I have to say, on days like today, I just lovewinter.
I am off work for this week (glory be!), and today was the day when my partner and I were going to go to her medical appointments. She’s changing doctors, and she needs to check in with a regular provider about a chronic condition she’s managing. Both offices are in the same building, so we planned to “bookend” them around a trip to the barber shop, which is just a mile or two away.
It was going to be so convenient — if dealing with doctors (old and new) can be called that.
To be honest, as logistically sensible as it seemed, I was dreading the trip. I hate dealing with doctors, and I hate getting my hair cut. Plus, I was tired, because I’ve had a surprisingly eventful vacation (thank you, Christmas shopping, cooking, presenting, and that danged flat tire), and I still haven’t recovered from it yet.
So, yeah, I cringed when I thought about doing the whole trip today. But it had to be done. Chronic conditions must be managed… or else. And since I have off work, it doesn’t throw my schedule into a tailspin, like it does when I’m in my workaday routine. So, it was suck it up time.
Just get on with it, already. Git ‘er dun.
Then it started to snow.
Just dumping on us, starting at 11:15 — like a starter gun went off, and all the flakes leaped into action. I looked out the window one minute, and there was no sign of snow. Next minute, I looked up, and it was a solid wall of white coming to earth.
More sinking feelings… because although I’m a great driver in the snow and I enjoy the challenge, it’s tricky with my partner, who has fallen several times on the ice and snow before. I always worry. And so does she. We really worry — and rightly so. The last thing we need, is for her to fall and injure herself. Again. She still hasn’t fully recovered from a fall she had about five years ago. It just makes everything harder.
Anyway, the snow was coming down so hard, we decided to call it a day. She called the doctors’ offices and rescheduled for Monday, which I also have off. Relief. Sweet relief. They’re not calling for any more snow for a while, after today, so that’s all good.
I went back to bed. And slept.
Now I’m up, having my afternoon sip of coffee and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some potato chips – my favorite comfort-food lunch. I’ve got a great view of the bird feeder from my vantage point — the chickadees and juncos are out, and the downy woodpecker is around, too.
The holidays are DONE. I survived in one piece. I’m not happy about having to do them each year, but the aftermath is deliciously calm. And I can actually relax for the first time in weeks and weeks. I can leisurely go about my business, in my own home, free of social interaction and pressures, relieved of the need to go out and deal.
Sweet, sweet relief.
Days like today… I don’t care if it stays this snowy and cold for months.
That’s a good thing, because there’s a chance it will 😉
I didn’t post anything yesterday, because the day was an extended whine-fest, and I got sick of “listening” to myself in my messages to friends who reached out to say “Hi”. Nothing dampens the mood of “Hi! How are you? I was just thinking of you,” like a reply that starts with “Ugh” and commences with whining about problems that some people would love to have.
Long story short, I had a flat tire on my minivan. And as it turned out, I was probably driving around with that steadily flattening tire for several days. I noticed the vehicle was handling strangely, and the steering seemed hard to handle. But did I think to check the front tires? Nope. Just kept driving. My partner and I are both lucky the tire didn’t blow out somewhere during Christmas shopping. So, that realization left me feeling pretty dense, to be honest.
I changed the tire — the van just has one of those “convenience” spare tires — a “donut” that’s the right dimensions to keep the vehicle running. But the donut was flat, too. As I lowered the jack, it kept getting flatter and flatter, which was about where my mood was.
We needed the van for today, which meant we had to get it fixed yesterday. For the record, most regular tire-service businesses are closed the Monday after a Sunday-Christmas. Additionally, all the world apparently has tire trouble that same day as you, which means things can be backed up by several hours, starting with the tow truck, and ending with the auto service center.
I had plans to spend yesterday resting and just catching up with myself and some reading. But I ended up chasing down who could help me with what… and then sitting around waiting for people to get back to me, when they were Not At All on time (which I hate with every fiber of my Aspie being). I figured I’d end up spending close to 20% of my savings (which is not much to have in the bank, in the first place — long story) on this car situation, and I’d also lose two days of rest and recovery from Christmas, what with all the coordination and scheduling. And none of that made me happy, because This Was My Week To Catch Up With Myself and spend a bit of time on some projects I haven’t been able to advance with, because my day-to-day is usually so busy.
I really just wanted to rest. Crawl up in a ball and weep for a few days. Get Christmas out of my system. Yes, it was lovely. Yes, I had a wonderful time. And Yes, I am completely DONE from the whole marathon experience. God help me.
The whole thing yesterday was pretty distressing, I must admit. What made it even worse, was feeling like I shouldn’t feel the way I do, and being hard on myself for being so brittle. That autistic echo-chamber got going, and it was like putting two loudspeakers across from each other — just an ever-increasing negative feedback.
