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Living With Trauma

The ongoing chaos inside my head

Part One

©2022 Kelly Jeanne aka Catwoman=^..^=

Before I continue, I feel it’s important to clarify that in this series entitled, “Living With Trauma” I’m only addressing the mental health issues I’m dealing with. This has nothing to do with Asperger’s. I only mention it here to help people understand why I responded as I did after I was born. When I bring it up in future blog posts in this “Living With Trauma” series, it’s only to mention that those on the spectrum are up to 5 times more sensitive to stimuli than the average neurotypical. This is my way of explaining why any trauma I’ve been through in my life has been 5 times more profound, making life for me 5 times more difficult.


Those on the spectrum who have never been abused or suffered any trauma will certainly still have issues in life, BUT this is not due to being on the spectrum, particularly Asperger’s. It’s due to the preconceived, stereotypical ideas that others continue to have about us, making life especially hard. I talk about this extensively in my memoir and I touch on this in my blog. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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There were three factors involved at the time of my birth that has made my life particularly difficult. I call it The Triple Threat. Yes, it seems I hit the lottery when I was born. I say that with much sarcasm.

If you read the blog post titled, “Laying The Foundation”, you might remember that I was born pretty much unresponsive, with very little motor functions. When my mom finally took me to a pediatrican at the age of 6 months, the good doctor told her I’d be no better than an elevator operator. I’m tellin’ ya, that doctor should have been awarded top prize for his keen observation and capacity to care. This was the first piece of the puzzle.

I’ll go into more detail as to why I was born that way, but first I need to point out the other two pieces of the puzzle.

Because of the way I was at birth, my family was convinced that my mental capacity was practically non-existence and there was no hope for me. So, I was raised accordingly.

On top of that, I was physically, sexually and psychologically abused. As devastating as the physical and sexual abuse was, the absolute worst was the psychological abuse. That has left permanent scars that will never go away. Since it all began for me in my infancy and I lived in that toxic environment for 2 1/2 decades, I was well groomed and brainwashed into believing I was the problem. Everybody else was okay. I was not. My psyche had been seriously damaged.

During the course of my abuse, I sustained multiple concussions. This is very dangerous. Symptoms may vary in individuals depending on which areas of the brain have been affected. There isn’t room enough here to go into the details of my specific situation, but suffice it to say that my frontal lobe was damaged.

Each side of the frontal lobe controls different areas. One of the classic symptoms of someone who’s sustained a concussion, or as in my case, more than one concussion, is the inability to control the emotions, as well as not having any impulse control.

All during my childhood and up until my mid-thirties, I didn’t take any medication at all. I, nor anyone in the family ever consider concussions being the result of my outbursts. When you grow up having been abused since before you can remember, you think it’s normal. Nothing stands out as a red flag. You can only imagine the hell I had been dealing with since I had nothing to control my anger. I was literally at the mercy of my emotions. Okay, so the abuse and damage to my brain was the second piece of the puzzle.

The third piece of the equation ties into my lack of motor functions. When I was thirteen I had my I.Q. tested. It showed that I was (not my words) genius level. This completely confused me and I spent my entire childhood and the majority of my adult life wondering how I could possibly be above average in intelligence, yet at birth, be largely unresponsive. This really baffled me, and I didn’t know how to find the answers.

Fast forward to age 61. I decided to write my memoir. As I began my journey in writing it, I joined a memoir writing group where we critiqued each others’ works. One member wrote about similar life experiences as mine (minus the abuse) and after a visit with her doctor, found out she was on the spectrum.

After examining and comparing both our life events, I knew in my heart this was the answer. I finally understood why I’m so different, and why it had always been difficult for me to make friends. The signs were so clear that I didn’t need to be formally diagnosed. Besides, the cost to get a formal diagnosis by a psychologist is criminally prohibitive. How they can justify charging so much is beyond me.

Simply having an answer was a huge relief! It also gave me answer as to why my motor functions were practically non-existent when I was born, especially when I learned that one of the hallmark characteristics of anyone on the spectrum – no matter where on the spectrum they are – is having senses that are 3-5 times more acute than those not on the spectrum. It also explained why, at the age of 13, I was diagnosed with having an above average level of intelligence.

If you recall from reading, ‘Laying The Foundation’, where I mention not smiling, not turning my head, not waving my arms or legs, not crying, etc., I came up with a theory as to why this was. I decided to run my theory by those in an Autism/Asperger’s Research group I belong to. By the way, I should mention that the researchers in this group are on the spectrum. Anyway, here is the theory I came up with.

For nine months I’ve been surrounded by a warm embryonic fluid. I’m living in a very tight space, which makes me feel very snuggly and secure. It’s dark and quiet which adds to the serene and peaceful feeling. All my needs are being taken care of.

