One Door Closes, Another One Opens

Isn’t that true of any major life transition? I’d like to think it is, and beginning tomorrow I will enter yet another major transition period. I won’t lie, it’s mixed emotions all the way – I’m equal parts excited and scared. This is probably the biggest risk I’ve ever taken in my life, but if it’s something I’ve learned recently you have to take big risks in order to reap big rewards.

In just 24 hours from now, I either be in route to or just arriving at my old office building with my neuro-sister and hopeful job successor to turn in my resignation and, with any luck, give her the opportunity to interview with my supervisor. It’s not that I’m bitter, resentful, angry, or unhappy with my job. It’s just that I won’t be able to do my current job and attend culinary school at the same time due to clashing schedules.

I figured I owed it to the company who has signed my paychecks for the past 3 years and 2 months to resign in person. Yes, I could do it long-distance, and no doubt as an Aspie that would be easier and more comfortable for me to do (especially since one of my coworkers who got wind of my trip up called me yesterday evening and goes “you’re not coming up here to quit are you?” – to which I had to tell a little white lie to try to prevent additional rumors from circulating) but I do realize that we live in a world that favors neurotypicals and thus certain uncomfortable situations can’t be avoided. As an added bonus, my trip will allow them to meet her and interview her for the job I’m vacating, which I have trained her in well for the past 6 months. She does my job as well as I do, and I can vouch for her in both my letter of resignation and exit interview.

At 5:00AM on Friday, April 30th, the door will close on an almost 6 year-long career in crane engineering and lift planning. I will be walking down the hall for a few days, and then the door to my culinary journey will open at 7:00AM of Tuesday, May 4th as classes begin at that time. It’s a big change, for sure, but a change that will no doubt be in a positive direction.

As with any major life transition, you have some people in your life who will support you, and others who won’t. All of my good friends are on my side, as is my younger sister. Parents I’m not so sure about, but they’ve tended to question my every career change with the exception of cranes. I’m sure my soon-to-be ex-employers will question my decision, as many might see my career change as a “downgrade” – and it probably is in terms of earning potential and social status, but money and status aren’t all there is to life.

Regardless, I have no regrets about the time I spent in the crane world, as it prepared me to be able to take this journey on. It will be a challenging year and a half at the CIA, but I think an enjoyable one as I delve very deeply into a topic I am deeply passionate about. It’s what we Aspies do, after all.

Wish me luck during this time, and wish my neuro-sister luck during her transition period also. We’re both going through major changes. Hopefully we both come out the other end in a better place.

High School Reflections – The KTXS “Academic Challenge”

As I reflect on my high-school years as a very newly diagnosed Aspie, one particular activity brings about a mixed bag of emotions – a small bit of elation, but mostly dread, embarrassment, and until very recently, toxic shame.

Those of you out there reading my blog who just so happened to have lived in the Abilene, Texas area between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s no doubt remember the KTXS “Academic Challenge” – a high school academic competition featuring four-member teams from high schools in the surrounding area. For my other readers, the name of the game was very simple – outsmart your opponents in a trivial-pursuit kind of game, except instead of pop culture the topics are high-school level in a variety of subjects. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins and advances to the next round of a single-elimination bracket.

I represented my high school in the competition for two years – my Freshman and Junior years (I skipped my Sophomore year and graduated high school in just three years). My Freshman year we didn’t do so hot, getting knocked out in the first round (though to be fair, our team consisted of me, one Sophomore and two Juniors – the opposing team consisted of all seniors). Upon learning this, I fully expected us to get our asses handed to us, but we played a good game and wound up losing by a mere 20 points (10 points per correct answer).

Outcome aside, the host of the show (who was also the nightly news anchor for the station at that time) seemed to be entertained by my quirkiness, saying it added a bit of “freshness” to the game (which, to spectators, otherwise seems pretty boring). No doubt the nerves of being taped in front of a studio audience for subsequent broadcast got to me, making it almost impossible to mask my newly-diagnosed Asperger’s. In a way, the experience allowed me to be more “me” for a lack of a better term. Despite the crushing loss (had one of my teammates beat his direct opponent to the buzzer on a single question, we’d have won the match), it felt good to just let myself be who I was, regardless of what those who watched the program on the air the following weekend thought.

