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…”

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Restless, yet still a wakeful nest.

Insomnia

It’s been a long couple of days. For one reason or another I’ve been having some trouble sleeping. This happens from time to time and there’s really nothing I can do about it but grit my teeth and get through it. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a borderline narcoleptic as well as Bipolar II. Both of which are affected by the amount of sleep I get every night. Thankfully, I didn’t have to work yesterday and so I was able to just relax and hang out, try not to stress my mind too much and just rest. Today was another story. I had to call into work as stress just makes everything worse and I’m way more irritable when I haven’t slept, if you can imagine such a thing. Since I’m sort of an expert on sleep deprivation, let’s talk about insomnia.

There are stages, really, to a night or your first night without sleep. They’re a lot like the stages of grief, actually. First there’s the denial stage where you tell yourself you’re not having problems falling asleep, you’re just not tired yet. There’s no way that you would ever have any problems sleeping because you have slept like dead weight since you were fresh out of the womb. Your parents thought there was something wrong with you because you slept through the night the first night you were home. You’ll fall asleep any minute now and every thing will be just dandy. You hope.

Second is anger. You ask yourself why you thought it would be a good idea to drink that energy drink an hour ago while you were busy working on a paper, playing video games, etc., only to realize you still had a week to work on it or looked at the clock and realized the time. Then you ask yourself why you didn’t read the syllabus because it clearly states that the paper is due next Friday or that last mission really wasn’t worth the loss of sleep. Or, even worse, you start hearing every noise that everyone or everything in your house is making and you are consistently running out of your room to telling people to turn down the TV they’re wearing noise-canceling headphones. Then you start yelling at your brother for having the TV on, despite that it’s muted. But you can hear the electronic whine that it makes and it’s making you just a little bit crazy just like every time you hear the water rush through the pipes above your room every time someone flushes the toilet. You just want to go in there and take the well-used plunger and use it on their face and then stick their head in the toilet… Haha… let’s move on before I start having PTSD flashbacks of my first night in the dorms.

Onward to the third stage, which is bargaining. I don’t know if it helps or hurts to have a clock when you’re in this stage. Basically, this is the part where you try to sleep, not looking at the clock. Then, at irregular intervals you’ll check to see what time it is and calculate how much longer you have until you have to get out of bed. You try to coach yourself through this process as best you can telling yourself that you’ll be fine as long as you get seven hours of sleep. Then you’ll roll over, toss and turn a little, assault someone with a cleaning implement, come back and tell yourself that you’ll be fine as long as you get five hours of sleep. As if somehow, somewhere, the Sandman is hovering around watching you and listening like God when Abraham tried to bargain for Sodom. The point isn’t the number of hours you’ll get, it’s that you’re not getting any, none are going to be spared. So, stop asking. But, you’ll bargain and you won’t get what you want and that leads to the next lovely stage of our process.

Welcome to depression. Number four in our stages of grief and this is probably the most interesting one, really. As I stated, there comes a point when you realize that your bargains are not getting you anywhere and you give up. This is when you realize, for certain, that you are not going to be getting any sleep tonight. If this is your first night, this can be the most brutal (maybe second most brutal but only to anger) stage in the process. You might whine, you might cry a little bit and say, “Woe is me! For I will not be getting any sleep this night at all. And I need sleep because I’ve got that stupid final in the morning.” I sympathize, I do. But anyway, depression just makes the time you’re still awake even longer. It roots you to the moment and makes it very difficult to see that the sun will eventually rise. You will not have slept, you will feel like garbage the rest of the day and you will likely be investing in another one of those energy drinks like the one that may have gotten you here in the first place. Funny how that works. You’ll stare at the ceiling and you will go into “the zone”.

The zone is a place the mind goes when it refuses to shut down and sleep but doesn’t really feel like doing any heavy lifting either. You’re depressed, of course, and this slows down your cognitive processes a little bit, so you retreat into your mind and you stare at things for hours at a time. You’ll imagine what your day is going to be like sans sleep and you already know you’re going to hate yourself all day because of it. You start to wonder if this will be a trend and this makes you even more depressed which makes you think maybe you’ll never sleep again and the gyre continues to spin out of control… That is, until you look at the clock and you have maybe an hour until you have to get up and get ready to leave.

At this point, you’ve reached the final stage. Some reach it faster than others, usually seasoned veterans to the insomniac life. You know, the ones with scruffy beards and long hair. You don’t know anyone like that? Okay, so maybe those are just people I happen to know. No matter, we are talking about acceptance.

