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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On the Outside of the Outside, Looking in

This morning I experienced something that hasn’t really happened since I was in my teens. I thought I was awake and I tried to move my arms but I was still asleep. I felt like I had no strength in any of my limbs which is a bit disconcerting if you’ve never had sleep paralysis before. I panicked for a few seconds but eventually realized what was happening and i worked my way out f it by thinking about moving one limb at a time. I realized I was dreaming when I was finally able to sit up and open my eyes. What I hadn’t realized until afterwards was that I had been watching myself from the outside of the whole experience while I tried to wake my body up.

It’s always a bit uncomfortable being on the outside looking in.

I don’t know what it is about today but my mood has been strange. As thoughts have unraveled I’ve felt like I’ve begun to disappear. I was thinking about yesterday. I went to my parents’ house, they grilled burgers, and then they started lighting fireworks off to celebrate the 4th. I found, in my first Independence Day not overmedicated on psych drugs, that my oversensitivity to sound does extend to things like fireworks. One of the kids lit off a small pack of firecrackers and I could feel myself tense at every tiny explosion. I knew this would be a possibility before I decided to go and I pre-warned everybody that I would probably leave before the celebratory explosions began. It didn’t really bother me leaving before the sun had gone down to retreat to my apartment for something a little more quiet.

I realize, sometimes, living on your own can be hazardous in a way. You’re left with nothing but your own thoughts, calculations, and self-talk. It was in one of these moments when I was trying to go back to sleep that I really started thinking about just how outside of things I have become in the last 18 months and realizing just how much more insular my thought processes are now because of it.

Let’s start off with one fact: I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged anywhere.

With that always in the background I find myself very attached to people and I don’t really think about the social dynamics. Today, I took a different approach to the thought of friendships and I asked myself this question: “If I’m putting in all the effort and reciprocation is inconsistent to non-existent, what is the benefit of investing my time?” This hit me in the face and hard because I realized that there were certain relationships where I have (and sometimes still do) where, if I don’t make the effort to contact someone, I wouldn’t ever hear from them. Yet, I get called a friend which is weird to me because I’ve done the exact same thing to others because of various reasons, usually life, nothing malicious, and they just never want to take the time to talk to them again. If there was no reciprocity then what was the point?

Maybe I’m coming to this thought late in the game. I don’t know what to do with this information, these thoughts, but I don’t know if people realize they do this or if it’s some other factor. I have bailed on events I’ve been invited to for social reasons but I think I’ve been pretty clear with almost everyone I spend time with the social difficulties and the steep learning curve regarding my sense of self just in the last year as my senses reassert themelves.

In my reading, I understand better my difficulty in feeling like I belong. We do not perceive the social dynamic, especially in groups, like a neurotypical. I think i can best describe it this way:

In social interactions, a one-on-one is the most ideal for me. I am 100% there trying to use the skills I have to understand our interaction. The more people added to the mix the more I feel like I’m fading out of the picture. For a Neuro-typical this is easy as they allocate attention to whatever they feel they need to attend to in the moment. For me, I’m still just 100% there and my attention gets spread over the entire situation. This is not too difficult but, as the number of people grows, the harder and harder it is to decide where to allocate attention because it all comes in as a flood; there is no executive function directing incoming data to my brain. Upon reflection  it feels a lot like I’m disappearing; my social capabilities decline and my anxiety goes up. I withdraw.

Most people I know don’t understand this or don’t try to understand this. I had to fight myself constantly before I went to work because I didn’t know what to expect. There’s another stitch in the side: my anxiety wants to know everything about an event before I go. It can sometimes take a fair amount of self-talk to get myself to go places sometimes. This has, admittedly, led to a lot less social interaction on my part. I get invited to friends’ shows and I have to decline because the idea of interacting with that many people puts me on high alert even thinking about it. So, I’ve “flaked” on a few things I said I would go to. Some people understand, some don’t.

What you don’t realize is that I already feel like I’m on the outside looking in. Like there’s this great invisible barrier between me and the rest of the world because there’s just some stimuli I cannot perceive. The unknown can cause anxiety, anxiety drives a need to remain asocial. Then i stop getting invited to things because I don’t show up very often. There are people who I don’t hear from unless I make an effort, sometimes multiple efforts to get in touch and make plans. In retrospect, I’ve realized how this really makes me feeel and I don’t really like it. I don’t want to anything because I don’t want to come off like I’ve got the wrong idea and then everything just gets worse because I’ve upset someone. It feels kind of like a no-win situation and I don’t know what to do. I’m still learning. 

But when you’re in situations with people you’ve known for a long time you know they expect you. They’ve grown comfortable and conditioned to the you they’ve known all this time. The idea that you could, all of a sudden, have this realization, doubt, epiphany, whatever, about your relationship feels like it would introduce a seed of mistrust that I wouldn’t pick up on or they wouldn’t tell me about.

The story of my life: I solve one puzzle and it just creates another. I don’t know what to do with this.

Now Playing:


Artist: Poison the Well
Song: “Botchla”
Album: Tear From the Red

But I adore her
This will never happen
But I adore HER
That will NEVER happen.
Over my DEAD body.

Of course I think ABOUT it
Burn my path if it does
Shape my body as I FEEL
Torn, BROKEN

And if it happens
I’ll BURN and crawl deeper in my hole
Darkness ALWAYS says hello
And your BURNING BODY will light my way
Burning body LIGHT MY WAY

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.

Nickel-Cadmium Battery

lightning-night-sky1

Running myself down like an old nickel-cadmium battery
Charged at the beginning of the day but with the energy
Of a twenty-four hour a day memory
Remembering the length of time I spent yesterday
Spinning my heart and mind over the bumps
And creaks my body speaks,
The groans and the braille tell the story
And this hi[s]tory is trapped in the chemical reactions
That give me energy after
Forgetting if I fell asleep the night before
And waking with the pools of my eyes dried shut

Must keep in mind to make the battery run dry
Before feeding it more or it will give me less to go on
Tomorrow.
Or tomorrow will be shorter than the last.

If depression is a rock
And anxiety a hard space
I’m stuck between an ever-narrowing valley
Of the things that broke me
And the things that maybe will
The electricity in my body is running so dry
That the desert of my skin misses
The rain of my body
Dry thunderstorm in no one’s arms

My battery is running low with nowhere left
For this last bit of current to go so I can sleep
And the desire to feed it to you is so short
An upturn of the palms would let it arc
Like I am always the third rail
The pleasant tap on the tip of your tongue
From a nine volt,
Looking out at skyline distance, capturing lightning bolts
I swear for the fleeting moment I was there
And then gone again.
Camera flash
The millisecond passed
Then I was gone again.

A NiCad battery should never be plugged into energy
Until it’s drained of all its stored capacity
Or it builds up a memory
And run out of its electricity more quickly.
I have a long memory.
Don’t plug me in unless you plan on keeping me.

The Goodbye at Union Station

I can recall watching ER when it was being broadcast. Of course, I was too young to care about certain facets of stories. Love, relationships… All this was lost on me then. The science and medicine were more important to me then.

Now, I’m 29. Enough time has passed that I’ve developed a love for story and character. I recently started to revisit this show from my youth and was reminded fondly of the love story that never quite was. It seems, now, so perfectly orchestrated. 

I won’t go into details because it’s meant to be seen, experienced. See how you feel when the train pulls away.