The Quiet after the Storm (Autism)

At times, I knew deep down it was brewing. My head was sore, I was tired, wound up, frustrated and angry.

I never ever set out to be grumpy, I can do quiet, I can be bad at people, insanely bad at people. Hello can be an effort, I can’t explain the tiredness, I can’t explain being drained by noise and people and lights, Is overwhelmed the word? 

The pressure grows. It’s like a boiling kettle and the steam is an inevitable thing.

But the blow ups always brought a calm to me. It was almost always serene and I felt my body ease, the tension release, the pain go and my breathing clear.

I knew, I guess inwardly I knew that I needed to get past the meltdown, to release and get past it.

The release and the meltdown and the rants and raves and the loss of the verbal filter has a cost. It’s a big, big cost. Minor frustrations or a wrong comment and BOOM. 

Boom. Relationships, friendships, situations. Work. Anywhere. It wasn’t a temper or anger or a rage, a reaction, a slow burn of a lot of different things and not directed in the way it needed to be.

I knew I could do it, I tried hard not to, looked to throw myself other ways and to keep myself right, keep myself away from the trigger. 

Did I need to be alone? Did I need not to take to heart every comment, did I need to rise above?

At times I did all that and became cynical and an unbeliever. In everything. In all ways. It served and I was very good at it. I guess I was protecting myself, shielding from people, being careful, so careful. Trying to internalise, trying to see what I disliked and noting and learning and not sliding toward the boiling point. 

Taking away being worried and anxious and scared and driving it elsewhere. 

Was it an act? To an extent. It was a shield, a cloak, a guard.

Keeping aloof, staying in a position, not yielding it. A cover, being a sort of dissident in a world I didn’t understand and couldn’t relate to. 

For a time, I could do it and do it well. But it’s exhausting. It’s all effort and mimicry and learning phrases and even verbal routines to get through situations. Taking on what works, ditching what doesn’t and creating that shield. Not showing the maelstrom. Keeping the pressure down. Doing the stuff that’s doable, leaving the really complex interactions. 

I’ve managed since diagnosis to recognise what I was doing and at what effort. It’s a huge part of my day to day, don’t do that. Think, think, think and that’s even before I have to do coordination and thinking beyond getting where I’m going or adding light and sound and people into the mix.

I’ve failed myself at times by not knowing that intricate sub-routine or background programme was going on. How much it can take to just about ‘be normal’ – I’ll never know if I get it right or not, I think I do, but we cannot see outside ourself and know for sure.

I know I people watch. I know I check movement in other people, how they walk, move and sit. I can’t imitate them, but, I take some things in and some things I do change a little or adjust and I’ve been doing that all my life. The learned phrases are the same. Enough conversation to pick up here and there, the meaningless stuff on weather, the just enoughs.

Knowing I do it doesn’t mean that I drop it. Some of these things are essential.

They’re not as essential as the rituals and routines that I have to get me through and get me by. Not as essential as keeping down the pressure, keeping in the calm, maybe bubbling inside a bit more, but not losing it, not biting, not letting it out.

It’s knowing though. Knowing now why and how I have got so many things wrong in a lifetime. Those rants and swears and vents were necessary at that point in time. I had to let it out, but at what cost and what loss. That’s not really a scoresheet I can tally myself, let alone share. I may have inwardly known the rant/rave/meltdown was my way out of something that I couldn’t do or deal with.

But that calm and peace I found every time by doing it. 

Truthfully I can’t replicate it, I’m calmer day to day now I’ve employed some tricks to help myself. Nothing too clever but here and there a little thing. I may yet stumble nearer to that inner peace and to forgive myself for who I am and be easier knowing I have a condition and I am what I am.

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