Now, that you’ve escaped “the zone” you realize fully and are mostly comfortable with the fact that you just went through an entire night without sleep. You’ve got school or work in a couple of hours so sleeping now would only mean you miss your class and possibly mess up your sleep schedule. Hey, everyone has trouble sleeping once in a while and you’re no exception, right? Right. So, a little earlier than usual you go into your normal morning routine and everything sucks and is going to suck, you’ve convinced yourself already. You’ve accepted this fact. You have successfully completed stage five. Congratulations, the next 14-16 hours of your life before you get back to your bedroom are going to be hell.

So, there you have it. The 5 stages of grief as they pertain to the wonderful experience that is insomnia. If it happens to you once, you trudge through it and you usually survive without any severe psychological symptoms. If it happens for a second consecutive day you still go through the five stages but you go through them a lot quicker with long rest periods in anger and depression. If you’re a seasoned veteran like me, you just accept the fact that sleep is illusory sometimes and hope the next night you won’t have as many troubles. Kind of like I’m hoping for tonight.

Hello, Insomnia

“I look tired
It’s probably the insomnia
I sleep like Tyler Durdan
Stickin’ feathers in your ass does not make you a chicken.”
— P.O.S. “Half-Cocked Concepts”

Hello, insomnia. So good to see you again.

For the last three nights i have been struggling with the same thing that I fought with when I was coming of the Seroquel some weeks back. I finally fall asleep and then wake up every few hours, sometimes every hour. I end up severely frustrated and tired and it makes it much more difficult to go to sleep.

I realize some of this may be psychological, simply because I fall asleep faster than most that I don’t realize it. I roll over and the clock has moved forward an hour or two and I don’t realize I’ve been asleep for that whole time. But it’s still frustrating. It’s like someone’s playing with my head so I miss work and my moods generally aren’t the greatest. Then I realize it’s my own brain playing with me and that makes it all the more irritating.

Shouldn’t he be fighting on my side?

In any case, there hasn’t been much that I’ve done that has been of any help. My old tricks put me to sleep but don’t keep me there for very long. I wen to bed at 10pm last night and tossed and turned. Which felt like betrayal considering I was trying not to fall asleep on my futon not 15 minutes prior.

At least the days haven’t been as difficult as before. I got a workout in this morning to make up for missing yesterday and I’m actually currently putting off taking a shower as I write this. It felt good to have some energy for a while but now I’m ready to curl up and go back to bed. Naps have never been my thing.

So, for all of you who have had a crappy day or your day isn’t starting off the greatest, if you got a good night’s sleep before starting it you’re already leaps and bounds ahead of me.

The Little Things

My body apparently thinks it’s prudent to wake up an hour before my alarm goes off.

I’ve found this particularly annoying on days I don’t have to be anywhere in particular in the morning so I ca allot myself time for a full 8 hours of sleep. That hasn’t been happening. Oddly enough, it hasn’t really been affecting me or my moods all that much lately. Sure, getting out of bed is a little more difficult to get out of bed because, in my head, I tell myself I haven’t had enough sleep. But after being awake for 10 minutes or so I shake that feeling and turn on a bedside lamp. Light helps to wake me up.

This became particularly annoying Monday morning when I woke up at 7:30 with an alarm set for 8:15. I needed to get up in time to get some food, take some meds, and get out the door. I know I said that classes started the beginning of this week. So, I was preparing for a very long day because I would go to class, workout, come back and go to another class then go to work from 2:30-11 PM. I was bemoaning this fact the entire time I was loading books into my backpack.

Then I got this nagging feeling I couldn’t ignore.

I won’t sensationalize it but something in my head told me something was off with classes starting today. I had checked the academic calendar several times to make sure I knew when classes were starting among other things. But when I checked it this time it turns out classes didn’t actually start until Wednesday. Monday was open for registration and such, so the semester officially started Monday but classes wouldn’t begin until Wednesday.

Needless to say, I was not stoked about having woken up at 7:30 only to find out I didn’t need to. And once I’m awake I’m awake for the rest of the day. There is almost no way I will go back to sleep after getting up anymore. This incident was only further improved by the fact that I had to go through a ridiculous training class at a work on “Respect” that got shifted to Monday night so I got to stay an extra hour past my new end time. So, that made for a really long day.

Sometimes I think God speaks to us about little things. I don’t know why I suddenly felt the need to check the calendar one last time when I was absolutely certain classes started on Monday. There are little things, little intuitions, little things that pop into our heads and I wonder who else besides me gives them credence. It happened again last night.

