Resuming

I told myself I’d get back to blogging the Monday after I moved into my new apartment. I figured  a week to recover from moving, ten days to get over the jet lag and fatigue from my trip–that sounded like more than enough recovery time.

Six days past my imagined deadline, I’m finally opening up a new doc. Six days of staring at a blank page in my head (because I refuse to stare at an actual blank page). Six days of idea fragments running amok, refusing to settle. Unchecked, that could go on indefinitely, so I’m gonna do what Gertrude Stein advised:

“The way to resume is to resume. It is the only way. To resume.”

Here I am. Resuming. Filling up the page with words.

I’d like to say this is going to be a post about something but mostly it’s just me looking for a way back in, decompressing.

My executive function has been on the fritz for weeks. Wonky EF makes it hard to write because it messes with my organization and regulation–two things that are pretty fundamental to producing coherent writing.

I’ll spare you the gory details. No one wants to read about a writer moaning about not writing, yes? Yes.

*

After much backspacing in search of a theme, I think what I need to do before I can begin writing again is to clear my cache. So in no particular order, some of what’s rattling around inside my head this past week:

Self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. I’ve been lenient with myself these past few weeks. In the past, I’d considered “going easy on myself” an indulgence. That was a mistake. It led to a lot of unnecessary emotional and mental angst, sometimes even to physical illness, much of which could have been avoided if I’d been paying more attention to what my body needed and giving less weight to how I thought things should be. This deserves its own post.

I’m getting better at being okay with things. There have been a lot of events recently that I’ve had little control over. I’m learning how to struggle less with that lack of control, how to just be with it and how that can be okay.

The Scientist and I have come a long way in one year. We’re both better at understanding my autistic nature, at knowing when to push and when to give way. He does a lot of seemingly-little-but-actually-big-for-me things. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in life.

When I don’t exercise for a stretch of time, I forget how exercise stabilizes my moods. It’s only when I get back into my routine that I remember how much better I feel on the days that I exercise in the morning.

Somehow, even when we’re undiagnosed, we recognize each other. For years I wondered why I always felt a particular kinship with my nephew who is physically and developmentally disabled. Now I know. We have something very fundamental in common.

I can be mindful, but it won’t always work. Sometimes my discomfort rises to a detectable level and sometimes I can only spot it in retrospect.

Mindfulness works when I’m being hit with a sensory 2×4: On the fourth day of our trip, we went on a family picnic. We’d been with people 24/7 for four days and when we arrived at the picnic site, I suddenly felt an intense wave of toomuchtoomuchtoomuch. Recognizing that I was getting overloaded, I told The Scientist I needed to go for a walk. We spent about an hour walking around the park, just the two of us, and when we returned to the family gathering, I felt ready to enjoy the rest of the day (and did). Disaster avoided!

Not so much when sensory ninjas attack : On the flip side, one day soon after moving, I experienced a series of minor discomforts. They accumulated slowly, stealthily, until at dinner I had what The Scientist later characterized as a kind of meltdown. It took both of us until the next day to sort out what had happened and why. In the interim, we both felt that icky sort of remorse that makes you wish life had an “undo” button.

I need to rediscover how to make myself vulnerable enough to write. Some parts of me have closed down over the past few weeks;  I need to tease them back open again. The closing down is a defense mechanism, the emotional armor that allows me to get through challenging situations. It’s kind of like living with the rest of the world on mute. If I don’t intentionally shed that armor, I can get comfortable in it.

Change is hard but I’m getting better at it. Better self-care + being mindful + learning to be okay with things = less stress when things change. I still feel disoriented by change. I still perseverate on pros and cons, what’s good and bad, and better and worse. I still find change exhausting. But I’m learning to like it too, to lean into the adventure and newness and discovery and give myself over to the process without needing to know and control everything. Which isn’t the same as not needing to know or control anything. Not the same at all.

*

I’ve been thinking a lot about what comes next here. We have two more weeks of survey questions. After that, I’m not sure what happens on Tuesdays. I think I’ve covered most of the tests but I could be wrong.

There has been so much good stuff happening in the comments. A reader and frequent commenter has developed and released a cool “to do” list website for folks on the spectrum and others who need some extra help with executive function. Look for a detailed review in my next regular post.

It makes me so happy when someone asks for help or mentions in a comment that they’re struggling and other people leave them some encouraging words. Y’all are awesome.

Also, the developer of the RAADS-R read our comments on the Take-a-Test-Tuesday post and left some comments of her own. How cool is that?

