Ramblings from FB on the subject of learning to try to tolerate discomfort instead of trying to always cover it up, change it, make it go away, which is an exhausting endeavor to be doing constantly.
I left the public market a few minutes past 7, unsure of if I should take the bus back or find something else to do . It took about 30 seconds to make that , usually far more complicated decision, because the air just felt so damn bad the second I stepped outside. I had forgotten, in the midst of good converation and just being inside. You think you'd get used to it but you don't.
Some sensory stuff - I get used to. Humid air hits me anew every time. So, It's 712 and the bus is for 713. I wait...12 minutes, not loving the air but okay. Five different buses come and go but no #1. Eventually I give up, realizing I must have missed it. Doesn't usually happen but okay. I have no energy to walk to the gelato place, which would be my normal back up. My head starts to fill up with the crisis mode of "Oh no, what will I ever do, the bus is not here and I can't tolerate being out in the air and this is a disaster" and I stopped it... I managed to stop it somehow, this time. "Yes, the air sucks," I told myself, "but stop over-dramatizing this and making it into a crisis. You are uncomfortable. That is it. Accept it, and move on." I sat on the bench... thought I might as well just wait, I had half an hour. I wanted so much to be somewhere inside so I didn't have to breathe the air, but there was nowhere I felt comfortable going inside closer than the gelato place, a 10 min walk each way.
. I NEVER just sit and wait. I ALWAYS have to be doing something and distracted. But... I told myself, try just sitting and waiting. Try tolerating it. That will be easier in the end than the energy required to create a distraction, good or bad. So I did. 10 min later my friend Ryan comes up to me randomly.... coming back to take the bus after some class he had . He sits with me, we end up laughing... Someone at the farmer's market had spilled snap peas ALL OVER the ground, tons of them, a few feet away. The market had closed hours ago. I wondered who would be responsible for cleaning them up and if they'd stay there. I started singing "All we are asking, is to give peas a chance" (peace) out loud to Ryan. I laughed. He told me a joke. I told him one. We laughed again. He was waiting for south portland bus. Thoughts came to me, knocked on my head, said to me "But I'm so worried about XXXX I need to be talking about that" and I said to them... NO, you need to be creating good moments now with what you have. Ryan's positive, joyous , fun energy makes that easy to do. I accepted... I told him, I thought of trying to go into those restaraunts (there are several in Monument Sq) but it wasn't worth it (sensory distress of doing so) so I just thought I'd sit and wait. And I didn't say this with an air of pitying myself or worrying or of wanting to be rescued from it, I said it with an air of acceptance that I seldom ever have. And it opened the door somehow. I felt myself somehow relaxing, getting silly with him, saying whatever was on the top of my head to make him laugh, making fake accents, just laughing about nothing for a few minutes. 755 actually came too quickly.
We walked across the square to the bus shelter, me singing "All we are asking is to give peas a chance" and laughing with a brief light heartedness that I hadn't felt in months.... It lasted only a minute, but it existed. The lighthearted me made an appearance for the first time in months. I wanted it to continue, but the bus was there. I got on the bus, and started to panic about a sensory element of the bus, but was then engaged in discussion by the Coca cola guy and forgot my worries, the sunset happened, the community happened, I was smiling when I got off. I started to panic again when I walked into my room in reaction to a sensory signal... I sat myself down, closed my eyes, and replayed running into Ryan and the sunset until I was calm again.
So.. I need to remember this. I have a very bad memory for positive emotions. That is why I write about them so much. I can never remember them. But if I write about them and talk about them and live them enough I think I can eventually rewire my brain and get them to stay. I tolerated the air without trying to make it better. I accepted my distress without making a crisis out of it or without needing something immediately to distract me. I can USE that analogy in many other situations in my life. The analogy and feeling of tolerating something uncomfortable just because, and of having tolerating it open up other things you never would have expected. Me being lighthearted in that kind of situation? Did not expect. So, I am going to go eat dinner now .
If you like this, please be sure to visit my other website, Accepting Asperger's. A lot of my older writing is stored here, including an editorial I once wrote for the Baltimore Sun. Click here to see it: Accepting Asperger's.
What's it really like to be a 20 something with Asperger's? On this blog, I hope to explore that question. But this blog is not just limited to an audience of people in their 20s - this is for anyone who ever wanted to know anything about autism. I plan to delve into the nature and experience of autism, and examine it from as many angles as possible. I would like to start a conversation between people with Asperger's or autism, parents of kids with autism spectrum disorders, and anyone who just wants to know more. Let's explore what autism means, together.
My goal is to start a discussion on and build a community of people affected by autism - parents and adults with ASD - so feel free to leave your two cents in the comments section of any post. If you're too shy for that, however, or want to speak to me personally, you may feel free to email me at KGoldfie@gmail.com.
Asperger's Book for Sale
Common Scents: Adventures with Autism and Chemical Sensitivity" is the story of a young woman's search for physical and emotional safety as she journeys through the mountains of the Cascades, small coastal towns on the Oregon coast, and out-of the-way towns in upstate New York. Along the way, she experiences things she would never have dreamed possible had she stayed in her Maine hometown, and begins to learn the power of human connection.
Common Scents is the story of the last three years of my life. It gives a gripping view of what it is like to experience the world as someone on the autistic spectrum, and some would say, is an entertaining travel story as well. Because of chemical sensitivities, I engaged on a three year journey for a place I could call home.
Comments from readers:
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"Your writing style is SO engaging and interesting. It brings me right into the subject and I always experience a little emotional punch towards the end. In other words, this is the third time I've teared-up reading your work. Kate, you've highlighted ALL the problems with how social skills are usually taught." - mother of ASD kid
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