The Anxious Hiker

Earlier this afternoon, I had envisioned that I’d be coming home from our family hike and posting a whole host of gorgeous photos of my sweet children and their dad enjoying nature.  When I realized it was going to be about 60 degrees today, I suggested to my husband that we pick the boy up from play rehearsal and then take a hike.  After all, we rarely have chances to do things like that together as a family so why not?  What was stopping us?  And hiking was one of the things he had he missed the last time I talked to him about what interests he used to have that he could no longer pursue.

Now, let me make this clear.  I love hiking.  I didn’t use to be much of an outdoors girl but in the past few years, I’ve started to intentionally get outside more often.  I’ve taken note of the forecast and madeanxiety mental plans to take full advantage of any upcoming nice-weather days.  I am proud to say that there hasn’t been a nice, warmish (meaning above 40 degrees for me) day since the beginning of October that I haven’t taken a walk in or spent time at the park during.  I have simply turned into an outside nature lovin’ kinda girl.

And I love hiking.  As long as the hiking trails are fully surrounded by land or are not up high.  You see, I have some phobias.  I have anxiety.  About a lot of things to be sure.  But my primary source of anxiety is related to heights.  Always has been.  Unlike my mom, if I’m enclosed, heights don’t bother me. In fact, I kinda love being in the top of a tall building and looking out over a city or into a mountainside.  Take that solid window or wall away from me, and I start to freak out a little.  However, as long as there is a buffer zone, I can contain myself.  But if there is no buffer zone, I will lose. it.  Let me explain.  If there is a railing or a drop off of any kind with a height of more than, say, four feet, and I see a person sitting on, standing on, leaning over the rail or getting closer than maybe 3 feet to the edge, I start to panic.  The younger the person, the more I panic.  Put me in a situation where my husband is holding my four year old as he stands on a brick wall that is literally hundreds of feet above rushing water and rocks, I can’t handle it.

All I needed was for him to hold the child and step away from the brick wall by about a half foot.  That move alone totally took care of my anxiety.  And he did it when I said to him, “It’s okay for you but it’s not for me.” But he only did it after he’d argued with me, told me we were just going home, and becoming visibly angry.

Along the trail were drop-offs or cliffs as you might call them.  Also hundreds of feet above rushing water.  As long as my four year old was at least three feet away from the drop off and not running in his clunky Crocs, I was fine.  After I saw him running along the edge three times and I asked my husband to please hold him or hold his hand, he gave up on me.

We turned around.  There was still plenty of area to explore with which we all felt comfortable.  In fact, despite our turning around and not hiking the entire laid-out trail, my daughter was miserably tired by the time we arrived back to the vehicle.  So we hiked as much as she could handle anyway.Anxiety+Girl

But it was ruined for me.  I didn’t take any pictures.  I shut down.  My little one kept asking me to see this or look at that and I stopped even being able to respond to him.  For, you see, I was furious with myself for not being able to be the reckless wild adventurous parent.  I was angry with myself for not being able to trust my husband’s judgment (he’s been injured repeatedly on hiking trips to be fair… twice he ended up in a hospital).  But mostly I was just hurt that I wasn’t allowed to feel the way that I feel and not be considered to be bad.  Or crazy.  Or spoiling the fun.  We couldn’t just have a family hike that didn’t include “death plummets” as I so affectionately call a cliff.  It wasn’t enough that I want to go out and do the hiking and be in nature.  I have to like and be cool with all of it or it doesn’t count.

My efforts didn’t count.

We are home now.  I’ve showered, washed my hair, and I’m relaxing in the bed, gearing up for another crazy week of homeschool.  But my anxiety is still there.  The images of seeing my son so near the edge of a cliff, running, not being safe, are still flashing in my brain.  And each time it flashes, I gasp, my hands get sweatier, and there’s this little twinge in my head.  I don’t like being this way.  But it’s the way I am.  And living with my anxiety is my only option.  Because when I’ve tried to medicate it away, I’ve gotten so slow and sluggish that I wouldn’t have been physically able to take the hike if I was medicated anyway.  The thing is, as long as everyone around me will respect some of my boundaries and just accept them as part of who I am, I’ll get along just fine.  I certainly make compromises for the special needs that my husband and my children have.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask for them to pay me the same respect.

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Camp Charley at the Center for Courageous Kids

This weekend our family had the incredible opportunity to attend a wonderful camp for children who have had certain types of illnesses (leukemia being one of them) and their families.  The Center for Courageous Kids is in Scottsville, Kentucky and they host week long camps and weekend long retreats all year round.  The kids definitely want to go back again, both with their entire family but also for the week long oncology camp.  Siblings can attend that camp and both Hunter and Ronin are open to that possibility.

