Tag Archives: social anxiety

A Day Of Pure Awesomeness!

Yesterday was a fabulous day, it was one of those days when everyone was feeling good and we seemed to be “flowing” as a family. I cannot think of a single day when all of us were feeling at ease and able to do things like we did yesterday — all in one day anyway. Despite the fact that I have had some stomach issues my mental state was rather calm — not feeling overly anxious or as if my mind was in a race with itself! Interestingly, the day before I was in an anxious state that was causing me some serious emotional ups and downs. I was pleasantly surprised to feel so good because we had planned on going to an Easter egg hunt at the Y. The kids have never experienced an Easter egg hunt except when I have done them in our yard. There was a small one at a church we went to a few years ago, but they were still fairly young.

They were very excited and I was excited for them.

I used to love going on egg hunts. My grandmother took me to the American Legion egg hunts when I was little almost every year. My mom really got into those types of things for me too so she always had our home dolled up in decorations and hid eggs and other goodies for me. Now that I think about it I have no idea how she did it because we had no money, especially no extra funds for such things, however; knowing my mom she probably took up some sort of extra work or sewed something for someone to get the extra cash. She always tried to make holidays grand. I digress … I went into a flashback of happy childhood moments. :-)

I was a little concerned about how the day was going to go.

The last few days Daniel has not been feeling too well either and Joshua has had a rough time of it with his auditory processing, more so than usual. I am not exactly sure as to why. It was such a beautiful morning that while I was at the store I decided to get them some bubbles and things to play with outside. I had hoped that this would help all of us with the excited/anxious energy while we waited until later in the afternoon to go to the egg hunt. It worked; we all played outside had bubble fun, and the neighbor gave us a frisbee while the kids played with that David and I had a nice round of badminton. I share that because it is a bit of a big deal to me that David came out to play too. He is not a fan of hot weather or being outside for very long.

After that we geared up to go and everyone was excited, but not too anxious.

The anxiety did not hit Daniel until we got there. He became overwhelmed with all of the kids, the new expereince, he did not understand why we had to wait, or why they did many of the things that they did. I gave him explanations, but the answers triggered even more questions. Because of this he was almost unable to collect eggs. I knew that he really wanted to and would have been disappointed if he did not participate so I finally told him, “Daniel I will answer all of your questions after you get your eggs. I know you want to get some eggs so let’s try and if you want to stop we will stop” He said, “Ok.” He collected his eggs and was glad he did. Ariel and Joshua took off and had a blast.

They had other things to do such as bouncy houses, a petting zoo, and pictures with the Easter Bunny.

While we were walking to the where those things were Daniel started to talk to me, but I could not understand him because he was talking so fast, but quietly. I got on my knees to be at his level so I could him better and he said, “Mom, I think I got overloaded because I did not know what was happening.” This was the first time that he communicated clearly what had caused him to feel anxious outside of our home environment. He has struggled with being able to express himself unless he is at home. I realized that he was also feeling badly about getting “overloaded,” but was not sure where to direct those negative feelings. It was a moment of understanding for myself too. There have been times and still are times when I am so excited and happy to do something, however; when I have no idea or a vague understanding of what is going to happen my anxious feelings overtake my “happy.”

They can cause me to become so frazzled and confused that the thing I wanted to do is no longer a fun thing, but a scary thing.

Growing up I internalized my feelings of frustration, confusion, and attacked myself with negative talk. I would and sometimes still do, breaking patterns takes time, think things like, Why can’t you just have fun? Why can’t you be like other people and just do it? Why can’t you just go with it? I did not have someone there to combat these negative thoughts, feelings, or to clear up my confusion. Quite honestly, I am not sure I could have communicated it which is why this is even more wonderful for Daniel because he did and that makes it possible to help him understand and rightly place these feelings. I expressed to him how amazing it was that he had the courage to try something new. He was feeling upset with himself so I pointed out all of the positive things that occurred.

I reminded him that most people feel anxious or want to know what is going to happen when they try something new.

He was flustered from the crowd of people and kids and all of the kids running around was overwhelming. I told him that many people feel that way too. Lately, when he has been anxious or overwhelmed I have been telling him that many people feel the same things. I give him examples and remind him that he is not alone, what I have seen is a new acceptance in himself. He is finding a sense of peace when I tell him about my own experiences or share others. I shared with him yesterday too on that grassy field and let him know that what he was feeling was ok and that he was not alone. Then, I asked him if he wanted to go on the bouncy slide and all things were happy again. We ran to the slide, but first made a stop to take a picture with the Easter Bunny.

The kids have never had their picture taken with Santa or the Easter Bunny.

It was another first, Daniel was not really into it and kept asking me, “Can it talk?” But he tried, and he discovered it was not too bad though he has no desire to do it again. :-) The kids had a wonderful time on the bouncy slide, they pet animals, Daniel is normally too afraid to touch or get close to any animals except our cat. He actually pet a bunny and got his face close to little goats! He laughed and smiled at the pigs, horse, and the cow. He stared at them with such a jolly face. Ariel and Joshua were having the time of their life. After it was over, Daniel requested to go somewhere else — he wanted to go to the park so he could swing.

We went to the park for over an hour.

Since it was getting into the late afternoon we asked if the kids wanted to go out to eat, I had not thought ahead for making dinner, Ariel and Joshua were all for it, Daniel was not sure until we suggested Boston’s they have gluten-free pizza. After that he was ready to go get some food. I had hoped that all would go well when we got home, but you never know how all of us will need to decompress. It was a lot yesterday and we were all tired. I suggested a bath for Daniel when we got home because I knew that would help him to have that relaxing time. He stayed in there for a while and came out as happy as could be talking and sharing about our day … asking more questions that had not been asked earlier.

David retreated to his room for quiet time.

Ariel, Joshua, and I cuddled on the couch watching some silly shows. We f\each found our calm. Today is going really well so far too, but sometimes the mind is still processing and may need to bring balance in some way that could be in the form of a shutdown or meltdown and that is ok. We need to feel safe enough to let us decompress. We have never been able to do so much in one day. We have never had an entire day expereince where everyone did fine and we did not need to go home, or go home and have a rough time of it for a while. It was fantastic to have everyone participate. I think it helped Daniel by having him involved in the decision making. We gave him (of course Ariel and Joshua too) the choice to try something or not. He was not pressured into doing anything that he did not want to and he knew that at anytime we could go home. He also, made a lot of choices on his own yesterday with positive outcomes. I have no doubt that this built into his self-esteem. That is our day of pure awesomeness as condensed as I could make it. :-)

I will stop and say Picture TIme!

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Experiencing Autism Acceptance In My Community

The first week of Autism Acceptance/Awareness Month has been incredible. I still use awareness because as much as I experienced autism acceptance this week I also, encountered many people who are unaware of autism. Being aware of something implies that you have an understanding, a sort of working knowledge. Several of the people that I encountered do not have this knowledge and they lacked understanding because autism is simply a word to them, or it is a mystery, a complexity to be figured out, and the representation of heartbroken parents and isolated/hurting children. I gave them a face, a personhood, an experience with a “real life Autistic” who could communicate some of the what’s and why’s about autism. In doing this, I was pleasantly surprised – I received acceptance, encouragement, and validation that I have not had in my physical world outside of family members I am close to.

During the months of February and March, I realized that I was becoming more vocal about autism, in regards to Daniel, Joshua, and myself with people.

I was shocked on several occasions when people started conversations with me that eventually led to a topics such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, learning challenges, which I tend to be able to discuss without any difficulties or fear of rejection, but I found myself openly discussing and sharing our personal experience with autism. I even found myself sharing that I am diagnosed Aspergers. I plan on writing a post about why I have been hesitant in sharing my own diagnosis with people in the next few days, but to get to the root of it I have been afraid of how people would respond — I must be overcoming this fear because I have been telling practically everyone I discuss autism with that I am Autistic too! This is a huge piece of self-acceptance for me and it is helping to build my confidence for my ultimate hope which is to share with several of my family members.

Here are a few circumstances that have filled me with hope.

A couple of weeks ago, a woman from my cycle class and I sparked a conversation that started with her going on vacation, leading into seasonal depression among other things, and eventually led into me sharing about Daniel, Joshua, and myself. This openness led her to share about her sister who has a child with severe autism and a specific type of epilepsy. While I do not know her experience, I can relate, empathize, and share similar experiences – it meant something to both of us to share and have that connection. She was very accepting and though she did not say the words “You don’t seem Autistic” I could feel it. I was not offended – I understand that a vast majority of people have no idea what many Autistics go through or what we learned to do in order to cope with social situations and our environmental surroundings.

Quick interjection: I understand that it is challenging for parents/caregivers/family members/people to comprehend that Autistics who can talk or seem “high-functioning” can compare in any capacity with their loved ones or Autistic individuals in their lives who cannot communicate and are diagnosed as severe Autistics. I understand and I am sympathetic; however, I wish we could bridge this gap and find common ground in order to learn from both sides — all of us becoming more aware of personal experiences leading into acceptance and action.

Back to it!

