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

 

 

 

 

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538: Assumption Junction… the truth of my Aspie words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s like this, supposing I am blind: I am blind. I need a different form of communication format to write to you. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s accepted. After all you can SEE I am blind.

And then it’s like this: I have autism. I need a different form of communication format to write to you. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s not accepted. After all you can’t SEE 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 permanently 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

517: Is-ness

There’s an is-ness inside me, some rumbling engine that feeds and creates, that both demolishes and builds simultaneously, the gnosis itself living and breathing within. The trouble is the is-ness wants to come out. As much as I push or shove it down, it swells evermore. There is no dousing out the flame. I have tried days, and once a decade, to remain silent in my ways, and the longer I wait the longer the bubbling-wanting festers, liken to a boil that won’t shrink unless exposed to the elements.

How often I have longed to be that one, that quiet one perched beneath the tree, without a word to offer, just her silence as a reckoning of sorts, her example of fragility and strength established in her stillness. Just once, I have wanted, without effort, to not desire to burst out of the semblance of self into something naught—to not wish to plunder, as I do, as pirate gone sporadic spilling her gold and jewels about.

I have established this is the way I am: harbored into myself.

I am the dock. I am the boat. I am the sails. I am every inch of vessel, and what holds this vessel. And I rock, as I am the rocker, moving myself in isolation. Here is where the trouble comes again, in the want to move beyond aloneness, for nothing seems real or substantial until shared.

And yet there is the catch, the net, so to speak, the daggered questions and the pounding answers. The fingernails to my chalkboard—nailed and pierced at once.

We are told of the worthy ones. The ones who hold their tongues. The ones who are stoically silent. The ones who don’t whimper and complain. The ones that don’t monopolize conversations. The ones who know how and when to stop. The ones that don’t overthink, overrationalize, over-process. The ones that know when to let go and be.

So what does that make me, if not some rigid anomaly?

I can’t surrender to this world because I don’t have the means. I don’t know how to be quiet. I don’t know how to shut out what I see, what I feel, what in a way I seem to somehow ‘know.’ And yet I can’t really blend into this place, either. No matter how much I try, through practice or restraint, or a combination, or by some means of much-studied technique, or even in the gathering of all the circumvented readings, observations, conclusions, and discoveries, I can’t understand where I am, and how to be in a place I do not comprehend.

And that is the trouble as well—for am I built to control how I am to be? Am I supposed to stop who I am? And if I am to stop who I am and be this other form and representation of self, then whose rules and recommendations do I follow? Whom do I uphold? Who is my savior in this world? If I am to follow this someone or even this saint, if he lives, or has died, then still what is the exactness of how I should be? If not me, if not this natural, born-to-be me, then who is it that they at once forbade me and make me be?

Is it not within reason to wonder how I am to move in a strange world, if indeed the way I move is not accepted or understood? And even as I pass often as this extremeness of normalcy, even as I mix and mingle, and bleed into the mass, am I not some ghost on display set out to appease the gathering? Are my ways mere means to escape shielded eyes?

I do not understand the judges. I do not understand the manner in which I am told the right and wrong of things. I cannot. I am incapable. I am not wired inaccurately. I am not misfiring. The truth is that I am not wired at all. I wasn’t programmed to begin with. I don’t have the data institutionalized within my infrastructure that instructs this someone of where and when to jump. I don’t even have the means in which to understand the jumping itself.

I watch, some legless tadpole, in awe of the springing frog, unlimited in its depth and breadth, capable of leaps and bounds that seem a lifespan away from me, an imposter of impossibility without preprogrammed metamorphosis.

And that’s the trouble, the endless trouble:

I am who I am, endowed with an is-ness I neither understand nor recognize. An is-ness I long to share, a knowing I cannot tether to myself alone, in a world I do not recognize, in a place that makes no sense. I am birthed without the wiring or predisposition to comprehend the makings of others’ ways; and ever wondering if I was to jump without legs, if I was to be in this pool of mankind, and swim with my invisibility cloaked, to survive as familiar instead of strange, would I not then forget whom I was to begin with?

