Aspie women compelled to “fix things”

In the tail wind of my recent Asperger’s diagnosis and with the chance to freshly observe my behaviours as a parent while my daughter is at home for a while, I have begun noticing some challenging traits in myself, as a parent (just for starters) and in all relationships where I show care for others, that are distinctly Aspie.

For instance, I realise now how I’ve tended to over-worry about her…and then some…compared to other parents, as though she were a particularly challenging child to parent, though I can see that she really hasn’t been; in fact, she would be many people’s dream-child and I am so proud of the way she has turned out. So where has been the challenge; perhaps, in me as an (unwitting) Asperger’s parent? Or in the particular interaction between an Asperger’s parent and a neurotypical child? This disjunct is a strong thread I am finding in the writing of other Asperger’s women.

It’s impossible to compare with how others might have felt about rearing their children, of course, since I’m not them but what I think may have happened to make our relationship seem more intense is this; as the time we are spending together right now is like a microcosm of what was typical for years. For instance, she’s not a morning person; in fact (akin to most teenagers) she can be a complete Jackal and Hyde from one part of the day to another…but I can see how it would be so easy for me to take her morning perspectives more seriously than I should due to my extremely literal take on things as an Aspie. The same applies to any time she is over-tired, overwhelmed by work or life in general….those times when a girl phones her mum to offload. At these moments, I still tend take every word she shares in a more literal way than, probably, most neurotypicals, who would probably take it all with a shovel-full of salt….and so just imagine how problematic that was when she was small, when her unbridled woes about friendship politics and hating a particular teacher came home each day and I probably took it on as a sign she was in real crisis. Many a long letter was composed to teachers since (I smile as I recognise how Aspie this is when most parents would just march into the school for a “quick chat”) I would spew an epistle to them, paining over every word only to cringe over and bitterly regret my over-share later; especially once my daughter announced that all was alright really.

So, whenever she’s aired her dark demons to me, things that she’s deeply worried about, that sounded like they were going heinously “wrong”, or like she was being bullied in some way (of course, all my own wounding around this fed into my over-reactions) I’ve taken it all very literally. I’ve then panicked at the prospect of having to shape-shift her world back into some sort of order for her, as I deemed was “my job” as a parent; doubly hard given my lack of social skills, hatred of confrontation and avoidance of people. Taking her “problem” at its word, I tended to dive in and set into motion some sort of recovery plan, only to find she would later shrugs and says “nah, its OK, there isn’t a problem at all, I’m friends again with (whoever) or the teacher (that was being mean to me) gave me an A*”.

In the light of my Asperger’s, its much easier now to see how I tended to be hypervigilant for a degree of social ineptitude in her that wasn’t always there …one, because I could only relate with how I would feel in the situations she was in (and what other point of reference did I have but my own?) and, two because of this tendency to take everything she told me so literally.

Other phases that came and passed; anxieties around growing up, being more independent, being away from home, were the same phases that other kids went through only I sometimes took them like they were a particular crisis for our child; not least because she was stretching herself into the very same neurotypical range of experiences that I had spent a lifetime avoiding….because they make me feel so uncomfortable. Divining that thin line between what was hers and what was really mine proved all the more challenging without knowing about my Asperger’s tendencies.

Given this thin line, there was probably a degree of cross-polination between her behaviours and mine; by which I mean times when she was more socially anxious and struggling because she had taken me as her role model of how to be social (or not…she didn’t get much experience of adult people coming around to our house when she was little) and where it was me being triggered by her social life because it necessitated I mix more with the parents of children she wanted to be friends with, or have a load of kids around to our house to do the kind of group activities which, for an Aspie like me, are terribly hard and triggering. I would always feel terribly stressed by the prospect of inviting another child out with us, making small talk with the other parents at the party pick-up, or having people sleep over and come over for meals. I confess, I would still find that very hard and am glad to duck out now that school-days are over. The merest sign that she was also struggling with typical social behaviours (as she often would, since her separateness from them through us would mean she remained objective enough to notice where those behaviours fell short…) would leave me feeling drowned in all the hopelessness of “not fitting in” myself plus being responsible for bringing another human being into a world inwhich she frequently declared herself to be “feeling like an alien” as well. There were times when I was actively afraid for her future, knowing how hard I had found life at every step of the game.