Someone I talk to all day via text hadn’t been feeling well. I was at work and in training flanked by two Supervisors who would bust me so hard if I whipped out my phone and started texting it would make my head spin. We got a break and so I went to the break room and pulled out my phone. Normally, I’d just send her a text to see how she was doing. But something as quick as impulse had me calling her instead. I woke her up (sorry) and felt really bad. But she thanked me later when she was a little more awake as she really did need to be woken up. I told her I just had a feeling.

I can’t verify where it comes from. Maybe it’s just intuition or maybe it’s God using me to do the little things. I don’t know.

I’ll just keep listening and see.

Sick of being tired

Some days I wake up to and wonder why they’re here. I wonder to myself what good can come from this glaring insistence that this day could be better passed by sleeping it away. Then I turn over for another attempt at sleep, realizing that nothing fruitful is going to come from such a response. i then roll flat on my back as people often do and stare directly at nothing in front of me and just groan at the fact that I just do not want to face the day. In fact, I’d rather face the inside of my bedroom for the rest of the day than get up and go to work or to the church or really much of anything and as I crawl to the edge of my bed I ponder. I wonder about the burning sensation in my eyes, the unexplained tension in my neck and shoulders and the fog in my brain. All these things are normal morning things for me since I’m decidedly nocturnal.

But some days it just doesn’t go away.

I can’t explain why. Not this early.

So, I am able to hoist myself from the mattress into my morning and out the door quite easily. I’ve decided I could do my morning routine in my sleep if it was required. I get dressed in what is my usual daily attire, – Black everything with a hoodie on top – I grab my dickies messenger bag that is now on its 7th year and is looking a little worse for the wear and I head out the door. I get into my car, crank something that I hope will pull me out of this morning funk and get out of my driveway and a few blocks away before I realize I forgot to take my heart medication but decide it’s too late and keep going on the assumption that it won’t kill me (It really won’t. Don’t worry)

I arrive at my destination feeling no better but no worse for the wear either. I do realize within the first few minutes of being there that I am in no shape to talk to anybody or endure any sort of cognitive process. I push through because, honestly, I feel that I need to and that’s the way life needs to be.

It’s only until I get to my job that I realize what the real issue is. I feel that odd, burning tension in my gut for a little while and I find my focus is just about shot to pieces. I have little to no patience with the people around me and am extremely thankful I’m not taking phone calls for 7/8’s of my shift. I can feel that last straw and I remember a very large part of who I am is screaming for some sort of sensory deprivation so I don’t have to tolerate the influx of people and environment.

I am an introvert with extroverted tendencies.

I stress that I am an introvert.

We introverts are an interesting breed, especially those of us who don’t let life manhandle us into a life of seclusion. It works for some but not for all and so I know there are people out there who fight this same fight with themselves and struggle to love people when people are the last thing that they want to be dealing with. It’s something I’ve had to contend with all my life and it’s something that I’ve just had to understand and navigate myself.

Since I was a kid I’ve always known that I need that time away from personal interaction so I can recharge a little bit. As I’m writing this I’ve actually holed up in my office at the church where I will be left alone. The day I described above was my day today. I thought I was going to lose it completely at work today because, along with the exhaustion that this week has caused, I hit a wall emotionally and got pretty depressed. I switched over to some more upbeat music and that actually helped quite a bit.

I love the power of music.

But it just goes to show that something in the rhythm of my routine just isn’t quite right. There’s this thing in the Bible that is referred to as the sabbath. The sabbath is a day of rest which is first illustrated in Exodus 16 where the Hebrew people are given bread from heaven called manna. It’s interesting because YHWH provides for them all that they need six days out of the week and tells them on the seventh there won’t be any manna because the seventh day is to be kept holy. YHWH’s normal promise of provision is even altered on the sixth day to allow for the seventh.

In Exodus 20:8-10, YHWH lays out the law about the sabbath stating that it is to be kept holy, that no work was to be done. This commandment was skewed a lot as the year progressed and, indeed, seems to be misunderstood by Jews and Christians alike. In my personal experience, I can see in my normal rhythms that my body and mind cry out for rest about once a week as if I were designed that way. That thought is interesting. Is the commandment of Sabbath there to say, “You were built this way. Your natural tendency will be to fight against that so I give you this command for your own good.”

Sometimes I wonder if pushing myself as hard as I do is counter YHWH’s command. I currently have a day I consider my day of rest but it’s interesting to me how fast that day gets filled up with things I need to do until it’s not a day of rest. To just illustrate how bad it can get, I can tell you I felt much better just getting out of the building I work in and into my car. The moment the car came on and the music started playing I instantly felt better. The sheer violence of such change makes me wonder.