The more people I have shared with, the more that I understand this. I try to simply explain that I can do very well at masking, mirroring, and mimicking my way when necessary, but that it is exhausting and draining. My other hope is to be able to build these types of relationships in my community so I can express to people how challenging social encounters and our environment can be. I know that many of the things I do to survive in social situations are now automatic coping mechanisms that take over. I do not even think about some of them and at times I feel as though I am having an out-of-body experience. I can see and hear myself, but I have no idea what I am saying or why I am saying something. Some of them are good and others are not – for instance, when I start babbling on and on and end up saying/sharing too much. I can work myself into confusion. I am trying to learn the ones that cause me to go into anxious loops or become overwhelmed — the more I am able to identify them and be mindful the more I am capable of having a positive social experience.

Some of my automatic responses caused me intense anxiety and obsessive looping over conversations.

I’ve noticed that my recovery time and looping have shortened the more that I embrace my identity. This is most likely part of the reason for my new openness and ease of verbal communication. I am experiencing a new ability to speak without my words coming too quickly or becoming too jumbled, confused, and frustrated. However, I also know how fragile I can be, so if I have one perceived negative encounter, I could spiral — I know how to process those moments better now, but it still happens. People have no idea. Many would never consider that while I am talking to them I’m spending a large amount of energy trying to be conscious and combing over every word I say in hopes that I am not misunderstood, inappropriate, not offensive, not monopolizing the conversation, or so odd that I get the “look” … you know the look where someone feels uncomfortable and wants to get away from you as quickly as possible?

I have gained a new awareness of these things – it helps with my own acceptance and ability to help myself. 

By saying new awareness, what I mean is that I had no comprehension, connection with mind and body – true awareness. My mind was working so hard on trying to control/understand my social experience that it struggles enough trying to process/filter/analyze/categorize all the sensory, emotional, physical, and the multitude of other non-verbal input. I do a great job at acting when I am having a good week. On a bad week, I usually do not talk, or I am more focused when I go into social settings. I make sure that I am alone as much as possible. People do not know any of this as they only see the hour or two of Angel at her best. It is when I get home that all of that intensity and processing begin to feel safe enough to unleash inside my brain and body. I have not been able to share things like that with people until this week and it has been received in positive ways. A while ago one of the women at the home school co-op messaged me about a woman who was going through the process of getting her daughter diagnosed for autism. She shared with the woman about me and the woman friended me on facebook.

I waited a few weeks for her to contact me, but she never did.

One day, I decided to reach out her. I had no idea about her views on autism so I explained to her about my family and told her that I was Autistic/Aspergers. I shared with her some of our story and experience with Daniel and I offered to give and share any resources I could with her. I approached her with acceptance whatever her views were, but I also made it clear what mine were about autism. She was receptive — we finally met this week and she was wonderful. Her heart is that of a loving mother who wants to help her daughter, but not only that, she wants to understand. She does not want to fix her daughter – she wants to build upon and work with her strengths. It filled me with hope for her family and as an Autistic. She was accepting of me and was appreciative for all that I shared. All week long I have ended up in conversations with people about autism.

The Autism Awareness campaigns around town have put it on people’s minds and it has given many unexpected opportunities to share.

I have found it interesting that several people have approached me with questions. At the home school co-op on Friday, a woman who I had not expected to have any interest approached me with some questions. We had a very good conversation and she shared that she believes that the little boy she babysits is somewhere on the spectrum. It does seem that way after talking to her and I was able to share with her the possible reasons for his responses. She was thankful for my insights and said that she wanted to “pick my brain” (yeah, I had to get past that visual! It was a good thing I understood that idiom). I did not realize how many of the women there had been watching me interact with Daniel. They have said things to me, which confused me and made me wonder what they meant.

I took some of their comments as hurtful and kind of isolated myself.

However, I noticed that after the first initial interaction, they tried to involve me in their own ways. In a group dynamic, especially with mostly women, they sense when one is going astray and will try to get you involved in the group. It can be a good thing sometimes, if I can overcome my instinctive resistance. :-) I was never aggressive with sharing about our lives, but when they asked me questions, I answered them and combated myths in a way that made them think. I was not sure if it truly made them think, but after Friday I believe it planted some good seeds. I did not dismiss them immediately and I listened to their thoughts – I believe this helped make me feel approachable. No question has ever been “wrong” or too much for me, but I do answer as directly as possible in kindness.

Sometimes I am sure that they wished they had not asked me questions about my “special interest” or maybe they did who knows.

In the midst of questions from the woman, I told her that I was Autistic without any hesitation and I explained to her how the Autistic brain processes differently. I used the visuals that flooded my mind in order to help her try to “see” what it feels like — it seemed to help her a lot. I also expressed how each autistic experience can be very different – though we share many similarities, we cannot all be categorized or thought of in the exact same ways for our needs, strengths, desires, or how we learn, express ourselves etc… On Friday, I actually shared with several people about our autism life. I was able to share with people the diversity of autism within our own household, it helped bring awareness of how different autism is for each individual – many people are still not aware of this.

They do not have a working knowing or consciousness of the vast differences within the Autism Community and Autistic individuals.

This needs to be common knowledge in order to bring about the specific needs for each Autistic child and adult. Interestingly, I have discovered several people who are in my workout groups who have worked with Autistics, are currently working with ASD adults/children, or have friends, family with them in their lives in some capacity. It has been a wonderful experience for me after being so hurt and confused by my experience with people and family (Some Of My Story I …) not talking about it or deeming it as a negative. However, I think one of the most reassuring experiences was at Daniel’s music therapy. A couple of weeks ago, the therapist who owns and operates it and I ended up having a conversation that led into me sharing our life and my personal journey of being an undiagnosed Autistic until a couple of years ago.

I had no idea that our story would be inspiring, but apparently it was and she asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed for a video sharing our story.

I said yes without qualms because I have wanted to get involved in our community in some way, but had not found any place that had common autism values. She also shared that she was going to start an autism school in the next school year that uses the “assume competence approach.” I offered to help in any way possible. They are modeling the school after a school in Arizona that uses neurological music therapy. I will not go into it now, but my soul literally sang with joy when she explained to me their plans. Our community is recognizing the need for change, but many people have no idea what that means or what it looks like.

The challenge with any new paradigm is changing the old ways of thinking.

However, I am up for the challenge and look forward to moving forward in helping parents, caregivers, and especially Autistics in my community. Things are fast moving, but there is a lot to do. As I learn and participate more I will share the happenings. :-)  I plan to help with parent support groups as soon as possible. I hope that with David’s community connections we can help this movement in our community from awareness to acceptance, and reveal better ways to take action. This first week of Autism Acceptance/Awareness Month has boosted my enthusiasm for autism acceptance in my community, and ironically it has also given me a much needed boost in my own autism acceptance.

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I Love My Birthday … Well, I Used To Much More

Today is my birthday! I am 41 years-old and I love getting older. After a life of confusion, frustration, so many traumatic experiences … etc. and so forth to be able to celebrate the day of my birth and finally, understand why I am the way I am as well as be able to accept me is a great thing to celebrate. (Long sentence, huh?) I wrote a post in 2011 giving the reasons why my birthday means so much to me you can read it here What’s In A Birthday? It is not frivolous nor does it have anything to do with being a “diva” for the day. I am genuinely thankful to have a birthday because I was a child who was almost aborted. I share some of the story in that post above. However, I will not discuss abortion views or opinions so please do not comment on that.

I cannot say exactly why I am here or why it had to take this long to actually feel like I have value enough to share air with the rest of world, but I am here.

Prism ~ Artist Helene Kippert

Prism ~ Artist Helene Kippert

I am here, and I have been thinking a lot about how long I have kept quiet and even discovered that I have been overcome with shame about who I am. I love my birthday, I enjoy the day and I am not going to lie I love presents. I don’t care what they are I just enjoy getting them and unwrapping them. However, for the past few years a steading foreboding has begun to shadow my joyous day and it is Autism Awareness month.

March and April used to be two of my favorite months, they are being swallowed with the approach of fundraising and constant “panic” about Autism.

Not only does it stir up some intense emotions about autism and how it is viewed in our society, but it stirs dread. It creates a battle within myself of feeling happiness for my newfound acceptance and understanding for myself and it unravels my triggers of being misunderstood and condemned for being different. The added components of my own children being misunderstood, spoken of as a “tragedy and a burden” layers on new emotions that make me so sad and sometimes defeated. I am determined though, to not allow this to overcome me.

Today is my birthday and I will enjoy it!

In a couple of days Autism Awareness Month will be here, that is the last time I call it that because it should be Autism Acceptance a call to action for the world to learn, understand, accept, and move forward in educating everyone on how to help Autistics and their families. I plan on writing the month of April on several topics in regards to Autism Awareness month. I am not exactly sure what I will share, but I do plan on taking the month back and focusing on staying positive and not allowing ignorance, campaigns for organizations to get more money, or the lack of true action and help for Autistic families. I plan to look at what I read and see with positive and hopeful eyes. We’ll see how it goes. :-) I said, this on facebook the other day “I think I may turn it on “rainbow” or light it up “kaleidoscopic” for the month of April.”

Maybe if many people looked at Autism through a prism instead of blue they would see a lot more positive too. 

