Warning: this is a bit long and raw. Some unpleasant things are revealed, and not everyone agrees with the content. If you’re only here for pictures, poetry or good writing, you’d best skip this.
So I wrote to my on-off therapist, and told him that I had a few breakthroughs since the last session with him, and would write a post in preparation to the revisit. (I say on-off because the sessions cost money, and I’ve been slow to cooperate.) Really, the ‘breakthroughs’ were discoveries considering a breakthrough is a major achievement, overcoming something an obstacle into action…
I also said to a friend that I’d write about my Asperger’s, so I’ll start there.
Asperger syndrome (AS) is summed up well in the description collected on Wikipedia. In my own experience I think of the syndrome in terms of the internal argument interfering with natural order, like a great tension or self-consciousness interfering with emotional contact, posture, even gait; there’s also some repetition in the attempt to capture or relive an experience, but maybe that part’s just me. Some of the sources on the Wiki page even explained my language difficulties in writing and speaking, sequencing and whatnot— posture in the words, rigidity in the patterns and vocab when held in a state of mind… I need to read more.
There isn’t much to tell about my history. I was never bullied— only harassed a few times overall, but never victimized for my condition. Some areas milder than others, it can be hard at first glance to recognize that I even have the syndrome. (I still wasn’t even sure I had AS until reading the Wiki page, whereupon it became glaringly obvious.) The student body at the school system was never harsh, but I was reserved nonetheless.
It’s still particularly hard writing about my past because of the many walls of reticence, which include misdirection when I lack self-compassion (empty or inaccurate words). The absence of bonding affected me deeply.
I never made friends for the sake of making friends; things either came together or they didn’t. I still remember pretending to ignore other students just to be left alone, though being used to being alone to my own devices was the reason why I wanted to be alone… A few people befriended me… but they all moved on.
Reading more, and thinking more about why I do what I do, it becomes clear that I have compartmentalized things… in a disorganized manner, anyway. What I thought were narcissistic traits were really things I haven’t grown out of and areas of self-trust. I know for certain that I don’t have NPD because I have loved unconditionally.
I know I’ve been emotionally neglected, so there’s that. My immediate family has always been distant. My father moved on to start another family, where I saw him at most once a week at his place or at a mall, always many, many miles from my mother’s house; and my ‘intellectual’ mother, well, she gradually couldn’t wait to get out of the house either, with me alone in it. At some point no one cared about my mental health. It wasn’t until 2014, when I decided to contact my aunt, that things began to move forward again.
Now, it isn’t to say I made it easy for anyone… I wasn’t a very lovable kid. But the discipline I received was ineffective and lacking. I mean, my father trying to deter me from eating fast food by deliberately buying something with mayonnaise? (Mayo makes me puke.) And there’s no excuse for leaving me alone for the better part of the day with a TV in an already isolating neighborhood. I’m still a bit angry over that.
Having no one to talk to, besides guidance counselors, my emotional isolation and unwillingness to work in anxiety and tension depressed me. I kind of gave up on life around the age 15-16. Is this it? I asked myself in the car one ride home. Despite excelling in subjects of math and science, I reserved myself to my work. My hygiene went into decline, and I never learned to drive. I graduated high school but didn’t attend the graduation ceremony.
I couldn’t even face college let alone afford it. I was still severely restricted on whom I could communicate with, and over time I began to regret lost opportunities of the past…
…So, A.S., emotional neglect, social anxiety, further isolation without paid work, and regret. Fast-forward to 2015…
I had made a major discovery, before the turn of the year: the critical importance of sincerity. Because, if you are sincere to no one and nothing, not even yourself, you have no real connections— none. It can be devastating coming to terms with that, knowing I let my insecurities quiet my inner-self.
Charisma can attract people.
But only sincerity can attract true friends.
…I wish I had true friends. 💔
(The original, broken form of a critically important tweet I wrote.)
I was thinking none of the connections I had made in a whole year were good, out of a history of never-ending failure… I was frustrated on a deep and depressing level.
