I suppose I’ve been in sort of a cocoon lately. To transform into what, I don’t quite know yet. I’m not even exactly certain that that’s what I’ve been doing. But, that’s what it feels like at times. Alexithymia is multi-dimensional, I guess; I’m not sure it’s limited to emotions. In fact, it might pertain to multiple areas of thought and feeling. Especially when thoughts and feelings blur.
Thoughts these days.
I’m also not sure exactly why this particular time is an introspective one for me. I do have the feeling that I’m standing on the edge, just barely able to make out some shape on the horizon. I can’t yet tell what it is. Not only is it hard to tell, but it would be even harder to try to express.
I know many of you may be able to relate.
Words can be so cumbersome anyway. It occurred to me to explain my own Asperger’s/autistic brain to my mother (a neurotypical/NT person) in this way…
Imagine, please, non-AS person, that there’s a movie playing, one you’ve never seen before, but for some reason you cannot see the video. You can hear the sound, but that’s the only sensory information you’re getting about the video. Perhaps the TV is facing away from you. Or perhaps you’re visually impaired. Or maybe there’s a wall in the way. Or the TV picture isn’t working but the audio part is. Or something.
So you can hear the motorcycles revving or the gunshots going off or the rock music playing during a high-adrenaline scene (sorry, I’ve been binge-watching “Sons of Anarchy” on our new Netflix account, and I think it shows), but that’s all you know about what’s going on. The sound is there, but the video has been stripped away.
When all you can do is listen to a video, you know that there is information you’re not able to receive. There’s a loss of the information that’s been stripped away. You feel the void, the assumption on the part of the producers that different elements of the package will carry their own weight, but there are only so many assumptions you can make about the picture your brain forms about what’s going on in the movie when just using the sound alone.
Imagine now, that you’re completely blind and have never seen blue sky or clouds before. You’ve never seen a motorcycle or a mountain or a desert (there’s that “Sons” influence again lol). If you’re blind, then you probably have other circuitry in your brain that has wired itself stronger and more efficient in order to process information in other ways beyond that of the visual. But the information that comes through your sensory nervous system isn’t the same as that of others.
I’m going to switch gears here, and then tie it all together soon…
Spoken/written words are our communication. They are how humans share information with each other. Yet, so much of my life and my brain and who I am might not be able to be expressed in words. The words might not exist. Or if they do, I might not be able to find them.
So when trying to express myself to someone, all they hear is the “audio” portion. They can’t see the “movie” playing in my head. The “movie” consists of the multidimensional thoughts. For me, the feelings of deja vu, intuitive guidance, random connections between divergent concepts, the fleeting scanning of the environment around me, the linkage of current events to past memories, maybe even past lives, and so on. I have thoughts that I cannot express. My world is a dreamy, misty, sometimes mystical, and sometimes cobwebbed place. Most people don’t live in that realm. Many are even afraid to go there.
I might say something like “it’s a nice day”, and yet in my mind, I might be feeling pangs back to a past life in Egypt, simply because the nearly-Full Moon might be visible in a morning sky. Or I might look at a huge orange rising moon and feel a magnetic pull to some ancient concept of nomadic Europe and fairie/elven folklore and try to wait out an intense craving to read J.R. Tolkien’s books once and for all, because doing so wouldn’t exactly be appropriate while I’m driving or having dinner with a friend.
Yeah, scratch that.
So, they get to hear about my opinion of the nice day or the big moon, but there’s an undercurrent that I can’t shine a light on for others. Especially because…. it passes so quickly. It’s here and gone, and if I wasn’t paying astute attention, I might have missed it myself, like passing through a ghost town consisting of six buildings on the edge of the desert.
What I can express to another human is the “audio”. But the “video” is exclusive to me. My brain is like a video pipeline, a continuous YouTube playlist that never ends. But my mouth is simply a radio. Nothing fancy, just a dial and some speakers, out of which emerge sound–the only source of information and method of its dissemination.
And since I spend so much time deep inside my own recesses, operating in low-energy “safe mode”, conserving my batteries and shunting all my brain power into contemplating the mysteries of the universe, the perspectives of different ancient cultures and all of the common threads they share, and trying to make grand-scale sense of the world around me, all of which happens in milliseconds, trying to let someone in on the fullness and depth of my personal channel would be futile. There’s too much going on and it happens too fast.
So much of the time, I may not even bother. It’s not an insulting affront to the other person; it’s more of a defeated feeling within myself. Too much energy for what would still end-result in incomplete understanding. So most of the time, I don’t try. I simply enjoy, or sometimes wallow in, my own internal pipeline of brain activity. Sometimes it’s a bright and sunny place, and sometimes it’s dark and cavernous. There are mountains and valleys, and lots of pastel-colored plains. There’s always a musical soundtrack.
So, the codekey is this: my brain’s torrent of thoughts and feelings is the full movie in the analogy above. What I can express in words is the audio track. This means that whatever I say has had to be stripped of that which can’t be verbalized.
I’m sure that this is true for many humans, whether on or off the spectrum. And I’m sure there’s probably a higher percentage of people on the spectrum who can relate to this and experience something similar in their own flavor, populating the fields with their own specifics. What I described above is just my own experience, and my own way of describing it.
Communication is a human thing. I have to strip my pipelines down to that which I can verbalize in order to be human and interact with other humans. That’s OK; it’s just that there’s always more to my story. Information that even if I want to share, I find myself unable to.
So if I, an Asperger’s/autistic person, tend to sit and stare in silence, that’s why. And maybe in this phenomenon, too, I’m not alone. 😉