I was sharing some of my childhood memories with the New Boy on Tuesday… after a day of dealing with stressful things, including my post about whether or not I thought he was interested in me as a person or not…
We’d been talking about movies and things, and I told him that Dumbo had been my favorite movie growing up. Told him about the blog post I’d written about it and the Jungle Book some longish time ago, too. One of the things that stuck out to me was that I remembered my mother telling me how fixated I was with the story of Dumbo. I suppose it wouldn’t have been that weird, but the memory struck me as odd given that there are some pretty terrifying scenes in that movie.
Pink Elephants on Parade immediately comes to mind…
As we were discussing it (and watching that scene), it dawned on me that my absolute fixation with a movie like Dumbo could have maybe been something that should have alerted someone to my Asperger’s. I was fixated on movies with animals, and apparently I would also pet the kids at my daycare for a time because that made sense to me. My mother rationalizes it as a normal reaction since we had so many pets (she still has too many pets) while growing up. If all I’d witnessed about interacting with others was how to show pets I liked them, then surely petting a human like I would an animal makes some sense. That’s how she explains it, and it does, actually, make a bit of sense.
She also says it didn’t take long for me to adjust because that’s not normal behavior, but I don’t know if I’d agree with that. I’m still unbelievably touchy feely. I want to pet/pat people when I want to show them that I love them (not always romantic love…) and I’m not sure how normal that is. It’s easier for me to pet someone than it is to tell them how I feel. Is that normal? I don’t know.
Although, thus far it works with the New Boy.
Back on track….
It got me to thinking about other signs that may have gone unnoticed. For instance, my mother tells a handful of stories about how I surprised people by talking with an authority above my years. I’m specifically referring to a time when, as a 2 year old, I began ordering everything off the menu. Now, as Mom tells it, I just started ordering stuff, but she never explained how I knew the words for all the stuff.
She also tells a story about how I had “memorized” the entirety of the Cat in the Hat by the time I was 2.
(I know, that isn’t from Cat in the Hat, but it fits my mood at the moment.)
What I’m trying to get at is this: I’m wondering if it’s possible that perhaps I was actually reading and nobody seemed to notice or put it all together that I was doing more than just mimicking. Shouldn’t that have alerted someone to my not-quite-normal status?
That story about me at 2? Mom says that I started ordering everything off the menu at a Mexican food chain restaurant in Oklahoma, and the waitress started writing it down. Mom tells it as an example of my type A attitude… I don’t remember, but I don’t know how many Mexican foods I would have tried and known the names of by the time I was 2, so it makes more sense to me that I was reading the menu out loud than it does to think I just was reciting the names of random Mexican foods with an air of Alpha authority.
Mom also tells about when I was 4 and the music in a restaurant made me cry because it was so sad and beautiful. Which in my mind is connected to my early fixation with opera as well. I was so into opera and other forms of artistic story-telling that I would get up super early on Sundays to watch A&E Breakfast with the Arts.
What elementary age child is obsessed with opera?
And sometimes I would dance around the house singing opera songs in a made up language.
That made up language is still one of my stims even now. Sometimes I still sing in it, especially when I get overwhelmed.
And sometimes I have a need to dance!
But it’s not exactly normal dancing. It’s fluid and yet can be twitchy. It’s part techno dancing and part ballet. I’ve only ever showed one person what it looks like and he told me I looked ridiculous, so now I only do it when no one is around to see, but sometimes the urge to just dance is very hard to resist. It’s like talking to the air and the energy around me, making it happy again.
Yes, I know how weird that sounds, but I saw a video once about how a non-verbal autistic person interacts with her environment using sounds and textures (for lack of a better explanation). The way that person explains her “native language,” is how I feel about my dancing.
Start the video at 3:13.
Sometimes the need to dance and twirl about and feel the air around me is almost impossible to keep at bay. And when I let it out, I can dance for hours, completely by myself with a host of imaginary friends that I know aren’t there, but there’s this whole imaginary world in my head that I like to use to hide from reality when things get too difficult.
Just sharing that information is enough to have me labeled as crazy, but sometimes it’s easier to interact with the imaginary people in my head and ask them for solutions than it is to talk it out with other people. The result is that sometimes I seem to be not moving at all, when in reality I’m going on an adventure in my head because the real world has become too much.
My imagination is too big sometimes. Like with both the New and Old Boy, I don’t understand their jobs, and so in my head they have fantastical jobs with all sorts of minions.
With the Old Boy, he was running a simulation of some sort during one of our on periods, and he kept saying something about having “the bots” do something. So in my head, he had all these little robots running around his house doing his bidding. Little electric minions. It made the most sense to me then, and even though I know how ridiculous it sounds, it still makes more sense to me than his explanation of what he meant.
