How I come across…

If you were to meet me, I have nothing physically about me that would indicate I am not your run of the mill, ordinary woman from down the street. In a way, it would be easier if I had some sort of obvious marker of being different.

I’ve learned how to play the game of fitting in. Or more how to sit on the fence and join in occassionally. It is very hard to describe the nuanced and shaded hues of difference I feel and experience. So I resort to examples, similies and the like. And I’m a fringe dweller.

As much as I try to hide my development delays, my 10yo self will inevitably come out to play. I cannot go a day with full normality and maturity. Something will pop out of my highly polished public face and cause a puzzled look on someone’s face. My neighbour won’t let her children associate with mine because I show a distinct lack of authority – simply because I actually talk to children at their level. On my knees and one to one. I play out the back with them and make scary faces with them. In many ways, I am still a child. And will always be.

I don’t know what you’ll see because I have a brain achingly difficult time trying to see and understand what you see and understand. On paper, I come across as reasonably intelligent, team playing and just another woman. People see me and don’t quite match me with the image they imagined on paper. Something about me gives me away as being not quite right. I have NO idea what that is. No one will tell me.

I have to guess by researching others like me. If I watch the guys at work who I suspect have autism (Asperger’s etc), I can see they come across as loner types, very clever about the product we sell and service (obsessively so) and have slightly off beat manners that cause discomfort in others. I can see they all try to hide their less favourable side, to varying degrees of success.

I think that is how I seem to others. It matters less now, especially as I am no longer affected by the need to reproduce. I am not interested in fitting enough to play pretend that I am a semi hot chick. I am fitting in enough to keep the job I love. That is all.

The hard part is knowing what others think. It matters only to the degree that I use external markers to gauge if a person feels safe to be me around, or whether I am going to have to go full incognito the entire time in the person’s presence. It is a matter of energy, at the end of the day. I have a finite amount of energy and I constantly play the priority line up in my brain. If I have little energy and I have to be with stalwart norms, then I have to plan my day differently. But none of this gets seen. You might see a slightly cranky me, or my artificial smile and think that is me. Noooo! Sorry! That is my heavy battle armour. Inside is a scared, hard working 10yo tomboy girl swearing at you and imagining a different world where you don’t exist.

I want to play each day. Life to be about the beat of my drum. But I’m not to let you see that. It is anti social, strange, wrong! Irresponsible! My mother cannot tolerate my immature side. I am constantly reminded I am supposed to be a prim Victorian era female. I cannot be me at home!! The only time I can be me and not worry about others’ responses is when I am alone. All alone. I don’t have to worry about feeling safe or judged. So, I prefer to not be seen or be around others.

In fact, only then does this post become superfluous! And that is the most freeing of all. Not worrying about how I come across to anyone.

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Love. Or some thing like that.

Obviously, today’s post is about love. I’m not sure I understand that ideal of love that others sing songs about and sets 1000 ships to sack Troy over. I’ve been told by everyone, but H, that my version of love is:

*obsessive

*wrong

*childish

*immature

*misconstrued

*uncaring

*selfish, and

*not love.

I am writing primarily about romantic feelings here. But my love is pretty much the same for anyone; only sex isn’t included. That is the only difference.

I feel I have this big ball of goo that is annoyingly sticky and a mix of various colours and of no real use. It is a symbolic notion of what my current understanding of love is. In essence, I no longer know. If I think about it, it gives me the same sigh I give having to deal with that ball of goo. I don’t want to know about it, yet here it is; these weird, messy feelings on my lap.

No relationship I’ve had with men has been mutually loving, respectful and about being the best person we can be. I’ve left each one wondering why I am so wrong and deserved to be hit, sworn at and treated like a one night stand gone wrong. I gave my all to each. But it was never enough, not right or treated with contempt.

Some say I’ve picked the wrong guy. Maybe?? But I think it is my version of love isn’t compatible with theirs. And they realised I wasn’t a normal bit of arm candy. I have a brain that must be fed. My kids’ dad said no man could ever be what I am looking for; such a guy cannot possibly exist. He must, cos I exist and he’ll understand my love. He’ll give me the same love back.

So, perhaps I do love and want to experience my sort of love from another. I cannot settle for ANY man who does not have his eyes shine when I am about. Am I deserving of this? All the others have indicated no, by their behaviour and words. I struggle to see value in myself to allow that love in. It may not be love that I do not understand, but my right to experience it back at me that I am mixed up about?

I know no man has understood where I come from. But there HAS to be one like me. One who will mesh with me. Right??!

