probing. Fear bypasses exterior layers, rooting from within, expanding and growing as seedlings do. And I am but host to the cyclic process.

For most of my days, I wasn’t aware of the fear inside. Even as I was always anxious and scared, I couldn’t readily identify my emotions of fright, basically because I was fright. Even as new fear entered, there was no obvious change inside of me. There was no alarm system in place. Fear was my normal. If there were trespasses against me, there was no way to tell, because I was already overcrowded inside; one more pair of prodding footsteps made no difference to a well-established colony of thousands. Ironically, in a state of fear-equilibrium, I felt perpetually balanced.

In regards to the fear I housed inside, I don’t know when I started to shift. It was sometime between the start of my public writings and the times I had delved deeply into spiritual studies. I’d been searching for answers. And something had clicked. Something inside of me. And in those moments the fear became recognizable. Wherein it had been invisible before, this fear now had a voice and had taken form. It arrived aware of itself, pushing up and growing in a making-room-for-more manner.

The fear was real then. It always had been, but now it was set outside the shadows and staring down at me. I could feel it everywhere, a monstrosity. I knew of it, too, as if an old familiar friend had reappeared for fellowship. Foe, he was, true, but more so a companion, in the way he meandered and made himself at home, opening and closing whatever compartment he fancied.

Seeing him move this way, amongst the others, amongst the piles of pain, in the conglomeration of fear, baffled me. A visibility granted where once there had been utter blindness, seemed miracle. In this way, fear itself, in manifestation, became an element of transformation. In this way, fear was part of my breaking and making.
With my new awareness my body was liken to a musical organ, each key being pounded in by some unknown trigger, and in response piping out this obnoxious vibration, the sounds penetrating my interior and leaching out of the exterior: a lost song let out into the open.

Wherein before I might have survived in a state of saturated fear, my stagnation birthed through a tangible blindness, here, in this new awareness of continual pounding, I could not live. In response to the discomfort my instinctual nature took over. And at a subconscious level I began the process of sorting through and categorizing the discomfort. Later, again, quite instinctually, I established a way to eradicate the unwanted tenants. I’d rely on my own body. Recognizing that I was contaminated by fear, I would remove each and every cause for pain, my body an informant, verbalizing through careful unspoken word.

It whispered its tellings,
listen, stomach would say, I am tight,
listen, heart would say, I am pounding,
listen, hands would say, I am clenched.

And from here, the whys came forth. Stomach was sad from the way the stranger had frowned. Heart was upset in the way the word ‘stupid’ reminded him of the past. Hands were scared by the loud boom of the car. And I listened. Day after day, I listened. Until, with much patience and practice, I began to hear less and less. Now, new spaces opened where none had existed before. Now when a stranger appeared, when he rooted himself in me, the fear was no longer cloaked by the masses. Now when the fear came, it came with a loud blow into an empty room. Now when fear arrived I knew immediately.

The tables had turned. Instead of housing the fears that had used me for room and board for decades, now I removed the newbies, the ones that had hitchhiked in hopes of permanent residency. Now I gathered the barbs and released them—their freedom, my freedom.

506: The Risk is Worth it. Thoughts on Friendship.

I don’t believe I have any answers that anyone else cannot find for himself. Or to non-negate the previous statement: I do believe I have no answers that another cannot find for himself. I have a hard time reasoning in my mind the authenticity of any self-proclaimed or manmade accentuated leader who hints, dictates, or infers that he has the answers. I am quick to steer away, and feel quite many a qualms, when I hear of anyone who thinks they have found the answer, the truth, and the way. I know too much to be a blind sheep, and too little to proclaim I know enough. This is not to say I diminish or shake a finger at modern religion or any new up and coming spiritual fashion, only that I seriously question and outright deny the fact that any human can foreseeably house the answers for another; and certainly without the answer, he has no right, if rights be the matter, to dictate to another how to live or present oneself.

I find the purest souls to be the most delightful in their attempts to literally do nothing but be, and to let be. Those that don’t pursue fame, recognition, reward, and esteem are the ones I gravitate towards, the ones who are actually repelled at multiple levels by anything to do with being in the spotlight. Those are the ones I tend to uphold as seers and seekers of truth.

Secondly, I know enough of myself to know that I am highly influenced by my environmental and physical condition, including my own stamina and mental-conditioning. What I present as reality, and perhaps a semi-temporary-truth one day, will likely be obsolete at another juncture in time.

I don’t like to sway people. I don’t even like to ‘not like.’ Still I don’t like to form judgments, or to reach conclusions about others. Of course some things, some actions, and some people (because of said actions), stand out as recognizably out of the arena of blandness. I mean to say, they make a mark that is recognizable to both my heart and mind. Mostly, it is the things that seem mean, spiteful, unjust, and not lenient which stand out, particularly something that might be deemed ‘evil’ or ‘perverse.’ But even then the lines (and labels) merge into this gray area, and I find myself neither here nor there, trying to counter both sides of an argument that has converged inside my mind.

With all of this said, I offer a few things about my thoughts on friendship. And if that wasn’t an Aspie preamble, I don’t know what is!

Aspie and Friends:

1. I prefer online friends. Online friendships eliminate much of the burden of communication. I have time to think, to edit my thoughts, to respond in a slow and delicate manner, to take time, to get back, and to not be seen physically. Most of my challenges with communications come in the mode of sensory overload and in my evaluation of what I am seeing. Yes, I still evaluate with online friendships, but about 75% of the stress of communication, particularly nonverbal processing, is eliminated. That’s not to say online communication doesn’t offer it’s barriers and weaknesses, but overall, particularly when I take the time to check for clarity, online communication scores high above face-to-face encounters. I mean I could lose myself in a freckle or hair color and miss half of an entire conversation. And forget about the background noise and nonstop monitoring of my tone of voice, inflection, and talking speed.

