You Think I Didn’t See That.

Trimethyl_Borate-flame

Despite what some may think, and maybe what some have intimated, I am not jealous of others or bitter about the fact that I am 31 and single.

That word, “single” has such an ominous tone like the toll of a bell or a big read scarlet letter “S” that besmirches the chest of my hoodie. How dare I live past a certain age and forsake yet another cultural requirement that I be attached to someone in order to be more like everyone else. In Christian circles it’s almost a sin for someone to be as old as I and not be married or close to it. Hell, most of my friends are already entangled in family and children and all of that garbage because it fell into their lap at an earlier age.

Good for them. At that age it didn’t suit me. At this age, I’m not sure it suits me. I’m honestly not sure what suits me right now except the solitude I inflict upon myself because the world has become too loud for me to think in. It doesn’t help that, for almost the last two years I have felt my voice has disappeared. It is even less helpful that, one by one, I can chop names off what was already a short list of people I could be around or talk to for more than a moment without getting bored or actually having that feeling like I had something to say. Did I always do this and I’m just now noticing?

That seems to be the story now. Things are the same but maybe not; maybe they’re more magnified now that the lithium has all but worked it’s way out of my body. There’s a chance I’m more cognizant of my proclivities and less inclined to act on what some would call loneliness out of an even stronger desire to be left alone. Yes, I will admit that when I see people getting into relationships a part of me is so very angry. The heat of my body ignites barium but not for the reasons you would think. I’m not jealous because someone else is in a relationship and here I sit, tapping out my emotions to an empty room, listening to the cars go down Leavenworth Street.

I’m jealous because I’m alone. I don’t mean now, in this moment because, yes, of course, I am alone right now because it’s almost 10pm on a Sunday night. Even though tomorrow’s a holiday, I wouldn’t be out and about. I feel less sociable on Sundays than I do any other. This kind of alone is the outside-looking-in feeling I’ve lived with my entire life and only recently have given it a name. I have had girlfriends but never really been on a date, per se. The one date I did go on was just the one date and then she ghosted me. I don’t blame her. I was so wound up and nervous I probably seemed certifiably insane.

No one shares this brain and no understands this heart I have been given. My kindness regarding others has been met with intractable hostility. My belief that people should be treated like people has been met with the plague of murderous violence. I am of the belief that, as a society, we have outgrown, nay, evolved past Lex Talianis but my fellow human beings seem hell-bent (quite literally) on telling me I’m wrong. I am the wartime man who, at peace, makes war with himself. I have seen the depths of hell and never the heights of heaven and if you asked me if I have ever been happy I’d more than likely tell you, “No, my heart doesn’t beat that way.”

If I can’t understand myself most of the time I certainly don’t expect anyone else to. My existence bears no explanation for itself other than a drive to be something better than I was yesterday and, even at that, I’ve been failing at that a lot lately.

So, am I really jealous that you’ve got a girlfriend? No, not really. I’m more pissed off at myself after being reminded that I haven’t figured out where I belong on this ball of anxiety we call a planet. Or maybe that’s my anxiety and I think the rest of the world feels it. I am reminded of everything I ever had in the palm of my hands and had it stripped away because it didn’t belong to me, I wasn’t meant to have it, or it felt too human and I pushed it aside. I don’t have the answer to any of this. I just know these are just the triggers to a lot of bad memories and a big tent, old emotion revival where I twist and turn against myself, doubled over, and turned inside out with the ache I remember and can’t seem to shake.

It’s been as many years as I can count on one hand and still my heart impales itself on a dagger for every reminder that the world moves for most people but stays stationary in my own little world because I just can’t breathe or speak normally around people anymore. It’s like I’m always fighting my urge to act. I would rather be the real me and be miserable than fake a smile any day of the week. So, if I’m angry you’ll know I’m fucking angry and I’ll use the language I deem fit because words only have the meaning you give them. That’s the beauty of speaking symbolic language. If I’m depressed, I’m depressed and I’ll do through my day quietly in my head but I’ll be damned if I let you shame me for it.