The location isn’t very far from our home.  The facility was beautiful and everything was neat and tidy.  Our only complaint was that we didn’t bring any of our board games so we’ll know to do that next time!

This weekend was jam packed with loads of fun activities, most of which my kids either had never experienced or had only experienced on a limited basis.

There was:

Trick or Treating,

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Fishing,

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Woodworking,

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Horseback Riding,

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Paddleboating, Archery,

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A bowling alley/game room, roasting s’mores, an open gym, and a great dining hall.

ImageThe staff accommodated for Hunter’s special dietary and sensory needs beautifully.   I also appreciated the medical presence on site as well as the fact that there is a small hospital less than five minutes from the camp’s property.  While this isn’t so important for us now, it made me smile to think that a child, no matter where he or she is on this medical journey could come and safely participate in camp activities and just be normal for a while.  While we were in the dining hall, Hunter got into the habit of putting on noise cancelling headphones in order to help block out the music and sounds from the crowd.  Now I know that we must own a pair for home.  I can’t wait to buy some tomorrow!

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Traditionally, each camp group signs a “Cubby” poster that is displayed in the dining hall throughout the year.

Our “Cubby” was a Halloween-themed Jack-o-lantern.

ImageAlso, we were assigned a wonderful volunteer to help us navigate camp all weekend.  We enjoyed getting to know Lauren.  Her favorite tv show is “Gilmore Girls”… we had plenty to talk about and the kids really had fun hanging out with her.

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Happy Halloween and Happy Fall!

Thank you, Center for Courageous Kids, for creating a full-filled weekend that our family will never forget.

See you next year!

Being an Aspergirl and Being a Wife: 5 Guidelines for Aspies to Consider Before Marriage

After I started writing about being an Aspie, I received an email from someone who had been reading my articles.  She had noticed that I wrote about being married and she wondered what else I might have to say on the topic.

It’s no secret that marriage has been hard for me.  Not only did my husband and I start out on really rocky ground, but, let’s face it, we’ve had a bunch of HUGE hurdles placed in our way during our journey.  It’s almost fair to say that the odds have been stacked against us.

While we are still technically married, I wish I could say that we haven’t given up.  Years ago, I gave up.  And just about the time I check back in, he gave up.  He continues to appear to be given up today even.  But I still hold out faith that as long as the papers haven’t been filed, there is a fighting chance that we’ll make it until death do us part.  That’s my goal at least.

I’m aware that marriage is not an easy peasy institution for anyone who enters into it.  No marriage is without challenges.  However, my marriage seems to have been particularly challenging.  As an aspie, I feel like it would have been nice to have had a bit more guidance when picking a mate so that I didn’t enter into a marriage that was essentially doomed from the start and that didn’t have to be so darned excruciating and difficult to live in.

So here are five guidelines I’ve written about that, I believe, would have been helpful to have had in place to better ensure (as if you can do such a thing) that I enter into a marriage that stood a great chance of being successful.

1.  Read books.  Whether you are a Christian or a Buddhist or an atheist or don’t know what you believe, it’s a good idea to read books about marriage. ( I don’t have any titles in mind as I haven’t read a lot of books about marriage.  But reading and learning seems like a good idea.) There are plenty of nonreligious books out there to choose from if that floats your boat.  It’s also a good idea to read books about communication.  As an only child who was raised by poor communicators, I had no clue until quite recently how much better I’d feel if I was able to communicate in a more constructive manner.  I’ve been reading a book entitled Nonviolent Communication and I wish that I’d read it as a teen.  Maybe if I had some of my other relationships would have been healthier.

2.  Have your partner read books about Asperger’s.  When I read through books that have been published recently about Aspies (particularly females with Asperger’s), I feel so validated, so at home, so understood.  I frequently ask my husband to read these books so as to better understand me but he refuses to.  I can’t help but wonder if maybe he’d “get me” better, especially at times when I’ve frustrated or annoyed him beyond all comprehension, if he’d just read the darned books.  Offer to read some books that might help you better understand your partner in exchange.  If he/she refuses to read the books, he/she probably isn’t the person for you anyway.

3.  Premarital Counseling.  And I’m not talking about going in to meet with a pastor a few times and taking some multiple choice test.  On paper you might look like a perfect match.  You both come from an unbroken home, both are white and middle class, well educated, intelligent, moral, upstanding citizens who seem to share similar values about important issues.  This means nothing.  And I mean that quite literally.  These ways of predicting “marital compatibility” really aggravate me as they are based upon statistics and in no way look at an individual’s personality, needs, weaknesses, strengths, or true desires.  So, while my husband and I passed with flying colors as perfect candidates for marriage according to the church, ten years later, the same man who gave us these evaluations told my husband that maybe he should move out and stop living with me.  Find a counselor who is familiar with your special needs and make sure you are very honest with that counselor.  They will happily steer you in the (true) right direction.