2. I make online friends. It’s scary but I do it.

3. I support some friends, when I am capable, and they support me when able.

When I am at my lowest, I will sometimes reach out to three or four people at one time, most of whom are Aspie or whom have Asperger’s traits, and if not Aspie then people whom I deem for the most part trustworthy, nonjudgmental, and possessing the capacity to love unconditionally.

4. I reach out to several people at a time because someone might be busy and I also don’t want to overburden one friend with my intensity.

5. I am not blessed to have many friends. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Of course I am grateful for people in my life but no one blessed me with them. I made the friendships, day after day, year after year, risk after risk. Yes, it is hard. Yes, I mess up, and yes sometimes I get super hurt. But I am not fortunate, or even lucky to have friends, because I have worked HARD to make and maintain these friendships. And I have worked hard on myself to learn how to be the best friend (person) I can be.

6. I accept my faults, frailties, and entire humanness. I am far from perfect but I avoid beating myself up. Yes, I allow myself to have a pity-party sometimes, especially when many changes are occurring in my life. However, I have friends that understand these aspects of me.

7. I only interact with certain friends during my most vulnerable times. I choose a select few friends to confide in about particularl things, especially subject matter in which I want no advice or solution finding quests.

8. If I am not careful, and I talk to a friend who offers advice or her view of the situation, the conversation can do me more harm than good. I have learned to be selective. It is a survival mechanism. Some friends can handle my intensity, others my insecurities, others my wild-imagination, and a rare few the complete me. I have learned I can’t be the complete me around everyone; I will get hurt. I have learned I can be complete by dividing myself amongst many friends. I don’t think this survival skill is specific for those on the spectrum, but I do believe Aspies are vulnerable in their ability to be strongly wounded by others, and that they often find themselves in positions of offending or shocking, without that intention.

9. Friends are not easy for me, for there is a part of me who, despite an inconceivable amount of self-reflection, insight, and work, will always think I am not a good enough friend. This isn’t a self-esteem issue. I do like me. It has to do with the extreme ways in which I can psychoanalyze myself and dissect conversations. I am always, and will always be, an observer of others, twice removed from discourse and continually dissecting and evaluating and reliving over and over past conversations.

10. I have one friend in which I can just spill my guts and fears and anxiety and she will JUST listen. She doesn’t do tit for tat. In that I mean she doesn’t ask me for advice, expect me to listen or to return the favor. She just lets me process. I think every Aspie (and every human being) needs someone who will just listen.

11. I recognize I will always feel like I don’t give back enough in friendship. It is just the way it is. When people give to me, in time or other ways, I feel an immediate want and obligation to equal the score. It’s not that I mean to keep score, only that I naturally don’t want to take advantage of anyone.

12. I love to have friends from all backgrounds. I am not picky. Or maybe I am, if you think the capacity to love without conditions, to be honest, to be giving, to be kind, and to be genuine is picky. But with that said, and a little trustworthiness thrown in, I am capable of being friends with many, many people. There isn’t a checklist.

13. I think I need friends. I think everyone does. I think the risk is worth it.

I don’t neccesarily think the introduction matches the list. But, oh well. My friends will understand. 🙂

13 is my favorite number.

Looking for aspie friends? Join everyday aspergers Facebook like page to the left.

491: Standards: A Long Time Coming

kind

I love how in life, messages, like the quote above, come to me at the perfect time. I have had a hellish year. I avoid that word, but in this case it’s the most effective descriptor I can find. I shall counter balance it with my giddy spirit and lots of love! I promise. Plus better to face the truth of events and be done with it. Gather the happenings under my hemline, sit with them, and then release. Like a whoopee cushion.

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I have reclaimed and re-found my giddy self that was lost about this time last year with the onset of the first of many challenging events. The little-happy-loving girl in me went into hiding, for the most part, and became the fierce warrior she needed to be. I can’t say I enjoyed myself much at all in the last twelve months, except in brief moments, in between the intervals of extreme spiritual, mental, and physical exhaustion.

A lot happened that I won’t go into, as I steer away from discussing others’ personal lives, beyond my own. But on the scale of stressful life occurrences, you know those common stressors, well let me just say I encountered many; if not in full, than to the point of hovering around at the perimeters of the feasible happenings.

Limbo is a great word to describe where I have been for a year.

One of the greatest benefits of this recent journey is I have ended up with a vast understanding of what I will and will not put up with in regards to befriending others. It took me long enough to figure this understanding of ‘standards’ out! Over four decades to be precise.

Here is what I now know of MY STANDARDS:

First off:

It’s okay not to like someone and choose not to associate with that person. This is not a reflection on me as a person. It does not mean I am impatient, imperfect, or have a low tolerance. It does mean that I am recognizing my comfort-zone. I am not recognizing limitations. There is nothing limiting about me. I am setting boundaries with people who affect my energy to a degree where it affects other areas of my life and my interactions with loved ones.

Because I have this capacity to see into people, to read people at a psychological and/or spiritual level, I tend to steer right passed what is blatantly infront of me (addictions, abusive behaviors towards me, RED FLAGS, HUGE RED FLAGS) and forgive someone of EVERYTHING, upon initial meeting, and continually, as needed. I will forget about a person’s current negative behavior, rationalize his/her actions, or not even notice danger signs or the fact that I am extremely uncomfortable with him/her.