Suddenly, without any warning, I’m violently torn away from this warm, quiet safety that I’ve been in for 9 months, and forcibly dragged down through this very tight and constricting space. In fact, it’s so constricting as to nearly suffocate me. Not being able to see only adds to my disorientation and fear.

The second I emerge from this nightmare I’m relieved that I can breathe, yet now I have a whole new set of nightmares to deal with. Someone or something grabs me by my head and pulls me the rest of the way out of what used to be my home, my security. The incessant noise all around is too much for my ears to bear. Additionally, it has no soothing, rhythmic cadence to it. It’s just a cacophony of different noises that are not pleasing to the ear. The shock of light is so bright. Even with my eyes closed, it’s able to infiltrate and assault every inch of my rods and cones. The shock of air hits my skin with a glacial chill that not only numbs my body, but my mind as well. The last vestige of what has carried sustenance to me these 9 months is cut and thrown away. And you wonder why babies cry upon being born?

The birthing process is hard on any infant being born, but for someone whose senses are 3-5 times stronger, it can be 3-5 times more traumatic and even life altering, as it was in my case.

“What do you mean, Kelly? You aren’t cognitive while all this is happening.”

First, let me say that every infant being born is very cognitive of what they are going through at the moment they are going through it. It’s just that because the average infant, whose senses aren’t that acute, their minds are able to quickly process the information and snap back to normalcy. Because my senses are so intense, the experience literally numbed me, giving me the appearance of being brain-dead to my mom. This resulted in her viewing me as someone who, along with the other family members, was backward, feeble-minded, and subnormal. This profoundly influenced the way I was treated by them throughout my childhood, resulting in psychological trauma that has deeply affected and scarred me to this day.

Now that you have my basic background, this is a good place to end Part One. This will give you a better understanding of what goes on in my mind and why. Thank you for reading and I hope you come back for Part Two!

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Christmas Wishes

Here is a most lovely and charming Christmas Prose Poem by a good friend of mine, Wolf Johnny. I thought this would be perfect to post for Christmas. Enjoy! His Bio is at the bottom.

postage stamp

By

Wolf Johnny

Carried it as if were snow. Fragile, precious, prone to blow.

🎄

Hardly more than four, she bore the WREATH with polished grace.. like favorite doll with porcelain face, alive, in need of special care.

Kelly, with the uncombed hair, spoke as free as breathing air.

“I think that Grandpa should suppose that Grandma still likes velvet bows, and lights that flash with blue and green, songs that sing of manger scene, church and sleigh bells, tiny drums, and fuzzy lambs with festive plums.. and Frank instead of Murr,” she furthered..

“Even if an angel, now, I know she’ll visit, soon,” averred.“That’s frankincense and myrrh,” was heard.

🎄

And as they packed the car, with little room for little else, the kids all snuggled, juggled good.. presents, tins upon their laps.. Kelly spoke again.

Scarcely ever didn’t, then..“I’d like to hold the wreath myself. I’m sure to lend a lady’s touch. And maybe Jane can guard the cookies, if she wouldn’t mind too much.. JOHNNY, DON’T YOU EAT THEM ALL!”

The wreath was big and Kelly small.

Sitting there, the center back, an elfin princess framed by pine.. a Christmas fairy altar, shrine. So luring, lovely, garland flocked.. with brightest bow at 5 o’clock.

“The thurkey thgood,” said Kelly’s Dad, his digits neath the foiled plate. His fingers tapped and slapped by Mom (though understood, the turkey great)..

Her mitten grin brimming love, as wiped his chin and settled in.
To Grandpa’s house, a big surprise.. no interest shown..
his first, alone.

🎄

Road was snowy, driving slow as wound about the mountain tops. Trees adorned with crystal drops.Young’uns needing lots of stops..

“ALMOST THERE? Forgot my truck, my teddy bear. Have to pee. Kelly’s wreath is on my knee. We’re thirsty, Mommy,” said all three.

Kelly, Johnny, Jane agreed when, “LOOK, A STORE!” the kids did plead.
A little lost in all that white, worried they were losing light, Dad drove in the parking lot.. seeking map if, maybe, got.. and bathroom for the kids and he (perhaps could find a private tree).

“Alright you guys, let’s go inside, and keep your fingers to yourselves. We’re not a band of rowdy elves.”

Kelly stared at bursting shelves.

It seems their luck, this open store on Christmas Eve was, heretofore, known for prices very low (and bathroom clean and grateful so).. a Five and Dime and place to go to stretch one’s dollar far as could. Dad remembered, “Firewood. Let’s get some extra bundles good. Could squeeze in car, at least they should..”

“MOMMY, MOMMY, can we, please?!”And in between the hats and keys, were Christmas lights and baubles gold with shiny sparkles, colors bold..