516: A Gallant Longing

I process everything. I am a processing machine. I even process the process of writing. Today I feel ‘guilty’ for yesterday’s writing, as it didn’t represent the ‘true’ me. Even as I search for the ‘truth’ of who I am, stumbling again into myself and not knowing where I fall, I somehow still manage to pinpoint who I am not. It’s strange, even to write. But seems to be the way of it. All so complex and bothersome. Like most days, I wish I was rather emptied of myself.

Yesterday my post ended with freedom, with the removal of ‘self’ and judgment, with the capacity to move into this world unseen and to be okay with that. Yesterday that was a true statement. Today it’s not.

I didn’t lie. I meant what I said. I was in a brief over-confident mood. I was in an I-will-will-myself-all-better-state. I get that way from time-to-time. I wouldn’t call me hopeful or resilient or ‘positive’ during these moments of zealous confidence. More so, underneath my skin somewhere, when I approach my writing with such voice, I am a bit perturbed at life in general. I guess you could say I was sporting an under coating of frustration and trying to paint over myself with some form of strength.

I tend to only feel good about the words I have scribed that provoke a soft appeal and gentleness. I tend to be attracted to my sharings which display an intense vulnerability and a vast uncloaking of self. Yesterday’s post wasn’t one of those posts.

I am not ashamed of the writing, and not regretting it, just, I guess, wondering how I can so easily shift and transform. It’s unsettling to say the least, when the person I was a moment ago isn’t the person I am now. Perhaps, I say in jest, I have some advanced multiple personality disorder in which I am both congealed and disjointed all at once with legions of aspects of self bursting into bits and pieces of everything.

Yesterday, I was PMSing. I ‘suffer’ from PMDD, endometriosis, and an autonomic blood pressure condition (closely related to POTS), as well as hyperjoint mobility syndrome, each of which are triggered by fluctuations in hormones. PMDD is enough in and of itself to drive me batty, but the physical pain sometimes leads to a week of being couch bound. This has been an on going event for most of my adult life. It’s not new, and it’s not strange or unknown. But somehow the debilitation is still rather scary and depressing, particularly, as I was hospitalized about a year ago from an extreme episode. Anyhow, I really don’t want sympathy or to rant or complain, just to explain.

I suppose in moments of couch-bound, sloth-mode, semi-hibernation, I get particularly prolific in my writing. One reason being that there is really nothing else I can physically do, beyond playing computer games, watching movies, and reading, oh, and the occasional romp to the kitchen to binge eat. Having the capacity to write during these hormonal nightmares most certainly brings me a sense of purpose. Also, I think the hormones, or what-have-yous, affect my thinking, in that I have more thoughts and that I am more vulnerable to outpourings. And too, to be totally truthful, sometimes I write during my PMDD only because if someone reads my words I will feel less isolated.

I force myself to write during these times, not because I have to, but because I want to. And that is the primary difference in the particular self-focused writings (like today’s and yesterday’s) versus the majority of my writing.

Most of the time, believe it or not, I don’t want to write, but feel driven to write. Usually, I don’t hear my own singular voice, but more of a collective gathering of thoughts. I have surmised, after continual coincidences, that I somehow tap into the collective Aspie condition. As silly as that sounds, this has been my truth for the span of over a year. It appears Aspies jump into my brain and stir me up. As much as they’d like to believe I am reading their minds, I tend to think they are invading my thoughts—little hitchhikers whispering. Or, rather, we are all just splashing is some giant heated pool of knowledge, and I, by some odd twist of faith, have been granted the capacity to spurt out what we are swimming in.