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“Just Be My Friend” I

This post ended up being close to 4000 words and still counting … I decided to break it up and give a little summery/disclaimer as well. This is a whole train of thought culminated throughout an almost three year process. I think I mentioned it several months ago, but I cannot find the post where I said I was writing about transitions and how I asked David to be my friend. I needed the “wife” expectations off of me and I wanted to get to know David; feeling safe. I do not feel safe in the context of marriage or a romantic relationship. As I have been blogging I discovered that the root of many of my issues has been social confusion and being utterly perplexed by humans – those I do not know and those closest to me. In my own self-examinations I also found some very key reasons for why I get hurt, confused, frustrated, and tend to isolate myself. This particular thought process contains thoughts and ponderings leading to why I ultimately asked David to “just be my friend” and allow me to heal.

I was in no state of being able to be a “spouse” and I share why at some point of this wordy post.

However, I cannot jump to it right away there are many levels to these thoughts and history that I have had to process through – mainly coming to a greater understanding of manipulation and how people who are deeply hurt or so desperate that they do anything to control their relationships.  I have been easily controlled in the past because I did not understand that people manipulated like that. There is no way around it all of us manipulate to some degree, babies do it from the beginning to get what they want or need. Manipulation is not necessarily bad – it becomes a bad thing when you lose yourself — when the person now controls your emotional state. When you feel like you have to have them in order to survive — when you can no longer have an autonomous thought without feeling as if you have done something wrong. That is when manipulation is being used in a harmful destructive manner.

Many people are not even aware that they are doing it because it has been taught to them.

Those forms of manipulation become so ingrained that it is hard to see and it embodies a fear of rejection so intense that it can feel unbearable to even consider changing unhealthy life/mind patterns. David and I decided that we had to take hold of the unhealthy patterns we had been taught and that we created on our own as a means of protection and self-preservation. We decided that we were no longer going to live in a “survival” mindset when it came to our relationship and we ripped open the painful task of revealing to each other our biggest fears, pains, and damaging thoughts to become people who strive at creating healthy life patterns and coping skills first for our children, it obviously has manifested to ourselves into to reaching out and building other healthy relationships.  I share all of that so you are aware that everything I share in these next few posts David knows and is completely supportive. We are a team working together for both of us to heal and create a balanced loving relationship.

And now onto the first post …

I have not had many successful relationships. When it comes to romantic relationships, my track record is zero with the exception of my relationship with David, however; I am about to share with you how it has and is transitioning into a healthy relationship. With friendships I have several that I have kept over the years, but as I have written about before I am not really “best friend” material in the sense that I am not willing to sacrifice my time that belongs to my family or my own sanity to keep a friendship that requires too much emotional needs or wants. It is not that I do not want to, I do. As a matter-of-fact that is what I am accustomed to doing and in the process I lose all sense of self and identity. My identity becomes “helping” them or feeding their never-ending need for the “love” drug I like to call it. I am referring to a personality that drains me because they are never satisfied. They only come around when no one else is giving them what they want — their fix.

They get enthused and excited with my directness and how I constantly place the responsibility back onto them to make their own decisions.  

However, this too is another reason why I do not keep friends like that for long because I do not satisfy their insatiable need for feeling good. They do not want to change they want to feel better — I am not the person for that.  I give no fluff answers and I tend to ask the hard questions seeking the root of the issue instead of whitewashing so they continue in unhealthy patterns. I seek balanced types of relationships myself. I do not want people in my life that will not be a positive influence for growth and change from unhealthy patterns.  Yes, there needs to be balance, compassion, and sensitivity in the process, but to me that is a relationship. It hurts sometimes, but the outcome is always a stronger and more stable relationship — not another person’s emotional needs to be fulfilled at the cost of my own emotions. I learned the hard way that those relationships lead me into confusion and depression for various reasons so I set boundaries. That goes for any relationship, family, friends, and yes, spouse.

When I was single, it was much easier to bounce back and go back into being someone’s emotional support.

I had also; succumb to such relationships because I had been taught that my emotions did not matter and that my duty on earth was to ensure that everyone else was happy. I desired peace at all costs (still do, still a huge struggle) so I did what I needed in order to try to keep people calm and stable … thinking that it would help them. You cannot help those who do not want help – once you become the emotional dopamine for an individual you are no longer in a relationship now you are their drug when they need you and when they get their fix they leave — only to return when they are down again. They become your emotional dopamine too! I have encountered this throughout my life with many relationships –- all sorts of relationships from siblings to coworkers. However, throughout the years I continued to fall into it because I have never had a good example of what healthy friendship looked like, parental relationships, romantic relationships, etc … I will interject here and say, with these relationships I think I believed that in some way I was in control.

I was not in control at all because their emotional state determined how I felt, acted, basically lived my life.

It would revolve around them and that my friends is co-dependency. I grew up learning this from various relationships from my parents to boyfriends — the co-dependent, the enabler; although the way I believed it to be was that I was the “supporter.” My instinct is to help people; I thrive when I am in a position to help others. It is a drive that naturally comes out of me. I help in any way I can, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, whatever I can do. This part of me has been taken advantage of so often that it led to spirals of deep depression and painful social confusion. When David and I met the familiarity that I felt with him set off red flags, but they were also drowned out because of years of being conformed into co-dependent/enabler type of relationships. I have this instantaneous pull toward those who share this familiarity it is similar with those who are alcoholics and other types of additive wirings.

I will have a knee-jerk reaction to get as far away from them as possible while feeling this strong urge that I need them.

All of this plays a huge role in my past relationships as well as my current ones. In the past, I did not know how to set boundaries or what types of relationships were toxic for me. When I met David I was in a very vulnerable place. I was suffering from severe heartbreak from several relationships that ended. I was separated from my spouse at the time, I had fallen in love as so many describe it to be for the first time (I have yet to feel such intense emotions or connection with another person still, I believe I have sorted out the reasons for this in many ways, much of it has to do with brain chemistry and attractions. Some attractions may feel right, but they may not be the best for either party.) and I was in great turmoil because it was not my spouse at the time! That gnawed at my moral compass and my religious views creating a great depth of self-hatred because I could not stop the attraction and pull toward the person.

My church had accused me of doing things I had not done.

I was voted out by the elders to no longer be allowed to teach Sunday school based on rumors, the person who I loved did not return my affections, and shortly after that I was laid off from my job. (If you have been reading my blog a while, I know I have written about much of this before, but I need to write it out to help all of my thoughts process where I am at currently in my journey.) I had felt abandoned on so many levels and confused because of my own emotions. I was desperately trying to find my place in the world. I got a job being a personnel manager at a temporary agency which was nothing but social interaction and I worked for a boss who was erratic, I became extremely ill, physically I was malnourished because I lacked funds for food. I was also working about 45 to 50 hours a week of constant social interactions via in person, email, phone, and snail mail correspondence. My spare time was spent devoted to worship services, small group, leadership training, prayer meetings, and serving in whatever way I could.

I was single and devoted to the “work of the Lord.”

I was mentally drained, spiritually, emotionally, and physically fatigued. I would literally collapse on my days off or after church. Some weekends I could not move from my couch from pure exhaustion and the need for solitude. After learning more about oxytocin I feel that possibly what happened during that time was that my already depleted levels were drained even more from perceived and real rejection. I lost even more of my trust in myself and the people I had so heavily relied upon to show me love, acceptance, and trust. It confirmed for me that I was unlovable and could trust no one. Love was untrue, unattainable, and not for me, but you know I had come to that conclusion years ago as a child. I did not understand that the “feelings” of love were not the same as actual love. See I struggle with feeling love or knowing when people love me, before the “attack” of rejection came upon me by my community, I had felt accepted and for the first time loved back by many people and even by one person — I had actually felt strong emotional connections between us both. When he too rejected me as a friend and a possible significant other my soul withered.

Being rejected by them was proof that I knew nothing of love and I sure as heck could not understand when someone loved me — ever.

I was very vulnerable when David and I met. However, from his perspective he saw none of this. He shared with me that what saw was a strong confident woman, full of compassion, and direction. He said that I seemed to “glow.” He watched me from afar and felt that I was “out of his league.” Though if you met David with his strong personality it does not seem likely that anyone would intimate him — not many people do. He was right about my confidence and direction; I wanted to be a woman pastor at the time. I wanted to help and serve people as much as possible and I figured, why not as a pastor?” That church, which proved to be one of the most positive experiences in my life encouraged me and were grooming me to be a leader, they never said I could not be a pastor though my mentors did say it would be a bit of a challenge in the U.S. When I left them to move to another state, I encountered so much disillusionment with the community I had been in that the sense of rejection consumed me … Next post leads into some of where David was at during this season of our lives.

I am convinced the glowing part was from the intimate lighting that the worship center had during services. ;-)

To understand a little more about our current transition that David and I have both been going through here are some posts I wrote about our relationship back in February 2011 Just Me, Myself and Cats? and The New Journey.

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Latest Special Interest “Lie to Me”

I am not sure if anyone caught on who has been reading my blog for a while, but I have gone into a slight psychopath/narcissist/liar special interest over the year. I actually, started research about narcissists in 2002. I got caught up in my religion special interest and put that one on the back burner – little did I know that the two would interweave later in my life. I have not shared that much about my religious experience and I am still not sure that I will. It is too touchy and I would feel awful if people misunderstood my intentions. However, I do have a painful history with church and church leaders/people. I have shared several of those experiences on here, but I still have not gone in-depth. I have found that my special interest regarding how the brain works and why people act the way they do has been with me since childhood.