I understand now that I cannot help nor connect with everyone. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But sometimes those of us with huge hearts get a bit askew in regards to reality. In truth, some people are, excuse my language, really messed up.

Some people are just too far beyond my capacity to sort out. Not that I have super powers or anything, not that I am a fixer or helper. But because I am kind and open-minded, I sometimes fool myself into thinking I can be friends with anyone. While I think I can feasibly see the light and potential in most, I certainly don’t need to take on someone who substantially drains the living life blood out of me! There are crazy, really crazy, people out there who will harm me, if given the chance. I need to bind myself to this idea, and face that reality.

It’s okay to have standards! (repeat three times)

STANDARDS for a person I choose to associate with:

1) Not delusional

2) Predictable and Reliable

3) Apologetic when aware he/she has trespassed against someone

4) Vibrate at beneficial energetic level most of the time; I know not all people crave this, but I know myself

5) Honest, trustworthy, has integrity, non-manipulative, etc.

6) Not sexually intrusive or acting perverted

7) Doesn’t demean a gender, sect, denomination, or creed

8) Loves him or herself, and, if not, is self-aware enough to work on getting to this place

9) KIND, KIND, KIND; this means they don’t have ANGER issues. I do not like people who blame, judge, or point fingers. And that’s okay. I can be kind but not fond of people. I can love but don’t have to include everyone in my life.

10) Doesn’t disappear and abandon our relationship over and over; I don’t care what the reason, I don’t want or need that in my life.

11) Cares about self and other people

12) Avoids passive-aggressive behavior

13) Doesn’t use body, sexuality, or images of self in attempt to get what he/she wants

14) Has looked at their issues; isn’t perfect, is even far from perfect, but is self-aware and willing to work on betterment

15) Doesn’t suck my energy, use me in any way, or expect things of me beyond basics (like similar things as listed on this list)

16) Truth seeker

17) Non-clingy

18) Doesn’t do either of these extremes: worship me (put me on pedestal) or degrade me (criticize me in attempt to feel better about him or herself). I don’t want to be on someone’s mind ALL the time. I want him or her to have a life. And I don’t want to be the object of desire or loathing.

19) Doesn’t monopolize my time and attention

20) Has something to offer. I am not picky. I mean a smiling face and a good heart is a fine offering.

487: Rain of Anger

I had the privilege and honor of seeing a shaman on Wednesday for a two-hour session. The experience was remarkable. I sat with him in such great comfort. He appeared a blank-slate: free, flowing, unblocked, and nothing cluttered. It was unexpected that I could be in the presence of someone and feel so me. I felt seen, heard, and loved. I understood him at a deep level, and he me. I saw myself, as I do in many people, and this version was heaven.

I won’t get into the details of the session as it is sacred to me. I will say he gave me three specifics. In example, with the facts altered, he said something to this degree: “Your discomfort has something to do with a little girl on a swing reading Orson Scott Card.” That’s not what he said. I have changed the details, but they are similar enough.

We talked about this and drew some conclusions.

The next day, about twenty-four hours later, someone mentioned to me randomly, out of context, the exact same words the shaman had said. A girl, sitting on a specific thing, reading a specific author. It was entirely uncanny and frightening. Just out of the blue, this person told me this. The statement did something to me. Tore through me. Terrified me.

I was able to find immediate connections and figured out why this message was important and significant. And the validation that the Shaman had foresight, or that I could feasibly create this, was intense.

Since the shamanic experience, I kid you not, my hair is curlier, I feel lighter, my mind is clearer, and I have embraced this RAGE. Yes, rage. I think it’s an accumulation of years and years of injustice I have endured, and my inability at the time to fight for myself, and the resulting habit of stuffing and being overly-kind.

It is enormous in intensity, and something has certainly shifted inside of me. I have had this terrible neck and head pain, as well. And been very sleepy.

This doesn’t trouble me. I think what I am experiencing is beneficial and indicative of much growth. I have been off-balance, to one side, for a very long time; so kind that I made myself sick, literally and figuratively. I have been longing for this shadow-side to peek her head out and to make an appearance. For years I have been searching for her. But I was frightened, as if I’d lose another part of me.

I don’t feel that way now. In fact, I sense I am gaining a part of me lost a long time ago.

I have let myself be victim for most of my life. Most recently by befriending almost anyone on Facebook, without developing boundaries or even standards. I had convinced myself that if some people can be all accepting and all loving, then why can’t I. But I forgot I am a woman. That there are predators. That not everyone will be nice just because I try my best to accept and love them. I found myself in this awful predicament of not being a caretaker but an over-accepter. I overlooked and tossed aside my own feelings of rejection, of concern, of fear. I avoided reality by living by some golden rule. I believed I could make everyone ‘good,’ or at least kind, if I was good enough. I overlooked huge potential threats and behaviors that were very much indicators of unstable minds. I invited dangerous people into my life.

I lost myself. I hurt myself. I put up with far too much for any one person. And I justified it by focusing on the good of all.

I became desperate and in search of a form of validation that wasn’t blatant or obvious. Yes, I liked myself, and yes, I loved myself. But I set myself up over and over for pain. Because I was essentially numb inside. I couldn’t feel anything but extremes.

I am starting to feel again, now. I am starting to feel when someone loves me. I am starting to feel when someone cares. I have rarely felt these emotions before. I feel less separate, less invisible, and more seen. I feel as if I have shed this robe of indestructible goodness, and donned instead one of acceptance of my human condition.

I have continued to escape into roles, one after the next, again and again. I don’t know if it will change. I don’t know who is coming next. But the woman, once child, who stuffed her pain, is gone. I won’t do that again.