Thankfully, with her, there are signs that she is more than a bit of both; that is, enough neurotypical to cope but with sufficient a-typical perspectives, picked up from us, to make things “interesting”. She’s certainly no hard-lined conformer. Watching those same “offload everything” stream of consciousness behaviours in her now, as a young adult, that she had when she was little, I have finally learned to give her space in the mornings as she scowls into her phone or tirades about hating her course… because, later on that same day, she could be full of enthusiasm for those very same things and all my concerns would have been for nothing. Even if they are genuine concerns, I am finally realising she is an adult and I can’t make her life for her; she has to make her own mistakes so all I can do is be a listening ear and a sounding block. The new trick is to be a non-reacting one that no longer takes everything as all the black and white words that seem to come pouring my way. What I lack in picking up on the nuance, I have gained from knowing my daughter so well and have learned to ride out the storm, to see what the morning brings.

One very important thread not to overlook when wrestling with this tangly topic is that Aspie’s often use “demonstration of love” in place of actual declarations and shows. In other words, we try to compensate for our limitations where it comes to demonstrative affection and speaking it out loud, plus a dislike for too much contact and kissing etc, by using the love-demonstration of ”doing things for” other people. Therefore, when an opportunity comes up for us to show our love in a practical way, we may grab it with both hands; using our problem solving skills as a vehicle for our non-spoken declaration of how much we care. “Let me get this for you…” is our equivalent to “I love you”, said without the words. This makes us extra prone to seeking out practical ways of being of help; dare I say it, craving things we can solve for others to show how they mean to us. Noticing this single trait has been a most fruitful exercise in coming to understand myself. Another risk inherent in this trait is that we may strive to do so much for another that we stifle that other’s independence or opportunities to mature into self-responsibility.

Of course, I still have to listen out for running themes where my daughter might genuinely need some help (that part of parenting never ends!) . However, the subtle but constant state of overwhelm I experienced as a parent who was forever trying to “fix her world” for all those years is much easier to understand in the context of my Asperger’s “logical” and “literal” way of taking in information, without access to all the unspoken cues that would have guided me far better as to what to take seriously and what to take with a pinch of salt. Without the advanced ability to interpret non-spoken cues, I was gullible enough to believe at face value everything that I was told, making me a push-over and so I think she also learned how to play me, to get satisfaction from me reacting to certain things, enjoying the thrill of eliciting sympathy and attention whenever she craved it (who can blame her) which, of course, worked like a dream since I would drop everything to be there for her when summoned. This is a common minefield for Aspie’s, who are often taken for granted as the ones who will just keep on coming back for more, even when they have been drawn upon for one-sided sympathy and used as a soft place to land for far too long by particular friends. Of course, a child isn’t to be blamed for making use of this easy-access to sympathy but it can flag up a long-running trend for the adult Aspie who is the subject of this behaviour across the board of their other relationships. Coming to notice it can mark a time of re-evaluating some friendships and even ending those that have been based upon what is, effectively, an abuse of your loving traits.

I assume, neurotypical parents get much better at reading body language and other subtle cues to tell them when there is real problem versus a storm in a teacup but I lacked those skills, try as I might, due to the way I am wired. It makes me wonder how often I was played in other situations, particularly my first marriage, because I lacked the ability to interpret what was being told to me other than quite literally, and also had limited body language skills or “truth detectors” to back me up in this assessment. I was often so gullible and forgiving that I cringe to look back at those years. In that case, however, he was like an overgrown child in his reliance on me, but a nasty one at that, so I was often manipulated quite deliberately and with ill-intent whereas my daughter has just been a child, doing what children do plus putting her needs first is as built into me as it is to any parent. In fact, that marriage ended very quickly once he realised that my care of her would take precedent over my care of him from now on since he was not prepared to share my attention in even the smallest degree. The net result is that I feel like I have been in an almost constant state of “the problems of others” being as fast-flowing towards me and potentially triggering to my Aspie sensibilities as they have been dominant in my life for over thirty years now. There has been no respite from the sense that my world could take a tumble at any moment because the problems of another could suddenly demand all my attention, and this has been as much to do with my perception of my own role as so-called “problem solver” extraordinaire as its been to do with any other party.

Things have altered significantly in the last 12 months since my daughter went to uni, becoming independent enough to make most of her own decisions and even to travel across the world without me. Yes, she’s still an over-sharer and tells me things that would make any parents hair curl or drop out. And yes, I’ve still worried as a parent, across all the miles of distance since that’s what parents do…but it feels like it’s getting somewhat more in proportion now. It also feels like no coincidence that this year has been “clear” enough for me to think into myself sufficiently to reach my Asperger’s diagnosis; it was like I had no time to see the wood for the trees before now and I have had epiphany after epiphany about myself in recent months, now I have space to explore.

