This is my project for this weekend.
I’ll somehow do my paid work at night or whatever.
Another extreme empath episode
The last weeks were full of autistic empath crises – an empath crisis of apparently … copying the symptoms of a close friend who lives far away, which made me very weak and led me to freak out and panic; only after two weeks of it we realised that I seem to be generating an exact copy of what she’s going through in my own body, without having known that she’s having these extreme symptoms (as she doesn’t like to worry me) … we then tested it by having me “guess” how she’s feeling in the moment based on what I feel in my body. She claims I got it right to an astonishing degree (on a minute to minute or day to day basis).
However, that knowledge (well, let’s call it that … best hypothesis) didn’t help me get rid of the symptoms (although it calmed me down, in that I stopped frantically panicking about what’s suddenly going on with my body). They only passed when my friend actually got better (and I gave in and have been doing the occasional energy healing attempt too … cause, well, we both need to get out of this and doctors didn’t help her at all) … and thank God and her own courageous choices she is currently getting better.
This was certainly quite the extraterrestrial empath experience.
Autism research month
Layered on top of this was my continued research into autism / Asperger’s, after realising that heck, after all some people who rudely pushed it in my face were probably right – I had only been familiar with the stereotypical symptoms in biological males so far; when i started digging into blogs and conversations by autistic women and queers, I realised that these people are writing about stuff that is very familiar to me, and finally giving me words for it, I think – words for what I couldn’t ever really describe; like the odd freeze moments, the moments of paralysis, the going off the handle emotionally, the weird “glass wall” experience in social settings, the ability to be a perfect child and student but live in pain, stress, and recurrent meltdowns as an adult. “Live” = somehow survive, while wearing myself down.
(Plenty of articles chronicling this here.)
I’ve had a lot of emotional ups and downs, overexcitement and depression researching all this and recognising not only my own “mysterious” features (the ones that make up my daily life but somehow … other people didn’t seem to see them or connect to them), but also those of close family members.
The funny thing being that now being sure that my father is an aspie as well – I perhaps get better why he acted and acts as he does, even in ways that were highly (although unintentionally) emotionally injurious to me.
While we’re both on the spectrum, we have different combinations of traits – e.g. I have sensory sensitivities, he doesn’t; while we’re both super-logical and gifted with systems and science, I’m a near-psychic empath on top of it (probably inherited this from my mum and gran) … so on top of being extremely sensitive to my own emotions, I often actually physically feel those of others.
All that with NT social skills scraped together from trial-and-error sessions and … books (crazy amount of psychology books).
This all has been very hard on my system.
Spiced up with the usual interpersonal drama that is my life; feeling let down by friends, melting down and lashing out at people, feeling isolated, getting episodes of depression … and realising that what I’m experiencing is probably burnout – at least I don’t know what else to call a state in which – I’m just blank; I don’t feel like doing anything.
But it’s not the heaviness and inner turmoil of depression; I feel depression usually has a lot of inner dynamics. Twisting, twirling, imploding, exploding. But this is just a blank – no motivation, but no anger, either. Fear, but not really caring about the fear. Switching off emotions one by one because – they tire my body out too much.
There is no energy for them … and they have no function anyways (their usual function would be to motivate action), as the situation seems to be a blank drawn outside my control, anyways.
My body getting tired from physical exertion much, much faster; insomnia and hair loss; not digesting properly for weeks; not cooking properly for weeks.
After discussing this with a friend, and letting her do a psi scan (yes) of the state of my system (something I don’t let people do usually), this is the truth I’m planning to commune with.
The truth that I’m finished with pushing and believing will power can solve everything.
Also that I can officially stop trying to pretend (in my head) that this is momentary and everything is actually OK – there are some better days in between the meltdown days, but objectively it’s clear that I can’t go on living on several meltdowns per week. At least not without consequences that are worse than the depression and fatigue that already periodically appears (and OK, maybe it’s banal, but hair loss at 33 scares me).
So this weekend I will try to sit with this truth, that this is not viable, and in fact this has not been viable for years now; and possibly since my adolescence.
That all the breakdowns, recurrent conflicts, breakups, moves, job changes, chaos, emptiness, stress, depression, things slipping away or remaining ephemeral throughout all these years actually do have a well-defined, tangible, real cause – which is having masked Asperger’s syndrome (and not even very successfully, since I’ve had random people ask me if I have it) and been going on playing according to neurotypical rules without realising I’m doing that, and without understanding how much organic effort this requires. And that that’s the cause of me breaking down every week or two (or twice a week). For years.