I might go through a period of disorientation, I suppose. I mean, I already am. But that’s okay. I have been far too lenient with some people. Far too forgiving. It’s okay to forgive… eventually. But, gosh darn it, I need to let myself go through the other spectrum of emotions first! It’s like I beat myself up for having any ‘bad’ feelings.

I am tired of the guilt-voice I heard as a child, the one that didn’t allow me to speak my truth or to be anything but happy.

I can complain. I can get upset. I can be me in full swing. I am not some perfect angel. I am human!

The shaman gave me a great, great gift. Or I gave myself one, or we both conspired. Regardless, I am happy to be outside of the bubble of constant resilience. It’s okay to breathe here on earth for a bit, and to raise my hands up, not in helplessness, but in rage!

I am not afraid of me, anymore, or any aspect of myself. This is all unfolding as deemed necessary for my higher good; I know that. The coincidence of hearing the EXACT words of the Shaman was too out of the ordinary. Statistically impossible. And I had told not a soul these words he told me. And it came from someone I barely knew. And following the lead from there, proved fruitful.

I can’t express enough how everything seems topsy-turvy, turned upside down. I love that I am not attached to whatever I was three days ago, and I am not attached to whatever I am now. This is enough. I am enough. And if I want to roar, I will!

Mrs. Nice ‘Gal’… I am just so very weary of that role. Yes, there is niceness in me. Damn straight there is. Tons of it! Who I was before is not an act. I can see my extreme goodness and capacity for great love. But who else is in there, well she is dying to get out, strangled by her own accord. I am just glad she’s finally free. So immensely happy whilst standing in a rain of anger.

468: Extremes lead to Happiness

I center naturally and instinctually by going to extremes. I tend to make huge changes in radical fashion with haste. This is my way.

The change is dynamic, akin to a wildfire brought on by drought—drought of the spirit, the psyche, the body, etc. As humans, we all naturally address and confront the need for change when we feel we can no longer tolerate the state we are experiencing. There gets to be a point where the energy spent to maintain a constant place of discomfort is more exhausting than the energy required to take steps towards change.

I know my mind well enough to recognize that when I instigate change, I become partially blinded to the past. I have the tendency to drop all of what I was a part of in order to move on. Only to return, once recovered in a state of balance, to pick up some of the pieces. There is no doubt that when I am undergoing transition, I become increasingly more stubborn about maintaining any pieces or parts that resemble or bring up what I am, in essence, escaping. I move on, but I don’t move on with casualness or a sense of ease, and I certainly don’t move on without shaking up my world a bit.

When I reach the point of misery about anything, I don’t like to sit in it. I don’t like to take an extended amount of effort and time to weigh all my options either. I don’t take months to make up my mind. And I generally know when it’s time to move on. And I do. This isn’t to say I don’t logically theorize and contemplate my options. I just do things at hyper-speed, partially when I am asleep and partially when I am awake. I am continually processing and digesting ideas. I have some sort of back burner in my brain where I can place unfinished ideas and decisions, and the mental items simmer there until they reach a boil. And then, with a splatter, the conclusions spill over in my mind. And then I know. So perhaps it seems like I am moving quickly or not taking a lot of time to process, but truly I have been contemplating and theorizing beyond the realms of obvious observation.

I reached an extreme point of discomfort about a month ago. I’d gone through a very traumatic, life-changing illness that left me clinging to fear. I jumped full force into some old habits, kind of jumped back a couple of decades into over-obsessive behavior, codependent tendencies, withdrawal from life, and more. Part of this was definitely biological, as my body recovered from lack of nutrients. Part of it was my psyche recovering from the drama that had been my life.

I found myself having magnified obsessive compulsive behaviors. I justified this by claiming I was self-soothing and self-stemming; and most of my brain believed me. I know now that my actions were a necessary part of my healing process. Cognitively and emotionally, and even physically, I didn’t have the strength to be strong. I didn’t have the strength to do much of anything. So I retreated. I retreated into my home, into my self, and into my mind. Until there finally came a day where I’d had enough of me. I started to disgust myself. Not in a low-self-worth-way, but in a what-the-heck-am-I-doing-way? It was time for change.

Within a minute, I’d had enough. And within another minute, I knew what to do to affect change. I knew what action to take, because part of me had already been planning and deciding (on the back burner), without my conscious recognition.

A part of me had already contemplated that with my recent trauma my online interaction had become way out of balance in comparison to the rest of my life. For months I had partaken in obsessive image/quote searching and posting, obsessive researching and searching for songs and song lyrics, obsessive observation of others’ postings on a social network site, obsessive analysis of my own thoughts, obsessive dependency on certain friendships, and the obsessive need to check and recheck patterns, messages, and comments on various venues online. To justify my obsessive behaviors, I had convinced myself I was a hermit afraid to go out of the house and that the only solution was online interaction.

I had swung my pendulum of self-balance to the far right. And I was close to swinging right out of the “sane” arena. I knew by observing my own emotional state, I’d hit a sort of bottom. I knew I needed to clean up my act.

With this realization came some tough decisions. I had to let go of a lot I’d been holding onto. I had to let go of what I thought was keeping me afloat. This action of release required much courage on my part. However, I’d reached that point of personal discomfort where the angst outweighed the fear of change.

My immediate decisions and actions surprised some. I dropped almost everything. I made changes literally overnight. With life changes came various states of emotional pain. I went through a mourning period of missing my ‘old’ ways. I went through a state of not understanding my own identity. I went through self-doubt about my own choices. But the pain quickly passed and the reward was clarity of mind and a renewed sense of energy.