Just like I’ll be damned if I let you shame me for being me. I don’t give a fuck about you and your relationships. I just wish people could be more real and putting smaller distances between what they say and they do. Don’t come down on me because of my heart for the truth.

The truth is I don’t want to have to rely on someone else for happiness or sadness or any other emotion I may desire out of life. I have the brain, I have the neurons, I have the neurotransmitters or the drugs that inhibit their reuptake. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand how relationships are supposed to work down to the everyday dynamics of a couple because most of what I see from others seems pointless or stupid. Truthfully, I think the same thing about a lot in life. However, this does not preclude what I presume is instinct or conditioning or something else that I can’t rationalize or intellectualize (which I have to; I can’t understand it any other way). It boils down to a simple fact and I will admit it:

There is a large part of me who desires relationship.

But that’s all I know.

Now Playing:
Propagandhi
“Lotus Gait”
Failed States

I have this recurring nightmare:
flailing pigeon, her broken feet
frozen solid to the freezing pavement.
I turn away as if I do not see.
I have this childhood memory
of my old man screaming from the driver’s seat
to turn away from an unfolding horror,
but he could not undo what I had seen.
We never spoke of it again.
Two more hapless citizens of

the new post-traumatic stress worldwide disorder.
A stockholm syndrome fifth estate,
desperate to batten down the mounting horrors
and shuffle on in a global lotus gait.

Content to marinate in the plasma glow of the
home entertainment prisons we
commune before like dime-store shrines.
Are these but votive lives?
It’s a strangled, twisted truss
that shores-up each of us.
Anything to dull the pain
of a splintered lotus gait.

As for me a filigree of psychic police tape
tends to cordon-off the darker scenes.
But the wandering mind stumbles through it
and relives them all eventually.

Pries open wide your eyes and shines a painful light
on the guilt, the fear, the shame.
The courage never came
from the plasma glow of the
home entertainment prisons we
cling to like dime-store shrines.
Are these but votive lives?
Conservative at heart.
A conformist from the start.
A stockholm syndrome fifth estate.
A staggering lotus gait.
It’s a strangled, twisted truss
that shores-up each of us.
Anything to dull the pain
of a self-inflicted, crippling lotus gait.

Advertisements

Welcome in

 

One of my biggest obsessions: pro wrestling. Pictured above: Team PAWG, LuFisto & Jordynne Grace

Someone once said, though I couldn’t readily find the source, that a child with autism is not ignoring you but waiting for you to enter their world. Even though I don’t ignore people in social situations, I do tend to stay away from social interactions where the topic is either uninteresting or too surface-level for me to want to engage in. This is contrasted with the times when I talk too much about topics I care about and want to try to interest other people in it so I’m not alone in my, admittedly, niche interests. I think Buddy Wakefield said it best:

I talk too much
If you see me being quiet,
Don’t ask me what’s wrong
I’m just practicing

This is me most of the time. People ask me what I’m interested in and I end up overwhelming them with the overwhelming amount of emotion and cognitive input I get when I experience something like a 5-star wrestling match or listen to a really good song that touches me down to the guts. I don’t share out of selfishness or to dominate a conversation but in the hopes that someone else will be able to experience the elation I feel when I get involved with my favorite things. There’s an excitement there for me and, as a lot of people know, I’m not a very excitable person. I hate surprises, I don’t really like going out, and it can take me a really long time to process emotional content.
This happens outside the ASD community. Everyone gets excited about something or has a passion for something that maybe not everyone shares. Just yesterday I was throwing some things in a recycle bin at my apartment complex and, out of nowhere, this perky red-head gets all excited and tells me about the outdoor patio she discovered on the premises after living here for a year. Being very poor at people being excited about much of anything, I just sort of nodded and stammered my way through a response. I then retreated to my hobbit hole. Upon reflection, I wish I would have been more responsive. After a long day at work, I just didn’t have it in me, I suppose.