I now credit my improving skills in this “detachment” department as much to my Asperger’s diagnosis as to the fact of my daughter giving me some space. Understanding myself as an Aspie has played a HUGE part in being able to make sense of these behaviours, shedding all-new light on my traits as a parent and in all aspects of life. In a sense, it has also become an “if only I’d known sooner” scenario and yet there there is beauty in the advantage of hindsight since there is much to learn from our so-called mistakes. Had parenthood been a breeze, I wouldn’t understand Asperger’s, thus myself, nearly so well as I now do. It comes as a relief to realise that I don’t lack intelligence, nor am I broken in any way…its just that I was trying to operate to a particult set of premises for years when, in my case, they didn’t really apply. I am wired one way, most of the rest of the world is wired another and we have been at cross purposes, which is no different to realising that the French person doesn’t understand the German people because they are speaking a different language. OK, so I am the foreigner in a strange land but that doesn’t mean I cant find other ex-pats of my own ilk and start to enjoy the relief of speaking “my language” for a change, instead of always being the one to reach out into an alien culture.

I realise, with all-new objectivity, that my daughter has always been an over-sharer compared to some children, which is not a criticism and I have always treasured it; even more so now I understand it better. My mum and I were also over-sharers with each other and so I longed for that again; even encouraged it, after my daughter was born…the difference being that I now suspect my mother was also an Aspie so, in a sense, we spoke a secret language made for two and it only added to our intimacy. She also had no challenges around me pushing out into neurotypical behaviours until I was an adult living away from home when (I admit) my desperate efforts to “fit in”, mostly fuelled by alcohol and making poor friendship choices, concerned and involved her far more than they should have and I know she lost a lot of sleep. I used to wonder why she seemed to live for me, almost through me, in a sense and constantly trying to help fix my problems as though they were her own but, in the light of all I just shared, I now regard it as the clearest and most beautiful declaration of love she could have made, expressed in the only way she knew how.

Yes, I regret the awful feelings I now know that she was put through when I told her more than her Aspie self could cope with about the neurotypical world I tried to immerse in as a young adult, but at least it wasn’t when I was in her care as a child. Back in those days, I led a very quiet, introverted life and didn’t push either of our boundaries far except to necessitate her to have to deal with my school from time to time (actually, very little since I was such a “good” child). I can identify the very few times when my mother felt she “had” to get involved on my behalf as being very hard and triggering for; so she tended to go in too loudly, too bluntly and with too little discernment, as when I was being bullied, after which I learned never to tell her again since the situation was only made worse. Once again, it was done as a demonstration of her love!

My daughter, being neurotypical with Aspie parents (my husband is also on the high-functioning end of the spectrum) tried hard to be like we are, keeping herself to herself being the geek but, of course, that wasn’t natural for her all of the time and, in the end, frustrated her, though we didn’t realise until later because she did seem to be quite overwhelmed by social events and chaos or noise when she was little (enough to assume she was a lot like us). By the time she left for uni, she was itching for a much more active social life and she has found one; and Im thrilled for her. Yet she retains the a-typical urge to share every slightest intimacy with her mum in ways that I don’t think are very common at this age, from what I am hearing; at least not in the way we do it. There is no stance taking, no hidden agenda or judgement between us, no typical parent-and child roleplaying…we just allow and make space for “venting” to happen, seeing what comes up (as long as I don’t allow myself to get triggered by the need to fix anything) and these are all qualities that I set a precedent for.

You could say, I taught her an Aspie life-skill!

Yes, I have compared notes with my sister, who has (in many ways) a very similar daughter, and with the one friend I have had through the child-rearing years whose daughter is also passingly similar, and both seem surprised at how much we still share. I hear, most girls cease that degree of intimacy around puberty yet we only got closer. To this day, I hear it all, from every deepest, most technical concern about her course work to the intimacies of friendships and romantic relationships (she often trails off with “I don’t know why Im telling you all this…”) and I honestly think its my Aspie tendencies which invite this degree of trust and openness. I’m like a levelling ground, a rational, non-judgemental table onto which she can offload all her stuff in order to gain some sort of clarity and no-agenda feedback. In that sense, I invite it and its lovely that she can feel so trusting of me; that I can be of service to her just by being there for her and also it offers me a degree of female intimacy that has eluded me “out there” in the world at large.

