thelongestprocess

the feet drag, if only the road were a little shorter..

New Day.

the decks spin
I recall
as love turned to malice
with every beat
my heart moved
time moved
was I wrong?
I breathed
I believed
turning and twirling
time moved
the darkness lifted

the sun 
those lights
dawn
of the new day

-e.a.

 

 

Autism: Socializing.

The dreaded term. The crux of all my problems.

Socialize – verb: To mix socially with others.

A common view on those with Asperger’s or Autism is that they hate socializing, that they want to avoid it at all cost because of their percieved general disinterest in other people.

It’s safe to say that is, for many, incorrect and a total misconception.

It’s not that we don’t want to socialize, it’s just that it is exceedingly difficult to create an environment that is comfortable and conducive for a conversation. We will often have to mold to NT ideals on socializing, and that almost always leads to feeling exhausted.

If you ask me about Asperger’s syndrome in Women, I could talk at you about it for a long, long time. All the things I’ve learnt, all my thoughts, all thanks to the hours upon hours daily I spend researching it.
In that time though, would I ask you your thoughts and opinions? No.
Would I stop to check that you’re even remotely interested? No.

These things would not cross my mind, because I’m so immersed in one of my special interests that the world is simply a sounding board for all this marvelous information – and it’s still a shock that people aren’t as interested as I to this day!

Because of this, I can become tiresome to those I interact with. Every conversation seems to come back around to what I’m deeply interested in; Asperger’s, Mental Illness, Radio, American Politics and (oddly) Relationships.

It’s cumbersome for those listening, when I explain every facet of Asperger’s in Women, and then expect the same people with low-to-no interest in the “disorder” to follow.

I have compiled a list of easy tips to make socializing a much smoother process. They work for me, and I hope they work for you:

  •  Don’t talk about your special interests unless specifically asked – even then, keep it brief and on a “beginner” basis. People will probably only ask to be polite, not out of actual interest. Unless they push for more information on the topic, don’t offer it.
  • The golden rule I have learnt is that people love to speak about themselves, and where I find it irksome, they find it seemingly soothing. Therefore, ask more questions than you answer. You may be surprised and hear something actually interesting. It’s rare, but it happens.
  • I have poor emotional control, and when I feel anxious, I shift that energy to appear wildly excited rather than completely terrified. This is especially prevalent in meeting new people. Don’t be friendly to everyone as soon as you meet them. I’ve found people often don’t like or trust someone who is overly excited and/or friendly upon first meeting.
  • Keep your most honest opinions to yourself if they aren’t asked for. Say your friend is dressed in a colour you despise, it is imperative for smooth relations that you do not tell them. It’ll only lead to confusion and offense, and who is “normal” that loathes the colour yellow anyway, hmm?
  • Avoid the urge to be by yourself at social events. This one is tricky. Whenever I’m out with my friends, I often yearn to sit alone and enjoy a beer in my own company. I have found it’s okay to step out, especially if your with people that understand that you need time, but it’s never okay to spend the whole duration of the event away from your colleagues/friends/partner. I find 20-30 minutes in and 10 minutes out an okay balance. Before you know it, it’ll be time to leave.

 

I’d love to read your ideas on little “tips” to make socializing easier, feel free to comment and I will compile them into a nice, long, helpful list.

 

Autism: “Is This Normal” Test.

Everything in my mind runs through, what I like to call, the “is this normal” test. I apply it to the way people act towards me, and I towards them.

Scenario 1: A man is shaking my hand.
Okay, is this normal?
Yes. I don’t like it,  but this is how humans often greet.

Scenario 2: A woman is hugging me upon greeting.
Okay, is this normal?
Yes. I don’t like it, but women often hug other women.

Scenario 3: I just extended my hand to shake that of a young child.
Okay, is this normal?
No. That’s weird because it’s too formal for a kid.

This test works super well for me 99% of the time, but sometimes..

..things get more complex

Scenario 4: A drunk man I have never met has kissed me on the forehead.
Okay, is this normal?
I don’t know. I don’t like it.
Yes, but is this normal?
Is it? This is YOUR job brain, figure it out. I feel uncomfortable.
I understand that, but is this normal?
I’ve never been in this situation before.  I want to push him away.
Mmm, but is this normal?

This conversation goes on in the space of a second or two, and by the time I’ve thrown it up and around in my head, the situation’s over.  I still don’t know the correct answer to the question. Would he be offended? Is it inappropriate to yell at someone in public? Would I be being rude? Am I over-reacting? Is this friendly? Why is this happening?

The constant analysis is exhausting. It’s times like these I just want to give up on trying to be normal and stay away from people. I still don’t know what I should’ve done, and I miss the days of my parents telling me the right way to act.

