Tuesday, July 11, 2017. Over these past months most of the posts I hand write, I throw away. Today’s? I WILL post it here! Please keep in mind as you read this that what I am saying ‘between these lines’, so-to-speak, is that one of the most fundamental new things I have learned about myself in these past four years is that I have been created to be “on the autism spectrum.” Hating this fact about HOW I am in the world, though continually tempting, is NOT a useful approach for me to take any more than it has ever been helpful for me to hate the horrors of the abuse that happened to me during the first 18 years of my life.
I also do not specifically mention in this post as I have written it by hand that LANGUAGE itself is NOT wired into the brain of an autism spectrum person in ordinary ways. I am understanding for myself that most of my experience of life is processed through what can be called my right brain hemisphere — a region that, while indeed having capacity to work with language — does not do so in ways a predominately left-brained culture/society/civilization usually recognizes.
As I circle around ever more closely to my own truth about who and how I am in the world, I understand that the written word can often be as troublesome to me in its processing as is the spoken word. This learning process is part of the reason why even writing blog posts has become sporadic.
It happened a few days ago as I stood on one side of the sales counter visiting with the owner and her most pleasant employee standing on the other side of the counter of this interesting, large consignment variety store on the downtown strip of this small town.
I went blank. (No longer an infrequent situation for me while engaged with other people.)
They noticed. They watched me in what I knew was my “lock down” mode until the store owner laughed, “Wow! Talk about a poker face!”
I have no idea what the conversation was about prior to my freeze. Basically I am learning, finally, after these past 65 years of my life, that someone has said something I cannot understand — and by this I mean — I have no idea what a person meant by what they were saying. The MEANING is missing.
When this happens to me it is like my ongoing experience STOPS. But not entirely. I simply leave the ‘regular world’ where other people seem to so comfortably reside as I switch to a kind of inner world where I search for — sense. I have often wondered if people notice my ‘pause’ — and if they do, what does this feel like, seem like, to them? Now I have a clue.
I realized quickly when I moved here some months ago that these two women in the shop were safe people for me to experiment around in terms of being ME in light conversation with THEM. Having realized this I occasionally stop in for social contact that does not scare me. Mostly these two people make sense to me. And I have been correct. When something in our conversation the other day overwhelmed by ability in-the-split-second-moment to comprehend, I DID learn something more about myself: My autism does complicate my experience of being human — and always has.
We did not return in any way the other day to whatever the topic had been in our conversation. One of the women described how she and her father could understand one another while her mother could often not understand her husband. So I know versions of complexity I encounter does appear for others.
But I hit a brick wall sometimes, like I did the other day. I never see it coming, nor can I smoothly extricate myself from whatever has happened to me — triggered by WHAT? I really cannot predict any of this!
I do know enough now, however, to guess that when I fall off of the inner cliff of understanding (meaning) my brain had automatically switched into a non-verbal mode. At such an instant the thread that binds me to the meanings of others – the best I can connect to them — breaks. When that happens my body/brain does NOT give me any detectable choice. The “call” gets “dropped” without warning — and there I am standing, evidently, in my poker-faced mute silence. (I hate it.)
Part of the problem at my age, soon to turn 66, is that I AM a person now. On increasing levels and in more and more complicated ways, I know at every nanosecond that I exist. And now I am beginning to be able to look back over my life to see all the clues about how gradual this process of my “being born a self” has been.
The most simple way I can put this into words is that everything about the first 18 years of my life as captive in my mother’s psychotic abusive hell demanded that, in order to stay alive, I — as an individual person in my own right — could not live. Could not exist. (I could not fight, from my first breath, against my mother’s profound, pervasive, invasive maniacal madness that was psychotically targeted at me – see book at link below.)
(I am noticing as I write these words here how much more difficult it is for me to write. Tough. It’s tough, and I do not know exactly why this is so.)
I forever thus far have lived at the cusp of one nanosecond becoming the next one, and there was so rarely a moment without peril that there was nothing for me to do but endure and survive. Becoming a person of self-hood evidently requires some downtime of safety when there are no survival-only pressures present.
I have evidently been left over the course of most of my life accepting — without conscious thought — that other people exist and I do not. Not really.
Yes — as if I, as an individual entity — am completely invisible and without form or substance.
And now that I am ever more clearly becoming ever more aware that I DO EXIST I am lacking all the trillions upon trillions of human interactional learning (both due to autism and severe abuse from birth) opportunities others have had which gives them the ability to engage with one another in this world in any way that makes sense.
One way or another most people have built within their brain/body all the neurocircuitry required to determine to a functional degree what people MEAN when they are communicating.
I am, then, at a double disadvantage. My autism spectrum would have altered my communication abilities no matter how safe and secure my first 18 years could have been. Reality gave me unremitting abuse, torment that included ostracization and extremely complex and bizarre patterns of solitary confinement and imprisonment.
Not only did I have no access to any adult to help me, I was also barred from having relationships with my siblings or with any peers. Even when I was in school I was essentially fundamentally absolutely alone.
