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

467: Enough

A month ago I said the word: Enough.

And that was that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enough said of this or that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

464: Triggers lead to Exhaustion

Triggers and ASD

Anything can trigger me; and it doesn’t matter the amount of self-studies, coursework, readings, spiritual meditation, or self-calming techniques that I incorporate.

I sometimes feel like the energy of something or someone actually jumps out at me; as if I am that electron that moves position inside vast space based on the stimuli (observer) that is in close proximity to me. I continue to feel less like a form and more liken to fluctuating matter.

Once I am triggered by an object, action, word, or person, the anxiety kicks in. My body responds in discomfort. Once I recognize the anxiety through bodily sensations, I can search back and find when the trigger started. Then I am able to pinpoint the stimuli which represents the trigger. At this point, I logically dissect what has affected my equilibrium.

This process of backtracking takes anywhere from a few moments to over an hour. This morning the trigger was a photograph of myself, from the winter of 2013, when I was five pounds lighter. Subconsciously, I held onto the thought of having gained weight, and somewhere in my brain I spun this data on the back burner of reasoning. My body responded with increased heart-rate, a sense of fight/flight, and nervousness. I then looped without complete awareness on being too fat and too ugly to be loved.

These are old messages sill stuck in my filter of self-acceptance and self-love. Once I identified the trigger (the photo), I was able to trace my anxiety back, to self-talk myself down from the negative messages, and to begin to reconstruct a more beneficial view of myself.

The issue at hand, for most aspies, is this triggering happens during waking hours continually, and the process of disintanglement becomes exhaustive.

The fact that the triggers affect us is a direct result of our neurological firing. We are born to make connections at high-speed; so quickly in fact, that the processing occurs without our constant recognition. I am tired, because ultimately, I have a bullet-train mind that takes off with me flailing in the air whilst gripping the caboose.

I believe, beyond the sensory processing of our environment, e.g., noises, textures, scents, bodily sensations, tastes in mouth, etc., that the constant processing of triggers leads to the need to retreat into isolation for a season, be it hours or days, perhaps even weeks. At first, I thought I was primarily being fatigued through various physical ailments (hyper-joint mobility syndrome/EDS), the sensory integration challenges, the need to be as honest as feasibly possible by choosing actions that represent the true self, and the constant evaluation and searching for adequate social skills (tone of voice, proximity, flow of conversation, exact verbiage, etc.)

I understand now another true facet of the exhaustion. While I am processing the direct environment about me, and trying my best to function and present myself in a beneficial manner, I am simultaneously struggling both consciously and subconsciously with the various filaments of triggers that have latched onto the factory in the back of my thought process and have remained there, continually spiraling and looping, until a part of me recognizes the presence and takes measures to spit out the residue.

463: Aspergers is not a Disorder

dis·or·der
n.
1. A lack of order or regular arrangement; confusion.
2. A breach of civic order or peace; a public disturbance.
3. An ailment that affects the function of mind or body: eating disorders and substance abuse.
tr.v. dis·or·dered, dis·or·der·ing, dis·or·ders
1. To throw into confusion or disarray.
2. To disturb the normal physical or mental health of; derange.

(source: the free dictionary.com)

Aspergers is not a disorder. It is not an ailment. It is not a malfunction. Aspergers is not equivalent to an eating disorder or to substance abuse, which imply a treatment plan, such as therapy or 12-step, to support and correct the behavior.

Aspergers is not a state of confusion or disarray.

Aspergers is a neurological difference. A difference that is not better or worse, but simply not ordinary and exists outside the familiarity of mainstream’s indoctrinated interpretation of ‘normal.’ Aspergers is a form of high-intelligence which consists of varying degrees of over-analysis, deep complex reasoning, and some ‘unusual’ social behaviors. The social behaviors are not impairments.

A person with Aspergers inspires another to love beyond the limitations of ego, with an unconditional love which is not based on preconceived notions of how one should be according to an onlooker’s self-based interests and desires.

Knowing someone with Aspergers is a blessing, as much as knowing any other individual. We each are divinely made in our uniqueness. We must stop rejecting something or someone for the uncomfortableness it brings the onlooker, and start accepting others for who they are in completion.

Aspergers is a reminder, a wake up call, to all those who say they know how to love. You know love? Then here is a chance to prove it. ~ Sam Craft, Everyday Aspergers