4.  Find an advocate.  At the time of my marriage, I was very alone.  The closest person in my life was the man I was marrying.  I had very few friends.  The ones I did have kept me at a distance.  Or also wanted to marry me.  I just simply didn’t have a support system.  I was no longer very close to my parents.  Though I spoke to them often, they didn’t know what was really going on in my life.  I wish that I’d had people who truly cared about me and knew me to talk to me about what was going on.  I had no idea that I was being treated in a way that I didn’t deserve… no idea that I was being manipulated and abused.  Now I see it.  But at the time I was just so smitten and had such poor self-worth that I didn’t realize I was setting myself up for hurt and failure.

A good advocate would be someone to whom you could speak about virtually anything, a person who understands and values you, a person who knows something about the needs of an individual with asperger’s or is willing to try.  This person should also be able to be honest with you without judging you. Perhaps a close friend, a sibling, or a parent could be an advocate for you.  If a parent knows the truth about how their child is being treated and still approves of the relationship, chances are pretty good that the child is not in an abusive relationship.  An exception would be if the parent was abusive or dealing with their own mental or emotional health issues.  Then they might not be the best advocate.

5.  Talk to your gut.  More often than not, your gut will tell you if you are in a healthy relationship.  If you feel the need to hide things that your partner says or does to you, you are most likely being abused.  If you feel worse about yourself after spending time with or talking to your partner, someone is unhealthy somewhere!  If you are questioning your physical or emotional safety in the relationship, this probably isn’t the relationship for you.  It’s never a good idea to enter into a marriage when your gut is telling you that you aren’t safe.  My gut told me that I was making a bad choice but since I just recently learned to listen to my gut, I ignored it at the time, assuming it was wrong.  Because I was wrong. I was always wrong.

Finally, I will say, that even if you missed all of the warning signs and decided to go ahead and get married anyway, that does not mean you don’t stand a fighting chance.  I like this quote by Ron Swanson from Season 3 Episode 9, “Fancy Party” of “Parks and Recreation”:  “You find somebody you like and you roll the dice.  That’s all anybody can do.”  There is so much truth to his statement.  We are all at risk for divorce.  No matter how Christian, how compatible, how ideal one’s circumstances, divorce is always a risk.  But, it isn’t a bad idea to try and take as many precautions before you marry as you possibly can, especially if you are dealing with extra challenges like Asperger’s.

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A life-changing read!

Just remember… if you meet someone who makes you laugh, who takes care of you, who lets you take care of them, who asks how your day was and is genuinely interested, who wants to know more and more about you, who is your very best friend, who is your biggest cheerleader, and who is the first person you want to call when something bad or sad or glad or anywhere in between happens… you probably have yourself a pretty decent mate.  Those types of people don’t come along very often.  Give them a shot.  It’s not going to get any better than that.

Update:  For the record, my husband is a good man.  With a good heart.  I know that he made choices in the past for which he’s not proud.  And I also know that he didn’t realize that he was hurting me and doing things that would cause me so much damage.  Just like I didn’t realize I was hurting him.  I don’t mean to imply that he’s an abuser and aware of what he was doing.  I believe we both abused and hurt one another, unknowingly.  Neither of us realized the toxic situation we were in.  We are both victims here.  Luckily we love each other, the Lord, and our children enough to keep on trying, despite the heartache.  Isn’t God amazing?

Shoveling Through the Mucky Muck

We are no longer unschoolers.  We are very much homeschoolers now that we have adopted the use of curriculum, the notion of a “school” day (and I actually use the word now because, even though we aren’t doing our stuff in an actual school, I’m no longer comfortable with shying away from the use of the word… so school it is), and the concept of the school year starting and finishing.  It fits us all pretty well, for the most part.  I still contend that my daughter is a perfectly good candidate for unschooling but she does just fine with homeschooling as well, so here we are.  Loving what we’re doing and experiencing more peace because of the structure and guidance I have provided.

We still follow many unschooling guidelines and notions, however.  Unlimited, very seldom censored media intake.  Choosing their own activities for when school is not in session.  Co-sleeping.  Parenting without punishment (and while I’d like to include threat, I can’t… sometimes it’s all I’ve got).  The list goes on and on.

I still have great respect for the unschooling movement.  I still read about unschooling weekly and enjoy keeping up with many of my favorite unschooling families on line.

