Being at the receiving end of a personal attack is stressful enough. And I, like many Aspies have a strong sense of justice, so when the attack is irrational, illogical, or uncalled for, that only presents even more of a trigger.
This has happened before; it’s not the first time, and *sigh* I’m sure that it won’t be the last. People with “selective hearing”, shitty reading comprehension (very likely willfully so), who fail to recognize and appreciate what’s being done for them. People dissatisfied enough about an aspect (or multiple aspects) if their own lives who, rather than work to change that, project and transfer their frustration onto innocent, hardworking, well-meaning people.
It wasn’t my freaking fault. I did somewhere south of nothing to cause this.
This person proverbially tied my hands behind my back and wound up to punch me in the face. Luckily, only proverbially so.
I felt like doing it back, for real. But I didn’t.
Instead, I tried to keep my composure. I really did. I was in a professional setting, after all. I had to keep my (retracted) ballpoint pen on the page to hide the shaking. What shaking? The shaking that involuntarily (and frustratingly) sets in when I’m in someone’s crosshairs, usually undeservedly. The shaking that results when I’m trying to hold too much inside, and it’s taking every ounce of inner will that I have not to say, “now wait a damned minute”. The shaking that comes when I’m being attacked and–to a point–I have to sit there and take it–or at the very least, control my responses very carefully.
My Aspie-ness tempts me to be blunt and to-the-point. My Aspie-ness also tempts me to escape, to get out of the situation–except that this is not an option, because I’m professionally a sitting duck. My Aspie-ness tells me that I should simultaneously ball up in a corner and shiver, and come lashing out, swinging in self-defense. My Aspie-ness wants to launch into every detail about every nuance and benefit-of-the-doubt that I’ve provided this person (which is a lot; they’re on thin ice). But I don’t dare go there, because that same Aspie-ness wouldn’t know when or where to stop.
So I sat there and tried to collect what was left of my thoughts, any cognitive remnants that hadn’t been swallowed whole by my stress-sensing amygdala.
Thankfully, I “only” had to take this deluge for about a half an hour. (Yes–in the past, it has gone a lot longer than that.)
For me, it does help to talk about it afterward. (For many Asperger’s/autistic people, talking accomplishes nothing; it has no beneficial effect.) I do need to make sure that there’s someone understanding nearby, and fairly soon.
Or, I can write out my thoughts.
The trick is to stay cerebral. Keep it logical. Try to preserve and maintain my words. If I lose my words, I lose everything. My emotions take over the driver’s seat.
In the past, I called this a “rant”. But things have changed. I decided that I don’t like that word. It has connotations that are only negative for me–denigrating and unjustified. A “rant” implies that I am being irrational, that I am the one being illogical, that I am being petty or bitchy. As I reflect back on the situation, I realize that I’m none of those things.
I’ve recently realized that what I previously considered a “rant” is actually a human psychological need to process. To live the moment fully. To experience the emotion. To go ahead and take the gloves off and be snarky. To cuss and berate, uncensored, behind closed doors, in empathetic company. To have–and to take–the time to think of and express what I couldn’t think of or wasn’t allowed to say to the person themselves. To clear out the “junk”, to debrief. To decompress, to transcend. To move forward from here. Looking ahead, without self-judgment or self-criticism.
I’ve realized that this is both necessary and even healthy. By processing the encounter on my terms, and letting out (and letting go of) what I really want to say, I can indeed keep it cerebral, hang onto my words, and maybe even prevent a shutdown.
I think–this time–I was successful. But during times like these, I’m really glad the weekend is near. 🙂
(Image Credit: streamweb)