Last night would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t been able to view it through the lens of having Aspergers.
I was having a good Sunday. I had no problems running sound during the morning service, ordered a new lens to use during portrait sessions, started a sewing project after a month away from the machine, and began watching a favorite TV series over again in a very Edwardian fashion (if you haven’t read 600 Hours of Edward – go do it). Then to top it all off, after I shared the link to my Inland post with the band through facebook, Charlie from Jars of Clay liked the post. I always appreciate when they appreciate my appreciation, you know? 😉 It was time for dinner and I was excited to tell my family about the latest interaction with my favorite band.
But then my phone rang.
Fortunately I didn’t answer. I don’t know if I would have responded well if I had. The caller left a message and leveled a false accusation against me.
I’m not sure how to accurately describe the emotions I felt. My heart raced and I felt like I was shaking (I don’t know if I was physically shaking, but it at least felt that way emotionally). I felt like my temperature dropped. A lot of times I ask my autistic client, “How do/did you feel?” And he almost always responds, “Upset,” instead of giving me a more specific word like “Sad” or “Mad” or “Scared.” Last night I felt “upset.”
I was dumbfounded by the accusation and by the fact that the person actually called me. I went downstairs and told my family. Through my new lens of self-awareness I noticed a lot of things. I noticed I was talking too loudly. I noticed my family was going to be done eating by the time I finally took more than a single bite, because I was too upset and too busy venting to eat. I noticed that I kept forcing myself to take big deep breaths, same as I prompt my client. I noticed (and even commented aloud) that I felt like rocking.
I noticed that my mom kept reassuring me that I had acted above reproach in the situation the call seemed to be referring to, and I kept trying to explain that I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I was still upset. I wasn’t upset because I thought I had done something wrong. I was upset because I KNEW I hadn’t, and I was being thought of and talked of as if I had done something wrong. And that’s NOT FAIR. I have always had issues with “fairness.” I was upset because I thought I wasn’t going to have to deal with any more drama from that specific part of my past, yet it kept coming up. I was upset because I was under attack and there were just too many emotions (my own and the accuser’s) to process.
I managed to shove down my dinner through deep breaths and exhaled nonverbal sounds of frustration. I had to eat so I could leave for Bible study. I got out to my car and my mind was still churning over the situation, and I was spiraling downward. I stopped my car before even leaving the driveway and switched the CD to Jars of Clay’s Self-Titled album. It is my go-to record when I am desperately upset; it is the most effective medication available to soothe my soul. I turned up the volume and sang along to reduce my ability to ruminate. It’s a 20-minute drive, and during the last 5 I found it impossible to turn off my thoughts of what I wanted to say about what just happened. Right before I turned into my pastor’s driveway I started crying – those unwanted tears of emotional overload that cause me so much frustration that I cry even more. I hate those. I took a few deep breaths and dried my eyes, then walked in.
I was still visibly shaken; my pastor’s wife immediately asked me what was wrong. Before group began I was able to briefly discuss the situation with my pastor and his wife, who are two of my most trusted counselors. My pastor advised me to ignore it; I nodded and said, “Yeah, I’m just feeling all. . . ” and waved my hands on either side of my head, unable to articulate what it was I was feeling. Then instead of taking my normal seat on the floor I sat in the rocking chair.
And rocked for two hours straight.
I’m feeling much better today.