Inland

When it comes to interpreting art, I’m usually pretty black-and-white.  I am a firm believer in Truth, that there is absolute truth out there.  I hated having to interpret poems and stories in English class – I’d think, “I don’t know what the author meant by that.  I haven’t asked them.”  I’d get annoyed if a songwriter, when asked what a song was about, would say something like, “It can mean different things to different people.”  I understand what they’re saying, but it still vexes me.  Normally I want to know what a song is truly about, the true meaning behind the words, from the person who wrote it.  So it always surprises me when I come across a piece of art and can experience it meaning something personal to me, something different from what it meant to the artist.

Matt Odmark



Jars of Clay is my favorite band.  Fixation-level favorite.  Their music resonates with me, even when I don’t always “get” the lyrics – I still resonate with the “feel” of the songs.  I was listening to a few tracks from their latest record before the full album was released, and it was around that time that I realized I am an Aspie.  So while thoughts about my self-diagnosis were swirling through my head, this song was also swirling around in there.  And because I like finding patterns and connections, I recognized my journey in some of the lyrics.  I hope you’ll listen to the song before reading on:


They don’t believe in oceans, you, you were a sailor

Who burned your ship and walked on, far away you walked on

“It is a song about walking toward mystery and not being afraid to take risks,” Jars of Clay’s Dan Haseltine tells Rolling Stone. “The idea came from Homer’s Odyssey. In the story, Odysseus, a man who lived his life on the sea, is provoked, to take his oar and walk inland until he finds someone who doesn’t know what an oar is.”

This reminds me of what it feels like trying to enter the neurotypical world.  It’s a land where I have my oar and describe the sea (a very real object and a very real place I’ve experienced and know well) but they can’t comprehend what I’m talking about.  They may even think I’m making it up.

Yes, it's Gandalf.

Yes, it’s Gandalf.  He’s walking.  Not all who wander are lost…

 

There are no streets to walk on, no maps you can rely on

Faith and guts to guide you, wander ‘til you find you


Growing up undiagnosed, I didn’t have any maps or guides to help me navigate. Fortunately awareness and resources are increasing, but it still involves a lot of that “wander ’til you find you” stuff.


You keep turning inland where no man is an island

It’s where you’re supposed to be

I’m encouraged to make the effort to connect with others, instead of trying to be an island.  Even though it takes a lot of energy, in relationship and community is where I’m supposed to be.

My kitten Gandalf looks through an Inland vinyl. See, it all connects.

 


Afraid of your conviction, they said the land would change you

Steady your confession, your course make no corrections

When you are a stranger, hold your tongue and wager

That love will set you free, until it sets you free


It’s hard to feel like a stranger, but people will love us.  And the land will change us.  Hopefully we can change it for the better, as well.

 

Follow your desire, leave it all, you’re leaving all

Just burn it in the fire

Of everything you once knew

And everyone that knew you

Remove the shoes you came on

Feel the earth you’re made from

Pack up all your questions

Just keep heading inland and come on home to me


I can dwell too much on the past, especially the hard parts.  I dwell on how others treated me, times I was misunderstood, times I misunderstood and hurt others, etc.  And while it’s important to consider the past and how it shapes us, at times we need to “leave it all behind” in a sense.  I also dwell on unanswered questions – it can be good to pack them up and keep moving forward.

One of my favorite shots of the band, from 2005.

One of my favorite shots of the band, from 2005.

 


I will always be here by your side

I will always stand next to you

Where your darkness hits the light

In the place where you stand against the tide

I will always stand next to you

I will always stand next to you

I will always be here by your side

I’m thankful for the people in my life who love and support me unconditionally, even when they don’t understand me.  I have been blessed.

And of course I’m thankful for the guys of Jars of Clay.

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I’m as close to the Spectrum as you can be without being diagnosable. . . or am I?

Hi.  My name is Schenley.  Here’s a little bit of information about me that is relevant to today’s topic of discussion.

I’m 29 years old.  I’ve been studying autism ever since my little cousins were diagnosed when I was in high school.  I got a BA in psychology. I discovered the Highly Sensitive Person website in college, and it really helped me re-frame my life experiences and develop better coping skills.  I’ve worked as a TSS with autistic kids for over 3 years.  I diagnosed my dad with Aspergers a few years ago, and I’ve long joked about our “autistic tendencies.”

On July 25, 2013, I was chatting with an Aspie guy, and with the topic of Aspergers on my mind I found a link I had shared with my mom months earlier. (I thought she’d be interested in reading about an AS/NT marriage where the woman was the Aspie.) I clicked the link and somehow ended up reading her post titled “When Being a Good Girl is Bad for You.”

Here are what my thoughts sounded like as I read it:

Huh.  I was a conscientious “good girl” too.

But. . . why wouldn’t your Nancy Drew mysteries be lined up in numerical order?  That just makes sense.  It’s how it should be.  All of my Animorph books were in order.  I organized my collections, too.  I remember having a case to sort all of my little colored erasers, and compulsively organizing Crayola boxes of 96 crayons into meticulous rainbow order.

photo by bookgrl

Everyone called me “shy,” too.

The section called “Aspies at Play” – this is where things got intense.

“God mode”  – Wow.  I know being bossy was my biggest social deficit as a kid, and I struggled for years to overcome it.  It was tough.

The difference between boys’ games and girls’ games – I always preferred things like playing video games with the guys (something I was good at) to role-playing with the girls.  Playing with children as an adult (as a nanny, babysitter, or TSS) I am still that way.  I thought it was just because I was a “tomboy” instead of a “girly girl,” but it’s more than that.

“isolation, bullying and depression” – words I know too well.

By the end of this blog post my perspective had changed.  I was not just “as close as you can get to the Spectrum without being diagnosable.”

Seeing this chart sealed the deal.  

I quickly showed it to people closest to me.  My mom is certain that if there had been more awareness, I would have been diagnosed as a kid.
Thus began my quest for more knowledge and self-understanding, reading blogs and books about women with Aspergers.  Reading the blogs, I’ve been going back-and-forth on the idea of starting my own blog.  Do I want to let people I know deeper inside my heart and head, or would I want to write anonymously?  Would I even be able to write honest, detailed posts without giving away my identity if someone who knows me read it?  Do I have anything worth saying?  Could it be therapeutic to write, anyway?  Do I really have the time to take on yet another project?

I’ve decided to give it a shot.  To start I’d like to revisit some of those posts from other women that really hit home and made me feel less alone, that helped me understand myself.  To reflect on those first, interspersing more independent writings as I go.  Baby steps.  Unlike my quilt patterns or photography, I have no agenda, no desire for recognition or monetary gain here.  It’s an experiment, and a less structured one than I’d normally like.  Baby steps 😉

And I’ve decided to not try to hide my identity as the author of this blog.  Most of my life as an undiagnosed Aspie has involved feeling invisible.  Feeling like I had to hide my true thoughts and feelings.  What good has that done me?  It’s time to be real.  I’ve always been an honest person- I’m an Aspie, after all – but too often I’ve held my tongue or stayed hidden.

So like she says in this video I watched recently – I’m coming out of the closet.