Eighteenth Post – Meiner Eltern Tochter

(I might post an English version soon)

Ich erinnere mich, als ich meine erste Psychotherapie machte, sagte ich meiner Therapeutin, dass ich im Grunde genommen ein glücklicher Mensch sei. Ich beschrieb einen Ozean, an dessen Oberfläche zwar Stürme das Wasser aufpeitschen und den Himmel verdunkeln konnten, aber in den tieferen Regionen bliebe alles ruhig und ausgeglichen. Damals war das auch so, als noch das strukturierte Leben eines Kindes führen konnte – auch, wenn ich dem Alter her natürlich als erwachsen bezeichnet hätte werden können. Ich habe mich gelegentlich nach dem Grund meiner Existenz gefragt, und damals, als mein Alltag aus vergleichsweise mühelosem und fremdstrukturiertem Schulunterricht bestand, war die Antwort “Für das Glück derjenigen, die dich lieben” auch gut genug.

Jetzt steht das Bild dieses Ozeans noch immer, mit wechselnden Wettern an der Oberfläche, aber durch den Verlust dieser halt gebenden Strukturen ist es nun so, dass in der Tiefe eine gleichbleibende Leere und Traurigkeit herrscht, zu der alles immer wieder zurückpendelt. Die Anstrengungen, die das Leben mir nach meiner Wahrnehmung abverlangt, lassen mich immer öfter die Frage stellen, was der Sinn und das Ziel dahinter sind. Die bisherige Antwort behält natürlich ihre Gültigkeit, aber sie reicht nicht aus, die Frage befriedigend zu beantworten, sei es nur deswegen, dass ich mittlerweile reflektiere, dass es auch ein intrinsisches Ziel im Leben geben müsste, und dass es bei vielen um mich herum so selbstverständlich zu sein scheint, dass sich diese Fragen gar nicht stellen.

Die Ratschläge, die ich erhalte, sind offensichtlich, aber nicht hilfreich. Der Sinn wäre zunächst einmal nicht relevant dafür, die momentan anstehenden Dinge anzugehen; das stimmt vermutlich, aber wann ist er denn dann relevant? Wann ist es legitim zu sagen, dass man keinen Zweck im eigenen Dasein sieht? Ich versuche mich an diesen Ratschlag zu halten und kämpfe mich durch diese angepriesenen kleinen Schritte. Manchmal mit Erfolg, öfter mit einem Fehlschlag – natürlich fühlen sich die Erfolge gut an, ich habe mich durch etwas durchgekämpft und das Ergebnis erzielt, das es werden sollte. Ich sage mir, dass es einfacher wird, wenn ich erst einige Erfolge erzielt habe, einige Aufgaben abhaken kann, aber nach und nach erkenne ich immer, dass das nicht stimmt. Es wird nicht einfacher oder weniger anstrengend. Ob ich eine Aufgabe geschafft habe, oder nicht, wirkt sich nicht darauf aus, wie anstrengend der nächste kleine Schritt ist. Und so zehren die kleinen Schritte an meinen Kräften; jeden Morgen aufwachen, durchkämpfen, schlafen gehen, bis mir das Aufstehen immer ein bisschen schwerer fällt, und ich meine Lüge, dass ich nur noch ein bisschen weiter machen muss, damit es leichter wird, mehr und mehr als diese wahrnehme. Jede Aufgabe erfordert mehr Überwindung, erscheint sinnloser und die unbeantwortete Frage, warum ich das alles tue, ist immer schwieriger wegzuschieben.

Das ist der Moment, in dem mir wieder alles entgleitet, meine selbstauferlegten Strukturen fallen in sich zusammen, meine sorgfältigen Dokumentationen verlieren ihren Wert, die Kontakte und Hobbies, mit denen ich mich abzulenken versuche, werden anstrengend und belastend. Trainingspläne, Ernährungstagebuch, Stimmungstagebuch, Arbeitspläne, Malen, selbst Videospiele, die immer mein letzter Zufluchtsort sind, verlieren ihre halt gebende Funktion und brechen zusammen. Ich flüchte mich in den Schlaf, weil es die einzige Möglichkeit scheint, all diesen Verpflichtungen, Fragen und Gedanken zu entkommen, für die ich keine Antwort weiß und mir niemand, den ich fragte, eine geben konnte.