I believe it stemmed from trying to figure out my parents and seeking ways to protect myself from emotional pain.

If I could only figure why then, I could let it go! However, I have discovered that sometimes the whys are unanswerable or the reality of the why may be more painful than not understanding. Although, if I had a choice I would still want to know why because I can work with that — I do not work well with unasnwerables. Though my special interest in human behaviors and mental workings has been with me a lifetime, I still find myself constantly learning something new. I think that may be what keeps my spark going — humans always change, but somehow stay the same! Oxymoron. I have a love-hate feeling about that. I would not want to bind myself to being exactly the same all the time, however; a dabble of consistency would be nice from some fellow humans. :-)

I am garrulous today, forgive me.

I find it interesting how there are vast beliefs and emotions when it comes to sociopaths and narcissists. I had never really given it any thought until I read several things that referred to Autistics/Asperger’s as narcissists. I have my own personal story in dealing with a narcissist (a few actually) that I am not comfortable writing about. I have written plenty about the topic and about manipulators, but I see no need to share some of my personal stories at the time – I indicated as much above, but I do have some others that have been much closer and quite frankly, scarier in my life. I think out of everything that I read the one thing that helped me the most was discovering that they are about “crazy-making.” Their tactics wear you down and eventually strip you of your abilities to discern and trust your instincts.

The constant self-doubt and being molded into not trusting anyone but them causes you to become blind to many things.

In a way you have to in order to survive. They instill such fear and anxiety directly or indirectly with stealthy manipulations and dismantling of your identity that one feels they MUST do whatever it takes to keep that relationship — no matter how painful, demeaning, or agonizing it is the feeling of being nothing unless they are there is too consuming. The fear of abandonment is too powerful. In order to protect any sense of self, no matter how little may be left — you hide it away, but the interesting thing is that the sliver that is tucked away has become extremely acute in detecting unseen things. That detection becomes an impressive emotional reader, lie detector, and has adapted keen abilities in learning how to read people’s real emotions not based upon body language, words, or how they are perceived by others.

There is a constant battle within oneself with the instinctive knowing and the constant state of self-doubt.

I have a theory that there are many of us who are Autistic that have the ability to read people’s true emotions as well because we do not look to what others look for when communicating. In my feeble mind-meanderings, I have resolved that those of us who have been abused could possibly have gained some great intuitive abilities at reading people’s actual motives or emotions because we have had to in order to survive. However, our social confusion and constantly being told that we are wrong or have misunderstood caused us to second guess ourselves to the point of questioning our ability. Some of us, like myself cling to language and rely upon words to navigate though that method will fail. People use words all the time in the wrong context, out of context, laced with emotions which will give them different meanings, inaccurate definitions, and meanings can get lost in translation.

I have found that my means of trying to understand the world caused me more confusion because I spoke a different language.

Even though we shared the same words our intent or definitions were different. I tried to use words because I felt that I could not rely on my nonverbal readings of people. I am not very good at reading body language and I tend to see people’s faces as blurred when I am looking at them. I focus on their lips and eyebrows normally, I do try to make eye contact as much as possible when I remember to let them know that I am engaged, but I cannot keep a steady flow of eye contact. It is too much input for me. My brain gets overwhelmed trying to process emotion, words, thoughts, and all of the images flooding my head with the conversation. I do think in pictures, but my pictures are also, connected to colors, smells, numbers, data collected, fleeting ideas, emotions, music, words, etc …

Since, I am now aware of this about myself I have been able to have conversations much easier.

By that I mean I no longer feel like I am wrong for not looking at a person or when my words get all jumbled and I cannot get them out I allow myself to slow down. I have also allowed myself to stop, close my eyes or look away until I am able to get my words. I used to get so frustrated or overcome with feeling foolish because I-could-not-talk! The negative thoughts would enhance my feelings of inadequacy and fill me with anxiety. Not only did I feel this because I felt overwhelmed, but many times what I was/am feeling from a person’s presence did/does not match the words, tone, movements, or expressions that I do notice on their face. It took me a while, but all this leads into my latest special interest. Have you heard of the TV show “Lie to Me” inspired by the research done by Dr. Paul Ekman? I stumbled upon information about him a while ago, but had forgotten all about it until one night when I was too fatigued to do anything but sit on the couch. I decided to pull up Netflix and was intrigued by the show so I watched it.

After watching the first episode, I went into research mode to find out about this research and methods pertaining to micro expressions and deception.

I was elated to find books written by Paul Ekman, Ph.D. I am currently reading three different ones by him. Yes, at the same time I am rotating the books and making connections. As I was reading I thought how amazing this research and practice would be for Autistics. I wondered if they were using any methods or curriculum to help Autistics, but it was a fleeting thought. Until I found a video that showed some intriguing curriculum in development where indeed they are doing this, however; I can no longer find the video in English I did find it German - sorry no translation. :-) I thought this could be really beneficial to some of us who are Autistic. Apparently, I am a little late to the party because I found several people talking about using micro expression with Autistics – I see that as a good thing there could be some real positives from it. I am not on any real venture here; I am just excited and intrigued about the research and possibilities. (Sharing my ramblings)

I have had a lot of curious thoughts stem from what I have read and watched.

One being that possibly Autistics are overwhelmed with all of the micro expressions that we see, but do not understand. The face and every muscle in the face is telling us something, it is a lot to process – the words are telling us something and we are processing that. The tone and the body is telling us something and it is all so consuming, but it does not stop there we are being infiltrated with all the goings on in our environment. The “typical” person has the ability to process all of that information instantly and if the words do not match the face, body, and/or tone they somehow override the inconsistencies. I get stuck. I get stuck on inconsistency until I finally have to force myself to let it go, easier said than done much of the time. There would need to be much more research to discover whether Autistics are “seeing” all of the micro expressions. The current research being done to track eye movement as an early means of Autism diagnosis indicates that we do not look at people, but at things.

That has manifests a whole other set of questions and wonderment in my mind.

I will not tap into those thoughts because I am in one of those moods where I could go on and on with my thoughts. I pondered the idea of people reading my micro expressions, I tend to have a stoic face much of the time. When I am listening to a person, concentrating, or deeply focused my face can be blank, intense, or I smile/laugh at inappropriate times. How does that affect how people read my micro expressions? People read my face, body language, and tone incorrectly all the time. Much of the miscommunication that David and I have had was/is due to him reading me wrong and inferring incorrectly. I too have misread him and infer incorrectly. Asking questions such as, What does that face mean? Are you upset? What did you mean by those words? has helped a great deal. For me, expressing when I feel his emotions intensely, but I do not understand them has brought much clarity.

In reading about lie detection, deceptions, and how to read micro expressions I found myself feeling that it was a good thing.

I think that it is fascinating and beneficial in many ways, but I also feel that people should not rely so much on those types of nonverbal communication. I believe that it is useful, but I feel that having the freedom to ask directly without judgment, condemnation, and having upfront knowledge of possible emotional responses is good too. I am not always capable of being able to look at people. If I am anxious, overwhelmed, my sensory system is being attacked, social confusion all consuming, and/or PTSD triggers are raging there is no way I can read a person’s micro expressions. Nope, it’s not going to happen. I MUST rely on asking people so that I do not spiral into loops of chaos and fear. I am still in my research mode, but what I have read thus far has given me a boost in trusting my instincts. I have become more social once again; I am out practically every morning going to the Y at the crack of dawn. (Literally, I am up at 4 am and at the Y by 5 or 5:30 am so I can be home before anyone wakes up as to not disturb the ecosystem here.)

I have been more social at the home school co-op, but I have also encountered similar experiences that I did before in that environment. 

Before when I encountered certain types of people, I condemned myself for having certain feelings about them. I doubted my instincts and ended up in situations that caused me to be confused, extremely anxious, manipulated, and used. After reading the information, I have found answers to help me not get sucked into the “why would they do that or am I wrong” vortex. I have the clear understanding that people have many reasons for why they lie, behave, respond, and say the things that they do. I did not have a clear understanding of this before. I had an understanding, but not in concrete terms that could help me understand more deeply. I have also; found that I am becoming even more empathetic and compassionate. In the past, when faced with injustice or downright negative/mean people I could “see” their point of view, but I had a difficult time truly “seeing/feeling” from their perspective.

I do not think that is uncommon for any person. 

When you have not experienced what another person has you can find it challenging to comprehend the whats, whys, and hows of their responses. I still feel indignation, but it moves quickly into wanting to understand and move forward in a positive direction. My latest special interest has opened my heart, mind, and eyes even more to humanity. It helps to understand why people lie this has helped me to understand that it does not have anything to do with me. People lie, manipulate, mastermind all sorts of things daily for many reasons some are not so sinister as others or destructive, but there is no black-and-white answers. People all have their personal struggles and experiences that have molded them into how they respond. I used to take it very personally and think that I HAD to be the problem. (I still struggle) Sure I have my problems and my responses can seem inconsistent or erratic at times, but now I understand why I do that and all of the factors that play into it.

I had unspoken/unknown thoughts until recently that if I could just figure out why people lie than, I could protect myself. 

