Aspies, masters of the awkward question




I don't usually mean to be rude or even impolite. I try to be pleasant and respectful, even in the face of extreme provocation. If pushed, I'll be more likely to resort to unexpected sarcasm or pointing out (helpfully) how and why you went wrong. I'm rarely out-and-out bad mannered.

So, it often comes as a surprise when people react as if I spat on their foot. I mean it, this is as close an analogy as I can think of to describe the sudden backwards flinch, with the lip rising in thinly-veiled horror. I do want to be clear - I haven't spat on their foot, and if I tried, I would definitely miss.

What I have done is Enter Into A Conversation. I do often warn myself off this, as it ends badly or chugs along nicely, until I replay it afterwards and realise I had it all wrong and gave a strange impression (again). In trying to speak to someone in a normal way, I'll do what comes naturally: ask questions.

I'm interested, you see. If someone has my attention, they are already winning and if they are managing to keep my attention, the conversation can't be half bad. So it is only natural for me to want to learn more and ask pertinent questions. This is a compliment!

What I don't always understand is that the other person only wants to talk and not really interact. They want to tell me their news or carry on with their diatribe, without me butting in and stopping the narrative flow by being a part of the conversation.

Although I'll be asking a question that is wholly relevant, they often still see it as a burden to have to slow down and answer it before continuing. Or they wave it away and promise to come back to it (but never do).

I've thought about this and realise that it falls under the category of in-depth understanding: the other person isn't interested in me fully understanding their subject of conversation - they only want superficial understanding so that they can rattle on without me piping up in the middle of it. This means that me asking a question which requires an answer - rather than a rhetorical one, which helps the flow - is an awkward bump on the road which means they have to divert or slow down.

Their other issue is that if they do fully have my attention, I won't be put off when I ask the question. I must know the answer! If I didn't want to know the answer, then I probably wouldn't have asked. And if they don't reply, or fudge the answer hoping to throw me off track, then I'll come back, quick as lickety-split and ask again, assuming they haven't understood what I want to know.

You see, if I have a full conversation with someone, about a subject I'm interested in and know about, I love it if the other person asks a question. It shows they share my enthusiasm or want to know more. And I rarely get diverted for long from my subject if I'm really into it, so answering a question becomes part of the rich landscape of that whole conversation.

I'm not sure how I'm meant to tell the difference between someone who wants to have a proper conversation, or someone who just want to hear the sound of their own voice and use me as a convenient audience at the time. How do you know before putting your foot in it and asking questions they don't want to answer?

Also, the consequence of them behaving in this way is that if they don't answer my question, or they try to power on as if I haven't spoken, then I'm very likely to leave the conversation altogether, either politely, by developing a sudden (and inventive) excuse or just walking off.

Readers, it's not my fault if people can't cope when their audience departs to the bar, or out the back door or starts to pick up the first soft tomato. People should be more aware of what they are getting into when they invite an aspie to talk to them. Don't they know how risky it can be to perform to such a brutally honest and direct audience?

Well, if they don't at the start of the show, they certainly do by the end.

Amanda

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Aspies have no concept of time




I'm generalising here, as I know I have no concept of time and neither does my aspie son, RT Teen. This could be a genetic glitch, sent to make our lives interesting, or it could be true of many other aspies too.

Now, let me get this straight: I don't mean just losing track of time, like when you're immersed in a pet obsession. That's different and everyone can do it. What I mean is, losing track of the years and having very little idea of when something happened, however well you may remember the event itself.

I regularly forget how long ago things were, no matter how many clues there might be. It doesn't matter what else was going on, I will, without fail, mis-remember the timescale.

Usually, I shorten it down and guess on a couple of years. This 'couple of years' covers anything from eighteen months (if we're very lucky) up to seven years, as my personal best. Most often, a couple translates to four or more years. If I remember something being last year, then you can predict that was a couple of years ago.

Anything over a few years ago and I really struggle. I can blend year upon year and remember an event being seven years ago when it might have been twelve, or bring it up to only three years before. It's very erratic.

When I'm working out these time-slips, I am actually trying to be accurate. It feels right when I guess the amount. I do think I'm close - though after years of getting it wrong, I'm not full of confidence.

I'm no longer surprised when I'm wrong again but I am sometimes taken aback by the scale of my wrongness. I will suddenly feel out of joint, as if I've been kicked off the tracks and life is skidding past me, with no way to slow it down.

