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.

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Why I might have lied about not being able to come out tonight.

Social situations just continue to confound and confuse me. I could have gone out tonight and I could have seen friends I haven’t seen in months but I didn’t. I would almost say I couldn’t. There was this sinking feeling, this anchor causing anxiety and rooted me here reading the Fountainhead or watching wrestling.

The truth is, I was anxious and, in my brain it didn’t seem correct for a Sunday evening. Like I would never go out to a bar on a Sunday evening and listen to music and hang out with people. Maybe that was the large part of it: people. I just haven’t had the stomach or the nerve for being around people lately.

Part of it has to do with work, I think, and all the people I have to deal with. Not to mention being under the watchful eye of my coworkers and bosses all the time. At least at my last job I could go hide in my cubicle and, if I really wanted to, could probably get away with doing absolutely nothing but what I wanted as long as it didn’t make too much noise or raise the suspicions of my superiors.

The beta blockers have helped a lot with my ability to be social but I still have that conditioned response that tells me it’s going to be awkward. Or maybe I’ll go and no one will talk to me. They’ll be so wrapped up in their ridiculous conversations about nothing, their small talk that is just so uninteresting, that I’ll just end up at a table by myself as I usually do. I’ll have a Jack & Coke in my hand, stirrer standing like the mast of a sinking ship between my pointer and middle finger and I’ll just get lost in the music.

That’s not really a bad feeling. If I can attenuate to the music and the pictures it creates in my head I can forget about pretty much everything that’s going on around me. There are times when people have caught me like this and checked on me as if I was having some sort of crisis. I’m not always depressed, I’m just practicing silence and listening. It’s what I do, I guess.

I said I was both broke and i have to work tomorrow. Both are true but the ghost of anxiety and rigidity to myself, my interests, my usual way of doing things got in the way more than anything and I really don’t want to have to explain that to people anymore. I get tired of telling people I do things a certain way or I approach aspects of my life in a particular fashion because I have Asperger’s. It’s tiring and people don’t always understand or just don’t want to understand or just don’t have the capacity to understand. I HAVE to do things the way I do. Certain days are days I don’t do anything and changing that has become increasingly difficult as the Lithium has left my system.

The thing I’ve noticed is that I’m not one of THOSE guys. I’m not the person everyone thinks about when they’re having a get-together or even want to get out of their house. I’m not the person people think, “Oh, I should see what he’s doing. I haven’t hung out with him in a long time.” The difficulties I have now being social, even more than before, make it seem like I hate being around people. It’s not really that. I just don’t like being around a collective of people all that much. Me and a few other people in a public setting works okay. When there’s more, I’ve found that my senses have become more and more powerful and let a lot more information into my brain. Part of me is afraid to even try to go a bar where there are people talking or being loud.

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m just trying to get sympathy here. I don’t want or need sympathy. I need acceptance. I need people to realize I am miles away from being the same person I was 18 months ago despite still being me at the core. I am not the Lithium zombie that I was before. I have suffered bouts with the highs and lows as always and my anxiety was almost crippling for a while.

Nobody really knows this. Not a lot of people I would consider calling a friend knows what I’ve been going through because I don’t tell them. It’s not that I don’t want to tell them. I don’t even think to tell them because people, more often than not, fall off my radar completely when I’m by myself. My therapist says I should get more practice in being social. I need to work on being responsive to questions about me rather than just shrugging them off. I just don’t like talking about myself. I would rather talk about wrestling, or a book I’m reading, or politics, or the Bible. How I feel is more consequential to me than anyone else. Otherwise, I’d get asked more often and in more sincere means. I don’t care that no one asks, really. I have friends who understand anxiety and depression but no one really gets all my other stuff.

It’s nights like tonight where I want to be around people but am ambivalent about such feelings because there’s some mental wall there that tells me I can’t or I shouldn’t even though there’s no real good reason other than I can’t or shouldn’t. It doesn’t feel… right, I guess is the best way to try to explain it.

There’s a certain tiring quality to being this way. I sleep as much as I can and as often as I can now. It passes the hour better than watching TV. I read more now which is good, I guess, but it’s not much of a substitute for the intellectual stimulation of a conversation. I get that sometimes but mostly I just do what I can to keep my mind off anything else. If I find something, I absorb myself into it and the time just passes. Sometimes that just includes staring at the ceiling for a couple of hours before I have to go to work in the mid morning. I haven’t found anything else that really disrupts the pervasive thoughts of having to go to work so I just lose myself in my imaginations. I tell stories and I don’t write them down. Mostly because the thoughts are so fast and fleeting I can’t make anything coherent out of them anyway.