Which leads me to the point of this post…

I have long since stopped following or heeding the advice of any unschooling “leaders”.  I have several parents, some who unschool, some who homeschool, a few of who public school, to whom I will reach out for advice if I need parenting feedback.  Any unschooling “leaders” or “gurus” or “prominent voices” have lost their appeal to me, many moons ago, when I felt they weren’t always nice or when I felt they were scary or when I felt they were creepy.  I just decided to drop the labels and do things my own way, by trusting my instincts and focusing on my children.

Yet information about so-called leaders in the unschooling “community” (if there is one) continues to seep through my dismissal by way of Facebook.  The recent controversy that has come to light surrounding a family in this community (either you know what I’m talking about or you don’t, that’s okay) has been a source of great stress for me.  Not because I’m taking sides.  Because I’m not.  Not because I’ve decided that one group is right and one group is wrong (on many levels I believe both groups are both right and wrong).  But because it’s become a bit of a crash course in sociology.  A dirty, sad, scary and upsetting peak into the human psyche.

I am often naive.  I have my gut reaction to things and that is all I’ve got because it’s not always easy for me to determine, using my head, if what someone does or says is okay or not.  So the gray areas that have become apparent during this entire ordeal have allowed me to read a lot about a real live situation where people do things that are very much out of my comfort zone, on both sides.  I find it both fascinating and educational.  The aspie in me is fervently taking notes.

This morning I awoke from yet another dream about this situation and these people.  I awoke with an idea.  I’d make a list of ten things that we could do in order to feel like we’re doing something productive if we’ve had a hard time processing what has unfolded.  A list of items we could use to restore some peace and calm back into our lives and the universe as a whole.  Perhaps I’m the only person on earth who is struggling with what is going on here… but I doubt that I am.

1.  Pray/Send out good vibes.  Say prayers for all parties involved, affected, and hurt by the circumstances surrounding this ordeal.

2.  Do a service project with your family.

3.  Speak with your children about honesty, integrity, compassion, and online bullying.

4.  Represent homeschool/unschooling well in your community.

5.  Apologize to a friend or loved one you may have hurt.  Really mean it.

6.  Become more transparent.  Show your true colors once in a while, both online and in real life, so that people who may be looking up to you and trying to emulate you can breathe a sigh of relief when they see you aren’t perfect or even when they see you aren’t trying to pretend that you are perfect.

7.  Live authentically.  Choose one thing inside of yourself that you need to work on.  And then do the work.

8.  Reach out to someone who you know might be in pain.  Offer them some words of encouragement.

9.  Be present with your children.  Turn off your phone, your iPad, your computer and be. with. your. kids.

10. Trust your gut.  Your instincts will tell you so much.  If only you will listen.

So, that’s it folks.  My prayer is that after writing about this, my poor tired brain will be able to lay it to rest.  I’ll be able to start doing some of the items on this list and move on.  I have healing to do and I wasn’t even a fan, friend, or follower of any of these people.  I can’t imagine the hurt they are all going through.

I Don’t Wear Glasses Anymore

After two and a half decades of wearing glasses (or contact lenses), I am no longer in need of visual repair.  Oh no, don’t worry, this isn’t some testimony about how I healed my eyes through the Law of Attraction or any other whooy wooy story that seems to be the trend among radical weirds such as myself.

No, I simply got laser surgery.

I’m not saying I regret getting the surgery.  There have been some cool things that I’ve noticed or enjoyed since ditching glasses, which I intend to note later.  But man, it was a pretty horrifying experience.  The anxiety I went through before the appointment over the unknown was pretty bad The anxiety I went through during the appointment about whether or not it was a reputable place or if I’d do something to somehow screw up the procedure and dealing with one particularly rude and condescending staff member (my husband backed me up on this one) was worse.  And the anxiety after the surgery, when I had to wait two weeks to really drive or see the tv very well… that was pretty terrible.  I convinced myself that I might never see again.  As ridiculous as it sounds, this is how my brain works.  I keep thinking about the procedure itself.  The red lights.  The tension in my body.  The deep desire to get up and run away.  The unimaginable pain that I was in for several days, particularly that night and the next day.  It was worse than my labors.  Because at least once those were over, I picked up a sweet little baby to cuddle and kiss on.  Sigh.  Fresh baby smell.

But I digress.

There are a few cool things that I can note, however, now that I can see just fine again.

They are…

*I can see in the shower.  To shave my legs a little better.  Not that it matters much. Since I don’t use a light in the shower because I prefer to not see. in. the. shower.

*I could, in theory, get in a pool without worrying about my glasses getting wet and also being able to see.  Except I don’t really like pools.  So I’ve not done that.

