May you have a wonderful, safe, happy, and sensory friendly new year!
May you have a wonderful, safe, happy, and sensory friendly new year!
Oh, Lord, the inside of my head sounds ungrateful, right about now. A still, small voice has gradually been getting louder and louder… bitching and complaining about the lack of routine in my days, this past week and a half. And that voice is eager to get back to the familiar routine of the everyday.
I can’t remember the last time I had nearly two weeks off for the end-of-year holidays. I don’t think I ever have. So, in some respects, it’s been blissful. No structure to strangulate my creativity, no outside demands (other than Christmas shopping and the odd errand) to cramp my style. I’ve been able to get up when I wanted, go to sleep when I wanted, pretty much nap whenever I please, and so forth.
Yeah, in many respects, it’s been delightful.
To just let time drift, without having any deadlines, without having any requirements, without coming down to the wire on something… it’s been glorious. My everyday life is structured pretty much around deadlines, due-dates, timelines, and so fort. It all feels so contrived to me. I have a different relationship with time than a lot of people, but that actually makes me more productive. I get more done in a few hours than a lot of people do in a week. But still, I absolutely hate deadlines and standard-issue definitions of time.
Not having that holding me back has been wonderful.
But in other ways, it’s been pretty hard.
The combination of lack of routine, plus unusual activities produced a couple of meltdowns — one in a bookstore bathroom, the other at home. And a handful of commitments I said I’d do, haven’t “materialized”. I’m using that word to get myself off the proverbial hook, because the failing hasn’t been due to some amorphous outside influence — it’s been all me.
And my need to just withdraw and shut down for a week.
Oh, the holidays are funny things. Not ha-ha funny, but weird and absurd in ways that make me laugh, for some reason. I’d been so looking forward to having nearly 2 weeks to get some things done that I’d been putting off… but once I got into holiday mode, it was like I skipped over to a parallel universe, where precious few of my interests or activities intersected with my original plans.
Parallels by definition don’t intersect, so there I was, on my separate track, looking askance at my best-laid plans… feeling faintly guilty… but not too much.
More than anything, I just wanted to be what and where I was — a normally highly efficient individual… free at last.
Which is all very interesting to me, because few things give me more satisfaction than getting things done, creating, building, producing.
And yet, there’s that intense need to NOT do any of those things, every now and then.
It’s like there’s this dynamic back-and-forth between the DOING and not-doing, that balances out my life. And considering how much I’ve been doing for months, now, I really needed that time of not-doing, to reset.
Which makes me really look forward to getting back to my regular routine.
Yeah, as much as I enjoy floating in some amorphous cloud of whatever-ness (and I do!), there’s still a big part of me that just loves-loves-loves my productivity. My predictability. My ability to Get Things Done. I love surrounding myself with the results of my work, and I love the process of getting to those results. I love having my set sequence of steps I follow to a “t”, with so much expertise, I don’t even really need to think about the steps. I just do them. Because I do them every single day, and they’re very much a part of me. Some days, it feels like they are me.
So, in a way, getting back to my routine will be getting back to myself.
And that will be good — every bit as good as taking time away.
It’s all a balance, in the end, a continuously alternating back-and-forth between two extremes. I’m autistic. I know all about extremes. And I also know how to make the most of them.
And for today, and the next day, and the next day, I shall.
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Something occurred to me, the other day. Namely, that alexithymia has been a huge advantage for me.
Not because it’s confused me about my feelings, but because it’s forced me — literally forced me — to rely on logic to navigate through life.
Okay, so that might not sound like such a great thing, considering how illogical the rest of the world is about stuff. Not being “in touch with my feelings” — heck, not even realizing I’m having certain feelings — sets me apart and puts me in the minority. It makes it harder to figure out whether people are really my friends or not. It makes it harder to figure out if I want people to be my friends. And it makes it difficult to tell what other people think of me, as well as figure out what I actually think of myself.
But that difficulty has been so pronounced, it’s required me to use my powers of observation and deduction to make sense of situations. To notice small details that others don’t see, to parse bits of info that most people overlook. To really invest a lot of myself in figuring out how things (and people) work, so I can be effective in interacting with them. I’m definitely one of the best “people persons” I know — people complement me all the time on my empathy and ability to interact with others. That, my friends, is because people have been one of my all-consuming interests, and I study them and their behaviors more closely than the most devoted American fantasy football player studies the weekly stats.