Lying is so devastating to me – I would much rather have the truth no matter how painful or heart wrenching than to be lied to. But I have realized that sometimes a person’s lie is better kept to themselves. Dismantling the thoughts for the reasons they lied and letting go of the fears that I had done something to cause their lies has set me free from needless turmoil. I believe those thoughts were faulty beliefs I adopted from being abused and being socially confused. I have also, learned that telling “your truth” at all costs without any considerations for others is just as damaging. Certain things should not be said and it is not a lie if you do not say it – yes, I still find that thought challenging.  You cannot protect yourself from the pains and joys of relationships. If we could live in a completely honest world and not be influenced by our triggers of past pains and negative experiences I think that would be ideal, but that is not how the world works. I am not so sure I want to always know when people are lying.

Many things are best left unknown so I have come to learn … although; I could completely change my mind about that tomorrow. HA!

Related items - I watched a lot of videos lately too, I will only share a few. :-)

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School On The Kitchen Floor, Yeah Baby!

The last two weeks have been a struggle for the kids to stay focused and get their schoolwork done. I am not exactly sure what it is, but I am sure there are multiple factors. It normally happens when we go, go, go without a break. The work load has been heavy and there are additional assignments with state testing for Ariel, Daniel has speech homework, and he and Joshua have OT homework throughout the week. All three also have participation homework to go with their virtual classes then; there are their daily lessons and quizzes. They get burned out even when they do get the weekend off. I get burned out too. It is a lot of work for all of us. Daniel has been stimming a lot more lately.

He has been seeking visual and auditory input constantly.

However, when he does that it makes it a bit challenging for him to focus on school work. Ariel and Joshua have taken many breaks and school has stretched into taking the whole day. They are able to get their daily assignments complete it is just much later than when we normally end and we have had to do several lessons on the weekends. Daniel on the other hand can take up to two to three hours sometimes even longer to complete one full lesson and assignment. It all depends on the day and his needs for the day. By allowing him this freedom Daniel is able to do very well in school. I am not so sure he would get this same type of freedom or encouragement in a regular school environment.

There are some lessons that Daniel will complete in a matter of minutes.

He literally will speed through the assignment with me and I will wonder if he is going to do well on the quiz. Today was a perfect example, I have never doubted Daniel’s competence or capabilities, but it is nice to see them in action. After his lesson on fractions, he took his 10 question quiz in less than six minutes receiving 100%. I would read the question, he would answer than say, “These are easy.” with a giggle. Prior to starting the quiz he was reluctant. He does not like taking them and he gets frustrated with having to do them. I always start off with some sort of encouraging statement. It seems to help him get into a positive state and I remind him that the lesson is all over after the quiz.

He gets very happy about that because then, he can take a break!

Weeks like these requires me to work with him where ever he is at. He cannot sit in the confines of a chair. He cannot wear headphones because his auditory sensitivities are heightened. Today class was on the floor where he had placed his toys so he could watch them while working. I am not sure why he can listened to the computer without headphones, or why he has his talking toys all on the highest volume, or why he keeps getting upset with me because he thinks I am being too loud when I barely have a voice, (Laryngitis) but that is the way it is and I work with that – he does well. He does more than well.

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All of the lessons were done on the floor today.

Some days I have done them while he is in the bathtub. I let him play while, we do the lessons. It is not because he just wants to play, he needs to be surrounded by the pressure and warmth of the water to help him focus. I am his scribe (in the IEP) so it works out. Daniel cannot write a complete sentence, but he can tell me one.

Joshua cannot either and Ariel has just started to be able to write them. 

It is not that they are incapable; they simply struggle with mind to hand. They all three can tell me stories if it is their interest, but if it is a school assigned project it is much more challenging for them to think of ideas or what to write. For Ariel, I ask her to draw it.

She illustrates elaborate stories all the time, but with very few words.

We are trying to connect her images to words when it comes to school assignments. Joshua does best when creating words or stories out of Lego’s. He has recently started drawing too and creating his own illustrations. Daniel does best when I ask him questions if he is struggling with words we skip that lesson until he feels comfortable talking. I would prefer for him to type, but he has lost interest in it. It is one of his OT goals in his IEP so he is trying. I try whatever it takes to help them. Whatever it takes make his environment conducive to learning. He absorbs information the best when he is able to have the freedom to learn in an unconstrained, but routined environment. He does better when he has freedom to walk, talk, or not be forced to talk, stim freely, and take as many breaks as he needs.

There may be those who feel that it is not preparing him for his future.

I do take all of that into consideration, however; for now Daniel is thriving in his abilities and being at his young age I think this is more important than working on skills others may feel are more important. He was categorized as “low-intelligence” only last school year with the schools IQ testing’s. It was based on tests that were done in an environment he had never been in, with a psychologist he had never met, and he was still unable to communicate clearly to new people. (Longer version here Hmm… How Do I Feel About This?) In the right environment and the accommodations through the virtual schooling and at home Daniel has been on honor roll both years thus far. I do not really put a lot of stock in grades, all of my kids are honor roll student. However, I am very proud of them because I know how much they work and the extra things we do to help them get those grades.

He works hard; he has to work so much harder at processing and developing some skills that for other kids can come easier. 

All of my kids have their own challenges and strengths that I try to accommodate and work with to provide a learning environment that will challenge them to grow and learn, but will not overwhelm them. This is what we need to do for our family. I feel extremely fortunate to have this option. Not everyone can do this, living a lifestyle like this comes with its perks and its difficulties, but for us it works well. It is not all happiness and fluttering butterflies around here though – some days it is too much for all of us and I seriously contemplate putting them into school. Then, I am reminded of weeks like these when I know that a school environment would not be the best for them especially, Daniel. The days when he is filled with anxiety or he is unable to get his words out he needs a lot of time and patience. On days like today Ariel and Joshua wanted to study the United States.

They spent hours building a big puzzle, taking it apart and putting it back together then, discussing how far away states were in comparison to our state.

They went over the capitals, sizes, monuments, and asked all sorts of questions about them. None of their lessons covered this they have not gotten into the states that much. I let them “play” with that and enjoy their learning. They groaned when I told them they needed to finish up some of their assignments. I do not want them groan – I hope I can think of some ways to make it more fun around here. Learning should be exciting, fun, intriguing, challenging, and full of WOW! School was never that for me, but learning has always been. I hope I can get better with helping my kids make school more enjoyable. I am not sure what my point is in this post, I felt like sharing. I am rather sickly and taking cough medicine … I could just be loopy. ;-)

I will leave with Ariel and Joshua with their puzzle – thanks for reading! 

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P.S. I asked the kids about this post and they said, “Yes, mom it’s fine put it up.” Actually, that was Ariel and the boys agreed. ha ha ha 

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I Climbed The Rope

I really did climb the rope – not just metaphorically, but I will get to that later. This post does speak about P.E. class and I know that I am not the only one who encountered negative experiences because there was a group of us. We were the same group from elementary school onto high school. Whenever I think of gym class I have very negative associations. My experiences were similar to the episodes of Freaks and Geeks, dodge ball anyone?? Freaks and Geeks – Dodgeball More like, torture, embarrassment, ridicule – hell! I would try to play dodge ball (Because I HAD to, in high school if we did not play we had to run laps.) and normally some jock would whelp me on some part of my body. Some boys tried to aim for my chest – not fun for growing boobs.

Why did the gym teachers think it was ok for boys to throw balls at girls?

I know some people love dodge ball. Some of my family members get a rush out of it. One night at boot camp … ha ha ha this story should sound juicier than it is … one night at boot camp we were to play dodge ball the last 15 min. Many of these adults were excited and raring to go. I was transported back to elementary, junior high, and high school. I was not the only one, there were several of us who all dawned with similar faces – eyes bulging, mouths sighing a hint of terror, and immediate cowering searching for a place to hide. I said to one of the women, “Oh geez, I hate dodge ball. I hated it in school and I still do.” She and her sister had the same feelings and similar experiences. We were the misfits, outcasts, the loners, the ones who were picked last for teams – the ones who did not find pleasure in games like dodge ball.

I actually, enjoyed gym class when we were running, learning games; I loved soccer, volleyball, and basketball.

I like to play those sports not usually watch them. My favorite was endurance tests no surprise that I enjoy boot camp and HIIT type workouts. I was an athlete, I spent many of my days doing gymnastics and ballet in my yard or my living room. Bike riding was and is still one of my favorite things to do. However, because of my social status I was not allowed to show off my skills. ;-) Because of the favoritism that was bestowed upon the people who were on the school sports teams the teachers who were also, the coaches acted as though people like me and myself were no bodies. I was ignored if I tried. I finally, stopped trying. I gave up most days (not always because I really like doing physical activities) and by the time I was in high school I skipped many days smoking cigarettes in the bathroom. – Except when we were swimming – I never missed a day when we got to swim in the pool. A pool overrides all social fears and awkwardness for me. I could swim all day long! – The reason was not because of what was required in class.

I felt great mentally after I did P.E. class with doing the physical part.

