10 Years in the Making! Everyday Aspergers

This Blog Everyday Asperger’s by Samantha Craft is retired. Her company website is myspectrumsuite.com  Thank you for the community and support you have offered through the years.

 

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In 2004, I was called to write. I dedicated myself to write every day for a year. I only missed one day and completed a 250-page memoir. I often wrote 4 to 10 hours a day. I spent the next years editing because my dyslexia and dysgraphia make it very challenging for me to detect errors. I knew nothing of writing. It was pretty substandard material at the start. I didn’t even know when to capitalize the word ‘mom’ or how to use a semi-colon. It took me three years of writing and editing to find ‘my voice.’

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I taught myself to write by studying other books, relentlessly. I took notes and would write pages and pages of words I found (in other books) on notepads. In 2012, I started Everyday Asperger’s (blog) and  wrote almost every day for a year. I then continued posting blog posts several times a month, for another two years. Each Everyday Asperger’s blog post took a long time to edit. Then, after it was online, I would reread the words for an hour (at least) trying to find all the small mistakes that I couldn’t find the first time. (I didn’t mind; it was a type of stimming for me.) At the time of writing the blog, I also reedited some of the original (year 2004) childhood stories.

Recently, after 3.5 years of writing over 1,300 pages online, I began the process for my book: Everyday Aspergers (EA). I tore through 1,200 single-spaced pages of this blog, some of which were my childhood stories, picking and choosing, and then piecing the posts together like a puzzle. This took a solid two months of working almost daily. From there, I refined and refined, trimming most posts to 1/3 original size; some of those posts, if not most, were originally two to three pages long. Next I found little parts that got cut but were still gold nuggets and found places to sprinkle them in.

After that I polished and polished and polished, and began to edit. Soon the final editing took place from December to today. Most weeks I spent the equivalent of a full-time job editing. I also employed the help of a professional editing team. To date, the manuscript for Everyday Aspergers has gone through four editing rounds, in which I read the words (at first 717 pages, then 615 pages, then 417 pages) from start to end. Each page was reedited each time! I’d spend marathon days, up to 12 hours straight editing. Some of the childhood stories have been edited and polished at minimum 15 hours per page! Counting the years before, I’d say the book itself has well over 5,000 hours of editing alone. That doesn’t count any of my writing time. It’s a HUGE accomplishment. It’s not just something I threw together. It has a huge heart and huge effort behind my endeavor.

I cannot wait for the book to be in my hands. More so, I cannot wait for those who wish to have the book to hold the story in their hands! I’ve been waiting since 2004, when I had a dream.

Much love,
Samantha Craft

I updated the Checklist for Females with Aspergers here

Me on Twitter: aspergersgirls

More about the book on  new website

 

 

 

 

533: Interviewing Autistic Individuals

 

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1. When being interviewed for a potential job, adults on the autistic spectrum may appear as one of two extremes: 1) overly confident with an almost false persona or 2) extremely nervous and apologetic.

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2. Rarely, during an interview, is an autistic jobseeker feeling at ease and content, and able to present a comfortable version of self. This is not an attempt to fool or falsify self, but instead an effort to try to blend in and be part of the ‘norm.’

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3. Without a clear guidelines of how to act in a specific role, in this case as interviewee, the an autistic can present as anxious, tense, aloof, frightened or extremely nervous.

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4. Partaking in an interview can cause extreme stress for days before the interview. The interview process will more likely than not be over-thought and imagined repeatedly, with multiple outcomes and scenarios. The candidate on the spectrum will typically relive the actual interview itself, repeatedly after the event.

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5. What might appear as a simple ‘not a fit’ or ‘no thank you,’ to the hiring agent, can be devastatingly crushing to a person with autism. It’s common to obsess over the reasons for failure and to catastrophize the outcome, incorporating all-or-nothing thinking, and self-torture, in the form of repetitive, obsessive thoughts regarding the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs.’

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6. During the hiring process the autistic job candidate might be set at ease with (kind) frankness, direct instructions, consistent reassurance, and clear expectations and goals. While such measures might seem as special treatment or deemed as ‘making exceptions,’ when given the fact that autism is primarily centered on social and communication challenges, taking such measures to decrease social anxiety ought to be considered an essential priority in recruitment.

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7. Knowing exact timelines and being exposed to consistent correspondence can alleviate all candidates’ stress levels, but this is particularly true for people on the spectrum. The sense of unpredictability and not-knowing can overcome and consume a person with autism; and this consumption will directly affect their relations with others and behavior, until resolved. In addition, sudden time changes, tardiness, and rescheduling, on the company’s part, can lead to candidates experiencing increased stress levels, panic, and nervousness.

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8. Before an interview, some candidates on the spectrum will create scenarios in their mind of failure and miscommunication, and have fear of not being able to express their true intentions and true self. They often have a fear of not appearing genuine and honest enough.

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9. Oftentimes, the autistic job candidate will want to be seen, heard and understood; as is such, it is commonplace for an jobseeker to provide information that the interviewer many not deem appropriate, necessary, or beneficial. Most autistics will in fact share thoughts and insights to their own detriment, unable to stop the need to be transparent and forthcoming. While the hiring agent might find this transparency refreshing or curious, the candidate will often feel baffled and embarrassed by their own actions, thinking, once again, they have revealed too much and not followed the ‘correct’ rules.