My Junior year, it was a little different. I was still the youngest person on my team, though our team consisted of three Juniors and one senior, so we were much more seasoned this time around. We drew the very first taping of the season, so we didn’t have much time to size up the field, but here we were. We went into the studio, took our place on the set (which is much smaller in real life than what it looks like on TV), and did all the pre-taping checks before the host arrived. Of course, the host immediately remembered me and bantered briefly with me before the taping began).

We absolutely crushed our first-round opponents in what ultimately wasn’t much of a game, though there were a few funny moments in there where the host poked fun at my weirdness, all in good fun. The first one was a vocabulary question, which was a double stumper for both my opponent and me – “What is the definition of the word ‘loquacious?'” As neither of us rang in and answered correctly within the 5-second time limit, the host revealed the answer (very talkative), turned and looked to me, and playfully said “which is EXACTLY what you are!” I retorted with a light-hearted “I’m offended!!!” (I wasn’t really, but I’d never been described that way because of my typical quietness, which I now know was a result of my attempt to mask my Asperger’s/Autistic oddities). The other was on a math question, which I slammed my pencil down in disgust at being “this” close to the correct answer when the allotted 15 seconds ran out. The host giggled and went “Frustration!!!”

The second-round game was unmemorable, other than to say we won a nail-biter against our second-round opponents, in a game we should have decimated them. We were all off our game that night, but I was especially so for some reason. I was also less animated that night (maybe from self-conscience, maybe from being more used to being video-taped, or maybe it was just an astrological transit for all I know).

Alas, that boring, unmemorable game was the last game of Academic Challenge I would ever play, despite our team having advanced to round three (the quarterfinal round) and having one more year of eligibility. As we were the first of two tapings that night, I stayed behind to watch the second taping as we would be playing against the winner of the second taping in the third round. Much to my chagrin, the winners of the second taping absolutely destroyed their opponents in a big way, winning by an almost 300 point margin. I wasn’t surprised – the losing team was a very small high school with only a small pool to select a team from, whereas the winning team was the 2nd largest school in the competition with a huge talent pool to choose from. My team? Also a small school. There was no way we were going to win our third round match against this juggernaut.

So the Friday before tape day (which was Monday, as every tape day before), we have a team meeting to see who all can be there. Knowing I wanted no part of the embarrassment of going down in flames against this big school team, I made up some lie to get out of it (I forget what it was, but it might have been confirmation classes as I was going through them at the time to be confirmed an Episcopalian). I turned my school uniform shirt over to our alternate (a sophomore) who would take my place during the third-round match.

Of course, to be consistent with my story, I could not attend the third round taping, so I have no idea what went on during the taping. I didn’t even watch the match when it aired a few weekends later. I just remember looking at the posted score in the bracket the Tuesday morning after the taping and having my fears confirmed – the score was 320-40.

That wasn’t where the fallout ended though; it had only started. Apparently one of my teammates fact-checked my story, which turned out to be an obvious fabrication (what church teaches confirmation classes on Monday evenings, after all?), and I got called to the carpet. I finally came clean about why I didn’t want to play that game – I didn’t want the embarrassment of losing in such dramatic fashion (by this time the development of my inner Narcissus was well underway, and I could not stand to be embarrassed or to lose in this way as I had a very competitive streak), so I’d rather have just not played the game.

Upon finding this nugget of information out, the returning team members for the next year, as well as the team coach, made it very clear that I was not welcome on the team for what would have been my Senior year season.

Looking back now, with fresher lenses, I realize that it was a mistake to abandon my team like that, and that there was less honor in bowing out versus going down fighting. I let my fear get the better of me, and I let my inflating ego (i.e. developing Narcissism) get in the way of doing the honorable thing. In my defense, I had been bullied in both the home and at school for being different for 17 years at this point, so I couldn’t handle another psychological injury. Despite this, on some level I carried around a deep level of shame over it until this past weekend. I was finally able to release that shame with the help of Lisa A. Romano’s guided meditation on healing toxic shame (highly recommended – check it out here).

This time last week, I would not have been able to write this post. That’s how ashamed I was and had been all this time, over this even 17 years later. The fact I can now talk about it freely and openly say what I would have chosen to do differently if I could have a do-over speaks volumes to the power of meditation in releasing toxic shame. Releasing it was a big step in what I hope to be an ultimate recovery from a narcissistic personality pattern (which is often rooted in excessive shame under the hood), and toward self-acceptance of my Asperger’s/Autistic operating system.

