Common on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum is the occurrence of Alexithymia, or the difficulty with identifying and expressing emotions. During the first steps of my journey of self-discovery through my freshly-realized autistic lens, I had no idea that I was among the Alexithymic.
In the earliest stages of learning, you don’t know what you don’t know.
And I didn’t know. I didn’t even think to question whether or not I was having trouble identifying and expressing my thoughts and emotions, because I assumed (there’s that word again) that I was successfully identifying everything that was there. I knew if I was happy, sad, scared, angry, wistful, grieving, remorseful, euphoric, excited, and so on.
I really thought I had a bead on things.
The second steps of learning often involve discovering aspects of oneself that one was not previously aware of.
The realization, for me, was gradual. I slowly became aware that there were indeed Other Feelings, percolating under the surface. It’s like standing on the surface of the earth; scientifically, we know that underneath that surface is a molten core. But unless we’re standing on or near a volcano when it blows, our feet don’t get burned.
So, I’ve realized that I’ve come to rely on external cues, clues, and signals to mirror my inner core back to me. It’s like having my own personal seismometer; external reflections give me data about what’s percolating under my surface.
I call them barometers. Watching them, I can sense subtle changes in my weather patterns before a storm hits. Usually. Maybe. They may not be perfect, but they’re better than flying in the dark without instruments, like I had been before.
For instance, I can measure the wellbeing of different aspects of my life by examining a few external bio markers.
I can tell if my headspace is healthy by what appears on my über-algorithmic Facebook feed.
I can tell how productive and constructive I’ve been by checking which of my iPhone Notes rank near the top (opened most recently) of my Notes file list.
I can tell what I’m feeling by my search strings and music playlists.
I’m sure that as life progresses, as it always does, more barometers will show themselves and install themselves in my collection of external signaling devices.
As I’ve said before, about many a topic: “it’s a process”. 🙂
(Image credit: Marco Stavric)