When I had seriously considered every possible weird cause including having been abused as a child (which isn’t the case, but heck – this looked like PTSD so worst case I’d make up a cause).
That I should have asked for support (which I did, but nobody understood me), and should have received it long ago, in a perfect world; and perhaps wouldn’t have to frontally face a trail of complete overwhelming chaos left behind me after the first 15 years of my adult life. Not talked to my family for 10 years. Quit every single good job (mostly, university scholarship) I got, with them getting worse and worse over time, because of social overwhelm and creeping depression.
Devolved every single attempt at a relationship into chaos – through meltdowns, which I didn’t understand were autistic meltdowns. My exes recognise it. One even said “sad”, when he read the description of an autistic meltdown, because that’s his central memory of me and he also thinks that this was basically the only cause why we didn’t manage to be together.
If I had known this earlier – ideally in my teenage. If someone had helped me develop coping and prevention strategies, rather than leave me alone to cycle through this again and again and again, without knowing what the heck is even going on with me and what the cause is. Because in absence of any obvious cause for the meltdowns – it’s true, well, my highly intelligent brain put all its creativity into finding reasons / justifications, and usually found them in the faults of other people (e.g. partners, friends, family).
I don’t say everyone is without fault and that my anger is generally unjustified, but heck – if I’d known that perhaps 95% of these outbursts were caused simply by a buildup of sensory stress (I thought the extreme level of anguish it causes me is normal and tried to ignore it because that’s what people asked of me), social stress (that I wasn’t even aware of because I thought everyone experiences social situations like that), emotional stress (which I wasn’t aware of because I wasn’t very literate with emotions at all until quite a late age), and stuff like being hungry, hypoglycaemic, dehydrated, overheated, cognitively overburdened, sleepy (yes, I was taught by a friend to sleep rather than argue when I experience this sensation – tiredness – at age 32) or otherwise simply in overload – … butchered the sentence again …
… anyways, if I’d known all this, perhaps I wouldn’t have caused so much extreme pain, anguish, chaos, hurt to myself and others by every time trying to fight it out (half the time not even understanding what) – rather than practice sensory, physical, emotional self-care when I feel it coming.
I would have known, perhaps my family could have helped me, to monitor myself and notice signs of overload to react early and avoid getting on the verge of a meltdown in the first place.
Lower my sensory load.
Lower my emotional load.
Eat. Sleep. Hug.
Learn emotional self-awareness to avoid it flooding me like crazy at random times with zero tools at my disposal. With everyone thinking I’m an adult, so I should know. How to deal with this. How to deal with emotions.
When the truth is that with mine, I was completely alone since childhood. No one understood them – heck, sometimes I think no one even saw them, or heard them, and now I realise it’s in part because we were using different communication codes.
My parents assumed I’d tell them. I assumed, somehow, they’d know / see / read it off my face. Which they didn’t. When I tried to say it, in my manner – packing huge, heavy, fundamental experiences into words that a neurotypical can just brush off as lightweight / irrelevant (I don’t like something = I’m in agony; I didn’t have that emotional vocabulary) – it didn’t reach.
I understand better now how that could result in an imprint of trauma in me, when nobody was violent and everyone was benevolent.
From my perspective, people were cruel and didn’t notice I exist.
They left me alone in unspeakable anguish.
Which I thought I had communicated.
Turns out I had not. And they had no clue what to do with the signs.
(E.g. misread meltdowns as tantrums, misread shutdowns as being offended, misread overload as being picky and wanting to make life difficult for others, misread trying to understand what the heck is going on between me and the world as being self-important, misread the emotional dissociation I finally went into as rejecting them, misreading my resignation at the human race and trying to fight it on my own as not needing help, etc. etc.)
This is very painful to face.
Resolving the paradox
Although this is finally the solution to the paradox that I’ve been trying to understand for the best part of the last two decades.
The paradox of how I can seem to be totally traumatised when “nothing happened”.
And everything was “normal”.