It is scary to have to put a part of me away to be with a man. I’ve only just started claiming who I am! I cannot do it any more. Hiding me, I mean. I MUST be quirky, offbeat and slightly eccentric. It is me. And there must be a man who understands and values that.

As you can tell from my writing today, I am extremely mixed up about what I want, what I understand and what I’m meant to do. I am so tired of what I have to give being wrong, not enough and/or not appropriate. I feel like The Ugly Duckling who cannot find a home. Part of me prays deeply to be able to find a home in a union with a man. Part of me screams at me to run far away and keep my 10m fence around me at all times.

Too much for my poor soul to contemplate today. All this started because I felt a HUGE desire to blow raspberries on my secret crush’s stomach as he lay under my truck. Plus I got to see parts of him that made me blush. My very lucky day.

Itchy skin

Noooo! Not literally skin that causes me to itch myself, but that feeling of being very restless, uncomfortable and trapped in my humanness. It happens now and then. I pace pointlessly, cannot find comfort in anything, want to trash the inside of my brain and every bloody muscle is over tight.

I kind of knew this was coming. Long days in the heat at work where the pace does not ease up, and a lack of water because I sweat more than I can replenish. Add to this a temporary change in management while our supervisor is on holiday and a cranky teen about to go back to school – and I’m itching for an excuse to release my toxic energy.

The gym is my usual energy dumping ground. But I hate hurting my body to exorcise that feeling. I get a trashing from work, so I try to now keep the gym as simply strength maintenance. And it is hard to constantly match my angry weight sessions when I am calmer. The gym IS a mind game, you know!

I used to just take off. Walk. Randomly and wander where I felt like it. It cleared my head and got me balanced again. Our workshop is huge, so I walk quite a few km each day, so the enjoyment of walking is gone.

Life is at a stage where I need to reframe what I do and why. I am finally able to see the need to work, however vaguely, toward a future. Itchy skin syndrome tends to derail me a bit, BUT it is akin to a monsoonal storm. I need that energy to make revoltionary changes from within. It is a dangerous time, in a way, because I used to make rash choices during these episodes. Not so much any more. I have my boys to consider and my hormones are letting me down like a slowly deflating ballooon. I feel less desire to act rashly, as a result. Good ole hormones!

Preventing these sorts of itchy feelings is my goal. When I’m like this, I’m considered annoying to others. My selfishness becomes centre stage and I try to, subconsciously, off load the energy wherever I can. Not the most social thing to do. I cannot do more than ride it out once the itchiness has started, but I can control the lead up to it. To a degree. This is one of the benefits of ‘thinking too much’ or over analysing what doesn’t need to be analysed. Sorry, good folks, but it helps you to help me to be me. If I think about what factors lead up to me getting itchy, then I have some form of control over how I feel.

So, note to self, stick to my minimum of 3lt of water a day on hot days. Don’t smash my efforts in the gym so often. Allow myself to flop after work, if I need to. Don’t let gluten slip back in to my diet. Don’t open my mouth when I feel itchiness starting.

The bliss! Ah, the bliss!

One of the best things about autism, and this is agreed upon by H, is our ability to know transcendent joy. Absolute bliss. The sort that happens when we are not on any substance or poisoned with toxic foods or beverages.

It is pretty much beyond the ability of words to describe. No sex, alcohol, drug or item that can be bought has ever replicated it. It is singular, insular and radiates every cell.

I cannot tell you what will bring it on. It happens when it happens. Oh…sorry! There is one thing I know will bring this joy without fail. Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti. Just his version. That bliss. But other than that I cannot know what will bring this state until I’m in it.

Because simple, random, free things elicit this feeling, it spurs me on to seek out new spaces and places it might exist.

I am incredibly fortunate that H occassionally shares this feeling over somethings we see or hear or feel or do together. We look at each other with complete understanding when D does some comical thing that he has no idea is genius! D is so precious to H and I. D brings utter bliss – at moments.

There is a road just outside Klungkung in eastern Bali that has a steep incline. I first saw it on a public bus to Padangbai. It took my breath away. The most dainty 70s painting in vogue at the time of Balinese landscapes had come to life. I SAW what the artist was seeing. I smelled the painting. It made complete sense and I do not know why. Even 20 years later, that image still stops my breath. No other vista has ever done the same. And I’ve been to Siberia in the snow! And seen the Gobi desert as the sun rose! And watched a fog lift over the Otway Ranges in early March!