So, if you’re reading this, maybe you’ll try to understand. Maybe you’ll just stay in your own little world and I’ll stay in mine as it gets smaller and smaller. I’m tired of being left out of the game. I’m tired of not fitting the social norm or that I’m viewing everything from the outside looking in the window.

I’m tired of windows, closed doors, and fences. Now more than ever I’m aware that socializing is work for me, not necessarily pleasure even though I want to do be able to do it. I think I lost part of myself or unlocked something or closed something off.

Are you in the inside looking out?

Dictionary Entries And Clock Faces


There’s not a dictionary in the world
With a definition for the word, “love”
Noun, verb, and sometimes expletive.
There are just too many uses
Explanations and excuses
For this semantic domain
That scrapes the the rock surface
Of my heart
The reason the busker sings a sad refrain

I try to stay away from staring
At the television screens
That teaches us all that
For every single guy there’s a bevy
Of swans that that were never ugly ducklings
With roses in their teeth
I need to find a little reprieve
From this cultural obsession
That we’re meant for indiscretion
It twists me up and forces my retreat

Remembering days going by
With the dismissing wave
Of the clock hands
Nevertheless, I try to understand
That time is just a countdown
And we’re never going to cut its pace

Construct to deduct life
Attached to dollar amounts
Useless things we spend
What we earn, how we live
I’m just reaching for
A lover or a friend

Yesterday is here again
You’re teaching me how to inhale
And exhale the emotions
I can’t calculate
Mirror or reciprocate
It’s clear as the cloudy sky
Outside my windows now
I can only see so far
But not the end.

I dropped a raft into a sea
Of salty tears and sweat
Rolling rapids of my regrets
Avoiding rocks left to run me aground
My heart still pounds everyday
At the thought of the sound

I don’t believe in fairly tales
But I watch a lot of movies
Where the weird guy
Gets the girl and she upturns his world
I thought I had that once
But I flipped only to land
On my chivalry with shivering hands

My skull is a glass case
Where you can see the jumbled
Chains and cables
Wrapped around crystal balls
That only see the past

And some of them still show your face
I thought I loved but
Upon reflection in the mirror
I realized I despised
The man that I had become
My goal is to leave a smoking gun
In case you return for evidence
Of your past crimes

Burn it to the ground like a barn
Gather the children for the ugly swan song
We’re just livestock in a small pen
And I don’t think I’ll feel that way again

Dear, my friends… [An Open Letter]

Dear friends, acquaintances, readers, passers-by, and whomever else it may concern,

It has been over a year since I travelled to the psychologist’s office to receive the results of a battery of tests I had to endure to gain some insight on myself. When all was said and done, I was given a total of two major diagnoses based on DSM-V criteria:

  1. Major Depressive Disorder, Mild recurrent with anxious distress features
  2. Autism Spectrum Disorder

Along with diagnosis number two, the more important of to this letter, came the following information:

  • Social communication requiring support
  • Restricted, repetitive behaviors requiring support
  • Without accompanying intellectual delays
  • Without accompanying language impairment

I think everyone on some level has some idea of what Asperger’s syndrome is, but I want to be clear because everyone, literally everyone, with Asperger’s (now part of the Autism Spectrum as of 2013) is different with a few diagnostic criteria in common.

  1. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by 1) deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth-conversations to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect 2)Deficits in nonverbal communicative behavior used for social interaction ranging from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures, to total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communications. Finally, 3)Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts, to difficulties in sharing in imaginative play or in making friends, to absence of interest in peers.
  2. Restricted, repetitive patterns fo behaviour, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following: 1) Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech, 2) Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behaviour, 3) Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus 4) Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment. (Atwood, 2008, p. 11)

That’s the clinical language surrounding it. If you made it this far, perhaps you’ll be willing to go a little further with me…

Most of what is listed above is true for me. For 30 years I didn’t know any bit of the way I acted was atypical aside from the fact that it made me an outcast in junior high and high school which made me very cynical after I graduated. Throughout that period of time I was also battling major depression on a fairly regular basis with little or no relief from medication, though I was tried on plenty of them.

