Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2016

The Aspie Guide to Dealing With Christmas

How can you make people see how stressed you are by Christmas? Does it seem impossible? Can you not break through their glittered hides? Are they too caught up in the sociable season to even listen as you speak?

If you are stressed out by Christmas, or even the thought of Christmas, here is the simple route to making sure everyone knows how you feel.


Explaining this to people They listen, their heads nod, most likely their eyes glaze over but then hope swells in your heart as their spoken words seem to reflect what you just said to them. They understand! ...and then they behave exactly as before and expect you to also behave yourself (not as you have before) and be a full participant in Christmas. Damn! When will you learn to communicate better? (cough) Using pictures and diagrams to explain this to people This feels like it should work. I mean, if they can't understand the spoken word then surely that means they are visual learners and will appreciate your carefully crafted/lovi…

Come, come, come, it's Christmas! or Not.

We had a major success at the weekend. We managed to put up the Christmas tree with barely any fighting, I didn't end up crying on the sofa, there was no storming upstairs and past Christmases were only mentioned twice in a growling whisper.

Granted it's now 5 days later and I'm still surrounded by bags of unpacked lights and decorations, but the tree is up!

I love Christmas, I'm horribly Christmassy, but still I haven't been able to face going out into the garden to put the lights up, or decorate the house, or even the baby fir trees I bought a month ago which are sitting bare-ass naked on the windowsills.

It feels like an ache, to imagine doing these things, like I'm anticipating the pain of a cross-country run in the middle of February. I'm Putting It Off, hoping for a sudden rush of courage so I can gather it all up and do the rest of the decorating.

At the same time, those people who live in a more normal world are out there spending their own bodywei…

My step-father died

My stepfather died a couple of weeks ago. We hadn't seen each other for years and had a tumultuous relationship while he was married to my mother, then came to a meeting of minds when I was in my 20s. Since then he moved on, I moved on and we fully drifted. But still, a part of my life left this earth, taking with him his bad dad jokes as well as rows, clumsy step-parent conversations and someone who stuck up for me when I was bullied.

I felt like a fraud of a step-daughter when my sister told me he had died. He was my step-dad but she became my sister, an absolute rock in stormy waters. When she told me my first thought was for her, how devastated she must be. I was numb, so I assumed I didn't care enough to be upset.

That day I stayed in, and did nothing, and berated myself for doing nothing and staying in when I was fine. I didn't tell anyone he had died.

That evening I sat in a darkened living room and thought I must turn on the light. I turned it on then needed to le…

It's okay to be afraid

Little you at the doctor's office, ready to have your injection, or medicine or to be prodded, and you're told to be brave - always brave - or told after that you were very brave. It sticks eventually and you try to be brave when things scare you.
My little student said to me the other day that she was so afraid, she had to go into hospital and she was just too scared to have the injection. Her chest heaved as she tried to hold it all in. So I told her how the injection would feel, that it might hurt a little but was really, really quick and how it had to be done. I said, 'Don't I always tell you the truth?' (We've had conversations about fear before) and she agreed I did. I told her it was normal to be afraid but it had to be done and then it would be all finished. I realise now that I didn't tell her to be brave.
It doesn't have to be needles, or the dentist, or going past the dog down the road or into your friend's house for tea, or school, or a…

Blurting? Impulse control and Aspergers.

Today I had a small victory, one of many. I drove past the window cleaner at the end of the street without shouting 'Window Cleaner!' at him as I went past.

No, I don't usually shout this or anything else at him, it was just that today it was my first impulse. I saw him, he was up the ladder, cleaning the windows and there it was, the sudden impulse to shout to him.

It's as if there is a need to state the obvious, loudly, almost joyfully, so that seeing something or someone is all it takes for me to verbally state the fact I have seen them.

It feels like a natural expression too, not immediately something I should stop. I see it, I think it and at the same time I want to say it. And sometimes I do say it.

Aspies are well known for their brutal logic, seeing something and commenting on it, regardless of consequences. This isn't the same as unbridled blurting; it is the stating of logic, of a thought or a judgement. Shouting 'window cleaner' at the window cl…

Do you have to care?

All the times and years and days of wondering if you can feel okay and fit right in...does it really matter? How would it be if you didn't care?

Not the blustering kind of not caring where you put on your best face and hurry past; the other kind where you go past because you were already going that way and-just-don't-care.

Not caring, not worrying or stopping to look back and see if it was all right this time. Not climbing into the car with that relieved sigh you keep for when something is almost over and you are on your way home. Let's just get in the car and go home.

Not looking sideways, edgeways, round your nose, over the top of the glasses, from under the fringe, behind the phone, round the display, out of your coat hood. None of it, just going by and being there and doing whatever you came to do and

it not even occurring to you to care.

Not caring, not being careful around others, not watching your words or what you wear, not trying to be this because there is no ro…

The soft light of the quiet day

An empty room, a quiet house, an understanding that there is nothing to be done today, or tomorrow: that nothing can stretch out over as many days and weeks as I want.

The loveliness of being home, the joy of not having to be anywhere else. This is what freedom feels like.

There is no loneliness, only solitude. No knock at the door or grasping, grabbing world coming up in the street. The clock ticks, the hands turn, the light moves across the mirror.

