De-fragging my mind
If I’ve learned anything during my time on this planet it’s this: people dislike radical change. Things like moving, starting or ending jobs, various stages of relationships, etc- it’s hard on people. I noticed how it was for me when I moved out of the apartment I lived in for 14 years, and into my home. I had to clean out 14 years of junk, cruft, accumulations, etc. It was hard. It wasn’t hard to part with the majority of it- doing so was actually pleasant. (Getting the tax refund of my largesse give-away was also nice.) And I’ve been combing through my remaining things and continuing this reduction and removal. I know that I’ll never get back to that brief time where all my belongings fit into the trunk of my car- but that was another life, one I am glad is behind me. I have books, furniture, appliances, electronics- and cats now. And a house that is mine. And while I could pare down to the basics in an emergency- I will not give up the quiet comfort that being sandwiched between two content kitties gives me.
It is becoming increasingly clear that I am entering a new stage of my life. It feels like it might be better in many ways than my early years, which reinforces my personal ‘late bloomer’ hypothesis. I’m officially into my menopausal stage, which means that I have to learn to cope with the physical changes that brings. I am processing things through this new Aspergian filter as well, and being easier on myself when I don’t ‘get’ certain things that Everyone Else seems to understand osmotically. I am becoming comfortable with the understanding that I speak ‘people’ as a second language, and that I will never be ‘fluent’. My deficits are hard-wired, but my assets are hard-wired also. And I have much better assets than deficits, and I am accepting these assets (some might call them ‘gifts’) as part of who I am. I find myself no longer actively worrying about what horrors might befall me, although the caution that my past experiences have given me still remains. I’m a realist. My health is much better, and I am stable financially. It’s amazing what that does for one’s well-being. Having ‘enough’ is a good thing. And my strict budgeting and frugal means have paid off. It’s nice to see the result of such efforts. It’s nice to see that good things do happen, and are not accidents, but are normal.
This ‘new normal’ has meant that I have had to consciously work on re-orienting my mind and reactions to many things. Seeing life through clearer lenses means that there are new details that have to be addressed, new habits to be established and old ones to be discarded. I’ve accepted that I will always require a certain amount of solitude, because Planet People is not going to change for extreme sensitives like me. I have to create my own space within this world, and establish firm boundaries to enable me to recover and decompress from the numerous sensory assaults that the Outside World inadvertently hands me. But I cannot become a hermit- or I’ll become one of those weirdos that reality shows become centered around. I am working to find a balance between the social and the solitary- using the Internet to interact directly with people without the additional ‘noise’ of parsing body language, tone, and gesture; learning how to cope with the racket of the Outside World without having a shutdown or head-stall, coping with the changes in my reaction to things that aging is apparently bringing me, and learning to accept my differences- and defend them. That last has always been difficult- I’ve been something of a pliable doormat for most of my life- because going along with things was far easier than dealing with screaming, angry people who dislike being told ‘no’. I lost the tiller for a while in that regard- but it is firmly in hand now- and has been for a while. Steering this ship is not easy, but at least the course is now my own- and not dictated by others.
There’s a quote I found that explains my new course in a radically pungent way: “I refuse to be a self-narrating zoo exhibit.” I am not going to be a spokes- Aspie, or a spokes-Magus, or a spokes- anything/one. I can only speak for myself. My experience, opinion, insight, etc- is mine alone. Yours will vary. Differences are inevitable, and that’s OK. In my understanding of gainful friendships and relationships (both personal and professional), I’ve learned that similarities bring people together, but those differences between people keep them together, if all parties understand that variety and difference is positive, not negative. It takes a certain level of intelligence and self-confidence (and perhaps self-actualization) to understand the true value of difference and the richness it brings to interaction. People who insist on lock-step, point-for-point identical ‘values’ with their friends and cohorts in belief seem (to my eye at least) to be the most miserable, paranoid, and stressed people out there. Look at certain political parties and religious sects for numerous examples. But acceptance of difference (notice I said ‘acceptance’ not ‘tolerance’) can go too far, and you can find yourself in an amorphous, incoherent and dissonant situation as well. Such dissonance imparts its own sets of miseries and confusion. So, both extremes are unhealthy.
But I digress. I’ve entered a new stage of my life. It’s like changing operating systems, or moving to a new workstation or house. I have to re-arrange things- perceptions, opinions, insights, beliefs. The core remains- that imperishable starlight that is my inner drive. Things shift and change around me, as they should, but I am still the axis in that regard. Remembering that keeps me steady. It also permits me to do a more radical and thorough sift through my life and mind up to this point. With the mind, there’s no discarding things like one can do with belongings. The brain is a biochemical construct, not a hard drive. Things like thoughts, habits, reactions, etc- are downgraded/forgotten only by overwriting them with newer, better habits and algorithm. Things are enforced or remembered by repeating them in a habitual manner. The new habits I’ve established have served me well for nearly 3 years, and I am reaping their benefits at long last.
And I’ve ended the accumulative stage of my life (perhaps with the exception of furniture and wardrobe upgrades and refreshes) and have started the experiential stage. Doing is more important than having. I had to learn that having too many things was as bad- or worse- than having none. I wish I’d known these things when I was younger, but in spite of the things that happened to me, I would not change those experiences for anything. They make this stage of my life far sweeter and rewarding for their happening. Understanding, accepting, and enforcing how my mind (and body) works is the key to future success and happiness. I just have to continue to bust the crust of complacency and inertia that fear and uncertainty have saddled me with, and keep breaking it when it builds.