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The Hanged Man

Photo credit: Genessa Gutzait

Last week, I left a concert earlier than I had intended. I’d had fun but my boyfriend and I had agreed it was time to go. I apologized to a friend who was playing later that night and traded her a drink ticket for one of her cassettes. “That’s perfect,” she said.

We listened to the music as we drove home, letting the streetlights guide us toward safety and security. It felt good to be home early. It felt good to have a place of retreat, a place of surrender.

I’ve come to the point in my life, prematurely perhaps, where I can’t stay out all night without forfeiting a large chunk of the next day and most of my sanity. I still stay up late to finish projects. I’m still trying to cram every ounce of my being into this menial 24-hour cycle, but I do so from the safety of my own home. I love the sense of connection I feel at concerts, but at a certain point it’s time to retreat from society and hide away in my little cave of an apartment.

The other day, I had what’s called an autistic shutdown. When I’m overstimulated or under intense stress, my speech and motor functions will begin to shut down. It’s as if my brain and body go into low-power mode. The alternative being meltdown, the opposite, where I might throw a tantrum, screaming and stamping and beating my chest. Most functioning adults with Aspergers learn to avoid the latter and opt for the former if a physiological response is absolutely unavoidable.

After wrapping myself in a heavy blanket, I lay on my bed for an hour or more. I couldn’t get anything done. It was frustrating but I had to let the frustration go if I were to come out the other side of my shutdown any time soon.

Sometimes, the best thing is to divorce oneself from the world completely. I’ve had to face the fact  that sometimes I cannot be truly understood or known by anyone but myself. I usually make fun of this kind of language. It’s the type of thing pseudo-intellectuals say when someone criticizes their art. Still, at times, it’s healthy to remember that no one can quite perceive the chasm of my being. It’s not a comforting feeling. I don’t think it’s supposed to be. It simply leaves me hanging.

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