Little worry, big worry and what's the difference?




It's so hard to know if you're doing the right thing. How can you tell if you're avoiding stress or ducking out? What's the difference, really?

None, as far as some people are concerned and no difference to me either, if I'm in the mood for making myself suffer or feeling like some good, honest, self-criticism.

I am aware that it is sometimes easy and comfortable to say to myself, 'Oh, this is too much stress for me, at least today. I'll put it off.' Or worse, that I won't ever intend to act, so as to avoid the perceived stress.

Sometimes the stress is imaginary, built up when I look into the future and see where I'm headed. Then the big temptation is to duck out straight away, avoiding the upcoming stress while completely ignoring the fact things might have worked out differently and it would all have been okay.

You can tell yourself any day of the week that you did it as a safety measure, to keep yourself from a difficult experience, to protect yourself from awkward feelings which might have coloured your whole life for the next few days. There is nothing like an aspie for a bit of added drama.

It could be a small thing, made to look big or a big thing which fills the whole inner screen of your mind. The thing itself doesn't matter, it is practically irrelevant - it's our reaction that counts.

My reactions, last week, were mellow and considered. I had a lot to do and needed to be as calm and organised as possible. When things went a bit wobbly in the middle, I was able to go on smoothly, almost in a haze of nonchalance.

I wasn't fooled, even then. I remember thinking, as I drove round a nearby town for half an hour, totally lost on my way to a lesson, 'This won't last, this calm feeling. It isn't natural to be lost like this and so late and not mind.'

It was nice, though, while it lasted. Now, this week, faced with a smallish difficulty that I've avoided for almost a fortnight, I find myself almost unable to act. I say almost because I'm being honest with you, readers.

I could act: I know what I could do to help things along and perhaps bring a resolution. But I don't want to. I'm shying away from the action and feeling like I need to hunker down until it all goes away. Or take the easy option and make it go away, but in an unsatisfactory manner.

After all, what is easy now and what makes life simple for the moment, often comes back to us as a niggle in the future. Even when you know it's all done with and there's no going back, and even if it didn't really matter in the first place, you still feel annoyed with yourself for giving in and letting life win this one.

Does that mean I'll be brave, then? Will I face up to it and do the smallish thing which might turn into a niggle? Or do I consign it to the (enormous, heaving, grandiose) heap of avoidances that lie in their own special room in my mind?

The problem with these little things, pushed aside in favour of less stress, is that they still exist and carry on exerting a small pressure after they've gone. That pressure translates as a little beep of Failure on the radar, signalling my inability to sort out a problem which other people would have barely noticed.

And once you have a great big heap of avoidances, it doesn't matter how small they are, with each one giving off its own little beep, it doesn't take long before you can hear them all the way down the hall and in the front room.

So, here we are and here I am, back where I started. The smallish thing is a very small thing indeed, requiring me to go the local post office and chase up a parcel. Yes, a parcel. Apparently lost in the post, sent recorded delivery by me but with a completely vanished proof of postage.

I could either refund the person and never find out if it was delivered or go up to the post office and beg the nice postmaster to look up the transaction and track it for me, without my proof. This is after accepting the proof of posting from his hand each time, along with a heartfelt message from him to keep it safe because it's my proof (no, he doesn't know me, he is heartfelt with everyone).

He has no need to look it up for me and it isn't common practice - I just hoped he might. But because I've not had the proof, I don't relish having to go and ask him and even if I do ask him and he does look it up, I can't make a claim against the missing parcel without the receipt. All I would gain is the knowledge of whether it arrived.

You see my dilemma. Yes, mountain and molehill, here we meet again. I could just write it off and pay the person their money or I could satisfy my obsessive curiosity and chase it up, with the help of the heartfelt postmaster.

Do I subject myself to his mercy and the strong possibility of a gentle lecture on the nature of proof of posting receipts? Do I stand, face crestfallen until he gives in and tracks the parcel? Do I ready myself to be carefree and never-mind-ing when he says he can't look it up for me? Do I stay at home and press the Paypal refund button, then aggravate myself later for not having tried harder?

If someone else was bringing me this small but sorry tale, I would tell them what mattered was dealing with it in a way that best suited them at the moment, while not making the poor person wait any longer to get their money back. This seems straightforward, does it not?

And yet, when it comes to our own problems and dealing with ourselves, as awkward people who love to make life difficult, it is so easy to ignore good advice from any quarter. I recognise that I am now being carried along by my feelings about the whole matter and not by the facts and logic.

Step back, breathe and put the kettle on. That's what I'll do. Then later, I'll stop being such a big silly and do one thing or the other, but I won't dilly-dally any more. The dilly-dallying has led me to the point of treating this smallish problem as if it deserves all the attention I'm giving it, when what it really deserves is a few minutes of my time to either refund or go to the post office.

So, having annoyed you all with my failings, I'll go and put the kettle on. Feel free to avail yourself of tea and biscuits and to roll your eyes at my annoying aspie-ness but do think kindly of me too. I obviously was so laid-back last week that I used up my quota of calm for this week too and now I'm paying the price.

Perhaps by this time next week I will have regained the zen-like calm and it won't matter about parcels, or getting lost again or not knowing everything about anything. I'll just drift through the days, content in the knowledge that all will be as it must and I can only deal with Me I am at the time.

Amanda

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