I have been very much content and at peace now. I have adapted ways of being that have proven beneficial to my sense of serenity and wellness. I have made adjustments to my routine and to my thinking-patterns. Mostly, I have decided to be courageous, to stop being a victim to my own self and thought processes, and to take risks daily. I am being all I can be through changes in the way I talk, the way I carry my body, the way I choose to spend my days and nights. I am not doing this with any inkling of self-punishment, self-cohersion or ‘must/should’ voices. I just am.

I reached that life-altering point where enough was enough. I was ready. Ready to take control of my life by releasing all of what was weighing me down and causing affliction to spirit. I embraced physical movement (walking, cleaning, leaving the house), social interactions, and the desire to become free of anxiety. I immersed myself in comedy, live entertainment and the rekindling and building of friendships. I put all the energy I’d been using towards obsessive online behavior into a plan: obsessively escaping obsessiveness.

In essence, along with my ability to obsess, I took all of my character traits, and put them to work for my betterment. I roped in my acute focus and keen intelligence, and used my attributes to produce purposeful and powerful self-metamorphis. In a way, I faked it until I made it. I tricked my own self into being happy, and I didn’t give me a choice. I used the inherent tools that had once imprisoned me to free myself from the constricts of mental-affliction. I decided I was done. And I was.

My whole life I have had the capacity to be the best at whatever I choose to be. So why not be the best at being content?

Present day I have maintained a state of equilibrium. Now I am ready to go back to retrieve parts of what I freely let go of for self-survival. I can dip my foot back into some of my old behaviors without going overboard into self-abuse. I am taking away some of the rigid rules I established of what I could and could not do when I first instigated change.

I don’t think I am a miracle worker; I do know I am a hard worker. I am also optimistic and hopeful. I carry a strong faith in people and in the world. I see the good. I always have and always will. I see the good in me now. I think because I have never given up on myself, through all the trials and tribulations I have encountered, that I shall also never give up on others. I know the capacity we carry for growth.

I forgive myself entirely for trespasses into discomfort. I forgive myself entirely for the lessons I learn and relearn. I am a constant student. I accept where I am. I suspect I will swing on the pendulum again, far to the left or right; and I suspect I will return, right where I am: Happy.

*********
I am the stillness
The gentle breeze asleep
Before the dawn
Beneath the night
Attuned destiny
Unraveled
Ribboned time undone
A cousin to history
The ancient scholar
Atop the mountain high
Who calls out
To awaken the calm
I am
Without choice
Adrift
In the wake of absence
Falling before reaching
Into the whistle of forgotten
A melody harmonized
Within the intricate lining
Of our conjoined souls
~ Sam

455: Love and Loops

I have been trying really hard to not loop, to not spin, to not take something that is nothing and turn it into a monster. The largest portion of this sense of self is lost in doing so, in succumbing to the voice of fear and believing what I hear. The greatest part of spirit knows that fear is all but illusion, and only love exists—prevails beyond the illusion of naught. Still I get lost in the murky waters of falsehoods, daily, if not hourly, trapped in a labyrinth beyond human logic.

Because I am vulnerable, I lose sight of my purpose. Because I succumb to this falsehood, I lose sight of the all. I become a pawn in some minions’ game of discourse and confusion as I stumble down endless reasonings leading nowhere.

I have watched myself as the observer and taken soul-notes, or more so delve through time for answers, and if not answers than at least a glimmer of insight. I have listened to my heart-mind, and focused on the powers that rest beyond intellect. And in so doing, I have found some peace. I have found some recourse beyond the dilly-dallying of the mind, beyond state of anguish.

I have discovered, with full vitality, a remedy beyond this place I am. I have seen a solution that is far more reaching than letting the pain play out to the end. I have seen: It is not that I need to seek the meaning and find the solution, but that I need to release the need for solution.

Before I believed this meant releasing to the process—to allow or give permission for my mind to go through the torment. Now I view the occurrence with new eyes. There is no need for me to wallow in this state of pain day in and day out. The truth of the mystery of release is found in not releasing, not focusing, not trying, but simply replacing.

Releasing through replacement is my remedy. And not replacing with the tools of busyness or distraction. For though they be sweet, the intermingling of heart-mind into a daunting or thusly thrilling task or adventure, they too come to a conclusion, an end that certainly leaves me back on the dock of gloomy comings. A place where I am once again triggered by an invisible made visible.

I’ve come to see that what I am sensing is not so much an intellectual attack as a spiritual attack. A dark nature of my own doing or another’s, I know not. A creation brought on by self-manifestation or a power beyond, I know not enough to ponder. But whatever the affliction, rather karmic, energetic, or simply part of my journey into greater peace, the affliction exists. A pain so palatable I can taste it—hold it in my mouth and bite down. It’s thick and dirty, and filled with deception. Trickery of what is and what isn’t. And mask upon mask of who I am.

In the end, at the bottom of all the lies is this desperation, this clinging, that makes my mind scream out. A lost woman forlorn and in destitute wondering about from that which she came.

To experience is to remember. To experience again is to cry so deeply in recognition of the unraveling loss of control that the tears become the enemy. The shell of self emptied too, so despite the remnants of what I thought I was, who I thought I was, I become something entirely altered, different even within the mirror I reflect upon. Wherein even the home in which I sought rescue and escape is shattered—no place to crawl back into, no matter if it be demolished or in disarray—no shell exists. I am left out in the open barren space of nowhere searching for a way back home to nothing.

And so I have put into practice a new approach, scouring over the teachings I have collected in my mind, and surrendering a gentle submission of knowing not enough to conquer this affliction. Instead, I retreat into a place in which I connect my heart and mind, and I give to myself the gentleness of love.