Going to the Andy Warhol exhibition 2 years ago was a heart stopping feast of soul wiping explosion. I wore myself out with emotion. I could not speak for days. Not so much Andy’s newest work from 1973 onwards, but his early drawings and illustrations and dabbles in pop art. All of it had the Andy hallmark. Weirdly, he hecame popular after he wiped that away and regurgitated iconic symbols to the American white wash public. With four lines, early Andy made a picture-symbol that spoke more about his inner work than his complete compendium in the Studio days. A simple shoe. But what a shoe!! His cats. His butterflies! Andy, why did you sell out?! Boo hoo. Anyway, I was extremely priveleged to have seen that work in the flesh. Still get goosebumps….

That one time H looked at me with bliss. He looked into my soul in the way all mothers hope their poor autistic children will eventually, with bucket loads of behavioural therapy, prayers and treat-led manipulation. Sorry, darling, but will rarely happen. D has never done it, though he longs to. I long to, but cannot. That is how I know H’s one time was legit. He was 11 mths old and was standing on the bed head that faced the window. We were living in Bedok, Singapore, and a monsoonal thunderstorm was blasting. The hot wind blew our lace curtain up at H and he saw the sky. When he looked up at me, I knew he was a kindred soul. We both love humid, overcast days with the most violent thunderstorms. We come alive and feel grounded. We chat through it all and share our favourite ice cream as we float through the storm. I saw that bliss in H’s face for that entire 15 seconds. One time only, but I knew it.

D gets his bliss from food. He adores certain food. A well cooked steak is his joy. His eyes roll to the heavens.

When I think about it, I do get joy from a lot of little things. A piece of smooth ceramic tile, the light reflecting from objects, the sound of a bird talking to its babies. It is there, but ordinary life wears me down so much that I lose touch with this part of myself. I cannot time myself to feel bliss from 4.15pm Friday til 7.30am Monday only. I need to seek it out now and then when I need to. Not before. Not after. Not to someone else’s time table.

What brings you indescribable bliss?

Things I need help with.

My autism diagnosis placed me at Level One. That means I need a guiding hand with somethings. Not full time support or ongoing carer’s help. Just a mentor or role model who might help me find ways of coping or setting things straight.

Knowing who is friend and who is foe has been a long, painful process to nut out. I am finally getting my person radar working. I have a better idea of who to trust (preferably no one) and when to leave friendships etc (preferably sooner). I have a very small circle of people I trust to not hurt me with malice, but can hurt me with truth. So, in fact, I may not have refined my people-radar skills, but learned how to cull people more efficiently. The finesse of friendships is something I still need help with. I klutz my way through all but 3 friendships – all females around my age.

Another thing is freaking physical coordination. Another guy at work watched me try hard to coordinate a spanner in a confined space and a 3/4 inch rattle gun (4.5kg at least) in my other hand on a weird angle at the back of a truck under a turn table. The job took twice as long. Mind you, this guy cannot string a written sentence together and has immense trouble with spelling. He is gifted with strength AND phyiscal coordination, as I am much more gifted in writing. I told him that I have trouble as he has trouble with writing. I asked him how he’d feel if I said writing and grammar are simple to acquire. He replied that he’d tell me to f**king send that shit where the sun don’t shine. So….does it mean that him telling me how he’d do my job is equally as welcome? I wish they’d work with what I have, not what they wish I’d have. I require thinking about jobs in different ways. I am smaller, not as strong as him and my wrist strength is half his. Add to that my spatial difficulties, I am not keen on his sort of help. People who can make instruction manuals and cheat sheets on anything physical, helps me immensely. These sorts of help work for me because all kinds of ‘stupid’ are accounted for. A Dummies book, if you will. Until I get the swing of it, at least!

Simple lists are a burden to my brain. Those lists teachers use for autistic children in schools to show the order of the day’s lessons are a god send to me. On my days off, I use a priority list. I need to. Otherwise nothing gets done. I get lost in my mind and follow the wind! I like structure and routine. Free time is actually painful for me. Especially if I HAVE to have something to show for it. I have lists for shopping, bills, upcoming expenses, budget, a calender to write all my appointments on and to write my kids’ birthdates on. Don’t ask me how old they are!! I have to use a list on services at work. I have to note down essential information. I must do things by the book. It annoys others, but helps me know I’m on track.

I also need to know if I am doing ok, or not.

Rehearsing conversations

As you may gather, I spend more time than most living in my head. Part of my time there is rehashing the day and having the time to pick up on errors in my judgement of another’s emotions or response, finding faux pas I may have made and not realised, going over conversations I had with others and running it by my internal virus detector.