When I write, I see images and sense words. I don’t actually hear anything. There isn’t a voice I can describe or even an intonation. There is more of a feeling of what I believe is a type of communication I don’t readily recognize as familiar. There is no emotion beyond love. And an easiness and comfort exits without effort. There isn’t a questioning of what I wrote or a judging. There often isn’t much editing involved. It just kind of IS. And I like that.

The process of writing in most cases takes away some of my Aspie thoughts—those perpetual queries that ransack my brain.

I believe the intention behind ‘my’ words creates the overall feel of the work. Much like a painting, my heart is reflected in the renderings. If my intention is to share and nothing more than the words are light and airy, filled with a sense of hope. In this manner there is a radiating wellbeing resonating from the writings. A knowing everything will be okay. A connection, a reaching out, a holding and a holding ground, in which travelers come and visit, and find a place of respite.

I miss that peaceful flow, that rescuing-retreat. I missed it yesterday. I miss it today. I guess I’d rather be part of a collective than this ME. I’d rather sit with a gathering of us than alone—a gallant and worthy longing, indeed.

508: Mind the Mind: Asperger’s Introspection

I am not a seeker of drama. I do not care for discourse or feelings of unsettlement. The unknown is my least favorite happenstance. However, I do tend to over-analyze and try to solve situations, be it relationships, locations, events, health, or even emotions themselves. I am finding the more I become as the nature about me and let things take their course, the more I am able to remain calm in what I perceive as a storm. As it is, I see everything as a storm.

In retrospect, in looking back at my life, the decades spun open, I see myself fighting battle after battle. I see myself, or saw myself, as victim for most of the stretch of my existence. Until recently, when another door to my mind open, and I realized with a slow-drip reasoning that I had chosen to make each of these events important. I’d attached this necessity and conquering-eyes to situations that might have passed by on their own without much forethought or planning. Instead, my mind attached and twisted and upturned every corner, in hopes of solving. I am the puzzle seeker in all ways.

In knowing this about myself, in recent days, I am practicing the act of not exploding events in my mind. I am acutely aware of my actions. I recognize I take a flat, one-dimensional ‘problem’ and I tilt it into multiple theories of causation. I take what is simple and I complicate the matter. Not on purpose, and not with intention to add complexity, only as a byproduct of my innate ability to solve. I try and try and try, through multiple outlets of reason and swaying, say even convincing, to find the right avenue—the direction to answer. This is how I am. This is how I live: in the constant pursuit of end mark.

I have asked myself why, as I swing past the molecular thoughts colliding one upon the other, bouncing and ricocheting in a delightful parade of rainbows. Everywhere is this thought, this thinking, these endless loops that think onto themselves, alive and burning with passion. Here I watch, and I stop myself enough to wonder, even as the light show continues onward. The ultimate answer to my behavior remains in the unease brought on by the thought of unknowns, by the thought of remaining uncertain, by the actual way in which the world works, some endless cycle within itself producing life, as me as mere puppet to reality. And in this pond of not knowing, circumvented with the hunger of wanting to know, I sit and harbor feasible outlet after feasible outlet. A thinker thinking her way into a space of no time, lost in contemplation, an act that becomes a bandage to facing the truth. That being that there is no control, even as I am one that longs for order.

As a child I stimmed. I prepared. My childhood games were not games, they were preparation. Everything, from playtime to alone time, was set in its place. Everything was organized and every move stemmed from a place of needing order. As I grew older, I didn’t change inside; my need for order and detail remained. The stimming transformed into thoughts fashioned into recognizable systems and order. I became that one that believed she must remain the leader of her world, in order to survive the turmoil that seemed me. Everywhere was chaos and everywhere something that could be organized back to original form of order. I became, with every year, a person who depended more and more on her thoughts in hopes of discovering a neutral zone set outside the disorder. I willfully became lost in thinking in an attempt to reorganize my disruptive world.