I would get a rush and my brain felt a wonderful calm that was quickly stolen from me the second we had to go to the locker rooms. We were forced to undress and shower in front of others – it was mandatory and the teacher would check us. My “group” that was always picked last or made fun of by the P.E. teacher (as a means to try and motivate, um … ok) was a mixture of people who were good at sports and those who were not. It was not about our physical abilities. That class was about social status and even those popular people who were not good at sports were picked before us. I would get so angry at the injustice or the way kids were treated by our peers or the teachers. I got extremely upset the day that we were required to be weighed, measured, and compared to our peers before an endurance test.

It was humiliating for many of us and to compare teenage girls is never a good thing especially, in front of teenage boys. 

bill-haverchuck-rope-climbAll of these memories manifested the other day. Saturday morning, I went to my Kravfit class; (A mixture of boxing, Krav Maga, circuit training, and even some gymnastics now.) at the end several of the people were talking about rope climbing and how they do it in the intense obstacle courses they do – things like Tough Mudder events.

The instructor pulled out a rope that hung from a ceiling about 20 feet and they each tried to climb it.

I had never been able to do it. I think I may have refused I cannot recall which is unusual and typically means that I have blocked some memory due to trauma. I remember the rope in school though. There are certain years and classes where I have fuzzy memory or blockage. I do not know what got into me, but I decided that I wanted to try the rope. I started climbing and I could not stop I was going to the top never mind my vertigo. They started shouting, “Angel don’t go all the way up! You will not be able to get down!” I could not stop for a couple of seconds, but then I looked down and thought I better stop I am very high up. I also, thought Thank God I am not dizzy!! I started to slide down and they started yelling, “Don’t slide down!”

The rope was burning my leg so I started to ease down properly.

When I leaped off the rope I was on such an adrenalin rush that I could not feel the rope burn on my leg. I was stunned at how I felt so proud as if I had accomplished something great. Logically, I was thinking I just climbed a rope why am I feeling this way? It’s just a rope. After several days of processing, I realized that I had conquered much more than climbing up a rope. The rope represented negative associations with gym class, my teachers, and interactions with the “socially accepted” kids. It also, had to do with social confusion and other traumas that happened during school. Some of which, have been triggered due to the fact that I am now in a cycle class with my old vice-principal who treated me like a problem and still will not look at me after several weeks of being in sessions together. I now know he remembers me.

Every time we are in session I feel like I am cycling to victory – I am fast and he cannot catch up. :-)

I do not know why it feels like a victory, I think it may be because I have not recoiled or shutdown. You can read some of what happened in his office here High School Trauma: Road to Recovery III have kept going despite triggers that stir every time I see him. I have not allowed his presence to stop me from going or from being myself in the sessions. I have entertained the thought of writing him a letter. Part of me wants to tell him that I am Autistic and share about my family letting him know just how far I have come and what I have accomplished. If I do decide to write it out I do not think I will give it to him. It is more for me and my healing. Who cares what he thinks anyway! He treated me as if my life was of little value and he assumed my responses and attitude were deliberate. He never asked me if I needed any help or if I needed to talk to someone he just punished me with detentions or expelled me,along with condemning words.

Yes, I was out of control.

I was also, being bullied, abused by a boyfriend, ignored, demanded to be the parent at home, suffering from anxiety and depression – I could not function well in a school setting, especially high school. When I went up the rope somehow I was conquering those feelings and fears. I felt empowered, strong, and I found the athletic person that I had tucked away for so many years due to how others perceived me. Several of the P.E. teachers assumed that I would not even try, when I did and I did well they dismissed it continually giving praise to those who were more popular. I was also, “clumsy” when they saw me achieve well at athletics and then, lose balance or run into things they assumed that I was misbehaving or seeking attention. On certain days my balance and coordination were good on other days I fell, tripped, could not catch a ball, or control my limbs.

I witnessed an attitude toward many students in my classes who had similar social status or physical issues as I did. 

They were the ones who should have gotten some more guidance, direction, encouragement, or who should have been able to opt out and find better opportunities academically or physically. Their gifts should have been encouraged. How could those gifts have been utilized in a P.E. environment? A kid excellent with math could keep record, collect data, help give insights on how to help the more athletic types improve. Possibly the kids who are interested in the body could explain how certain exercises help develop balance or coordination, they could develop their own physical fitness plan and help each other. Possibly for their exercise they could walk the track instead of run. (alone with their music) I do not know those are just fleeting thoughts. I suppose, it does not matter much anymore since P.E. is almost obsolete.

I digress … Back to the rope.  

Climbing the rope represents many accomplishments that did not occur to me until several days later. It was a moment of reclaiming identity that I had hidden away. My self-destructive patterns were self-injurious in the past, but I have discovered my identity denial pattern has been more damaging. I caused myself to lose parts of myself. It had gotten to the point that even the things I had accepted and understood about myself had been lost. Thanks to discovering that I am Autistic, and I understand the many other things that contribute to how and why I respond the way I do and think the way I do, I am in a much better place. I understand my body, my abilities and my limitations better as well.

I am able to accept myself and move forward.

The rope represented me not only progressing physically and seeing myself as physically stronger, but it was an image of how much I have progressed emotionally and mentally. Though I have my struggles, I continue to rediscover things about me and reclaim them. I also, accept myself much more, allowing change with a healthier self-image. That does not mean that the transitions are easy – they are not, but I know it is for the better. When I grabbed hold of the rope I had no fear. I was not concerned with whether I made it to the top or not; even though I did not go all the way up, I knew that I could. It was a tangible feeling of self-assurance. I felt that I had reclaimed some of my self-assurance that had been hidden due to confusion and hurt from past experiences.

I am sure there will be many more ropes for me to climb.

This one was a big one wrapped up in four years of confusion, pain, and at the time what felt like hell. It is a big deal for me. It was a monumental day for me to remember what it feels like to have no fear. It gave me a boost of self-confidence in my identity and self-validation. It motivates me to to keep trying. There are quite a few of “familiars” that I have met at the Y. We share a bond of being chosen last during our school years and/or being attacked during dodge ball. We each climb our own ropes, conquer our own fears, and find the encouragement to try – I am speaking metaphorically now. (hee hee) Do you have some ropes to climb? Go climb them, you can do it! (That is as motivational as I get.)

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An Email To The New SLP

Right after Thanksgiving break we were taken aback with the sudden loss of Daniel’s SLP. (Speech-language pathologist) I received an email the morning that they were to return simply stating that she would no longer be at the virtual school and would no longer be Daniel’s SLP. This was a shock because she was so excited to return and continue to work with Daniel. The last day was an incredible speech session. Daniel has progressed so much working with her. There was nothing I could do it was over and we were at the mercy of the school and the therapists that they use. It took about two weeks to get him set up with his new SLP. I had my concerns about her, but have been trying to be open-minded. They only met a couple of times. I found it odd that she did not ask me anything about Daniel prior to meeting with him or afterwards.

She just went right to it doing whatever she does with all of her kids.

I am not sure if she has worked with a child like Daniel. He is a mix of the spectrum that quite frankly, I have not read many other people speak of. It is difficult for me to put into words, but Daniel is basically bouncing all over the Autism spectrum. That is the best I can do. He does not have fixations the same way that others do. He does not stay interested in things obsessively for long, just like his sensory challenges changing on a daily basis, so can his interests. He has some that stick with him, but he does not consume them the way that Joshua or Ariel do. It is hard to explain, but that is just another reason why rewards or withholding does not work. Not that I use that method, but I do know that the school and therapists have attempted to do that with him and it failed.

Daniel is about relationship.

When Daniel was completely nonverbal, I found the only way to get him to communicate was to be actively involved in what he was doing. Active took on a different action some days. One day it would be me sitting in the same room with him. Other days it was with me next to him. Then, there would be days when I did what he was doing I paid attention to how he responded and I did not push. He was responsive to this and our relationship started to develop to the point that I could figure out what he wanted more so than not. There was and still is the “not” days. That is ok, I have my “not” days. For instance, today I have no words or idea to how I feel. I know that I need something, but I am not sure what it is … I have to wait for my brain to catch up to my emotions.

However, I knew what I felt when interacting with Daniel’s new SLP today.

She was misreading him and trying to pressure me to do what she wanted. I would not budge. My priority is Daniel and his needs. It is much easier for her to bend to how she does things and work with him in a positive way to help him transition. It is much more challenging and it induces unnecessary anxiety in him to force changes. He has been on school break for two weeks, coming back to mid-year testing that gives no indication of how many questions are on the test because they are on the computer. I normally print out tests for him because it is much easier for him to process I cannot do that with these tests and I cannot tell him when they will end. Anxiety much? Visual processing overload much? On the first day back, he had to meet a new OT and was unable to say good-bye to the one that he had for over a year. He bonded to her and his other SLP.

He is sad.

He is grieving though no one seems to consider that. He does not know that he is grieving, he is just upset and does not understand why or how to process it. The last OT wanted very much to meet and do a good-bye session, but her schedule would not allow. I know that they have jobs to do and their schedules are full, but I really wish that people would understand how difficult this can be for children – not only special needs children, but all children. They bond with their therapists and teachers, even I had made certain connections to teachers and many of them I did not care for one iota. :-) It was hard for me to transition to each new grade and meet new teachers and kids. It was sad for me to lose a teacher that I was fond of and I would grieve the loss. I would also, feel the anxiety and fear of not knowing my new ones and then, trying to establish some sort of relationship with them.

