The depth of the (my) Asperger’s / autism ‘rabbit hole’

I’ve mentioned before that finding out that I’m autistic/an Aspie has felt like stumbling upon the code-key to my entire life.

Since those of us on the spectrum have been said to tend to say–and understand–communication in more of a literal sense, please take the statement above…almost literally. 🙂

I didn’t unearth a physical code-key or anything.  But I did get hit (in a good way) with such a profound series of revelations in rapid-fire frequency, that I felt like I had.  It sure seemed that way.

I think that I asked myself so that’s an Asperger’s/autism thing too?” so many times that I felt like a CD that keeps skipping in one particular spot.

After all, so many loose ends seemed tied together in one neat little package.  And many of these ends were extremely loose; this went well beyond the more-obvious characteristics such as introversion, social awkwardness, interpreting (and expressing) communicating literally, my feeling of being “othered” in an otherwise-seemingly-cohesive world, my playing with my hair (a stim), my intense focus on certain subjects (human biochemistry and pathophysiology, pathological microbiology, abnormal psychology, music, economics, art, etc), and so on.

Suddenly, all of those quirks I had filed under “Miscellaneous” seemed to merge together in a single phenomenon, with a single explanation: Asperger’s/autism.

For example, I had always been clumsy.  This wasn’t the case as much in childhood as it is now for me as an adult; it has increased over time.  I think that the only reason that I hadn’t been as uncoordinated during childhood and adolescence was that I was much more physically active, which has a way of strengthening neurological pathways, a topic on which I’ll expand in a future post.

Another example: I knew I liked to spin as a small child.  Spinning was amazing!  It felt incredible.  I had thought that every kid had done that, and was quite surprised to find out a mere few months ago that that’s not the case.

I also realized why I had a “mental jukebox” in my head.  I can wake up with songs running through my head, and they can pop up at random (especially when I’m trying to sleep!), start meshing together, and whatnot.

I now had an explanation for being so “picky” when it came to how I work and interface with people who aren’t in my familiar Inner Circle.

I had found the answer to why I have perfect pitch, why I could never handle mashed potatoes, or why an instantaneous shockwave sensation washes over me when someone drops something in the kitchen.  (God(dess), I hate kitchens!)

I also understood why I had a small security blanket (called a “tiew” pronounced like “you” but with a “T” at the beginning) until age seven.

I now had an idea why I looked so much older than my age in childhood and adolescence, but haven’t changed too much since then.

I knew why I could reinvent myself as needed, although this always took considerable amounts of energy and was usually accompanied by massive discomfort.

I hadn’t known that being uncoordinated, spinning in circles, hearing songs in my mind, having such specific criteria for meeting with people, hearing a song on the radio and being able to tell what key it’s in, or trying to copy-paste someone else’s personality into my own had anything to do with being autistic/an Aspie.  I hadn’t had a clue that any of my quirks were connected to a common denominator, much less that particular common denominator.

I suddenly knew why I was so sensitive, why I couldn’t stand living in certain places, why I can’t stand bad vibes, why I’m so “tuned in” to animals, why I can make eye contact with animals but not people, and why I can’t handle Borderline Personalities, head-games, pettiness, or superficiality.

I realized why it would take me so long to recover from practically anything, whether it was a short trip out of town (even if it was enjoyable), a concert, an outing (even grocery shopping), a conflict, the end of a friendship, the loss of a loved one (through death), and so on.

It explains why I was never interested in “mainstream” topics like sports, headline news, war coverage, celebrities, reality TV shows, mainstream political candidates, even large companies (you know, the ones that seem to be on every street corner, or at least, in every town).  Hell, I won’t even go into mainstream grocery stores, listen to current mainstream music, or watch current mainstream movies.

I also know why I never “got into” sexual intimacy: it’s too overwhelming to my tactile senses.  It also seemed to be an incredible waste of time.  How could I ever expect to stay caught up (or try to catch up) with my racing brain and all of its Thought Exhaust?

All this time, I thought these were simple “quirks”–sometimes advantages or gifts, and other times character flaws.  I could effortlessly do “this” or that, and there were other “this”s and “that”s that I could never seem to master.

Looking around me at the people in my (offline) life, I didn’t notice these traits in anyone else.

I didn’t notice anyone else bumping their shoulder on the corner of a wall because they rounded that corner too closely.

I didn’t notice anyone else becoming irritable just from spending some time in a mall.

