Life On a Spectrum

I sat on the couch one evening, looking at the photo gallery on my phone. I had taken photos of 5 online test results, and each of them gave me some sort of indication that I had Autism. "Strong Possibility, "Significant Autistic Traits", and "Strong Likelihood" were terms used.

"Wow," I said to myself "This makes a lot of sense."

In the past, I've been diagnosed with anxiety/depression, and have been told I probably have ADHD. I feel like I have an understanding of how those things make me feel/act, but this adds another layer that made me go "Aha!" I think it's safe to say that I am neurodivergent and land somewhere on the spectrum of autism. 

It all started with an article about vocal tones- how someone who has autism may or may not register or understand vocal tones from others or even realize what THEIR own vocal tone sounds like. This has been something I have struggled with, but never knew I struggled with. One might ask "What do you mean?"

My entire life I have had times when it has been virtually impossible for me to know if someone is being serious, sarcastic, or just plain joking:

  •  I've felt frustrated or embarrassed because I thought someone was being serious, but they were actually using sarcasm or joking. 
  • I've been called a "guppy" numerous times in my life by close friends/family because I couldn't tell they were joking. (Supposedly) it was all in good fun, but it's been a source of shame for me for a long time.

Then we get to my vocal tone.
Most times I have zero clue as to how flat or monotone I may sound at times. I don't mean to come off like a robot, and in my head, I think I sound calm and pleasant. Once I had a customer ask if I smoked weed because they thought I sounded so mellow. (A compliment, I think???)

No one seems to know how difficult it is for me to act neurotypical in a fast-paced/high-stress environment. No one can tell how much of a strain it is on my brain to constantly try and remember to do "all the things." Be fast, be efficient, be happy, talk, etc. I end up partially shutting down, without totally knowing it's happening. I feel like I'm doing an amazing job at doing "all the things" proficiently, yet I'll be told that I'm not doing a good job because I'm forgetting to engage with people. I forget how to emote. I flatline.

I've been told in the past at various jobs, that I need to be chipper, happier, and upbeat. Do this consistently. Smile! I succeed at it for maybe 48 hours at best. I find myself utterly exhausted and finding myself feeling physically uncomfortable because I think I sound HORRIBLE and FAKE.

Try as I might, I always go back to my calm demeanor. In the back of my head, I constantly worry that people will find me boring, I'm coming off cold, disinterested, or worst case- bitchy. Sometimes when I am trying to sound confident or like I have some sort of knowledge, I try to make my voice not sound small or shy. It seems I have a 50/50 shot that my confident-sounding voice will come off as bitchy/edgy, or actually knowledgeable and authoritative in a positive way.

What else? 

  • I have become aware that I will rub my thumb and middle finger tips together in circles. I may do this at work if I'm thinking, waiting, or stressed. I noticed that I rubbed them together while walking to my acupuncture appointment. So this is something I likely do when I'm looking for self-soothing, and because it's so minimal, it's easy to hide.
  • When I was in school, I'd say 1st and 2nd grade, I was very reliant on bringing something from home- like a doll, a stuffed animal, or some other comfort toy. 
  • To this day, I still have the tendency of wanting some sort of "good luck" token with me, be it a necklace, rock, or crystal.
  • If I decide I want to do something, I will ultimately end up finding a way to make it happen no matter what. I cannot be told otherwise.
  • I have the ability to share without worry about how it might be received- this means I feel comfortable talking openly about things that happened to me in the past (s3xual abuse, emotional/mental abuse, eating disorders, complicated family dynamics, etc.) OR being open to talking about anything spiritual, ple@sure-based, or s3xual in nature. I desire to help people feel less alone or feel more comfortable talking about things.
  • I can be extremely excitable and have child-like exuberance over certain topics and situations- and to me, it doesn't register as being over-the-top.

I get hyper-fixated on topics-

  • If you wanted to know anything and everything about Sailor Moon (anime and manga), all of the characters, villains, etc. I could do that.
  • I was also very knowledgeable on crystals and minerals and could list off various metaphysical properties of various stones.
  • Once I had 6 years of cat Geneology under my belt between 2 mother cats at the farm.

Now, here is a grey area. I'm extremely ritual focused in the morning at home (I love my morning routine of grinding coffee beans, making coffee, and feeding the cats.)  However, if I'm on vacation I can forgo my rituals without freaking out. If I have to skip or alter my morning routine due to a reason that I deem is NOT fun...then I have anxiety I have to work past in order to get on with the day.

Some other things-

  • I am easily scared by loud noises. My former stepdad thought it was fun to sneak up on me and scare me while I was reading in my bedroom. Or just fun to sneak up on me and yell "BOO!" just because. I really, really, really hated that.
  • I always felt I related better to persons older than me, but could also relate to those a good bit younger than me. I have been called an "old soul" several times in my life.
  • I remember extremely, random, facts. Many of these will get me nowhere in life or in a trivia game so much as weird people out with the fact I remember something so utterly random and/or mundane.
  • I can shut down to a point where I literally feel like I can't talk (in highly emotional states). I can't put my feelings or thoughts into words.
  • I absolutely hate when I feel like people are "beating around the bush." I find it confusing and I just want things out in the open. No games or perceived games.
  • I can excel at certain tasks, especially if there is repetition or maybe patterned ways of doing things. I was an extremely fast dishwasher for my first in-town job. When I worked at the Co-Op I was the fastest cashier (who was pretty darn accurate for being so fast.)
  • As a kid, I talked a LOT. I had no concept of what it meant to interrupt conversations. 
I am taking all of this with a grain of salt as I feel it's all about possibility and probability. That's partly why I took so many online tests- to see what the overall consensus was. At this time, I do not plan to pursue a formal diagnosis, as I don't feel like I need to do that because I have ALWAYS known something was different about me.  

I think this self-realization is wonderful because it gives me a lot of insight as to why I may feel so tired (mentally/emotionally)...because I've been trying to "play normal" by hiding my quirks and playing pretend. I was told by social norms that I needed to change myself to be more accepted. In reality, I didn't need to change anything! I shouldn't have had to. 

I believe no one had an idea that I could be on the spectrum, and I never talked about my feelings to my parents, so nothing would have been pursued. I literally thought I was some sort of highly emotional person who liked weird things and had a hard time making friends who I felt would accept me.

I think this whole experience will add a beautiful layer to the coaching program I'm taking. I'm already working on shedding some armor and opening myself up to self-acceptance of myself and how wonderfully unique I am. It also gives me a lot of insight as to why I feel so drawn to this new embodiment coaching adventure- because I've spent so much of my life dis-embodied from myself. It's refreshing to look at myself with a new gaze: one that is filled with self-love and appreciation.

It's not to say that I have NOT had negative emotions crop up, and this time instead of pushing them away, I'm feeling into them. I'm letting cycles complete instead of putting up armor or numbing myself- it's going to be a long process.

You might ask "How do you think you can coach successfully when you have all of this going on?"

  • Working with people 1:1 is far different for me than working with groups of people in a busy store.
  • Working with small groups of people (3-4) is far different than working with folks in a busy store.
  • Persons who will be working with me will be interested in Embodiment in the first place, so I already know that there is a desire for learning and integration. 
  • This is a topic I'm passionate about and believe in, which makes me feel comfortable and safe. 
  • I've always desired to hold people in a safe space for personal expansion.
  • I feel like what I have experienced in life brings a lot to the table= and a whole lot of empathy.

Congratulations! You made it to the end of a long, self-reflecting post. Thank you for joining me on this journey. I'm happy to chat about anything you may be curious about if you have questions.



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