Safe Refuges and Top Hats

Two weeks ago I started university, so have been reeeeaaaally busy!

Much fun has been had (surprisingly), as well as a few minor breakdowns.

Having a group of like-minded people really helped me to enjoy this year’s graduation ceilidh (dance), where I spent a lot of time dancing, and stealing peoples’ hats!  I think that because we ‘took over’ a fairly quiet corner, I had somewhere to retreat to, and thus felt much safer than I normally would at a social event.

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Having a safe place to retreat to often makes the difference between make or break.  Knowing I have a stable environment makes life so much more manageable because I know that no matter how crazy, random and overwhelming a situation is, I can always make it stop by going to my safe place.

Earlier in the week, I had a bit of a problem.  Some people came to our house and pretty much instantly started being very loud and turned their music right up.  It went from really quiet, to really loud very fast, and I didn’t have time to acclimatise.  Within 30 seconds, I was close to tears, and had to leave the room to have a meltdown in my room.

Very fast changes in a situation can cause a very sudden meltdown.  It makes sense, but I’ve never experienced it to that degree before.  It felt like a bit of a bad omen for the rest of uni, but things improved 🙂

I will try and update more often again 🙂 Over and out!

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Updates and Adulthood

Well, this is a much needed update, that I’ve been meaning to post for some months now.

So much has happened unexpectedly, and I’ve been getting a grip on my new reality.

I have made a leap into the world of business!  I’ve started making chainmaille jewellry, which I am selling on Etsy:
https://www.etsy.com/uk/your/shops/MailleBug/stats?ref=seller_platform_hdr
Anyway, this is taking up quite a lot of my time, making jewellry, and advertising and stuff.

Another major leap for me is coming out as genderfluid.  I know that quite a lot of Aspie girls feel more androgynous than other girls on average.  Indeed, Asperger’s has been described as a strengthening of the masculine traits.  Anyway, this hasn’t affected my physical life much, but has given me freedom in my mind to be who I am.

I’ve recently turned 18! I am not, a fully fledged adult!
I know that in reality, I’m able to do ‘what I want’, yet I cannot help being disappointed in myself, as I know that I will never truly be able to function properly on my own.  Coming of age has made this hit home rather hard.

The last major development in life is that I’m going to university! I’ve accepted my offer, and I’ll be off in September to study Marine Science 🙂

Well, that’s all from me for now. But I’m going to start updating more regularly again.

Seasonally Adjusted Shenanigans

Christmas. A word which brings both excitement and mild horror.

(Let me say now, that I am commenting on the “commercial Christmas”, not the religious holiday type of Christmas).

Hooray for presents! Hooray for foods which are never made at any other times of year! Hooray for lots of people visiting, music playing, stressed parents, strange routines and being yelled at for not helping spread the Christmas chaos!

Christmas is a time where I spend most of my time in my room, avoiding it all. With the exceptions of putting up decorations, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, I’m not really bothered.

I like the food at Christmas. I’m not one to turn down a good thing, though I fail to see why mum can’t make mince pies, baklava, biscotti and fudge, say, during summer. It’s the “Christmas season”, not the “season for yummy foods we don’t have the rest of the year”. Doesn’t have the same ring to it I suppose.

I do like putting decorations up! Definitely! Running around with tinsel round my head like a seasonally adjusted Rambo, attempting to place every single shiny string of glittery plastic stuff around the house. However, again I fail to see how snazzy lights and funny hats and tinsel everywhere, clogging up the Hoover, is a seasonally adjusted event. Why can’t we have this all year round? That would be awesome! Who on Earth decided that silver fringing made into a rope and stuck on trees could only happen in December? Down with traditions! Tinsel in July for everyone!