I’m good. I’m really that good. But it didn’t happen overnight. And it sure as heck didn’t happen by accident. I’ve worked at it. Nobody can take that from me. I’m the hardest-working person a lot of my friends. Well, yeah. Because I have to. Not much choice there.
I know it’s not a realistic option (because no choices are ever truly this binary), but if given the choice between built-in emotional “intelligence” about myself, or pure logic, I’d go with logic every time.
Given the right information about how my system works (including emotional things), with logic I can figure plenty of stuff out on my own. And logic serves me just as well as emotion. If I know — from observation — that such-and-such a sensation in my body means I’m nervous, I can take steps to offset the nervousness or channel the energy in a more productive direction. If I can deduce that such-and-such a feeling in my gut indicates a certain mental/emotional state, I can adapt and adjust and work with what’s there. If I know logically that being tired and hungry makes me feel terrible, emotionally, I can track my meals and sleeping pattern and recognize when my outbursts are related to exhaustion and/or low blood sugar.
Emotional self-knowledge only takes you so far, from what I can see. A whole lot of people around me who have no issues with alexithymia are (to put it coarsely) emotional wrecks. Their emotional states run their lives, and even though they’re “in touch with their feelings”, that doesn’t keep their feelings from taking over their lives. They’re even less happy than I am.
Of course, I’ve had to fail a lot of times before I figured out a lot of this. The rest of the world doesn’t instruct explicitly, but expects everybody to just know stuff. But all that failure has trained me to not take failing so damn’ personally, and to just get on with living my life, learning about it, and adjusting to the ongoing flow of information.
Information, it’s all information. And logic helps me parse through it deliberately, intentionally, self-sufficiently. Just how I like it 🙂
And I seriously doubt that I’d take the trouble to develop my logic, if I had insights into emotions and whatnot.
So, even with the difficulties, alexithymia has really come in handy. And to be honest, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Some days, I’d like it to be a little less extreme. But I always have logic to fall back on.
And with that dangling participle, I’m off to live the rest of my life.
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Oh, this is good.
In 2016 I wrote a post that seemed to capture people’s imagination in a way that others didn’t. Autscriptic has since been shared far and wide.
It taught me that there is great power in sharing conversations between neurotypes: Laying bare the misunderstandings that tangle us up.
The first Autscriptic was about the trials of masking, this Autscriptic is about the times when I’ve had people quantify my autism based on how well I can smile. Once again it is not me recounting any one conversation, it’s a story based on many conversations I have had. Usually with people who know little about me and less about my autism diagnosis.
You must have a mild form
Mild and soft and gentle as a summer rain?
What does mild mean?
Well, you’re not very… flappy. You can talk, you can look at me. I just mean you…
View original post 1,205 more words
So, I’ve got another five days, till I go back to work. That gives me time to take care of more chores, organize myself, and finalize some stuff I’ve been needing to finalize.
It’s cold and snowy, which means I’m not going out much. I went for my first long walk, a few days ago, and the fronts of my thighs had lost feeling by the time I got back. My interoception (my internal sense of my body) isn’t always great, so there’s a certain risk with that.
So, I keep it simple and just avoid the situations that could be dangerous. Not always the best thing to do, but heck, I’m on vacation. Why suffer? And why put myself in danger? I know, I’m being dramatic. But at the same time, there’s always some element of risk, when I go out on the roads, especially in the winter. I have to share space with passing runners and cars and trucks, and the path is narrower, with less room on the shoulder — or no shoulder at all — because of all the snow.
It’s definitely less safe, than it is in the summertime, also because drivers are tired and distracted and might be having emotional issues leftover from the holidays.
But I’ll go out later, if I feel like it. I just don’t really feel like it today.
Anyway, I’ve got five days off, pretty much. The days leading up to Christmas definitely weren’t vacation days. I had a lot to do, and that involved doing stuff with my partner, whose presence complicates everything for me, especially when we’re out in public. I love her dearly, I’m just very short on resources when I’m out in the Christmas throngs, which makes me a terrible partner.
I’m not being hard on myself. It’s an objective fact, which I try to mitigate, with greater or lesser success.