Best would be a day of rain, gentle rain that takes all day to finish falling. The outside sheened through the glass and if I look close, the trees are blurred within it. The window, open enough to hear the rain without letting it in and the brief patters as the drops blow against the sill.

This is the sort of day that I want to last forever, the kind of peace I think of when I sit in traffic jams or wait for a student to do their work. Surrounded by the lives of others I yearn for my own, as if it also belonged to someone else.

We all k…

Being socially awkward

I have it down to a fine art, being socially awkward.

Mostly I cover this side with the role of Friendly Person. I'm sure some of you know this role. You change your face, your voice, even what you might talk about: you are Friendly.

This doesn't mean making new friends, it's just a way to get by, especially if small talk is involved.

I am a temporary Queen of Small Talk. My favourite is the weather because I like talking about the weather anyway. And if I also like the person wanting to talk small, I slot in other little subjects good for tiny chats.
Chitter-chatter when I am feeling on top of things is fine. I can do it, the pretence lasts long enough for me to be a Friendly Person. And then...
The times when the Friendly role won't fit. It's like waking up and being two clothes sizes bigger overnight. I get up, do what I always do, and it won't fit. The small talk that worked yesterday doesn't work today.
The words I normally use, sentences well-worked …

The bad days...

Some days it's so easy. I think to myself, Why do I ever think things are difficult? This is fine. If it's fine today, then it can be fine on every other day.

It's a kind of soft-focus logic where I judge each day to come by the one I'm living right now, as if it didn't matter how I was feeling or what was happening around me. Today I manage, therefore if tomorrow is much the same, I will also manage. Or even excel!

And then there's the yesterday I just had.

The sort of day where everything around me is normal, just as it should be. I have what I need, I set off in time for work, I walk there and that's a healthy, good-for-me act. Afterwards, I walk into town.

At some point in the middle of town I realised this was not the kind of day where soft-focus logic would help. Who cares what I managed on other days? Who cares how I felt then? Who on earth cares?

It was a long walk out of town, much longer than going in. On the way in I joked with a lady at the cro…

In celebration of oversharing

Oversharing is one of life's fundamental shortcuts: why spend weeks, months and years getting to know someone when you can find out most everything in the first half an hour? You don't have half an hour? Well, you'd be surprised (and pleased!) to discover how much can fit into a few minutes.

It's not confined to Aspergers but oversharing is definitely an aspie super-skill. It's the beautiful love-child of brutal honesty and naïve chit-chat. Springing up when there is a need or desire to be social, it exists most in aspies who have worked hard to be able to hold conversations with others.

You see, if you have to force yourself to talk to people then the difference between normal social chatter and deeper, more revealing words becomes very blurred. It's not that you want to share everything - and you had no plans to share anything when you opened your mouth - but once the words start it can be hard to stop.

If the conversation is about the weather then you talk …

I don't want to paint a rainbow

I don't want to paint a rainbow with my cartoon pot of instant paint, or pretend I skip when I trip. I don't want to be the one who, halfway through the door, falls back out. I don't want to check where I park my car three times because of the once I forgot

or check, check, check each time I visit because your house looks so much like the others

or feel my way along the fence outside because the one thing I do remember is how the metal pops out into a bobble shape where your gate begins.

I don't want to dance my way through the supermarket and smile happy faces at everyone as if it doesn't matter how my day is going. I don't want to make faces (but I do anyway).

I especially don't want to get the looks that tell me I'm talking with my hands without saying the words out loud.

I don't want the sympathy, the special look, the little smile that says I am being myself and you find it quaint. I might be quaint, I can't help that, but is it so strang…

Being Myself

I'm done. I'm not going to try to cover anymore, I'm tired of putting on my Normal Boots and walking out the door with a limp. I'm sick of not being myself for the whole of every day. That's it.

The way I act is the way I am and there's no more Little Miss Whatchulike. I won't go out of my way to be what I think people expect. Why should I?

I used to think I had to behave like a real live grown-up to keep the money coming in. Would people want the full me tutoring their children? Do I not have to keep up appearances talking to parents? Can I really leave the aspie door all the way open?

The answer is a simple one: there is no door. The aspieness is there all the time, sometimes hidden, sometimes parading in full view. I can see it clearly in others so why not let everyone see it in me?

I have seen some surprised faces lately. You see, I hadn't realised that my decision to be fully myself had already happened. I think it was sometime last week when I st…

Talking, talking, talking.

Ask me anything and you'll get an answer. It might not be the answer you wanted or expected, but you won't leave empty-handed. And it might be some time before you get to leave as well.

I don't have a 'shut-up' filter so someone asking me a question is like a green light. I answer whatever seems good at the time and after this verbal roll of the dice I carry on. And on. You asked, right? You wanted to know? That green light you gave me probably turned to red a while ago but I haven't noticed.

Neither have I noticed the change in your face and by the time I do, I'm so far into my explanation that I gloss over the wriggling worm of doubt and strive to bring you back into my answer. It's a good answer, you're going to like it! Just keep listening.

This is why I can be so good at interviews. Doesn't matter if I'm nervous or not, a question is all it takes to fire me up and set me off. Being on high alert in an interview means I do leave gaps fo…