*I can see the clock when I wake up at night.  Which I hate.

*I don’t have to clean my glasses anymore.  This one I like.

*Sunglasses.  Two pair.  Cute ones too.

*Apparently I look even younger. And “different”.  I look different now.  Not sure that’s a good thing.

* No more looking for my glasses or asking people in the house to help me find my glasses.  Which I couldn’t find because I wasn’t wearing them.

*More pleasant jogging/walking/exercise experience.

*Dropping my glasses before I go to sleep and then having to either get up and find them and put them on my night stand or remember where they landed in the morning.  That sucked.

*No longer falling asleep in my glasses and waking up to either my husband or my daughter removing them (the later would also throw a sweet kiss in as a bonus)…. aww…. I kinda miss this one.

To be honest, I kinda miss my glasses.  I had black geeky glasses and funky red ones with yellow flowers and well… they were just such a fun fashion accessory.  But what’s done is done.  And having good vision is always a good thing, right?  Plus, if I were to ever pursue acting again, either professionally or within the community, I’ll be a more versatile candidate for various roles, right?

Exactly.

with

with

without

without

 

you decide. (not that it matters anyway.)

Why I Believe That I’m an Aspergirl Part 6

I had no idea that this would turn out to be such a… verbose series.  So many words!  In case you are just joining me, I’ve been breaking down the Females with Asperger’s Syndrome Non-Official Checklist and this is  the second to last entry in the series.

Section I: Confusion

I feel like I spend every day of my life beung confused.  I’m confused about the state of my marriage (are we trying right now?  is he about to leave me?  is he going to kick me out soon?).  I’m confused when Facebook changes.  I’m confused about how to use things like Twitter and Pinterest and even WordPress, which I’m trying to overcome right now.

Learning that people are not always honest (or good or kind or right) was very difficult for me.  I’m not sure I’ve learned it yet, actually.  I still think that if someone has lied to me or treated me badly, I must have done something to cause it.  It never occurred to me that I should avoid being around people who lied and so I didn’t avoid them and it’s gotten me into pretty distressing situations.  When people, ” ostracize, shun, belittle, trick, and betray”, I am also convinced that I must have deserved it.  I was recently shunned by a group of bloggers who had taken me on as a writer.  Then, suddenly, I’m wanting to talk about some vibes I was getting from them and the next thing I know, they have removed me from the group, changed my password, and refused to respond to my request to get my article back.  Who does that?  I have no idea what went down there but it felt bad.

Without my calendar, I cannot keep up with appointment times.  If it’s not written in my calendar, I will surely forget it.  That said, I’m good about referring to my calendar so appointments aren’t forgotten or missed around me… ever.

I’ve never really thought about it before but I’d say it is true that extreme emotions are easier for me to identify than more calm, even emotions.  In fact, I’m not sure I even recognize those more calm emotions in myself.  In those states, I’m just being.  And then bam, there’s a feeling and it’s big.  I think it might be fair to say that is why I seem to be having mood swings at times… because when a big emotion hits, it feels like it came out of no where but in reality it was creeping up inside and I didn’t notice until it was so much bigger and impossible to ignore.

Jokes have often been difficult for me.  It’s not so much that I don’t understand them or they “go over my head” but I just don’t think they are funny.  Which is interesting since comedy is one of my passions.  I guess the truth is that jokes aren’t a type of comedy that I like.  If someone is telling a joke, I may or may not think it is funny.  I find humor in the awkwardness of reality.  Which is probably why “The Office” is my favorite show.  To me, there are no jokes in those scripts… just a bunch of awkward and subtle interaction that gives us a glimpse inside of the people and their awkwardness or their desperation or their weakness.  Now THAT is funny. And relatable.

Many a time I have felt sorry for people who have persecuted me.  Rarely has there ever been a person who has been mean to me or done something to hurt me who didn’t end up with my sympathy.  It takes a LOT for me to fantasize about revenge against a person.  There is this one particular person who I am especially annoyed with.  I have never met her.  But she keeps doing something to me, indirectly, that I am really hating.  And as mad as I am at her, and as good as it felt to block her from my business facebook page just because I don’t like her, I still feel bad for her.  I can’t tell if I’m pathetic or a good person.  It’s just how I am.

I’m not sure that I really think that a small fight might signal the end of a relationship so much as in my experience, small fights HAVE signaled the end of a relationship.  I cannot think of too many times in my life where there has been a disagreement and the person didn’t abandon me afterward.  Occasionally they came back but when they did, there was irreparable damage done.

Small compliments do make my day and I will remember them for the rest of my life.  No joke.  I remember probably every nice thing that has ever been said to me.

