The Place You Go…

February 18, 2014

I’m sitting here (Sunday night) waiting for the laundry to finish so I can put the girlchild’s soccer stuff in the dryer for tomorrow morning. I’m actually kind of wide awake…must have been that 26-minute nap I took this afternoon when I realized I couldn’t keep my eyes open. That’s the problem with hike days…they do kick my ass and I get very little else done, which is why I can’t do them every weekend. I can’t lose a day every weekend.

This is a 3-day weekend, though, so I still have tomorrow (Monday, yes I started this on Sunday night) to play catch up. I had a rough day yesterday. I actually cried on the hike…usually I don’t, but strangely, being in a group that large was isolating for someone like me. I’m not an extrovert at all. I need space, both mental and physical. I felt like some alien creature. It was so loud and raucous and overwhelming…I had to strike out on my own and physically super-challenge my body so my mind wouldn’t freak out. I have an event coming up with a lot more people than that…and I’m worried about my ability to deal. It’s strange…I spend all day with tons of people, but I don’t feel so out of place with my students…they are safe. I can handle interactions with them. Interactions with large groups of strangers? Fuck that. I’d rather stay home. I will be that crazy cat lady who never leaves the house if I’m not careful. The hike was redeemed slightly by the last 30 minutes spent talking to one other person. I can handle interactions like that, but you have to have something in common or at least something you can talk about.

It was a relief to come home after the hike and space out for hours, grade some papers, hang with my kids, cut out some Wonder Under. I appreciate the physical exertion and being out in nature, but hanging out in groups isn’t making me happy. Then again, nothing much is making me happy.

So in the middle of this post, the rant came through and became its own post, and then I went to the gym to try to leave some of my irritation and anger there instead of carrying it around. I’m debating calling the doctor (hemorrhage!), I need to find eye doctor paperwork for the kids, I haven’t prepped for tomorrow, I need to go to school to check for lab supplies, but I can’t get out of my driveway, because they are in fact digging holes in my front yard so my toilets might work properly someday. I’m wondering if I will ever stop grinding my teeth, if my eyelid will ever stop twitching, if I will ever sleep properly again.

The part I was having issues with was people making assumptions about other people based on how they behave or look or are labeled. I’m constantly amazed by how different people are than what they project…my leach-field guy looks like a redneck, talks like a redneck, and then starts talking to me about the Lord of the Rings trilogy and how many times he’s read it and whether Smaug is the coolest dragon around or what. The guy is 64 and you’d never think to look at him that he could have slogged through that series (god knows I haven’t been able to after multiple tries). You cannot make assumptions about people. You have to talk to them and listen to them and turn on the part of your brain that pays attention to someone besides your arrogant self, and only then can you make any decisions about people, and you still have to leave open the possibility that you are completely wrong. Maybe I know that from teaching middle school for so many years. Maybe I’m just that kind of tolerant person. I don’t know. I just know that it’s not OK to hurt other people. And sometimes people think your emotions are hurting them, but it is really their response to your emotions that’s the issue. I had the girlchild full on screaming at me this morning and I realized that she was having the same issue…her emotional reaction to what I had said was hers and hers alone. I was not the cause of the screaming. She was. Granted she’s a teenager and doesn’t modulate her responses well…she’s not Asperger’s, but teens often have this idea that they are the only people on the planet (shocking!) and it can manifest in similar ways. “My way is the only way.” Boychild and I often have discussions about her inability to realize there are other people in the world who might not have the same priorities as she does. In this case, I let her stomp off and slam a door, and then she came back and it was eventually all OK. I wonder what it will be like when they are both gone and I no longer have to tiptoe around those kinds of emotional outbursts. I wonder if her roommates will survive! I wonder if having the girlchild as his sister has helped the boychild navigate emotions any better…god knows they are full on in his face on a regular basis. His sister screams. His mom cries.

Wondering about my own sanity. Wondering after reading someone else’s blog if there is actually always a way out of depression, or if it just becomes something you live with for the rest of your life. After this weekend, I don’t see a way out, I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t feel like it will ever change. It does not help that my hormones are going ballistic. I could really live without that additional mess in my head…hence the thought to call the doctor…more because of the physical symptoms than the mental…the physical symptoms set off all the alarms on the stupid online symptom checkers. But I already know what they will say, what they will want to do. They’ll use the words ‘abnormal’ and ‘dysfunctional’…ironic because those can apply to my physical symptoms and my mental symptoms. OK, not fully dysfunctional, because I do manage to function fairly normally…I’m just patently aware of how nonfunctional my functioning is.

Anyway. I find the solution to all this angst, short-term as it might be, is that silly thing called art. My brain wandered about a bit, trying to figure out what it felt like doing, until that urge to draw came a banging at the brain door…so I pulled this one out from before, in December sometime (was it really that long ago?)…

Dec 14 13 161 small

I had copied it and taped it to another page, so I found that and started drawing downwards…

Feb 17 14 005 small

Shades of the Celebrating Silver quilt…I still need to put yet another page on the bottom…

Feb 17 14 006 small

because she needs more room. She wants the rest of her body. She told me. She demanded it. I listened. And I need to figure out what else is happening here…maybe more of those crazy birds. Who knows. Draw, Kathy. It gives you some peace. Draw the assholes out. Draw the arrogant jerks out. Draw the emotional reactions and put them on paper. Make someone see what’s in your head. Make someone feel what’s in your head. Make.