I didn’t notice anyone else having such a tough time getting motivated to work after an emotional falling out with a friend or someone at work.

I didn’t hear of anyone else who didn’t like sex; everyone talked about how much fun it was, and how it was a biological need, yada yada.  (Yeah, no–it’s not a need for me.)

I had never heard of anyone else having to plan their day as carefully as I did, or having to insist upon knowing every detail upfront, and so on.

I hadn’t heard of anyone else being shocked because they’d been called a smartass because they said something they genuinely meant but didn’t intend to be offensive.

I hadn’t known anyone else to enjoy peeling the bark off of trees, the paint or old wallpaper off of walls, or anything else.  I could spend hours contently doing any one of these, without getting bored.

I hadn’t known anyone else to experience the same confusion on a daily basis regarding the world at large like I did.

I didn’t know anyone with an equally long memory (mine go back to five months of age, if not earlier.  But I’m not sure that’s always a good thing!).

…Until, that is, I met other people in the Asperger’s/autistic community.  Blog post or tweet after blog post or tweet, came the revelations.

And the revelations are still coming.

My trouble with getting on and off escalators?  Check.

My desire for evenly-distributed pressure/weight on my body?  Yep–that, too.

My previous feeling of confusion regarding gender identity and sexual orientation?  My ability to form incredibly deep and affectionate (but nonsexual) relationships or attachments with someone in particular?  My unconventional taste in people?  Yep–check, check, check.

My wish to stop or pause the world so that I can catch up?  Totally.

And my dichotomous wish for the world to hurry up and catch up to where I’m at so that I don’t have to keep explaining things or trudge laboriously through mundane information?  That’s a thing, too.

Even though in less than three weeks I’ll be a year into my self-discovery (and as of yesterday, I’m four months in to formal diagnosis), I still continue to read, research, and accumulate knowledge and understanding.  I still make new connections.  I still uncover new info-nuggets.  I still feel the occasional “a-ha!” moment.

I don’t think I’ll ever be “done”.  The rabbit hole keeps going, forever deeper than I had ever imagined.

And I rather like that 🙂

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20 Comments

  1. “I also know why I never “got into” sexual intimacy: it’s too overwhelming to my tactile senses. It also seemed to be an incredible waste of time. How could I ever expect to stay caught up (or try to catch up) with my racing brain and all of its Thought Exhaust?”

    ahh, finally an opportunity to defend sexuality. i know im not the only “one of us” that is into that sort of thing– autistsix has FOUR kids! (nudge, nudge, wink wink.) <- i think she would appreciate the monty python reference, and the intent.

    hyposexuality or more fairly: asexuality (which being into neurodiversity, im forced by my own arguments to respect as best i can– but its a genuine challenge to relate. im working on it…) seems a common theme in our community. i would generally consider myself incompatible with someone asexual– but it depends on the individual, and what is/isnt possible. my last long-term soulmate/lover/girlfriend had certain qualities (that i wont go into– though any close friend that is curious enough could email me about it) that would have made it very tolerable to live without "proper sex."

    for the neurodiverse on both sides of the *sexuality thing, i would link it (as a hypothesis) to the introvert/extrovert business. of course im in many ways an introvert– but like many im one of those introverts that absolutely needs to get out and talk to people, before once again retreating.

    similarly, i am vastly recharged (not depleted) by sexuality. yes, the act itself can be quite exhausting, especially for half an hour to an hour afterwards. (it can make you sleepy.) **but heres the thing, space pilgrims**,

    it can lower your cortisol through the floor. if youre my best friend in the whole world, and you want to help me get my stress below anything ive ever known, its as simple as:

    1. kiss the back of my neck — 2. make passionate love to me — 3. hold me in your arms for half an hour or hour (once ive caught my breath.)

    and the lowered cortisol will last ALL WEEK. because my cortisol is through the floor, all the energy the cortisol would deplete is now mine, mine, mine…

    and truth be told, steps 1 and 3 by themselves can do wonders– but not like the combination of all of them.

    waste of time? yes, like a walk in the park or a GREAT meditation session. granted, i practice "self-love" to a similar purpose. but the other thing that lowers your cortisol is LOVE. actual mutual love. the last girlfriend i had was a great cuddler and a great "lover" but she didnt love me (we werent together for long either. love often takes time, but it wouldve taken us forever.)