Similarly, the New Boy does some sort of research, and while I know he wears business attire every day, in my head, he’s some sort of mad scientist in a lab coat. Or, now that I know he’s the lead at what he does and that one whole side of his office is windows, I’m beginning to think he’s some sort of mad scientist overlord, where he watches his research underlings scurry around like rats in a maze.
Again, I know this is ridiculous, but it fills in the gaps of his job that I don’t understand based off of the things that I know.
Also, I’m not quite sure why they both seem to be some sort of Bond villain in my head when thinking about their jobs… I’ll have to think on that.
I’m just hoping to point out that sometimes my life is… unusual and I feel like someone should have noticed sooner that I wasn’t like everybody else. I know I’m good at faking something akin to normal, but I’m not normal.
And yesterday, when I had a room full of students with nothing to do with them because they weren’t my kids, and I had no leverage over them, and we were told we couldn’t show a movie to keep them calm…even though I had the same group of kids in my room for literally 8 hours (minus half an hour for lunch), it would have been nice if some people knew (and believed) that I’m not entirely “normal.”
I had those kids, not my students, for 8 hours with nothing to do. The activity we’d been given for them lasted less than 45 minutes. So I put on a movie. Originally, I put on Doctor Who, because that’s been successful in the past and it’s school appropriate. This group of heathens weren’t having it. So we watched something else. I got in trouble for it, twice, apparently.
The result: the inmates began to run the asylum. I was all but rocking in a corner by 1 pm because they wouldn’t listen, they wouldn’t be quiet, they were antsy and I was frustrated with them. And the noise level and the competing conversations and the just constant murmur of noise was so much that I was ready to have a full on meltdown.
Even normal people I know would have trouble dealing with that, but I am so sensitive to sound that I remember a time when I was about 8 years old that I cried because I was so exhausted and there was a cricket in my room somewhere and I couldn’t sleep because of the sound it was making. Or, I can’t be intimate with someone in water because, if the sound of the splashing of the water doesn’t sync up with our movements properly, it will distract me from being able to enjoy myself.
Remember, I’m the girl who cried in a restaurant because the music was too sad. Sound is kind of a big deal to me.
There just seem to be so many little signs that no one sees, and so it is very difficult for me when I feel like I don’t know how to cope with that stuff and other people just act like I’m being a whiny baby. When I was younger, sometimes I’d hide in my room and beat myself on the legs when things were out of control in my world. Now as an adult, I’m expected to just get over it.
This was exactly the reason why I went to get the Asperger’s diagnosis last year, so I could get the coping mechanisms I needed and so people might be sympathetic, but, while I’m still working on the coping mechanisms, more than ever people tell me that I should just be proud that I wasn’t labeled and have that stigma, or that since I’ve been able to cope thus far, I don’t really have a problem.
I suffered in silence, afraid that if I was found out to be abnormal, I wouldn’t be loved anymore. Now my fear is that I’ve been faking normal so long that when I’m really not okay no one will be able to tell, and so I’ll never find a healthy way to deal with these things because my way has “worked” for so long that to everyone else it’s not an issue.
The noise level was bad enough and stressful enough that it took all of my self-control, and the urging of some people other than me, not to just quit my job right then and there yesterday. I was ready to just walk out because the noise was hurting me so badly that I was beginning to go into fight or flight mode. I was all but shaking in the corner of my room behind my desk because that was the only safe space I had, and yet it was also right in the middle of the problem.
I didn’t get a break for the entire 8 hours.
This has never been an issue for me before because I’ve always been able to interest the kids in Doctor Who enough that they weren’t loud. My room is usually one of the best behaved, with other kids wanting to come in because it’s quiet and calm, even if they don’t want to watch the show.
And yet yesterday, it was anything but.
And because I know I’ll be told that dealing with that sort of thing is just part of the job, it makes me wonder if I am cut out for this job after all, when only a week ago I was excited about the possibilities for next year, and sure that I was a good teacher…
The result: I’ve had a migraine that’s had me mostly incapacitated most of today. It’s just starting to wane. I wrote this with the screen dimmed and under the covers because the light hurts, and I haven’t had any food yet because smells are just so much, I can’t even.
I’d actually started part of this post last night and then fell asleep thinking today would be a better day… *sigh*
Thanks for baring with this insanely long post today; I just needed to get it out. Part of me thinks this headache is connected to my anxiety, and talking about why I’m feeling anxious might help alleviate it.
But posting this will make some say there’s nothing wrong with me, and that’s just how some people will always think about my situation. I guess I’ll just have to deal with that.
Would it have made a difference if I was diagnosed when younger? Would I have better coping mechanisms by now? I don’t know. But I wish people would stop acting like I’m normal just because they don’t see the things I’m dealing with underneath the surface. It would make life a whole lot easier for me when the real me starts to slip out because I’m overwhelmed.