Misunderstood, but Not Alone

I’ve been feeling really “messed up” lately. Those feelings of not being good enough, of saying and doing the wrong things, of absorbing the negative feelings of the people around me, of being misunderstood. That last one has been especially frustrating.

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I’m trying online counseling.  I only started a few weeks ago, and I’m not sure how it’s going.  She sent me a ton of worksheets about unhealthy thought patterns, which of course caused my brain to over-think and over-analyze and be overly-defensive of itself.  The topic that has been most frustrating has been the encouragement to try online dating again.  After acknowledging that I may be traumatized by past experiences, she added, “Suppose your front door hit your hand, and caused a lot of pain; will you refuse to go through it again?”

Yeah, I’d go through the door again.  But what if slamming my hand in it happens repeatedly?  It would then be logical to be cautious about using that door.  I’d go through the back door, or climb through a window, or just stay inside as long as possible.  Or try to replace the door or figure out why the hell I keep slamming my hand in it.

A rocking chair blocking one of the doors I could totally use instead of the front door.

I also explained that I live in a rural area, and most of the online matches have lived hours away.

Then yesterday I mentioned this conversation to a co-worker, who immediately jumped into solutionizing-mode and was all, “Yes, you should get back on the horse!  Get out and have more experiences, to learn what you really don’t want, blah blah blah. . . ”

I wish I could get them to understand that this is HARD.  Meeting new people is not FUN for me.  Online dating is not some magic bullet, where if I just sign up and put myself out there again, great guys will line up wanting to get to know me.  That’s not how it works.  I really appreciated the timing of Mayim’s video this week:

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It’s been a rough week, internally at least.  Sleep-deprived, anxiety-ridden, and depressed, I tried to post something positive on social media.  And then there was a situation where I was told I’d hurt someone’s feelings, which I never want to do.  I reached out to the person and apologized, and I think everything is ok, but that kind of thing is exhausting.

I keep forgetting how draining social media is, and that I need to take another break from it.  Getting an Apple Watch has helped me a little – I can take a walk and still track my distance and listen to music without having a device in my pocket that I will be pulling out to check the feeds.  I need to be filling my time and soul with better things, even if that means sitting still and looking at the trees.  I am trying to be better about reaching out to people directly, instead of just scrolling on Facebook when I’m feeling lonely.

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So this morning, as I was sitting in my comfy chair and drinking my coffee, I glanced over at the stack of books on the radiator beside me.  And I reached for Samantha Craft’s Everyday Aspergers, which is a collection of her blog posts.  My bookmark was on the page for “Ten Traits (Females with Aspergers)”  – you can read it here.

Re-reading a description that matched so much of my experience was comforting.  I continued reading the next several pages, smiling at thoughts that sounded like my own, empathizing with struggles that were different in specifics but familiar to me in this fallen world.  It reminded me that I am not alone in the way I experience the world.  I’m not alone in the ways I struggle.  I’m not alone in being frequently misunderstood. I’m not alone in being confused by neurotypical people.  I’m not alone.

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Thankfulness

I took a walk today, and I put on a Boundless Show podcast (Episode 354). Lisa was interviewing Louie Giglio about his advent book, and she asked him a question about single adults trying to hold onto hope instead of dwelling on what they’re not having.

We always have that choice of saying, well this is what’s not happening. I’m gonna focus on what isn’t happening. And the end of that journey always leads us to a really dark place.

Yeah.

It was good timing.  You’d think that since two days ago was Thanksgiving I would have figured it out, but lately I’ve really been down.  Mostly because it’s so easy to fall into thinking about the things I don’t have.  I don’t mean the stupid things like a functional iPod (though I miss that), but the big things.  Marriage. Or even a date.  Kids. A group of friends to hang out with all the time, like when I was younger.  A home of my own.  A great job.

It’s hard, because too often I look at the lack and blame it on not being good enough, or being weird.  Or I catch myself thinking it’s not fair.

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A very wise person once told me,

God answers our prayers in three ways:

“Yes.”

“Not yet.”

“I have something better for you.”

I’ve tried to hold onto that, the idea that he isn’t simply saying “no” to things, but he has a plan for my good and his glory.  It’s hard to trust sometimes.

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Anyway, I realized on my walk I should spend some time reflecting on what I *do* have.  As soon as I heard that part of the podcast I knew I should sit down and blog.  This list could clearly go on for a very long time, so I’ll just hit a few highlights.  It’s a good reminder to resume the habit of writing down daily blessings, a la One Thousand Gifts.

 

I’m thankful for the opportunity to go back to college.  I’m thankful that my inheritance from my grandfather meant that I was able to jump into getting an associate’s degree without the added stress of going into debt.  My classes have been going really well.  I strongly dislike the networking topic, but I enjoyed the C++ programming class so much that I finished my final assignment 3 weeks early.  It’s encouraging to see that I really do have an aptitude for this field and enjoy the material, as I had hoped.  I’m hopeful that it will lead to a good job where I can thrive.

I’m thankful that I’ve been able to continue working part-time with my autistic client, and I am especially thankful that he got moved back to the best teacher I’ve ever worked with.  Not only is she great to work with, but we’ve started spending time together outside of work as well – it’s so much fun to get to have a conversation with her without the kids interrupting every 10 seconds! I’m also thankful for the opportunity this job gives me to show other kids some love.  There are some really sweet girls in my client’s class, and sometimes we have good conversations at lunch.  They, in return, are a huge encouragement and blessing.  Look at this:

I’m thankful for the awesome time we had in Nashville in September, at the Jars 20 Celebration Weekend.  We got to casually chat with the band, meet other fans (including some people I interacted with online many years ago), have a special concert in the Blood:Water Mission office, tour their studio, and go to the Concert to End All Concerts at the Franklin Theatre.  The guys were kind and gracious as always, and they even put up my photo gift where I could see it when they did the next online concert.  Only The Office Convention weekend comes close in awesomeness.

Jars 20

I’m thankful for my family, who accept and support me in so many ways.

I’m thankful for my best friend, and my godson, and the technology like FaceTime that lets us keep in touch so it’s easier for him to remember me when I finally get out there to visit.

I’m thankful for my sweet, fluffy cat Gandalf.  He makes me smile.

I’m thankful for the many bloggers who have helped me discover my place on the spectrum, understand more about myself and others, and make me feel less alone.