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10. The autistic job candidate will likely wish to have a chance to process with the interviewer as soon as possible to know exactly and specifically ways to improve presentation. For this reason, in some cases, if opportunity allows, the candidate will benefit from careful explanation regarding the reasons why they weren’t hired or considered for further recruitment.

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11. As individuals on the spectrum have coexisting conditions such as OCD, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress, and aforementioned patterns of thinking that create a type of self-badgering, it is vital for the recruitment team members to be sensitive to the possible detrimental consequences of the interview process. They simply are not going to respond like typical candidates. What might take a typical person a week to overcome, might take the autistic person years. Often events, particularly those that create a sense of failure, become ingrained in the psyche of a person on the spectrum for a lifetime. While it is impossible for companies to take measures to consistently provide potential candidates reassuring feedback after an interview, it is plausible that interviewers be trained in measures to take to prevent further trauma.

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12. Some autistics will have little to no trouble expressing self in various communication venues. But the large majority will have specific triggers to communication that can bring on various outcomes, including panic attacks, insomnia, inconsolable anxiety, and nonstop, rapid thinking.

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13. While the autistic individual is interviewing, they will often be acutely self-aware and preoccupied by their own nervousness and internal coaching, and be simultaneously experiencing two conversations at once—one that is shared aloud between the interviewer and interviewee, and one that is an ongoing internal dialogue. Often the internal voice will overshadow the external conversation and, as a result, gaps of time in the interview will be lost. What might appear as being not being present or distracted, is typically the individual attempting to balance the internal voice with the external conversation. It is suitable and advisable for the interviewer to provide ample time for restating questions, reassuring statements, and redirecting the candidate with ideas and positive input.

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14. Candidates on the spectrum will sometimes panic with open-ended questions, as most are very quick thinkers, able to connect information at rapid speed and reach multiple conclusions in a matter of seconds. While deliberating over a question, the candidate is also contemplating about what the interviewer expects, wants, and is hinting at. The more specific and direct a question, the better.

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15. Some candidates will give quick, short, abrupt answers and be mistaken for non-personable and not forthcoming; while others will overstate, be long-winded and go ‘on and on.’ This tendency for oversharing, or being short in response, will also be present in written documents, such as resumes. It is difficult for a person on the spectrum to judge when written word and spoken word is deemed ‘enough.’ Efforts to clarify, probe, and retrieve more ‘substantial’ information might cause further panic.

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16. In most cases, people on the spectrum communicate better in written form with time to process, rethink, and edit thoughts and ideas, than spoken form. When possible, some type of written assessment ought to be utilized during recruitment screening, such as an essay or instant messaging service.

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17. Autistics are used to being judged, ridiculed, and told how to fix their behavior. People on the spectrum are often subjected to unsolicited advice, tips, and direction their whole lives. It is best not to offer assistance or help, or a point of view, unless asked.

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This post was revised in the summer of 2017. 

Sam’s new book Autism in a Briefcase: A leading edge tool for putting diversity into action is coming soon!

Written by founder of myspectrumsuite.com  Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle Ciampi), M.Ed. is the mother of three boys, one adult son who is on the autism spectrum. She is the senior job recruiter for ULTRA Testing, an autism educator, the author of the blog and book Everyday Aspergers, and is active in autism groups locally and globally. Samantha serves as a guest speaker, workshop presenter, curriculum developer, neurodiversity recruitment specialist, and more. She is working on her second book Autism in a Briefcase, written to provide insight to employers and agencies about the neurodiverse talent pool. A former schoolteacher and advocate for children with exceptional needs, she appreciates the skills and talents of autistic individuals. Diagnosed with Aspergers in 2012, she enjoys the arts, writing, movies, travel, and connecting with others. (More people know Sam by Sam because it’s her community pen name.) see myspectrumsuite.com for more information.

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.

494: 10 Ways I Can Spot an Aspie Girl

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10 Ways I Can Spot an Aspie Girl

1. Deep, soulful eyes which perhaps dip down slightly and/or are very distinguished and large. There is someone in there with a story. There is truth.

2. An uncomfortable smile that cannot find a home which fluctuates between a chiseled, serious frown and the most amazing genuine smile, wherein the whole self and soul lights up—a childlike expression, too pure to be mistaken for anything else than authenticity.

3. Continual statements of second-guessing, checking for understanding, clarifying self, and offering out extra information in an attempt to be understood. Indications of never reaching a full conclusion, as there are limitless possibilities. Questioning self, harvesting advice, and then tossing everything out and starting anew. Having the kindling of multiple thoughts about multiple directions, all at the same time.

4. Fleeting, unnatural eye contact, that is either over-intense and attempting to linger or constantly moved about to find an object of focus. Unusual gestures whilst conversing, and seemingly never fully engaged in the speaker, unless strongly intrigued; and even then the imagination takes over and causes a drifting appearance. Unless overtaken with a special topic of interest; then all mannerisms and ways of being become forgotten, and all that exists is the spoken word.

5. Eyebrows that raise up when a smile is formed, or a distinct maneuvering of the facial features, as if to represent who they are, even when smiling, as to not distort a truth.

6. Unnatural appearing stances and movements; never quite comfortable moving in body unless preoccupied and/or in the midst of strong emotions or a special topic of interest.

