Sometimes I’ll be going along, doing fairly well, and then I’ll mess up again.
In a big way.
Patterns in my life often emerge from new situations and experiences because they aren’t really new. These are things that have been happening my entire life, but that I never had the ability to describe or explain or understand before.
This next pattern has occurred countless times and I just now have managed to recognize it because of a very clear failure to properly “human,” earlier this week.
I’m in the zone. Somehow. Immersed fully in doing, learning, or being.
My mind is focused on my current or next task, thinking ahead or being in the moment.
Someone talks, says something. Maybe something like this. They say my name, so I know they’re directing their words at me.
I’m taken completely by surprise. The part of my mind that deals with words slowly emerges from deep within, at roughly the speed of cold molasses beginning to flow down a hill.
The person speaking is often an authority figure of some kind. I usually don’t realize they’re an authority figure at the time, but I’m not sure it would make any difference even if I did.
I react authentically, confused. Despite the absolute simplicity of the other person’s statement or question, I am unable to process the words at this time. They do somehow get filed away for later.
So, I respond to the words, as well as I can. Latching onto any word, any meaning that I can grasp even the tiniest bit and in some way turn into my own speech.
I’m over-explaining something or other and the other person reacts in a completely unexpected way, with even more confusing words.
So, I stop.
I can’t make words any longer. I shake my head, turn away, and try to continue on with what I had been doing before. My activity’s momentum is ruined.
If I’m a child, I get in trouble for being “sassy” or “disobedient.” Often, I’m hit later, in private, if my parents were present or told about what happened afterwards.
If I’m an adult, I get yelled at or avoided or gossipped about. Or lose my job or housing situation. If I’m yelled at and pursued then I can often temporarily find words in a full-blown meltdown of epic proportions aimed directly at the person who’s pursuing me.
If I’m able to continue what I’d been doing before I was interrupted, then I do.
What else can I do at this point?
My mind races ahead of me, going over and over the failed interaction, pulling up those handily filed-away words, while I do my best to avoid being talked to by anyone else.
I usually know now that I won’t be physically able to respond.
I think about how I probably looked like an asshole and easily might have avoided the entire situation.
After all, I could’ve smiled and nodded or shrugged or asked for a moment to cold-start my mind’s ability to process words.
It would’ve been so simple. So easy.
Hindsight, that jerk.
Because, in the moment, I couldn’t have done anything other than what I did.
I couldn’t make my brain work differently. I couldn’t make myself be more open to being talked to without letting my activity suffer in anticipation of a potential interruption, maybe, and I don’t do halfway very well.
Scripts, nodding, smiling, not talking as much.
Future plans that may or may not ever be successful.
Is it better to appear cold? Is it better to act like maybe I didn’t hear them because isn’t that the same thing as not comprehending? They could repeat themselves and I’d maybe buy myself more time?
But that feels like lying, because I did hear them talking. Pretending I didn’t hear at all would take a huge amount of effort. Would it be worth it? Would any extra time even make that much of a difference?
I don’t know and my mind races on, dwelling on the situation, even once I move on to other places and things that day.
My sleep is disturbed for the next several nights. Often for a month, or longer.
I still cannot figure out how to describe this to anyone who doesn’t live it themselves.
No wonder allistics don’t understand.
It was such a simple thing.
But this time, my doubts that I struggle enough to be Autistic, my doubts brought on by a new, unexpected reaction to a personal disclosure earlier this week?
Yeah, those. They’re gone.
Dispelled like dandelion seeds floating away from me on the wind.
This is not new. No matter how aware I am, I don’t think that these things will stop happening.
Something short-circuits and it all goes terribly wrong.
In the past I’ve run away from these events. I’d never return to a place or never talk to a person again if they caused those confused and upsetting feelings. Burned bridges galore are littered throughout my past. Charred and hulking.
Some were necessary, of course, but the hastiest ones still haunt me.
I haven’t run away from the most recent one yet. I went back. I did it.
Maybe I can change some things, work with myself instead of against myself in the future. Maybe I can also learn to fully accept in myself the things that will be with me no matter what I do.