So there’s that. That actually felt good to talk about. I can now reflect fondly on the three games I played in the KTXS Academic Challenge, and remember that when I let my hair down and allowed myself to be me, that I was most content and some people like me just as I am with no mask. There was obviously a lesson in there, one I hadn’t seen until just now.

In conclusion, I’d like to say this to my former teammates, if they are reading this post: I am truly sorry for abandoning you that night. I really would do it differently if I had the chance. I ask your forgiveness, and maybe some day over gluten-free pizza and wine we can reflect and reminisce about the competition (which ceased production sometime around 2006 or 2007). The invitation is open for whoever wants in.

Filling My Dharma Through Food (Or, How Asperger’s/Autism Will Make Me a Better Chef)

Today around 9:50 AM local time, I received maybe the most life-changing phone call to date. I have been admitted to the Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts program at the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio location. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined I’d be going to culinary school, much less America’s premiere school for the culinary arts, but here I am. Life sure has a way of throwing us curveballs, doesn’t it?

I know, this is a very interesting development for someone who started cooking from scratch out of pure necessity a little over a year ago (due to being diagnosed with Celiac Disease). I grumbled about it initially, only to find out that I was naturally good at it (it must run in the genes – my great-grandmother could cook like nobody’s business and my mom is a pretty damn good cook herself). The discovery that would follow as I cooked more scratch-made meals was twofold: not only was I naturally good at it, but I also loved doing it! I could always count on an evening in the kitchen to release the day-to-day stress incurred by my current day job as a crane lift engineer (a career that I never found satisfying in the almost 5.5 years I’ve been in the business).

As I embark on this exciting new journey starting in early May, I can’t help but draw some parallels between my new career and a TV show I recently started watching, as it’s quite parallel. For those of you who have seen The Good Doctor, I’m sure you recall the many instances in which Dr. Shaun Murphy has all these images that flood his head for a particular case, thus coming up with some quite radical and unorthodox, yet most often highly effective, solutions for surgical patients. In this series, it’s quite obvious that Dr. Murphy’s diagnosis of Autism confers a unique benefit over his colleagues – he’s willing to go where they are not, he’s very thorough and misses absolutely nothing, and he’s just better at his job because of it (his difficulty with bedside manner notwithstanding).

It took me a bit to realize it, but the way Dr. Murphy’s brain works with medicine/surgery is exactly the way mine works with food. I can visualize a certain flavor profile I’m aiming for, and can reverse engineer pretty much all of them by identifying the ingredients that will give me the flavor combination I am looking for. Sure, I’ve had a few flops (I am human after all), but I get it right way more often than I get it wrong. Combine this with my ability to hyper-focus, create workflow routines, among other job-related skills and I might just be a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen (despite the challenges I will face with table-side manner, which will be a thing and I know that going into it).

Sure, I might be good at what I do now, but there’s just no passion there, and there’s very limited ability for me to be the positive role model/influence on the world in this role. As I look to my new role, I hope to turn more outward, offering kids on the Asperger’s/Autism spectrum a new message, one of hope and optimism rather than the doom-and-gloom that the pathology model of Autism loves to preach. I hope to share my gifts with the world, offering flavorful food, and especially to show the world that gluten-free food can be just as flavorful (and, in many cases, more flavorful) as gluten-inclusive food. This new avenue will give me a better opportunity to be the change I wish to see in the world, and that is an opportunity I cannot pass up in this healing journey of mine.

And that, my friends, is what makes this new chapter so exciting: getting that much closer to fulfilling my Dharma.

Looking Ahead to 2021

What a year 2020 has been! My first full year in San Antonio, the COVID-19 pandemc (I was one of the “early adopters” as it were, having the disease first week of March but recovering quickly), lockdowns, the end of a romantic relationship (only for it to evolve into something more meaningful in the end), the completion of a childhood dream of building and owning a grandfather clock, the beginnings of a long healing journey, the election of a new American president (don’t look at me, I didn’t vote for him!), you name it!

The year 2020 definitely brought about its challenges. I uncovered extremely painful truths about my past. I discovered I have Childhood PTSD/C-PTSD as a result of severe verbal/emotional and some physical abuse as a child (I had, up until this year, gaslit myself into thinking “I had a great family” – not anymore). I learned that my mother is a malignant narcissist (and that I, unfortunately, largely followed in that pattern), and that everything she ever told me about my biological father rejecting me was a pack of lies (I’ll likely be reaching out to him in the not-too-distant future). I’m becoming more comfortable with my Asperger’s/Autistic wiring, appreciating it for what it is and what it will allow for in my new career.