Child hood is not easy; I know that many kids can bounce back from leaving or getting a different teacher.

For us, it is harder especially if we have made a connection and developed a positive relationship. I decided to write the SLP an email giving some insights about Daniel in hopes of improving the transition and to let her know I am willing to help in any way to make this a positive experience for Daniel. I am sharing here as well in hopes that maybe it will help others who have not seen it from this perspective. I am not angry with her I am just frustrated at the situation and feel unheard. I do not think the SLP is wrong, I think she has her methods and possibly they work for other kids, but I know that they will not work for mine. My intention is try to help her and Daniel be successful in their sessions and for him to continue to progress as he has been. I really hope it manifests into a positive interaction and opens up communication and understanding.

Here is the email. 

Hello,

I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some things that may help with sessions. Daniel does not respond as some children do with a reward system. It does not work with him. It can work for a period of time, but it will not last. He does much better with connection than, with reward or withholding. He does not respond to reward he responds to connection. He may actually regress or not be as responsive through those methods.

For him, the show-n-tell is about connecting to you so he can work better with you. He feels that sharing something that he is interested in or cares about and you doing the same with him is building trust and comfortably. It lessons his anxiety and calms his mind in order to work with you. He does not respond to withholding. It confuses him and he does not understand the purpose. It spirals him into confusion leads to anxiety setting his mind into a state of “fight or flight” and unable to focus.

Daniel is very willing to work many days, but with all of these new transitions which are emotional and difficult even for a child who is not on the Autism spectrum, it will take some time for him to ease into it. I will do my part with helping him transition into the way that you prefer your sessions to be, but I will need time and I would like it to be as positive an experience as possible for him.

If you have a suggestion of “connecting” with him in another way before sessions start I would be happy to help the transition from the old routine to yours if you let me know. I can create a social story and help create a new script for him; I have already been working with him about every teacher and therapist being different. The real issue here for Daniel is that he was very much connected with Ms. L and his OT. He has now lost two relationships and people that he bonded with. I know that he is putting forth efforts to try to establish a working relationship with you because if he did not want to he would not respond at all.

Another bit of information that may help is that when Daniel is focused on specific things such as the colors of the checks it is not about that, it normally has to do with confusion – though you have done your sessions a particular way before he has not had enough sessions with you to override the script that he has in his head that Ms. L and I established. He did the same type of routine for over a year that script has been his source of comfort and connection.

He was looping about the confusion of old routine while, trying to redirect himself into a new routine. This caused him to get jumbled in order to try to stop himself from going into a meltdown he fixated. I saw today as a triumph for him despite at the end he was starting to get upset. He achieved a lot on his own; he used his words, and continued to try to communicate with you. That is huge for him. In the past, he would have shutdown completely or gone into a full on meltdown. He was not upset at you he was upset because he felt he tried yet, because he did not get to finish the plan that he had in his mind he was left unfinished, open-ended, any unresolved tasks cause upset.

When Daniel begins to get fixated there are numerous things that can be contributing, he is not being insubordinate. His sensory challenges affect his ability to process and he gets frustrated. This can look as though he is misbehaving or acting out on purpose. He has vision processing challenges reading for him on certain days takes more effort and strain. The weather has changed drastically and he is having problems with sinuses this affects his eyes and his ability to read.

He has auditory processing challenges so when he asks repeatedly what are you saying it is because the words are getting mixed up and confused in his head. He is not hearing them properly. At those times it is best to talk to him slowly or ask him if he understands what you mean. Sometimes it only takes changing a couple of words and he is able to process. With Ms. L they were working on communicating when he was having these challenges instead of assuming that he was being unwilling. The attention was on asking him questions as to why he was having challenges this helped Daniel find words and he was learning to express himself better. I think that may help in the future.

I am willing to give you as much information about him to help the sessions be successful as possible. Please let me know if there is anything I can provide to do that. I am always willing to work with the therapists and follow through. I just need to know what is expected/needed and how we can work together for the same goals.

I hope this gives some helpful information and please let me know what I can do help this transition on my end.

Thank you,
Angel

 

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My Top 10 Posts for 2013 & Then Some …

As I have been trying to look back through the past year, I became overcome with emotion from 2012 into 2013. It was a rough time for me, we had a long stretch of rough times, but it all caught up with me by the beginning of 2013. I have a post that I am working on – trying to polish it up so it will not be so raw. I do not mind sharing when it comes to me, but I need to be a little more sensitive. I want to be sure I do not sound too harsh or something and that I am articulating what I mean to before I share with others. While pondering, I looked at my stats to see what my top 10 posts were for 2013 and overall since 2009. I found it interesting the most popular did not always get the most “likes.” However, I was also surprised at the amount of “likes” that some did receive, I had no idea.

I thought the numbers of visits on each one was interesting too because, I like numbers! 

I was intrigued to see how many ended on even or odd numbers and what they equaled when added together … it was a fun way to stim as I still recover from all of the socializing I did this week. Last night, my dad came for dinner and it was a pleasant evening. I was a little taken aback at how much Daniel attached to my dad. He was very sad when it was time for him to go and as my dad was standing at the door still talking getting ready to head out; Daniel sat there staring at him with the sweetest smile and sadness in his eyes simultaneously. In a way, I felt my heart break because I too have felt that same feeling. I bent over to comfort Daniel and tell him that he would see papaw again when he came back to town the next time. Daniel told me, “I love him so, so much.” Sigh … I am not sure what emotions I am feeling with all of that.

I digress! I shall get back to my point; here are the Top 10 Posts for 2013!

  1. Fear-Anxiety-Stress-Autism I
  2. “I Was Not Raised To Say Good Morning!”
  3. High School Trauma: Road to Recovery I
  4. Autism Cannot Be Blamed for Everything
  5. A Look At Criticism & Negative Self-Talk
  6. My Inevitable Meltdown
  7. I Did Not Expect That
  8. Double, Double Toil and Trouble
  9. Autism & Wandering: My Child & Me
  10. Gifted? What Is That All About?

And here are the Top 5 since 2009! 

  1. Daniel, Me & Empathy
  2. Bringing Awareness, I Am Turning Blue
  3. My Autistic Son Comforted Me Today
  4. I Tried…
  5. Are You Calling Me & Other Autistics Sociopaths? (Think About It)

Well, there is a lot to read.

I am a little shocked at how much I actually have written and how much we all have changed over the years. I hope some of these posts will be beneficial to others. If anything it helps me to see many things that I have worked through on a personal level. I did not edit any of these – my brain is too jumbled at the moment. :-) I would end here, but I wanted to share one of my favorite posts from June 2011 it was a monumental post for me because I started to reclaim parts of me that I had tucked away for years and years. It sparked my desires to write and share my poetry that was more creative and “real” so to speak. It triggered a new openness in my fictional writing and my desire to try to capture the imagination I would not allow out for so long. By allowing myself to paint it opened up more of my way of expression and creativity and reminded me how much the Number 8 & Infinity means to me.

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I Don’t Have A “Bestie”

I will forewarn you this post is a processing post that is filled with a culmination of my lifetime of confusion and hurt about relationships. It was spawned from a web of thoughts connected by my longing for a person that I believed existed. A person that I thought was out there who understood me, who one day I would find and pieces of me would finally make sense. I thought that they would help me understand me because we would “know” one another and just “fit.” I have been pondering these thoughts for months. I have been analyzing, researching, rethinking, and dissecting what unconditional love is supposed to mean. I am sure that this post is going to manifest into several as I make connections, but I am tackling this “bestie” thing today. Bestie or better known as best friend is something that I do not have in my life. If I did I would never call them my bestie unless it was in some sort of mocking way. :-)

I do not usually use words like “bestie” “BFF,” or “fav person.”

The concept of best makes me automatically feel as if there is some sort of completion. This person is better than you no matter what – they are the best. I understand that best applies to their connection and their relationship, but in my experience, a person who tells me this is their best friend is setting a boundary and telling me that no one will ever measure up and no one can contribute anything to the dynamic of the relationship. No matter what, everyone else is out. As far as I know no one considers me their best friend, they may consider me their good friend, but no one has said that I am their “best friend.” I do make a very good friend – I do not know if I could be a best friend. Not in the way that I perceive people being best friends anyway. These thoughts and realizations have become clearer to me in the last few weeks when I have witnessed pictures and all of the verbal and physical affections poured out to others.

It triggered my painful experiences with friendships.

It triggered my confusion about people saying that their best friend is their husband, their mother, their sibling, or someone that they immediately connected with. Why does it feel like everyone around me has that one person? They seem to have that person that they can confide in, share with, have private jokes with, be happy with, but I am the foreigner who cannot? What is so wrong with me that I cannot have that type of connection? Is there anything wrong with me? Do others know what I am talking about and share in this pain as an onlooker of relationship connection? There are some days when these thoughts never cross my mind. I do not think there is anything wrong with me per se. I admit I do tend to have a different perspective about my relationships than the other person. I will think nothing is wrong or that we are still connected until I realize that they have not contacted me in a long time and I see them socializing or interacting with others, but not me.

I can be perfectly content and think that I have some sort friendship and connection.