7. A sweetness that isn’t outgrown entangled with an enchanting childlike nature and naiveté. Swirling within a constant flux of varying emotions, and heavily influenced by the happenings of everything and everyone.

8. An undeniable unique way of self-expression in all forms: in thought, in writing, in art. All is an extension of the greater self. Spread out with an openness lacking self-need and wanting; and instead represented by an honest soul in search of connection.

9. A flowing nature with undercurrents of stability and predictability. At first glance the person may seem unstable, but with careful observation she follows the ebbs and flows of life, much like the tides to the moon, and the flowers to seasons. She rises and falls. She opens and closes. She is a manifestation of the greater good of cosmic unity, of togetherness, of the interwoven web of us.

10. Her deep reflective state, no matter the topic or situation. The way in which intensity is brought into the room, even as a lightness of being remains. There is a quandary of sorts, an advanced duality, in which she is powerful, yet she is meek, she is substantial yet she is invisible, she is love yet she is fear. She carries the badge of courage in her heart, the white dove of humility in her hands, and everywhere she goes she is either touched or touches down, leaving a trail of fairy dust, or a slough of mud, either way, the path altered.

 

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

Take a look here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

489: I don’t understand…

1. I don’t understand manipulation; I mean I understand the definition of it; I can render it dormant in myself, stop it before it even surfaces. So I recognize its coming. But I do not understand manipulation in completion. It seems that much of the world functions as a whole by manipulating the environment and events in hopes of gaining a perceived outcome. I don’t like that attribute or any semblance of that attribute in myself. In so being, I constantly am evaluating and reevaluating my motivation in attempt to weed out any sprouts or seedlings of manipulation. Thusly, I am in a nonstop state of deep analysis of self in effort to be that which I wish to represent as truth and goodness, even as I exist in a world full of trickery.

2. I don’t understand pointing the finger at someone outside the self. Yes, I understand cause and effect. I understand it so well, indeed, that I see the flurry of possibilities and renderings in every circumstance I perceive. I see in black and white in a sense, but not in a segregated way. I see nothing as entirely right nor anything as entirely wrong. I see both sides; and I see what is outside those two opposing sides, in the middle, above and below. There isn’t any way of proving anything, as all is scaffolded off of a non-original thought positioned in my brain by some eventual found pattern or discovery. Pointing a finger is declaring I know. When I know I know little to nothing of this world. Pointing the finger is proclaiming I am correct, when no such person exits that is in complete correctness. I become exhausted in thought, as I wish to exist as many: to blame fully, to counter, to get irate, to live in a place in which I am both innocent and justified in action. But I cannot go there. I try. I try to don the same robes as the majority, and I am immediately succumbed by feelings of suffocation, regret, and a sense of ‘wrong.’ If I was to point a finger at all, it would be inwardly at self, in having found myself attached to a societal rule of blame as a result of turning away from self-responsibility and adhering to a false individualized and limited self-perception.

3. I don’t understand friendship. Being with others confuses me. I am often giddy and overcome with joy when I first engage with an old friend or new friend. I laugh a lot. I take on my friends mannerisms and way of being. I become less of a me I know little of, and more of this other I seem to suddenly understand a lot about. I am a sponge of sorts, soaking up what is in my immediate environment. Empathic, perhaps. Psychic? I don’t know. It almost seems biological at times, as if I can feasibly metamorphasize not into butterfly from caterpillar, but from one shape I had adopted to the next before me. I often smother another with my attention, wanting, and what appears to be love. But I know not what I am actually doing. It feels like a reunion of sorts, a coming together after eons apart. Only, when we again separate, I am left bewildered by my actions, and again wondering who am I. Worse, I doubt my genuineness, my authenticity, my essential being. To watch myself as observer morph and remorph is both baffling and disturbing. I long to simply be as stagnant one not taking on the persona or emotions of another. But as hard as I wish, I remain some tangent unborn onto self, and reborn in true form as another.

4. I don’t understand love. I have tried and tried and tried. I feel great bonds. I feel great affection. I feel admiration. I feel a like-vibration of sorts that brings on kindred feelings of sameness, recognition and home. I understand over-thinking about someone. I understand longing and wanting someone. I understand the bodily sensations of erotica. Yet, I do not understand the concept of love. I would declare with accuracy I love my children because yes, I would die for them. But is dying for someone love? If so, whom else would I die for? And I would further claim with accuracy I love my good friend, but why would be the next question. Is love based on standards of behavior, on me feeling good and safe, on me feeling lifted and self-validated in my existence? Most seems evident of selfish ego-needs. And so I become wrapped in confusion again of love. If it’s just a knowing and a feeling, then I have this type of ‘love’ a lot. If it’s a desiring to connect, then I have this too. I believe I could romantically love anyone, given the proper setting and environment, the proper influences through the years. I can be taught to love based on what I have been exposed to. I can be taught to choose another as my lover based on what I have collected as truisms. What if I love everyone, and that is the way it is? What if that is my confusion? In trying to separate and delegate and segregate love, I am left lost to myself. For I love but know not what for.

