Feelings are so last universe.




Give me a really intense, intellectual concept of our place in the universe, with variations allowed for alternate universes, and I'm there. But hurry me when I'm processing a personal feeling and I'm lost. One simple, human concept such as having a feeling when it is felt is so much harder than a giant, grandiose idea of humanity and infinite wonder.

What is it with the aspie brain that uniquely human problems like feelings are so easily felt by the majority? They may still laugh and cry, but they do feel them and at the time they are meant to be felt.

Me? Well, I'm feeding the cats right now and - pause for a check of the feeling - and then I need to get ready to go out and also when am I going to walk the dog? - another pause, shorter this time.

Somewhere later and in the middle of a sentence about rotational symmetry, I'll suddenly feel an affinity with that little shape, trying to turn and be the same shape but in a different place. I understand how that shape feels; I just don't understand how I feel.

And then much later when it is dark and I'm driving home, the lights over the hill take me back so many years to other dark nights when I was too small to know about older, shadowed universes and instead knew this one and the very big feelings within it.

The small me grew out of feelings too strong to countenance and turned to the shadow universes where everything becomes possible and is so readily accepted and understood.

I know that I feel because sometimes, when I forget to think about it, I cry or laugh unexpectedly. And I also know I feel because I love very much and understand that people love me. What I cannot do is bring things together very often, experience that melting pot which mixes many emotions into one livable stew which means a usual person.

In this case, my own person likes one feeling at a time, where it can be seen and examined and possibly set to one side until I need to look at it again. Between now and then take me to other lands where it all makes sense just by thinking about it.

And feelings? I think, perhaps, they are too last universe for me.

Amanda




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Today I shall be forgetting lots of important stuff and -

- practically almost remembering everything I should have done yesterday.




Then afterwards making a note on the phone's calendar and setting the little reminder so it can pop up and remind me what I forgot to do the other day. By which time I'll be so bored of thinking about it that I'll press cancel instead of snooze, promising myself that I'll definitely do the thing so it's fine to press cancel.

At some stage, I'll remember (briefly) what I forgot or, more likely, there will be a small crisis caused by what I forgot to keep remembering, followed by an even briefer spell of guilt before I make another reminder because I'm far too busy to do the thing right now.

And repeat, for as many times as it takes for the thing to wear out and not need doing, or for that spark of ingenuity which makes me do it at the moment it needs to be done. Or for as long as it takes for the moon to slingshot around the sun and for me and the rest of the planet to plunge into the temporary darkness caused by an over-excited imagination with too little time to worry about reminders.

The strangest part being that if I am organised enough to do the current thing and not have any reminders, it feels strange and uncomfortable. Like new shoes and thick socks, it feels like I'm not quite me and there is more danger of tripping. It's not that I want to be disorganised (promise!), I just am so used to flying about and hoping for the best that having everything done upfront feels too much like someone stepped in and sorted me out.

When all of these current events line up and my phone reminds me, I divert to do something far more interesting, full of good intentions. Then, a few seconds later, engulfed by the wondrous sense of awe which comes with new discoveries, I have completely forgotten the existence of the sensible thing I needed to remember.

And really, who needs to be sensible? I mean, if you forget things for long enough they either sort themselves out or, finally, irrevocably, need doing and you do them anyway. One way or the other, that reminder is only there as a guilt-fuelled interruption. Better to wait for the real-life reminder to pop up and let you know you are needed, now, get up and do it, or else.

It's at this point it usually becomes obvious that real-life does not have a snooze or cancel button (except for the very big cancel button usually avoided for as long as possible) and that when it steps up with a job, it is better to do it.

Until then, merry on and be diverted. What could possibly go wrong with such a fun-filled way of living? And if all else does really fail, set a reminder to yourself to do better in future. Right after this now, when you are quite taken up with the amazing moment you are having and can't quite face real-life and all its reminders.

Amanda




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When aspies are right, they're right.




I'm often a wrong aspie, as are lots of other aspies I know. We don't like being wrong but we're well used to it. We know how hard it can be when someone points out our faults and explains how we got it wrong all over again. It means we become awkward under criticism - obnoxious at our worst.