The “issue”, as before, has been this overbearing tug to “solve” her problems; to even assume she wants me to help to fix them…which no one can do for another person, least of all someone with completely different wiring, involved with characters and situations that are way beyond my specialisms since I have avoided them all my life. I simply wouldn’t have ever had most of these kinds of problems in my own life since I would have avoided the situation (party lifestyle, career-oriented degree course, extroverted friends, outlandish travel scenario etc) that gave rise to it. Sometimes, I can relate from the point in my life when I had more friends , tried to be more dare-devil and socialised a great deal more; but then I was trying hard to be neurotypical at the time whereas she really is that way so, again, its hard to feel of use from my different perspective. In fact, I find it quite triggering to have to think myself back into situations involving friendship politics and drinking too much, decisions around careers that are far too scary for me to comprehend or travelling all alone in foreign places. My daughter stretches me way out of my comfort zone all the time, so I have to pull back from this desire to “fix” anything for her since it would be way too much for me now. It would be like living an alternate life to the one I have so-carefully crafted to suit me and my Aspie wiring. So, I’ve learned at last that I can only go so deep into another’s perspective before it gets too much for me and then I have to withdraw. Better still, I remain interested, caring but neutral from the outset.

Because, again, I see how I have “taken on” this problem solver role for other adult people, with other ways of seeing things to mine, too many times before. When my first husband told me, bare faced and without mincing his words just after we met (I can recall exactly where we were at the time), that he didn’t believe in love or that a loving, honest, kind, respectful and lasting relationship was possible with another person…since he believed that all people were manipulative, grasping, broken and self-interested at heart…I took that on as a challenge! Thirteen years later, I was ragged with the effort of trying to fix his problems and wished I hadn’t taken it all on; he was still a non-believer and I had made concession after concession to try and bring him round to love, demonstrating with my actions, to no avail except to expose myself to a great deal of abuse.

I can’t help noticing how the “emotional fixer” type seems to be the female Aspie version of the typical male Aspie stereotype: the practical problem solver. My brother has those traits (he was the “little scientist” child…who became the actual scientist later) and it’s a family joke that if we cant “build” something straight out the packet, we hand it to hm. One Christmas, we bought my daughter the giant marble run that she had caught sight of in a catalogue, only none of us could fathom all the bits that tipped out of the huge box, along with the many pages of complicated instructions. So we waited for my brother to visit on Boxing Day and he completely lost himself to the task for several hours, to the dismay of his wife as he wouldn’t go home until it was built, stable and running perfectly…probably with improvements. Well, that’s how I tend to be when handed a psychological conundrum, whether its my own or someone else’s. I set about it in the most single-minded fashion and keep my head down on the task until it starts to get somewhere…

This urge turns somewhat sickly when the focus is all the apparrently unsolvable stuff or, quite literally,  everyone else’s “stuff” in the form of world problems that take my mind over. When I truly recognise that there is no limit to how many of these conundrums I will take on “as my own”…that I will make all the problems in the world, in a sense, “mine” to worry about then I know I am in deep water and I think I first relised this about 8 or 9 years ago when someone else flagged it up to me (I was too blinkered to see it). You have a kind of energetic umbilical cord to the world, I was told, only it seems to be in reverse as it sends all its heavy stuff to you…and you keep on taking it!

I knew she was right; I suspect I sometimes put more thought into all the problems of this world in one day than some people put into a lifetime. This is where having the world on your shoulders can become an Aspergers reality, taken so literally it makes you feel unwell; a heavy weight that you wake up to each morning (and I mean that as literally as it comes). The link between Asperger’s and chronic pain or fatigue is one I intend to study further since it seems so obvious to me. Asperger’s also has a well documented link to mirror-touch synesthesia (which I have – see my post Mirror Mirror) which is to feel another pain as your own…and mine got stronger after I became a parent, as I wrote about before. I am also intrigued by the cross-over of “over feeling” Aspie traits with the Myers Briggs introverted stacks and will write about that in another post.

It is clear to me now that I have always had this tendency to regard all the worlds problems to be my own and to want so desperately to fix them, like I “have to” do something innovative (since the old ways clearly don’t work), which I have yet to come up with. What a burden to carry! The news, when it comes in, feels like my news so I have had to limit my daily access to this or I would go potty. There are changes I long to see take place in this struggling world, which seem so obvious to me as priority actions, though few other people appear to be prepared to give them time of day; and, in fact, I won’t rest easy until I have, so that has pretty-much guaranteed me a lifetime of no rest, no peace of mind if I continue in the belief. The result is that I’m exhausted…far more exhausted than can be explained by my physical contribution to the world…so I haven’t got very far in achieving my vision!