Section J: Words and Patterns

Speaking of remembering things… I forget more than I remember but the things that I do remember about people or events are very odd things.  And it’s awkward when I see someone for the first time in years and I spout off something strange that I remember about them.  I hear, “I can’t believe you remember that” a lot.

You mean, liking to know word origins isn’t just a sign that I’m a nerd?  Hmm, who would have know?

“High interest in song lyrics” just makes me laugh.  I mean, I have spent so many hours of my life reading the lyrics to my favorite songs.  Analyzing them, memorizing them, clearing up parts that I may have misheard.  I see this in my daughter too.  She’s currently obsessed with the song “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.  She’s studied and learned every single word and now she proudly says she can rap.  I learned so much about history and pop culture from TMBG lyrics.  Their lyrics were a gift to my brain… learn the lyrics, look up the references, learn something cool.  Yay!

I wouldn’t say that I’m confused by multiple meanings of words… but I am exhilarated by it!  It’s so much fun when words have more than one meaning.  I want to learn them all!

I certainly have emotions that are connected to various words.  I use words or phrases from my past and emotions or memories come to me.  My favorite word is “salient”.  I learned it in college.  It makes me happy because it reminds me of my days of feeling smart for making good grades and doing research.  I also love cathartic for similar reasons.  Words are cool.

My assumption is that I have a visual memory.  I don’t remember things like I am reading a journal entry.  I remember pictures.  But the pictures rarely include the people in my memory.  They are blurred, like they would be in a dream.  What I see are the places, the environment.  And I remember emotions.  How I was feeling.  I am thankful for photographs or else I’d have no memory of what my kids looked like in their younger years.

Writing is one of my best anxiety relievers.  I’m using writing to relieve anxiety right now.

(Optional) Executive Functioning

Learning to drive a car was so terribly hard for me.  It took me years.  I had to take my driver’s test five times before I finally passed and even then I think they just finally gave me the license so that they could get rid of me.  Certain aspects of driving are still difficult and I prefer to avoid driving.  But my mom was like that and I hated it because we never went outside of our town because of it so driving is one of those things I do despite the anxiety it causes me.

Rounding corners sucks.  Just ask my poor bruised up hips and thighs.

Simple tasks can definitely cause me extreme hardship.  For instance, back when I used to try and balance a check book.  That.  Or reading and understanding “Lord of the Flies” in high school.  Or finding my car in a parking lot.  Or following the directions my gps gives me.  It’s not enough to have a gps.  That requires being able to follow directions and once in a while, that is too much for me all together.  Doesn’t help that my gps often leads me to the wrong location.

It is quite likely that I am dyslexic.  I definitely cannot follow steps, follow choreographed dance moves, fix things, assemble things, learn how to play a game from reading directions (I always rely upon my husband or my daughter to teach me), and yes, a trip to some grocery stores can be overwhelming.  There are certain days when driving and going out in public are just too much for me. Most of the time, I just have to suck it up.  And I end up offending someone or something because what I really needed was to stay at home!

In Part 7, I’ll talk about where I am in my journey and making peace with this self-diagnosis.  Thanks for reading.

Why I Believe That I’m an Aspergirl Part 5

Yay!  Welcome back!  I’m still analyzing the heck out of this checklist.  And now it’s time to talk about how flippin’ sensitive I am.  Maybe it would be more appropriate to have my husband write this section since he has to deal with the outcome of my sensitivities but, of course, that isn’t going to happen.  The fact that my husband, as far as I know, has never read my blog makes me cry.  But I digress.

Section G: Sensitive

Sleeping has become much easier now that I know that there are certain things I can and cannot wear to bed.  Also, it helps to know that if my sleeping environment is over the temperature of 68 degrees I will not sleep (which makes sleeping at someone else’s house very hard because they rarely want to have their house this cold).  Over the years I have learned that I need a white noise machine or else my “mom ears” will wake me up at just the slightest teensy bit of noise.  I don’t do well with certain types of covers… flannel sheets are a no-go.  Bed spreads are too heavy.  And,  I cannot sleep in the middle.  I have to be on the edge of the bed or else.  Everyone likes to cater to mom’s sleeping needs because if mom doesn’t sleep, mom isn’t happy.  And we all know what it’s like when mom isn’t happy, don’t we?

My dreams have always been wild and interesting.  I often have anxiety-filled dreams.  Especially if I’m going through a tough time (like losing my mom or having my kid go through a bone marrow transplant).  I have found that when my dreams become particularly difficult to deal with, there is relief in taking Holy Basil.  There have been several times in the past when I’ve had precognitive dreams.  For instance, I recall one time that I had a dream which predicted the storyline of the upcoming Baby-sitter’s Club book.  And another time I dreamed that my friend had gotten engaged and she had.  Like, that day.