So it's ironic that an aspie in the right is such a big pain in the butt. (Yes, you are, you know it). If being wrong is painful to the aspie, then being right is at least as big a pain to everyone else.

It's not so much gloating (though some do like to gloat); rather it's to do with:

Making sure the person realises they are wrong, understands how they are wrong and can show the aspie they know they are wrong otherwise there will be absolutely no shutting up about it.

It's almost helpful, this need to point out your wrongness. If we tell you how you went wrong and the many vivid details of your errors, then you'll know not to do it again. We don't like to be wrong and always try to avoid it so we don't mind repaying the favour and helping others avoid wrongness too. It's a public service.

If you do something the wrong way and we know the right way then we will tell you the right way. And when good manners or social shock cause you to clam up and just let us go on, we will take that as your misunderstanding of what we are trying to explain and so we'll continue explaining. And there will be hand gestures and show-and-tells and detailed explanations with figure diagrams and also references to your wholly wrong effort, so you know where you went wrong.

None of this will be meant unkindly but there will be a firmness about it, as if you are 5 again and having it explained to you why it's a bad idea to talk and eat at the same time. You will be left in no doubt as to how you went wrong and that you are being Put Right.

At the end you have the choice to accept the staunch advice from your helpful aspie or venture a small complaint about the method of correction. This would be the moment when you try to explain how the aspie made the lecture kind of painful and did they know they had hurt your feelings?

If you manage to finish the sentence, your aspie will be dumbfounded, appalled, just totally brimming with disbelief - not at having hurt your feelings but at your ability to sidestep the whole point of this exchange and move onto your emotions (again!). All the effort put into explaining how you went wrong seems to have been wasted. How is your aspie expected to help you if all you do is lose concentration? No wonder you get things wrong!

The suggestion that the way your aspie explains things might be slightly abrasive or hurtful is irrelevant. As usual, if it wasn't meant this way then there's no point in you taking it this way. If you can't use good advice when it's offered, your aspie might have to stop offering it (no, there's no real hope of this happening, sorry).

Sadly, your aspie wanders off, secretly plotting how to help you be right once you've stopped being silly and are ready to listen. Or maybe you can just be shown the right way to do something? Be converted by the brilliance of the finished effort?

Smiling to themselves, your aspie closes the door, leaving you to wonder what on earth you did to deserve a ten minute lecture on the right way to clean a sink. Especially as you're the only one who ever does it!

Sighing, you take up the cloth and then hesitate, looking guiltily at the kitchen door as you start to clean the sink the way you were told. Sometimes it's better just to do things right...

Amanda

 A Guide to Your Aspie

 How to talk to your Aspie



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In the absence of understanding, you blame yourself




One half of the conversation is fine, the usual friendly comments, nothing very deep, what you say each time you meet. Then the second half begins and it's obvious the other person is now annoyed. A quick flashback through what you both did and said reveals nothing. What could be wrong?

A little battle goes on here. I try not to blame myself for everything these days, so I quickly look at the evidence. Line up the words, the phrases, the visible nuances which passed between us. Did something happen? Was there a chance for misunderstanding? Did I frown at the wrong time?

It comes back too easily to self-blame and I try to remember: It Is Not Always My Fault.

Keeping this mantra in mind, in the time left between us I try it again, a quick sweep-through our conversation and still I find no explanation for the shift in mood and the obviously irritated, verging on angry expression on the other face.

Oh dear, though. Oh very dear! What is a person supposed to do in this situation? I'm not with someone I know well enough to ask what is the matter. I can't 'joke' it into the conversation for the same reasons. I have no idea what might have gone wrong. All I have to go on is my own continued presence in the time it took for this normally cheerful person to turn thin-lipped and tongue-biting.

Sometimes you do come back around and take responsibility. In the absence of understanding what has gone wrong, you blame yourself. If there seems no other explanation for the offence taken and you are the one standing there, still flapping your mouth while you try to work it out, then what else can you do?