It’s something to remember, though. It really is. I don’t try to dominate conversation with my interests but it’s one of the only ways I’m really good at welcoming people into my weird little world. It’s one of the few ways I can show people how I’m really feeling when words get to be too little; music does it so much better. I think part of being Autistic is sometimes not having the words to describe what you’re feeling when you’re feeling every facet of something at once. Sometimes, you share what you love in hopes of gaining an ally and someont to talk to. It’s not just Aspies. NT’s do it too. However, I can say from my experience that no one exhibits a passion for things so strange and off the wall than I do among what few friends I have.

They all think I’m weird. At least they are the people who are wiling to step inside and accept my invitations to this little world.

Now Playing
Artist: Paul Kelly & the Messengers
Song Title: “Dumb Things”
Album: Same Old Walk

Maybe, Someday, Somewhere, Sometime

[Sleepless nights come all too often lately. I just cannot shut my mind off long enough to get to sleep. All the tactics I learned over the years to defeat the beast of insomnia do not seem to work. In the past, I’ve tried music, I’ve left the TV on, I’ve even had a white noise app installed on my Apple TV so there’a some ambient noise in the background. None of it works anymore. I don’t have any medications to rely on anymore to put me to sleep and so I stay up thinking. I think…]

As I continue to explore this new realm of perception and understanding of the world around me, no longer considered an NT, but an Aspie, I spend time thinking about the church and how my experiences, my research, my thoughts, my reading, and the people who have comprised the only family more dysfunctional than my immediate family: the church. The church is a whore and has more than sold herself out as we have found out over the past couple of years as their true colors bleed red along with white and blue nationalism and Exceptionalism in long streaks from their self-inflicted, self-righteous wounds.

Go lick them. You’ll get no sympathy from me.

I should back up. That’s really not the point I’m trying to get at (if I’m trying to get at any point at all; I’m not sure yet).

I’ve been thinking a lot about church lately and where my place is. It’s not just that the mere thought of stepping into a new church filled with a bunch of people I don’t know sends my anxiety through the roof. It’s not just that I don’t like small talk and shallow conversations. The one thing I want, the one thing I’ve never found for more than a short period of time at any church I’ve ever belonged to is acceptance.

I want to be accepted for who I am. Why has that proven to be so difficult?

Admittedly, before I found out I had Asperger’s I was insufferable at various times because of my rigidity and stalwart stances on various topics on which I, admittedly, had done a lot of research on. In the case of the Bible, I have a degree in Biblical Studies where I had hermeneutics and exegetical methods pounded into my skull for the 2-3 years I was taking classes that were aimed towards the focus of my BA. In short, I spent a lot of time not only the word but doing comparative literature and a ton of reading and research on various topics I’m convinced nobody but an aspie would find interesting. It’s what we do.

I had several discussions with my pastorfriend about speaking truth in love because I pissed a lot of people off in my tenure at my former home church. It was never intentional, though; it was my standing up for what I believed was right, whether it was a biblical topic or calling someone out on what was certainly flying in the face of what I read and studied in my Bible. I was to the point and blunt, something I found out when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, was how I communicated truth. Blunt and honest. I value honesty still.

Sometimes, it still gets me in trouble, though.

The truth is, I long For time spent with people whom I have some common ground with. As much as I like the people I spend a lot of time with (mostly coworkers), the ability to keep up the facade of being content and comfortable, even with my anxiety in check, is starting to wane. It’s draining to try and be a people person when you’re not one by nature.

I’ve found it’s harder and harder to find people I’m comfortable around all the time. I can probably count on one hand the number of people who currently fall into that category. It’s what Foy Vance refers to as a “closed hand full of friends”. Even with my tight grip on those people, I feel like some of them slip away because I honestly do not want to be around people. It has taken a day, sometimes longer, to recover from a day of work. There are certain days where I run into a mental roadblock when asked about going out.

It’s similar to the roadblock I run into when I think about going back to church. There’s a new church plant near here affiliated with another church I attended and enjoyed for the most part until a huge fiasco involving people (go figure) and things they said about my family. It’s hard for me to forget those things. It’s hard for me to forget a lot of things. It’s why I can’t sleep some nights. Too much thinking.