Christmas is apparently a family event. You’re obliged to visit people and to be happy about it, simply because it is Christmas.
“It’s good to have the family home for Christmas”
“Don’t argue, it’s Christmas. It’s the time of year to be happy”
Does this mean I can be a miserable old so and so the rest of the year, and only be happy at Christmas? Why not Easter?
“Be happy! It’s Easter!”
I have never heard anyone say that in my life. Ever.
I don’t like how I am apparently obliged to be nicer to people (I’m always nice, it simply isn’t possible!) simply because it’s the middle of December.
Also, why is Christmas a family event? Again, why not Easter? Birthdays? Actually, why not? Let us decree that every third Tuesday shall be the day of jolliness and cheer where families must gather in joy and frivolity!
I suppose the novelty will wear off, and then Uncle Henry won’t be able to make it, and someone else will have a meeting, and eventually, no one would turn up. So Christmas is more an excuse where, once a year (so everyone isn’t sick of each other) families gather to do whatever families do. Thus making sure that everyone sees each other at least once in a year. I also guess that the convention of being nice, would be useful in making sure the family don’t try and kill each other.
To be honest, it doesn’t need to be the 25th December. It could be my birthday for all the difference it makes.
Actually, my birthday is on “Wear a Hat Day”. That would be a great day for a gathering! We could give me presents, AND wear the stupid hats synonymous with Christmas!

Christmas songs. Why people? Why do you need to constantly remind us that we must be happy and jolly? I don’t care what you want for Christmas, and it’s always cold outside in Scotland. I don’t need repetitive, cheesy songs to tell me every single year!

New Year is another mildly confusing annual event. For some reason, the fact that another 365 days (or 366) have passed is a major thing to be celebrated. To me, December the 31st is only a day different from January 1st. Why don’t we have fireworks and champagne and stuff every time another month passes. Who decided on January anyway? Fireworks would be better on a night you could at least hope it wasn’t going to rain. In Scotland, it rains solidly from October to the middle of February. Noah wouldn’t know what hit him. We could have New Years fireworks with a barbecue in the summer! No! We must huddle up against the wind like a cluster of particularly miserable penguins, and watch the fireworks that mark the passing of 365 days!

I stay in bed.

Earth to Erin?

I know for a fact that if you spoke to me in real life, you would struggle to see the person that you see over the internet.  You may wonder why I don’t ask questions, sometimes I don’t even respond to a question myself.  Why I sit on my hands, and what on earth is so interesting about the wall that I have stared at it for ten minutes without meeting your eyes!?

In truth, I don’t ask question because I am, more than likely, not interested in the information you would give me; I don’t answer because I either wasn’t listening, or forgot to respond out-loud.  I sit on my hands because I don’t wish to start flapping them around, and it reminds me not to rock backwards and forwards; and there really isn’t anything special about the wall (unless there’s a picture squint, but I would have got up and moved it before ten minutes had passed).  I will have written more words in these two paragraphs, than I would say in total in a usual first-conversation situation.

I think the first thing to point out is that I’m not intentionally rude (despite appearances).  This is my way of managing, what is to me, a stressful situation.  Strangers present a plethora of unknowns that could take me by surprise, so saying as little as possible means I can’t annoy them with some comment.  Right?

Apparently not.  Quite a while ago, Mum and I talked a lot, and devised ‘stock phrases’ that I used out and about to limit damage from either not answering, or replying an undesired way.

“Hello Erin, how are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you.  How are you?”

As opposed to:

“Hello Erin, how are you?”
“Fine”

I have a rather comical example of not understanding what was required from me socially from when my sister was born.  Mum was in hospital with the baby, and dad and I had gone to see them.

“Hi Erin”
“Hi Mum”
“Have a look at your baby sister”
“Hmm… can I have your biscuits?”

In my defence, they were chocolate bourbons (which are the best!) and better than any howling, wriggly, sticky, pink potato-looking thing that was in that cot.  Hence baby was dismissed, and biscuits were given priority.  This was not my social requirement.  I will admit that I was quite young at the time, but I don’t think that most young girls would immediately dismiss a baby.

Mum had bought me one of these Baby Annabel dolls that cried and needed feeding all the time, to get used to having a baby.  I remember the other girls in my class having baby dolls and looking after them, and playing mummies and daddies with them.  I liked Lego.

Slight worry was caused when mum and I were feeding our respective babies, and after feeding, mum explained that it was time to wind the baby.  She propped Emilie on her shoulder, and gave her a gentle pat…  I smacked mine on the corner of the coffee table.  Hard.

I had, at some point, heard of winding someone, as in hitting them, and assumed I could do the same to the baby, with the same result as what mum was doing.  No consideration whatsoever was made as to the baby’s feeling on the matter, and to me, it didn’t matter.  I did the job, and that’s good, yes?  Well… no.  It was probably explained to me at this point that you really shouldn’t smack babies on coffee tables.