Autism and Anxiety: Jobs

I talked about this in my previous post, but I want to expand, because I’m starting a new job today.
Once more, a job that lies outside my strengths.
Customer service in a commercial cafe setting is the best descriptor I can think of for my newest role.

That’s right, your endearing writer will put on some apron strings and make lattes for a living.

The first issue is, it’s going to be a change from any other job I’ve had. A slight change, I’m sure, but still different. I hate that.
I feel like it is going to be a nearly impossible challenge to adapt to this new environment.
I was told to just “do my best and relax.”, which is fair. A lot of people feel a little bit of anxiety before starting a new job, but they also feel a little bit of excitement too.

I feel no excitement. I feel dread.

Let’s be honest, how on Earth can I perform to the best of my abilities when my abilities are not suited for said role? I’m so eager to please, and I know almost for a fact I’ll let myself and my employer down eventually.

I say eventually because I still have hope I can perform in this job, for a time.
Whether that time be the first hour or the first month, I don’t know.
Eventually, however, under stress or exhaustion or an overload of any sorts, my coping will cease and I will feel absolutely overwhelmed. From there, regardless of setting, I end up often withdrawing completely from the situation or, the less common alternative, crying and throwing a tantrum like a child – neither of which are really beneficial for long-term employment. It makes me feel ashamed and embarrassed to go down either route, and those words aren’t even strong enough to convey the true depth and intensity of those emotions.

Tantrums are for toddlers, not adults.

You may be wondering why the heck I’d apply for a job that is so far out of my comfort zone.
Fun fact: I didn’t. I was referred by my previous boss.

Which is, of course, utterly confusing.
Why would he tell his friend I would be great to hire? Pity? Kindness? An ulterior motive?? I’ll never understand.
The way I see it, if I was exceptional at my previous job, wouldn’t I still be employed there?

What do you think? Is there a way I can convey the whole “no, sorry, thank you for the offer, but I would much rather not be employed here because I simply loathe the thought of it and I have been unable to sleep and am steps away from melting down because I have NO TRAINING FOR THIS ROLE AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT CONSISTS OF EXACTLY AND I HAVE NOT WORKED IN THIS SETTING AND THIS IS AN UNNECESSARY STRESSOR IN MY LIFE AND I’M REALLY UNSURE ON HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW SO THANKS BUT NO THANKS”, without sounding loony?

No?

Huh, I didn’t think so either.

Would it be out of line to turn down this job? I need money, I need to improve my socializing and coping skills, I need to do many things to make my life easier in the long term. Will this be beneficial or actually hinder my growth as a person?

My head is spinning with what if’s and could be’s. I know I need to be mindful and meditate on this, and center myself.
But it’s really, really stressful and hard to mentally prepare myself for a big change.

Why can’t I just be less inept. I’m sick of these most basic short-comings and failures. I’m also sick of my own negativism, it’s sort of pathetic to let the fear of the outside world affect my inside world. I like them being separate more often than not.

Oh well, T-minus one hour and two minutes until a new chapter in my life begins.

Joy.

 

 

Coping with Diagnosis: Autism

I’ve been struggling to come to grips with my diagnosis, since it’s such a connotative, controversial, and a confusing topic.

It’s not like I’m ill or dying – just a good ol’ life-long disorder that comes with being born neurodivergent (read: totally weird).

Hell, maybe one or two of you who stumble across this will blame my pro-vax parents.

You know where we’re heading.
Autism Spectrum Disorder, specifically for yours truly, Asperger’s.

I love the sound of the penny dropping. But who would’ve thunk it?

Females are far less likely to get diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome due to the fact they’re better at masking their autistic traits, and ASD has always been seen as a “boys” disorder.

Ultimately, I don’t really know what to think or how to process this. It’s more so like my life will continue on the same unsupported, misguided path it has already taken – but I’m getting really sick and tired of struggling on my own.

I haven’t been able to retain a job because of, what I’m told is, my seemingly awkward, aloof, and (when I magically break from appearing so aloof) anxious nature.
2 jobs. 3 months.
Keep up the good work (or lack thereof), me.
Truly, it’s not that I don’t care nor try – it’s just that I can’t perform to the best of my abilities when I have to multi-task. How can you expect someone with Asperger’s to get it socially right 100% of the time, master hand-eye coordination, follow recipes, process all senses, serve customers and listen to/respond to co-workers conversations? This is all done either simultaneously or with a very quick switch between tasks. Safe to say, I screwed up. A lot.

