Trying to Fly Lest I Die Alone

My year has taken a sharp, unexpected turn.  In my planning for a year where I solve my trajectory problems, it seems the universe decided I should first deal with my past.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, except that most of my unresolved issues from the past involve either large sums of money or large sums of emotional stress.  Dealing with my past is a much bigger burden than running from it, and I suppose it is time for me to tighten the belt, as they say.  
 
Honestly, I was focused on the injustice of it all.  I had made up my mind that involving people in my life was the primary cause of my stress.  I was angry with people in my past for their lack of obligation to my family, for their lies, for their deception and for the fact that they were off living stable, sustainable lives while I was left to clean up the mess.  Financial struggles are a strange animal.  Some days I feel I can’t breathe and that I am moments away from having everything taken from me.  Other days, I really just don’t care anymore.  Instead of cowering, I strut around with this bold, cavalier attitude of, “Come get me assholes!  Take it all and relieve me of the worry!”  There seems to be no middle road for my feelings toward debt.
I spent a few informative hours with my good friends last weekend after a very full week of family holiday visits and travel.  We discussed a paralyzing fear that intermittently stonewalls my daily functioning, usually after a traumatic experience.  The trigger event, this time, was a dirty jerk on vacation who decided I should be followed and called like some kind of animal.  The event was frightening beyond any I had experienced in many years, thus opening up a black jar in my mind where I had stashed the pain of my past.  Though black jars are effective for hiding pain from the minds eye, the pain is never properly sorted.  Frightening encounters that creep into my solitude, wearing familiar colors and scents, can break open the black jar.  The ensuing battle is an emotional armageddon.
The final catalyst is this underlying urge to journey west.  Since leaving LA a year ago, I cannot seem to think of anything else.  My body is slowly consumed by this desire to live in the bustling city of arts, film and creativity.  Out west, the shore sings in pleasant keys, the ground vibrates in even tones and all of this is in total synchronicity with my own biorhythmic symphony.  Much like the albatross, I was once queen of the sky, until I crashed landed, breaking my wing.  As a bird who broke her wing long ago, I have not yet harnessed the idea that I could fly again, if I would only trust my feet to leave the ground.
 
With collection calls 10 to 15 times a day, funds falling short of day to day living costs, broken black jars and wrought with a desire to fly again, it is no wonder that I relapsed through night terrors this past week.  I think even people of the neurotypical variety would struggle to press together all these layers into a coherent fabric.  All I am trying to do is set my children up for the adventurous life they deserve and to avoid a life where I die alone.

Discovering How I Feel

Imagine you are in your room.  It is quiet and comfortable.  As you slip off to sleep you are confident you are safe in your own bed, among your own things.  After a sound sleep, you awake to a pitch black room – a darkness so dark, not even this smallest bit of moonlight creeps in, so void of light that your ears ring.  You are frightened.  Your sudden awareness that you have awoken in an unfamiliar space is so invasive that you cannot decide to move or sit still.  Knowing the end of your pain is only in the discovery of its origin, you place your feet on the floor and stand.  You stretch your arms out and like the blind, you feel your way around the walls.  Your hands follow the lines of the furniture, a bed, a dresser, a chair – slowly painting a mental picture of what the space you are trapped in must look like in the light.  You feel around for a light switch, a door, a lamp – anything that might give you sight.  Your palms sweat.  Your mind wanders. But you eventually find the door.  The light bursts in and you discover that you fell asleep at home, and awoke in someone else’s bedroom.  How did you get there? Why did it come so sudden? These are questions you cannot answer, but the mere fact you are in such an intimate place as another persons bedroom, means you must find out how and why.
This process of waking up blind in another bedroom is how I experience emotions.  The emotions come suddenly, with no real definition.  I must feel around, tracing an image in my mind, hoping I can discover what it is.  Yet once I learn what the emotion is and the light comes bursting in, I still have to find out where it came from and why.  
People, like me, with autism must put tremendous effort into bonding emotion with understanding.  This is why it angers me when people with autism are accused of laking empathy. It is not that we do not feel empathetic, but rather that accessing that emotion in any real reaction time is excruciatingly difficult. This process is only eased by the patience of those around us, the extension of unconditional love and the freedom to release through our special interests.  So the next time you want to know how someone with autism feels about you, don’t ask them to show you with words and body language.  Rather, let them show you in their own way.
Today, ask someone with autism to take you on an adventure in their world.
Laura Nadine