Sometimes people say the same thing over and over and fail to ever really explain what they mean.
Frequently, I have been know to say "that I live in my own little world". I think that deserves an explanation. Lets' go there....
I live largely within a world of thought, memories, possibilities and emotations. Its like living in a very large room that is filled with loops, streams, fragments and spheres. At times, it seems very crowded and different shapes vie for my attention. Frequently one of these small floating arenas engulf me and I become engrossed, almost trapped and have a hard time escaping whatever thought or memory has captured my attention. Each shape contains either large or small bits of information. Mostly, I sit back, within myself and am analyzing.
Frequently, I am sure it appears, that my eyes have glazed over and it appears that "no one is home". At those times I am all inside...sometimes pondering, sometimes escaping whatever reality is outside of me and taking place.
Various things, such as "what was that conversation about yesterday" "can I remember it word for word?" "what was meant by thus and such" "did I convey what I needed to?" "when I said thus was I heard?" pertain to previous, mostly recent, conversations. Often, hours or days later, I find things that I missed in the conversation..sometimes very important things.
I have very little interest and awareness of the world outside of myself. I have a very narrow lens and rarely notice things, people, situations, words or ideas, that do not pertain directly to me. I have no interest in false gods, celebrities, current tv programming, popular culture, the latest novel, gossip of any kind, predicting the future or where I want to be five years from now, who is dating who, what the most popular song was in 1952, the latest diet or exercise craze, fads of any kind, and hypothetical what ifs.
The majority of my waking life is consumed with how to get through it, my home, my castle, my friends and my family and keeping myself functional. That takes up about 98% of my every day. Seriously, I wish it were only some bad joke but the vast majority of my day is actively engaged in basic functionality.
Words are mutable things of varying caliber, degrees and with a plethora of meaning depending on context, stress, the particular speaker and the spirit in which they are said....very complex. I can easily spend days analyzing a five-minute conversation....easily. For I do want to understand and comprehend..it just doesn't come easy.
Having to spend so much effort figuring out the words, leaves little time for glances and observations regarding facial expressions and body language. I am simply too focused on the words.
And, yes, most people speak at a normal rate of speed that is far too fast for this and other aspies. Either my word processing program is running too slow or I am actively engaged in trying to remember everything that I need to say and searching for pauses in the chat.
I can spend hours planning a five minute conversation for, say, the next day. I have to figure out my points, what is important and put it in a presentable cohesive, easy-to-understand manner.
Lost in thought...yeah, I am frequently there but it has purpose.
So say that I live in this very large room with floaters. I stand in the middle. There must be a door here somewhere for a connection to the outside. Sure, there is one over there on the right. One small doorway that opens to a very narrow, steep, twisty-turny hallway that is about a mile long. (Yeah, I am usually pretty hard to reach.) Every now and then someone ventures down the hall and knocks at my door...Most of the time, I simple do not hear the knock.The depths, focus can prevent that. Sometimes I do and ignore it. I think, most often, people arrive at the door, sense the...depth and treacherousness of the hallway and fear actually knocking. Can't say that I blame them...it is a most unusual stride to the door.
When I venture out...my view of the world outside of myself, outside of my physical home...
To be honest, its a war zone...a chaotic, ever-changing, daunting and somewhat dangerous place full of unpredictability, unspoken expectations, unwritten rules and a constantly changing landscape of mountains and pitfalls.
I constantly seek safe zones and safe people. When that doesn't work, I resort to using pre-approved patterns and manners of walking, behaviors and mental games to get me from point a to point b.
Stepping outside is sensory overload, pure and simple. Its an assault of the senses, a mental maze and all systems up and running, a time of high alert.
The highest variable is people."Who will I run into?" "What will I say?" "What will they ask?" subject matter, mood, will I be able to read them?
Some days I avoid most people..other days I seek them out.It just depends.
Mostly, life is a wicked game of survival..figuring out the bare minimum of what needs doing outside and staying mostly in. Venturing out requires a great deal of pre-planning and effort.
Little things are big things for the aspie. As an example, one of my current dilemmas is something so small,so simple, so not-an-issue for the nt that I hesitate to mention as I am sure it will induce ridicule and absurdity on some level. I can't find a pair of socks to buy that doesn't feel like sandpaper on my feet. I had a dozen pair of the most perfect of socks, all cotton, black, medium weight and they fit and felt just right. Well, I went and wore them all out, getting holes in the heels and had to start pitching them in the garbage. When I was down to one or two pair, I went to the local store where I had purchased them to stock up. Lo and behold, they no longer exist. While they carry the same brand, they have introduced lycra and form-fitting alterations that pinch and do not feel right. I spent that day going to every store in town in the simple and futile attempt to locate a damn pair of socks that i could wear with ease. They no longer exist. My search continues....Yeah, I want so much from life...a damn pair of socks..and no where to be found.
The everyday task of cooking a meal is a complex endeavour. First off, I have to figure out what everyone wants and is willing to eat. Then the grocery list and actual shopping. Being in the kitchen, cooking a meal is a multi-step event that needs careful planning. I frequently talk to myself to help keep me on task and remembering what the next thing is to do. There are also three separate timers that help guide me and keep me from burning and overcooking things. More than once, our smoke alarm has signaled "dinner ready". The average meal probably takes me twice as long to cook and is just another stressful event to try and muddle through.
I like my world inside, mostly due to its low-stress and somewhat predictable nature. I don't have to perform and pretend to be normal. The sometimes overwhelming stress of outside reality will literally throw me into my space so deeply and with great fervor, that its like being locked into a closet. It gets dark and I can't find the door handle to get out even if I wanted to.
The predictability, the patterns I create are so that i can actually have moments, yeah maybe a moment or two where I don't have to actively think. Because the majority of my life, my everyday life, is spent in the thinking process, just trying to get through the day. This is so not a normal, neuro-typical existence....it is so much more work. Some day, I hope to convey that in a depth, meaning and way that doesn't sound so self-pitying and depressing because it is an important point.
You have no idea the sheer amount of work, effort and stress that is required for this aspie to get through an average day. It truly is impossible to fathom. I have great admiration for those aspies who can actually hold down and maintain a job, even a part-time one.
As for parenthood, knowing what I know now,I probably wouldn't have done it. It has not turned out very well. I think my kids suffer needlessly do to my inability to be outside my head and much more aware of who they are and what their needs may be. My focus is so extremely narrow, my introvertedness and hermitage like existence has not allowed me to see their weaknesses and areas needing assistance. My central focus of survival has not helped them in any way, shape or form and having kids was not a really good decision.
But here is where i am....this is what needs doing.
And people ask, I kid you not and this is rather novel...People ask how they can help an aspie. (And I would like to take these requests, mold them into solid form, like a small statuette and set them upon the mantel because they are priceless) So I am going to answer...You keep knocking. And if the door doesn't open, you try again. You don't give up. You make your voice and your physical presence known and available. You listen. You hear. You do not embarrass or make fun of. You do not put the spotlight on. You allow the aspie to be themselves with subtle guidance through the murky waters. You understand or are willing to try and understand that the world is a very scary, overwhelming place and that even simple, mundane tasks require great effort and thought. You realize that your own speech (that which you say when talking to an aspie), is frequently, like trying to decipher a foreign language. You talk slower and listen harder. You are aware that the aspie speaks in a language all their own and try and learn it. You can somewhat grasp the reality that an aspie needs lots of downtime and opportunities to process information. Please don't always expect an immediate answer. You get the idea that emotions and stress can sometimes have a more noticeable, dramatic effect on the aspie. And that Tics Happen, no big deal, just part of being Aspie. Be patient. Be kind. Its really that simple.