It’s All About the Ovaries (Second Edition of Everyday Aspergers: Part One)

So, I’ve been procrastinating on this post since December 2018.

I’ve analyzed why and have come up short. It’s likely that I don’t care much for self-promotion. Indeed, in the last 6+ years I can count on one hand how many times I’ve asked folks to share about my Everyday Aspergers Facebook page. (And that counts the mention here!) If you haven’t checked it out, please do.

I could blame my procrastination on the countdown to menopause, which I hope and pray arrives tomorrow, as I’ve been dealing with the complexity of endometriosis for years, including the 2018 road traveled of chocolate cysts. Don’t let the name fool you; it’s all about the blood. And now that I’ve over-shared, I will switch gears.

 

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Recently, I’ve had a profound peace — could be hormones shifting and my lady parts semi-retiring — could not. (Oops, focus Sam!) I’d like to think it’s something to do with my faith and spirit. It’s likely a combination of coffee, getting older, and finally getting fed up with not speaking up for myself and finally understanding boundaries! That, and I do feel the presence of an angelic spirit. But that’s another story.

Not much has changed (with my brain) in the past years, since I started writing Everyday Aspergers. Which now has over 1.4 million hits! Well, yes, some of the reason behind the high ‘hit’ number is because there are over 500 posts! Omgosh — write much?

My point being, I still digress to a close-to-annoying degree.

That’s likely why I typically get called to interview for a job, based on my awesome resume, skills, and experience, but don’t seem to ever get the job! (In fact, I don’t even get a rejection letter — just GHOSTED.) Picture me bungee jumping off a high cliff of ‘tell us a bit about yourself,’ and swirling in rapid circles, giggling like I’m twelve, raising my voice in high pitch, fidgeting about, announcing how proud I am to have ASPERGERS, and then correcting myself: “I mean to be on the autism spectrum.”

I leave an interview feeling like I either nailed it and they absolutely LOVED me, and want to be my best friend, or convinced I terrified the living daylights out of them. It’s likely the latter. As I mentioned: I don’t ever hear back. Thank the lord for my job at ultratesting.us, where being neurodivergent is the norm! Thank my lucky stars. (< Madonna video)

Ironically, I have studied 1000s of hours of best hiring practices for my vocation, and can’t seem to keep my Aspie-ness in a bag when under distress at an interview. There must be a pill I can take. (Now picturing Violet in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and now must Google to find an image.) “. .  . because Charlie she’s a nitwit.” Not to say I’m a nitwit.

 

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Okay, alas the REAL point of this post is to tell you THE SECOND EDITION OF EVERYDAY ASPERGERS IS HERE! And it’s now available in paperback in many countries. Check out Amazon or ask your local library to see if they can order it. Look at the PRETTY cover by an autistic artist (and my friend and colleague)!

USA amazon

UK amazon

AU amazon

10 Facts You May Not Know About the Book Everyday Aspergers

Are we friends yet? (Facebook link)

 

Okay … done! Although, I don’t think this is what my publisher had in mind.  (scan down for more.)

 

 

On a side note, I will speak to you as if you and I are in a cafe, and I’m catching you up with my medical stories. Sorry for the monologue, and the white-haired man sitting kitty-corner to us that is blushing because I am talking too loud.

This here ^^  … that’s an image of a chocolate cyst. Funny story … after an ultrasound in early 2018, when I found out I had at least one chocolate cyst, (and had gone to the emergency room in excruciating pain, and was curled up on couch most days for weeks) in typical Sammy-fashion, I researched with hyper-focus about the chocolate cysts and implemented some home treatments — including essential oil, strict dietary change, etc.

When I returned months later for a follow-up ultrasound, the technician confirmed indeed the cysts presented (3 of them) exactly like ‘chocolate’ cysts! Immediately following, (literally a few steps down the hall), my OBGYN doc informs me, “The cysts are shrinking, and that doesn’t happen with chocolate cysts, so we can’t call them that anymore. They don’t shrink.”

I was dumbfounded.

Surely, in some cases they can? And I’d done so much, including talking to my body, to ensure healing.

My scrunched up face demonstrated I was confused, as I asked in a high-pitched voice, that no longer suits my age: “Well, what would we call them if they weren’t shrinking?”

She responded, “Oh, definitely chocolate cysts.”

