I have been reading Safety Skills for Asperger Women: How to Save a Perfectly Good Female Life for months. Literally, I got it for my birthday in March and I have been reading it this long. There is so much information that has helped me that I have gone back and reread it. Some chapters I have camped out at for a while. There are so many confirmations and answers that I needed at this leg in my journey in life. Liane Holliday Willey’s book Pretending to Be Normal: Living With Asperger’s Syndrome was one of the first books I read where I began to realize without a doubt that I was an Aspergers woman. There were some indications that other books gave me, but when I read hers, it rang within in my spirit and I finally had some sort of new understanding about myself.
However, it took several years later to get my official diagnosis and then, the path to acceptance for myself.
I am still on an acceptance path. I gain new understanding about myself continually. Many times the way my brain works is that I write about it days, months, and yes, even sometimes years in advance before I am able to connect to what I am actually trying to discover about myself. My recent findings have been in the last three months. I have changed drastically in my real life. Some days I am not so strong, but those days are far less now. I no longer keep quiet about what hurts me, things that feel like mistreatments, or jokes/jabs that hurt me.
I speak up and tell people not to talk to me like that.
I also, tell them what they have done in the past to cause me pain if they feel that I am only speaking in the “heat” of the moment. Basically, the old Angel who spoke her mind is back, however, I am much more understanding as to how my words or actions could be considered rude or hurtful. I have not changed how I speak I have learned to explain myself better. I have become much more independent as I once was and I make it clear when I need a break or I need something done. It does not always happen the way I want it to, but the important thing is that I have my voice and I do not back down or put up with things that I should not.
I have gained some of my confidence back which, has led me to start to tackle some things that has hindered me throughout my life.
Back to my original paragraph, the book that I am reading has helped me in much of this process in the last several months. One chapter in particular titled “Broken Bonds: For When Something or Someone You Love Is Lost Forever.” I have read this chapter at least six times and processed the information. This is one of my major hang-ups. I think I may end up writing several posts about this so today I will share something that she wrote that really resonated for me about breaking bonds, but then move onto the section that triggered my investigation into perseveration.
“When bonds are broken, taken away, left behind or forced from our hand for any reason, it is devastating. Each time one of my bonds breaks, I feel like yet another string holding me up from the top to bottom is cut. Like a marionette, a part of me lies loose and slumped. Too many detachments and the chore of getting up and taking on another day become ever more complicated. Every broken bond breaks tips of trust off. Insecurities hang around waiting for these things to happen, for it is then when the plague of internal thoughts start to scream You’re no good! You’re crazy! You can’t be happy–you’re just too weird!”
I do not attach to people very much for this reason.
I have only felt a sense of connection in my “real” a few times. (I feel more connected to my internet friends.) I can count them on one hand. They ALL devastated me. They repeatedly connected with me and then, all the sudden they would be gone. Then, they would show up again. Then, gone. Then, back. To them they did not see it that way. For me, when I was communicating with them I was giving them my everything. I poured my soul into them like tiny threads linking my inner parts to theirs thinking that they were doing the same. I discovered that was not the case. (I would desperately try to reattach each severed thread when they came back, but the more it happened the more I would cut them and tie knots so they could never come back again. It hurt too much and it was too confusing.) However, I did not realize that until … what? The last two weeks, I would say is when it finally became clear in my brain. All of these years, with those relationships I felt that I must have done something wrong or that I was not good enough to cause them to treat me like that.
I believe this stems from the day that my dad left when I was around three and half.
My parents got a divorce, but it was not explained well even when I became old enough to understand. I spent the majority of my life trying to gain my father’s approval and love, but I always seemed to fall short. Not truly, that is what it felt like. My love, desire, and longing for my dad and my parents, confusing divorce was the first of my perseverating circles. I would loop, try to figure out what I did to cause them to divorce, try to find the puzzle to win my dad’s affections, wonder why he was such a different father to my half-sisters, why was I not good enough, but they were?
It went on for years, along with millions of spinning questions with no answers.
It went on until my mom finally told me the truths I so desperately needed to make the obsessive thoughts stop. It was about two years ago. All of those damaging self-attacking, self-destructive thoughts that haunted me, ate at me, and caused me to suffer in deep depression could have been stopped to some extent had I been told the answers that my brain needed to hear. I wish I could have the answers for the other things that cause me to perseverate, but the reality is that life does not always work that way. I am extremely appreciative to both my mom and dad for giving me answers recently to help me be able to move forward.
Not everyone gets that.