So, here’s another paradox about the Aspie stereotype…since people tend to regard us as stoic, emotionless and decidedly unaffected by things but, the truth, is we feel very much indeed and are often far more connected to others than we appear to be when measured by the number of our friends. Whilst we may not relate to the cognitive emotions of the collective (those things that drive their behaviours…their motivations, priorities and methods) we still receive, loud and clear, the screamingly shrill frequency of all the emotional mess they are in as this world sinks deeper into the current maelstrom; the signal of all their panic as they collectively cry out for help. We can easily relate to the sense of overwhelm and the desperate need to get back some sort of equilibrium…and not just for other humans but for all living things since we don’t experience the same rock-solid boundary of distinction around our species as neurotypicals seem to have conveniently guarding theirs. So we often feel deeply disturbed by the problems of the masses and the state of the planet, of the ecosystem, of all of nature and every other species that is being impacted by the sorry mess we have got ourselves into. Not only do we feel it all but like we have to fix all these issues, to make it all alright for everyone…before we can be truly at peace ourselves. This is a lifetime-long burden for many of us, one which only contributes to our sensory overwhelm, and it doesn’t tend to go away with a bit of counselling!

The thing is, trying to fix things for people with whom you share so few relatable experiences is so very hard, as I keep on demonstrating with my daughter, as her life choices become more diverse from mine. Via her, I’ve shown myself that the only way forwards is to assume that it helps her to offload and for me to be the non-judgemental listening ear (without feeling I must “fix” things) which earns me some trust and gains her some release. I then contribute by interjecting some fresh, logical, a-typical approaches when I can…and she loves me for this. For all we have had many a moment when she’s announced “you just don’t understand….” (no, I don’t!), we have had just as many or more when she has declared that my fresh approach has really helped her in ways that she can’t gain access to from any of her neurotypical friends since they also live inside the problem and cant see out of it.

Our intimate life-long connection and my particular wiring make me quite unique as her go-to “friend in a crisis”. (As as sideline, this demonstrates how Aspie woman can make such marvellous intimate friends to those who are prepared to work with, and not try to alter, their Aspie traits.) Time and again, I’ve watched her inject some fresh new life into an old sticking point on the back of the unique and detached viewpoints I’ve offered (a living example of the old adage that you can only solve the problems of the old paradigm by bringing in fresh perspectives from outside of that paradigm…) . Often, it takes her going away with my solution and sitting on it for a while, unpacking it slowly, making it her own and mixing it up with her own viewpoints until she’s more comfortable with it in; only then unleashing it into whatever thing is feeling so stuck in her life. So, in brief, we’ve invented a kind of team work where, for all she scoffs at me for being so “weird” she also comes to me first for the fresh-approaches and broader perspectives that allow her to shift paradigms with no small amount of new grace. I’m not sure she notices the beauty of this as much as I do but one day she might.

Perhaps this is what Aspie women offer to the world at large as we sail more deeply into these choppy seas as a collective. The world may not think it wants or needs our “weird” perspectives, may declare that we don’t really understand and that we should go back to our peculiar obsessions and keep our geeky noses out of mainstream affairs….but then, maybe, just maybe, they will start to unpack some of the a-typical words we are saying and notice how they offer something fresh to some stale very old situations. Greta Thunberg springs to mind, of course, as the young female Aspie who is making quite a few people sit up and take note with her uber direct way of delivering hard but necessary truths that are often quite uncomfortable for mainstream to hear. There is no doubt in my mind or, I think, hers that it is her Asperger’s that underlies the enormous tenacity, clarity, gutsiness and self-belief applied to the task of taking on this enormous challenge, as she has done, and not even an adult yet. As she says, ten years ago she was lonely and depressed in her bedroom, fixated on the same unpopular lines of thought that she is, now (far more usefully), turning outward into a world that desperately needs to hear them. While she attracts huge amounts of criticism, you could equally observe that she had no friends to lose and is gaining a far bigger audience whilst furthering a cause that she feels passionately about; one which affects the whole of the world. If people would only listen more closely, she also offers fresh solutions or at least a way forwards and this is all born out of her Aspie traits. In my opinion, she demonstrates so beautifully how we can all “do things” with our Aspie perspectives…on whatever scale feels most comfortable for us; mainly, that we don’t have to feel so inert, unheard and unwanted as long as we are prepared to offer what we have to at least someone that needs to hear it.