I then got that familiar feeling in my gut that means ‘NO ONE on this planet is truly an expert in anything and most of the time professionals are talking out their donkey.’

(“vulgar slang To say foolish things; to talk of nonsense. Don’t pay Jonathan any mind, Mary, he’s just talking out his ass again.”)

The next time I went back in for a check up, with said Doc, she informs that my chocolate cysts are shrinking or stabilized.

So I guess we are back to calling them that?

Anyhow, it reminds me of the time I had a dead front tooth, when I was in my early 20s, and I went to a dentist that a colleague had suggested I see. It was 1992, a sunny day. The dentist’s recommendation for my dead tooth’s discoloring was to darken all my teeth to match!!! Yes, that’s right. And, noooo, I did not!

I have trouble believing this actually transpired, especially after I told my dental hygienist the story yesterday, and she said that’s the worst telling she has heard to date. Also, because decades have past with my pretty veneer tooth. (The other dentist I saw bleached all my teeth to match the new veneer. Yin and Yang. Dark and Light. Theme of my life.)

(On another side note: I found out this week I have no cavities and an unusually small mouth [which matches my usually small head]. And I warned the dental hygienist not to say she has a small mouth despite what her husband says, because that can be interpreted in different ways.

She was appreciative, and said, “We’re going to get along just fine.”

I always find it to be an interesting phenomenon when I give out unsolicited advice to non-autistics about social graces.)

Needless to say, I never went back to that dentist who wanted to darken my teeth! But the young, inexperienced (terrified) me did shake hysterically in her car afterward. The same way I shook after seeing a ‘specialist’ a few years back.

That time a doctor would diagnose me with ‘a close cousin to POTS syndrome,’ (as my blood pressure acted a bit different from typical POTS, but the tilt table test confirmed the condition.)

This was after 5 ER visits wherein my pulse would go to 160 upon standing, wherein the IV would add sodium to my blood, and remedy the POTS-like reaction, making me seem better; only to be sent home and the symptoms to come back (160 upon standing, weak, shaking, etc.); only for me to return to the ER and be told I must be inventing it for attention.

Yes, hysteria is still widely falsely the diagnosis for women! No wonder I have white-coat syndrome.

Fortunately, my then-husband Bob (now-good friend) was in the patient room with the ‘specialist’ (notice the quotes) and me, when the Doc told me my diagnosis and prescribed an exact treatment plan, e.g, constricting stockings, raise bed, exercise regime, salt intake, etc.

A year later, I came back, feeling super pleased I’d followed the Doc’s directions, and was able to sit up for long periods of time, and return to life as normal (well atypical normal). BUT THEN . . . she SCOLDED me, accusing me of making my condition up, and saying I didn’t have POTS, and didn’t have to do all that. That I wasted my money on salt pills and where did I get the idea I had POTS?

I had to phone my ex-hubby from the car to avoid a nervous breakdown; literally thought I was losing my mind, until I realized the doctor was …

(Scan down for book reviews.)

So . . . I likely should write another post soon that is more about the book. I will. I think. Can’t wait to see what pops out of LV’s mouth then! Sir Brain is shaking his head in shame. (He doesn’t have ovaries.)

545: The Numbing Point

Somehow, I am a box, the box itself, opened and watching one after another of a torrential stormy land unfold and reveal itself.

Layer upon layer of history and mystery and truths and untruths, all intermingled and hung out to dry.

I stumble, some eyes-wide-open girl, pushing through the tangible thoughts.

Trudging in and out of random memories and formulations.

Much like a computer brought to life; only with raw emotion and temperament, and pain.

I am both the spectator, watching, and the participant, dreading.

Meandering through what has passed, what might be, and what is to come.

Entering a premonition-dimension all whitewashed across the interior of my reckoning.

An entity wrapped inside, opening with one quick stroke to the ‘what-of-me?’

I intake, reaching untimely conclusions at rapid speeds, left twirling in afterthought and apprehension.

And behind this beyond is yet another broken voice screaming my demise: some torn-out, abandoned demon attempting to sliver its way back in.

And still another, quite broken in its proclaimed ‘un-brokeness,’ quivers nearby, judging each string of thought.

At times I am that mirror facing that mirror, reaching into infinity, my limit of selflessness limitless.

Confusion brought upon confusion, interruption placating interruption, each theory and circumstance trying to predicate the next.