For all these decades of struggle I have evidently crossed some invisible line of awakening: I exist. Not only do I take up space with this physical body I am connected to, I now know I take up some nebulous form of inward space that is, of course, as invisible as everyone else’s is.
I notice how others seem to carry the combined wholeness of their visible and invisible self around with them (or is it vice versa?) as if they are comfortable being in the world this way — because this way is FAMILIAR to them all.
It is a known. A GIVEN. This is an accepted way of being alive.
There is nothing familiar about this state to me. The human-to-human interactions and TRANSACTIONS are not familiar to me. They are not familiar and they are not known.
I look human and adult to others who have no clue about — not only WHO I am but more importantly to me — HOW I am in this world.
So I do not KNOW what most others know, and evidently now that I cannot instinctively ignore my reactions in favor of what others seem to continually want and expect from others, my invisible self bumps into others’ invisible selves nearly all of the time and I am experientially AWARE of this.
My patterns do not match others’. I can sense their discomfort, surprise, sometimes fear, rejection, confusion, puzzlement, uncertainty and at times even astonishment when my existence jars against theirs.
Mostly I continue to sacrifice myself the best that I can for the comfort of others — as I always have tried to do. There is no reason why others would CARE to know anything about me. Yet I now know that I am missing that vast history of human givens — what they Do automatically know about one another without ever noticing consciously what they know or how they know it.
Because my mother’s mind broke during her birthing of me, I may well have built within me one of the most comprehensive physiological systems of aversion to others’ frustration with, anger toward and rejection of me that anyone could create.
So while my ability to exist since birth has meant by default that I could not exist as a self at the same time I lived at all, I am finding now that my invisible self is HERE — that those options of using those patterns of interactions with people that have been familiar to ME — that have been the only ones I have ever known — are no longer available to me.
(I still, of course, have the same sensitivities to the reactions of others (true about all KINDS of things within and about them, as well), as many sensitive people have no matter what their background might be — autistic or not, abused or not.)
As a result of ALL I am describing here, I feel anxiety and grief “at my condition” that I have never felt before.
As I see it, TIME itself is both my greatest ally and my greatest foe. I need at times to STOP! (Most of what goes on in the society I live in moves too fast ALL of the time.) Now I know those times I seem to freeze look like a poker fact to others. It takes TIME for me to try to understand within myself what other people MEAN by what they are saying — AND what they say MEANS no matter what — or why are they even TALKING about “it?”
(Of course, trauma, abuse and autism ALL alter the perception of time and of its passing.)
In my case, I have to nearly continually disassemble, assemble, reassemble the very semblance of order and therefore of meaning to what others simply rapid-fired with their words, expressions and gestures back and forth with one another. While others possess a lifetime of experiences in the human world that always give them the advantage of having the meaning their shared backstory of familiarity gives them — I only have pieces and parts acquired almost entirely through conjecture and guesswork.
Of course I would rather “keep up with the beat” so that interactions feel smooth and therefore coherent (and safe) to others in their reality. I learned how to mimic doing this by not having my own “invisible real self” present.
I have no way to test my self-given hypothesis that most people do NOT CARE about hearing the reality of anyone else. There are certain, specified game pieces on the board when “talk” is going on. There are rules for how patterns proceed throughout the TIME it takes for people to “transact” their negotiations with one another. (interesting: online search for “Grice’s Maxims for Polite Conversation”)
So what I predominantly detect is that most people want — and may desperately NEED — to be listened to, heard and understood. (They need to matter.) Usually this means they need to be agreed with. They need attention/attending to. These patterns are not what I consider, actually, to BE true conversation. They are “a something else.”
In this line, now that my invisible real self exists, I see that asserting the truth of real selves often creates discord and conflict and is to be avoided. This entire process appears to be/is powerfully controlled through socially accepted mainstream culturally created, maintained and accepted patterns of verbal exchange between people in nearly all situations and settings.
It’s a dance. A dance I do not really know how to do. I do know that I am not yet at inner peace with any of what I describe here. To a large extent I am suspecting that the fact I find no one to talk with about any of this contributes to my pervasive sense of being alone. Because no matter what I AM a member of a social species where being alone is tantamount to imminent extinction, whatever peace I might be able to come to seems always beyond my reach.
Yet I do consider my writing of this piece to be at least some step in the direction of attaining some sustained and sustaining peace.
Here is my first book out in ebook format as it provides an outline of the conditions of my malevolent childhood. Click here to view or purchase–
Story Without Words: How Did Child Abuse Break My Mother?
It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge. A daring book – for daring readers – about a really tough subject.
Tags: adult attachment disorders, adult reactive attachment disorder, anxiety disorders,borderline mother, borderline personality disorder, brain development, child abuse,depression,derealization, disorganized disoriented insecure attachment disorder,dissociation,dissociative identity disorder, empathy, infant abuse, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),protective factors, PTSD, resiliency, resiliency factors, risk factors, shame