Seriously. I am now, apparently, closely related to the undead. Mind you this could explain my obsession with ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and a general inclination towards things dark and vampiric. I particularly liked the character Spike, and especially his humour – though his appearance was nothing to sneeze at either! (No, I’m not sure myself exactly what that expression means – in fact, when you look at it literally, it’s positively meaningless!) Let’s face it, when you’re one of the undead, neither wholly one thing nor another, you’ve got to have a highly developed sense of humour – to go with the other highly developed senses.
It could also explain my disinclination for going outside during the day; an aversion to sunlight, which I used to have to an extreme degree when I was a child; and what used to be an unhealthily pallid complexion, which made me look as if I was terminally ill. (Now, thankfully, I just look pale and interesting!)
And then, of course, there’s the fact that I’ve never been much of a one for showing spontaneous displays of emotion: “as animated as a dead dog” is a blunt but often apt description of my general demeanour. As I now understand it this is not due to me being some kind of emotionally crippled automaton, despite what some people might believe. It is, in fact, yet another of those “quirks” of being autistic – my processing speed for everything is slower than that of a non-autistic, and my system just can’t deal with more than one thing at a time.
And when it comes to feelings, which never seem to arrive singly but rather in gangs (which leave me feeling as if I’ve been mugged!), you’d best multiply the average person’s speed by a hundred to calculate how slow I am, especially when my mind gets involved in the process of trying to work out what I’m experiencing. It’s like looking for a snowflake in the Arctic!
Basically everything I experience is out of synch: so whatever might occur today to induce an emotional response will not come to the surface until some time later - and later can mean anything from a few days up to a few years! And then, when it does hit me, I end up running round in my mind like a blue-arsed fly trying to figure out why I’m feeling so emotional when there’s been absolutely nothing going on to provoke such a reaction. Is it any wonder I would spend a large proportion of my time feeling wiped out by obsessively hunting for the reason, not to mention from the unnamed emotion itself. And the amount of times I put it down to PMS – which necessitated it being re-named to include not only Pre but also Post in the title!
But when I do experience feelings then the range and depth is staggeringly... limited! At least that’s how it seems: I can never find the right words to describe my emotional state, and they often all just appear to merge into one (the emotions not the words, though sometimes this can apply to both!). Apparently my default setting veers between worry and anxiety, manic enthusiasm, or gloom and despondency. I’m either at one extreme or the other, and I only hit the middle for a nanosecond as I go skidding by on my way either up or down. Who needs drugs when you’ve got an in-built facility for altering your own state of mind?!
As to the allusion to being one of the undead, it occurred whilst I was endeavouring to do the impossible, yet again, in trying to explain my Asperger’s to someone. You’d think I would have learned by now that it’s a totally futile waste of time and energy to keep on attempting to communicate to people what is the very essence of being autistic – my inability to communicate with people!! How ludicrous is that? Is it any wonder that non-autistics get confused by me as I proceed to talk in a coherent manner, and pronounce myself unable to express myself?!
And therein lies the problem: I can speak English. Depressingly, in fact, I can speak it very well. Unfortunately, as a means for conveying what I mean it’s a total bloody washout: I might just as well be speaking Martian, though I’m sure there’d still be some well-intentioned neurotypical insisting that they thought they knew what I meant, and that they felt exactly the same: “After all, we live in the same solar system, so we’re all basically the same under the skin, aren’t we?”!
Blundering “once more unto the breach” (more Shakespeare!), I was endeavouring to explain how I pick up other peoples’ feelings (not to be confused with feeling empathy, which I don’t do) – like animals, when they sense danger or can tell when someone is afraid of them, for example. Instinct, or sixth sense. The problem is when I don’t know that that’s what it is, and I find myself walking around experiencing a whole gamut of emotions which I can’t source or name, and that don’t belong to me. Inevitably I end up obsessing and analysing myself into a hole as I mistakenly take ownership of this seething mass of energy, and those to whom these rampantly raging and rampaging emotions belong walk away free, having discharged their shit out into the universe for me to step in. It’s one of the things I hate about neuro-typicals – they have no sense of boundaries!
During the course of the conversation, having mentioned how I’d realised that the fear which I kept feeling around one of my neighbour’s was not mine but his, the person to whom I was talking offered me a helpful suggestion. He said that whenever I found myself “feeding off” other peoples’ negative feelings I should just think about how happy he, his wife, and other people are.
And, basically, that was it. Oh, and I should listen to some Elvis Presley! Of course I simply stood there dumbfounded whilst this astonishing piece of wisdom embedded itself in my mind, ready for me to unearth and analyse later on. I also smiled. I’ve found it’s often the only recourse I have when engaging with members of the alternate human race.
I really despair sometimes at having ever bothered learning to speak, and especially at having taken such an interest in English grammar, being concerned to get it exactly right so that people don’t misunderstand what I say or mean. What is the point of grammar when, as far as I can see, the majority of the population disregard it completely, and just make things up willy-nilly as they go along? If you mention grammar to most people here in Yorkshire they assume you’re talking about a little old lady in a rocking chair!
Just to clarify: I don’t pick up feelings through my mind, so it’s a bit bloody pointless trying to change what are not my emotions anyway by changing my thoughts! My thoughts are not the problem, in this case – it’s the fact that I don’t seem to have a deflector shield for free-floating negative energy. I am a fluff magnet!! The part my mind has to play in the whole deal is in believing that it all belongs to me, and then driving me wappy trying to work out what and why and when, and on and on, ad infinitum. And of course I never find the end because there’s actually no beginning – it’s all come from outside of me, and it’s none of my bloody business!
I think it might be preferable to be a vampire sometimes: at least they get to choose whose blood they’ll suck, and they can always spit it out! I’m not able to choose whose energy I suck up, and it’s a bit bloody (ha ha ha, no pun intended) difficult to spit out what you can’t see!!
"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.
"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."
From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama
"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."