People are exasperated sometimes when I get mixed up, but the most surprising reaction is how they feel about my shorter-term confusions. I have no idea why, but when I blunder over the timescale of a more recent event, say a few months ago, then the people around me are often annoyed

They seem to feel I should be more exact when it was a closer event, that my notoriously shaky grasp of time is somehow only appropriate to years and not months. I guess this is because it's more understandable to them to be confused about the years, as lots of people feel time speeds by as they get older.

What they seem to find maddening is my inability to even say which month something happened. It's as if I'm being personally difficult to them, as well as doing it on purpose. Like so many other facets of aspie life, they feel if I only concentrated or tried harder, then I could do it.

Readers, I have trouble remembering if something happened last week or three weeks ago - it really is all one to me. If a particular date sticks in my mind, then I'm kind of okay, but to be honest, I'll often remember the date for some silly reason and not anything intentional. For instance, I'll remember the date we ate ice cream in the park, but totally forget when I took my mother to the hospital (which is important, if I need to remember to take her again in a month's time!)

As well as people reacting personally, they also get aeriated when I lose track of how far away a future event may be. I don't know why they are so surprised - surely, if I forget what happened last week, then it's no big shazam if I forget how many weeks it is before the dog needs worming, or an appointment looms? Is this not why calendars were invented? Oh, come on, am I meant to remember the calendar too now?

I suppose what frustrates me is not just that I lose time, or let it slip away, lazily, across the smooth river - it's more that I am like this always: it is nothing new, yet it is treated as if it is new, almost every time I do it. I mention, frequently, that I will need reminders about things, or that I forget dates easily. Then, when I (predictably) forget a date and no one reminds me, my nearest and dearest moan as if I did it on purpose.

I think people need to get over it, or not be so forgetful themselves about my fecklessness. You either accept I'm going to forget and remind me, regularly, before the event, or you develop a mild personality and not get so worked up when an appointment sails past without a murmur from me. You have an aspie in your midst, get over it!

On a calmer note, I will add that I never forget the start date for the next series of my favourite show or the release date of a long-awaited film. Also, the cat's birthday is ingrained on my mind and so are the birthdays of at least five people in my close family.

You see, it's not a total washout, I just deal in different priorities. The passage of time is often a relative concept anyway; it's only the rigid and the right who decide everything needs to be remembered in the correct order - and look how much fun they usually have.

Amanda

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But you should just know...




Look, can we get this straight, once and for all? Aspies are not good at taking the hint, especially if the hint is a subtle, physical one. So, imagine how much harder it is to take a hint that is being hinted, getting all hinty with you, and is then left unspoken because you're meant to be taking the hint!

If a person is upset with their aspie, it's so much better to say so and be specific about why they are upset. It is no good at all going round like an old piece of flannel, hoping your aspie will notice you're upset or, worse still, realise they are to blame.

If you're very lucky, your aspie will think you look a bit bored, as you haven't been laughing much lately, and perhaps suggest a game of Super Smash Bros Brawl to cheer you up.

At this point, the mood of the non-aspie, hoping for attention, takes a nose-dive as being invited to do something your aspie likes doing is a reminder that your silent upset has gone unnoticed and that the aspie is behaving in their usual selfish way by only wanting to do what they enjoy.

The aspie carries on, quite happy that life is fine and now knowing you can't be too bored or you would have accepted the offer to play a game. They forget all about your glum face and ask you when tea will be ready or immerse themselves in Super Smash Bros Brawl, having decided to play it anyway.

The upset, neglected, hinty non-aspie has two choices at this point. They can either explode, which would be messy or just tell the aspie what is wrong with them. Or, like a big silly child they can take the sulk to the next stage, still waiting for the aspie to know what is wrong. You'll notice there were three choices: really, I'm only giving you two. Do not progress to the next stage of the sulk!

In the world of non-aspies, many things seem to be Known. It's like there is this vast intranet club, connecting all non-aspies, feeding them vast amounts of secret information, which they feel is known to everyone. They don't realise they are closed off from the aspie world, connected with a lot of people but not to the aspie sitting next to them.

When something happens and a pattern of behaviour is followed, the non-aspie expects their eccentric, inventive, creative and awkward beloved to know, without being told, what to do next. If the non-aspie is ill, the aspie is expected to be sympathetic and look after them. If they are upset, then the aspie should know they are upset, by their behaviour and little things they say. If the non-aspie is worried about something, their aspie should be able to tell, without them having to be obvious about it.