I find it very difficult to see how my actions or words can affect someone else.  In fact, until I acquired a boyfriend, nothing people said, really affected me.  Yes, I cried when people were angry and whatnot, but that was because I didn’t know how to deal with angry people, and I was scared of them, rather than their words inducing feeling.  This, along with very little skill in empathy and sympathy, meant that I couldn’t see how I could upset a person by talking to them.  This distressed my sister in particular, who wanted a classic ‘big sister’, and didn’t understand how I couldn’t see that I was being horrible.

Sometimes I do say the right things (HUZZAH!), but in the wrong tone of voice, or facial expression, or body-language to go with it, making it mean something completely different.

I managed to upset a woman in Nando’s in Aberdeen this summer, totally obliviously and accidentally, by forgetting to sound happy, and using my default monotone.  She was wearing the same t-shirt as me, and I found this rather cool, this woman had style! Anyway, I thought I’d said:

“Oh look! She’s wearing the same t-shirt as me!”
“And she’s sitting at the table next to ours!” (As in, “what a coincidence!”)

This is not what you hear when the same words are said in a monotone, a bit too loudly.  Calum (my boyfriend) was with me at the time, and looked a little bit horrified as the woman muttered something angrily while I looked generally confused at the whole thing.  If the woman with the spectacular sense of style that I upset in Nando’s ever reads this, I apologise for my monotone, it was meant to be happy.

Earlier this month, I upset my sister by giving her the answer to a question, twelve hours later than she wanted it.  She had asked me which dress looked better while I was playing The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess.  A much more important task than deciding something about some dress.  I thought I had told my sister to wait, and that I would think about it.  ‘Thought’ is the optimum word in that sentence.  I had intended to reply, even decided what I was going to say, but then got distracted before the words reached my mouth.  I then gave her the answer to her question the morning after, when I had given it due attention, but by that point, she didn’t want my opinion because I had upset her.

Mum often comments that I can be both in the room, and absent at the same time, simply because I can disregard everyday life so easily and concentrate intensely on something which I find more important.  This change in attention can be very sudden, and a bit weird for people.  I often ask mum to repeat the second part of a sentence, even a short one, because I zoned out in the middle of it as I thought of something more important.

“I don’t really understand why it’s considered normal to stare at someone’s eyeballs” – John Elder Robinson

I find looking people in the eye to be very difficult.  It’s too intimate an act for me to feel comfortable with.  Usually, looking at a person gives people information about mood and suchlike.  Body-language and things like that.  As I cannot translate body-language, I see no point in looking at people, and as I am both uncomfortable with it, and I have no need for it, I find it very difficult to bring myself to look someone in the eye for any amount of time.

If any of you have seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (great movie), there is a part where Flint’s father tells him to look him in the eye and say something.  Flint’s eyeballs then seem to be repelled from looking at his dad’s, like bringing together the north poles of two magnets (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clzT55JVGck).  This is what it is like when I am asked to look someone in the eye.

Well, this blog has gone on long enough.  I hope you all have a very happy, yet reasonably sane Christmas!  See you in the New Year.

My Preciousss…

My one of my earliest memories is of collecting ‘stuff’.  Small pebbles and stones, nuts and bolts, leaves, feathers and other shiny detritus disappeared into the pockets of the eagle-eyed, four-year-old Erin.

My parents used to encourage these short-lived fascinations, helping me identify today’s mystery object, and helping me find similar objects of interest.  God forbid that anyone actually touch it though!

Once an object was claimed as mine.  That was it.  No one touched it without permission, and even then, grudgingly given under the supervision of a stern, yet jumpy child, constantly reaching out to take it back again as soon as possible.

I mentioned my pebble collection previously, which I still have.  I would spend my breaktimes in Primary 7, in the corner of the playground, smashing rocks so that I could see what they were like inside.  I would show my best discoveries to my classmates, enticing some to come and join me, but many would only join me for a few lunches, then grow bored and find some other pastime that didn’t literally involve banging rocks together.

At home, if I took a particular liking to one stone in particular, it was carted around in my pocket until mum found them clattering around in the washing-machine and gave them back.   The rest were displayed on my bookcase like some sort of shrine to geology.