A trip to the psychiatrist’s office in 2006 led to a diagnosis of some sort of mood disorder at first but then was changed to Bipolar II disorder. This led to more medication. Some of which I am still on, though in lowered dosages. The ensuing ten or so years have been hell, dealing with the side effects, the mood issues, the anxiety, and the depression on top of the social stressors I encountered along the way. These included losing two friends unexpectedly, almost losing a third to suicide, and a failed reconciliation with my biological father. Along with that comes a fear of abandonment because of the aforementioned bio-dad, which is the reason I have not pursued a relationship in the last 5 years or so. Feeble attempts have led to my being ghosted on more than one occasion. It just seemed the whole time, even before I was re-diagnosed, that I was not a good fit with most people.

Admittedly, there was a large amount of clarity that came when my diagnosis was updated to Autism Spectrum Disorder (colloquially: Asperger’s). The way I was growing up, the way I am now all make a lot more sense. To this day I still have issues communicating effectively either because I can’t read the tone of voice being used or because I take questions that have an expected response, like being asked my opinion on a new band someone really likes and wants me to like as well, and I don’t give the expected response by being super excited like they are even if they are visibly excited right in front of me.

If you know me at all, you know I love professional wrestling. I can already hear your collective groans as you read this. However, my obsession fits in well with the, “Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus”. I don’t watch the big names all that much anymore, but I have found a wealth of independent wrestling on the internet. I know the names of moves, I know the history behind some of them, as well as wrestling history in general.  I can tell you who trained who. I can identify the different styles used, and I even named my solo music project after an abnormally named pinning combination, The Magistral Cradle.

So, now, at the age of 31, I am living alone and going to school to get a BS in Psychology in hopes of getting into an MA program in Applied Behavioral Analysis, focusing on working with children on varying parts of the Autism Spectrum. I’m at the perfect school for it and I have the mind and compassion for it, I think. When I’m not doing school I’m on my feet for 4-8 hours a day as a Pharmacy Technician which, having Asperger’s, is surprisingly smooth sailing because a lot of it is just repetitive actions, phrases, and tasks. Now if only I could find a job with more hours and pays better. But that’s not really why I’m writing this.

Aspy’s, as we are lovingly called, are a lonely bunch for the most part. Every day is like a dress rehearsal, accompanied by generalized anxiety as well as anxiety when an activity or task is disrupted. Even when I’m doing something controlled and repetitive, I have to contend with the idea that, at a moment’s notice, my task will change based on the customer volume. I have medication to control it and it works well, but there’s still that conditioned response of hesitation and reticence that has to be overcome

I am lonely sometimes. I live in a small studio apartment that supplies all that I need for living situations and usually I am content with reading, writing, composing music, or just watching a movie by myself. People don’t enter the equation much when it comes to my thought process. My therapist urges me to seek more social interaction, which is probably the greatest difficulty I have right now. Yes, I have people I call friends but, as an Aspy, there is an inherent difficulty in my knowledge of how to maintain those friendships. Just as I am rigid with certain routines, I can be rigid with my definition of friendship and it’s hard for me to wrap my head around anyone else with a different understanding.

Not to mention, the perception of social cues and voice inflections is almost lost on me. I have to intellectualize both my emotions and yours when we talk which is why I’m not always quick to respond or to come up with answers to thought-provoking or introspective questions.

What I’m saying, I guess, is I really do miss people whom I consider friends but never see. I don’t know if I come off with this persona that I don’t like being around people all that much and so it’s considered doing me a favor by not including me in social activities or get-togethers or if those people just aren’t as good friends as I thought. That last statement is not an indictment but an admission of agnosia. I legitimately do not know and, even more so, cannot discern the answer. I just know some days I just lay in my bed with my eyes closed and sink into a world of my own creation, creating scenarios and having conversations with people, none of which is real. I don’t want to do anything, so I just let my mind wander.

I want to be part of your life. I think I have a big heart and a lot to offer even if my actions betray that sentient. So, my goal in writing this is to inspire you to try to understand what it is I deal with on a daily basis and the things I’m still trying to learn about myself. I still have not learned to adapt. I’m still discovering sensory hyperactivity responses, like chaotic noise, or abnormally bright light. I know not everyone understands that. I know not everyone understands why or has the patience to understand me when I say things bluntly or matter-of-fact without regard to the other person’s feelings. These things might offend you or make you mad. Please know it’s never my intent.