I have lots and lots of ideas for posts. I’ve been thinking for a while now about doing a series on being self-employed/freelancing. Is that something anyone is interested in? It’s a topic I have a lot of knowledge about and one that I think is applicable for aspies because we tend to prefer doing things our own way, often alone. Yeah? No?

I’ve also been toying with a novel that I started writing years ago because I miss writing fiction. Not sure if that will impact my posting frequency. I need to find my writing rhythm again. At least I’ve finally stepped back out on the dance floor.

39 thoughts on “Resuming”

  1. Yes, a post on self-employement/freelancing could be great fodder.

    I’m working in a new office and having the pleasure(?!?) of having to get used to new people and (worse) they to me and my quirky humor. I wish I had an “edit/delete” button that could engage the nanosecond before I open my mouth and insert my foot (again). EF must be down. I dunno.

    Anyhow, when I am working on my fiber business, all by myself, I feel much more comfortable in my skin than when I am answering questions at the office or trying to figure out how to prioritize the rapid-fire instructions from my new boss. She’s great, and so are my new colleagues, but I worry that I won’t measure up to their standards or will fail to perform in some essential way. It’s stressful, even though I love my new job. I wish I could make a living staying at home and doing fiber-related things (spinning) so I didn’t have to worry about what I said or who I said it to.

    1. I can see your EF being down due to the stress of the new environment. At least they sound like they’re nice people. I hope it goes well for you.

      It took me a moment to work out what kind of fiber you were talking about. Fiber optic was the first that came to mind, but I doubt you know how to spin that. 😀 I think the self-employment posts could at least shed some light on how I did things and what the pluses and minuses are. I know it’s not for everyone but I’ve had a few people ask me about it here and there so I’ve been thinking for a while of writing something. I’ll put a hash mark in the “yes” column.

  2. Oh, welcome back! 😀

    I can definitely relate to this post, especially with EF and writing. I’ve realized that many of my written sentences come out almost backwards when my EF is down. :<

    I'm just happy that you're back- I always look forward to your posts. It'll be pretty hard at first- I know because I've felt the same way, but your posts are great and I'd love to read whatever you have to say! And YAY FOR WORKING ON FICTION! ❤

    1. Thank you! It feels good to have gotten to the point where I’m posting again. The next step is finding a subject and immersing myself to the point that it becomes something people might want to read. I didn’t realize how much I’d closed down emotionally until I tried to write. Yikes.

      Yay for fiction! I opened up the docs for a novel I’d drafted years ago and happily I can now see why I was struggling with it and what needs to be done about that. So exciting.

  3. Welcome back. I’ve missed your writings. I’ve had 2 out of town work trips in 3 weeks, so i can relate to the self maintenance. My last one I spent the time trying to be normal, since was the first time I met them all. You guessed it. Off and on melt downs for 3 days after the trip. Not sure how my husband puts up with it but he does. Every day maintenance is a necessity. I am not bullet proof. But I still need much work to accept those facts.

    Jmd

    1. Oh my gosh, is that your dog in your avatar? So adorable.

      Sorry. 🙂

      Trying to be normal. Eep. The traveling is hard enough, with all its routine-destroying possibilities. Having to put on the “normal” act is definitely pushing it. We’re lucky to be married to understanding guys.

          1. Ha! I don’t necessarily hide. it is more a mental explosion. like the way calvin and hobbs look when they are making silly faces. only it doesn’t feel silly

            1. Just the thought of having to pass for normal makes me want to hide. I admire anyone who holds down a job where they have to pass. It’s not an easy thing, for sure.

              Also, I ❤ Calvin and Hobbes so much.

  4. Yes please. I took some tests. No matter how hard I try not to, I still come up Aspie. Not extreme. Like 167? Other people don’t think I am. But I’m struggling right now. Maybe that’s why?

    1. Whelp, neither the online tests nor other people’s opinions are necessarily a good indicator of your aspie status. 167 on the aspie quiz is fairly high but I’ve seen higher. I also suspect that if I asked a dozen people, ten would tell me I don’t seem autistic.

      It might help to look some more at the specific areas you struggle with and compare that with some other autistic adults (from blog writing, the “actuallyautistic” tag on Tumblr) to see if there are similarities.

      1. I agree with musingsofanaspie. My own results told me I was half neurotypical and half aspie, but I suspect a lot of the neurotypical traits were those I managed to assimilate into my personality growing up just from observing how NTs act and their version of normal. But that did NOT come easy! It still doesn’t. Personal experiences would be more helpful to determine if you’re on the spectrum.