A judge. A jury. An entire assembly of multiple communes all gathered in a singular speck.

And all at once there is this nowhere, and I am lost, drowning in what seems to be logic and feasible steps to the opposite of entrance.

Only each way pulls further. Again, and again, fooling me into thinking it’s a truth, the accurate avenue of escape.

But what am I running from?

Am I so predisposition for analysis that I am predisposed to slipping beyond reality?

What are these propelling thoughts that seem as comforting friend set about as offered confidant, when in actuality they be but bitter tastes, gathered entities, scattered brain-firings awakening prospect after prospect after prospect?

I cannot untie myself from this pain; I am no escape artist.

I am but a trepid flame doused with fuel after fuel, in all forms, to arouse the dragon-centered-heart.

I am opened and set apart and made to bleed out, continually abandoned.

Help is nowhere and everywhere; and that is where the terror sets spindly claw in motion.

Straight out, in the thought that nowhere in the thought is a resolution.

In the thought that each inching perceived as somehow forward is indeed illusion of progress.

That in fact, I am no further now than before, only set upon differing landscape, created by yet another skewed view.

I am where I set out to look.

My angle determines my outlook; my perching point, the end result.

And yet, point after point, I still gather my self upon, to collect the data set forth, in hopes of knowing what is.

And point after point fails me.

Bending, misshapen forms retreating and becoming foundation no more.

The naught of everything evaporating before these wearied wandering eyes.

And so it is, full circle, this numbing point…

I am endless in this reasoning and there is no resolution where thought breathes.

I am but a buttered lady, slipping through the spokes of motion.

I am that honeydew drop immersed in the morning light and made as vapor for the taking.

Everywhere abounds insight and happenings.

Yet nothing ends.

Nothing begins.

And all is left as forgery revealed; mysterious markings of what would be masterpieces; only they are devalued in the discovery of falsehood.

539: I Am Too

I am Too
Sensitive
Honest
Emotional
Silly
Sad
Excited
Despondent
Straight Forward
Detailed
I am Too
Affected
Exaggerated
Off Center
Realistic
Hopeful
Critical
Logical
Worried
Frazzled
Careful
I am Too
Serious
Anxious
Self-focused
Self-involved
Introspective
Deep
Frank
Different
Obsessive
I am Too
Open
Transparent
Real
Intense
Forgiving
Helpful
Giving
Understanding
Trusting
I am Too
Confused
Overwhelmed
Naïve
Nervous
Stuck
Controlling
Impatient
Impulsive
Invasive
Needy
Clingy
I am Too
Talkative
Hyper
Sick
Tired
Attached
Aloof
In hiding
I am Too
Quiet
Distant
Inside my head
Contemplative
Analytical
Repetitive
Cyclic
Fearful
Determined
Pattern-seeking
I am Too
Hard on myself
Mean to myself
Unforgiving of myself
Self-punishing
Self-loathing
Pretending
Aching
Hurting
Wishing
Feeling
Isolated
Terrified
Reaching
Wanting
Dying Inside
I am Too

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

530: Just Three Minutes of My Day (Aspie Exhaustion)

Ironically, after posting about ‘small talk’ on a social media site, I was in Trader Joe’s grocery store last night and the male checker locked eyes with me and asked, with a toothy-grin, “So, what have you been working on?”
What have I been working on? My face squished up in confusion.

Number one thought barged in: Glad I am wearing a winter hat to hide my burning red ears.

The bombardment of thoughts that followed went something like this: What does this question mean? I am embarrassed. Can he tell I am beet red? I wonder if it bothers him he is balding. I wonder if he is single. What does he think of me? Why would he ask this? What am I supposed to say? He is staring at me. Can he tell I am embarrassed? What is he thinking? How should I respond? I am taking too long. Do I look autistic, shy, or stuck up? I don’t want to look at him. I don’t want him to think I am in a bad mood or mean. I am not. I thought I was better equipped than this. I thought I was prepared. I bet I look stuck up. Just like in high school, always misinterpreted. The people in line are looking at me. I wonder if they are married? I wonder if they can tell I am so embarrassed. They are frowning. Are they tired or sad, or mad at me? I look flustered. How much time has gone by? Why did I choose the shortest line and not the line with the female checker? (That’s about half the thoughts, anyhow.)