At the same time, it’s also brought about a sense of new hope. Yes, I do have that extreme pain in my past (that had largely been swept under the rug and ignored via various distractions – “distractions are amusing” after all), but I’ve learned that CAN be healed from. Healing is painful, much more painful than dwelling on our past traumas, but it’s necessary for us to overcome. It’s far better to go through greater pain now and truly heal and move on than  to trudge forward for decades in that lesser pain.

So what do I see for myself looking ahead to 2021? I’ll definitely be continuing on in my healing journey, maybe even ramping that up some more with other activities. I’d like to get back into bowling and golf again at some point, and maybe rekindling some musical and artistic endeavors. I hope by the Summer or Fall that I will be in position to resign from my job and take on my new planned role as a full-time student of the culinary arts. Possibly a new tattoo or two are on the horizon also. Above all, I see all roads leading to a kinder, gentler, calmer, more loving, and more spiritual me.

I’ve been so low, for so long. Those days have come to an end. It’s time to start climbing the ladder again.

Aspie/Autistic Special Interest – Clocks/Watches

In my quest toward more self-acceptance of my Asperger’s “operating system” – I’ve decided to begin blogging about some of my special interests; things that make me “tick” as it were (pun fully intended)!

So, the first special interest I have should come as no surprise to those who followed the 1.0 version of this blog and are coming over from that, but for those who are new, I’ll just mention it here – I absolutely love clocks and watches!

And not just your everyday clocks and watches either. I’m taking even more traditional than that – mechanical clocks/watches. You know, the kind you wind up a spring or weights every few days to keep running? Yeah, those.

I remember falling in love with clocks at the age of about 7 when we went to stay a week at my paternal grandmother’s house. She had an old Ingraham mantle clock, vintage circa 1928. It was unlike anything I’d seen, having been born in the era of quartz/electric clocks. I watched with fascination as grandma wound the clock, and listened intently as the mechanism made that unmistakable “whirring” sound as it struck the hour on a richly-toned gong. It was the one thing I looked forward to seeing more than any other on our weekly pilgrimage.

My great-aunt (her sister) also had a pair of mechanical clocks – one 14-day Korean wall clock with a coil gong strike, the other a 1982-ish Howard Miller mantle clock with a German Westiminster chime movement. Again, I was enamored with both – the soothing sound of an audible tick, and the lovely sound of the chime/strike sequences on each.

As I aged, I naturally became curious as to the inner workings of them, so that when my grandmother’s clock broke down, one time I took it upon myself to look into the mechanism to see if I could find out how it worked. I was immediately taken aback by all those gears! I’d never seen anything quite like it, and though I didn’t know the term until recently, I can’t think of anything much more “stimmy” than a mechanical clock movement (well, anything steampunk-ish really).

In middle school I began playing around with the old bell-type alarm clocks to get my feet wet with disassembly/assembly of clock mechanisms. The first few I tried to put back together went into the trash. I got better, though, getting to where I could rebuild some more complex mechanisms over time. What most people have to go to a special trade school for, I learned all on my own.

Time went on, I acquired some basic woodworking skills, and I built a little mantle clock from a kit in high school – complete with German triple-chime 8-day keywound movement. This clock is still at my parents’ house to this day, keeping time and chiming/striking. I’ll leave this one with them, as a part of me for them to keep, no matter where I move.

I built a few other clocks along the way for family and friends, some quartz, some mechanical. That went dormant for several years, until I built my dream prize, the grandfather clock showcased in a previous post:

This is of course the pinnacle of my achievements in regards to clockmaking. Featuring a German triple-chime movement with automatic night slience, it’s a lovely presence in my home, and soothing sounds of ticking and resonant quarterly chimes that fill my humble abode are super stimmy.

So that’s the first of my special interests I’ll share here. What are some of yours?

The Book That Turned My Life Around

From the time my original blog went away until late October were very difficult times for me. I was incredibly depressed and irritable. I had lost all interests in all of my hobbies, and my entire existence consisted of little more than work, eat, drink, sleep. When you hold onto very negative/pessimistic philosophy (such as antinatalism and existential nihilism), something painful as the dissolution of a relationship can absolutely break you.