I made it to my quilt guild tonight, for the first time in 12 months, I think. Mary Pal was speaking and she and I had seen each other Saturday night at the Coast to Coast opening. I think we might be sisters from another mother…we are in the same shows, feeling some of the same artistic angst. I hope for her sake that she is not feeling the rest of my angst. It was nice to hear her talk, to feel her deep hug again, to feel a connection to a fellow artist who plumbs the depths of her artistic self to make work in the middle of the night, by the skin of her teeth, in the early morning light. To feel a connection that deep to someone you barely know…simply because of the place you go when you work.

Art can be amazing that way.


Insert Rant Here

February 17, 2014

Sometimes I read things, almost by accident, that make me really upset/angry. I’m mulling over one of those incidents right now, where someone claimed that Asperger’s-designated people were “more evolved.” I’m not Asperger’s. I do test fairly close to that range, but think it is more a function of being an introverted antisocial artist-type. I do however have many years of experience living with, loving, and raising Asperger’s-designated humans. I’m a pretty empathetic and intelligent person…I’m actually really good at figuring out how other people are feeling most of the time, although I’m not always right on the money…I do know when things are not right (sort of the anti-Aspie in that realm). In dealing with Aspies for the last 25 years, I have realized over the years that it often takes them a long time to process feelings and emotions, and I have learned with the boychild that “long time” could be weeks or months, sometimes maybe years, if ever. I do know, however, that the inability to process those feelings has a real-life consequence sometimes of hurting the people around you, those who love you, because Aspies often cannot handle what is going on right now, right then, and by the time they can handle it, they might react quickly in a way that damages those around them. I’ve tried with the boychild to keep him aware of what he is doing and how he is doing it and more importantly how it makes others FEEL, but know that he will have to find his own way in that as an adult. I’ve had to suppress some of my own emotions in dealing with the boychild, realizing that his issues are not directed at me and it is my job as his mom to help him find a less-hurtful way to express himself once he realizes what he’s feeling. I know he loves me. I also know he will probably never tell me that in those words. I’m OK with that. I can see he cares in how he acts and what he says. It will make it more difficult for him in future love relationships, but he will have to deal with that.

That said, I didn’t raise the others I’ve had relationships with, and their parents were not aware, and so they have both caused me significant damage…because I am apparently not “more evolved.” I refuse to believe that an inability to deal with emotions and the people who may cause one to have those emotions is fucking EVOLVED. I am fully a supporter of there being a continuum of “normal” range of the human brain and that Asperger’s is merely one end of the spectrum, with a huge variety of types of function all across the spectrum…but it is never a good excuse to hurt other people because you cannot handle your own emotional angst. That is not evolved. That is immature, if that’s how you present (and not all do). I heard the words “emotionally incompetent” to describe it once, and I have issue even with that, because it implies that you just need to take a class or read a book, and for some Asperger’s, that might be enough, to try to be aware of one’s shortcomings, just like I have to be aware of my own issues and shortcomings, to teach oneself the appropriate responses even when you don’t feel them until later, even though I am apparently “normal”-brained…for some, I think “incompetent” is not even a good description, because I am not sure that competence will ever come for some. I hope my son figures it out. I hope he locks away in his brain the pain he’s seen his mom go through because of this apparently MORE EVOLVED state. He says he gets it. And I have friends on this end of the spectrum that are, at least to me, some of the most emotionally aware people I know, so I know it’s possible…but I think it takes a lot of self-reflection to get there…and to be honest, the ones I know who are aware are all female, not male. That may be the difference right there; it’s hard to say. Most of my experience is with male Asperger’s.

I tell myself I have done my best to raise my son to try to be aware when he is hurting people (he is much better than he used to be), and to never ever run away from difficult emotions…that it is OK to say you are having problems dealing with this and you will come back to it, but you have to open your eyes and SEE what you are doing to other people when you behave that way…that it is NOT OK. Get out of your head. Look around you. You cannot hide. It is not MORE EVOLVED. A world without emotions or a world where emotions are so locked up inside you that you deny you have them, that is not a more evolved world. That is a world without music and art and dance and color, and I don’t believe that is a world I want to live in. That is a world where people hurt other people because they can’t deal with their own stuff. That is not OK. It’s not the world I want to live in.