Well, so it goes. Lessons learned, each year. It’s all a process, and I’m feeling really positive about my intentions for next year. Of course, feeling good is fine, but doing better is really the goal. Happiness with myself (self-satisfaction, let’s call it) is fleeting. Especially when I see myself drifting from a path I set out for myself before, but failed to stick with it.
As 2017 draws to a close and the “new year” emerges from behind the horizon’s line, I think about all the ways I have come up short, this past year. I’m not being hard on myself. It would be worse, if I didn’t take myself to task for my failings. That would be the ultimate injustice to myself… to treat myself with kid gloves and tell myself that I can’t possibly do any better. I can always do better. Most of us can. We may have serious limitations, but those are rarely all-encompassing, and there are so many other ways we can compensate and make up for our limits in one area with strengths in another.
Autistic or not, we all have that in common. Autism just has a way of making everything seem / feel more extreme. And in many cases, it is.
So, I start my look to the future with a look behind, to find all the places where I can improve and make my coming year different from my last.
And that puts me in the mood to move forward. To make the most of these last five days, intentionally examining my life and seeing where I want my choices to take me, this coming year. I know I have issues I need to deal with — sensory issues, light, sound, touch, that are all made worse by
fatigue exhaustion… balance issues, executive function issues… again, all made worse by being worn out. Just getting better sleep and giving myself more room to breathe on the weekends, really planning out my life and sticking with my routine… that can do wonders for me. It always does, when I stick with it.
I just get into a “brat” frame of mind, where I don’t wanna do what I have to do. Waaahh, waahhh… I can be such a whiner, sometimes. Self-pitying and downright lazy. That’s not me being unfair to myself; it’s calling it as I see it. And I have things I can do about it all.
Like feed myself. Feed my mind. Build myself up in important ways. I tend to push myself so hard, I don’t get enough recovery time. And that’s gotta change. Honestly, I need to do better about getting input, not just constantly cranking out stuff. It’s not difficult, actually. I know what feeds me, and it’s all about good quality ideas, images that lift me up and inspire me… actually reading the magazines I get for free from my frequent-flyer miles I earned years ago, at a past job. The magazines are totally free. And I love reading them. So, I need to do that more. Work that into my weekly routine. Just allow myself the time to work through them.
And less social media. It sucks up too much time, and it doesn’t always feed me. Sometimes it does, but it rapidly devolves. (That reminds me, I need to mute some people who have become exceptionally strident and combative, of late, without the self-criticism that I feel is requisite for taking up thought-battles.) My Facebook involvement is almost nill, and that’s been a huge benefit to me, since I backed off on it. Twitter often seems like a collection of ideological bore-holes, where everybody’s looking for water or oil or some other precious substance, but they’re tightly constrained in their own narrow sphere of influence. I do value Twitter for the links to research. But honestly, I can find that same stuff through a well-crafted Google search. I just have to look for it.
Most of all, this next year is about me taking responsibility for my own inner state. Autism becomes problematic for me, when it’s not properly managed. Of course, external situations play a role. Wouldn’t it be nice to work and live in a world that isn’t full of artificial scent and fluorescent lighting? But I’m one person with a relatively uncommon “constellation” of traits, and it’s simply not practical to expect the world to accommodate me. Anyway, that would actually take away from my adaptive resiliency. I need to adapt. I need to be resilient. I seriously cannot go through life expecting trigger warnings at every turn, so I can avoid unpleasant or taxing situations. If anything, the unpleasant and taxing situations make me stronger.
Do they cause suffering? Of course! Life is full of it, and if I actively avoid suffering, I actively avoid life. So, I’ll take the suffering, use it to learn, and move on. That’s always been my attitude, and it’s seen me through so many challenging situations that cause other people to curl up into the fetal position and/or basically disappear from their own lives.
Other people can do what they like, but I’d rather become toughened to the suffering and actively incorporate it into my life. I’ve never been one for weeping about the unfairness of life. That’s just the state of the world. Never, ever, will the world reach the levels of fairness that my sensibilities require. Do I lose my shit and attack the sources of unfairness, in an attempt to make everything more just and equal? What would be the point? The moment one unfairness disappears, another shows up. It’s just the nature of things, and it’s a much better use of my time to become inured to my own suffering, so I can do my part for others.