I definitely feel as if I am highly intuitive to the feelings of others.  I can tell what people are feeling, especially toward me.  I am not always able to understand why they are feeling a certain way toward me but I can pick up a vibe that they don’t like me.  Which is probably why I feel uncomfortable in certain social situations (around my in-laws, at church)… I know that people are sending out negative vibes and while they may act perfectly nice on the surface, I can read their energy and I know I’m not getting a loving kindness vibe from them.  It’s usually a fearful vibe that I get from these people.  Which is strange to imagine… people being scared of me.  I also sense that folks are annoyed or put out by me.  They don’t have to just mutter profanity under their breaths after I speak to them (which happened with “family” recently)… I get that sense from more subtle behavior as well.  I often can tell that I’m not answering people’s questions sufficiently.  I am never sure how I was supposed to answer, I just know that I am supposed to answer differently than I did.  At this point, I’m usually exhausted and I need to retreat.  People, certain people, wear me out.

Criticism is not something I can deal well with.  I understand, on a cognitive level, that no one is perfect and constructive criticism is something we all need.  And frankly, if it’s done in a healthy manner, I can handle the criticism.  I will remember it the rest of my life but well-given criticism will be well-received.  I don’t let it damage my self-esteem or my relationship with the person who gave it.  But criticism that is dished out in a condescending or hurtful manner will destroy me.  Many times I have no idea what it is that I did wrong and I figuratively curl up in the fetal position and stay there until I’ve punished myself so deeply that I will surely not screw up again.  Yes, I know this is unhealthy.  And that when people say hurtful things or accuse you of doing something you didn’t do or saying something you didn’t say, it’s more about them than about you.  I just have a hard time feeling that and knowing it in my heart when I’m in the middle of a hurt.

Because I have always felt like I wasn’t right or good or normal, I’ve often found myself trying to change what I believed or how I behaved in order to gain acceptance from others.  This is how I ended up in a marriage that isn’t healthy.  When my future in-laws said that I couldn’t come around them as long as I had gay pride bumper stickers on my car, I should have thought to myself… “Hmm… gay pride is something that I believe in.  I probably don’t need these people in my life.”  But instead, to gain their “approval”, I removed the stickers and remembered to never mention my weekends at the gay clubs around them.  Of course now I see the tragedy of my mistake.  I thought that, since I was weird, I must have been wrong.  So I needed to try to be more like them.  Because they were “normal”.  And therefore right.  Right.  I’m proud of the fact that I’ve moved away from the mindset thanks to an amazing support system provided by my amazing friends.  But there is so much damage that has been done by trying to be someone who I am not simply because I didn’t think I was good enough being myself.  Now I know that God loves me just the way that I am, gay lovin’ and all.  Thankfully I have realized all of this in time to save my children from the same kind of heart break.

Daily I have to acknowledge that I am limited in so many areas.  I am dealing with some non-diagnosed learning difficulties.  My husband explains it this way… “I know you have some learning difficulties because often I have to explain something to you twenty different ways in order for you to understand.  But you are very smart.”  What he doesn’t realize is that a lot of the times, I don’t really understand and I’m just pretending to so that I don’t have to listen to him explain something anymore.  I do that a lot… pretending to understand.  I graduated with honors at the top of my class yet I can’t read and understand the directions in most board games.  It’s a strange thing… and I’d love to find help.  I am also limited socially.  Every Sunday morning I have to emotionally prepare myself for church. It’s so stressful. Luckily I’m teaching in a four-year-old classroom now and those kids don’t threaten me and make me cry the way the 3rd graders did.  But there is the whole having to say hello in the hallway to a million people who mostly didn’t know me before my kid was sick.  I liked being anonymous.  But now a lot of those people know my name and I don’t know their name.  And they speak to me.  Which is fine and normal.  But I miss the days where I could walk through the hall and keep my head down and know that no one noticed.

I am so sensitive to the suffering of others that I have had to limit what I watch on tv and in movies or read in books.  It will take over and I cannot function when I’ve read about suffering or watched something about suffering.  When someone I know and love is suffering, I just stop.  I have a hard time separating myself from it.  I want to create a plan to fix things or at the very least, provide my own assistance in some shape, form or fashion.  I will think, pray, research.  I simply cannot stand it.  I have to do something.  I was a vegetarian for many years because of a pamphlet sent to me by PETA.  I only started eating meat again because I was unable to be healthy and nurse my children the way I needed to without meat.  And so, even now, I have to zone out when I’m eating meat and think of other things because if I think of where the meat came from for too long, I’ll get sick.  In high school, I opted out of dissecting the animal in 10th grade.  I was the first person the teacher had seen refuse to do this but she allowed me to do the work in the library while everyone else did the dissection.  I was proud of myself for saying no to something that I couldn’t handle.  I do not collect animals.  I actually do not like living with animals very much.  But the other day when I saw that I had hit a turtle in the road, I started to cry and luckily my friend was with me and she was able to help me deal with those feelings.

