Search

J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

Category

Observations

So, In Solitude, You Can Hear Yourself Think…….

…….and that’s not as easy or as fun as it sounds.  Trust me on this – I am the over-thinker extraordinaire and getting out of my head is a task unto itself.  Embracing solitude and being alone with your thoughts can be intimidating or even frightening – my observation has been that those who fear or are uncomfortable with their own thoughts tend towards unhealthy or toxic situations and habits.  For me, solitude, being solitary and alone with my thoughts is as natural as breathing.

Also, thinking is how I get my brilliant story ideas, so at least there’s a trade-off.

I’m a solitary introvert with the occasional social tendencies. This means that, while I tend to prefer the company of Me, Myself and I, there are times when I also want to be in the company of others and share in conversation or experiences.  I’m also an Asperger’s, which may be why I’m comfortable with being solitary, but it’s also high-functioning and I’ve got the tools to navigate the social world.  Somewhere, there is a post about the times I enjoy socializing and the pros and cons of such an effort, but this is not that post.  This post is about solitude, why I enjoy it and the frustrations of trying to communicate this bit of joy to those who thrive on social interaction.

So, here goes.

Being solitary is my nature.  It’s something I don’t put a lot of thought into and it certainly never had a negative impact on me.  I’m free to entertain my own schedule and alter course as I please.  I can be as excited and energized over something I enjoy as I want – likewise, I can also be as introspective and contemplative as I want.  In neither case do I have to worry about a person being uncomfortable in my presence. [1]  When I go on my mini-road trips, I have no responsibility to anyone but myself and I am therefore able to see the details around me that would otherwise go unnoticed.

In solitude, everything can be seen and felt.

Details like dragonflies and hummingbirds flitting by; a sea otter playing in the bay; the sounds of gulls and seals arguing over property rights; waves crashing over a jetty; silence wrapping itself around you while walking along a dirt path; the smell of wet earth and the canopy of trees shielding you from the sun.

In my world, being solitary is heavenly, energizing in a way that I can only compare to working on a  play – which involves people.  There’s a kind of synergistic high as an actor when you connect with the audience and your fellow actors. The fact that I have a literal script to follow is an absolute bonus – as someone with Asperger’s, this allowed me to see structure in social interaction. [2]  This is probably the reason I thrived in theater for so many years – I had a literal blueprint for something that confused the hell out of me off-stage.  As an Asperger’s, having a script that told me what to do, what to say and when was a HUGE relief and it was probably the most social thing I ever did.  I not only willingly chose to participate with other people, but I also felt comfortable enough to keep separate at times without drawing criticism. [3]

Mask created by Robert Lamarche.

Being social in other environments requires me to wear a mask, so that I can at least pass for ‘normal’ – whatever that means. [4]  The pressure I feel to be just the right amount of social and Self in order to go out and mingle with people is so stressful that I’m already exhausted before I set foot outside my bedroom, let alone my house.  It’s sensory overload, or the anticipation of it, anyway.

How can I describe this, so that you, the person reading this, understands?  Because language is very important when communicating, I make an effort to find the right words.  I have many friends who are extroverts and thrive on social events.  I have an equal number of friends who are introverts and thrive on their own company.

People who are extroverts, and are used to being stimulated by external influences, may find solitude depressing or even frightening.  An extrovert friend mentioned something along those lines to me and I suggested that perhaps it’s because when you’re alone, you’re faced with yourself – no distractions, no filters, no smoke and mirrors.  Just you, your Self and your thoughts.

And that can be frightening – what kind of person are we when we’re alone?  Are we really the person we think we are, hope we are?  Or are we less than we hope to be?

It’s something I’ve reflected on, consciously and unconsciously, my entire life.  I’ve never been uncomfortable being on my own or alone, because that’s my constant state.  It has always been that way.  Do I want to share my world with someone?  Of course, I do.  But I’d like it if people would stop automatically assuming it’s because I’m lonely (“You need to learn how to be alone”) or that I don’t have a life (news flash – just because my life doesn’t live up to what you think it should be, doesn’t mean I don’t have one) or some other lame-ass opinion.

If I’m inviting you into my world, it’s because I think you’d not only enjoy it, but that you’d add to it, just as my presence might add to yours. [5]

Being alone is my preferred state.  I am not forced to be in a box to make others comfortable, I am free to be as elemental as I want and, while occasionally frustrating, my thoughts are perfectly suited as company.  I lack for nothing in my life as a solitary person – I have my own beat, I have my art and stories to research, I have horses and cats and the occasional foray into social interactions.  I also have my adventures to plan.

And the best adventurers are usually loners……with the occasional side-kick.

[1] I’m aware that what other people think of me is A. none of my business and B. who gives a fuck.