    love by itself is better than sex by itself. but it also makes sexuality 10x as amazing. the easiest way for a hypersexual, romantic aspie like myself to survive being deeply in love with an asexual would be if we practiced self-love together, and then held each other afterwards. of course, sometimes thats better (or closer to "just right") when youre totally alone and have zero distractions. and im certain that some (many?) asexuals dont do that at all. (im equally confident that some do.)

    ive been interested in sexuality all my life (lets say, all joking aside, since i was 3 and started realizing what i nice feeling it was, by myself of course. this is also roughly the time i started reading.) i thought many times it would be awesome to be one of those "sexologists" that write books about it, and counsel couples on the matter. ive always wanted to make love to dr. ruth ❤ she aint much in the looks department, but shes got a killer smile, and i dont know how many people on earth are so equipped to enjoy the whole thing. i would definitely let curiosity get the better of me if the opportunity presented itself (i adore you, karola– come over and lets do some research!)

    im not poly- by the way. i love the intimacy of a lifelong partner, and id love to meet a person that i could spend the rest of my life with. i sure thought id met that person a few years ago– best friend, best lover, best soulmate i ever had. i call her my "second wife," which is an understatement, though we never married. i would be many times happier and spend far less time sleeping, if we were still intimate. her love was not just life-affirming– it was life-giving.

    thanks for the excuse, laina. i hope the response is welcome and clarifies a few things. you have self-identified on this very blog that youre asexual yourself. i hope someday you will be comfortable enough to blog about that in more detail (only if you ever want to) to increase the amount of understanding in the world. most of the asexuals ive encountered are deeply defensive (perhaps with good reason– but nonetheless) and since asexuality is surely a legitimate aspect of sexuality, i desire to completely understand it from a source i trust to be… reasonable, logical and accurate (if partly anecdotal.)

    if i ever love an asexual as a partner, i will do my best to understand them and cater to their needs. but the better i understand the whole thing, the more likely i will be able to have such a partner. compatibility-wise, i should probably avoid asexuals. thats an easy call. but love is complex and beautiful, and can bridge unlikely and impossible mates (if only sometimes) and there may be a mostly-"asexual" person out there who– if i understood them as well as anyone could, perhaps we could be the greatest (and most loving) couple of any i ever knew. knowledge is power– and when it comes to humanity, knowledge can have the power to heal and to bring otherwise unlikely allies together into a beautiful harmony.

    this blog-post-in-a-comment is an example of how laina brings us together to use her "front porch" as a gathering place and forum, and im incredibly grateful for that. (for the record, i extend that same welcome to people that want to talk about computing on my blog. someday, i may manage the kind of community that laina and anna make possible here– until then, allow me to reiterate my sincerest gratitude.) ❤ ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wow! Amazing thoughts, as usual 😊 Even as an asexual (or “ace” 😉), I do understand the idea of gratification, and I would likely participate in such an activity periodically (the frequency being a matter in which my partner and I could reach a mutually agreeable conclusion), if for no other reason than to help them out in that department 😊 I know that even though it might not be a biological need for me, it is for most other people ❤️

      And yeah, it totally depends on the person. What makes our situation somewhat challenging is that I’m married to a man for whom I was his first–not only intimacy partner–but also his first girlfriend period! Lol. So he doesn’t have much experience; none before me. And I had very little experience before him (only foreplay and one-way-at-a-time satisfaction. So yeah, our situation is a bit interesting 😉❤️

      From what I’ve learned about the term asexual, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t get intimate; it seems to be kind of a spectrum–at one end, some of us will engage in intimacy on a semi-regular basis; on the other end, some of us don’t engage at all. I have, but it’s been a few years. I liked the outcome ok; I just found it cumbersome. But hearing how much it reduces cortisol (something I desperately need), then maybe I’ll give it a renewed effort 😊😊👏🏼👏🏼

      Liked by 2 people

      1. im going to try to restrain myself during this post ❤ also the neighbors are loud lately ❤ ❤ and its incredibly hot.

        if you practice for years, you can treat sex like a computer– input/output (sorry, that joke was going to happen at some point) or rather cause/effect.

        but thats the worst way to go about it– you dont want to learn anything goal-oriented that you can avoid.

        rather, you want to be curiosity oriented. what does this do? and what does this do in combination with this other situation? does it always do that, or just under certain circumstances/mood/environment?