5. I don’t understand people. People confuse me. They can be so warm and generous at first. So available. So real. So genuine. And then they go into hiding. I overwhelm them, I think. It’s my nature to pounce out, to attach, to bleed out my soul, to engage, and to get so very excited upon connecting. I give and I give fully. This me, this all of me. And then I retreat to a place of deep regret. For again I was taken in by the beginning dance, this place of first greeting and meeting that I took for real and everlasting. You see, I stay the same, very much so, in this manner. I stay the same in my ability to love even though I know not of what love is, and in my ability to be me, even as I know not who I am. It is such a dichotomy of twisted thoughts that I seek harbor and refuge from my very brain. But the truth is I do understand me, in all my predictable unpredictability, I am the same. I am loving. I am real. I am me. And when others go someplace else beyond themselves, I am overwhelmed with confusion and self-blame. What did I do this time? Why can’t I stop myself from being SO me? Why can’t I accept that what is now won’t ever last that eventually the place where we meet as two complete souls joined in gleefulness will wear down. That I will be back to myself, wondering what went wrong.

6. I am naive. I know some people prefer the term innocent or unworldly. Of just plain kind and good. But the truth is I am naive. It doesn’t matter how many times I experience and re-experience a similar event; it still turns out the same. I still am baffled and surprised by the end result. You mean I let that happen again? You mean I was betrayed, tricked or cornered? How? Indeed my eyes are wide open. My brain is on high alert. But somehow my heart is in the lead. We follow my heart. This beautiful child-like love and we just can’t help ourselves. We fall with her, into her way of being, and we think this time we are okay. This time it’s alright. This time trust. Trust. Trust. Trust. I don’t know how to stop trusting. For I cannot see what I am not.

481: Sit with Me

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I don’t mean to scare you, but I know I do sometimes. Or maybe I don’t scare you, maybe I cause you concern or frustration. I don’t mean to do that either. I try to stay out of people’s way and just be me. But being me, well, that action tends to get in the way sometimes. Maybe you are numb to me entirely, kind of shut me off like you do the rest of the world; perhaps even more than the rest, because I am a bit different. That’s all okay, perfectly okay. I just wish you could sit with me long enough to see me. However long that might take. An eternity is fine, if you need that. You see I would stay with you that long. That’s the type of person I am: steadfast, loyal, loving. I am endless love. That is why at times I seem giddy and childlike, and I run loops around you, in conversation, in thought, in silly ways in which I move about. I cannot help who I am. In the sense, I cannot help but to be me. I can take measures, certainly, to provide you comfort, and if that means adjusting something in my approach towards you, I am open to listening to suggestions. But at my heart, at the core of my being, I cannot, nor do I wish to, change. I am who I am. And I rather adore myself. I love the way I see the world and accept the world and don’t focus on the pain of people. I focus on the heart. And in this way, everywhere I look is true beauty. That is why I got so very excited when I met you. To me, I had found yet another remarkable heart, another remarkable universe. And yours, my darling, had to have housed the biggest depths of them all. So enchanting, so filled with mystery and multi-dimensions. You see, I could jump into you right away. Straight into the depths of your very soul. I tend to grasp reality this way, by measuring life by the potency of souls. I cannot explain, nor feel the need to explain, but I know I can see you. Way down deep inside, in those places you hide, and in those places you shine. It’s bright in there, and I love you so. I see this and I want to celebrate. I want to shout: Look at you! And sometimes I do. Only it comes out in funny ways that perhaps aren’t so charming, and perhaps seem deliberately askew. Yet, I am trying. I am just trying to find a way to convey to you how much I love you all at once because I recognize your light. Because I know you. Because I see us as one in the same, in sharing so much distinction and awe. I peer inside of you, and I dance there. And here you show me images of before and after, and even of tomorrow. I learn of your heart-trials, of your passion, of your faith, and I learn of your devastating wounds. And I want to heal them, much like the mother to her pup. Only I can’t. There is nothing I can do but watch and take in you in all of your penetrating beauty. And I spin again, into someone you know not. Wanting to pull you into the all that is before me. Wanting you to see how much I love you.

480: Isolated

I am feeling very isolated tonight. Probably, being sick for most of a month is contributing to my sense of discontentment. I have done a lot of soul searching in the last days—nothing new and nothing finished—and I have made some headway into an increased awareness of my behavior and events and stimuli that affect my behavior. Nonetheless, this prevailing underlining of isolation remains. Certainly, some is an environmental causation, that of being alone in the house too much, in recovery, and there is a likelihood because of the fact that my body is out of equilibrium, e.g., increased pulse with decreased blood pressure, that my mood is altered. Yet, even at my best, this interlocking chain of impossible refuge binds me. Increasingly pulling back to the truth of what I am: the fact that most of what I experience has nothing to do with me, and I am some player made to watch the world around me.

Tonight I felt dropped down into the center of a short film, the semi-cute brunette in the dark corner at the table with other ladies ranging in ages, amid a noisy collaboration of loud music, numerous conversations, and clanging dinner wear. I was the girl with the hollowed eyes, appearing lost in herself and far away, never quite sure of her own place, her own whereabouts, or even her own needs. My facial expressions varied to remembering to wear my forced smile to catching myself with expression relaxed staring off into space with furrowed brow and scowl. The act of remaining in a state of appearing semi-interested was effort in itself. The company was kind enough, sweet enough, and nothing to complain about; it wasn’t anything to do with anything else, but me.

