VI - Much Better - Aspie I Am
Around August of 2019, a newly trained psychiatrist in Chicago heard my statement: “I think that I’m probably 2-3% Autistic (Asperger’s) (sic). He asked me a few questions, and then said something like: “I can say with 100% certainty that you are not autistic!”
It is probably reasonable to respond to a statement such as: “The world is flat!” – with a statement such as: “You are 100% wrong!” Often, however, life situations are very different from the example give which is a “cut and dry” factual statement. It is generally not a good idea to say things similar to what the psychiatrist said to me. The impact upon the recipient of such statements, even when the odds may be significant that the statement is correct, can be significant.
In December, 2019, at the suggestion of my partner, I took an online test intended to determine if I am autistic (Asperger’s). The results clearly showed that I am autistic. As I read more and more, the validity of this conclusion became more and more obvious. My writing: “I’m Out – On the Spectrum” – January 12, 2020 - https://www.georgemarx.org/2020/01/within-past-few-days-i-have-learned.html - explains more of how I felt then.
Reflecting, feeling, learning and similar about my autism has been very, very helpful for me! Often the light in rooms is too bright. Then I’m very uncomfortable! At other times, similar lighting may not bother me. I fixate on seemingly small things, and have trouble letting go of the thoughts and feelings I have related to them.
I can also really focus deeply upon listening to another person, totally letting go of everything else. Significant parts of their subjective reality can become clear easily to me often. On rare occasions, I can’t understand others at all!
Life is very challenging in some situations. In other ways I may seem to be totally “normal”. Often I take things very personally, where that was the intent or not. Where someone says something meaningful, I’m “in love” with them in that moment. When I take the words as criticism, I feel devastated.
Often there is magic in my autism support group! Hearing others’ truths is amazing! Their experiences often aren’t similar to my reality, but what they say may still resonate deeply. Neurotypical people may react similarly with each other in some life situations. Sharing a common experience of losing a parent at a young age is one such example. Coping with the seeming traumas of a teenage child is another.
It is easy as an Aspie to feel left out! Childhood – bullying – is common for many of us. I was scared of boys, and felt isolated from girls, who mainly ignored me. Though I’m getting better at it, chit-chatting in a group is really challenging. I want to latch onto one person, or be in a conversation where I feel some real connection. I tend to either be very silent, or to say “too much”.
Experiencing my feelings has changed dramatically over the past several years! Previously, I generally wasn’t aware I was even having feelings. I tended to busy myself (subconsciously) in reaction to a lot that came up. Now – I cry a lot – from a few tears, to totally being in a very different space. Watching movies, hearing news, or even feeling moved by a friend, can open my feelings up significantly.
I try to listen, seeking to hear what emotionally is going on. In a workshop on Zoom – someone’s words may suddenly impact me very deeply. Where possible, I try to linger in the feelings, sometimes missing words that follow what I’ve just heard.
I’m generally trying to feel my pain, my hurts, or my life traumas coming at me. In such moments, my sadness, my frustrations, being in my body and parts of my core self, become very visible to me. While it isn’t easy, it is meaningful! I particularly try to be aware of my impatience; my wanting to rush rapidly ahead, and occasionally slow myself down to a crawl, so I can process fully inside.
I will tend to be brutally honest, when asked a question, sometimes stepping on toes, and often going into far more detail than is desired by others. I also miss a lot of their non-verbal cues to “shut-up”.
I was in incredible pain, when kidney stones attacked my body! Once hospitalized, as the pain subsided, I had a lot of time – to myself. I took in the varying depths of the pain, and really experienced what I was feeling in those moments. I want to and need to listen to the wisdom of my body. It might save my life someday – helping me in seeking and getting necessary medical treatment soon enough.
I feel deep magic at times. It may be within me, in an interaction with another, or in their incredible spirit and/or words. That magic and the many lessons I get don’t in any way make me “better” than others. They are a gift I appreciate very much!
I very much cherished an opportunity I asked for, and got, in describing my autistic life within my core men’s group – doing political work – over a year ago. Feeling really heard – in group – was an experience I’ve rarely had.
Most commonly others either say: “I’m not interested” or “I understand, so there is no need to explain”. Both responses are troubling, and I believe help keep the barriers up between us.
We Aspies live in a significantly different reality in much of our lives! It isn’t “better” or “worse” - any more than being Black or Female – is, with respect to the dominant “Other” for such people.
For me – it feels like and has become a gift, I very much appreciate!