Then, I realize that what I think the relationship is and what the person thinks about the relationship are two different things. My mind then, goes into a state of confusion, chaos, and anxiety and I frantically try to understand – are we friends or not??? Just tell me! I have a similar problem with family. For instance, I see my aunt every week at the Y. We converse a little here and there on fb. However, I am not included in her life. For me, she is the closest thing I have to a close friend in real life, but I do not get invited to go places with her and I normally only get invited to family events. Yet, it has been made clear that her “door is always open” to come over. I cannot simply decide to go over to someone’s house unexpected and randomly. The thought of an open door policy fills me with anxiety. I want to very much be connected and participate, but I do not know how.

Honestly, there are times that I wonder and try to figure out if she is just saying that to make me feel better or if she means it.

In my mind, I question because I am never invited to do other things with her. We share in the working out interest, but she does not invite me to go workout with her when she invites the other people from the same workout groups. I don’t understand it. I am not saying that she has done anything wrong – I am saying I do not understand why she does not think to ask me or offer to participate. Please keep in mind I am processing and there is a lot of emotion trapped into my words mostly because I am confused by people’s behaviors and my own surprise of feeling so deeply hurt. Why am I hurt? Why are these emotions stirring? I hope writing my thoughts will help me. Maybe I should start from my earliest memory of having someone in my life who I considered a best friend.

 bigstock_Paper_Fortune_Teller_86736345The first person was in kindergarten.

I do not recall much other than; I thought the friendship was much more than what she thought. We were friends. We played on the playground together. We sat next to each other. I remember being confused when she would run off with other friends, but not much else. The only other thing I recall was the day that she upset me so terribly that I punched her in the stomach. It was because she would not give me something when she said that she would.

It was one of those paper “fortune teller” things that kids make.

I had never seen one and found it utterly fascinating. I wanted to see how it worked. How was it folded? How many sides were there? What kind of shapes could I find? What were the answers that were hidden AND how did the answers come about? I was so excited – I wanted to see it so badly. She was playing with it and told me to wait my turn, I did. I was being patient, but she was taking too long. I went to the teacher and told on her. The teacher set a time limit and my friend would not give it to me after the time limit was up. She kept it and taunted me putting it close to me then, taking it away. I told her to stop and told her to give it to me. She wouldn’t. I got mad; I punched her in the stomach, and took it running to the other end of the room.  (When I was a kid I had aggressive behaviors if provoked by these types of things that felt unjust. However, when I was bullied physically or verbally I would shutdown. I do not know why.)

I got in a butt load of trouble and was not allowed to play with it.

We were no longer friends. Then, there was my first grade best friend. She and I were together all the time – I have no recollection as to how we became friends. However, she did a similar thing to me on the playground. She was on one of the spring horse things that bounce back and forth. Short version, she would not share – was a brat about it – I started punching her on the back, pulled her off of it, and got on. I got into a butt load of trouble, again. She also, convinced me to steal stickers from the teacher during lunch one day. She said, “If you are really my best friend you will get me stickers.” We got caught, but I was the one with my hands in the desk – I was also, the one with aggressive behavior, lived in a trailer, and had a single mom. Guess who got the blame? Yeppers, yours truly. She was the person I wrote my first poem about.

My first poem was titled “Best Friend” and posed questions about what is a best friend, why do best friends lie and hurt me?

I believe that may have been when I started to create an ideal best friend in my psyche. I did not have best friends throughout elementary school. I had friends and lost them all. I ended up with two “best friends” in my first year of middle school. It was too difficult of a dynamic for me. They were best friends before me then, they befriended me. However, there is always a dynamic of loyalty to one friend and that dynamic can change when it is one-on-one. It also, changes when it is more than one. Girls have so many underlined thoughts, emotions, nonverbal cues, verbal cues, body language, EEEK! There are so many things that I do not catch – things are so hidden between the lines and I miss them or get extremely confused by them. It proved to be too challenging for me in middle school. I wrote a little about those girls in this post Bullies. I made another best friend the next year, however; there was a similar dynamic.

She already had a best friend who lived across town.

I would get confused and hurt every time she wanted to be with her other friend. They shared secrets, other interests, they seemed so much more connected, and I did not fit. Although, that is the same best friend who screwed my boyfriend a few years later that triggered me to try to commit suicide so … then, there was my last and final best friend so to speak. She was my everything. I adored her while everyone else in my life said that she did not care a lick about me. They said that she was using me and took advantage. I really do not know to be honest my perspective is so skewed because I gave her my whole heart. Another short version of the story, she was the cousin of my first boyfriend who I needed to have out of my life completely. At one point she and I had plans for our future that dismantled because she got pregnant, but she got pregnant with someone who was not her boyfriend at the time.

She had a secret life that I did not know about. 

She had friends that I did not know about, she was not the person I thought she was and I was in shock for a very long time. I was in shock and felt abandoned. She was just as shocked with me when I was upset. She could not understand why I would feel the way I did. I felt as if I had been betrayed, I thought I knew her and I did not know her at all. It was devastating. I think it was at that point I looked to men to be my sole “bestie.” I looked to my boyfriends to provide all of my friendship needs, but it did not work for me because I found it difficult to transition daily from romantic love interest to best friend. I could not tell my boyfriend or spouse EVERYTHING that I was thinking. I know because I HAVE and it is never good. Never! It is never good for me to share everything with a best friend either. This is when I started to have tremendous hurt, confusion, and thoughts of just giving up on relationships altogether.

I could not give up though; I continued to try – seeking that one person who finally understood. 

Part of the challenge for me is that I cannot talk to a person every single day. I cannot drop everything that I am doing and be there. I cannot ignore my own interests on a regular basis and be the all consuming emotional support for people. The only way that I am able to devote any large amount of energy on people like that is if they live with me. That is why I had my friends stay with all the time. That is why I moved in with my boyfriends. I needed to be near them or else I could not keep up. There were too many unknowns and what seemed like randomness. They tried to explain to me that I could not know everything. I did not understand I was trying to ease my anxieties and fears of abandonment. I understand now that a good friend does not expect you to drop everything for them. A good friend understands boundaries and respects them. A good friend does not ignore you until they need another emotional fix. The people I acquired as best friends may have been the one person that I shared myself with, but they were not good for me.

I had several friends that I would consider close friends. 

Several of them shared the similar patterns requesting my time and attention when needed, but they had other friends who fulfilled their other needs – the more fun, entertaining, types of things. I am goof ball and I did share in a lot of fun and silliness, but for them it was not the same. I get serious too quickly. I talk about things that people do not want to think about. My goofiness comes and my oddities make them laugh, but it is not the same. We did not share in the same ways as they shared with other friends. I understand that, but it makes for a lonely feeling at times. I never truly feel alone, alone because I am comfortable with myself. I find pleasure in being silly with myself. I make myself laugh all the time. I find creatures to be quite good friends – though the conversations tend to be a bit one-sided.

Those creatures never stop talking about themselves! Kidding!

My lifetime of making and losing friends has been painful. I have not understood and there are days when I get so upset. I ask David, What is so wrong with me that I cannot have any friends like other people have friends? Why can’t I have a best friend to share with? What is it about me that people only want me around at certain times? Why has this happened throughout my entire life? Why doesn’t anyone in my family want to be my friend? Just because I have these thoughts does not necessarily mean I believe them. David and I are both in agreement that according the societies definition of best friend we do not want to be best friends and we do not think that it is healthy for us. We have been the only people in each other’s life for a very long time and have learned that some things just should not be said to your spouse. We do not hold back anything of importance, but fleeting thoughts or emotional processing should not be spewed all over the place without some sort of limitation.

We both have said things to one another that caused unnecessary hurt because we did not understand filters.    

It is a challenge too since, both of us are very direct at times and can lack couth when communicating. I think all of this is spinning in my head because it is time to deal with these hurts and understand some of the causes of these triggers. I do not even know how to make a best friend – most people have one by my age. These triggers are linked to family dynamics as well. I see my family have these friendships and bonds and it hurts. I try to connect and my attempts feel feeble. It feels like if I am not jumping up and down screaming, Hey, look at me! I am here! Pay attention to me! That I am forgotten. This is not true; it just feels like it sometimes. That invisible feeling can distort so much. The fear of being forgotten can consume me. I am not really sure why it matters. My only resolution to that thought is that I have always had the lingering feeling that I really do not exist and the only way that I know I do is if other people confirm it somehow.

Goodness, I have no idea if I am making any sense here!

I find this all so frustrating that I am still struggling with it and relieving to get more of it out. I am not sure if I have any answers, but at least the heaviness, sadness, pain in my heart has decreased. I do think that I have progressed in realizing the ideology that there is one person who will understand me is just that – ideology. If I were to rely on a single person who got me and I spent all of my time devoted to them when would I be challenged to grow and appreciate the uniqueness in others? I also, think that by getting all of this emotional mess out of my head that I can better discern how to see the relationships I do have in my life and appreciate them more. I need to accept my capabilities, my love/affection language, and see how that fits into the relationships I have. So I suppose, this post does have a good purpose.

Thank you for reading if you made it this far here are several things that I read/am reading. 

I apply things that I read about kids to myself too, I wish people would write things about adult Autistics or am I the only one who struggles with the stuff??? 

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