The More Evolved comment is shades of sci fi where the alien species believes humans are lesser beings who do not deserve to live because we have not evolved to higher functions of logic and precision of thought. Hell, humans are nutcases…we’re giant fuckups in the world, no doubt about that, but as our higher functions have evolved beyond many of the living species on earth, so have emotions. Earthworms aren’t showing emotions…nor are they solving the issues of clean water at the moment or designing a new spacecraft. I can’t help but think the two things are connected, and that ability to show emotions and even occasionally control them without having them eat you up inside or slam into the people around you (I live with teenagers…I see the spectrum) doesn’t seem to be a completely negative influence on the world…unless you want a world that never confronts you (see comments above about art, music, etc.).

This is not a rant against the Asperger’s-designated person…it is probably a rant against One Specific Person, who in typical Aspie fashion refuses to talk about it. Because it’s too hard. Because not talking about it makes it better. Because he claims incompetence. Because running away fixes it. (It doesn’t, by the way. My less-evolved brain knows that and knows it very very well and has spent the last 7+ months trying to deal with it.)

Speaking to you from the other planet…no it doesn’t make it better. It means you damaged another person in your apparent evolution away from us lesser beings. Congratulations. You don’t win.

This is the article I was reading, which is not at fault at all for my rant…it is actually an interesting list of things to look for, which as a teacher who identified (while getting yelled at by her admin and school psych and told she didn’t know what she was talking about) a female student correctly as Asperger’s. I put it here because I think it’s useful to read if you think you might be on that end of the range or be dealing with someone who might be Aspie, because females do present differently, just as they do with ADD, another lesson I learned the hard way. I actually don’t like the term Aspie at all…but it is strange to me to use the doctor’s name to describe the syndrome…seems we need another designation…especially now that it’s not in the DSM any more, which is a whole ‘nother issue.

Sorry for the rant. Sometimes there’s only one way for the anger to go in a healthy way and that’s out (because I’m less evolved and realize my emotions and deal with them instead of letting them destroy other people). Plus maybe you have something to say about it too. I’m willing to listen…I’ve got my non-Aspie ears open and ready to hear. I know that term encompasses a wide range of experiences and behaviors, just as the term “normal” does (whatever the fuck normal means).


Burning the House Down, and Other Signs of Mental Frailty

August 13, 2013

So I almost burned the house down tonight. I don’t even know how. I mean, I do know how, in that one of the stove burners was pushed on (probably when I pushed something out of the way), and I left stuff on the stove, because I’m being lazy and stupid and only half my brain is working, and now I have one less sweater and the entire printed powerpoint from today’s professional development class burst into flames when I picked it up off the stovetop (it was embers) and the charger for my phone is toast (literally) and some other things that may or may not matter because I can’t actually tell what they were, now that they’re melted to the stovetop. I mean, none of it matters, because I got home from my frazzled trip to the mall, where I almost killed someone in the parking lot because my brain is offline, and then I saved the house from burning down. All that after weeping mightily on the drive back, because I almost hit that guy, and then I went to Barnes & Noble because I thought they might have a book that would help me figure my brain out, because nothing seems to be working, but I did not see Kathy’s Brain Explained in the Self Help section or the Science section or the Fantasy section, so then I walked the length of the mall, because I was still too shaky to get back in the car after almost hitting that guy (I really just went to Walmart to buy stuff for school, because I didn’t want to sit at home for another 4 hours moping and feeling like tense crap), and on the way home, I cried. I told you that already.

So the house is still here, but I scared the crap out of myself, because the last thing I need right now is something like that. That would throw me right over the edge into Crazyland. Unless I’m already there.

And now I have a rancid headache as well, from burning plastic fumes. All windows are open and the stove fan has been on for an hour. The whole house reeks of Trying to Burn Me Down, Were You? and the kids come home tomorrow. And I cracked the lid on the only casserole dish I haven’t broken.

I replaced the charger right away. Will have to wait on the sweater. Don’t know about the casserole dish. Don’t use the lid that often. Don’t know if I care.

I am incredibly lucky that it didn’t burn more/faster or that I came home when I did. Did I mention I scared myself? Yeah. Please fix me. This is fucked up. I can’t be this person.

In positive news, I finished quilting the beast. I think I did a total hack job on the last bits because I couldn’t stand it any more, but only I will notice. I also stopped EARLY, even though I wasn’t done, so I could go buy binding fabric so I could possibly bind it tonight. Then I came back and finished quilting. That was before I almost burnt the house down. I am still shaking, so I will not be using a rotary cutter or a sewing machine with a fast-moving up-and-down sharp bit tonight; I will have to do that tomorrow.

I don’t have any pictures. I could have taken pictures of burnt stuff, but I don’t want to freak you out. Or me. Any more than I already am.

I spent almost all day at school in professional development, realizing I am woefully unprepared for the beginning of the year, not because I don’t know what I’m doing, but because depressed people shouldn’t be teaching middle-school kids. I can only hope that I will be able to fake the right amount of enthusiasm, energy, and care until those aspects of my personality return naturally. Like when people are asking me “How are you?” and “How was your summer?”, I should not worry about telling the truth. I should fucking make shit up. GREAT! I had an AWESOME summer! I’m GREAT! Yeah. Maybe something a bit more toned down.

I’m going to go draw my house burning down now. Or something nicer. I don’t know.


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