First of all, I just want to say thank you for the amazing support I received about my first post in this series, Why I Believe That I’m an Aspergirl Part 1. I gained a few new followers and people were sharing my writing, which is the ultimate compliment for a blogger. I am always so humbled when people feel the need to share what I’ve said. It’s humbling. So thank you.
In this series, I’m dissecting the bullet points comprising a checklist of characteristics attributed to a female with asperger’s syndrome as written by a female with asperger’s. I’m writing about how these particular characteristics help me to better understand myself and have allowed me to conclude that I am likely autistic.
Now, on to the next section in the Females with Aspergers Non-Official Checklist.
Section C: Escape and Friendship
Oh boy. I cannot think of the last time that I wasn’t involved with something that would be considered by many (if not most) to be a form of escaping. I’ll just write about the most recent times that I’ve escaped into something. When my mom died, I escaped into watching “Roseanne”, “The Office”, and creating a non-profit organization. That is also when I started escaping more online (something I had started doing when I was 14 and felt extremely alone in my obsessions and interests, especially at school). I started escaping into blogging and running a myspace page and online forums and well… it was just not healthy. I believe my use of those types of things are at a much healthier level now (for a while there, my husband claimed that whenever I was on the computer I’d not hear a word he was saying to me and I wouldn’t even know he was trying to talk). But that doesn’t mean I’m no longer escaping. I still escape stress in my life by watching television. I find myself feeling an overwhelming need to watch an episode of one of my favorite comedies whenever I feel stressed out. Television is like a medication for me. And I’m not saying that is a bad thing. Medication is not good for me (I’ve tried it all) and so if I can manage my anxiety fairly well without using it, all the better.
I will also escape through other methods, including ones mentioned in the checklist. Often I will become very lost in my thoughts, especially if I’m working on mundane tasks. I’ll find myself, while watching an unfamiliar movie, suddenly half way through it with no idea what’s going on. Same goes for books. I read books aloud to my kids on an almost daily basis and yet I have NO idea what I was reading to them because I was usually focused on something else while my mouth did the reading. This is why I prefer to just watch the same television shows over and over again… my brain doesn’t have to do as much work. Even if I’m watching a new episode of one of my favorite shows, at least I already know all of the characters and the basic story line so my brain doesn’t have to work too hard to keep up. It’s comforting, like putting on an old pair of shoes that you’ve already broken in.
Escaping through the rhythm of words is something to which I can also relate. I have often found myself, when unable to sleep at night, thinking about words. How they sound. How they look. What they feel like. I have a vivid memory of laying in bed one night and thinking about the name Matthew. Not because I was in love with a Matthew or knew a Matthew so much… I just was really fascinated by the way that name sounded. I bet I spent a full hour thinking about the name Matthew. There have been other times like that.
As a child, I don’t recall having many imaginary friends. At least not ones that I made up. I was, however, known to behave as if Laverne and Shirley were real-live people who would one day be a part of my life. I recall, before I was even school age, hiding behind my bed waiting for them to come and get me. There was no way they were moving to Hollywood without their biggest fan.
While I don’t remember feeling like my friends were “pawns” or “students”, I do remember feeling more comfortable in the leadership role in friendships. I didn’t have many of them but the ones that were most successful were ones where I was able to take charge. I think, to a certain extent, that still applies in my friendships today. My most successful friendships are ones where the other person is super laid back and doesn’t get his or her feathers ruffled easily by the things that I might say that others would deem as rude or aggressive.
Without a doubt, I remember when I realized that in order to be socially successful I would have to start imitating my peers. Since I mostly hated my peers, I made a choice at about the age of 12 to imitate celebrities instead. I imitated singers, bands, actors, authors. Anyone but my peers. I hated it when people imitated their peers. As a mom, when I started hanging out with people I actually liked, I started to become more influenced by my peers. I’ve tried to adopt the diets of my fellow crunchy moms, the tv viewing restrictions of other homeschool moms, the leniency of other unschoolers. None of that worked so I’m finally not doing that anymore. I just do my own thing. Whew. Weight lifted.
Obsessively collecting things? Um, yeah. Totally. In junior high, I had to own every single thing I saw that was a black and white cow or had a black and white cow pattern. I started collecting Pez dispensers until finally at some point I gave myself permission to stop. I collected music. I had this thought process that if I didn’t own every single recording by an artist, I wasn’t truly a fan. So I’d break my neck trying to get everything all of my “favorite” artists had ever done so that I could be labeled a true fan. I remember deciding to not let myself get into the Cure because I didn’t like the overwhelming number of albums in their collection. So, it took me years to let myself own a couple of their albums just because I liked those and only those albums. Cannot tell you how many cds are in my collection that I hate. But I had to have them to complete my “collection”. I don’t do this anymore… at least not about music. But when I’m in a health food store and I’m looking at supplements, I start to feel that old mindset creep in and I can’t breathe.
Escaping by playing the same music over and over? Yes. Just ask my quad mates from college.
Escaping through relationships? Totally. Romances, friendships… doesn’t matter. I will imagine all kinds of things about the relationships I find myself in. Way too early. Way too soon. I’m finally getting better about that. I think. But man it sure did hurt me many many times over the years.
Escaping into other rooms at parties… Well, as you can imagine, I’ve not been invited to a lot of parties in my time. Not since high school at least. I swear, I went to like two parties in college. I hosted one of them. And I pissed off a good friend for not letting her drive drunk and stealing her keys at another one. I was so cool. But recently my family was on “vacation” and visiting my husband’s very social extended family. They were having a shindig on their huge screened-in back porch. I started to panic. I stayed away and escaped into my headphones and an episode of “Arrested Development” on the iPad. I was okay. Then I saw my husband and I asked him to bring me a plate of food. He refused as that would “enable” me so I had to either go onto that porch where the people were or starve the rest of the evening. I finally mustered up the courage to go… but made a beeline for the alcohol first thing. I survived but honestly, I don’t feel glad that I made myself go out there. It would have been nice to have just had that plate of food brought to me. I’m not always like that. If it’s a group of people I trust and know, I’m quite social. But give me a group of strangers and I am a wreck.
Organizing and cleaning are very relaxing to me. I get a huge thrill out of finishing something up in the pantry or in the refrigerator. I love being able to rinse out a container for the recycling. It’s a strange thing to get so excited about. Organizing and cleaning out drawers and closets and shelves is actually on my mind a lot. My house is significantly less cluttered than the houses of most homeschoolers living in a small house with three kids I’d imagine. I do an amazing job of keeping things hauled out of here. Since “everything has a purpose”, I’m actually the opposite of a hoarder. I have to resist the urge to go into the rooms of my children and get rid of their things. And believe me, they don’t have an overabundance of things. They all have a healthy, normal, regular amount of things. I just think we all need fewer things than what we have. I could live out of a backpack, easily, as long as it was big enough for my vitamins and my blender.
Now that I’ve spent the last hour escaping into my writing, I’m going to try and get some more sleep. After I watch an episode of my favorite show. Okay, maybe I’m just going to watch some tv. Either way, be sure and stay tuned for the next installment in the series where I’ll talk about my poop and having been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder shortly after being dumped the day before my wedding. Dodged a bullet, that poor guy.
Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.