Und so, um ein anderes Bild zu gebrauchen, wird es um mich herum langsam dunkler, während mir die Kraft ausgeht, die Flammen am Leben zu halten und mir nach und nach alles bedeutungslos erscheint. Übrig bleibt eine kleine, flackernde Kerze, die mir sagt, dass ich der Welt nichts zu geben habe und für niemanden etwas sein kann, das nicht auch ein anderer an meiner Statt geben oder sein könnte, außer einer Rolle, die tatsächlich niemand anderes erfüllen kann als ich: Meiner Eltern Tochter sein. Daran klammere ich mich, an den Gedanken, dass sie, die immer alles richtig gemacht haben, die ich mir nicht besser hätte wünschen können, es von allen am wenigsten verdient hätten, dass ihre Welt so gewaltsam zerschlagen wird, noch dazu von meiner Hand. Wie undankbar und selbstsüchtig wäre das von mir.

Ich soll meine Gedanken und meine Leere mitteilen, sehe die Traurigkeit, das Entsetzen und die Verzweiflung, die sie in denen auslösen, die mich lieben, sage mir, dass das kein Ausweg ist, den ich verantworten kann und so stehe ich auf, und erkämpfe den nächsten kleinen Schritt.

Und damit geht dieser Zyklus aus Licht und Dunkelheit, Kampf und Kapitulation, weiter, bis mir das nächste Mal mein Leben aus meinen kraftlosen Fingern gleitet und es die Verzweiflung meiner Nächsten braucht, um die flackernde Flamme wieder etwas anzufachen, die mir aber gleichzeitig die Ketten aus Erwartungen, Liebe und Verantwortung aufzeigt, die mich an diesen Weg fesseln.

Nichts wird leichter, erfordert weniger Kampf als zuvor, hat mehr Bedeutung für mich. Jede Idee, die ich für meine Zukunft habe, ist genauso flüchtig, wie jedes andere Interesse, dass ich kurze Zeit verfolge und das dann seine Fähigkeit verliert, mich von der Sinnlosigkeit in allem abzulenken. Ich habe so viele Ideen gejagt, immer mit der Hoffnung, dass es diesmal allem einen Sinn geben würde. Mittlerweile nehme ich sie noch wahr, aber verfolge sie nicht mehr mit Enthusiasmus, weil ich weiß, dass sie doch wieder ein Trugbild sind. Diese Kraft habe ich nicht mehr, ich brauche sie, um mich durch die kleinen Schritte zu kämpfen, die jeder von mir erwartet.

 

 

PS. Weil ich vor Kurzem auf den Unterschied zwischen “jemandem etwas zutrauen” und “etwas von jemandem erwarten” gestoßen bin. Für mich ist keine von beiden stärkend und Ersteres die größere Belastung: wenn jemand etwas von mir erwartet, dann erfülle ich nur die gestellten Voraussetzungen nicht, wenn ich die Erwartung nicht erfülle; wenn mir jemand etwas zutraut, dann erfülle ich nicht nur die Voraussetzungen nicht, ich enttäusche auch auf einer persönlichen Ebene, da mir aufgrund meiner scheinbaren persönlichen Kompetenzen die Fähigkeiten zugesprochen wurden, die Aufgaben erfolgreich zu bewältigen.

Fourteenth Post

In a discussion with my boyfriend about the perception of people around us, we developed a model we later called “Pinocchioisation Process”

We were walking hand in hand along a street in Berlin when a man walked past us saying something like “now, just hold on really tight.” I was rather confused because I couldn’t understand what he was talking about but my boyfriend Stefan said it was a derogatory comment about our holding hands as a couple and Stefan went on about how that man had seemed defensive, angry, lonely and self-conscious to him. To me, he was just a blank, “mannequin-like” being to which I attributed no emotions or background.

Together we explored my perception of the people around us and ended with the image that unknown people indeed do have a “mannequin”-image to me, except that I, of course, know them to be people, they move and talk and thus give glimpses of something like different motivations or intentions. But all in all they are blank puppets to me. Just when I get to know someone, they become more and more a person. I still don’t credit them with an inner life of their own, most times – not intuitively, at least – but they develop personalities, characteristics and meaning. In a way, it mimics the transformation from the wooden doll Pinocchio into a real boy, hence the name of the process.