Sometimes, aspies do know without being told. If you are being sick down the toilet for the third time in one morning, we are not stupid, it is kind of obvious you're not feeling well. It's unlikely we'll want to come and sympathise, but we will have noticed.

However, if you are feeling under the weather and a bit icky, don't sit there like Grandpop's sock, expecting us to link to your closed intranet and know you are ill. If we see you sitting there, do you know what we think when your sad, pale little face turns in our direction? We think, Gosh, best beloved doesn't seem to be doing much today, they must be tired. I wonder when tea will be ready?

If you are upset and mooch about, clashing pots and pans, slamming doors, generally making it obvious you are upset, do you know what we're thinking? Mostly, we're thinking what a great load of noise you're making when we're trying to concentrate on Facebook or sending an important email or getting past this tricky level in Great Grand and Grizzly on the Playstation.

If we hear the muttering and start to realise you're being a bit snappy, then we think you've maybe been upset by someone or had a bad day. It doesn't automatically occur to us that we are the guilty party, because if we were, you'd have said something: wouldn't you?

And if you're worried over something and hoping we'll notice so you can talk about it? Well, for heaven's sake, just say so! It's no good trooping past with a pained expression. If we do see your face, we'll just think you need the toilet or have a tummy ache and carry on with what we're doing. Again, if you need help, we expect you to ask for it, like we would.

It infuriates me to the jumping-up-and-down stage when other people expect me to Know things. I have come a cropper with this many times and it always ends up being revealed in the middle of some nasty row or silly snapping contest where I'm suddenly told that I know what is the matter and am then presented with evidence as to why I know.

The evidence often consists of something forgotten or that happened when I wasn't paying attention. I'm not saying the aspie is innocent in all these matters - often it is our fault, once we get to the bottom of it. But if people would just say what is wrong, instead of relying on silly conventions of behaviour where we are all meant to know the rules for unspoken communication, then life would be a whole lot simpler.

For the record, I do think it's appropriate to cheer someone up by offering to play a video game with them - it always cheers me up - so I think grumpy-groos could cut me a little slack and not use the offer of a game against me, along with my other wrongdoings.

Other aspies will have their own examples to fill in here, their own wrongdoings too. It's all relative, all individual, according to the aspie and their friends and family. What seems to remain a constant is the ability of so-called normal people to make the aspie life way more complicated than it ever needs to be.

As I have said before, if you need me to know something, just tell me!

Amanda

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
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The lecturing aspie




We've all been there: you say something offhand or ask a question and away they go! The aspie who lectures is often avoided second only to the aspie who loves to share their obsessions.

Many non-aspies think this tendency to lecture people is a part of being an obsessive aspie - it comes across that way, after all. To the outsider, the aspie in mid-lecture looks very much like the aspie in mid-obsessive monologue. There is the same bright gleam in the eye, the same body language, often the same mannerisms, all designed to make the listener pay greater attention and go away converted.

It might surprise you to know that aspies who give lectures are actually far removed from just sharing their obsessions. The difference between an obsessive monologue and an informative lecture are apparent if you look at the intention behind them.

The aspie who wants to share their obsession truly wants to convert you. They don't want to just tell you about their great love and its many wonders; they want you to love it too, at least as much as they do. There is a fervent expectation running through the aspie's whole being as they share everything they know about their pet subject.

The aspie who lectures you does so only for your own good, to help you or to save you from something. The subject of the lecture will be close to the aspie's heart, but more often from hard experience. They want to help you avoid their mistakes or learn from their triumphs.

The fact that a lecture and an obsession often come across as the same thing is a source of frustration in the aspie world. Imagine if you had to give a talk on fire safety, knowing that it could save the lives of your audience. And then imagine giving the talk while your audience tries to get away, talks over you, checks their phone, changes the subject or suddenly sees someone they know and tries to escape.

How would you feel, knowing you were telling them something important only to have them behave as if you were some mad bloke they met on the bus, with a ticket collection? It isn't good, is it, to have important information treated in the same way as your easily-dismissed obsession.

The aspie is seen as an inconvenience at times, to be humoured and guided away from their troublesome pet subjects. We know how it is. However taken up we are with sharing our obsession, we can still tell when you're trying to get away or not really listening. We just can't often resist the temptation to keep on trying until you see things as we do.

It is far worse, though, to have something important to share and be treated in the same way as always. Do you not even listen to the first sentence? Do you switch off as soon as we start to speak?Or is it the subtle change in our body language that tips you off and sends you running?

I've had the experience many times of trying to give someone information that could save them a whole load of trouble, money or hard-earned time, only to be dismissed or humoured, as if I was a five year old explaining how butterflies come from caterpillars.