Contrary to what some might think, it’s impossible to separate your philosophical views from how you live your life. I thought I was doing so successfully for years. I had one set of views, but I didn’t think my lifestyle reflected those views. On the surface, those who knew me in person were surprised to know I held such views, given my seemingly fun-loving outward persona. Of course, this outward manifestation is at the core of narcissism, which I had no idea that I was suffering from at the time.

In the months prior to the downfall of  my most recent relationship (the previous iteration of this blog), I had attempted to overwrite some of my own philosophical code, with studying some different philosophy, both secular and spiritual. While the tenets of stoicism especially rang true for me, it was difficult for me to implement them consistently as I was still “spiritually dead” as it were. As such, I sought to supplement with a study of Buddhism. Though some of it rang true for me too, it seemed these people just sort of came into the world knowing these spiritual truths, not struggling to grasp them. I, on the other hand, having had an atheist mother and a lapsed Baptist stepfather growing up, was never exposed to this stuff. Yes, my beloved great-grandmother practiced Buddhism, but she was never at all pushy about her own faith.

During a week-long trip to see my parents in Abilene in the middle of October, I finally got my breakthrough. I had been following motivational speaker and ex-monk Jay Shetty on Facebook for awhile, and ad space for his new book Think Like a Monk kept popping up in my feed, almost as thought it were nagging me to read it. It sounded interesting for sure, and though I resisted for a couple of days, I finally listened to my inner voice that was telling me to check it out. I gave in and ordered the Kindle version of the book and dove right in.

I was enamored from the start.

Instead of a person who came into the world knowing these spiritual truths, here’s someone who was like me at one point in his life – someone who thought success was defined by the pursuit of fortune, rather than the development of meaningful relationships and sharing one’s gifts with the world. Instead of chasing his Dharma (his life’s calling), he was chasing celebrity and riches, until that one person reached him.

It was at that moment I realized it was just that the right person hadn’t yet reached me. I needed a specific person to do it.

Shetty’s book was exactly what I needed. It broke me in the areas I needed breaking in, and inspired me in the areas I needed inspiration in. It was my jumping off point to being able to recognize my own unique talents and abilities (and that includes those afforded to me by my Asperger’s/Autism OS – to the point I no longer wish to be “cured” of it!), and that while a supposed “dream career” was out of the cards for me, it simply wasn’t my Dharma (true calling). It was my spring board to get me to turn outward, instead of wallowing in my own defeats, to turn those defeats into something beautiful to share with the world – it germinated the seed to pursue culinary arts as a career (the seed had been planted some months ago, and laid dormant until the right time).

Think Like a Monk taught me to embrace myself as I am, a unique person with unique abilities, and not to compare myself to others. It taught me to love myself in a non-narcissistic way for the divine being that I am. I had struggled with the topic of neurodiversity, even after coming to understand the viewpoint over recent months. Though Shetty never really addresses the topic of the autism spectrum, his words drove the neurodiversity message home for me in an indirect way, leading to greater self-acceptance.

Regardless of where you are at in your life (but especially if you are struggling to find your happiness, meaning, and purpose), I’d highly recommend giving Think Like a Monk a read. It’s a fairly quick (about 11 hours) and easy read that changed my life. It might just change yours too.

Be well.

A Fresh Start

Well fellow WP people, I have returned to the blogosphere!

No worries, I’m not expecting a warm welcome back. I’m sure many of you know the circumstances regarding my sudden disappearance in September. I know I’ve made some egregious mistakes over the past few months, in both my blogging life and personal life.

If, in your view, these mistakes are absolutely unforgivable, I understand entirely and don’t hold anything against you. I will simply wish you the very best in your life’s journey, and I hope you have a healthy, happy, successful life. I genuinely want for you all the best life has to offer.

For those who decide to stick around, I’ve decided to make a fresh start with a new site. As you will see, all of my previous blog posts, pages, etc. were imported into this site, so you can access them anytime you want. Almost all the images are gone, of course, and over the coming months I’ll see how much of those I can reconstruct.

As for my fresh start, I’ll be trudging forward in an attempt to heal some deep personal and professional wounds. Recent studies have led to the realization that I suffer from Childhood PSTD/C-PTSD, caused by serious childhood trauma from both parents, but most notably my mother, whom I have discovered is a malignant narcissist who was enabled by a codependent stepfather. Unfortunately, I wound up taking on after my mother, and a large part of my healing will require a task that many say is impossible – recovering from narcissism myself. It’s a long, arduous road, but I’m not going to shy away from it.