[2] Real life needs to be scripted. It also needs to be accompanied with a music score, so that one could more easily recognize certain situations for what they are.  A bad situation in alley is easy to recognize – a bad situation surrounded by people whom you know, not so much.

[3] I was once cornered at a table by two people whom I’d known for at least three years in the same social setting.  They knew of my Asperger’s and the techniques I utilized to take care of myself when feeling overwhelmed in social settings, and yet chose to be critical of me and those techniques.  My crime?  Sitting by myself, writing in my journal about the day I’d had, the enjoyment I’d felt and the people I’d chosen to share it with.

[4] I’m aware of the fact that others may feel overwhelmed and stressed in social gatherings, but they can either tell their own stories or be quiet. Dismissing and/or talking over someone who is opening up and trying to articulate their discomfort, their feelings and experience as best they can is disrespectful, to say the least.

[5] Before you make assumptions about someone, it’s best to look at why you’re making those assumptions.

Advertisements

Morning Thoughts* (7)

1. I’ve been thinking a lot about the term ‘good old days’.

2. ^^^ As we all know, there’s no such thing – it’s just rose-colored glasses on a period of time that we have no experience or memory of.

3. I’ve also been watching old TV shows on channels like COZITV and Antenna – Emergency, Adam-12, I Dream of Jeannie, Little House on the Prairie, etc

4. ^^^ I’ve often caught myself remembering when I’d originally watched these shows – I was under the age of ten, I had no real responsibilities, no real worries to weigh upon me. I just lived and did my thing and was pretty happy.

5. Then it occurred to me – maybe the ‘good old days’ that everyone keeps talking about are the days of childhood, before responsibility and the need for a paycheck became an overwhelming concern.

6. ^^^ This makes sense to me – that, in varying degrees, we are trying to get back to the ‘good old days’ of when we were free from worry, responsibility and just focused on being who we were and enjoying our lives.

7. So the trick, then, is to try and bring that feeling into our present.

8. ^^^ I know how difficult this can be – I never said it was easy.

9. But maybe re-discover the things that made you happy as a kid – painting, or dance or something – and add that to your life.

10. It might not bring radical change, but it won’t hurt you, either.

11. It might just make you happier and better able to face the challenges of being an adult.

 

* not to be confused with Evening Thoughts. 😉

Evening thoughts (6)

1. I think I need glasses.

2. ^^^ I’m kind of bummed about that, because so far, I’m the only one in the family that hasn’t needed to wear them.

3. ^^^ Seriously, I’ll be the last one in the family to start wearing glasses. I’m the sole holdout

4. So far, reading glasses have helped, especially with working on the computer.

5. ^^^ Although I’m beginning to suspect that using them while writing in longhand is going to be useful, as well.

My reading glasses.
Note the rather large safety pin.
Sigh.

6. If I’m gonna wear glasses, then by golly, I’m gonna embrace the hell out of it.

7. I’ve been wearing the reading glasses that I’d bought when I got cast in The Mousetrap a couple of years ago.

8. It lost a screw the other day, so now it’s being held together by a rather large safety pin.

9. I am resourceful.

Morning Thoughts* (5)

1. Coffee is a food group unto itself. But I’m sure you already knew that.

2. I have the best gym in the world and I don’t even pay fees – in 30 to 45 minutes, I’ve worked out almost all the major muscle groups at once at least two or three times a week. How? I clean horse pens.

3. In ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, there’s a character named Catherine, who advises Francis (Diane Lane) to live spherically. I’m interpreting that to mean “Don’t make yourself small to make other people feel comfortable. That’s not your problem.”

4. Who is Kesyer Soze? A mousy character in The Usual Suspects (1995), obviously. But this can also describe someone who blows the secret to the fucking movie in his acceptance speech.

5. People will experience you differently, but there’s always a constant thread. As Maya Angelou once said, ““I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

6. One of my many goals in life is to just give people something to smile about. There is nothing too small or insignificant to smile about.

7. Naps, the terror of childhood, are actually good things.

8. I’ve compartmentalized my life so well, it would shock you. I’m not kidding – it shocks me, sometimes.

9. Road trips are a must – take them as often as you can, even if it’s an hour or two away.

*as opposed to evening thoughts.

Peaceful day at the bay.

Evening Thoughts (4)

1. Raise your vibe. Everything else will start to fall away or into place.

2. Embrace your inner child. Wear pigtails and put banana stickers on your nose. Have fun. 🙂

3. Be delighted to see the people you care about and love, whether friends or family.

4. Chill out with a horse. Sometimes, the best wisdom comes from the silent presence of a 1200 pound animal.

5. Put a little sparkle into your outings.

6. I am one with the Force, the Force is one with me.

7. Be brave. Be true. Stand. All the rest is darkness. (from IT, by Stephen King)

Evening Thoughts (3)

1. In the last couple of years, I’ve encountered three types of bullies. They all did the same thing – attacked certain aspects of my person that threatened their ideas about who they were and their place in the world. Needless to say, none of these people are in my life.