Worse, sometimes the information is treated with derision or impatience, as if what I have to say cannot matter, because it comes from me.

I've reached the stage where, with certain people, I hold my peace and let them get on with it. I know I can help them, give them at least part of the key to solving their problems or advancing more quickly. But you do get tired of being ignored, you know?

So, don't be too quick to vacate the room if you meet the lecturing aspie. We might not be at our most scintillating in lecture-mode - it is possibly one of our most boring settings - but if you stick around and listen, you might find out something useful.

And like all good lectures, you should at least look as if you're paying attention, because you never know when we will be asking questions afterwards.

Amanda

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
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The ungrateful birthday girl




You see the title? I'm warning you now: if you haven't read my posts on birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions, then you'll think I'm a horrible person when you read this. However, if you've ever felt like you endure special events, rather than enjoy them - especially if you're the special part of that event - then you'll know what I'm talking about.

With that out of the way, let me tell you that it is my birthday this week. I'm not disclosing this super-exciting information so that I'll get a flurry of good wishes or happy surprises, but so that you'll know I have an event coming up. Whether I like it or not, I will be the birthday girl.

Usually, this involves getting up early, opening presents, then waiting for my mother to come over so I can open her presents. Then I'll make her a cup of tea while she samples my sweets, sit there and be sociable with anyone else who turns up (you can't be grumpy on your birthday), then go out for lunch somewhere that everyone will like and carry on being sociable until it's time to go home and flop into a corner.

And all the while I am trying to summon the birthday mood. I love Christmas, but birthdays are really not my thing. I quite enjoy buying other people presents for their birthday - for myself, let it be a Hobbit birthday and I'll buy everyone else presents, so long as they don't come over and eat my cake.

This year is going to be a little different, though. My mother has been ill this week, and as IT Teen is also ill, they haven't been out shopping for presents. Having left it to the last minute, they are now faced with birthday guilt, as they envisage me sitting, like the last kid at the party, with no friends and nothing to play with (can you hear the sad toot of my paper horn?)

This means that if I want presents then either IT has to get better quick and do shopping for everyone, or RT Teen is elevated to birthday manager. Ahem. RT's usual role is to contribute to the cost of the presents, making the card and wrapping things up. He's never really had to go out and buy presents before.

If IT was stuck for ideas, he'd probably buy chocolate or sweets. If RT was stuck for ideas, he'd either come home with a sorry look on his face and explain, on the day, that he hadn't found anything, or maybe he'd buy me something wholly unexpected, that struck him as a good idea at the time. I'd never be completely surprised if I opened the door to a pony or my own mini-tractor with RT but you're just as likely to get a set of kitchen spoons.

On Friday, presents notwithstanding, I have to take IT to college and my mother to a doctor's appointment. She wanted to call somewhere to get my birthday present on the way home, but if it's a difficult idea to sit and open presents in front of everyone else, it's an even worse one to wander round the shop, helping people to buy them and still try to feel like it's a nice day.

Shall I tell you what I'm really hoping for this Friday? Can I be completely honest with you, please?

After I've taken my mother to the doctor, I want to come home and read a book, in peace, for most of the day. I'm ordering it for myself right now. I'm bound to get some sweets or chocolate on the day so I have this vision of myself, in solitude, just me (and two hopeful dogs), eating something nice, drinking tea and reading a new book. There, that's what I want for my birthday.

I really don't want to go out for my lunch, but the alternative is making my own birthday tea so that other people will think I've had a good time. I don't mind having a cake or having a ready-made pizza for tea as that's easy for me. I don't even mind if no one comes to the party.

Yes, to anyone who loves these special days, I am a horrible person. But to those of you who sympathise with the image of wanting to be alone, doing whatever you like, then you'll know where I'm coming from.

I don't want IT to be ill all week, I do want my mother to be better by Friday and I don't want anyone to feel I'm missing out on the celebration. I just want my book, the tea and the dogs for company. It doesn't even have to be wrapped.

Amanda

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
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Aspies can't face their problems





Apparently, I'm burying my head in the sand these days.

I don't like the image of the ostrich with its head in the sand - that leaves too many unanswered worries, like what happens to the rest of it while it isn't paying attention (yes, I know that's the point), or what if there are loads of bugs in the sand? Or another ostrich got there first and they end up underground together, eye to eye?