        it pays to be a little scientific, but more like a painter– in other words, its about finding out what happens, not just about making it happen. but since we have a blog we read in common, you know that already.

        exploring the self makes you understand the self better, which makes it much more worthwhile when someone else is going to explore you. taking time to learn about yourself is a great meditation– going in with expectations can really spoil it– so really let go of that.

        rather than building up TO anything, ever, build up FROM. dont even worry about working "up" from there. just explore and relax.

        ultimately, being overwhelmed is the point. youre slowly pushing (safely) towards a point where youre a little overwhelmed, and its coming back down that makes it peaceful.

        which isnt to say that getting worked up is bad either. but focusing on that part does make it overwhelming for some.

        when i was a kid, long before sex in the city, kim cattrall did a movie called mannequin. it was a romantic comedy, she was so beautiful. i was less than 10, but enthralled.

        anyway, despite her role in sex in the city, she never had a very good sex life. when that changed later in life (like 40s maybe) she and her spouse wrote a guide to sex that id recommend to anyone. its very tasteful and detailed, and really encourages the right attitude of exploration (learning) over expectation.

        most of this applies to both self-love and love with a partner. even in the sense of communication– generally thought of as a multiple-person thing… self-love is very much a form of intimate communication with the body. done with patience and without expectation, its a process where a person learns to talk to their body in a way they never knew.

        ultimately though, its learning by doing. reading can give you hints and suggestions and tips and ideas about things to try. enjoy ❤

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! 😊 I do believe we’re not alone; I think it’s pretty widespread, in fact. When writing this post, I started to go off on a tangent about that; since the post started getting really long, I decided to scrap that part by copy-pasting it into a notes file for a future post. I’ll write it soon 😊 It’ll cover neurology, in plain language ❤️

      Is your clumsiness sort of a global/general throughout-the-day kind of thing? 😊

      Like

      1. I look forward to reading it 🙂 Yes, it is always there. I trip up stairs, walk into door frames, and I used to be quite good at parking but the past year i have pranged my car a few times when revering into parking spaces. I do worry, as last year i was involved in a car crash as I thought I had enough time to cross a main road in my car, into a small junction and then got hit in the side of the car and spun around. I thought I had plenty of time? I out it down to the driver of the other car speeding, but they had an in-car camera and I got fined and had points put on my license. I was so sure that the other driver would be prosecuted for speeding, but I have since worried that maybe my perception was wrong? And if so, that’s really scary 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, my dear friend, I hear you! I’m so sorry that happened to you; how scary! I’m in a similar boat; was always good at driving, but I notice that sometimes I start to slip, misjudge things, etc. Sometimes I spend too much time looking in one direction while backing up (like out of a parking spot), at the expense of the other directions. Banged my side mirror really bad one day because of that! Whoops! I’ve decided that I’m only going to drive older pickup trucks, because when I scratch them it won’t devastate me as much ❤️

          There’ll come a day when I’ll probably have to stop driving and take the transit system (which, well, I’m in the US, so that could be iffy). Or maybe we’ll have to make sure to live in a place with excellent public transit. (I would prefer to take public transit! That would be so much less stress!) ❤️

          I hope everything goes well for you from here on! 💜💜

          Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow, thank you so much for your kind words! Nice to meet you! Asperger’s/autism is a big vast place. So happy I could help! 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you dear! I completely understand about the capacity thing. I’m nearing mine as well 😊. Take care of You first ❤️❤️

      Like

      1. Yep! Lots of mysterious bruises. I’ll be like “how did that get there??” I don’t even remember getting it lol 😊❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Its funny how things click into place once you know the ‘why’. All the stupid things i did (and sometimes hated about me), the weird habits. My “Londonitis” – the exhausting fallout from having been in cities and crowded places, particularly London which I hate. The fact I couldnt sleep in the same bed as someone I was in a relationship with, something that caused serious arguments and offence on their part. I have since read thats a common ‘symptom’, its not just me (yay!) although I doubt it would have calmed the waters if the real reason had been known. Strangely its not an issue with Aspie husband, maybe two Aspies cancels it out (!), who knows, more likely both understand the unsaid “dont touch me when im asleep” rule. All my strange ways can suddenly be explained in an ‘aha!’ moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “All my strange ways can suddenly be explained in an ‘a-ha’ moment.”

      👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. Yep! That’s exactly how I experience(d) it, too. A really (too-)nice, (too-)neat little package 😉💞🌺

      Like

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