The year flew by quickly. Although I am proud of myself for picking up the pieces promptly and embarked on a journey to pursue higher education, there are uncertainties.
“We don’t know how broken are we until we leave the origin of hurt”.
I planned a world circumnavigation. From Singapore to Bend, Oregon, to Svendborg, Denmark, and back to Singapore. It turns out, the 3 months vacation is more than what I bargained for.
I have Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder. I am neither proud nor ashamed of it. It is just what I am. When I saw the words on the wall at School of Design, Kolding, it made perfect sense and very motivating. However, soon, I will discover that I am what happened to me.
For many years, I created a bubble world that I could hide safely in. I didn’t meet people much, and I didn’t go out much. I had a husband who told me everyday that he loved me. I was assured and grateful. I was undiagnosed then, but I always knew that I am different and my ‘differences’ from others gave me both the advantages and disadvantages over the other girls around my age. People are attracted and repulsed by my oddities.
I hardly had meltdowns anymore. The last time I had a shutdown was many years ago; no one saw me or heard from me anymore, except for my parents who live with me. I chose to work in the industrial area and I kept safe distance from the new colleagues.
I had mini meltdowns last year, when I took the plunge to go back to school, 2 months after my marriage was irrevocably broken down. I took a good one month to endure the reality shock and numerous panic attacks, day after day. Going back to school involved socialising with different people. I had overestimated my social coping skills; group dynamics are too difficult for me. I was exposed to falsity of human nature, and I don’t know what to do with it. It was back to high school all over again. There are some fabulous people, but normal people lie all the time; lies are hard and hurtful for me.
Another major meltdown was experienced when I was in Bend. That meltdown is more meaningful and awakening than just another coping mechanism.
My friend and I had a misunderstanding. I need to draw your attention to my discovery about myself, rather than finger-pointing of who should do what – the misunderstanding had to happen. Living with a person with Asperger’s is extremely challenging. Although I am highly conditioned to function as normal as I could, my quirks cannot be concealed when you live with me. It takes a highly tolerant and forgiving person to accommodate to my ‘uncooperative’ behaviours.
It is one of the most important discoveries that I have made about myself. I am more Aspie (a term coined by the Asperger’s community to refer to people with Asperger’s) than I believed. I had not met another Aspie, so I had no comparison; I now know, met, and spent enough time with other Aspies. When I talked to another Aspie, I found it odd that the person talked knowledge and many times quite irrelevant to our conversation. I pointed that out.
The truth beckons that I too, ‘speak knowledge’, I just never knew. For example, if you were to talk about egg, I will go on to tell you everything I know about egg; from the different ways to cook it, to how many types of eggs, to the differences of eggs from country to country – EVERYTHING I know about egg. That is how I know to maintain a conversation; I didn’t know other people do it differently.
The thing is.. When we do that, often times, the contents of our knowledge may come off as a criticism as though telling the other person that he/she doesn’t know better or doing things wrong. Misunderstandings often occur in the most innocent way.
Most people assume that autism only affects children. It’s very odd to me, because children do grow to become adults, and there is no cure for autism, so there is no out-growing of autism. The symptoms are managed, but we have our limitations, including coping with external stimulus. One marked difference, however, between a child and adult with autism is that as an adult, we don’t do stimming in public anymore.
I actually didn’t realise that I was stimming during the meltdown, until much later when I rerun the episode in my head. I was calling a friend, he wasn’t answering. It didn’t matter if he answered, it was the dialling and redialling that calmed me. I dialled 89 times, but I didn’t feel it was that many times or the duration of it. The ringing tone and repetitive rhythm and actions calmed me.
The misunderstanding was resolved very quickly, and I remain very thankful for that incident. It made me re-evaluate my limitations and capacity to cope.
Then, my journey to Denmark started. The journey of self-reflection began.
I am more broken than I expected. Broken as a woman, broken faith in love.
We talk about love as though it was just a feeling. Love is more than that, it is an activity. Love is satisfying when there is reciprocation.
It’s my mantra that when I fall in love, I will fall in love with the same man all over gain, everyday. It’s not a duty, but a renewal of affection. It is unfathomable to me to love anyone else except for my partner. When I fall in love, it means I want a future with this person and visualisations of our future formed in my head. I am focused that way.
Another realisation is that, it is apparent to me now that I am not fully recovered from a marriage that has been betrayed.
I no longer know how to be unafraid. I no longer know how to love effectively. I no longer believe that I am capable of love and being loved.
It’s sheer hard work to condition my mind to let go of the fear and deep sense of being unwanted. I am more convinced than I believed, that I am not worthy of love. It’s not self-pity, it’s just the state of mind.
I no longer know how to fight for happiness.
Resigning to fate? Or going with the river flow?
Resignation to fate, because there is no strength left to fight it.
Helplessness; challenging to proceed, difficult to retreat.
Even with sincerity, misunderstandings prevail.
Wordless and defenceless; full acceptance of what comes.
Life is short, although supposedly fleeting, hence seemingly needless to bother;
Regardless, sufferings and pains don’t reduce.
Dilemma swings to and fro; it’s equally difficult to move forward or retreat.
If only, the human kind is able to abandon selfish desires and thoughts, greet one another with genuineness and sincerity, treat everyone as equal;
Perhaps, the many injustice and hatred could be resolved.
Life, resigned to it, stop fighting it.
Exhausted, go with the flow, and whatever.
Resignation, is different from giving up everything, what is given up is unnecessary struggles;
Going with the flow, is different from self-deprecating, but to flow with the river, let fate be.
I have moved on as a person by infusing new qualities into living; in the department of love, I am still the same broken doll tramped upon by betrayal and deceit. It left me feeling frightened.
I am indeed what happened to me.
Asperger’s is not why, but the traits that come with it possess limitations and hindrances in developing effective relationship with another person.
My NT friends oppose to the fact that the challenges that I face are any more difficult than the challenges they experienced. I understand why it is difficult to see beyond that. What most people don’t realise is that we are not immune to the ‘regular’ challenges just because we are exposed to our ‘unique’ challenges. What we face are in addition to the regularities. Regulating our emotions is a staple, and at times, before one affected emotion can be regulated, we are hit by multiple sensory overloads.
Metaphorically, if you think you are carrying a load that is 2 times heavier than what you could manage, we carry that same load with another pile of load that varies from extra 2 to 10 times more. So, understand when we are always exhausted and frustrated, believe me when I say I had tried my best.
Perhaps I should not attempt in the department of love. I imagine that I would cause more emotional pain than to bring happiness to the partner, because I no longer know how to love effectively. I don’t know how to be fearless. I lost track of how to feel worthy. It will take more than just a man to tolerate my self-sabotage and insecurity; I cannot ask of anyone to put up with what I have nearly no control over – my fears and insecurity.
It saddens me to realise that the perceived ‘tantrums’ are reactions that I am powerless about. It is like a double-edged sword, cuts the person I love, and cuts myself.
Some day, the self-assuring qualities may return. I have seen that happened before, maybe it will happen again for me.
This vacation is a reality check; one that I need to make peace with.
There is a follow-up post after this; once I have found the hidden panic bomb that acts like a puppeteer master who strung my hands to sabotage the relationship in my life, I disarmed it and it no longer has control over me.