  5. This was an excellent resumption. Like dipping toes in here and there, yet very open, honest, and personal. I am still relatively new to your blog, but it is very nice to hear from you again. I think many will be interested in what you have to say about self-employment. I am certain that would evolve into a very interesting and helpful-to-many discussion. Take us where ever the mood sends you, though. We’ll play. And if the mood that strikes is the one that immerses you elsewhere, such as with your novel, we’ll wait for the winds to blow you back our way.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. It’s interesting to try to balance what I think might interest others with what interests me. I’ll probably end up doing at least a couple of posts on self-employment, more if the response is enthusiastic. 🙂

  6. Totally agree with everyone, a big YAY! to having you back.I love and totally agree with Dave’s comment.
    Everything you offer is so superb I am always hugely appreciative and grateful you’re doing all this work. I confess to being greedy and always wanting more (i.e. your next blog) but that is simply the response of a devoted reader to an excellent author (no pressure implied!) 🙂 However, we all appreciate the ‘costs’ of life and the need to go slow and let yourself return and to make your own choices that suit you best.
    p.s. I hope you’ll include us in a pre-release update of anything else you do publish, thanks heaps!

    1. Yay! Thank you. It makes me happy to have been missed. If I ever do get my novel published, you’ll know about it for sure. But that’s probably a long way off since it’s very much a hobby.

  7. Thank goodness you’re back! (me being Selfish Aspie) I do hope you had a great trip and that you are enjoying your new place though.

    Some posts on work would be great. I am running my own business with two colleagues as well as curating a large art project that currently has 40 odd artists involved and I tell ya I am STRUGGLING! I am supposed to be this sensible, organised professional when most of the time I am an upset, emotional, unreasonable, disorganised, terrified baby girl. As Badger said, being alone and working is fine, happy even, but being with people in an office environment is pretty rough (for me and them). Advice and sharing on the subject would be great.

    What you are doing with this blog is pretty flipping wonderful. Thank you so much x

    1. The trip was mostly great though exhausting. The new place is wonderful now that I’m settling in and learning the neighborhood. Thank you for asking and for the kind welcome back!

      I have done the running a business with other people in an office thing and really struggled. I’m not cut out for day-to-day supervising of people. Now I subcontract the stuff I’m not good at and don’t have to see people hardly at all. It works much better for me and while the business is smaller, it pays the rent, etc. so I’m content with it.

      I’m impressed by the size of your project! That sounds like a lot of variables to juggle. No wonder you’re struggling. I hope it all comes off as planned and is a great success.

  8. I keep coming back to your thought about having to open yourself up again emotionally to be able to write. It just keeps popping into my head since yesterday. I am assuming you think that is a preferred state to be less guarded emotionally or you wouldn’t be doing it. Though if being emotionally vulnerable were preferred then I suppose we wouldn’t build up a guard either. it fascinates me what we all do here. I find so much release in just hitting publish on some things. It’s this magical sense of having worked through and let let go of something that has caught me totally unprepared. So, I was very struck by you saying that yesterday. Perhaps this is something that is obvious to real writers, but it is a new concept to me.

    1. Well, Hemingway did say, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I actually have no clue about these real writers you speak of. 🙂

      Personally, I’ve learned that I have a lot of intricate defense mechanisms and I can’t write when they’re in place. I can’t even communicate properly, really. Everything just shuts down and I go on autopilot. It’s neither productive, nor a very pleasant place to stay, though I think I lived years or even decades of my younger life there.

      To write, I’ve found I need to be willing to open myself up and be with some things that I’d rather not. I need to be honest with myself, which is often hard. I need to be wiling to expose parts of myself that I’ve spend a lifetime learning how to hide. And yet,somehow, doing this makes me so much happier than I am when I have my armor on. I don’t quite understand it, but I do like that I’ve discovered how to get to that place.

      It’s amazing what sending our words out in the world does, isn’t it?

  9. “Sometimes even when we’re undiagnosed we recognize each other!” This is so true. I had met a coworker’s family for the first time and I felt like I could relate to one of the kids even though he did not talk for the whole time and I didn’t actually speak to him. Later I learned that he was autistic. It explained a lot.

    1. There’s some unspoken connection for sure. I’d always felt an affinity with my nephew and with his older brother before him (who had the same condition and died as a child) but never had an explanation for it until recently. Neither of the boys are autistic but both have/had a lot of autistic-type traits.

  10. Thanks for sharing your musings! As someone who doesn’t have Aspergers (my son does), yet wanting to better understand and assist Aspies (I’m a therapist working with Aspies), I find blogs like this invaluable to better understand your strengths and challenges. It’s great that you and the Scientist have such a great mutual understanding 🙂

    1. Glad you’re finding it helpful! It’s always good to hear that non-autistic folks are getting some use out of my ramblings.