I don’t know if that is typical for people with asperger’s syndrome – I don’t know anyone else. Is it?

What do you think?

Twelfth Post

[I think I have never written the word “twelfth” before, it looks really funny.]

 

Another post about friendship – inspired by several long discussions with my best friend and my boyfriend.

To me, friendship is an affectionate and cognitive non-physical bond with people that came to mean very much to me. The difference to what most people mean by friendship is, that frequent contact, especially face-to-face, is not a necessity for me. In that way it differs from love which has a far stronger physical factor and thus requires if not necessarily proximity, at least immediate and personal contact.

I think both relationship types are influenced by my … immediacy … concerning the perception of other people.

First, people lose some of their substance when they are not in immediate contact with me; they become “disembodied” in a way. This also entails that they lose “momentum” – I would not ask a friend I have not seen for a while what happened in their life because I lack the intuitive recognition that they HAVE a life outside the time when we are in contact. Of course I cognitively recognise that they do not freeze in time as soon as I close the door but it is still difficult to transfer that to an intuitive, affectionate curiosity. To me, they are somewhat like porcelain figures on a shelf as long as they are not in actual contact with me; I can look at them, draw happiness from their existence and affectionately clean the dust away once in a while. I enjoy the time whenever I do have contact with my friends but it is not actually necessary very often. As long as I know they care that can be totally fine with me. And I do care about them very deeply, but it is rather difficult to explain how you can care about someone and not feel a compulsion to contact them frequently to take part in their life.

With love, on the other hand, this entails that each period of separation is a new “chapter” for me; a new situation in which I have to find a confirmation that my loved one and the bond between us has not changed and can be applied equally to this new day as to the last one.

I once read an example of a girl with Asperger’s who did not adhere to the instruction to raise her hand before speaking in class because when the picture was taken to illustrate what she should do, she wore a red shirt but on the next day she wore a blue one. She did not transfer the generality of the instruction to hold true no matter if she looked exactly like the picture or not. I never applied this example to myself because I CAN understand instructions separate from the situation or myself; however, I think that is still the same underlying problem with emotional situations. I do not generalise people or relationships. If someone says “I love you” on one day, with a red shirt, so to speak, I do not generalise that to the next, blue shirt day – emotionally, that is. When we see each other again, in a way, I am exploring my feelings and my loved one anew each day (and I do not think that is something negative, really, as long as it does not lead to irritation in the other).

I think I do not really need this confirmation with my friends because friendship is a more intellectual relationship. It is, to me, more easily grasped than love; more easily tied to common interests, similarities in character and activities. Love is difficult to define, especially why you love someone and even more why you are being loved by someone. Emotions are invisible and more often than not my own are quite enigmatic to me, not to mention those of someone else.

 

Eleventh Post

This post is about the physical sensation of emotions. Or, more accurately, how I perceive emotions and how I know which emotion it is. I usually perceive the bodily changes first and then realise which emotion it is exactly – or not so exactly. Of course I cognitively recognise which emotion is or would be appropriate in most situations before feeling it, but often I do not “just feel” it; especially negative emotions are difficult to differentiate for me. Joy is easier, more immediate.

Sadness

I recognise sadness as a kind of pressure on my chest, difficulties breathing in, a painful sensation radiating from the bridge of my nose towards my eyes and forehead and an overall inhibition in gross motor functions.

Anger

It is a similar kind of pressure but more from the inside out and less restricting. My muscles feel tense and a kind of heat builds up in my head, my breathing becomes shallower.

Fear – a little more difficult

Faster heartbeat, similar restricting pressure on my upper body as in sadness just more from the spine outwards and less from the chest; a feeling of coldness along with a compulsion to twirl something in my hands or touch haptically interesting surfaces to calm myself. If I am really scared an additional need to curl up and cover my ears arises.

Happiness

A warm sensation starting in my solar plexus radiating from the centre towards the sides and then into my extremities as a kind of flutter, but without actual tremors. Again pressure in my chest but not uncomfortable; just so it feels stretched, like filled up with something warm and light. And a similar fluttery, warm sensation at the base of the skull towards the face.