I digress. In the book, there was a paragraph titled “Keep a leash on your loyalty.” This is where she discussed perseveration. Many of us Aspie’s are very loyal. I find that my loyalty of heart has caused me much pain and pain to others. This has happened with family, friends, and significant others. In my case, a lot of my suffering comes from loss of dreams or imaginations. I do it with relationships too. I have not lost anyone in death that is close to me, but for me it feels like death when I lose a relationship that I do not want to lose or I do not know why I have lost it. That is what causes me heartbreak it can feel like a fresh wound with every confusing unanswerable. I have and do revisit the situations repeatedly.
They become obsessive thoughts.
Before, I thought I had no way to stop them. If my triggers were set off that was it. I knew that I would be spinning for hours, days, or months. One particular incident has been with me over 10 years. I have researched, prayed, pleaded with God to make it stop, considered myself insane, possibly having personality disorder, all sorts of things trying to figure out how to make it stop or go away. It does not work like that. Slowly, over the course of the month I have realized that these thoughts became my stim. They were my painful way of trying to gain control over what I had no control over. Over the years, I believe I have had trouble with love addiction it is not outlandish for a person who did not feel loved growing up and who was abused multiple times to be love starved and be afraid that once they got love they could lose it.
I also, dug deep into codependency again.
I am not naturally codependent, but many circumstances in my life led me to become that way. I did not realize it at the time, but whenever I started to feel those unhealthy patterns in myself, I would end a relationship. Whenever I got to that point, I normally did not have perseverating thoughts. When the other person ended the relationship or started to set sudden boundaries then, it would cause the perseverating thoughts. If they did not tell me clearly the what, when, why, and how my mind had to create something. It would cause me to create fantasies about the person and our relationship and irrational thoughts. Some of the things would be actual things and others would be my mind making them better or worse than they truly were. My anxiety would heighten and cause cognitive distortions manifesting paranoia at times. I speak in past tense because it is not as bad as it was even three months ago, but to be honest I still struggle with all of this.
One particular ex-boyfriend looped around in my head for nearly 20 years.
I did not know why I did it or how to make it stop. I would think of the thoughts as puzzles to put together. I would search and seek going this way and then, that way. It normally led me to trying to discover what the heck was wrong with my brain. Now I know that there is nothing wrong with my brain other than, I NEED ANSWERS! If I cannot figure it out with any logical reason, I obsess. I have gotten a grip on this in the last month, but it is hard. It is painful. My heartbreaks and I have to allow myself some time to deal with my perceived or actual loss. I have felt a great deal of loss in my life. The majority of them have been with dreams and relationships.
My longing for certain ambitions that I could never accomplish caused me to feel like a failure.
I know now that many of those desires were not my true giftings. I feel satisfied and accomplished with my writings. My writings include this blog, my poetry, my short stories; I have several books in the works, and the four poetry books that I did publish. Many of my writings have come out of my perseverating circles. They are my form of therapy and healing. Eventually, I find my peace and balance. I shared a lot about my thoughts and my personal experience, but this is not uncommon to Aspergers/Autistic individuals. Perseveration does not always manifest in the ways that I have shared.
“Perseveration is the uncontrolled repetition or continuation of a response (e.g., behavior, word, thought, activity, strategy, or emotion) in the absence of an ongoing occasion or rationale for that behavior or emotion (e.g., the topic or task requirements have changed). Perseverative behavior generally interferes with learning and adaptive behavior (e.g., effective interaction, on-task behavior, flexible shifting among topics and activities), and is believed to result from neurologic impairment.”
The link I provided gives some great information.
I have not only done this with relationships, but I shared this post in the way I did in order to help myself move forward. I do not want to stay stuck any longer and I am doing all that I can to ensure I become even more healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I will link to several other resources that I found that gave me some insight. I would like to add as well that Liane Holliday Willey said this at the end of her paragraph, “If you cannot get beyond the circle of obsessive perseverating seek professional help as soon as possible.”
Had I known what I was doing I would have.
It would have helped in some ways with my depressive thoughts, some fears, and certain anxieties. Not all of course, but I would not have wasted so much time trying to figure things out and bashing myself with negative self-talk about those things – I could have learned better coping skills. I am not saying that it will go away; I am simply saying that it can be handled in much more positive and proactive ways. Remember perseveration is not always a bad thing. Aspie Talk: Perseveration or Conversation? I have written many things and have had awesome moments of self-discovery because of my perseverating ways. Another read Interest or a Perseveration? When an Autistic Child’s Special Interest Sabotages Community Inclusion.
The first resource is a video that I think could help parents a great deal too. These happen in this household too, I am not the only one who does this.
On Art Therapy and Perseverating Thoughts (I paint when I lose my words. [Shutdown, cannot speak, or get my words out through my mouth or my hands.] There are times that I lose my words because of my perseverating thoughts that cause me to go into anxiety attacks.)
What is Love Addiction? (Love addiction is not all about romantic love; it can be with friendships and family as well.)