Because I was using up crazy amounts of life blood emulating normal (not realising others don’t have to do that) while feeling utterly abandoned, invisible, lonely, lacking any concept of genuine human connection, or emotional support, because by my adolescence I had dissociated so thoroughly wasn’t even in touch with myself enough to feel human. (In fact I spent years walking around distraught by the feeling that somehow I’m not a person; I’m a phantom; I just learnt that’s called depersonalisation and is definitely heard of as a reaction to the situation in autistic women or other autistic people who mask.)
A father with Asperger’s
Incidentally, I also resolved a second major paradox.
That had been troubling me since about age 15.
The paradox was how my dad could say extremely hurtful and insensitive things to me in the most vulnerable of situations; while, seriously, I felt (with my sixth sense) that he’s not mean. This used to brainf*ck me well into my late 20s (with some of his comments still stuck in my soul, twirling around, creating new wounds, making me lash out with crazy intensity at people who happen to use similar words (regardless of context) or exude a vaguely similar energy (sometimes it seems it’s enough that the person is male)).
So I get it now, he’s autistic, and since he doesn’t have an empath sense on top like me (and mine doesn’t prevent me from offending people, either), and perhaps since he’s a man (where social skills tend to be more deficient), he just repeatedly and insistently said complete bullshit to me as a kid and teen without realising it was hurtful; honestly and naively believing it was merely logical.
And not reading my face, unless I cried or smashed something (in which case he would see it but still have no clue what to do; hence go on with his “logic” – his only tool in the world, pretty much).
It does, on a level, help to understand that – at least now.
The words are still stuck in me, but at least I can contextualise them now, finally.
This softens the edge a bit.
Shards, shards, and shards
It’s hard to process all this.
Although there is a level of relief in it – I realise for the larger part of my life (after childhood) I’ve been seeing everything as if through fractured glass; nothing made sense; everything got endlessly twisted; nothing ever turned out the way that was expected; it was like I wanted to move my arm but ended up moving my foot, wanted to speak but ended up making handstands.
Other people wanted to support me, or thought they were there for me, but from my internal perspective they were abandoning me or being cruel (in their perceived lack of empathy – they actually didn’t see my mind; in their demands – reasonable for them, not for me; judgments).
We never understood each other.
However, the effect of all this is still that I’ve spent 20 years among people (I don’t count my childhood, which I remember as relatively OK, despite emigration, and filled with magic) while in effect having grown up emotionally isolated to a completely inhuman degree – a degree that can cause the PTSD-like symptoms and depressive episodes and profound spirals of worthlessness that I suffer from.
I believe, paradoxically, that was in part because I was smart and capable enough to appear OK; sensing that this is what’s expected and being ready to do anything to live up to expectations; and nobody bothered to look; ask; listen.
Dali’s cracked circle of the soul
So the truth I’m communing with this weekend is mostly shards, the fact that they are real.
And they won’t go away the next time I’m fine for a day.
Or the next time I find a way to escape my life for a few days or weeks.
It’s funny that as early as at age 13, I used to see shards.
In fact, when visiting the Dali museum in Girona at not long before my 14th birthday, I remember seeing a huge painting of a circle with a naturalistic crack through the middle.
The Dali painting doesn’t seem to be available online … the closest I could find is this …
I saw that painting and knew, felt this is me.
This was the image I had been obsessively seeing and feeling at that point already.
So I finally get why, this also.
And I’ve been living that way until 33.
Stranger to myself and to others, in effect.
Thinking if I’ll still manage to feel like I really exist in this life – all the while sorting out the things I still haven’t sorted, like living somewhere, with someone, working somewhere, for something (purpose and pay) – things I honestly can’t even manage to give sh*t about on the (many; most?) days when I’m cracked up like this.
Now I know why, at least I’m fairly certain (and few of the people who’ve known me argue with it). I’m not sure if that will help me find wholeness.
For a change from the Buddha, I figure I can empirically test Jesus now; wasn’t it him who said “the truth will set you free?”
Articles with more info
https://seekingsara174.wordpress.com/women-and-girls/ – informative article on Sara’s blog with basic info on autism in women and girls.
https://www.purpleella.com/2017/09/28/autism-and-masking-2/ – a video talk explaining masking autism. Although my version is different than hers; I copied boys for some reason (perhaps for being a baby queer / tranny), which definitely made the whole business even weirder …
Another informative and beautiful video:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/autism-it-s-different-in-girls/ – Scientific American article on the topic; I don’t like the tone and phrasing in many places, but still contains substantial amounts of useful information, if you dig “authoritative” scientific sources (and there are many which are far worse).