People assume that because generally, I don’t want to go out and socialise, that actually, I never want to go out and socialise. But that’s not strictly true. Usually, admittedly, I really do not want to go out and that’s that. The effort seems far too great and the desire to try, far too little. I don’t have the cognitive or the emotional will needed to battle the anxiety. I need at least one or the other to make the battle worth while. Sometimes I have both…
Let me explain, in the majority of instances, I go out for cognitive reasons; I don’t want to appear rude, I should make the effort, I didn’t go last time, I should spend more time with the family, it is the right thing to do, what will people think if I don’t go?…etc..etc…etc
I don’t have the emotional will to go. I don’t feel the need to go. I don’t want to go. I just think I should go. So I go, despite myself.
There are other occasions however when I don’t have the cognitive will so much, more the emotional. I may really like the person I am to meet, or feel really excited by the occasion, and despite thinking that I will find it difficult, and despite thinking that I may upset someone or make a fool of myself, and despite thinking that I may be overwhelmed to near mutism upon arrival, I feel I want to go. Inside. S’emotional innit. So I go.
Or I try….
Today we were supposed to attend a small, but important, gathering. I had already been cut-free and ‘allowed’ not to go. I was treated to those immortal and much loved words – it’s not your kind of thing babe, you don’t have to go. Normally this is music to my ears and requires that I immediately embrace the person – sort of like an RSVP with touching groins. Not this time though.
This time, I had the cognitive will AND the emotional will. This is the golden combo for the Aspie. I should go and I want to go. DA-DAH! It’s like a solar eclipse baby, happens once in a blue moon.
EVERYONE LISTEN UP – DADDY IS FUNCTIONING IN A WAY THAT PLEASES US.
So the dye was cast. Seven days and counting. I had one week notice to get my head around it, because even though I wanted to go on both counts, now I just had to deal with actually going.
One week is my perfect preparation window for going out. Less than one week and I’m anxious and feel unprepared. I don’t necessarily think a lot about it in that week, it just exists in my head and becomes familiar. It pops up in my brain over the 7 days. It makes me wince. It makes me exhale to steady myself. I am preparing.
More than one week and it seems too far away to contemplate and becomes meaningless amongst the myriad of pitfalls that I must navigate in this week. It gets lost. I forget about it. Then it arrives and I am surprised and annoyed and prone to misbehaviour. One week notice. Perfect.
Where there’s two wills and a week, there’s a way!
And yet here I am. On my own. They have gone and I am alone, again. Left behind and missing out. I can’t seem to stop it from happening. I know that I have failed. I know I am failing. I should be there with them, not here with no-one. Dumbass.
That’s the paradox you see, I covet being on my own and angle towards it like a needy beacon, and yet right here, right now, I want to be with them.
To be completely honest, I am not sure I actually feel that, but I definitely think it. I know I should not be sitting here on my own, whilst my family are out living their lives. The sun is shining and they will be having a lovely time without me. I am missing out. ARSE.
But here’s the real messed up sticky yo. If they turned up on the doorstep now, after turning the car around to come and get me because they love me and miss me so much; despite my cognitive admissions; despite this feeling like a failure malarky, I probably still wouldn’t go. S’up with THAT?
It’s too late now. I need time to process what’s just happened. To let go of the stress. I need to think it through, to process the emotions that are overwhelming my ass right now.
I can’t just move on. I can’t just forget it. I don’t know how to let it go. Everything has to be processed. I am not trying to be awkward or to drag things out. Everything has to move through me and out the other side.
Currently it is inside me, consuming me. Until I process it, it won’t leave me alone. It has to run its course. I have no choice in this. It takes as long as it takes. If I try to carry out without processing this; if I try to pretend I’m ok to please you, we are heading for disaster. Trust me. The full blown meltdown will happen.
Let me process this. I need this cognitive and emotional purge. I need to be alone. I need no distractions. Distractions infuriate me and pull me off course. I need to do THIS.
I think about what I did. I try to work out where I went wrong? Nowadays, we just assume that it’s me that went wrong. (This sucks).
Well, I did what I always do when I’m stressed. I cleaned the kitchen and I showered.
During my shower, I started to feel the old I-don’t-want-to-go’s. It’s the fear. Come out, come out wherever you are…..
I really did want to go, but the anxiety was kicking in. So I started to ask questions…
I ask questions to try and keep the anxiety at bay. I think. I ask questions to try and shore up my existence. When I’m anxious, cognitive functioning often suffers, I find thinking hard, so I ask questions to try and anchor myself onto something. I’m hoping to be offered some surety I guess?
Sometimes, I ask dumb questions, finding comfort in hearing an answer that makes sense; hearing the answer that I expect; the answer that I already know. This shores up my world, a bit.
So I started asking questions of my wife, who was brushing her teeth, and kindly stealing all of my shower water in little short bursts.
What time are we coming home? Who exactly will be there? What will I do while you are busy? When are we eating? Why do we need to be there so early? And on and on and on…
My wife does her best, but she clearly doesn’t get it. Why should she? She’s juggling three kids and the last thing she needs (or deserves) is a nobhead with ASD. She answers my questions in ways that don’t make sense to me. The ones that do make sense, don’t suffice. In my time of need, which is nigh, I need total clarity, precision, absolutes. But it evades me.
And then I realise, there is no plan. She is making her responses up on the spot, the fly-by-night bohemian that she is! She has no idea what will happen, who exactly will be there, what time we’ll …. etc etc etc, because she doesn’t think like that. She doesn’t need to. She hasn’t thought me through. And why should she?
I am preparing to walk, alone, into completely unfamiliar and un-navigated terrain, and no-one has got my back. It will be me, surrounded by random events and conversations with people I don’t know very well.
Having to engage in meaningless chit-chat about who-knows-what, with who-know-who, for God knows how long, is akin to red hot pokering my very own, very private and highly revered anus. I avoid it with all my might.
My anxiety goes in to overdrive, and as my wife starts to loose her patience with me and my questioning, I fall back to aggression, because I am a DUFUS.
I know that I use aggression to mask my feelings of fear and failure. Feelings that my stupid male psyche won’t let me access until after the event. I know all of this, and yet, THERE SHE BLOWS.
The next thing I know, I am being told not to come and I am shouting FINE and she is shouting GOOD and then in the blink of an eye, I am sitting alone at the kitchen table. It was easier for them to just leave me behind. Less hassle. Less to worry about. I can’t blame them.
I fight the cognitive sadness. I think the guilt. I begin the purge.
We each needed something in that steamed up bathroom, something that neither of us could give the other. And so we spend the day apart. Again. Most likely missing each other, but not quite sure what to do about it.
The hour before the time to go, is the flashpoint. That is the zone in which I seem to be most prone to loose it. No amount of preparation appears to help. I just need patience, understanding and help. That’s a big ask from a man who misbehaves huh?
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