Brutal, unswerving honesty might make me say to them, 'Look here now, what's wrong? Have I put my foot in it?' And then what happens after? If you are to blame, you make the other person feel at least as awkward as yourself and risk them having to lie because most people don't like unswerving honesty.

If it was nothing to do with you, it might be far too personal to talk about and again with the awkwardness.

And if they are really annoyed at someone else, you might be lucky and they slot in a throwaway comment that explains it is nothing to do with you.

With the evidence before me and no appetite for awkwardness, I left in something of a hurry, hoping the mood would be back to normal the next time we met. I can add this extra complication onto the pile of niggles which tag along every time I have to interact with people who I don't know well.

Being on high alert already, I'll be on the lookout for any clues as to what went wrong. If nothing happens ever again, it wasn't me. If something comes out later, my brain will pick it up and lob it back to these strained moments when I was trying not to blame myself.

Either way, I will be acting as if there is another great mystery to solve, one which requires all the usual suspects to gather in the room while I accuse them one by one, finally settling on the right culprit. And, more often than not, the right culprit is one I never suspected, forgotten almost to the end and who only made sense once I could view them all together.

Amanda




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Creatively wrong...again




It's okay to get things wrong (you tell yourself), everyone gets things wrong sometimes (ninth time in one day), you can be forgiven for not always being right (just once in a while would be good).

It's easy to put yourself down when you get confused easily, especially if you suffer from the kind of confusion where you were absolutely sure you were completely right, up until two seconds ago when you found out how wrong you were this time.

Being confused is what I expect of myself these days. I know I'll be wrong, I wait for it and look for it coming along then try to dodge it at the last minute.

If you know confusion is just around the corner it can make you nervous, uncertain of yourself, more likely to make the mistakes which label you as a Confused Person. Don't let Dilly-Dally do it, people will say, she gets it wrong more often than she gets it right - and then she argues with you about it!

The arguing part comes naturally to many aspies, including myself. I am used to being wrong but when I'm sure I'm right, then I stand my ground. Usually this lasts for as long as it takes the other person to prove, irrevocably, that I am actually not in the right. Then I mutter my apologies and go off, still suspicious of the whole thing and secretly wondering if I am right after all.

Then there's getting it wrong and being able to take it in your hands and create something wonderful, like a beautiful glass ball full of butterflies. You fling it up into the air to see them break free and fly, fly away...unless the ball hits the ground because you never could throw and all the butterflies are mashed to a rainbow pulp which you have to clean up because it's your mess.

This is what happens when I try to cover being wrong by somehow, creatively, making it right in a different way. It can be done, sometimes people are fooled, but usually it happens like this:

Small child, lisping: Look at my picture!
Me, with carefully-practiced genuine enthusiasm: Oh, that's lovely!
Small child: Do you like it?
Me: Yes, I really do, it's a very pretty gazelle.
Small child: It's a fox...

(A moment's pause as I give Small Child an are-you-serious? look, then cue the butterflies)

Me: Well, it would make a very good gazelle because gazelles are almost the same colour as foxes and really not that big and [warming to my theme] if the continents hadn't shifted when they did and weather patterns had developed differently then you might be drawing gazelles instead of foxes anyway. Right?

Small Child carefully retrieves picture and frowns.

Small Child: Foxes eat chickens.

(Admire triumphant randomness of Small Child then, unable to stop self)

Me: And so do you!

Some time later, once Small Child has recovered from realising what they have on their plate and where it comes from and that they are a human version of a chicken-stealing, farmer-baiting, cute-nosed predator, I leave, wondering when I will learn not to do this kind of thing.

I don't know why being wrong, which is so familiar, inspires me to try to work it round to being right, or at least diverting the conversation so far away that the other person forgets I was wrong in the first place. I guess it comes from wanting to lighten the mood after I've shown my confusion all over again.

Also, really, shouldn't all small children understand about continental drift? They like dinosaurs, don't they? Aren't the shifting continents natural progressions from all that?

And why shouldn't they know what their food used to be? It's only fair to the chickens - and the gazelle.

Amanda




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