Monthly Archives: September 2015

Alexithymia

On the weekends, my fiancee stays up really late and sleeps in really late, and my body will no longer allow me to sleep past 8:30, which means I get the entire morning (and part of the early afternoon) to myself. Sometimes, I’ll watch TV or a movie. Yesterday, I was watching Rachael Ray’s Kid’s Cook-off on Food Network—one of those chef contest shows, like Chopped, except with kids—and for some reason, I kept tearing up. Tearing up while a kid described what she cooked, tearing up while they were doing the judging, tearing up when they all hugged at the end . . . Sure, I bet this was an emotional moment for some of the kids and their onlooking parents, but for a benign TV viewer, this is no crying matter.

I was impressed by these kids. Impressed by how well-spoken they were,impressed that an 8-year-old knew what mango chutney is and how to make it in a way that would rival many adult chefs, impressed by another 8-year-old’s venison bacon burgers . . . Was this why I was crying? Was I living vicariously through the lives of well-spoken child chefs? Was I jealous?

These kids were also very well-dressed with cute hair styles. I’m sure their parents helped with this, but it had me looking back at myself at a similar age—wearing some baggy t-shirt with a pair of horrid circa 1980s no-shape leggings with the irritating elastic loop thingies on the feet; long hair a tangled, unbrushed mess, bangs hanging in my eyes—and wondered if kids these days really are just that much more sophisticated than they were in the early 90s or if I was just a mess of a kid. Looking back on class pictures, I’m going to go with the latter.

Was that why I was crying? Or was it something different altogether? Was I crying because I don’t have a 7-year-old of my own to teach how to cook? I am 30, after all, and still childless.

Was it something that had nothing to do with the show at all? Some lingering emotion that needed to get out while my fiancee slept?

I have no freaking idea why I was crying. And it kept happening; I teared up several times and full-on sobbed at least twice, with no idea why. I’m not depressed. My relationship is going very well. I love my job. I haven’t been sleep-deprived.

This is not new to me. I often find myself bursting into tears while watching totally benign movies and TV. A couple weeks ago, it happened while I was watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with my fiancee, lying with my head on his lap. At the end of the movie, I did not sit up yet, because he said something like, “That’s not at all what I remember from the books. Haha, a little ridiculous!” Clearly, he was not as moved by the lonely war-torn children’s escape into a mythical realm of snow and fantastical creatures where time stood still and they got to live for years as heros in cute Medieval-era clothes before returning back to reality and their current time period through the wardrobe that brought them there as children, and I needed to get it together before sitting up so he wouldn’t wonder what the hell was wrong with me.

The same thing happens when I watch Alice in WonderlandBig Fish (only NOT during the actual “sad” parts, like when he’s dying), and Once Upon a Time.

I’m noticing a trend toward being moved to tears by the fantasy genre. Is it wonder? Is it because I wish I could live in these fictional worlds myself? I imagine life would be way more interesting, with no reality TV and celebrity worship and terrible pop music and even worse fashion trends, and I also love Medieval dresses and castles and Pegasi. Or is it my failure at trying to write fantasy fiction myself? I have always been a wordsmith and lover of fiction, but I seem to be lacking in the imagination department, and therefore am unlikely to ever be the next J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin.

I have no idea. Absolutely no clue why I was crying, especially since there is a big difference between the fantasy genre making me cry and child chefs making me cry. I don’t feel sad, and that makes it all the more puzzling.

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Calmed Down

Ok, I’ve calmed down a bit. I found a person in the area who says she is skilled in identifying ASD in adult women, so we emailed back and forth for a few days and I will call and make an appointment next week. I’m a little scared; I’m hoping this will gain me access to some occupational therapy or something, but I will have to look more into that (provided, of course, that I receive a diagnosis).

The one thing that kept me on the fence regarding seeking diagnosis is that I don’t seem to have the “inability to recognize faces” trait, or at least not to the effect that I can’t recognize obvious expressions. I can tell when people are looking at me weird when I say what is apparently some pretty weird shit; it’s even more obvious when they look at each other after I say something and start laughing. Some days I feel just fine; then, I get into a conversation with my coworkers, and it happens: I get excited and start talking too fast and I start jumbling words/word order. I might say an entire sentence backward, or switch pronouns or prepositions. Then, embarrassed, I stutter, end my thought, and get very quiet. What perhaps made the the most upset last week was the sudden realization that I just can’t do traditional office settings for too long. It’s like being in high school again: too many people, people everywhere I go, communal restrooms with wide gaps between the doors where I can’t even pee without feeling on-edge, and cube neighbors who can see me. I will eventually burn out and lose my ability to cope, just like I did at the dental office; it’s just a matter of when.

What continues to upset me as I get older is the constant string of compromises I’ve been having to make with myself since reaching adulthood. First, I was disqualified from receiving a full scholarship following a temporary inability to cope with the school environment that caused me to miss classes and have to take two incompletes. This is after having a steady 4.0 for three years. A horrible SAT score (that got worse the second time I tried; I kept running out of time) meant I didn’t get accepted to the colleges I wanted to go to and had to begin at a community college. Then I did not graduate college until I was 25 because I kept taking classes that had nothing to do with my degree track because they sounded interesting, wasting thousands of borrowed dollars. Looking back, I think I subconsciously wanted college to never end.

College was a safe place. Academics are what I’ve always been good at—they are my identity—and I was terrified of losing my only identity. If I had unlimited spending potential, I would probably be perfectly happy living my entire life as a perpetual student. I was happy to graduate until I realized I was done and would have to be a grown-up now, and I’m not good at being a grown-up. I don’t interview well (but hooray that I did something right to get this editing job). Now that I have this job that I currently love, I am terrified everyday that I’ll do something socially reprehensible and lose it. More than a few times, I saw my boss looking at me weird. Like, an uncomfortable kind of weird.

So I got this job as an editor, decided editing is what I love and what gets me “in the zone,” and appropriately modified my goals again: to become senior editor. Then I realized I could never do the job my boss does; in and out of meetings, managing a team, being buddy-buddy with the department chair . . . using exceptional social skills . . . It’s just not going to happen for me. I correct grammar and improve syntax and have no idea how to play office politics; therefore, I won’t be climbing any ladders. So now I need to figure out how to be successful on my own, probably from home.

Final thought: Waaa. I’m unsure whether what I’m feeling is self-pity or just plain, neutral self-realization; what I do to make the best of it is what I suppose will answer that question. I’ve never been one to tend toward pessimism, so I will keep working to find out how to be successful at my niche. And despite all these challenges, I am still happy to be me.