I was relieved to find out this is a myth anyway, and the poor things hide their heads in bushes instead. Not much better really, and as much chance of meeting eye to eye with Cliff from down the road, but a slightly less solid place to stick your beak.

I've been accused quite a lot of times (a very very lot) of sticking my head in the sand. If I don't look at it, then it'll go away. Or if I ignore it, the same result. If I hide from it deliberately, not just pretending it doesn't exist but going out of my way to avoid it and be out of sight - that is definitely ostrich-like.

It's just so tempting, though. Turn away, cover your face, hide under the bed, behind the sofa, next to the pot plant, behind Auntie Gladys, in the pot cupboard: so many hidey-holes to choose from and aspies know them all. Rather like a little child, though, our hiding places are never as good as we think they are and we will always be discovered.

Real-life is like that. You think you can trick it by diverting off down a side street and the next thing you know, you're back where you started and have to make the same decision - only this time, it's a worse decision because you left it too long, ticked everybody off and probably missed your opportunity to make it easier on yourself.

Why divert, then? Why bother running off in the first place? Why not just learn from experience and make the stupid decision or face the problem? I've been asked this more often than I've been accused of being an ostrich and there's a different answer/excuse for every problem I've avoided. But shall I tell you the real reason? Or would you like to know why your aspie does the same thing?

It's simple: given the choice between a hard, fast stop in a place where there is only one way left to turn or being able to make a choice and run off, even if we don't know where we're going, the aspie will almost always choose to run. Fight or flight? Not quite.

Think of it more as an attempt at freedom. We must be free; we must always be able to feel the cool wind of an open place where we have at least two options to choose from. Having grown up and kind of learned to survive in a world with very clearly prescribed rules of behaviour, we are in the habit of bending the rules to accommodate ourselves. If we didn't, we would go mad. Sometimes we still go mad.

So it becomes second nature to test the way ahead and, if we see it narrowing down to one path, to start feeling the heebie-jeebies. Do I want to be on that one path? What other paths are there? How many choices do I have? Can I divert later, if I wait or should I divert now and be safe?

Do you detect the element of panic there? Yes, panic and the need for freedom often go together. It comes from the panic we feel at being trapped, you see. Having done all those things we have been forced to do in the past, like school, work, family visits, uncomfortable situations, ongoing bad relationships - we are now at the point of taking our chances for escape when they present themselves. That way, you know you're in control, even if it means making bad choices.

The key to success without having to flee is to have a back-up plan. If you don't have one, then you don't have choices either and feeling like you have a choice is the only sure way to dampen the panic and keep the sense of freedom. Even if the back-up plan is not very good, or seems absolutely terrible to your nearest and dearest, it will help with what you need to do.

A good example of this would be my (admittedly awful) approach to starting a new job. I promise myself I don't have to go back if I don't like it. Yes, that's bad enough, but there is often more than that. I decide I will go for the first day and then decide but, as an added back-up to the back-up, I also promise myself if it is really bad, and I can't take it, then I'm going to walk out during the first day if I have to.

When I get there, I give the car one last loving look (my means of escape, you see) or I visualise the walk home if it's close by, and in I go. This helps me to stand the first day, and probably other days too. If I can 'see' the means of escape, then I can almost touch it too and it makes the hard parts more bearable.

So, at both ends of the decision-making process, there is the sense of escape. From the avoiding of the decision or problem, to the aftermath of making a decision or facing a problem, the aspie is in a place where he or she must make their own plan on how to cope with the situation.

Sometimes, readers, our back-up plans are never used. We face what we have to and succeed, or it turns out slightly better than expected and we cope. And sometimes, don't we just need that plan?

Right now, I feel the need for an escape route. I may be giving in to my ostrich-like tendencies, according to other people, but while my mind might be buried in a metaphorical heap of sand (hi Cliff), it is buzzing with possibilities and scenarios, all the while using this haphazard hiding place as a way of working things out.

Don't underestimate the hiding aspie. Yes, it is a rubbish hiding place and everyone can see them, but that might be because they only need to feel as if they're hidden to work things out. Just because you can see them doesn't mean they have failed to hide. Perhaps they have succeeded, if it means you have noticed there is a problem. And, after a brief spell behind the pot plant, they might be ready to come out and tell you the plan.

Amanda

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
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Mindset vs Meltdown




I was moaning on about not wanting to go to work. No, hang on, let me re-phrase that. Ahem. I was explaining to IT Teen why I was finding going back to work difficult. Fully aware that he sees it as moaning (and that it sounds like much the same thing to the untrained ear), I watched, eagerly, as it looked like he might give me some useful advice, rather than tell me off.