I also rehearse possible conversations. If I know I am about to talk to someone, I’ll play act some scenes in my head. I had no idea I even did this til my last psych picked up on it. It is my way of seeming fluent in interpersonal communications, especially with acquaintances. It helps deflect attention away from my part time mutism and my gumby way of speaking. I write significantly better than I speak. If tired or nervous, I slur my words and become almost dyslexic in my pronounciation. My ps and bs get mixed up and I stumble over syllables. If I reherse conversations quickly in my head, I’m half way there. I can reel out some responses that seem credible, but mildly awkward.

I learn languages this way too. I practice saying things in my head to help my mouth form the sound eventually. I had to practice saying ngantuk in my head for 6 mths before I was game to try saying it out aloud. I absolutely loathe people insisting I try to say words straight after they say them. I freak out and get anxious. I have to hear it enough for my brain to know it and to the go through its manifestations for my mouth to finally comprehend sound and action required to make that word. To make it easier, seeing the word written speeds up the process.

If I have to make a phone call, I reherse the greeting, who I wish to speak to, who I am and what it is about. I never answer my phone to phone calls unless it is a life/death emergency, one of my children calling or… that is it. People who know me know to call only if it is life or death. Otherwise I do not answer. If it is work, I will ring back but only after I have figured out what I am to say.

I often grit my teeth and my upper body muscles contract if I speak with someone I don’t know well, or I am not particularly fond of. This is because I am not sure if I am going to be misunderstood, I am going to make lots of verbal gaffes, or something will be asked of me that I am not given time for contemplation.

Writing is better because I force my brain to slow down and make each letter of each word. So there is more congruity between my brain and what you read/hear. With speaking, fluency in conversation is expected; otherwise one is labelled slow. People get bored of having to wait for me to form a verbose, but more accurate response.

I have ease of verbal conversation with H. He is the only one. My mother gets diatribes from me because she allows NO room for reflection. So, when I have finally formulated a verbal response, I blurt it all out. Because I have heavily rehearsed it all! With D, neither of us speak much unless we need to. We adore silence and pragmatic speech.

With everyone else, I keep conversation to a minimum. It is too taxing to do more. It is very hard to explain this to the guys at work. They see me as verbally annoying and boring. How can I tell them why??!!

If the world were mine.

Please tell me you think this too! Imagining what your dream world would be like. The things you would do, the people you would hang with…

I keep making sit-coms in my head. When I meet people and I get to know them, I place them in my current scenario. I’d love to write a sit-com, Aussie style humour of course, and bring it to life. I’d get involved in the casting and the editing. I know nothing of either, but I know what I want the finished product to be. The only one I’d trust to bring it to life is Paul Fenech, of Fat Pizza and Housos fame. His style of comedy is very much like mine. He gets the casting right too. So, yes, I’d love to make a fly-on-the-wall tv show about mechanic life. My work place is incredibly rich with subject matter. Everyone I work with becomes a character in my show. I even play little scenarios in my head and giggle alone at the scene.

There is Furiosa in the latest Mad Max film. Whilst the film was an absolute snore for me and all the characters insipidly bland, I found myself upset that I’d love to play an action role in a fast paced, kick arse film, but it won’t happen. Why put Charlise in that role??? I coild have done it!! I love Xena, the Warrior Princess, and a role like that would be brilliant! My acting attempts have been extras in ads and a few local tv dramas, and admittedly, it was bat shit boring. I haven’t that screen presence on a consistent basis.

I want to join the old Top Gear crew. I want to chat with James May about the qualities of the latest Jags, banter with Jezza about practical jokes and his horrid dress sense, and race Hammond in US muscle cars. Cruising through Italy in supercars and touring Patagonia in cheap wrecks are my thing. Well, I think they are. I haven’t actually done it yet…

I’d love to go with Bettany Hughes to Crete and Mycenae (sp?) and learn all about the Minoans and the Spartans. I’d have to eat all the local foods too. Then I’d touch the abs and quads of some of the Spartan sculptures. If such men existed…they’d probably be homosexual… but still fabulous eye candy.

My imaginary world is SO much better than my real life. It feels reality is too bogged down in so many limitations. I am constantly having to burst H’s marvellous “Mum, what if…?”. He wants to know why life is so grounded, so limited, so mediocre. I’m not sure. Even D thinks his mind is so much more exciting than what he faces each day.

I can see the appeal of the online gaming world. It is the closest thing to our minds and imagination meshing with this reality thing. But like in the book/film of Shirley Valentine, most times, what we imagine never feels as good in reality.

So, my sit-com idea will be a private source of amusement, I shall watch Bettany tour the Greek countryside via Youtube and laugh at the umpteenth time at Jeremy making his way through Vietnam on a Vespa.

What are your moments you wish could come true?