Then there’s love. I’ve found I do not process this like a Neurotypical, which is not uncommon based on the reading I’ve done on the subject. Aspies love differently and so how I show what some people call “love” may take a different shape or form than what an NT is used to. Only in the last few years have I even thought about uttering the words, “I love you” to friends I care about. Even then it’s extremely difficult for me to compound the deluge of emotion, empathy, compassion, caring, devotion, and everything else into the loaded three-word portmanteau. It often seems like it’s not enough but, for me to explain every facet of it is truly impossible. There’s too much going on in my head at once for me to elucidate the complexity of it all.

So, like speaking in a language that others can understand, I hesitantly use the phrase my dear friend Heather tried so hard to force me to say.

I love you.

Off topic again. I must finally be running out of steam.

At the current moment I’m at a loss as to what to do. In therapy, we talk about how I need to be more social and learn how to better respond to standard social cues, especially small talk questions like, “How are you today?”: a question I often get asked at work and to which I rarely have a decent answer.

Lately, I’ve learned just how hard and for how long I’ve been trying to she social actor. This is something else that I run into often in a church. The forced socialization and the people jumping into the shallow end of the pool of conversation. I keep to myself mostly at work, focusing on counting by multiples of five while I am filling prescriptions. I sometimes wonder if anyone really notices but most of me doesn’t care.

I think I’m worn out. I’ve been praying for guidance on this issue off and on. Where should I go? What should I do? Why does everything have to be an uphill battle? i can only hope it’s leading to something that puts me in a position to use the strengths I have to help others.

I realized long ago, and constantly have it reinforced, that I was not put on this earth to fit in. I have always been an outsider, always on the outside looking in. It’s depressing sometimes, and difficult to maneuver but that’s me. Finding out it was because of how my brain developed and that there’s a name for it was just validation of what I already knew.

I think my biggest problem is that the church is supposed to be a place for everyone, especially misfits and broken people. I often feel that’s me all over. Yet I’ve been maligned, gossiped about, and insulted by people who believe in the same God I do. The cognitive dissonance this causes has been enough to keep me out of church more or less for the last couple of years. Nobody seems to have a good answer to my question and God seems to want me to figure this one out on my own.

I just hope I find a home somewhere. Sometime.

Now Playing:
Artist: Blaqk Audio
Song: “First to Love”
Album: Materials

Emily, what did you say when he said, “Follow me”?
What would you give to live your tragedy?
There is no price he needn’t pay
You give yourself away

She said, “No one’s ever sent me flowers”..
As the tears filled her eyes
With the tears, she denied them
She said, “No one’s ever sent me flowers.”
“You’ll be the first I leave
Because I’m always the first to love.”

Emily, what did you do to become part of me?
I’d do anything to be your tragedy
If only my thoughts could bring you to break
You’d give yourself to me

“I’m always the first to love…”

Long Lost Letter

I wrote this letter 7 months ago and had forgotten it existed until now. I’m sharing it because there’s a lot in here that I don’t know if I’ve ever shared. Those that know me will likely know who this was written to but the name has been redacted anyway.


I don’t know if this is something I’ll ever shake completely.









Loneliest Man[ifesto]

write

I thought. I thought again. Some might say I overthought. They say that knowledge is power. They also say true wisdom is admitting you know nothing at all. And even more so, that with wisdom comes sorrow; knowledge only makes one more frustrated. I guess there’s a part of me that wishes I hadn’t found out I had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) after a decade of dealing with the depression, anxiety, and uncontrollable moods of Bipolar II disorder. Being the ever-inquisitive I just had to ask that question, had to needle the DSM thinking there might be more and it turns out there was.

When talking to friends and family about this, while being tested then waiting for my test results, I think the must uttered phrase was, “It’s not like it’s going to change anything.” I said it and I think almost everyone else said it too. The logic I followed was if I have it then I’ve been living with the effects of it my whole life and will have already developed coping strategies and ways around the strange wiring of my brain. Getting a diagnosis would, if anything, only confirm I’m more atypical than most and I could go about my life in as normal a fashion as I typically do.

I was so wrong.