Clearly I see certain things as an extension of myself.  I am a fangirl.  Particularly of “The Office” and the B-52s.  Everything that is going on with those things directly affects me, is related to me, and is about me.  Recently Cindy Wilson, one of the members of the B-52s was ill and they had to cancel tour dates.  You would have thought it was a family member who was sick.  In all honesty, I have referred to them as my family before.  But I even sent my husband a text with an update on Cindy’s health.  He did not respond.  :/  A good friend of mine has been trying to watch “The Office” and she’s tried several times for my sake.  She cannot get into it.  She has been scared to tell me for fear of hurting my feelings.  Yep, I guess that is a pretty good clue there that I have some issues with this!

Environmental sensitives affect my life deeply.  We have a completely chemical free home.  Not just because it’s better for us and we had a kid with cancer but also because chemicals. make. me. sick.  When I am in a regular supermarket or store (Dollar Tree and Walmart come to mind), I have to plan where I walk in order to avoid the cleaning products.  They give me such a headache.  When my son lived in the hospital, they would come in and clean his room and I swear, every time, I’d get a head ache that I’d need to sleep off.  I am also very sensitive to caffeine and alcohol… very little will affect me and so I have to limit myself to one.  One beer.  One glass of wine.  One cup of half caffeinated coffee.  My daughter can drink coffee all day and sleep at night.  One Trader Joe’s sample after noon and I’m up all night!  I am also sensitive to gluten and also beans and fried foods… I have to be careful about what I eat 🙂

Section H: Sense of Self

Until I became a mom, I feel that my sense of self was very shaky.  But I feel like I am living authentically and not trying to be anyone I’m not now, and it’s quite a relief.  Only trouble is that it’s not been good for my marriage.  So, whatever.  At least I can look at myself in the mirror again.  I don’t exactly feel trapped between wanting to be myself and wanting to fit in anymore.  I used to, but that is not an issue for me anymore.  I’ve grown.  I do often suppress my true wishes in order to keep the peace a lot of the times.  It doesn’t help that I have gotten in trouble so many times for being honest so I fear that if I admit that sometimes I want to fly out to live in California, someone will take my kids from me or something!

Rejecting social norms is something I started doing as a kid.  I couldn’t understand social norms or the people around me using them.  If I didn’t even care or try then when I messed up, it wouldn’t be a reflection upon me and my inability to conform.  People confused me and angered me so much that I wanted to be nothing like them (at least the ones I was around in my home town).  So if I tried to be different from them at least I’d not be like them.  Anyone and anything but them.  Now I know and love many people I admire and occasionally they will inspire me to do something or be something (like eating better or being nicer or treating my kids differently or something).  But for the most part, I am who I am who I am.  I will squelch who I am (not change but squelch) around certain people now… just because my true self has been tattled on and rejected and criticized so many times by these people that I know it’s pointless to be myself around them.  But I never change for others now.  Never.

I do have a young sounding voice and I’m not sure that I care about my appearance and hygiene very much even now.  I can remember the last time I got really dressed up… it was on my wedding day.  I didn’t even want to get dressed up then but, you know, wedding and all.  It was just a hassle.

As for difficulty recognizing faces… I don’t think I struggle with that too much.  But I do have a hard time picturing the faces of people.  Even my own children.  I am better at remembering weird random facts about pe0ple.  I remember people’s birthdays or things they love.  Like their favorite shows or movies or music.  I remember how they make me feel.  All of that makes a bigger impact in my memory than faces.

I often battle feelings of extreme isolation.  It always amazes me how a person can live with four other humans and a dog and still feel alone.  I have felt entirely alone in the world since the day my mom died and I’ve just recently started to feel less alone now that my kids are older and I can really open up and share myself with them and I see, the older two at least, accepting me and loving me unconditionally.  It’s pretty awesome to have their love.  But it’s often hard to feel like I can share every part of myself with my kids because who wants to burden children with the cares of an adult (and I use the word adult loosely)?  My friends help.  This blog helps.  Facebook helps.  But mostly I just feel completely alone in the world and it. sucks.

Join me next time when I explore confusion.  Thanks for reading.