What I’m getting at is, if we’re friends, I’m still here. I’m still on this new journey and I wish you’d come along with me, maybe help me figure out what it means to be an Aspy in a sea of Neuro-typicals. Let’s have some fun. Just, please, don’t try to change me or fix me. This is who I am. This is who I was created to be. Just love me for that and things will work themselves out, I’m sure.

Until then, a certain song comes to mind whenever I feel out-of-place or like I’m on the outside looking in:

Not inferior, just different,

J

Darwin Never Had A Driver’s License


The theory of evolution states
Those unfavorable traits we carry in our genes
Will be eradicated by means of selective
Extinction by a very slow process
Of making those genes unavailable
Basically,
If it doesn’t help the species flourish
It eventually dies.

I know I have a lot of unfavorable genes
Depression, anxiety, Asperger’s, and bad joints
Meds, therapists, and psychiatrists
All sort of make me feel like
My soul went shopping for its chassis and engine
And came out of the lot with a certified
Lemon.

I’ve had relationships.
I’ve come close to relationships, too.
They all end in similar fashions
With the girl doing the dashing
Whether I did grabbed the heart
And did the smashing
Like a football against the turf

(Even though you get a penalty
For unsportsmanlike conduct
When you spike the ball
If it ain’t yours, who cares?)

Or she tied every heart string
Around her finger like a she wanted a reminder
And when the tension got to be too much
She clenched her fist and rushed out
So fast, it took only that part of me with her
But left me living to survive with that pain.

Listen, I wonder sometimes if I
Was meant to die lonely while I watch
Everyone around me find out what it means
To at least be momentarily overjoyed
With the rings on their fingers and
Kids popping out every which woman

I am not, nor have I ever been built
To know what that is like in a sense
Other than one that is unique to me.
And if that means facing Darwin’s
Stoic perception of how traits die out
In this world then I will fight him to
Every last hair in his beard

Because as much as we agree
On certain things I don’t think
He’ll come out of this fight breathing
He is not the master of my destiny
And evolution was just a small picture
In this great landscape painting
Long before he described
The evolution of the species

Truth is, I don’t know what I’m doing
Don’t know where I’m going
Right now it seems prudent just to do
What is required to survive.

That’s hard enough most of the time.
Besides, if I had stopped my life
Every time I’d fallen in love
I’d feel even farther behind.
I only did that once
And it was the biggest waste
Of three years of my life

But sometimes, I ask God,
He being greater than Darwin
What it is I’m supposed to be doing
I don’t have a concrete answer yet
But like I learned driving from
Nebraska to Wyoming to Utah
To Nevada to California to Arizona (Fuck you)
To Kansas and back home

When you’re surrounded by open road
It’s way easier to go forward than back
Or to wait on the shoulder
For someone to save you

Fill up that tank,
Replace that tire and put miles behind you
And thank God Darwin can’t drive.

If Wishes Were Horses I’d Have a lot of Glue

Wishing-Star-747x309

 

I have walked the right side of the tracks
For as long as I can remember,
Or at least I tried.
My virtues and convictions
I carried in a messenger bag
Draped across my chest and shoulder
I kept my head down
Eyes pinned to the eyes and edge of the rail
Stepping out the way of the trains
And other drifters along the way
Because it’s easier to keep everything to yourself
And wear it like a sash of honor
Even though it’s more like
The weight of a thousand fallen stars
I may have wished upon and caught as mementos
Along with eyelashes I caught midair
And a million timepieces
Stopped precisely at eleven past eleven.
I keep a tab of the money donated
To the water of the wishing well.

Yes, they are all mine
And they never came true.

I stared into the eyes of the moon
Reflecting its glow from my own
Sleep-deprived, night-dilated craters
Wondering if, at that moment,
You’re absorbing the same
Inverted face that’s casting spotlights
Against my retinas.

Even if you are
It’s not the same star we’re wishin’ on.
Reflections in rain puddles are distorted
From stepping on what I see
While someone is painting a clear
To the finest detail,
Maybe chiseled out of stone
While I fall apart like clay.

I am a coward of the worst kind;
The one who cradles his heart
With a death grip
Who fears that at any point letting
Anything slip
Feels like a breach of etiquette
And I avoid step aside for the head-on,
The heart-to-heart collisions
With eyes to the moon
Or down at my feet

It’s just easier to walk through life
Never knowing.
Even though I tell myself I do.
Either way I walk to the office
And sit down and listen
Avoiding what I’m really thinking
And then I go home screaming
This one was mine
And it never came true.

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.