The Monday prior— the 28th and final Monday of 2015— was sort of a manic high. I’d received confirmation of my limitations the night before, and got to the uplifting part of Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (the book my mental health counselor handed to me). In the spirit I I began archiving my year on twitter, finding things weren’t as bad as I had thought. Yeah, the mind plays horrible tricks on us when we feed it lies.
Things came down on Tuesday; I couldn’t repeat the supposed “magic formula,” and the consequences hit back. But I thought I could pick myself up by writing the experience down, with the title “Manic Monday.” I remember shoveling snow and watching Welcome To Me with Kristen Wiig during those hours.
Then the worst happened. I became disappointed in failing to edit the post covering the episode before the end of the year. I couldn’t even salvage the message! “Lower than low,” everything fell into the abyss.
I had made myself so fragile, and had become living proof that self-disappointment is evil.
I pushed and scratched at the walls, but they wouldn’t budge. In my mind, nothing I could do was ‘right.’ I decided to try ‘sleep it off,’ but my eyes refused to close; no action was ‘justified.’ During those long minutes, I had lost the will to move, maybe even the will to live.
I did manage to sleep, eventually, but when I came to conscious I was forced out of bed by the occasional eyelid infection, the one where closing my eyes is very painful for a while. (Cruel, in a way, that your own natural response to blink has to be overridden.) Tears were rolling down, but not out of sadness. I took my regular walk outside in the cold, but it wasn’t cold enough the tears on the sides of my face would freeze.
New Years Eve passed virtually emotionless. It wasn’t until I caught the second half of Tears of the Sun that my eyes welled; the movie is really dark, portraying some of the things that occur in the most depraved wars— the relentless gunfire, the attacks on civilian populations, including mutilations… I felt for the villains— how, in the loss of life, “all they were good for was dying,” and with the light at the end of the tunnel when it was over. I wanted to cry alone, but the feeling wouldn’t last long enough.
The second discovery came in the power of feeling in resonance. I had come across a fellow blogger’s therapy advice and an article that identifies the critical differences between unconditional love and narcissistic love.
It got me out of the hole just enough to write and finish something new. It was the importance of processing emotions that got me moving. Contrast feeling for someone/something with narcissism. Narcissists are people who, for whatever reason, lost touch with themselves and as a result lost the ability to emotionally connect with others; denial of true self and acting with others for self-serving gain as a substitute for self-love are at the core of NPD.
So I tried to work on the emotional connection part. I needed to feel.
Music helped. Many of the songs in Out of Exile by Audioslave resonated, maybe too well. I sung; I connected. Still, I couldn’t go into detail in my writing without ‘hitting the wall.’ So many “distractions” from the experience were cut; so much raw material had to be removed. But I pushed through, and got something done.
The third thing that happened could be considered the actual breakthrough. It changed my life. It basically told me that miracles do happen.
It was a result of that first discovery—the importance of sincerity, and the working results of the heart: tweets I had posted in bed. (It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but my best writing really begins in bed— closest to dreaming… and not worn out, of course.) It turns out, I had resonated right after I had bottomed out. It’s something to be grateful for everything, that a loss is never really a loss but a transition.
The miracle came when a waking dream came to life. I had quickly and easily bonded with someone that found me on twitter. All it took was already-existing love from within, resonance, and natural appreciation, forcing nothing. It shows, when you have your heart in the right place, and apply your strengths, things eventually come together.
So many lessons had to be learned to get to this point. The ups and downs are necessary. It’s with loving persistence, pushing through the pain, you’ll actually find yourself wanting to nurture, with patience, even sweetness.
No, I don’t have all the answers; no one does. There’s no supernatural magic here. I’m still in not-good health and have a great many things to resolve… but I am happier knowing where happiness lies.
Happiness is from within.
Loved ones bring it out of you.
Bring what makes you happy out of yourself, and you will be set.
(Or something like that.)
…Okay, so I may have gone off the deep end. …I better wrap this up, ’cause I’m falling asleep.
Well, whatever you’re doing, have a good one. 🙂