It didn’t help how LOUD it was either! The smashing of pots and pans together, echoing through the store – I would be on the brink of tears every shift. I still slightly wince remembering it. I really hate loud noises when I’m sober.
I would often end up crying before and after work, terrified of fronting another day full of bangs and crashes and stupid mistakes.. Oh, and those dreadful powdery blue ” food safety” gloves! My hands will never forgive me.
Eventually, my boss told me I had to focus more and try harder, since I always seemed “out of it” (note: zoning out is how some deal with sensory overloads, not intentional)
Overall, I explained to her that I could perform much better in coping with all internal issues the workplace was creating as long as I wasn’t involved in the general “chit-chat” with other staff.

Alas, instead of my boss understanding and accommodating my small request, I was given the flick. Joy.

Then there’s the social aspect of all this. I have many acquaintances, all of which I catch up with for the sole purpose of filling my personally allotted “socializing” time in my routine. I need to spend a minimum hour a day with company, or I feel like I’ve wasted the day. If I miss a day, the next day would have to be two hours.
Unfortunately, much of my time is spent drinking alcohol to relax with company and disinhibit the conversation. I find people discuss really boring, safe, lighthearted matters when they’re sober or sense the emotional disconnect between them and I.
I don’t care for conversation that’s gossipy or light, and I’ve been told that some feel I’m too intense and personal. To hell with that, how can you be too intense? How can one connect genuinely, if they do not not mimic the necessary environment for genuine connection? I guess small talk is a dance I’ll always be a step out of beat to. However, I’d rather set up all the catalysts for close friendship and play my part in it taking off than twiddle my thumbs and hope for the best.

Aloof to some, intense to others – how can you be both? I guess when you’re world is black and white, it’s easy to be a wee bit polarizing.

It shouldn’t be this difficult, but I feel I also shouldn’t be so misunderstood.

But I guess that’s why I’m writing this post.

 

I’ve always felt different, and now it’s confirmed. Hopefully I get more support in coping with this adult world because everyone who knows me knows I’m sort of taking two steps back every time I try to step forward. It’s nice to fit into a box, after feeling so out of step for so long. My whole life has been leading to this diagnosis, and even after writing this whole post I still don’t really know how I feel.

Haha. Classic.

 

The Callous of Man.

They scorn, “How could you let him break you?”

“Why tell me I have broke?”

On rolling tears,
I choke,
“Why not say I’m untouchable,
irreverent

to the callous of man?
Why say I am broken,
when there is so much
I still can?


Tell me I’m still lovable,
and that my love isn’t all a lie.
Tell me I’m still lovable,
so this pain may pass me by.
If I could let him go,
I would’ve from the start.

Now
it’s much too late,
and tonight,
our final part.
Do not think I’m broken,
although I weep these tears.
Pray I’m still lovable,

as I’ve loved you all these years.”

 

-e.a.

 

Winter 2016.

You snore so
softly
so gently
like the wintery breeze
that stirs
stoic trees

I never thought
I’d write a poem
for you.

-e.a.

 

Two Years.

I have backspaced and retyped this dozens of times, so here we go.

A reader asked me to write “one more post”, about how I feel now compared to my first post, considering it’s been over two years since then.

Well stranger, let me give you some background on my first post (you can see my first post, here!). My first post was about a teacher at my school. He showed me a TED talk by Joshua Foer (check it out) on memory – one of the techniques discussed was building a “Memory Palace”. Said teacher helped me build it. Doesn’t sound too bad, eh? However, this useful memory trick became an emotionally charged mess due to the events that would transpire during the brief and sobering time we shared.

ANYWAY, enough about that!

I don’t see myself scampering in the dark anymore, terrified and alone.
When I enter, the air itself is thick and stale. I’m so indifferent, I can see the curtains have been pushed apart and feel the sun flooding every room.
I derive from the order of dwelling in the run-down apartment, instead I’m throwing open windows, picking up clutter and wiping down surfaces as I go. I can relish the gentle cool breeze rolling in from the outside. The place needed loving, and I finally have love to give. I’m finally giving that love to myself, and to my partner.
In being kinder to myself, my mind makes me kinder to the little apartment. It was my home, just like you were.
But things are different, and I’m over that now. For the first time in my life, I’m actually okay.

I’ll probably go back there every now and then. Hell, I can see me swingingby in years to come. But it doesn’t hurt to be there, and I’m happier living life outside my memories.

I can finally say I hope you are well, wherever you are – because I’m certainly better than worse, for better or worse.

-e.a

Balloons

we buy balloons

we let them go

-e.a.

Spitting Rain.

The fire hisses,
spits 
and
burns

     It’s all too bright.
A passion battling
to stay alight –
crackle snap
the fire roared
“Is it?”
He called, through the smokey core
“Is it?”
heart beating

                 shallow breathing

                                  waiting

for downpour.

-e.a.