The fact that I can be somewhere and be so separated from all that surrounds me is something that has prevailed my life since a small child. I have moments, cherished moments of gleefulness and carefreeness, but there is always, always a price. I lose myself if happiness enters me. It is a type of giddiness unfamiliar to most, a place of childhood like giggles and extreme silliness, a place of over-zealous eager sharing, wherein my actions resemble those of a kid let loose at summer camp about to splash into the pool.

I jump into people or I hide from them as far as I can. I escape entirely in thought or imaginings or I collide with that which is adjacent to me. I am these two variables, and it is painful. To be me in equilibrium is to be connected to my source, to my God, to that which is the All, but to do this requires elements that are not always readily available and a continual focus on love and light that in itself can deplete me. It is akin to holding up a suit of heavy armor all day to push out that which is attempting to invade me.

In the middle state I am content; I am essentially free. I am calm. I am quiet. I am mild and at peace. However, each and everything has the potential to affect my state, anything from a person to the phase of the moon. I become that which is a part of the collective, subjected to a constant wave of transitioning, whilst stepping back and watching this someone I recognize as self carry on through that which is not real. I cannot explain where I go then, except to perhaps a watchtower of sorts, high up above what is happening down below. I am myself but I am not. I am aware but I am not. And I am entirely uncertain if the person who is processing and thinking is the exact personality I am or if I will shift at any minute.

I can be for two hours the constant traveler with rosary partaking in walking meditation around the lake and think that this representation of self is truly me. But then, in the next phase of the day, I am no longer this person at all, and worse I no longer identify with the one I was moments before. It is as if I put on coats of identity all day long. At one moment the quiet librarian-type reading in the quaint cafe, preoccupied by her aging reflection in the window. Another moment, a younger version of myself, perhaps twelve, over-inflated and elated over the prospect of something discovered or overheard. I fluctuate like the weather; moving clouds I am, transitioning in shape and identity; at times in true form blending across sky, at other moments found in the dew drops of daisy’s eyes.

I cannot find myself, because no self exists, and this frightens me. I am what others are around me. I reflect what others project upon me. I become their feelings, their desires, their interests, even their wishes, transforming myself to fit into the groves of their energy. I cannot help this. I become what is in front of me, what I am facing and processing. If one be smart and an elitist, I become this form. If one be cynical and begrudged, I transition to this state as well. Some ways of being are easier than others. Some I want to be, especially those states of unconditional love and acceptance. Other states are hard for me; challenging the most is the waves and vibrations brought on by distrust and anger. Essentially those elements don’t exist inside of me. None of it does, say the love I try to transmit. Yet, I am constantly contaminated. Constantly bombarded with elements of who I am not, even as I know not who I am.

Sitting at the table and playing the part of a fellow human being interested in the talk of the evening is beyond difficult. Difficult I could handle. I am strong. I am wise. I persevere. What is worse than the challenges of communication and presenting myself as part of the crowd, is the continued sense of being not where I am, but projected backwards and away from the situation, analyzing what is there instead of experiencing life. I am pulled backed, in my thoughts yes, but more so out of the arena about me, put somewhere else, or rather I was never there to begin with.

I can watch the people and know things, see things, observe and wonder. There isn’t judgment, not even discernment, just a detecting of varying misgivings, emotions, insecurities, wants and needs. The desire to be heard and seen. The desire to prove one’s self and to reflect back kindness. The desire to get along, establish connection, to share. None of it need be bad, or weighed as this or that. It is at is is, but I am not. I am not this way, and in not being this way I feel rather invisible and unmoved, untouched and extremely isolated. I know that every word out of my mouth is a collection of something or another that is not me; other’s theories, other’s views, a temporary truth spawned from a collection of my previous life times of living. I know that in one way it is only ego sitting there sharing and deliberating. I feel the motivation behind words. I feel the effort, the burden and the heaviness. There doesn’t seem a point to being where I am. What am I learning? What am I doing? Where am I going? Aren’t I supposed to be just enjoying myself leisurely and taking in the scenery? But how does one do that? I have never been able to do that. Nor will I ever.

I am not a casual participant in life, streaming through the river of discourse. I am the observer above, once removed, cautiously aware that every move I make is a representation of someone I am not. I am not comfortable in my own skin, in my own ways, or in whatever I choose to do, least I be out of equilibrium, that giddy opened-up child, who is too often ridiculed, put in her place, and told how to act. The little one who overwhelms new friends and pushes them away. For who am I to invade the space and privacy of another? Who am I, indeed.

There is a fracturing of self I have come so familiar with that I spend my days watching myself transform and transform again. Waiting to see who I will seemingly be next. Wanting to hold on to one state longer than it lasts, and wanting to rid myself of a state sooner than it expires. I am the person who longs to be a person, but who also longs to be somewhere else amongst people who only reflect back to me a currency of truth and trust and unbridled love and acceptance. That is the only place I wish to be.

The tears come, but they are not the batter of depression; they are instead the tears of remembering. The tears of knowing that though I travel decades I remain very much the same wandering child, still adrift in an ocean of nowhere, watching life pass me by, and wondering if ever I will taste what is before me.

470: Past Twelve: Aspergers

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I have to say that twelve was rather easy. I was still very much a child, almost fairy-like, or elven, always into innocent mischief and adventure.

