Today I am disjointed. I wanted to write about spoon theory and explain my day, but it slipped away from me.
I wanted to write about interviews and work, but the words wouldn’t come.
Today I am a disjointed person.
I have done too much. I have used up my spoons. I am flat and unimpressed by the world. Today is for coasting. For existing. For getting through the day with the bare minimum of everyone being clothed, fed, watered and sane.
As with all things, life is unpredictable. Times of running on empty often occur at times when more is needed from you.
After a month of visitors and events and duties, I am tired.
Normally when I plan things I will plan for down time. I will plan for times when I will not see people, I will not have to put my brain into overdrive. I will be comfortable and familiar.
But there wasn’t the time.
Some things were necessary for other people, other things were necessary for me. I chose not to miss out on the things I wanted to do, just because I’d be tired from the things I had to do.
I don’t want to miss out on living.
But that’s left me here.
Feeling empty and still. Like I’m lying on the bottom of a clear pond on my back, looking up at the world as it carries on. So near and so busy, but so far from the chill stillness of where I lie.
Tomorrow will be different. Today I will conserve, and tomorrow I will rebound.
I wish that there was more balance to autism. I wish there wasn’t a cost.
I love people. I love talking and putting the world to rights. I love interacting. I love laughing. But it exhausts me.
It sounds like such a cop out, doesn’t it? It exhausts me?
Last week I was in a room with four neurotypicals. We were watching a clip and working out the meaning. At the end of it someone said, “That was exhausting!” And they all agreed.
I agreed too. It had been.
But it was no more exhausting than any other interaction. I smiled to myself because for once I was sharing that experience with neurotypicals. We’d all done the same thing. We’d all felt the same exhaustion. It was fascinating.
The class is learning British Sign Language. It’s great, but we’re all beginners. The clip was a couple of minutes of a man describing changes to his home.
One woman mentioned how difficult it was to concentrate on his lips, his expression, his hand movements, and the position of his hands all at once. She moved her hands as she spoke, gesturing and emphasising, grimaced and smiled, furrowed her brows, her intonation moved about the place. Her eyes flicked from place to person.
We all agreed.
That’s interaction. That’s every interaction. Always. None of them know I’m autistic. I’m just another person in the class. They don’t know that the level of concentration I put into that clip, was the same level of concentration I use on them. They were exhausted after such a short time.
It left me feeling validated. Here were these neurotypicals struggling with communication and body language because it was foreign to them. Here we were all sharing my problem. Here we were, tired for the same reason.
Verbally I am an expert. But most communication isn’t verbal. I have to concentrate and try to decipher you.
If we share a sense of humour, have similar personalities, enjoy the same sort of language, it won’t be too arduous. I can use my personality to assume what you mean. I won’t always be right, but even if I’m not, you’ll tell me. I’ll enjoy talking to you.
There is one person I see quite regularly, who I know I’ll always try to avoid. I’ve just realised why. He’s a nice person. No different to many, but he has a deadpan humour combined with a very different world view to me, and a very different idea of what is funny. A perfect storm.
I cannot ever tell the difference between his jokes and his conversation. They’re identical to me. I’ll only find out when I’ve responded incorrectly.
I have no frame of reference for him. I don’t want to offend him. I have to concentrate particularly hard, and I don’t want to. It’s not fun. I’m not getting anything out of it. It’s just tiring me out.
Other people can work out when he’s joking, there must be some tell, some movement, some subtle expression. But all I have is the words and their context. If I don’t find it funny how can I know it’s a joke?
Today is the cost of yesterday. Today is the payment. Today is me paying my dues for my duty and my fun.
This week I learned that we’d all be exhausted if we had to concentrate to communicate. It was a good lesson.
There will be more duty. There will be more fun. But for now I’m just waving as the world passes, from the bottom of my pool.