Now, I’m not talking about ignoring the systemic injustices that are cemented in place by ignorance and raw lust for power and control. I’m talking about the injustices that I perceive in my own life, which impact me personally. I just can’t let my hypersensitivity (which is a simple fact of my personal makeup) run the rest of my life.
Ah, I see my word count has exceeded 1,000 a few paragraphs back, so I’ll stop now. Gotta have some discipline and keep myself headed in a productive direction, instead of letting myself go on and on. People are busy. Time is precious. I’ve got work to do, so now I’ll go do it.
And prep for my return to the regular world with a renewed vigor and sense of purpose.
The nice thing about having time off work, is that there’s no set routine for me to stick to.
The downside of that, is the very same thing — there’s no routine for me to stick with.
So, that means I have to work a little harder during my “time off”. I have to put more thought into how I’m going to spend each day. I have to put more time and energy, period, into everything I do.
It’s ironic — the time when I’m expecting to be able to rest, is the time when I get worn out more. But at least I get my naps in. That’s something.
I’ve got to put rope caulk around my windows today. No excuses. It’s getting into the single digits at night. I’m leaving my spigots dripping a little bit, so my pipes don’t freeze, like they did a few years ago. I’ve got the heat turned up. I have firewood put with easy reach in my garage. And I’ve got three days’ worth of hearty chicken-noodle stew in the refrigerator.
Rope caulk is non-negotiable in this house. Its windows are original to the house, dating back to — gasp — 1972 (younger than me, actually), and they get drafty. Personally, I prefer it that way. Because a tightly locked house is a house that doesn’t breathe. And houses need to breathe. I don’t care for getting trapped in a house with off-gassing from whatever stuff I hauled inside with me. Keeping a slight breeze going in the house keeps the air from stagnating. And it saves me from having to circulate with central air, etc.
Rope caulking is my annual admission of the fact that it’s friggin’ cold outside, and it’s not warming up anytime soon! I can let things go indefinitely, especially because I like to have a little chill in the air at times. But eventually, the New England winter gets the upper hand, and I pull out the rolls of corded putty that gets pressed into the seams and cracks around all the open-able windows in the house.
It’s good practice for me, actually. It helps me focus my attention, and it helps me strengthen my oft-flagging ability to keep my focus on one thing for extended periods of time. Rope caulking all the windows — 8 downstairs and 10 upstairs — isn’t instantaneous. After a while, the caulk makes my fingers tacky, and it becomes a sensory issue. But I know it’s going to happen, pretty much when I get to the the 10th window, so I have no excuse for getting bent out of shape about it. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it sets me off. Yes, it makes it hard to concentrate. But that’s where taking a break comes in. And I can always step away for a few minutes to get something to eat or drink, wash my hands, and gather myself before I go back in.
I used to get so bent out of shape, when the caulk would stick to my fingers. But please. That’s just caulk being caulk. And me being me. So, enough of the upset. Just take steps to deal with it. And git ‘er done.
Speaking of which, it’s time to gather up my various breakfast dishes and cups, wash up, and dig out those boxes of rope caulk from the bottom of the pantry storage bin.
They’re in there somewhere. I’m sure of it.
Off I go…
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I structure my life. And I’ve been thinking about how I handle myself, regardless of what comes along.
Because I do. Of course, it falls down, here and there. Of course it does. I’m human. I have finite resources, and like a high-performance race car, I need to pull off the track, every so many revolutions, and get tuned up. I’m no different than a Formula-One race car, in that respect. High-performance vehicles, including my body and brain, need more specialized care on a more frequent basis.
That doesn’t make me disabled. It makes me high-performance with specific needs.
Interestingly, nobody’s calling F-1 race cars “disabled” because their tires need to be changed more frequently than your everyday family sedan.
And here’s where my New Year starts out a little early. I’ve got this new resolution to really “reframe” (much as I hate that word) the way I talk about Autism. Hmm… let me think of a much better word than “reframe” — okay, let’s use “redefine”. Because that’s essentially what I’m doing. The words I use add shape and texture to the concept of my Autism, and by using different words and different mindsets to talk about that central part of me, I can literally change the quality of my life and the thoughts/concepts that guide it.