The turmoil hit at the age of thirteen. That is when my hormones shifted and life suddenly became bleak, overwhelming and unmanageable. I discovered a new form of escapism then, a more ‘difficult’ escapism than before; I became more observant of myself and actions, understanding complexities in a new degree that felt unfamiliar and frightening. Before, I would leap into my imagination quite naturally and without pretense. Now, it seemed as if I escaped to get away from some pending danger.

Wherein my world once felt light and airy, full of possibility, and all things magical and hopeful, it now felt dark, dingy and doom-filled.

I didn’t have an active social life for most of my teen years, choosing instead one girlfriend to hang out with and one boyfriend to adore. I had the same best friend from seventh grade until I graduated high school. I never thought to have many friends. I hung out with her, copied her, adopted her taste in music and clothes. I think because I was pretty (but didn’t know it), I easily found boyfriends. I tended to stick with one boy as long as I could or until circumstances forced a breakup. I too, copied what I thought he liked. I tried to appease. But with young men, I found myself continually lost and alone with a separation between us I could not understand or explain. While having a significant other brought me this sense of being less fearful in public and the ability to go out and do more, the relationship also brought me this deep seeded feeling of being complicated, misunderstood, too emotional, and never kind enough.

I could write a full book on the challenges of my teenage years. Here I have attempted to summarize some of the key points:

1. Suffering with feelings of extreme isolation and oddness, but not being able to understand or articulate why I felt this way.

2. Wanting to be like my peers but not wanting to be like my peers. Recognizing their character traits disturbed me, particularly manipulation, game-playing, deceit, cliques (groups of children that didn’t allow other children into the group), lying, cruelty, pretending and gossip.

3. Not knowing why, for most of my childhood, despite circumstances, I had felt happy and content, and that now all of a sudden I felt a deep sadness and a disconnection from the rest of the world.

4. Developing an over-analytical sense of self that encompassed all areas, including how I looked, how I moved, how I spoke and even how I thought and reasoned.

5. Developing a hyper-critical awareness of my appearance, wherein before I could care less. It was an extreme shift from being comfortable in my skin to wanting to change who I was. Along with this intensity of dislike towards my own image, I also did not recognize my own face in the mirror. I had no idea the size of my eyes, my face, my nose, or lips. Nothing seemed distinguishable, and every time I looked in the mirror the image seemed unfamiliar. I consciously did not realize this was happening. I did not understand why I looked at my image so much and analyzed it. I thought I was vain and self-centered, even as I hated how I appeared and assumed no one liked my looks.

6. It did not matter how many times someone told me I was beautiful on the outside, I couldn’t see it, and didn’t believe it. I twisted compliments in my mind. I took a sincere compliment about my appearance and truly believed that the observer was lying, blind, misinformed, tricking me or not educated.

7. I did not trust life. I began to see the unpredictable nature of adults and teenagers. No one around me changed, but suddenly an invisible barrier was lifted and I saw reality more clearly. I had seemed to be coated before, protected in some shield in which the world appeared wonderful and filled with love. I had trusted everyone and believed in everyone; yet now, I believed the world was a scary place, and thought that I had been born on the wrong planet.

8. I didn’t understand my own emotional intensity. I loved deeply. I longed. I was passionate. I was a poet. I was this exploding young woman filled with romantic intentions and the want to get married and have children. I didn’t have any interest in being a teenager. Some part of me wanted to skip from young childhood straight into adulthood. I saw young men as a means of escaping the destitute of reality. I jumped into a fantasy land of tomorrow, when I would be raising a family, and far beyond high school and all its pains.

9. I still trusted everyone. I trusted strangers. I trusted anyone who was an adult. I trusted children. I trusted my peers. I shared from the heart. I told my deepest secrets. I cried openly. And people did not respond in a manner that was beneficial to me. I was preyed upon in all ways: physically, emotionally, spiritually and logically. People could sense I was innocent, naive, and inexperienced. I was very much a victim without knowing I was a victim. I couldn’t tell right from wrong. Because I assumed everyone was good at heart, I assumed everything anyone did was ‘normal’ and ‘okay.’ I didn’t understand that concept of boundaries or self-protection. No one taught me. I didn’t know boundaries existed. I believed people.

10. Concepts that came naturally to other girls did not come naturally to me. I did not understand or follow fashion. I didn’t think to. It never crossed my mind to try to fit in and assimilate to the teenage world. I was still very much twelve inside, even as my body changed. I didn’t start dressing like my peers and learning how to apply makeup until I was ostracized, ridiculed, and singled-out.

11. I didn’t understand sexuality. I had a cute figure and was well-endowed. I did not understand how different ways I walked, sat, or bent over could be perceived as flirtatious and even labeled ‘slutty.’ I didn’t know that I had turned physically into a young woman who men found attractive. Even as they called out names at me, or shouted inappropriate comments about my body in the halls of high school, I didn’t connect the dots. I didn’t know what I had done. And in not knowing what I had done, I didn’t know how to make changes in an attempt to stop others’ behaviors.

12. I copied television and movie stars. I acted like my favorite stars. My role models were a brunette from Gilligan’s Island and a brunette from Charlie’s Angels. And I moved and acted like them, or some other dark-haired daytime soap opera actress. I didn’t know I did this, but I did it nonetheless. I needed a role model, and I found mine on television. Mimicking the traits of sensual and sexual adult females did not add to my ability to fit in; my actions instead served to highlight my inadequacies and oddities. I did things halfway, some very awkward child trying to catch up to her peers and changing body, and not knowing how to even begin, and not recognizing that her subconscious chosen methods were damaging her chances of fitting in further.