Only seconds had past, but in my reality it seemed hours.

I refocused. All l I could think to say was: “What made you ask that question?”

I realized immediately that I sounded evasive, suspicious, and even perhaps flirtatious. Not my intention.
By this time, I wondered if he was perhaps psychic, and could sense I was working on many projects.

The checker responded quickly and easily, in a manner that screamed ‘this is so easy for me. “Oh, I was just making small talk to pass the time.”

Small talk. Small talk. Small talk! Should I explain there isn’t such a thing in my mind?

He stared at me, and I knew as the blood-shot through my cheeks and up to the bridge of my nose that in this communication game it was my turn to speak. I stuttered some, and then formed some shaky sentences about my new job and such, remembering of course, with screaming reminders in my head, to ask him about himself. By the time the three minutes were over and the checker had scanned and bagged my ten items, I felt I’d been to war and back.

Sam Craft, Everyday Aspergers

528: Named IT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

526: Tis the Season to Shop: Aspie Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

525: Pre-Return

There are moments as if someone has stopped the dripping faucet in the mind’s eye, replaced a cardboard box with a feathery-down pillow, and removed each segmented-sliver from the stretch of the entire sensory-skin. Here, in these times, everything stops and the world seems manageable.

I’d hoped, in such intervals, that I could be like another in the way of my thinking: liken to the majority, who don’t have to climb over various mounds of seeming nonsense to get to the reality of a situation. However now, I think that part of my reality is the journey itself, the way in which I weave and turn, and even blunder in thought, being a collective representation of my own truth. I’ve come to understand that my complexity is partially what makes me, and that the sole sum of my parts equates a dynamic search for some form of truth.

In my reality, I am a truth seeker, and in here rests my chainmail of heaviness.

I woke up this early morn returned to me, after a brief reprieve. Before this morning, in those intervals of yesterday, my mind felt light and airy, and much as I imagine it would feel to be this someone else, without the agony of intense contemplation. Hours before, I was gleeful and relieved, and anchored with a confidence of being, as if in existing somewhat freed from the burden of thought, I knew all was well. As if I recognized I could begin again to strive forward through life with easement of mind and recognition of hope. A happiness enveloped then, caressing me. A magical pill surrendering into dissolution inside my spinning spirit and setting me centered-mark upon serenity, contented in my own casket of self. Everything made way for the abstraction of pain and the taking in of gentle manner.

Yet, even with this release set open, the act of enveloping reprieve brought with it an unanswered woe. Drafty windows letting in wind’s whispers of another truth: the skins of a ghostly drapery dressed in the gauze of temporary. Hollowed out whispers echoing from nowhere and into nothing a jaunting truth of ‘this won’t last.’ And so it was, that even as I basked in the delightfulness of ease-of-mind, my ears opened to the emptiness, a realization of the inevitable return of before.

I am reminded in this way of the constant rotation of existence, in which elements collide and burst, and events never are at standstill. I am reminded in the ways of the universe, of how with every movement there is a consequence, and I am placed without exertion into the acceptance of this all. Therefore, even in these seemingly standstill moments, as I accept the long-awaited detour of complex thinking, I also recognize the familiar complexities so deemed: pre-return.

This experience could be equated to the lover slipped out of the arms of dismay. One once battered by the entrenchment of another’s ways, who remains teetering on the bending dock of instant relief, with the constant knowing of the unavoidable arrival of another’s return. Or of the blinding reflection in the huntress’ eyes penetrating the doe. For even as stillness captivates the arrow shall still decimate the heart. For to know the momentary absence of so-deemed chaos, is to breathe in the phantom stillness and turn back again the awakening.

And in so being, with eyes reopened again upon again, life becomes predictable in one way only: in the cycle of change. And rather then, our journey be that of buoyant surrendering, riding the waves as feather-light into the current-driven canals, moving neither forward nor backward, yet rather spinning into various intervals, landing somewhere in the ‘somewhats’ of before, with a differing perspective, not granted by the absence of time, but more so recreated by the angle in which thoughts have returned to hatch.

And so it seems, we are neither ablers or enablers of reality, but at last a mere reflection of all that moves within and about, constant drifters on the external and internal ocean. These self-proclaimed selves bleeding out the excess of returning thought into form, and form into naught, and pleading for the return of nothing. And here is where this ‘I’ exists: in the constant uniformed thoughts of knowing naught and in waiting for the tides to cease in an embodiment of water without end.