I let into my mind only one word: LOVE

And I repeat this over and over and over: Love, love, love

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

That is all.
That is the all.

And here I rest, unable to untangle my own mind with any other words, unable to be the puzzle solver or mender. Unable to recollect what brought me here again—for one solution inevitably leads to further spinning and descending into the abyss.

Instead, instead of anything else in existence, I choose love.

And there I rest, repeating the source of light over and over, until the healing waters come, and I realize whatever or whomever it was that afflicted me, be it self, illusion, or other, I am whole still. Returned to the womb of discovery. Returned to the self complete and renewed.

436: Lessons Learned: What Ails Me

pinit super power

I have been depleted for two weeks, utterly exhausted, in pain, and unable to do much of anything, beyond a few simple errands. But that’s okay.

My life is a process. I am a process. And I firmly believe, despite my intense moments of pure panic and doomsday fear of my singular obliteration, that all is unfolding as it is meant to be.

I have had a lot of time to think, and over-think.

The thing is, with so much time to think, my mind tends to go into overdrive. I try to find all types of creative ways to preoccupy my brain, but it does its thing regardless. I sketched, I wrote poetry, I wrote a post or two (I think), I discovered how to make posters with my original photography and quotes, I watched a bunch of movies, or at least the first thirty-minutes of a lot of movies. I had a hard time focusing. My body wanted to move—to walk, to get out, to accomplish something, part of my body at least.

I got rather forlorn and lost in myself. Biologically this is caused, I gather, from the fluctuating hormones from PMDD. Physically, I hurt from what is most likely the result of my childish (as in spanking it) short term memory, in which I forget I have various muscle ‘conditions’ and quite frankly act like a dang super athletic hero, when I ought be seriously sitting on the sidelines.

I tend to forget I have limitations. Seems to be my area of expertise: overlooking limitations.

And… when it comes to my body, it’s not advantageous to overlook feasible limitations.

I have to learn to listen to this part of me, and I am finding I am a wee bit stubborn.

I keep thinking something will change. That if I just look hard enough, try hard enough, and just BE hard enough, (in that place of letting-go-zen-di-ness), that I will transform. That this physical pain will dismiss itself, and I can run and leap and charge forward like a little girl reborn, without repercussions.

The truth is: It’s time to let go of who I want to be and time to embrace who I am.

I am disabled.

I have had free parking (courtesy of the blue handicap plaque) for four years now. I have been unable to work more than part time for 12 years now. I have scoured literature on every disease, affliction, and illness known to man, and though I have developed practical theories on why I am the way I am, in regards to my pain ailments, I have not solved anything. Today, after thousands and thousands of research hours, and attempts at various regiments, restrictions, and so on, I am no closer to discovering an avenue of reprieve, than I was over a decade ago.

Deep breath.

I am coming to grips with this today. I am mourning. I am realizing that it is really time to throw in the towel. I can choose to spend my next decade focusing on a cure and an explanation, or I can choose to focus on the life I do have. I am not giving in. Not in the least. And I can’t promise I am giving the search up, but I do know that I am shedding attachment. And discarding of some lie I have enchanted my spirit with that preaches: I am not enough.

I am enough. I am not my pain. I am not my condition. I am not anything that has a name or label. I can’t be defined. And I am not inadequate, flawed, made wrong, or damaged. I just AM. I want to drill that into me. I want to tell myself again and again I just AM.

I have had enough. Enough tears. Enough struggles. Enough puzzle solving. In all my efforts, that I know aren’t wasted, but definitely over-drawn, I have collected more and more diagnosis, theories, and questions than a singular being ever needs in one life time. And all for what? To find out I am at square one, back on the couch, unable to proceed with a ‘normal’ life.

This is my normal.

I need to digest that like chocolate. I need to let it melt into my mouth—melt into me.

I need to hear it. I need to accept that I am okay with where I am at and to stop fighting. I have fought my entire life over one thing or another, trying to make better, to find the escape, to find the peace, to find the remedy.

My sickness, or ailment, of phantom quest, whatever I choose to call it, is a symbolic representation of my spiritual hunger, that need I have for answers and truth.

I thought I had let go enough to accept the flow of life, to be that stream. I know I have in many areas. But my health seems to have taken over my brain-processing like a singular-minded dictator. Getting better is pretty much all I can think about. It’s all I can do. I am over powered by this innate drive to fix and solve.

And I am rebelling. It is time.

This is as good as it gets. Right now, at this very moment, for you and for me. And if I can’t be happy exactly where I am sitting, whatever my circumstances be, then life will continue to be a rollercoaster.

Oh, how I want to blame the fixers of the world. Try this. Try that. Do this, it helped me. Have you done this?

Oh, how I want to blame the complainers of the world. Always me. Poor me. That’s me, too. It’s so terrible. I wish I was dead.

Oh, how I want to blame the proclaimers of the world. Just change your energetic vibration. Just visualize your reality. Create yourself in wholeness. Illness is illusion.

Oh, how I want to blame the coaches of the world. Just be strong. Life could be so much harder. You have so much to be thankful for. It’s not that bad. Toughen up, girly.

Oh, how I want to blame God. Why did you do this to me, Lord? Why me? Should I be better? Should I try harder? Is this punishment? Is this my fault?

Oh, how I want to blame the past me. Karma. It must be karma. Come to kick me in the butt. I must have done something right. I mean I have had a lot of accomplishments and love in life. But man, I must have really screwed up somewhere.

Oh, how I want to blame the concept of normal. Why can’t I be like her? Does she understand how hard this is? She takes her health for granted? She has no idea what suffering is?