At least yesterday ended. And I eventually did get a bit of a nap, although it pushed off my sleeping schedule more than I wanted it to be. But at least it’s over. And this morning, I found out that I won’t need 4 new tires – just the one, which was beyond repair. So, that’s actually really good. It spared my savings, and for that I’m grateful.
It was just pretty painful getting to that point.
Lessons learned, I suppose. I know where to get a tire fixed on the day after Christmas. And I think I actually did pretty well, dealing with everyone — although I cringed, every time I started to dial the phone. I kept my cool and disregarded the panic that welled in my gut, when I started to feel like I was losing the thread of discussion, or I was missing something they might have said. Soldier on… Soldier on… and I got it all done. And no animals were harmed in the process. Just my pride.
Today, I’ll go pick up the van, pay the man I talked to, and get on with my life of rare leisure. This week, at least, I have the leeway to screw up… and live to tell the tale. So it goes.
I can so relate to so much of this. Finding a pattern to focus on for a few minutes, till equilibrium returns… coming to life over things that fascinate me, then retreating back into awkward silence (never knowing if I’ve put others off with my sudden burst of uninhibited exuberance)… and wondering how everyone just does that, and enjoys it. I’m SO happy the holidays are soon behind me/us.
Winter is a time of events and social quandaries. This year I have been kinder to myself about ensuring I get some recovery time. It’s so important. Such a huge part of self-care.
At a party I’m often coping at my limits. I suddenly feel like I’m made of corners, I’m aware of every angle of my body and it’s all wrong. I stand, awkwardly, trying to make myself fit into the scene. I struggle to understand what people are saying to me.
Every once in a while conversation crosses into something I have an interest in, and I can feel this light come on behind my eyes. I speak, animatedly, about my passion. It isn’t about me fitting into the scene anymore, I shine out of it. I glow. I feel a part of it all.
The holidays can be incredibly stressful for autistic / Aspie folks.
Lights, busy-ness, action!
Many of us just want to crawl under the covers and hibernate… or curl up behind closed doors with a good book in a comfy chair with a warm blanket wrapped around us and a nice cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa… and re-emerge after the holidays are over. Of course, there are autistic / Aspie folks who really thrive on all the excitement — the hyposensitive, sensory-seeking folks on that part of the autism spectrum can find this time of year wonderfully invigorating. But there are an awful lot of us who just cringe at the very thought of HOLIDAYS! – and we cringe, all year ’round.
Between the family demands, the changes in schedule, the dietary challenges, the increased social demands at work and in your community, as well as the ever-present additional logistical demands of figuring out who wants what for a holiday gift, where you’ll buy it, where you’ll find the time to shop, how you’ll afford it, and then how and when you’ll wrap it and get it to them… it can be completely overwhelming for so many of us.
Kate’s Story: Both my boys have been diagnosed autistic and I’m fairly certain my husband and I are too. One issue we all have is that we get so caught up in what we are doing, that all of a sudden it’s 8 o’clock and time for bed. No one had even thought about eating dinner yet.
Your body may not give you the usual signals of thirst and hunger and you may be so obsessed with something else so eating and drinking regularly may be a challenge for you. Once you get started on a meal, your body may not tell you to stop at a reasonable portion. You might eat the whole pizza or turkey instead.
Research is now also revealing that some autistic women may be obsessed with diet and be at a greater risk for eating disorders like anorexia.
Both remembering to eat and drink and maintaining healthy portions can be compounded during the holidays and if you also have an eating disorder, the constant exposure to holiday foods can add to your obsessive tendencies.
Today, I was thinking about how sharing actually takes something away from me.
When I share something I love with all my heart, and the person I’m sharing with doesn’t get it — usually through no fault of their own — my experience of the thing(s) I love actually changes. The feeling I have for it is dulled, “dinged”. A little tarnished. That’s both from the other person not mirroring my ecstasy over esoterica, as well as a sense on my own part that I’ve failed somehow.
I’ve failed to convey my joy to them.
I’ve failed to show them just how and why something is worthy of ecstatic transport.
I’ve failed to connect with them in a way that does justice to my experience.
And that taints the experience for me. So, anytime I think again of that once-special thing, it’s not the same as it was before. It’s just not the same.
And a little more of the light in my life has been snuffed out. Things are less bright for me, than they were before.
And there’s nothing I can do to get it back.
So, I don’t share.
Not as often as others want me to, or I even want to. It’s just not worth the risk to me, the risk of loss, the risk of disappointment, the risk of embarrassment.
So, I keep to myself, and my joy is sheltered. It remains complete.
I’ve frequently heard “does not share” as a symptom or “tell” of autism/Aspergers.