If others “get it”, then great. If my example helps them to redefine their own experience (whether it’s Autistic or not) and create a more self-aware and self-directed way of life that’s got less pain and suffering, then great. But my redefinition isn’t for the sake of anyone else. It’s for my sake. I am Autistic, after all. 😉
One thing driving this shift is my experience of looking through my library of images I’ve used in blog posts over the past year or so. I’ve been actively blogging here for nearly two years. I started this blog back in June, 2008, then had to tend to other things, and I came back in February, 2016. Some days, it seems like a lot longer than two years, and other days, it seems a lot shorter.
I’m alexithymic like that.
Anyway, I noticed that so-so many of my images have really negative connotations for me. There’s a lot of suffering archived in my media library. And while searching in vain for some really uplifting images (or just some pragmatically strength-inspiring pics), I came up with nothing, time and time again.
Oh, here and there, I found an image or two. But on the whole, things look pretty grim. I’d have to say the ratio of gloomy:gleeful is about 9.24:1.
So, that’s gotta change.
I’ve talked before about how we need more Autistic Joy, and I still believe that. But it’s not enough to mention it now and then in a blog post. It’s got to be the main theme in all my blog posts. And if not outright joy, then at least some discussion of how I’m managing my Autistic life — and doing it successfully.
Oddly, I feel as though I may be failing “the cause” as I write this. Because Autistic people are supposed to get support and resources for our difficulties. Yes, when appropriate, I absolutely believe that. If I am completely and totally unable to help myself, then I do need extra help.
The thing is, I’m rarely, if ever, completely and totally unable to help myself. I may have lost track of all the ways my system was being slowly eroded by circumstances beyond my control. I may have allowed myself become so run-down that I lost my normal capabilities. I may have gotten so wrapped up in what I was doing, I forgot to eat, drink, sleep, and empty my bladder, and that’s making my life a lot more “interesting” than I’d like it, as I gingerly wobble across the house to get to the bathroom.
But those things are on me. I may be Autistic, but I’ve helped to create those conditions. I didn’t properly manage my life — which I’m perfectly capable of doing. I didn’t take good care of myself — which I know I need to do, so what’s my excuse? I didn’t set a timer (which I know I sometimes need) to eat, drink, sleep, and keep track of my bladder’s state. Self-created suffering is not the sort of thing I can use to demand more services for my situation.
It may sound like I’m being too hard on myself, but I’m not. I was raised to know better, and to do better. And I was raised in a world where I was expected to take responsibility for myself, even for the times when I struggle. Especially for the times when I struggle. Because everyone is dealing with something pretty Big, and they don’t have extra time and attention to devote to my own self-created issues.
If I’m capable of discerning my difficulties (which I am, more than anyone else), and I’m able to learn from my experiences (which I can, and do, regularly), then it’s my responsibility to make provisions for my situation. Manage my issues. Restructure my life so that I’m not suffering, if it can at all be prevented. And make the damn’ effort to not get myself into taxing situations that I know, from experience, are going to make life worse for me — and everyone around me.
Yeah, I’m old school. That’s for certain. My approach isn’t for everyone, but it most certainly is for me. And as one contingent of Autistic folks focuses on the disability side of things, I’m focusing on the “Autistic ability” side of things — because our lives are different and shouldn’t be expected to be exactly the same. And because I’ve figured out how to live my life as an actually successful (and yes, I’m using the word in its true sense) Autistic adult. I was as a successful Autistic child, teen, and young adult. I just didn’t realize it, thank you alexithymia. Turns out, the very thing that makes it possible for me to function effectively in situations that freak other people out, actually hides that effectiveness from the rest of me. So, I’m a heck of a lot more successful and happy and content than I realize.
Damn… I need to write a whole post about that, sometime. Or maybe I already have… Anyway, that’s another idea for another day.
So, with the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to get some more positive pictures in my media library. And get some more pro-active, pro-Autism posts in my blog. Staying stuck in how horrible everything is… well, that doesn’t serve anyone. Least of all me.
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Oh, this is great! Sing along… 🙂
Merry Christmas Everyone! Or for anyone that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, Happy Belated Hanukah, late Solstice, early Kwanza, and a Very Happy December 25th!
