Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Special VS Intimate Friends and Autism Part 1

(I apologize for stealing the title from THIS youtube video.)

In order to better understand what I'm talking about, start watching this video at minute 5:40 through the end of the video, around 4 minutes of content. Please, don't skip this part.

Okay. Today I think that I have a bit of time here to go into some discussion on this little piece of info that has, quite literally, rocked my world. The fact that the video went into such detail, specifying a teacher/student relationship, really went directly after my specific life experience! This has completely changed how I think about myself, about my childhood, and about the people I fixated on in those years. It makes me wish I had known this then, and had the tools to share this information with them. Who knows, maybe they're out there reading my blog without my knowledge. Either way, I realize now that I am not the only person who has been here in this situation, and I feel honored to be able to write about it from my deeply personal perspective and experience! And perhaps this is my place to write about it, because a quick google search only resulting in showing me a couple of places to find this video, and not much else! Apparently, few people have written about this. 

As far back as I can remember, I have always had some form of fixation on certain people. Of course, all kids at one point or another have crushes on people, and that can range from peers to teachers, and this is usually quite normal for some children. I feel that it is important to some children, in order to feel safe in school, that they bond with the staff. Whether that comes from my life experience or if its normal, I don't know for sure, but I suspect it can be quite normal.

However, my feelings for some of my teachers were rather intense. Unfortunately, the world is very quick to jump in and tell you that what you're feeling is a crush, a fancy, sensual admiration and love. Movies, stories, and even peers confirm that this is what it is you are feeling. The minute your peers catch wind of your admiration, they are rather quick to start the teasing. It can start with defending the teacher from the normal complaining kids do about something the teacher did, or a simple comment of like or admiration. In my case, I have no idea where it started, I don't know what I said or did, but my guess is that I am not very good at hiding my feelings, so it was probably something they could read in me that I wasn't even really aware I was showing so openly. 

When everyone around you is telling you what it is you're feeling, and you already have struggles naming or recognizing emotions as is normal in autism, then you are likely to believe those things being said. Everyone must know what they're talking about, right? Of course, being an avid reader of stories like Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High/University, the world reaffirms the judgement that what you're feeling is that romantic, passionate feeling described in books and movies, and your peers are not shy at all in teasing you that you must be in love, according to their rules and judgements. Don't get me started on the over romanticized opinions on love and relationships that the world constantly spreads!

However, aspergers and autism should be held separately from those conventional and "normal" social rules and judgements, because our brains are different, and work differently. We see the whole thing differently. The rules on normal relationships don't apply in the same way to autistics.

Probably my most significant and longest lasting fixation began in high school, somewhere in the 7th or 8th grade. I can literally picture in my mind the look on his face during our 6th grade orientation! Photographic memory leaves me with a lot of those memories. From day one it seemed as if I noticed or clung to something about him that I found special and unique. This teacher made history so easy to become fascinated with. You could literally FEEL the way he loved what he taught, and how much he loved teaching and watching kids learn. The only way to make a subject not feel like work is to make it feel like fun, which he was very skilled at doing. He made me feel excited about learning history, and excited about the stories and events in our past. (This carries over to my love of history as an adult, which greatly encouraged my Biblical history studies! I love piecing that together!) 

Through all the 6 years of upper grades (small town, k-12 in one building, 7-12 is upper grades/high school to us!), he also made me feel valued, important, capable, safe, and protected! He (and my other teachers, to be honest) made me feel like an equal. Being the tortured outsider, I needed someone on my team, someone to protect me and give me somewhere to go without hesitation when I needed to. I even received a few serious threats in school, though I barely remember the first (I don't think I realized the severity, or I was too naive to think it would actually happen), the second was when I was a senior and he took me seriously and was there for me when I needed someone to be. How could I not admire someone who stood by me when everyone else was throwing stones, including some of my 'friends' at times? 

Let me tell you, this guy was no hottie. In the video, Tony says we may idolize intellect, not physique. This is TOTALLY true. Though for me, I have seen the most beautiful people in those who are either self critical or others are critical of in appearance. Appearances have no weight on my attraction to people, but there is an inner glow to people who's intellect I admire.

What I loved about this man, and others, so much is their energy, their passion, their drive for learning or teaching. In another case in college, I was in love with a passion for music and creativity and art and creating a fleeting moment of poetry and music that is once created and quickly gone. Deeply in love with the creativity and the passion they had for life and the way that they shared that passion with me. Deeply in love with learning about them or about what they taught me. 

As Tony says in the video, I experienced time and time again the euphoria of an intellectual orgasm. Naturally, you normal people reading this are going to feel grossed out that I just said that. But this isn't the sexual way at all! Not even a little bit. Just as women experiencing birth orgasm isn't the same as intellectual orgasm and that isn't the same as sexual orgasm. It is an explosion of feelings, of such utter happiness in life and learning and a stimulation of the brain that causes feelings of happiness. I desire those moments of deep conversation and talking about things that matter. Sometimes I just long for it so much with this person or that person, but I have to tell myself that not every conversation is intended or able to be deep and passionate and stimulating. Unfortunately, people just don't have time, and to be honest, with kids who ever gets the chance to talk about intense things anymore?

The people who have made me feel  this way are people I want to be around all the time. There is an intensity of connection and emotion that I truly can't resist. Though, because of the complication of the NT perspective and living my whole life thinking I was such an idiot for the things I said and did, things have been awkward whenever I see them, though my heart still jumps and desires that connection. It feels almost like I'm a battery of sorts, and to be with people who inspire me and attract me intellectually make me feel like I've just been plugged into a power source. I don't know what to say or do anymore when I see these people because in the past I was told what I was feeling or experiencing, and now I have even less clue what to say or do than I did then. I've become guarded and afraid.

It has in the past upset me to have the balance interrupted with other relationships and people coming in and out of the picture of me and the subject of that kind of attraction. All it takes is seeing them on the road, on the street, in a store, and my heart feels a jump start. You all would say that this is some kind of love, an infidelity of sorts as I am married! But it isn't like that at all. I miss those people, and those kinds of conversations that made me feel deep and passionate. This doesn't mean to say my husband doesn't stimulate me intellectually, but just overall it doesn't happen as much as I feel I need, and this isn't about specific people I choose to feel this way with, it's just a feeling of connection and intensity that I don't exactly control. 

I may have mentioned before that my level of interest  in friendships usually turns people off and pushes them away. I'm willing to bet that this is where my intensity is coming from. I'm longing for and looking for the intensity and the passion and the connection of this intellectual stimulation that makes me feel so good. I can't explain it, really, and I'm still processing and examining my life through this new information that I've learned from this video, and I haven't even touched on all the content in it yet. I will continue to keep opening up the information and trying to explain it from my experience and my point of view, in hopes to both find out more about myself, but also to be the voice out there talking about this. I'm pretty transparent, and I'm about to become even more transparent.

I love aspergers! Seriously, autism is the best thing that ever happened to me. How would I ever be learning this about myself without autism? I'm relieved that there are more people out there like me who also feel this way. I'm not alone. I'm not the freak everyone thought I was, or even the one I thought I was.

Expect many more posts on this in the future. Ask me anything. 

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