Oh, how I want to blame the invisibility. No one can see this pain. No one can understand. I am so alone and isolated, forlorn, forgotten, un-important and lost.

Oh, how I want to blame everything and everyone, but me.

I have a choice today. I can join anyone I am blaming. I can blame them or become them (minus God) or I can start to be ME.

I can start relishing life for what I can do, and not blaming life for what I cannot do.

I can begin by pointing the finger at self, and then softly point the finger away to a space of emptiness. For no one and nothing is to blame. And just as there is no blame, there is no hidden promise of discovery to what ails me. What ails me cannot be relieved through attachment. Just as in my spiritual quest, I understand what ails me can only be relieved through letting go.

So today, I am letting go.

I am releasing this clinging-need to make myself whole and healed. I am accepting I already am whole and healed. I am accepting that the latest advice, tip, or cure isn’t for me. Nothing is out there. And if it is, this nothing, this something morphed from nothing, will find me when I am ready. I have to trust in the higher plan. In the course. In the miracle. I have to believe that this is as good as it gets, and be happy in this moment. For life is only this moment.

sam's hair

424: To the Girl in the Altered State

To the girl in the altered state

Every once in a while, about six to ten times a month, I enter an altered state in which I cannot recognize or reason with myself. Mostly this happens during the week before my menstrual cycle, but also occurs sporadically throughout the span of a moon-cycle. I am not separate or without consciousness of experience during this altered time, but I am definitely separated from a healthy self-image and from a sense of hope. Partially, this state of being can be explained through the symptoms of PMDD and/or severe PMS. Partially, this altered mood state can be explained through environmental influences, such as exposure to people, foods, weather fluctuations, and events. Causes of the root of these states can also be found through the intake of others’ words, actions, body language, moods and emotions. These altered states are intensified, if not jump-started, by the complexities of my thoughts, including my innate ability to scaffold one thought upon the other, and then root my ideas through advance complexities of processing equivalent in design to a skyscraper building upward and outward with exploding and expanding firework-like threads.

Inside my mind is a jumble of ideas edging their way through to exactness and refinement, entering a filter of dissection and biopsy, spit out into a conveyer belt which feeds each piece with microscopic filaments of possibility. As my mind functions much like a separate entity of its own, I get carried away in the potential outcomes, swept into immensely thick images and awakening, I can both feel, create, and to some degree control.

Here is the only place I find a semblance of control, and because I can find this peace, this place of no unexpected upset, but instead a returning again and again to the matter at hand–this machine of causation digesting and reproducing with each throb of my heart—I can remain here unaware of the happenings around me, the things occurring outside of my own thinking.

This serves me well, my thinking-machine, in times of deadlines, needed production, problem solving and sorting. I have the capacity to debate both sides of an argument with ease, essentially seeing with expansive foresight the end-trail of either avenue taken. Whether I be supporting myself or another’s endeavors, I am more likely than not to typically find beneficial solutions and make beneficial progress with any given task. I am able to mass-produce with focused concentration and powerful self-drive. Nothing is forced, induced or made to happen; the output of self happens instinctually and naturally, the process akin to the effortlessness in which a flower unfolds. I am neither under pressure or in a state of panic. More so I find myself in a blissful alleyway of escape with my troubles blocked out on one side and my worries blocked out on the other. I have managed, through simply being, to slip past both the mundaneness and challenges of life, and bask in an inner-state of creation. Here, in this creation state I am blissfully working. Pouring out information in graphic and written form, both in hardcopy and in my mind. What I see is transmitted and then drafted. Draft upon draft is reassembled and reconstructed, both internally and externally. I am me, yet I am not, producing with an extremeness I am familiar with, a rush of production that seems to resemble an urgency and need, though, to the creator resembles a necessity of action—something one was born to do and must do to survive.

Given a subject, I can learn mass amounts of information in a short amount of time, not because I am told to or want to, but because I am internally driven to completely fill the vacant spaces in my mind with input. I am taking in what I crave, as if the newness was the exact food I needed. I have nothing to prove to anyone. And thoughts of improvement of self spurs feelings of the potentiality for pride. This pride feels like poison to me, indigestible and damaging to the whole of self. I create with passion and fever, but not for the reasons others might suspect. And the suspicion, the judgment, the expectations of onlookers, is the first part that disturbs what I take in. The latter part which causes disruption being the layers of guilt I wade through for being what I am in the way I delve into the alley of reprieve. Together, the meanderings of thoughts, including the knowingness of what I am and who I am (in the way I deviate from the world-proclaimed norm), the indigestible thoughts of feasibly self-filling through prideful ways, the known ways in which I appear to others through my behavior, and the guilt which soaks through, leaves me in a split state—one in which I am in the alley of reprieve but pushing back a self-punishing voice that regurgitates what I have been shown and told through experience and exposure of normalcy.

It is the processing and creation that occurs within me that both feeds me and causes the worst agony. Yet I can discard of the self-defeating thoughts most of the time, except the handful of times in which I am in an altered state and feeling low self-worth, as previously mentioned above.

During these moments, which I have called altered states, when I am emotionally at my end, sad and what could be labeled ‘depressed,’ I am tested by my own thoughts and circumstances, inventing ways to end my agony, and undoubtedly coming up empty with possible recourse and explanation. My mind takes off again, as if bound to creation with engines revved. Only this time I am digesting bits and pieces that don’t make sense and leave me suffering. I am stuck on the loop, a conveyor belt that keeps recirculating with the same information over and over. I keep misfiring inside, keep trying to solve the unsolvable, and inevitably end up disappointed and forlorn.

