Feeling guilty

I haven’t exactly been feeling guilty for not blogging much, but I’m still going to back-date this post so the February archives link doesn’t come up empty – because that “Page not found” thing annoys me. So. Yeah.

I don’t do guilty well. It’s an emotion I’ve never really gotten the hang of. Either I’m powerless to change an outcome, in which case feeling guilty isn’t going to help much, or I’m personally responsible for the outcome, in which case DOING something about it works much better. I’m sure that guilt is a far more complex feeling in others, but I have trouble with emotions anyway.

My silence here isn’t something I feel guilty about. Even though I love writing, I simply haven’t felt that itching in my fingers. Too much stuff going on in my life to be able to process it verbally. It’s one of those times where it really becomes clear how verbal thinking, no matter how verbal I may seem, isn’t my primary coping mechanism.

I’m slowly getting back into the verbal, but I’m not rushing myself. The words will come when they’re good and ready.

And in the meantime, here is a pretty picture.

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Highly verbal even when alone

“There was something I wanted to blog about today. I just can’t remember what it was,” I say to the kitchen tap as I’m filling the kettle. “I should have made some preliminary notes last night.”

I play with the cat a bit, until the water starts boiling. “Sorry sweetie, I have to make water now.” As I walk into the kitchen I tell the kettle, “Make water, silly, I meant make tea. Tea tea tea.”

Then as I’m rummaging around for the tea bags, I lift my head and say to my teacup, “Oh! I just remembered. I wanted to write about talking to myself out loud!”

I’ve lost my marbles… © Johnsroad7 – Dreamstime.com

I think everyone is familiar with the trope of the “town crazy”. We had one in the town where I grew up. An old woman swathed in several colourful coats, shawls, skirts, and other pieces of fabric, walking around town with a small grocery buggy and muttering to herself. Sometimes she’d yell things that nobody understood. The children were usually a bit scared of her but the adults said she was harmless, just out of her mind. The only thing everyone agreed on was to leave her alone and don’t engage her in conversation because… well, you never knew. After all, she talked to herself out loud.

As do I.

I also meep to myself, sing phrases to myself, ummm to myself, shhh to myself, berate myself and laugh at myself. I sometimes do this via my cat because it’s more acceptable to talk to a cat and say “Oh, owner was being a bit silly wasn’t she? Yes she was!” than to directly address myself and tell myself I’m being silly. Out loud.

“You’re silly.” Yes self, I know I’m silly. Now shut up.

It’s funny because I don’t think I’m crazy. It’s just easier to vocalise thoughts sometimes, to get them out of my head when it’s getting crowded in there. Or just random sounds. One of my coworkers was the first to point out that I constantly made small noises while concentrating on a task. I’d never noticed. And while I knew I liked the sounds of certain words, I never realised I would sing them to myself over and over if I went to do something associated with that word.

“Cuppa tea cuppa tea cuppa tea tea tea.”
“Ooooh! Books! Books books books books books.”

(Note: I am actually choosing examples here with words that sound fairly similar in Dutch and English. I can’t make myself use an example where the Dutch word is just completely different, because translating it to English simply sounds wrong. I can’t do it).

So now I’ve described three ways of talking to myself. One is just sounds, meeps, ummms, pompoms. One is probably echolalia, repeating words or phrases (even though I’m repeating myself, not repeating someone else or something I heard on TV, so I’m not sure if that counts). And the last one is fully formed sentences that are a logical representation of what is going on in my head. A one-sided conversation, if you will.

It sort of feels like they all serve the same function. A way of soothing myself, of making myself focus, or helping me think and make concepts more concrete. It doesn’t feel very different to just be pomming to myself or to speak in full sentences. Except that with the full sentences, I become gradually aware at that particular moment that I’m talking to myself out loud and that this is the sign of a crazy person and not socially acceptable. But I don’t really give a damn, to be honest.

I’m still struggling with wrapping this post up in a nice and tidy conclusion.

The thing is, it’s all new to me. Not the talking out loud or making sounds. But the awareness of it. The fact that these are all well-known autistic behaviours. I didn’t even include any of them in the list of symptoms I wrote for my therapist. So other than describing what I do and how it feels to me, I’m at a loss to interpret any of it and give it some meaning. At a loss to embed it in the autistic framework that I’m slowly building for myself.

Never mind the social implications.

Because that old lady talking to herself? She’s just like me.

Leave your heart unlocked

I don’t often post things without commenting on it or saying why I wanted to write about it. I saw this video in a post from George Takei on Facebook, which in turn was a link to an article on Upworthy… but I’d like to post the video like this. My heart broke into a million pieces in the last 10 seconds.

Neil Hilborn, you are an amazing and courageous man.

Smile

I was thinking about how nervous I was about the diagnostic process and her reading my letter. Trying to keep my breathing even. Looking at a painting on the wall. Trying not to fidget too much.

“Do you realise you’re smiling right now?” said the therapist as she looked up from my letter.

I looked at her, feeling confused. “What do you mean?”

She clarified, “Here in your letter it says you often smile at inappropriate moments. So I was wondering if that was what is happening now. You’re smiling. Are you aware of that?”
smile-right2
I started grinning and said I had no idea I was smiling. And then got completely confused about what I am saying because yes I know I am grinning now. But not smiling a minute ago, I didn’t know that. Was I really smiling?

She said she could see that the grinning was a nervous reaction. Those things are obvious to people who can read faces, I guess? And she said she understood what I was trying to say. So I could stop worrying about my words and what my face was doing without me having any control over it. When I had permission to stop doing words I could start feeling. I felt… at a loss for words. That’s how they call it when you can’t grasp a concept, when it doesn’t fit reality. When things simply don’t make sense. I don’t know how to describe my feeling.

I was smiling.

I didn’t know.

Kittens!

Kittens. Kittens kittens kittens.

Kittens!

I love saying that word. Kittens!

I’ve been singing the first line from “My Favorite Things” for days. Except that it comes out as “Lala la lala la lala la KITTENS!”

Besides. They’re FLUFFY.

Words words words

I am so helpless like this. I need words.

My brain is locked. Where is the key? I think maybe smiling is the key.

Frowning makes it harder.

But I am frowning because all my words are locked up.

It’s not the fault of writing in English. My words are just as hard to access in Dutch.

In person I would probably not say anything.

It’s why they say autistic people are stupid. No words. They’re wrong. This is not stupid. It is disability.

Reading words makes it easier to find words. I am using your words to find my own.