My most cherished position is a pyjama-case, which I am told is a rabbit, but looks more like a yellow person with a button nose, long ears and dungarees called Wortle (Wurr-tul).  Wortle used to go everywhere with me, and I refused to sleep without him.  Only a few trusted family members were allowed to touch him.  But one day, when I was around ten, my sister decided it would be a great idea to get revenge for some overly-blunt comment, by hiding him.

Hell breaking loose probably would have been preferable to what followed.  I don’t remember a thing, but according to mum, the red-mists were down, and someone was in for it – big time!  Thankfully, mum got to me and restrained me, before I got to Emilie, but if she hadn’t, the offending sister would have been pushed strait down the stairs.

She only hid Wortle again once after that, when I was probably around fourteen.  Thankfully, Emilie was the other side of the landing when I found him, and I marched straight into mum’s room and managed to convey what had happened before losing the ability to speak out of anger. I know for a fact that if Emilie had been on my side of the landing before I reached mum, I would have gone for her without a second thought.  No-one touches my things.

My possessiveness also translates to people too.  I remember fighting over one girl with another when choosing pairs in P.E. in Primary 2 (age 7), refusing to share my friend.  I also lost a friend of five years, when I was around thirteen, because I got too possessive, and refused to share her with anyone else, which, at the stage where girls start seeking relationships, was bad.

Talking of relationships, my boyfriend is someone I am definitely possessive over.  I would go so far as to say that he is one of my obsessions (more on those some other day).  Before we were going out, one girl in the group, who had always been a touchy-feely (ugh) person, sat on his knee – an occurrence that happened regularly with all the other boys in the group without me minding.  I did very well not to hit her in the face at that point.  I had learned at sixteen, that hitting people was usually a bad way to deal with situations, but again, I couldn’t speak for a while until I calmed down.  She also never did it again.  I think the sub-zero glare translated well.

Despite this, the mixture of possessiveness and lack of friendship throughout my life translates into an incredibly loyal person.  I always try and do what’s best for my friends, and I think I can safely say that once an Aspie sees you as theirs, they’re not letting go.

Smack in the face with a cold, hard… truth?

For some unknown reason, I shall never forget the quote from Rachel Caine’s book ‘Feast of Fools’, where someone is described as using ‘honesty as a club’.

I’ve always had a problem ‘softening’ the truth.  If you’re going to say something, say it for goodness sake!  Dithering around the truth wastes everyone’s time, and you’ve said exactly the same thing by the end of it all, so you may as well get your point across fairly quickly in my opinion.

I have always preferred people getting to the point, and I will tend to get strait to the point when talking to people myself, which has landed me in bother in the past where I just came out and said something, and the person I was talking to became upset, as I said it way too bluntly for them to deal with.  This is usually because I can find it difficult to regulate my expression and tone of voice for a long time, as well as usually having something better to do (from my point of view, not theirs).

I’ve also got a propensity to use strong words like ‘hate’, when I should seemingly use ‘dislike’ as they’re less hurtful to others (apparently).

To me, these words mean the same thing.  I don’t really see the difference between using synonyms when speaking.  If I hate something, I will avoid it.  If I dislike something, I will avoid that too.  It all appears the same to me.

My recent word is ‘stupid’.  I see this word as interchangeable with ‘silly’ and ‘muppet’.  Again, I saw no difference whatsoever in using one or the other, but I was repeatedly told that I couldn’t say that, and that it was offensive.

I asked Google:

stupid
adjective

  1. lacking intelligence or common sense.
Synonyms: unintelligentignorantdensebrainlessmindlessfoolishdull-witteddullslow-wittedwitlessslow, dunce-like, simple-minded, empty-headedvacuousvapidhalf-wittedidioticmoronic, imbecilicimbecileobtusedoltish; gulliblenaïve;

informal: thick, thick as two short planks, dimdumb, dopeydozycrazybarmy, cretinous, birdbrained, pea-brained, pig-ignorantbovine, slow on the uptake, soft in the head, brain-dead, boneheaded, lamebrained, thickheaded, chuckleheaded, dunderheaded, wooden, wooden-headed, fat-headed, muttonheadeddaft, not the full shilling;

silly

adjective

  1. having or showing a lack of common sense or judgement; absurd and foolish.
Synonyms: foolishstupidunintelligentidioticbrainlessmindlesswitless, imbecilic, imbeciledoltish; imprudentthoughtlessrashrecklessfoolhardyirresponsible; maderraticunstablescatterbrained, feather-brained;

flighty, frivolousgiddyfatuousinaneimmaturechildishpuerilehalf-bakedempty-headedhalf-wittedslow-wittedweak-minded;

informal: daftcrazydottyscattyloopyscrewysoftbrain-dead, cretinous, thickthickheaded, birdbrained, pea-brained, pinheaded, dopeydimdim-witteddippypie-facedfat-headed, blockheaded, boneheaded, lamebrained, chuckleheaded, dunderheaded, wooden-headed, muttonheadeddamfool;