      It took me a moment to figure out where I recognize your userpic from, but I’ve finally got it! Twitter/Triberr.

  11. “Some parts of me have closed down over the past few weeks; …. The closing down is a defense mechanism, the emotional armor that allows me to get through challenging situations.”

    Doesn’t that sound as if it was me? I never knew how to describe such situations before diagnosis but they definitely happened very regularly. Now that I look at myself with the new knowledge, I am able to predict that they will happen and inform partner beforehand. You would even be able now to listen in and find us half-jokingly in a conversation:
    Partner: “Are you there?”
    Me: “No, I’m not.”
    If things aren’t too bad with me, the necessary exchange of information might be possible. Otherwise, I’ll just stay mute and he understands that the exchange needs to be postponed.
    For me, it’s not the world turned mute, it’s me turned mute and the world going on as usual, at a normal noise level or increased noise levels but I can’t escape because not at home or home occupied by people.

    The one thing I would very much like us to learn is that I can ask him the very same question and get similar answers. We got diagnosed contemporarily and thus started exploring the world with new eyes at the same time but at differing speeds. The therapist tells us that that is due to male-female differences. Hm, I don’t buy that or only partially. Labour division between us sounds more appropriate to me: he does what he is good at, I do what I am good at.
    Reading huge amounts of text relating to a special interest is no problem for me, I’ll share the interesting parts. Putting into practice what I have learnt reading takes a bit of time but I do get there fairly often. Pattern recognition skills that come with the neurology obviously help a great deal. And that’s where I see the difference: we’re both able to recognise patterns, each of us in a special field. And we both put these skills to good use. Isn’t that a kind of sharing, too?

    You have again worded it very properly: “I’ve learned that I have a lot of intricate defense mechanisms …. I can’t even communicate properly, really. Everything just shuts down and I go on autopilot. It’s neither productive, nor a very pleasant place to stay, though I think I lived years or even decades of my younger life there.”

    And I love that Eep picture, it shows how I look after periods of travelling for work or family, or after periods of having too many people in the house. Sometimes half a day of hiding under the covers may be enough but at other times that state can last for days, literally. And if you add some virus picked up on the way, I’ll be undercover for a week.
    By the way, that penguin reminds me of a little (nice plastic) penguin I once got in a supermarket. He looks a bit lost somewhere in between and sits at my place at the table. He is very patiently supporting on his head the electronic device I use for reading and when I feel … a bit like that … looking at his face somehow helps me.

    Reading your words has become a very trusted resource to me. Thank you so much!

    1. I’m so glad you were able to relate to this post. It’s really hard to explain that shutting down process to people who’ve never experienced it. I think it’s very much a defensive action that my brain takes and while I’m getting better at recognizing it, I have trouble preventing it from happening.

      It sounds like your partner is having a more difficult time getting a grip on his autistic traits than you are. Perhaps he needs more time to adjust and process, whereas you’re going at things more directly. Hopefully he come around eventually. In the mean time, he has you to be a good role model. 🙂

      1. Are you really convinced that you would want this shutting down process not to happen? I am, two years after self-diagnosing, a year after official diagnosis, fairly certain that putting on my armour serves a purpose. The difference before and after diagnosis is awareness. I am aware now that I am doing something to protect myself from harm, being aware of it allows me to talk about it without letting the guard down. That tiny bit of a difference improves quality of life quite a lot.
        I now am aware that I am in a situation of shut-down and can/do inform those close to me/aware of my difficulties of the fact that I am in my armour. Partner and children understand and are able to get messages through to me. I can respond because I know they understand and don’t expect too much, just that essential piece of information. That’s where the improvement of quality is, and so far, that’s much more than was possible two years ago.

        1. I really do wish it didn’t happen. Now that I’ve discovered what it is to not be emotionally defensive and closed off, I much prefer being open and having my feelings be more accessible. And it’s definitely better for my relationships with my family. I just find it very hard to do still, at times, but I’m working on it.

  12. Thank you for your answer. I do understand that within your family you would prefer to be open and to feel free. My idea that the armour serves a purpose might be related to the fact that I have been bullied by a newcomer in a work environment in which I felt safe after having been an accepted part of it for many years, with all my talents, quirks and shortcomings. And I remember all too well the first encounter with the person: I had decided on a whim that I could be me, as usual. The bullying arrived slowly, gradually and, although there were loads of people supporting me, never stopped. I left some months before the planned date. I cannot remember any other instance of being bullied before. Must have been sheer luck reading about the experiences of so many other autistics diagnosed in adulthood.

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