Saturday, June 23, 2012

With one voice...

In my home are myriad compartments. Bins for the kids' things. Drawers sorted by function. Boxes with labels in the closets. I am a master organizer. I find great joy in taking chaos and turning it into a filing system.

My last post revealed something to me. I tend to overdo it with the compartments.

I took that and ran with it in my mind. I recognized how this has hindered me socially. Not only do I lose track of myself around others, but I also see myself in compartments, rather than one complete person. I do not automatically integrate the different parts of me that make me who I am.

I clearly remember being in fourth grade and seeing some of my classmates turning ten. "Double digits" was a big deal. I remember having a touch of fear in the pit of my stomach. I enjoyed being nine, and it looked fun to be ten, but was I ready for double digits? With a summer birthday, I didn't have the rest of the class watching me as I turned a year older. They would have to see this new person in September.

On the day of my tenth birthday, I looked in the mirror. Nothing looked different, and I didn't have a tidal rush of sudden new interests. In fact, I liked the things I had liked the day before. I had the same face, the same hair, and the same thoughts.

"I'm double digits... but I'm still ME!"

It reads like a cliche, but it really did surprise me. And, as charming is it is to have those sorts of thoughts as a child, I find I have carried that same element of surprise into my adulthood... only now, I don't consciously realize it.

I limit myself to my compartments. I organize myself neatly. But I don't integrate.

When I worked, I was an employee, or a coworker. When my first daughter was born, I was "Mom." When I go to the grocery store, I am "a shopper." When I used to go to hockey games, I was "a fan."

In none of those did I consider myself "Aimee." In fact, "Aimee" was subordinate to each of those titles.

Only now do I see that it was meant to be the other way around. "Aimee" can be many things, and "Aimee's" aspects carry over as a whole into all settings.

I have found myself saying as much. Take my daughter's First Communion. I wanted to have a nice dinner for friends and family afterward, but found it difficult to plan. "How am I supposed to be Mom and Aimee both?"

Likewise, as I revisited "Undercover Aspies," I realized another part of being discovered in an unexpected context is not being able to access that part of me that belongs to that other setting. If I am at the library, I am wearing a "library patron" label. The compartment holding all of my "Aimee, the friend" aspects is at the bottom of the stack and can't be accessed without a lot of work.

I compare it to celluloid. Instead of seeing an integrated self, maybe I see myself in individual layers of celluloid. I'm not completely self-blind, but I see only one layer at a time. If I overlay each layer on top of the other, I get a three-dimensional, full-color picture. If I peel apart each layer individually, I get a series of one-dimensional outlines, none of which really resemble me. And yet, I do that each time I limit myself to my context. It's as though I experience myself a sketch at a time, and never experience the fullness of my entire being.

Huh. This makes so much sense.

So much, that I have taken a long look at myself, and realized that I have done that even here.

Why in the world do I need two blogs?

Well, let's see. I started out a year ago with a gnawing hunger to write about my experiences. I felt I could help translate why I do what I do so that the rest of the world won't keep getting misfires and unclear signals from me. My quietude does not mean I am aloof. My crossed arms don't mean I am defensive. My lack of tears does not mean I am not grieving. My reluctance to use the phone is from my frustration at trying to communicate without any visual cues, not because I am avoiding you.

At the same time, I had an interior epiphany. My Aspergers is not a handicap. My Aspergers is not a defect. It is the means by which I may be instructed in living a better life. I have Aspergers, and many of my destructive and self-defeating habits stem from my own lack of understanding. Some of this is willful and some is unconscious. But once I become aware of it, I have the ability to make it conscious, and to eventually quell the anxiety or anger that can hinder my growth as a person. I can embrace who I am and teach my children to be their best selves by my example.

Before I ever knew the word "Aspergers," I was a Christian. I was on my way to discovering the Catholic faith. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the holy ones throughout history who have left their imprint of hope and love in a world that lacks both. I freely chose Catholicism as an adult and received the sacrament of Confirmation in college. I believe this path is the one that will lead me toward God and will teach me how to be of service to Him. I believe my faith will teach me, cleanse me, guide me and sustain me. I already believed this at that point in time when I finally pieced together the fact that my lifelong oddness was well described by the clinical term "pervasive developmental disorder."

My day begins with, ends with and is infused with my faith... whether I spend that day cleaning house, buying groceries, writing dissertations, counseling clients or explaining pervasive developmental disorders on the blogosphere

So why, then, do I have two blogs?

What if I only had one?


That runs the risk of being awfully authentic, doesn't it.

At first I thought I was trying to split the two concepts, one to explain myself to the rest of the world and one to express myself from the heart.

Why can't I do both at once?

Now I see that I didn't split anything on purpose, but rather, I started with compartments (or individual celluloids) and hadn't bothered to overlay the two to give -- and, get -- a fuller image of myself.

And so I am closing out Aspie Ambassador. I love the idea of it, and I will keep the posts around because there is no sense in deleting them until the internet finally runs out of parking spaces. I'm just not going to update it anymore. "Aimee" has Aspergers, and "Aimee" has consecrated this to God. There is no reason the fruits of my musings can't be expressed in their full form, rather than peeled apart as separate layers.

I will have one last post after this one, simply giving my other blog address. Do keep reading if this interests you. Aspergers is Aspergers, whether on this blog or any of the other fine Aspie support pages. If you are interested in my point of view, I will continue writing about it in my more fully integrated voice. "By Aimee O'Connell" should mean just that... and will.

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