524: “Stupid NTs”

Author’s note:
NT is the abbreviation for the word neurotypical. It is a familiar term to those on the autistim spectrum and was originally used to describe those individuals who do not have neurological brain differences. NT is generally accepted as a substitution for the word ‘normal,’ as the word ‘normal’ is subjective. For some, utilizing the word ‘neurotypical’ is an active choice, for the act of using the word ‘normal,’ in reference to those not on the autism spectrum, implies that those on the spectrum are not normal.

On numerous accounts members of the autistic and/or Aspergers community have been alienated, ostracized, and pointed out by the majority as inherently flawed or wrong. Individuals on the spectrum continue to site feelings of extreme isolation from mainstream society and times of repeated criticism in which observers offer out measures in which the person with autism/Aspergers might attempt to fix or adapt him or herself to be more ‘normal.’ In short those on the spectrum are often criticized and taught how they might better behave in order to assimilate. I know of many who have contemplated or attempted suicide based on the intense isolation associated with Aspergers, and had a friend, who took his own life, just last year. I, myself, am not immune from the critics who want me to behave more like them. Not so long ago, I received an extended email from a professor of psychology, who, having had just found out I had Aspergers, felt it reasonable and justifiable to critique my correspondence and give advice on how to act and function as a professional at the university.

In a broad sense, as a people, recognized as the same through common characteristic traits, habits/routines, neurological functioning, gene/enzyme variations, ailments, and the like, those on the spectrum have been singled-out as different from the start, even as they themselves might not recognize the differences. To some, we (those on the spectrum) feel ‘normal’ to our own selves, as how we function and experience life is all we know, and will ever know. Yet still, despite our own inability to change to suit the comfort-level of others, we are told we are somehow made ‘wrong.’ To be told you are flawed or inferior based on various attributes, such as skin color, race, sect., or religion, is harmful and undoubtedly can lead to hurt. Though while the effects of discrimination often create the breeding ground for cruelty, and cause much suffering, there still remains a means for the oppressed to escape psychological affliction through the understanding that essentially they are not the color of their skin or the ideologies they uphold. However, it can be argued, one suffers without means for psychological relief when the majority proclaims that the manner in which a person functions and thinks is wrong. For how can one eradicate self from self, and become that which he is not?

This continual bombardment of judgment of another based on his behavior, whether the bombardment be indirect, direct, or implied, wears down the spirit—chips away at the person’s understandings of self and the way in which he or she relates to the world. In essence, destroys the foundation of his existence. The confusion brought on by criticism brings about a distinct feeling of being misplaced and plopped down on the wrong planet. In addition, often people on the spectrum can’t recognize or do not know others that are like-minded, and therefore, don’t even have a company to retreat to for comfort and support when feeling judged. And if another, on the spectrum, did know such a people akin to himself, he might shy away for a variety of reasons related to the challenges of Aspergers, e.g., distrust, frustration, embarrassment, social insecurities, sensory- and processing-overload from being in a crowd.

Accordingly, as a collective, we are thusly isolated twice: once in our tendencies to be publicly noted in a not so positive light for our unique behaviors and attributes, and secondly in our tendencies to instinctually self-isolate for what we believe is necessary for our own protection.

Throughout history it is evident that people who have been oppressed and isolated eventually reach a point of having had enough. At that junction, two outcomes can occur: an oppressed subgroup can crumble—resulting in multiple scenarios of further oppression and breakdown. Or an oppressed subgroup can rise above the oppressors through the process of connection and action, such as action based on a collective-reckoning as a result of a people coming together and sharing mutual ideas, support, awareness, and so forth.

Singling out others as NTs and attaching attributes to the subgroup of NTs is an example of the Aspergers community rising above oppression through action to avoid further oppression and breakdown. The act itself enables a previously ostracized isolated sum to reclaim a sense of power and self-worth. In theory, when a collective recognizes the existence of another group beyond their ‘own’ group then the group they are a part of becomes more real. By merely creating further separation, between ‘them’ and ‘us,’ the existence of both groups becomes more substantiated. The stronger a group becomes in existence the more members sense their group is real; and accordingly, the more a member senses a group is real the more he or she feels part of a community, and the less he or she feels alone.