There’s a church near where I work. As I walk out the doors I can see the cross that sits on top this massive structure and that usually sparks some thought and I’m able to sort of center myself again. Or at least, I try to. It doesn’t always work, sadly. But I’d like to think I will find rest in Jesus after all the garbage that I go through because of the volatility of the inside of my head.

It’s well established that Jesus had to retreat and pray every now and again. So, I think from now on I’m really going to work on finding some time to go hide off the grid and away from people for a while each week just to get myself back closer to center. I don’t know where I’ll go or how I’ll pull it off but I’ll pray that I figure it out for my own sake as well as the sake of others.

I need some rest.

I’m sick of being tired.

Pencils, papers and erasers

It’s a sad and strange day when your realize you’ve been removed from someone’s life altogether.  This reality has hit hard, like the rubber end of a No. 2 pencil hitting the page and erasing my name from the header, leaving nothing but the subject and the date.  I’d like to say it doesn’t bother me at all.  Well, 98% of the time I think I’ve talked myself into being OK with everything but then there’s the 2% of the time where I feel some semblance of anger in my chest about the whole thing.  At those times it almost seems wrong to just have been made to feel like YOU are the only one who has been erased from reality.

I know this because my friends know this.  My roommates are currently dating girls who apparently keep in close contact with this eraser of lives, this denier of existence.  And so it feels almost as if I have landed in an alternate dimension when I somehow find out that they’re still in contact with this person.  It makes me wonder just why I keep finding this stuff out because I have yet to go out of my way to find this person in every social networking utility on the internet.  Is God trying to tell me something, am I being screwed with by the enemy or am I just being screwed with?

I’ve prayed about this situation and I’ve thought about it some but I try my best not to let it pervade my thought processes.  Especially  since there is absolutely nothing I can do in this situation but sit on my butt, wait, maybe read a book or something.  But that just doesn’t make sense to me.  Life, minus a few minor setbacks, has been pretty good and I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of in really good ways.  God has been good despite the troubles and I’m trying really hard to let this stay in his hands as much as I want to be the petulant child who tears it out of his hands and says, “No thanks, I got this.”

Sometimes this whole situation makes me think of the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”.  The premise revolves around a company called Lacuna, Inc. that specializes in erasing memories of specific people completely out of someone’s memory.  Sometime I feel like this is me.  Very rarely do I entertain the thought of going through such a process.  Think about it for a second.  I’ve always said that I would never want to change anything in my past but there are those instances where I could have spared myself the pain that I endured.  But pain makes us stronger, doesn’t it?

I use to hang out with a lot of people who have had piercings or tattoos and most of them multiple times.  Almost any of them would tell you they’re able to do such things because they have a high pain tolerance.  Some people have a natural pain tolerance and I would count myself among them or so I thought until my gallbladder decided to rebel.  I was near tears.  It’s similar with emotional pain. But I’ve had to build up a tolerance to that I think.  To say that life has handed me more than a fair share of that would be an understatement, at least I think so and others have intimated.  But I’ve found that, with God, prayer and good friends, surviving such things have become exponentially easier to handle.  And that’s saying a lot, I think, considering my Bipolar II disorder.

Sidenote: I had someone tell me the other day that they wish they could have my mind because of my marginal capacity to write.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Just so you know, this is part of that 2% where things are not settled well in my head about all of this.  Writing offers some catharsis in these situations and so I’m feeling some of the pressure released.  But now I hear the calling of my bed and the hopefulness of sleep…

Took out your pencil and paper
wrote my name, subject and date
in the top right hand corner of the page
And you thought it would stay there.
I was foolish enough to think that,
yeah, so did I.
But things didn’t work out that way,
you flipped that No. 2 pencil ’round
and put it to work
where my name is
brushing away and blowing away the shavings
leaving nothing but the ghost of a grey smudge
and maybe a little
memory of my name
but the subject is still there as far as I know
and the date
well, it never really mattered then
why should it matter now
but that space has been left vacant
and for a while I wished that it was still mine
But if you brought that pencil
anywhere near that page now with
intentions of pencilling me in somewhere
well, the lead would break against the irony
of course because this happened more than
once
don’t you get tired of repeating yourself?
We all want to be known
and my name at the top of that page
would certainly mean that but
Now, I’m not so sure that’s a good place to be
or even something I’d remotely want.
I’d forgiven you your past and transgressions
but that doesn’t mean I want things to
be the way they were.
Let’s not try to rewrite history, backward
But maybe write things forward
If we rewrite things at all, no matter the direction.