I can step back while in this state and feel myself adrift, unable to help or pull myself outside of a surrounding feeling of doom. Not one to dismiss possibilities or explanation, not setting aside feasible reasons, I keep forming hypothesis and testing theories through personal trial and error, digging myself deeper into confusion and darkness. The only way out is to sleep, to process verbally with another, to create through writing or art, or to cry. When I am on overload, having reinvented the same scenes again and again, dizzy and upset by my own making, I might have a panic attack.

During these times of reconstructing the same thoughts over and over, I cling to my greatest fear of the moment. For me this is usually attached to abandonment, sickness and death. I see these fears in full picture, too. And having died a thousand ways through various ailments or found myself worthless in forever isolation by all I love, I become exhausted. In theory, I suppose, I climb into a storybook of sorts, living out alternate lives again and again, wherein I am not the heroine but the doomed sufferer. If not a storybook than a vivid horror film in which the characters all dissolve and I am left alone in a sucking suffocating darkness that breathes me into a state of hopelessness. Because my mind is the way it is, for whatever cause or reason, the very tool that creates masterpieces is the same tool that creates my demise. In this way, the same control I lack in being swept into the alley of reprieve is the same tool I lack that keeps me from being sucked into crushing isolation.

Having tried various measures to offset these altered-states, I have found that some things can make a difference. But usually these measures are unexpected, unpredictable, and cannot be created through planning or intervention. The only thing that stops my altered-states is the unexpected. A few ways I am pulled out might include circumstances such as a joyful surprise, a state of urgency in which I need to help another or solve a pending challenge or expected occurrences such as a good friend visiting from out of town or a celebrated accomplishment.

Time and time again I have wished I had a letter to read to myself during this altered state. Ideally, I would benefit from videotaping myself reminding myself I will be okay because during the dark hours it seems nothing will ever stop the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.

Dear Girl in the Altered-State,

You are here again, and you knew you would be; even though you think this is a new thing, it’s not! I know this time you think this is it, the end, the worst, the real test you will fail, the trial that will end you. Again, it’s not. You are fine. You are momentarily lost in a loop like a time traveler who has lost her way. The key word to remember is ‘momentarily.’

‘This too will pass. This too will pass.’ You aren’t going anywhere. You aren’t checking out. You aren’t crazy, and you are certainly not dying. No more than anyone else on earth, anyhow. You are a mortal and a human being and you are affected by so much in this world. You take in mass amounts of information, much of what you can’t even recognize until it is spewed out the other side through you, like some salmon flying upstream and landing on shore.

You are enough. I know you think you are not. But you are. You are pretty and smart and lovely. You are sweet and kind and caring. I know you think you aren’t good enough, no matter how hard you try and that you aren’t worthy. But you are.

In a few days you will be smiling again and loving life. Here are some important things to remember. The rest let go. All of it. I mean it. Let go of the worry, fret, regret, upset, and all that makes you mourn. Cry if you need to but don’t hold it in, and follow this list like a trail of breadcrumbs that will bring you home.

I love you. I love you so very much. You are brave and my princess, and you are never alone. You will lose your faith during this time, but the angels are still here. You will lose yourself, but you are still here. You will question everything and everyone, and not believe a positive word out of anyone’s mouth, including mine, but that is okay.

Still with all of this said, you will think this is it, the very last straw, the end of it all and the beginning of everlasting suffering. That’s bull. It really is. It’s a dark voice invented in some alley way in your mind. We don’t know why it happens, but it does. Probably a side effect of all your processing, like the sludge overspill form a well-greased engine. That’s all this is: an end result of your mind at work.

Don’t trust the negative messages and don’t make any decisions. And believe in us, in you, and finding your way back. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to fix yourself. You are perfect. And you don’t have to search for a way out. It will just come. The custodian is in there right now cleaning up the gunk with a mop. Just wait. That’s all. It’s okay if you are impatient and you don’t believe me. All is okay. I know that anything on this list will take all of your energy, but doing just one will help you. Remember I am here waiting, and you will come out of this altered state soon. For now pamper yourself and know you are loved.

1. Shower or take a salt bath. You will instantly feel better
2. Walk and if you can’t walk then dance to music. Move. Just move.
3. Accomplish one small task, like emptying the dishwasher, one little thing will show you that you are okay and capable of productive activity.
4. Create through your sorrow: dance, paint, draw, write, or do something that spills the emotions out of you into reality.
5. Process aloud with loved ones how you feel.
6. Treat yourself to food, you will be starved during this time, and that is okay. In a few days, once rebalanced, your healthy eating habits return.
7. Avoid the mirror and taking photos of yourself. How you view you is not reality. You are creating flaws and negative messages when you see yourself.
8. Go outdoors. Even if for a moment. Let your feet touch the earth.
9. Get in contact with nature, feed the wild crow or pet your crow, stare at the water, breathe in the air, soak in the green of your surroundings. Don’t hide out in your house, you will suffocate.
10. Allow yourself times of no production. Just be. And don’t analyze. If you need to listen to the same song over and over do it. If you need to watch a movie over and over, do it. Don’t judge yourself, your actions, or what you are doing. You are enough, and it is okay to rejuvenate.
11. Avoid triggers that increase anxiety including gluten products, coffee, and exposing yourself to people that drain your energy.
12. It’s okay to say no.
13. It’s okay to let go of your responsibilities, slow down, and take care of yourself.
14. It’s okay to cry and to be afraid.
15. Don’t try to solve, fix, or understand what is happening. It is out of your control and that is okay.

I love you, my precious one.
You are enough.