I think no matter what you celebrate, The 12 Days of Christmas carol is probably something that you’ve heard. The math has been done, and to purchase all 12 days of gifts would cost you almost $35,000!
I’ve replace the drummers, pipers, lords and ladies, the maids, the swans, and the geese, the gold rings, the calling birds, French hens, turtle doves, and the partridge with things that are a little more relatable!
So I present to you-
The Twelve Days of Autism
On the First day of Christmas, Autism gave to me, A meltdown in a pear tree
On the Second day of Christmas, Autism gave to me, two info-dumps, and a meltdown in a pear tree
On the Third day of Christmas, Autism gave to…
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Merry Christmas, everyone. I’m omitting the exclamation point, because there have been far too many of them, lately, and I’m in the mood for something more … subdued.
My list-making and task-charting worked, and I didn’t have to really think about what to do next, since it was all written down. That left me more energy and resources to focus on the tasks at hand and really give it all I had. I found some additional presents that I was so happy with — some of them I only discovered after a couple of passes through a certain section of the store. I had to keep doubling back, because I kept getting distracted by everything around me. But after I got used to the surroundings and got my bearings, I found some great stuff.
I went back to one of the stores I’d visited with my partner, a few days ago, to see if there was anything additional I could find. Sure enough, there was. I was more successful this time than last, because I was working alone, I didn’t have to keep her situation in mind, and I was more familiar with the store.
So many people were out yesterday… for a Sunday, it’s unusual. It was pretty disorienting. But then, it was Christmas Eve, so…
All in all, I had a pretty positive experience. I still got worn out after only a few hours, though. And it took me longer to do some things that I would have liked. I also would have liked to not see some of the holiday decorations at one of the stores I visited. They were pretty scary, actually. For some reason, a buyer thought it would be a good idea to cover the torso of a headless female mannequin with red or green glitter, and attach it to the top of a small Christmas tree. It was a little nightmarish.
The scary human-Christmas-tree-cyborg aside, yesterday was a good day for learning… about how even if I’m left to my own devices, even if I’ve got the day mapped out, even if I’m crystal-clear on what needs to happen, I still have my limits at this time of year. And no matter what I do to mitigate the effects of uncertainty and More Things To Do, I’m still going to be really taxed by the environment.
No matter what I do, no matter how much sleep I get, how well I eat, how well I take care of myself in general, I’m still going to struggle with external circumstances and the super-duper, pumped-up atmosphere of the holiday season.
And yet… I really do love this time of year. Driving around on the back roads, the skies were clear and the world was suffused in ice. We had a lot of freezing rain on Saturday, which glazed everything in 1/4 inch of ice. And on Sunday, as the weather cleared and the sun shone, and all the muted colors of the slumbering trees and dead grasses and frost and ice and snow stood out in sharp contrast against the blue sky with its passing whispy clouds, I couldn’t help but just love every minute of it.
I really do enjoy this time of year. I love the long nights, the quiet that comes after the storms, the weight of winter clothes, and the slower pace to everything. I thrive during the winter, when I feel like I can finally catch up with myself. And I literally feel at my physical best when I’m outside shoveling snow in sub-freezing temperatures. My body feels the most comfortable when it’s below 20 Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius). My inner heater seems to kick in only at that temperature. And when it’s below zero (Fahrenheit), I really feel great. I don’t even feel the cold that intensely, when it’s that cold. I feel it more, when it’s around freezing. Then, it feels like it’s getting in my bones and shutting me down.
So, this coming week should be wonderful — it’s going to be in single digits for several days, and below zero at night.
Yeah, I love this time of year. But the whole Christmas season messes things up. Too many lights. Too much music. Too much shopping. Too many people. And interactions with strangers. Noise. Lots of noise, interspersed with sounds that I’m supposed to pay attention to. Movement. Unpredictable people not paying attention when they’re driving. Everybody with emotional issues. Money issues. Let loose in the world and insisting on talking to me. Ugh. I’m so glad it’s nearly over. I really just want to enjoy myself. Have nice meals. Get grounded. Chill out.
All this means I’ve got to make some changes. My partner and I agree that next year’s going to be structured very differently than this one (and years past). We’re going to do more advance preparation, buying presents ahead of time, getting better prepared, mailing things out weeks before we need to. Just being more mindful, early on, so we can really enjoy ourselves when the season “hits”.