My healing regimen lately has involved some serious dives into self-acceptance and self-love (most notably accepting my Asperger’s/Autism diagnosis and seeing the positive aspects of it), some study of psychology, positive/optimistic philosophy, working with a great counselor/psychotherapist, and lots of meditation, dietary changes, and supplementation as needed. I can already feel a difference, even if I have a long way to go.

As far as personal life updates, it is time for a career change. I’m sick of being stuck in an uninspiring career that won’t really get me anywhere. Given my recent discovery of cooking and my love for it and natural ability, I have decided to make a career out of it. I hope to be attending the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio starting next summer. I currently have an application in, waiting to hear back from this. A large part of my healing journey is going to involve fulfilling my “Dharma” – my life’s purpose. Cranes are not my Dharma. Neither would have a commercial airline pilot career. It’s clear to me now I was born to be a chef, and to share that gift with the world.

So that’s what’s up with me these days. I hope you all are well. Please let me know, I’d love to hear from all my old friends, and maybe some new ones!

Cheers!
-Lynn – “The Inked Autist”

PS: I completed my Grandfather Clock on 9/26/2020. Here’s a picture of the final product:

A Letter to My Younger Self

It’s been just the very start of a long healing journey for me the past year. Going gluten-free, changing various lifestyle habits, incorporating yoga and meditation into my daily routine, studying different philosophies even. It’s been a wild ride for sure.

However, there is still one big sticking point I need to overcome, and it is critical to addressing my own narcissistic tendencies (I’ll use that term as it’s likely not full-blown NPD; just many of the elements thereof). At the root of all narcissistic personality styles is a rejection of oneself. This is true of me too in that I’ve rejected myself for nearly three decades, and that’s three decades too long.

With that, I decided to write a letter to my younger self. It’s time to get in touch with him again. I’ve come to realize I miss him. I’ll share that letter here, not as an attempt to seek validation or sympathy, but for those who might be struggling with something similar, because I know I’m not the only one.

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Dear younger self,

It’s been awhile since I’ve heard from you. A long while, at that. Almost three decades. It’s been about that long since we parted ways, only to never see or hear from each other again. I figured it’s finally time to reach back out to you.

I knew then that you didn’t want to play house with the cool kids. You didn’t want to partake in any of their silly games, yet I forced you to anyway, even though you’d have rather been building things with Legos or K’nex. I tried to make you fit in, tried to make you popular, because I wanted you to be so badly.

When it became impossible for you to do these things with the cool crowd, and you did what you would rather have been doing anyway, you got called every last name in the book. You always got picked last in gym class. You got called a geek, a loser, a weirdo, among other unflattering names. Instead of standing up for you, I sided with them. I decided that they were right and you were somehow defective. Not only did they reject you, but I also rejected you.

I realize now, that forcing you to do things you didn’t want to do, and the later rejection of you, was a huge mistake.

In my rejection of you, I caused you a lot of hurt. My trying to make you fit in made you so uncomfortable to the point where you melted down frequently (I know now this isn’t your fault and is part of who you are). When you melted down, that damage was compounded by the verbal abuse you endured from both teachers and parents as well as the physical abuse you endured from your parents (who did not know who you were either, so please do not harbor any resentment toward them).

When you were subjected to these things, I still didn’t stand up for you when you were manipulated into thinking you deserved it. Your grades suffered at school because you were so depressed.

I failed miserably in my duty to protect you, a duty I swore upon you from the day I was born.

I’m sorry. I’m really and truly sorry.

It’s time to right the old wrongs. It’s time to accept you for who you are, rather than what the masses think you should be. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are a good person at heart – kind, caring, loving. Those are the things that truly matter in life. I want you to really reflect on and take to heart the warm, nurturing words of your great-grandmother. She saw through all the negativity and criticism and loved you for you, as you were. She knew the true you, even though nobody else seemed to, and she loved you for it.

If you are so willing, I’d like to welcome you back into my life, with open arms, no strings attached. It’s time I wised up and appreciated you at your face value, rather than trying to mold you into something you weren’t, and subsequently rejecting you when you couldn’t be. I know now that you can truly be yourself around me, and those around me. It’s really OK.

Please give me, give us, that chance to build you up.

I love you, and I’ll be here for you when you’re ready.

Yours Truly,
Your older self

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Thank you for reading, and I hope this helps someone.