Apparently contempt is another basic emotion but I do not have a sensational pattern for that; I do not remember ever having felt strong contempt towards anyone or anything. It is similar with jealousy; I just do not feel that, I have no idea why.

All other emotions are – for me – constructed as combinations of the ones above. Love is happiness in multiple levels directed towards persons; short bursts of joy from specific thoughts, touch, gestures from and towards that person alongside a constant resonating happiness just from the existence of this bond – plus numerous cognitive components like interest, harmony, sense of belonging and protection, etc.

(Emotional) pain is sadness and fear – and maybe anger.

Envy is anger and fear – and maybe contempt?

Heartache might be happiness and sadness and it feels so strange because it overlaps emotionally but the physical sensations are different..? It starts in the solar plexus, like happiness, but instead of radiating outwards it is more clenching and tightening and the radiating sensation is inhibiting or paralysing. Also there is a dampening of sensual input followed by the painful sensation behind my forehead which always precedes tears.

I think emotions are, in a physical sense, like japanese sauces. They all have the same five or six ingredients but taste very different because of the proportions of the individual ingredients.

Stress

Stress is also different; it results in a similar compensation compulsion as fear and sadness but is more concentrated in my head and less of a bodily sensation. My thoughts feel foggy and slow but at the same time somewhat erratic and I feel the need to concentrate on simple things which channel and restrict my sensory input.

How do other people feel emotions? And how is it to just “feel” ..?

Tenth Post

Bacon is like Banana with Buttercream – Food Issues

I don’t know if I’m extremely picky with food, I have no real comparisons. How do you determine if you not like more things than anyone else..?

But I seem to not like things that most people like and for different reasons. Texture is very important; at least as important as taste, if not more. The three things in the title are related, to me, because I dislike bananas because of their texture (the taste is okay), slimy and squishy, and I dislike butter – except in very small quantities – because it always feels it’s coating my gums with a greasy, slimy layer of fat. Bacon combines slimy, squishy texture with this fat-layer, so it’s even worse.

And I don’t combine sweet and savoury things. It’s just… wrong. It doesn’t belong together. I don’t put oranges in a green salad, apples with fish, pineapple on pizza, etc.; there are only a few things that are acceptable in some cases. I like carrot cake and avocado smoothies. Carrots are neutral, like pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

When I was little, I would always try one bite of everything on my plate – except if I didn’t know it – and rank them in taste, I then started with what I liked least and ate my way through to what I liked best. I wouldn’t mix things or eat them together. By now I do switch between the things on my plate but I still don’t like to mix them. Especially if they are not supposed to mix – salad dressing and pasta, for instance. And I’m still very sceptical about trying things I don’t know. If  I don’t like the smell I won’t.

I like Japanese food because they usually tend to leave most things their own taste and only enhance it with spices or sauces; generally they don’t use much fat either. And you have an extra bowl or plate for everything! Perfect.

Ninth Post

This one has a very complicated topic. Love.

I spent quite a substantial amount of time thinking about what that is to me. Love. Before as well as after falling in love, that is. Essentially, I am glad that my attitude towards what love means has not been changed by me actually falling in love with someone.

To me, loving someone is to a large extent the wish to be a part of that person’s life. To share all the small things that fill up one’s days, to be able to talk about everything and nothing without having to worry about how and what to say, to be oneself and still feel respected and accepted in a sense that one’s eccentricities and oddities are embraced as much as all the talents and virtues. I dislike the expression “to give someone one’s heart” because that entails that your centre, your being, your lifeline is somehow transferred to this other person and that is a somewhat scary image. I’d prefer the image that the two souls – whatever that is – become linked in a supporting, reassuring band that is strong but not inflexible. To me, true love is a feeling of sharing one’s life with that person, not making them the centre of one’s existence. If I love someone I won’t dedicate them each of my heartbeats; my life is essentially mine and I have dreams, wishes and goals that I want to pursue as much as I expect of them to have their dreams, wishes and goals.

Loving each other is then finding strength and security in the other’s presence, sharing all that there is to share but not challenging the other’s freedom and personal identity. Developing mutual understanding and the other’s needs and happiness without having to think much about what to do exactly. And this sensation that you not only make skin contact when you touch them but… soul contact, as well. My lacking the need to socialise that I described earlier is probably also the reason that I can feel totally happy for a long time just on the knowledge that there is this special person who loves me and is loved by me. This connection already gives me a sense of stability, security and not-being-alone without seeing them every day or speaking to them.

