May 24, 2013

Letters from the past

The easiest way to express myself is to freewrite about the things that are on my mind. Something about forcing myself into a linear progression of thoughts makes things simpler to process. I sometimes do this very strictly, obliging myself to resist going back to rearrange the order and grammar of my sentences or even using the backspace key, and other times I just take advantage of the fact that retracting statements in a word processor becomes a conscious action rather than a minor shift of wind in my stormy mind.

It has to be typed, not written, or I will obsess over the forms of the letters and/or my thoughts will shift three times for every thought I manage to record. Ironic, isn't it, that the logorrhea I can put into typing winds up being more coherent than the slow, thought-out version? Physical writing is just too low-bandwidth. I can always go back and delete or rearrange sections of a typed freewrite for sense, but on paper I have limited room for editing and have to recreate the parts of my mindstate that never made it to paper in the first place.

I used to post some of these externalized internal monologues to my blog, prettied up a bit for coherency, in some secret hopes that the people who actually needed to hear these things would find them. I dreamed that someone would look through my scattered thoughts, understand me better than I understood myself, explain to me who I was and why. (Getting diagnosed with ADHD non-hyperactivity did that a little bit, but no one would really talk to me about what that meant other than "Take these pills and you'll be less distracted". Now that someone has actually fulfilled my dream and pronounced my identity as rooted in mild Aspergers, I'm more hysterically confused than ever. Go figure.) I used to do the same thing with physical journals, hoping that someone would take the time to decode my silly little ciphers.

Maybe I'm still doing that, just a little bit.

But as far as I know, they never did. Maybe they were respecting my privacy. Maybe they just didn't know about the blogs and forums I belonged to. Maybe the ciphers were a genuinely effective obfuscation measure. Maybe, and this is a new realization for me, they felt like they already knew me. Maybe they simply didn't feel the need to seek out extra information. If the majority of people do have extra mysterious powers in cognitive empathy and theory of mind that I don't, what they detected from it might have been enough, or 'seemed' enough, to form an opinion. I've observed that my parents, for one, do seem to form strong opinions of others much more readily than I do. Maybe it's not actually as aberrant a habit as I believed it to be. I, on the other hand, seek out concrete information. When I first began to really notice people and their effects on my life, I became a detective. I nose through people's files. I peruse their internet presence. I started keeping written profiles of people's interests, likes and dislikes. I spent most of my time with my first boyfriend repetitively asking questions to comprehend his perspective on life and his interest in me.

Anyways, posting things to the public reminds me to be at least a little bit coherent. And explaining things out loud in general helps me explain things to myself. So excuse me if I go on an asperger's track for a while as I'm figuring things out. I'll probably delete most of these posts at the end of my rumination period as I did before.

I'm rereading rather 'feely' freewrite I made at the end of September 2012. I'd tasked myself with writing periodic free-writes so the words would stop exploding in my head and causing... well, causing meltdowns.
The thing about me and my parents
When I am yelled at, I feel unwanted. When confronted with individual infractions like forgetting to take in the trash or empty the dishwasher, I am not always sure how to correct what I'm doing wrong. I perceive a larger pattern in these, rightly or wrongly, where I am not making specific mistakes but being berated for making mistakes at all. And I feel hurt and frustrated, like nothing I do matters because there will always be a fault to find in it.
I feel like there is something vital missing in our family interactions. Some element of warmth, togetherness. When I am teased, I feel as though there is always an adversarial if not outright hostile undercurrent to it. Does not teasing have to have a small seed of truth to be effective? I perceive resentment in offhand remarks about my absentmindedness and naivety, and it hurts.
There have been times when I have honestly not wanted to come home. I have approached the corner before our house and had to fight off an impulse to stop the car and sleep in the backseat or keep driving past to god knows where. I contemplate having to come inside with the turmoil written clearly on my face, mind ripe full of vivid scenarios of being judged for my weakness and belittled for sensitivity, and it only serves to upset me to a full-on-breakdown.
When my fear is realized, my moment of weakness noticed and brought to full scrutiny, I feel resentment. In the forced revelation of my shames, I can't help but feel a sharp and bitter contrast to how my minor troubles and personal triumphs are not so open. I can do whatever and it really makes no difference to anyone. It makes no difference whether I do something chore-like or not, because my parents will find something to berate me about one way or another. I already understand the material from class lectures and reading ahead, but no one really gives a shit about my homework difficulties until I'm failing my courses. They care about being inconvenienced, not about me. When I talk about atheism and lesswrong and crafts, I don't notice anyone sharing or supporting my enthusiasm. I feel as though I am shouting in an echo chamber, and it's unbearably lonely. The asymmetry feels like a monumental injustice, and I get so angry over it. Even admitting that makes me feel pathetic, like a 5-year-old whose whole world is crushed if their parents don't laud their painstakingly drawn scribbles in front of all their friends and coworkers.

1 comment:

  1. 1. I read and study your blog meticulously.

    2. Asperger's is associated with sensitivity, perfectionism, and meltdowns. To a large extent, your difficulties are a result of your condition rather than overt abuse. Of course, it is still quite possible that you've received abuse and been treated unfairly. But remember that Asperger's will bias you toward feeling that way.

    3. By your parents, I am not sure if you are referring to your biological or step father (certainly, you are referring to your biological mother). Either way, remember that Asperger's, and its comorbidities, are highly heritable. Thus, whatever sensitivity, emotional instability, meltdowns, perfectionism, hyper-criticism, and lack of empathy you experience - your family members may also experience to lesser or greater degrees. This can create a vicious cycle between parents and children.

    4. You're an absolutely spectacular girl, and it breaks my heart to think that anyone ever took you for granted. I try to fully appreciate you every day. Every day with you is a gift to me.

    5. When people don't appreciate you, or your interests (atheism, less wrong, crafts), the solution is to find new friends. Focusing on, or criticizing, people who don't share your philosophy will mostly be a waste of time. You have already found a circle of friends who share most all of your interests, and celebrate them, and celebrate you. Savor those friends, and make new ones (perhaps in San Francisco). Appreciate your family and friends for who they are, without trying to change them, and realize that they will (likely) never fully appreciate your own interests. That's ok. You can still share your love and affection for each other, and the common interests that you *do* have.

    6. There is nothing pathetic about you. You're razor sharp, uncannily unique, charming and adorable, sweet and helpful. You don't hesitate to correct me one moment, and spontaneously clean the entire apartment the next. At best, your critics could say that you have some issues with perfectionism and school avoidance. My goal, with all of your friends, is to create the environment where you feel nurtured and supported enough to give your amazing gifts and talents to the world without too much trepidation.

    7. I kept Word documents with lists of facts and preferences for the major friends in my life, too, especially girlfriends. I know weird, subtle, long forgotten details about all of them. I thought I was being sweet; they thought I was being a stalker.

    8. You're a shockingly good writer for your age and experience. I absolutely agree: your ideas come out more clearly and expressively when you type. Aspies love computers.


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