Things like “An autistic child does not generally share observations or experiences with others” or “Healthy children share thoughts, ideas and knowing looks with others; if your child doesn’t, that may be a spectrum indicator” are just a few examples I found with a quick Google search. I’ve heard it mentioned many times (tho’ since it’s Friday, and my “battery” is running very low, I’m not able to conjure up a lot of examples), and it’s always stuck in my mind that this is one of the things that people close to me complain about the most.
I don’t share enough. I don’t “clue them in” on what I’m thinking, or what’s going on in my life. I don’t include them in my developing ideas. I don’t communicate very well. I don’t communicate at all, according to some (including my partner).
Well, okay. I can kind of see how that’s true. But it’s not because I want to block people out of my life. That’s not it. I’ve tried, many many times, to share my thoughts and ideas, and it fell flat. It failed. The things that move me, that thrill me, that bring me to live, aren’t the kinds of things that others grativate to, for some strange reason. How many times have I been told I’m boring people by going OnAndOnAndOnAndOn about 12th century intergenerational transfer of wealth, and how that at least in part gave rise to the Crusades? How many times have I been looked at as strange, because I thrilled — absolutely thrilled — over a certain piece of music, and played it OverAndOverAndOverAndOverAndOver, enjoying myself to no end, only to be called “weird” about it? How many times have I attempted to share my facination with the mint marks on pennies… my delight in the veins in different types of tree leaves… my really twisted sense of humor that can find a bunch of different ways to exit a life made intolerable by the loss of everything that matters most to me (no judgment on anyone else for what they consider acceptable levels of quality of life)… not to mention my sudden spikes of interest in This Or That — inventing a new gadget that has never been seen before in that exact iteration, and figuring out how to file my own provisional patent (which I did, and got, without expensive lawyer costs) — or a sudden all-consuming interst in Bohmian physics… Only to be “shot down” by people who “felt like their heads were going to explode” from me telling them about all the things that mean the most to me?
It’s always been this way. I’ve always been surrounded by people who were in a parallel universe from me, who had no interest in the things I loved, who metaphorically spat on my interests (and so spat on me), who insisted that I be interested in THEIR vacuous obsessions with some pop star or piece of clothing or jewelry or athlete or whatever. And if I didn’t share their devotion, then what good was I?
I’ve been trying to share my interests all my life. The problem is, I get so deep into my specialties, that I become something of an expert in those things, and I connect the dots with other fascinations I’ve had along the way, so I have this complex, associational relationship with all that information – which even the official experts don’t have, because they’ve been so specialized in Their Field And Their Field Only, that they’ve usually never looked up from their own little corner, to see how it connects with any of the other corners of the world.
So, I am doubly isolated. On the one hand, isolated from the non-specialists, the people who (for example) couldn’t give a rat’s ass what Eleanor of Aquitaine was up to on St. John’s Day, back in whatever year, once upon a time. And I’m isolated from the ultra-specialists, who similarly dismiss Eleanor outright, because they can’t see the sweeping challenge she posed to the prevailing order, and they don’t get the socioicultural connection between the relatively new English rule of law, and the rules of Courtly Love running the show down in Poitiers.
Plus, I have no college degree, so who am I, anyway? And who cares why I couldn’t finish my degree? Who cares that I wasn’t able to return to a college campus becuase it literally wasn’t safe for me to do so, and by the time it was safe, I was crippled from chronic health conditions that nobody could properly diagnose and treat? All people know is that I “couldn’t finish”. So, the blocks me, as well.
I’d love to share, but I have no standing. So, who would listen, anyway?
And then there’s the problems that arise, if I DO share, and others want to talk to me about things. Sorry… no. I don’t want to discuss. It’s too much work. I just can’t. Just can’t. Not that I don’t want to. I do. I really do. But I get turned around. I get confused. I get frustrated. I forget that everybody doesn’t read what I read. I lose track of what they DO read. And I have a hard time following what they’re saying, anyway. Because I can’t hear as well as I’d like. Everything sounds like people talking with marbles in their mouths, at times. It’s a lot of work to listen so I can hear. And I usually don’t have the energy for that, unless it has to do with making a living or avoiding some sort of disaster.
So, the thing about being socially stunted, or delayed communication-wise… that’s only part of the overall story. And it’s not actually part of my story. It’s not that I want to block people out All The Time. Sometimes I do, but not All The Time. It’s about the logistics of listening. And not feeling up to haviog people roll their eyes at me.
I have a wonderfully rich and varied life.
I have a number of all-consuming interests, that I can spend all day, every day, exploring. Nobody else seems much interested in those things — or if they are (or want to be) interested, they generally don’t have the depth or the perspective that makes talking to them into a productive experience. I’d rather be alone. I’d rather not share at all, under those circumstances.
Hi I'm Mike. I am 27 and I was diagnosed with "high functioning" autism as an adult at age 25. I live for music, nature, and technology. I'm still trying to figure out what it means to be autistic. This is my story.