That final meeting with the psychologist seemed almost anti-climactic. She gave me the diagnosis as she was getting up to leave. I will admit I was nonplussed by this because I figured I had the whole thing handled, remember? Life had already thrown me for a loop a million times that surely I could get a grip on this and move on with my life. And I was right for a while. Because I didn’t know anything about what it meant and what the implications would be for me going forward as to how to best manage myself and my life. So, of course, I began reading and studying and learning as only I know how to do and I think I moved too fast to cope for the way the shift in perception would hit me.

Did you ever find out you could do something as a natural ability without any sort of coaching or training, things like wiggling your ears or put a pair of glasses on for the first time after years of not being able to see? Very quickly, my perception of my perception of the world began to change. I learned things about my ability to perceive the world I figured were normal but were actually part of being on the spectrum. I react to every noise, especially in an enclosed space like cell phones, dropped writing utensils, the scraping of chairs, etc. Most people just tune that out either by choice or by their brain’s innate ability to gate that sensory input out.

I’ve never been good in large crowds unless it was at shows. But I went to one a while back and realized I didn’t really talk to anyone. I don’t speak small talk and I never have. If there’s live music playing that’s pretty much all I’ll pay attention to. I distinctly remember watching this one guy just go crazy on an acoustic guitar with this southern drawl slipping into his voice like ice into a glass of whiskey and that’s all I heard. Not because it was loud but because music is something my ears have always been attuned to. When I worked in customer service I used to sneak my headphones in so I shunt out some of the noise from all around me including the irritating white noise generators.

Anyway, I was listening and watching this guy play when I felt a hand at my back. I don’t think I moved at all but my friend’s face came into view. She asked me if I was alright with some concern on her face. I told her everything was fine. That was just how I did shows. She and the other friend I came with went and small-talked with their other friends who rode in separately. I didn’t mind. I’m not trying to evoke some sense of sympathy like they bailed on me or something. They did their thing and I did mine and the show was good.

The hands of the clock have made a few trips around its face and maybe even a page has come off the calendar since then. I couldn’t tell you if things have just gotten worse because I’m more cognizant of everything or if it’s stress from school, but I have not spent a lot of time outside of my apartment. I’ve been invited out once or twice to see a show but the minute someone does there’s this rising panic under my diaphragm. I picture being in a situation being surrounded by mostly strangers in a bar I have never personally seen. Where will I park? Who else will be there? What am I supposed to do with myself because I really dread conversation with people I don’t know and I just keep thinking these things and they become too real for me and I have to bail out.

I hate bailing out because of social anxiety. It makes me feel like a complete flake. It also makes me feel as if my friends will be disinclined to invite me to whatever get together they have in the future because they figure I just won’t show up. I really haven’t had a chance to explain my thought process to anyone or why I don’t go out in public much anymore. And usually my brain isn’t preoccupied with the absence of other people. I read a lot, I have homework to do, I have music I could write, or I could even take a nap. I’m usually pretty self-sufficient and I always have been.

But then the devil creeps in and reminds me I’m 30 years old. This old lead weight just sort of sits in the bottom of my ventricles and I don’t want to get out of bed. I feel very alone in the fact that my brain works the way it does and that I haven’t had a chance to explain myself to anybody. I’m just here like I’ve always been here. I have some friends who understand, sure. My parents are difficult sometimes, especially my mom because she has experience in dealing with this with my little sister. She started moving things from the spots where I keep them which was actually anxiety-inducing. I couldn’t use my George Foreman grill for a while because she cleaned it and I didn’t want to make it dirty again.

There’s no one I can explain this to and have it make any sort of sense, I feel like. I can try my hardest and the result is what you’re reading but there are not a lot of people who are going to read this because, for me, I don’t feel 100% human all the time. I feel like some forgotten creature that some people bring out for a laugh every now and again and only at their convenience. And the beauty of that thought is it could be right but it could be totally wrong because of mind-blindness, or an inability to see the nonverbal cues that most neuro-typicals use to understand someone’s thinking. I hope I’m wrong.

But that doesn’t change how I feel now.