I made bold and underlined the words in common in both cases, and again, I see no difference.  Both words are incredibly similar.  Indeed, a synonym of silly, is stupid (therefore: silly = stupid using all values of Google.  Q.E.D.).  If Google cannot explain this conundrum to me, who can!?

Some answers came in the form of Magnus (a friend).  The conversation basically went like this:

Me:  But if I think someone is being silly or idiotic, I cannot say that they’re stupid?  It’s like the same word!

Magnus: I think it’s because, for most people, the word stupid suggests that you think they or their idea (or whatever it’s referring to) is inferior, useless, rubbish, or whatever. That might be the case but when it’s been thrown up in their face in what they think is such a blunt way, they take it personally as an attack on them.

Me: But stupid is particularly bad?  How is it any different?

Magnus: Well those words seem more comical so it’s easier for people to take it. ‘stupid’ is like giving someone a burning hot pan. ‘muppet’ is like giving someone a burning hot pan with a towel round the handle so they don’t get burned so quick.

So, calling someone silly, IS the same as calling someone stupid, but with extra padding.  That made sense!

If I throw a brick with a pillow tied round it at someone, they’re not in pain, and I get the satisfaction of hurling a brick at their face… and that’s OK!

People are weird…
Now to work out which words are which…

Imaginations from the Other Side

Everyone appears to have had their ‘monster under the bed’ when they were younger. Whether it be a scary monster from a movie they’ve watched, or a figureless shade that has no source other than an overactive imagination and a fear of the dark.

I’ve always had a great imagination, with imaginary friends for most of my life as they made more sense than my real ones, or at the point when I had no real ones at all. I would take inspiration from books, movies and songs. Creating the perfect character for me to share my time with. Why waste time with people who didn’t get me, when I could make up people who did?

If I was ever struggling to comprehend a situation, I would play it over and over in my head, talking myself through different solutions until I found an answer that made sense. I would often be up until the small hours of the morning, working out how to start a conversation about a specific topic I was worried about. I would eventually imagine a situation that seemed both plausible, and beneficial, memorise it, then try it out in the real world… often with unimagined results. Results I didn’t predict often came as a very unpleasant surprise to me (to be honest, they still do, but I’ve learned that predicting people doesn’t really work, so don’t do it). I would view their stray from the plan as stupidity, and get frustrated and upset when they didn’t stick to the script that only I knew.

So my imagination has always has always been a well-used tool of mine, but I would often struggle to separate what I imagine, from what is real. This still comes to light when I’m afraid of something.

I remember a night, not even a year ago, when my boyfriend convinced me to talk to someone, other than him, about what goes on in my head. I absolutely got that it wasn’t entirely fair to totally depend on him in every situation, but could not see a single way of telling someone without assuming they’d think I was a freak. I had so few friends, I didn’t want to lose one, and it would also mean I would have to cope with a new group dynamic in school, which I knew I absolutely could not deal with. I had a full panic attack. Hyperventilating, sobbing, I was an absolute mess for almost an hour!

My friend was absolutely fine about me when I eventually told him. He could even relate to parts of it. It goes to show that my imagination can very often run away with me, even now that I’m much older.

I’m also still scared of the dark. I’m scared of what’s in the dark, what I can’t see. I have certain criteria that need to be satisfied before I go to bed, otherwise I convince myself there’s something there and out to get me (paranoid much, I know). Nightmares make it worse. There’s nothing like waking up at ***** knows what in the morning, convinced there is something there, and not being able to get to sleep for the rest of the night in case you’re eaten by some ridiculous thing with too many teeth.

An overactive imagination, can be great fun one moment, and distressing the next. I’m still not entirely sure whether I’m glad about not growing out of it like most people. One thing it has led me to learn that I’m not often on exactly the same page as everyone else, but things are almost always better than I think.