I would never think of owning someone I love, they are an individual in every sense of the word, just as I am, and no feeling would ever make me want to lose this feeling of distinctiveness. To speak figuratively, they would become the counterweight on my life scale, balancing and stabilising, stimulating and lifting me to where I wouldn’t get on my own, but they wouldn’t become the star in my solar system – that is and will always be me. A twin star system, maybe, falling out of the usual cycles when the second one enters, rotating around each other once everything settles back and being left out of sync if it leaves unexpectedly.

I listen to these love songs and I get the impression that my definition of “love” is a more… quiet… one. Not weaker, I think, just less possessive.

I never understood the concept of jealousy and I have never been jealous because, to me, that has to be rooted in mistrusting one’s partner. But trust is the primary basis of love. And if I have reason to mistrust my partner there is something wrong on a far deeper level than jealousy would go. Someone flirting with my partner would probably elicit feelings of pride because this desirable person chose me instead of anyone else. This entails that I do not believe in the exclusivity for sexual contact that normally defines love. If I love someone and I feel loved by them I trust them entirely; if they wish to explore sexual needs that I cannot or do not want to fulfil that is perfectly fine with me – as long as I know what it is, because I want to understand their wishes and feelings – and who knows, maybe it’s something I’ve always wanted to try myself. Sex can be a special bond between two lovers, but it can also be nothing more than a pleasurable activity. And if my partner was looking for the first in someone else, there would be something wrong with the relationship, anyway. If they were looking for the latter, I would just be curious as to how it went.

Eighth Post

The death of Neil Armstrong led me to a topic I haven’t thought about before: sadness.

Although I have neither witnessed the moon landing on TV nor have I held any special interest in his person I felt very sad upon hearing the news that he died yesterday. Just for the symbolic meaning he had for me by being someone who brought space within our reach. I seem to be very susceptible to “great” tragedies but less so to actual empathetic pain. I am more stirred to tears by scenes of betrayal, sacrifice and loss of intellectual/cultural treasures than by witnessing personal loss (by someone I don’t know).

Sadness is one of these emotions that I have to look at for a while to understand what it is that I am feeling. I have difficulties differentiating very strong emotions. They rush over me and I have to wait until the strongest flux is over to be able to understand what it actually was. Before that it is just positive or negative. I still have trouble to tell anger and sadness apart. If I cry, it is sadness but I’m not sure how to categorise them if I don’t cry. But there will be more on that in the next post.

Reflecting about death, the cause for my sadness is usually not personal loss in any way but the extinction of life. If I see an animal by the side of the road that has been hit by a car I can mourn for days simply because it died. Whenever I am confronted with a situation like this, I have to shield myself from thinking about all the other (animal) lives which are extinguished every second – I exclude natural cycles of prey/predators in this because that is meant to be, but human causes do not count as “natural prey/predator cycle” except if the animal was hunted for meat or other life keeping purposes – because I would carry myself into mourning for all of them and there would probably be no end to that.

My empathy for animals is far greater than that for humans. I can only speculate that this is because I attribute the capability of governing ones own fate to human beings – within limits – and because I relate to animals usually on a more instinctive and emotional level and to humans (if at all) on a rational and cognitive level. When I am confronted by human suffering I start analysing the causes, the symptoms, the connections. If I see an animal suffering, I just empathise. I feel its pain, fear and confusion.

Exempt from this are people that mean something to me. I relate to them on an emotional level but I am unable to extend this relation to others although I know that they, too, have children, parents or friends that can feel loss and pain as I do.

Today I found a good example for this differentiation between empathy towards humans and empathy towards animals. There were two small articles in our newspaper. The first one was a report about a construction worker who had been killed because the counterweight concrete blocks of a construction crane fell on top of him. My first thoughts were about what malfunction might have caused this and how this incident would be handled by the company or insurances. The second article described that an animal owner found out that someone had sneaked into their garden at night to cut off their rabbits’ ears. I felt so angry and hurt. In this situations I wish for some counterbalancing force of justice that sees to restore equity. But I know that is not so. Probably.

Maybe their energy will be transferred to a less hospitable place in the universe once they died.