Naturally, based on repeated years of isolation, if presented with the chance, many with Aspergers gravitate towards the opportunity to feel less alone and more a part of something. Feasibly, before knowing others that are similar in our making, we have spent most of our lives thinking we are the anomaly and therefore alone on this plane. Finding a ‘clan’ so to speak, provides means of much healing and growing. Because of this, when supported within the makings of a group of like-minded people, a person with Aspergers might subconsciously reinforce the ‘realism’ of the group in order to build up the feelings of unity and tear down the feelings of isolation. In so doing, he or she might reinforce this realism of the group by perceiving others beyond the group as outsiders, and then perhaps accentuate the substantiation of his or her group more by creating or partaking in opportunity to claim the others as less-than, different, or not-enough.

Thusly, through the aforementioned, there is a justifiable reason (psychological sense of belonging), behind a person with Aspergers actions when he or she points out differences between his/her established sect and another. In this light, the use of the label NTs makes perfect sense. Furthermore, using the term NT in a derogatory manner also makes sense—as defining another outside the group as inferior brings about more distinction between the two sects, and as a consequence reinforces the subgroups realism further. Perhaps, along these lines, the creation of two subgroups, that being 1)Aspies and 2) NTs, was inevitable. However, arguably, a justifiable action does not equate a just action.

As mentioned before the breaking point of the oppressed usually leads to a crumbling of self or proactive action; and often, when faced with continual insult and injury, a person must swing to one side of the pendulum or another in order to eventually find balance. As a collective subgroup, we do the same. We swing upon the pendulum—we respond and hide or we respond and retaliate. Part of retaliation is in pointing finger and blaming others. Part of hiding is pointing the finger at self and blaming self. Neither is beneficial in the long term, and can wreak havoc on multiple psyches and relationships.

Regardless of the cause, clearly, there is evidence that through the act of calling others NTs and attaching derogatory meaning to the name NT, discrimination is being recreated in reverse.

People with Aspergers know what it is like to be ostracized. Perhaps to turn around and do the same with closed eyes is understandable. And perhaps, too, to do the same to gain a sense of me-ness and union, and that long sought after feeling of being a part of something, is completely justifiable. But to repeat what was done to us through reverse discrimination with eyes wide open is to start a new type of war, one in which we set out to be the victors and the others the oppressed. This mentality of ‘we verses them,’ or even the simplicity of ‘we and them,’ creates more waste—increased harm and debris that will need to be cleaned up and rectified. Eventually, oppressors become blinded by their own hate, as they fortify their creation of sect through a cyclic self-feeding process based on various means of separation. In the end, by choosing to separate from others, we create a world that is the exact definition of what diminished our worth and standing in the first place.

With this said, I ask you to keep in mind that a subgroup of any definition is at risk of adapting an elitist attitude. For this reason, as a collective community of people who support those on the spectrum, it is crucial to heed caution in the way we choose to see others in general, but specifically in how we choose to see and classify the collective group we name NTs.

~

Author’s Note: This post was originally composed when Asperger’s Syndrome was a stand-alone diagnosis. At that time, not much was written or discussed about females on the autism spectrum, particularly not the rules of semantics to utilize when referring to other autistic women. In the four years since my online writings began, much to do about semantics in relationship to Autism Spectrum Disorders has emerged. Even the word “disorder” is a trigger word for some, myself included. Today, I prefer to write “I am autistic” or “I am Aspie,” when referring to myself, instead of “a person with autism/Aspergers.” (People-first versus condition/diagnosis-first) Primarily, because I don’t have Aspergers—rather I amAspie. Aspergers is innately who I am as an individual and not some tagline—like a disease.With that said, while I am sensitive to the ongoing terminology debate and the growing trend (and need) to move beyond identifying one’s self with a “disorder,” in order to keep the authenticity and voice of the original works, including accurately reflecting how I experienced life and trends in the societal and psychological fields at the time, I chose to not make any specific broad-based terminology alterations in this post.

Samantha Craft (@aspergersgirls) compiled this page. She has corresponded with thousands of individuals touched by autism in their lives. Sam is the author of Everyday Aspergers, a revealing memoir, ten years in the making, about the everyday life of an autistic woman. More information can be found atSpectrum Suite LLC, myspectrumsuite.com