Back from the brink – and glad for the experience

four people arguing, two facing each other, two walking away

Well, that was a thorough experience, for sure.

I drove 9 hours to my family this past Monday, spent Tuesday and Wednesday with them, then drove another 9 hours to get home yesterday. I’m pretty wiped out, for a whole bunch of reasons, not least of which is the Benadryl I’m taking to take the edge off the poison ivy I picked up last Saturday, when I was cleaning up my front yard and garden.

Benadryl affects me pretty intensely. It slows all my reflexes and thought process, and puts me into an altered state, so I can’t use it unless I am not going to be driving and/or I’m not going about an intense amount of business. It affects my typing, my ability to connect with the world around me, and how I parse all the information. I’m working from home today – not driving – so I can take it several times today. I’ll be going out later today to run to the post office and grocery shop, but that’s it. No driving to the office in traffic. No pushing myself… at all. And that’s good.

So, I have three days to recover, which is helpful.

And I need the time to decompress, debrief, reflect on what I learned from that experience. A lot of stuff broke down for me — but it only happened on Wednesday, when I was tired, off my schedule, and surrounded by other Aspies who were every bit as compromised as I was. Considering that we all cued into each others’ distress, it’s no surprise that we all got on each others’ nerves, bickered a little bit, had all kinds of old emotional “stuff” come up, and ended the day on a sour note.

Three days is really not enough time for me to figure this out. It’s going to take a while, and I worry that I won’t process quickly enough, before I forget what happened and lose the chance to really think it through. I’m making notes in my journal about what took place, so I can process it later. Journaling is key for me, especially after the non-stop flurry of new data, new inputs, new insights that peppered my past four days

But it’s almost too much for words — no, it IS too much for works. I could type for hours and days and weeks, and still barely scratch the surface.

One thing I did discover, which has breathed new life into me, is that Simone Weil, one of the great philosophers of the past century, was absolutely positively autistic. I listened to an audiobook of a biography by Francine Du Plessix Gray, while I was driving home yesterday, and I drove more slowly, so I could listen to as much as I could. One great example after another jumped out at me — her avoidance of human touch, her monotonous speech tone, her associational lectures that frustrated sequentially-oriented logical thinkers of her times, the anorexia / eating disorder, her all-consuming passions for justice, and of course her rigidity and black-and-white thinking. I found myself laughing aloud, as I listened to the narrator calling out different aspects of her personality that sound odd to the untrained eye, but which are so clearly autistic, when you know what you’re looking for.

I ordered a used print copy of the book, so I can mark it up when it gets to me. I’ll most certainly be posting my observations about it. It seems like an excellent activity for the end of autism awareness month. Having someone so celebrated, and so autistic, right there in front of me to study and write about… it’s like Christmas came a little early.

One more piece to help me better understand my own situation… and generalize that out to the rest of the world… it’s very helpful. I’m looking forward to driving around, now, because I listen to the audiobook while I drive. It’s not so easy for me to listen while I’m working. I have to concentrate, after all.

Anyway, I’m starting to feel less coherent… thanks to the Benadryl. So, I’ll back off now and get some other work done. It’s all fascinating, for sure. And I am glad to be home, so I can actually focus in on what matters most to me, and make some headway in my writing.

Not so easy to do at my parents’ house. Too much going on there. All the time.

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