2. My physical reaction to being bullied, regardless of the kind of bullying, is the same – shortness of breath; panic attacks; weight gain or retention; wearing baggy clothes in order to hide or disappear; severe anxiety; loss of appetite; shrinking into myself; nervy.

3. Given my experience, you will almost never recognize when someone is being bullied. Bullying is not always about broken bones or bruises – a lot of it is gaslighting and manipulation.

4. In the last four months, I’ve lost 20 pounds. My diet did not change; my activity level did not change (walking a mile 3 or 4 times a week; cleaning horse pens). Only one thing changed – I was no longer being bullied and/or harassed.

5. I give far too many chances to too many who don’t deserve a first chance, but once I’m done, you’re out.

6. I am always happy.

7. If I seem anxious or stressed, ask and listen. Really listen, without your ego.

8. Do not fuck with a Pisces. Some fish have razor sharp teeth and they bite hard.

9. My favorite shark is the carcharodon carcharias.

10. My favorite summer movie is JAWS (1975).

11. My most unique skill is remembering conversations verbatim, which is hilarious, because there’s a good portion of my life that I don’t remember.

Evening Thoughts (2)

He waits, he watches.

1. Henry the Gray had a massive brain storm and spent a good amount of time racing around.

2. It’s a good feeling when you realize your most recent bully is more than three decades too late to instill fear in your heart, because you’ve met worse at the age of ten.

3. If you feel that you are ‘accommodating’ me because I’ve got boundaries and I’m insistent that you respect them, then you have no idea what the concept of respect means.

4. From October 31, 2016 through September 23, 2017, I was being bullied, harassed, sexualized, objectified and put into such a deep state of anxiety, that I would have a panic attack before I even walked in the door. This was despite my repeated establishment of what my boundaries were – not even an email worked.

5. Do not ever ask me to place my faith and trust in someone who willfully, actively and deliberately destroyed any reason for me to do so, just because he got his feelings hurt because I stood up for myself.

6. If someone tells me I need therapy one more time, I’ll ask, “Why? Because I’m comfortable talking about it or because you’re uncomfortable hearing about it?”

7. I know who I am.

8. I am a solitary person by nature. I enjoy my company and my thoughts and am quite happy to plot my next Unexpected Adventure on my own. If I am inviting you into my life or am participating in social situations, it’s because I WANT to share things with you and that I CHOOSE to be there, not because I am lonely.

9. There is a worm hole or black hole in my house – five times this evening, I witnessed Henry the Gray exit the garage, cross my room and go into the hall to the rest of the house. I did not once see him do the reverse.

Evening Thoughts (1)

1. It is the ultimate form of abuse to tell someone who has finally found their voice and courage to speak up and say “No more!” to being disrespected, abused and bullied that they need therapy.

2. If you can’t speak up for yourself, you will never be able to speak up for others.

General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher).
Credit: Pacify Mind

3. Carrie Fisher is my rebel patron saint of No Fucks to Give.

4. I am feeling a tremendous amount of pure energy in my heart and soul. Yesterday, I could hardly sit still – I wanted to move hills and reshape valleys and redirect rivers. For lack of a better word, I will call it the Force.

5. I am one with the Force, the Force is one with me.

6. I know the difference between someone making a naughty joke and someone who is deadly fucking serious.

7. I am enough.

8. The actions, feelings and words of others are not my problem – do not attempt to make it so.

9. A woman who knows her own power and claims it is not to be trifled with.

10. I am surrounded by books. I may have to send up the white flag and surrender.

So, part of being an Aspie (Asperger’s)…..

………is that there is a tendency to overshare.  I’m very aware of it in myself.

This is what it feels like – having the gas pedal pushed and clamped down into permanent ‘Go’.
The harder I try to stop the flow of words, the worse it gets.  That feeling I described above gets harder to overcome – it becomes a physical pain.  Everything around me is thrown in sharp, distorted, almost fun-house relief.  I become stressed, anxious and panicked.

How do I handle it?

By going with the flow and finding a way to re-direct it. Once I relax into it, I find I can regain control.  That gas pedal feeling goes away.  I can breathe.  Any anxiety or panic starts to dissipate. The world re-sets itself and I am fine.

It’s helpful when I’m with a group of people who know me and understand that I have this disability.  That feeling of being among friends, with whom I feel safe and accepted regardless of location, has helped a lot.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