13. I didn’t understand my bodily changes and the monthly menstrual cycle. The change had been explained to me in various classes at school, briefly by a parent, and in review of some books, but that information was not enough. I think, in retrospect, I had needed someone to walk me through the process daily for the first year. To explain and reexplain, to reassure me I wasn’t dying or sick, to comfort me when the new and unfamiliar body pains and sensations came, to give me more advanced biological descriptions of what was happening to me. I didn’t do well with change. Change scared me. And here, my entire body was not my body anymore. It was terrifying. I didn’t understand the entire concepts of sex, of the ways I might get pregnant or how to tell if what my peers said was truth or lies. I didn’t understand how things worked.

14. I didn’t understand the concept of holding back. I said things like I saw them and felt them; that is until I was so shamed in school, I clamped up and hid in the corner writing song lyrics in pencil all over my desktop. I didn’t understand social rules and social games. I came across as overzealous, as immature, as goofy, giddy, and somewhat of a ditz. I didn’t understand most jokes. I laughed a lot, out of embarrassment or discomfort. I developed a nervous giggle. I seemed fake to other people, when ironically I was truly myself. People questioned me, especially my facial expressions and body language, and worse they criticized me. If I walked with my head down, with my eyes glued to the floor, my peers claimed I was rude and stuck up, too good for them. If I smiled, I was a flirt. If I avoided eye contact, I was showing disrespect or further showing I thought I was hot stuff and ‘all that.’ I didn’t know how to be. I wasn’t given the tools or the freedom. Everything I did was judged or deemed wrong. I quickly began to surmise the world was a terrible place in which no one was allowed to be herself. And then I concluded I didn’t even know who my self was.

15. I cried a lot. I isolated myself a lot. All the traits of Aspergers were triggered as puberty hit. I was overwhelmed with entirely too much for any child. Not only was my home life unpredictable and chaotic, not only was my body changing, my peers suddenly my enemies, but my own mind was turning against me. I couldn’t tell who I was, what I wanted, and had no idea where to go for help. When I tried to tell adults I was afraid to live, they claimed I was seeking attention, that I was fine, or that I was creating drama. When I went crying to the school counselor, he told me plainly that I was a beautiful attractive and intelligent young lady. And questioned what I could possibly have to complain about. I was attacked on all fronts. No one believed me when I said I felt different and alone. No one believed the deep pain and shattering of my life I was undergoing. I became suicidal, never able to go through with any attempts, but always wondering how it would feel to escape this life. I became more and more of a recluse and found small ways to make my life more manageable. I ate the same lunch every day. I kept the same routine. I knew what path to walk in the halls at school. I knew how to hide. I learned how to pretend to be someone else in mannerisms, dress and behavior. I became that which was nothing but a ghost of me, and I lived that way for most of my days.

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Everyday Aspergers the book available in 2016. Join our Facebook Clan or follow the blog for newest information on book release, including contests and give aways. 🙂 ~ Sam

poetry from my teenage years

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458: Morphers Anonymous; What is ‘Self’

I am wondering if the female with Asperger’s Syndrome could also encompass a loss-of-identity-of-self element.

I have always had a hard time understanding my own interests, likes, wants, and needs. My desires become obscured and distorted based on my current love-interest. This could be a love of a person, as in friendship and/or romance.

I seem to morph in and out of existence based on my current lifestyle and interest. I can hold onto certain elements of self, primarily my special interests since childhood, e.g., writing, drawing, poetry, nature, animals, music, but other interests and ‘trademarks’ of my personality readily change without much effort and without me even knowing based on my interaction with another person.

Somethings that hold true and steadfast for my character and sense of self include:

Honesty
Integrity
Great Love and Passion
Processing
Lack of Manipulation
Lack of Game Playing
Intellectual in depth Processing
Tenderness
Kindness
Sensitivity
Intense Introspection
A Child-Like Heart and Spirit
Innocence
Hope
Trusting
Sharing
Giving
The Desire to Serve
The Desire to Make a Difference

The parts of my life that alter when I have an interest in another:

Spending less time on a past special interest or activity.
Focusing on new relationship, sometimes with nothing else seeming to matter, except pleasing the other person by becoming akin to their likes and interest.
Vast amounts of emotional energy spent on the person, in comparison to the amount previously spent on self or another.
Partaking in future planning regarding the person.
Over-analyzing and focusing on aspects of my appearance, habits, behaviors, and goals; effectually comparing myself to the other, and wondering in what ways my self could better reflect the other person.
Revamping of what I choose for entertainment, recreation, and sometimes food/drink, clothing, etc.
Taking on the likes and interests of the other person, including book, music, and movie genres, entertainment, social events and various activities.
Taking on mannerisms, dialect, ways of speech, or other unique characteristics of the person.
Taking on belief systems, philosophies and/or personality traits of the person.