I am still here, doing this—seeking out the dark corners of my mind in hopes of escaping the disorder. This is what it comes down to. This is the endpoint of my behavior. And it is this observation itself that makes keen sense to me now. I am the watchtower, viewing my own cyclic hibernation. I am steering my way into self, thinking if I am the constant seeker, I shall hide enough from what is in front of me. For even the anguish of over thinking, even the painstaking ways in which I torture myself with thought upon thought, becomes reasonable when compared to the unknowns which remain out there. In truth, I see this place named world as my ever-encroaching enemy.

In deduction, I abstract a causation, a hauntingly clear causation, that in which I have made myself mad in the interior to avoid the fear of the exterior. I have made myself a prisoner of thought to escape the overbearing burden of becoming a prisoner of life. But in so doing, I have made myself twice the captive. Piercing first myself with fear, and, then again, causing casualty by the intrepid thoughts that follow thoughts. I think that I am the mind-keeper and that in some way, with enough effort, I shall eject myself far from the happenings of this world. But, with close inspection, I find myself further in the grasp of pain, pinching myself asleep with these same intrepid ways, in hopes of running further from the place I stand. I am that one who seeks escape through invisible avenues.

In knowing these thoughts today, those that collect themselves into a pool of recognition, and those thoughts, too, that dictate the way in which I live out my day, I have concluded fully and openly that the only way in which to save myself is to ironically stop trying to save myself. For the moment I open the door, which leads to the way of over-seeking and continual searching for causation and answer, is the same moment I doom myself to prison. In theory, if I stop the thoughts that teach me to employ them for refuge, then I also stop the thoughts that simultaneously torture me. In thinking this through, inevitably, it is only in my power to stop the cyclic thoughts that I have full control. All else is illusion upon illusion. In thinking I can find answer through torturous thinking, I have pronounced to a part of myself that I am worth nothing but the dungeons I continue to fortify and dig day after day, night into night. In actuality, I am that beyond thought.

So it is in this way, in this endless theorizing, I both succumb to my thoughts and myself, and recognize that in order to live, I must mind the mind. And with this recognition proclaim aloud that in order to be I must learn to loosen the grasp of control upon my mind, freeing the agonizing quest to find answers. And instead, with vested interest, forbade myself to enter that which is both madman’s labyrinth and predicated spoils set before one’s self as false salve and salvation.

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“Last night I had a major breakthrough. I explained this in a very complex way, on my newest blog post. However, to put it mildly, and in layman terms, I realized that I over-think things naturally, and because of this, and my intelligence, I try to solve, or at minimum piece together puzzles of my life, whether it be my health, relationships, my emotions, vocations, situations, or the like.

I turn everything in my life into something solvable and complex. Last night. I decided to just let my body be sick. I was in a lot of pain, and had many symptoms for four days, including a triggering of my heart/bloodpressure syndrome. I released, not with intention, or with desire, just with a knowing I had to do so in order to move onward, without getting trapped in thought after thought.

I was literally reaching the point of insanity with so many unknowns and changes in my life. I awoke this morning more alive, less victim, and more awaken to my own heart. I feel like in the process of releasing, I also opened a canal-like-channel that allowed some of the poisons in my body to purge themselves through and out.

I am learning that my thoughts are sometimes my very worst enemy, even as they dress themselves in solutions. “If I only sit with them long enough they will prove a theory, or way out!” < but that’s not true.

The longer I sit with my thoughts, the more confused, forlorn, and lost I get. I have been thinking all this time my mind’s way of thinking was my hero and savior, but in truth, letting go and not thinking is what ‘cures’ me in the long run, or essentially returns me to a state of balance and equilibrium. It’s hard to turn me off, to turn of this engine of intense thinking. I think. I think. I think. But I know now, the best release is in turning off.

I play a game in my mind, now: I catch myself in full swing moving through a maze of thought, and I stop cold. NO. NO. NO. There aren’t any answers there. There aren’t. It is truly in the silence, I find solace.”

~ Samantha Craft, Everyday Aspergers