Doing a lot of advance prep always seemed … wrong … to me in the past. I didn’t want to think about Christmas, till it was right “on top of us”. I couldn’t get into the spirit ahead of time. But the older I get, and the more I appreciate the season, the more sense it makes. I can get the obligations out of the way up front. Put in the time and energy up front, so I can relax at a later point.
Doing it all at once may be in the spirit of the season, but that’s just not working for me anymore.
So, it’s time for a little change — a big change, in fact. And because both my partner and I are of like mind about this and can support each other, this is one change for the better that’s likely to “stick”.
It’s all for the sake of getting to really enjoy this time of year. That’s important.
And with that, I shall get into my day and enjoy this Christmas for what it is — another stage in the turning of the wheel that takes us ever on.
Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you have a good one.
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Ouch. We had a bunch of freezing rain, yesterday, which kept me inside… then drew me outside to break up the veritable ice-skating rink on my deck, stairs, and driveway… then knocked out the power for a few hours, last night.
Now the Christmas turkey I’d been thawing is “iffy”, and I don’t dare cook it up. The inside of the refrigerator probably stayed pretty cool, the whole time we were without power, but I don’t want to take any chances. I just don’t want to spend Christmas day sick — and neither does my partner, who’s even more sensitive to food stuff than I am.
So, it’s time to shift and adjust… make the most of my situation and count my blessings. Because I really do have a lot to be grateful for. That thought has to carry me through, because I have a full day ahead of me, this Christmas Eve.
I need to food shop. I need to visit some local stores to find some nice things for my partner. My go-to store was closed the other day, when spent the afternoon shopping. I made the best of it, but I still have to get some more presents for my partner. I’m not looking forward to wading into the stores, but it’s gotta get done. Nobody else is going to do it for me.
This year it’s so weird — I thought for sure that I had gotten her a bunch of things, but it turns out, I didn’t. She (in typical style) has gotten me a bunch of things. I ask her not to, every single year, because A) I really don’t need them, as I’m trying to simplify my life and actually have less stuff, and B) it’s a setup for a reciprocity nightmare. She expects the same level of “gifting” from me, as she provides to me, and it’s a set-up for failure. I’ve ended up melting down more Christmas mornings than I care to think about, because of the pressure — and my inevitable failure. I try and try, and I think I get it right… but then I don’t. And it’s crushing. For her, for me, for the whole experience.
Ah, well. That’s just one of those things.
At least I have today to redeem myself.
And so I shall. I’ll map out my route, find stores along the way that are bound to have what I’m looking for, and I’ll be thoughtful about it. Part of the problem with shopping before, was that I had to take care of both myself and my partner. She’s got mobility issues, as well as some cognitive issues, and when she’s left to her own devices, unfortunate things happen — like her losing the lenses from her glasses and not even realizing it till much later… like losing a glove… misplacing her wallet… slipping on ice… forgetting something… getting hurt. I have to be on high alert — especially when we’re out in public where everyone is shopping and milling around. It’s already demanding for me, and I’m stretched to my max. But I have to stay on point for her, as well. Because that’s how I roll. I need to take care of her, as well as myself.
Today, though, it’s just me. I can move at my own pace (which is much faster than hers), and I can get some stuff done. I’ll chart my course, figure out where to go and when to go there, I’ll choreograph it down to the quarter-hour, and I’ll just git ‘er done. Then I can come home, put up the food, and relax. Chill. Take care of myself. Take a nap. Wrap presents. Just get into the Christmas spirit in my own absolutely autistic way.
See, that’s the thing — when I’m allowed to do things in my own way, and I can leverage my strengths, things can go great. But when I have to accommodate others and go at another person’s pace in the non-autistic world, it’s really challenging for me. It’s good practice to accommodate and help others who need it, and it’s good practice for me to interact with the non-autistic world — sort of like a martial art — so it’s been very beneficial to my character. But there are times when I just need to go off by my autistic self and get stuff done in my own special autistic way.
Got my list, and I’m checking it twice. The year’s been full of naughty and nice behaviors, but all is forgiven for the next week or so. Then the wheel of the year stops turning, Yule sets in, and I can settle in, as well.
I’m sure next year will have lots to keep me occupied. But right now, today is what matters most.
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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.
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