A child is an obvious choice which is why parenthood can be a wake up call for those Aspie women who had assumed they were destined for a life of non-involvement, private thoughts and solitude. Nope, parenthood comes knocking and keeps knocking at your door, altering you forever. It also gives you confidence, and allows you to grow skills of discernment so that…going forwards…you realise its not about having to “fix” the problems of others but about offering up fresh perspective and allowing them to choose whether to take them (or not). If you keep on offering and they still slam it in your face then, for heavens sake, don’t exhaust yourself as I once did for over a decade but move on. You can lead a horse to water…etc. Parenthood, by comparison, is proving to be vastly more rewarding in my case but I can imagine how this isn’t always they case and, again, the same applies to those Aspie’s whose children don’t get them at all. Don’t give yourself away to the point of depletion, make your own Aspie needs pivotal to your life (just as we should all make self-care central to our lives, Aspie or not).

The gift for ourselves is to start to claw back our state of deep inner peace as we come to realise that we are not responsible for others. We might feel and care for them more than they will ever know, or than we can adequately demonstrate in other ways, but taking that “I must make this better” imperative out of the equation can defuse the tension around a situation, whether it is large (as in, our sense of involvement with the whole of the planet) or small (the relationships we have with our most intimate people). As I said above, Aspie’s often seek to demonstrate their love through actions since they are less adept at all the usual love-declaration behaviours used by neurotypicals (some, I read, even struggle to say “I love you”, which I really don’t anymore, having practiced it, but I was brought up in a household where it simply never happened). What we need to teach ourselves is this universal truth; love yourself first, so demonstrate it to yourself…first. Therefore, we need to demonstrate love to ourselves by rejecting those behaviours that deplete us and leave us feeling endlessly burdened, helpless, unhappy and put-upon….never “allowed” to feel unbridled joy because those around us always need something fixing, etc. first. Nope! When we take care of this false and unloving mindset, the rest starts to take care of itself; meaning, if the action we choose to demonstrate our love to another is not also loving towards ourselves, it’s time to rethink it. “Love thyself” then watch the world transform before your eyes is a truth I have witnessed in action many times, in ways large and small.

It can feel like putting down a large rock to let this “fix everything” mentality go…and I am still in the process of finding somewhere to lay such a boulder and then, having carefully laid it down, working on allowing myself to simply walk away. I suspect, touch-down might feel like at the epiphany of all epiphanies; as though my paradigm has shifted completely….but I am still a way off, unravelling all the many areas of life where I notice myself feeling personally responsible for making things better through my life choices, my activism, my simplest of day-to-day actions, even as the motivation for my writing, art or other things that I like to do (yes, these ulterior subplots get everywhere). A huge realitation, through Aspie eyes, was that a prime motivator for my art output had been to make some sort of long-running peace offering, a gesture of worthiness and good intentions, to a neurotypical world; a sort of symbol of my preparedness to join in a collective conversation that I apparently lacked the appropriate skills for, as though I was rendered mute except in this ability to make pleasing marks on a canvas. Perhaps, if they liked my art (so my subconscious thinking went) I would be included more, they would start to “get” and appreciate me, it would be an icebreaker and I would belong…etc etc. and, of course, this helps to explain why I took the wound so fatally when my art was sometimes passed over, invisible, not received so very well and more. It was a pognant moment when I first understood this, a trend that goes all the way back to earliest childhood when I made offerings of drawings to people I longed to connect with; and has left me unsure about my way forwards as an artist since I don’t want to do it for such convoluted and rather desperate reasons any longer. Rather, I want to be met where I am; communicating in my own language, heard in the voice that is authentically mine and not contorted to sound like other people want  or expect me to sound…

Once I allow that I can do things without it always having to have the motivation of solving a problem, making something better “in the world”  or allowing me to join in (so, in other words, just doing it for the sheer joy of doing it) I will be free of something that I have always found so-very convoluted about “being human” (it potentially feels like yet another “learned” neurotypical behaviour that I took on to fit in with everyone else). I still have a way to go as the programming runs so deep into all my motivations; even into this desire to fix my motivations…there lies the paradox…so it remains a conundrum, albeit one I am more aware of now. As I get used to allowing myself to step back somewhat from how responsible I used to feel as a parent and beyond, I am sure new perspectives will start to appear on the horizon and my next role is simply to notice them, with curiosity, as they appear…. not doing it for anyone but me!

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