This is usually not done at a conscious-level. Typically, I am blinded to my own behavior, justifying what I am doing with some mind-conditioning or logical sequencing, such as rationalization or total denial. This morphing differs in codependency, as I remain intact in my self-esteem and sense of worth. I do not enable. I have clear boundaries of what I will not tolerate or allow in my comfort zone. I maintain a sense of joy in my own life and accomplishments. But it is similar in codependency in my want to over-give, transform based on another, and my tendency to obsess, fantasize, and make the person more important in reality than he or she truly is. In some ways the person becomes like my god or sun, and I the dependent mortal or planet.

Even with all my growth and self-reflection, I still get caught in the pull-push state of wanting to be myself in completion and wanting to figure out how to be what another wants me to be. Even with this strong awareness, this morphing of who I am transpires without warning or clear indication, until I am in the transient state of a chameleon of my personhood.

This morphing is a common part of the female with Asperger’s condition; the female with Aspergers molds her own behaviors and mannerisms in a way that she believes will satisfy the need of her beloved.

The downfall in this behavior is foremost: losing self-identity.

The other issue at hand is the female with ASD cannot ever meet another’s expectations in completion, because the wants and needs of another individual (aka her ‘best friend’) are in constant transition.

It is important to note that this act of morphing is instinctual in nature to many females with ASD. She is seemingly programmed in the brain to morph based on attraction or interest in another human being.

I repeatedly try to transform my own ways and behaviors to meet the needs of another, without even realizing I am partaking in this behavior. Once I catch myself in this chameleon action, I pull back and wonder why I have once again fallen into the trap of losing self. From here I question the sense of self in all aspects, and become boggled by the concept of simply being.

During the morphing phase, I live my life through the eyes of one person. I see myself being watched by this someone at a distance. I see myself adapting, conforming, and molding in an attempt to fit some faraway expectation or goal, I have subconsciously created. I watch my own self through the eyes of someone else. I match my movements, choices, and even sometimes my thought processes to what I think this individual expects or desires from me. I do this without much awareness or analysis, much like a robot following a pre-instructed and installed program. There isn’t much thought to what I am doing or why I am doing it, beyond doing.

Usually this perspective, the way I interpret myself being ‘seen,’ and how I respond in word, thought, and action, shifts every year or so, depending on the duration of a relationship. Everything I do, I imagine and I believe is seen through the eyes of a human being beyond myself (boyfriend, lover, husband, best friend, boss). My movements, my words, my way of being, revolve around this someone beyond myself.

It is like constantly having an overseer observing me. I question would he/she behave like this? I ask, “Is this bringing me closer to his/her liking?” It isn’t as much a need for approval as wanting to match myself to this other. Interestingly, at the same time this morphing is transpiring, I still maintain my own self-esteem and self-love. I like who I am. I want to be me. But I somehow get lost in the process of befriending this high-interest person.

High-interest in the keyword and key point.

Without the high-interest, I am not drawn into the morphing and adjusting of self. With high-interest, my brain attaches, much like it does with a special hobby or activity, and I become a scientist dissecting the person, as if the person were a project. My brain’s natural ability to dissect, take apart, and rearrange pieces of a whole into a new whole takes over. I become a detective of self and other; again, not typically at a conscious level; though I have some awareness of what I am doing, a cloak to my full reality remains. This cloaking action resembles some sort of protective mechanism and functions the same way as in my high-interest projects, (aka: fixations). I cannot seem to pull myself out, or properly analyze and confront my own behavior, until the passionate interest has subsided; the stopping point/tilting point usually being a new special interest. I go from one to the other, a child on the monkey bars of a playground, not letting go of the one in hand, until the next in hand is firmly grasped.

Through this way of being, I lose track of who I am. Yet, I wonder if I ever was to begin with.

If I take time to process this sense of being, and the ‘whys’ of the way I respond in passion to another, I become confused in thoughts of ‘what is being?’ and ‘what is self?’ I have no idea of who I am, beyond space and matter, and a reflection of the universe. I am ever-changing and transitioning substance. I adhere to the string-theory, to ancient philosophies and belief systems—that of being nothing but the combined perception of others. In truth, I know a thousand others would have a thousand interpretations of this self I am, and in a year’s passing even these opinions would all transition. I am never stagnant, and awaken a new person not daily, but minute by minute. I have no general sense of self or of being. I am that I am. In essence I am nothing.

Perhaps because of the ‘no self’ theory, I transform without intention when fixated on another. Perhaps, like some spiritual teachers have professed, I am merely taking on the characteristics reflected in the person I am observing because I am only, and will always only be, a reflection. Perhaps, I am wired in a way, spiritually or biologically, in which I am not a solid form made to stay stagnant and unwavering; or perhaps I am more keenly alert and aware of the changes and transformations inside of me, to a point that the changes distract from me recognizing a fully forming personhood.

Regardless of my hypothesis, I get trapped in the cyclical repetition of morphing.

In the last season of inquiry, I have reached a new threshold, in which I have questioned: What do I want in another person? What makes me happy? What are my true needs?

The only answer I hear is: love

Beyond unconditional love and acceptance, (and beyond Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs), I don’t understand needs.
Any needs, to me, seem obscure and border on self-based, ego-needs. Who am I to claim a need without at the same time delegating to another how I wish him/her to be or respond (change) in order to please and satisfy me? And what is it inside of myself that is not complete and satisfied in which I need another to fulfill me?

With these thoughts, I become entangled in trying to contemplate the very basic nature of self needs and self-identity.