A Very, Very Uncomfortable Discovery

I’ve always known I am a very broken individual. My parents were not well equipped to handle an autistic child (of course I didn’t know I was such until 14). As such, the abandonment, the comparison to my neurotypical peers, the shaming, even the verbal and physical abuse I endured at the hands of my parents from early childhood have left me scarred for life.

Add this to the bullying I endured at school all the way up through grad school no less, getting shut out of my dream career, among other emotional beatdowns I took throughout my early 20s and I’ve been torn down all my life.

Combine this with some body image issues along the way, and my discovery of a very negative philosophy in my mid 20s (that resonated strongly with me because of how bad I felt at the time), well let’s just say it was a perfect storm.

I used to dismiss my trauma and say I had it good, even though I know I didn’t. This denial was my life for so long, along with some serious rage, resentment, contempt for life and just those around me, and dare I say some serious projection of my own misery on others in the form of my antinatalist philosophy. What I endured at the hands of my parents and peers all those years turned me into the last thing I ever wanted to be, and though I wish I could deny it, recent discovery makes it impossible to do so.

It turned me into a narcissist.

Now I’m not the type who stands in the mirror and stares at my reflection obviously, but it’s the truth. My defenses have been so amped since childhood that it wired me such that I do very legitimately fit the profile for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

As if I didn’t need another reason to absolutely hate myself.

Talk about a double-whammy. ASD and NPD is a nasty combination. Talk about doubling down on alexithymia and rage/meltdown states in times of sensory overload and extreme stress. It’s not fun, let me tell you.

I realize I’ve done a lot of damage over the years. My past is littered with lost friendships, short-lived relationships, long stretches of unemployment, burned bridges, among other things. It’s depressing really.

I know there’s no cure for NPD. It’s something I have to manage as best I can going forward, now that I’m armed with this knowledge. I think it can be done though. All I know is I’m tired of being miserable day in and day out. I know I want to be the very best version of me I can, and that means learning to live with this just as anyone who has a chronic illness has to. It’s going to be a difficult journey, maybe the most difficult one I’ve ever embarked on, but I know it’s a must if I ever want to have a happy and fulfilling life (unrepentant narcissists really are dead inside, don’t let their “masks” fool you).

Now excuse me while I go sulk, because I can’t think of anything worse to be…

My Experience With Neuro-Emotional Technique

If it’s one thing I know all too well it’s pain. Lots and lots of pain. It’s been weighing me down for a long time, to the point it’s taken a toll on not only my mental health, but physical as well. It’s not been fun and it’s been affecting every aspect of my life – work, friendships, relationships, etc.

Several people had suggesting counseling for various demons I carry around, but that just does not work for me. I was forced into counseling as a teenager and it made no difference whatsoever. It was a waste of my time and my parents’ money. I knew that wasn’t an option.

So fastforward to the present. Now that I’ve started a journey to mend my physical health, mending mental health is part of it too as it’s all linked. Counseling isn’t an option, but I need some sort of mental healing. That’s when Laina suggested to me to look into Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET).

I only have limited understanding of what it is or how it works, but what I can tell you is that NET is in no way counseling or talk therapy/psychotherapy. Rather, NET uses elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine and chiropractic care to correct imbalances caused by painful or stressful situations (a better explanation can be found here). You never know what event your body wants to talk about in any given session, but something usually comes up.

Sounds like a bunch of hooey right? Don’t get me wrong, I was skeptical too. VERY skeptical. Alas, I’ve been weighed down by so much shit in my life that I was willing to try anything.

I’ve only had three sessions so far, but here’s what I can tell you – it’s amazing. The experience is incredible. During all three sessions I’ve had some significant event or concept has been “pulled out” – all without telling the practitioner anything major about my past or any painful/stressful memory/life event. One’s body tells the story without much need for verbal cues. It’s almost like an emotional detoxification as it were.

So what do releases feel like? Well they can be varied, but in the end the best way for me to put my experience is that it’s almost like an emotional detachment from that event or memory. It’s still there, but it’s like you’re no longer hurt, angry, etc. about it. It’s just what it is. In the end, I’ve always felt a lot lighter and more relaxed/at peace at the end of a session. Stressful shit does pile up on you and weigh you down after all.

I might not know the hows or whys, but I do know it works and it’s been more effective in just three sessions than years of counseling or talk therapy ever would dream of being. It’s very efficient, and I’m all about efficiency.

So that’s just my experience with NET and I’d highly recommend it to everyone. We all need a good mental/emotional detox as well as physical. I definitely feel better and am in a better place because of it.