Head on one side he said, 'Instead of always looking for ways to escape why don't you change your mindset about what you have?'

After realising that he had played his usual double whammy of being right and also completely missing my angst, I considered this. I said,

'So, you mean I should try to cope with the life I have to live instead of running away?'

'Yes, that's what everybody does,' he replied.

I thought about this. Imagine, you stay where you are and deal with it, instead of haring off, the only clue you were ever there the spinning coffee cup on your desk. Who would have thought such a thing?

Yes, perhaps you detect sarcasm creeping in. I should say that this sarcasm is aimed at much at myself as IT. He is only saying what most people think. Even if they are sympathetic, you can bet they're wondering why you don't just deal with it. I've often wondered the same thing myself.

I'll say, 'Oh, come on Amanda, it's just a few hours and then you'll be home again. It's worth it to put food on the table/pay the car bill/de-flea the dog'. You know how it goes, trying to persuade yourself with real-life, important arguments when faced with a childish desire to disappear over the hills and far away.

What did strike me as important in IT's logic was the idea that you might be able to change your mindset to suit the situation. Not simply argue with yourself or make mental lists of why you need to do a thing, but actually change the way you think about it.

I've changed the way I think about other things; it's a part of growing older. I now know school can be a good place (sometimes), that I will not die in the drive-in car-wash (probably), that sloths are not creatures sent from the bowels of hell to (very slowly) take over the earthly realm. I've even learned that I don't need to change myself to be a real human being.

Can I change, or slightly tweak, my mindset to make the difficult parts of life easier? Is it very different from simple coping mechanisms? Is it even possible to change your mindset or are we stuck in what we are, just because our feelings keep us there?

I'm not sure but I would be interested to know if anyone has tried this and how successful it might have been. I sometimes think I've managed to alter my attitude to situations, but then it only takes a bad day, or a hateful word, and away I go again. Does this mean it's impossible to truly change your mind?

In the end, I am not sure if I want to change my mindset at all. I don't relish self-sabotaging, but I do now recognise a certain truth within it: if I have the desperate need to escape and be somewhere else, there is usually a good reason for it. Should I really be training myself to ignore those reasons?

Readers, over to you. Is it the mindset that we should aim for, as a way to avoid the meltdowns? Can we become people who go beyond coping in stressful situations? Can we (I hesitate) be in full control of ourselves?

Amanda

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
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When does bailing become the right thing to do?




I'm running scared from myself. I want to press the ejector button and know it would be a Bad Thing.

I've been a tutor for years: it is going well, I make money from it and it's as steady and stable as it can be, considering it's not a proper job. And yet, I want to ditch it and do the writing full-time. This is madness!

I am self-aware enough to know it is folly. I make money from the writing, it gets better month on month, I am always writing something and have not really stopped once this year. And yet, it doesn't bring in the same money as the tuition.

Logic, common-sense, responsibilities; they are all crowding in, like well-meaning friends, telling me what I should do. I know what I should do! But do you know what I feel like doing? Pulling the plug on it all and writing, that's what.

If I'm honest, this has been brewing on and off since the start of last year, so, come Christmas, I will have had two years of fighting with myself - and I wasn't even writing back then. When I first felt this way, I didn't even have a back-up plan, I just wanted out. Now, I do have a back-up plan, so you can see why there is much more temptation to bail.

There is a part of me that thinks it is not bailing, though, but following the right direction at last. Everything I do now is working towards writing full-time, without any other jobs getting in the way. It is a matter of time, but, as many of you know, impatience is an aspie quality of great influence.

I want it nowwwwwww, I cry, just like a little girl at the tombola. Why can't I have it now? I've waited and waited, like a good girl. I've done all my jobs and cleared up after myself, why can I not have this now? Why do I always have to wait?

And then, at the back of my mind, I remember all the times I have been my own worst enemy. Doing the writing full-time is not self-sabotage in the same way as walking out of a job with nothing to replace it, but it is a close second.

I know the logical answer is to carry on as I am until I can afford to leave the tuition. But really, how much does that figure when you have feelings driving you? Their voices are louder and more demanding, but also sweeter and know exactly what to say to make you do what you - and they - want you to do.

I am hoping to resist myself and my hopeless impulses. Just a little longer, I think, just over that bump in the road. Keep going, do not look back, do not listen to the happy voices. Ignore it all and behave like a grown-up. That's right, a little further and we'll be all right.

Amanda

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