+“I’m sure that Grandpa needs some things,” arms were waving, feet on springs.“Aunt Mary gave me quarters.. four.. and Uncle Jerry gave me more. And told me I should have some fun,” Kelly only just begun.

“I’d like to buy some extra stuff, for Grandpa doesn’t have enough.”

Set her lips, with hands on hips, her face affixed in steely stare.. that no one countered. Who would dare?

🎄
And, thusly, standing all in line, Mom, her brood of urchins fine, were laden down with Christmas cheer. Some with tinsel, others deer. Their mood was happy, laughing, loaded.. up and down with twinkles, charms.. as if the very SLEIGH OF SANTA split asunder in their arms.Were swags and bags of trimmings, frills, and ornaments adorned with thrills, for decking halls and wreathing doors, too many lights, were likely scores of candles, gnomes, and garlands bright for singing carols, maybe, might.. with cocoa mix and mallows white..“I think we’ve plenty for tonight,” said Dad as stared at cashier’s flurry, summing up their Christmas, “Hurry. Getting dark, a ways to go..

“I fear your number. Let me know.”

🎄

“Sixteen dollars, thirty cents..

“On Christmas Eve and odd events, we lower prices special for.. all Grandpa gifts and could be your.. extra-lucky special day..“I pray you have a jumbo sleigh.”
Mom and Dad then stood there mute.. was far too cheap for far too cute.. this clerk who beamed with cheeks too red, like Mrs. Claus, and plenty fed.

“ONE MORE THING! Please kindly wait!!” Kelly blurted, not too late. And like the wreath, when first we met.. she carried something special, yet.

“I found this card.. all Christmas-y.. with bunnies neath a lighted tree. I’d like to purchase this for me.”

A postcard from another time, an ancient year, the price unclear.“Well, this is from a Christmas past, from maybe 80 years ago,” said Mrs. Claus, her answer fast..“but free for you and HO, HO, HO..”

And as she grinned at Kelly beaming, little girl was slyly scheming.“How much for this glitter pen?” she bothered Mrs. Claus, again.

“Well, that one’s special, magic ink.. angel dust and writes in pink. A nickel, please,” with secret wink.. as coin went in her pocket. CLINK!

Then handed them their treasure pile, flashing grin and wily smile.“Your Grandpa’s house is down a mile.”

🎄

How they fit the merry sacks, their glitter bombs and happy packs of Christmas love for Grandpa’s home in car so full? A great unknown.

I have no clue.
But this I say, and wholly true..

They shmooshed it in and squashed it easy.. not a thing was broken, squeezing all the trimmings, taking care.. was nothing left but wee bit air.

Driving, turned the corner lane and found the house, when chimed in Jane..“NOT A SINGLE Christmas light..”

The family knew it wasn’t right.

With the last of sunlight glowing, car unpacked and Christmas flowing through their veins and out their pores.. they set about their quiet chores..Stringing lights and spreading cheer with all they bought, too hushed to hear, ‘til started singing carols loudly. Thought were soft, but bellowed proudly.

Grandpa stepped on porch with Tess, whose tail was wagging, “I confess, I’ve never seen a grimmer mess of Christmas joy..

“Am feeling blessed.“Now come on in and bring that tree, and who behind the wreath is she, who looks like someone’s long-lost elf?”

When Kelly squealed, “It’s me, MYSELF!!”

🎄

They brought the fun into the house with cats unhappy (happy mouse) to see the slew of Christmas fuss..“I guess there’s nothing to discuss. Oh sure, this house is getting old and missing Grandma.. come and hold your Grandpa, needs a Christmas hug..“Now who would like a yummy mug of cocoa warm. A massive storm you travelled through. Am smelling TURKEY? Tell me, true..”

And girls went off and made the meal as men kept up and fashioned real.. a Christmas Eve with fire going, stockings filled to overflowing, presents neath the tree with cats. Johnny thinking maybe hats would look quite good upon their fur. In Santa caps, began to purr.

Dinner served with cake and pie, as all remembered why they cried when thought of Grandma missing this, her dearest day.. December bliss.

Grandpa found some photos old of Grandma young for all behold, as passed them round the table FULL of leaking eyes and festive wool.

But what is this, this tiny square with holly berries, sitting there among the pictures..All did stare.

“If this a stamp, I’d like it, please,” our Kelly begged when felt a BREEZE..

come wafting through a window closed.. that smelled like figs in each their nose.. as took the stamp and blew it high.. when landed like a feather shy.

🎄

From their chairs they all arose and went inside to follow closely where the square now happened lay, near card inscribed with sparkles gay..

what little girls and angels say:“I think I saw you in the store. You helped us buy a little more for Grandpa on this special day. Come visit, please, and maybe stay.”

Addressed to Grandma, Heaven’s Gate. The fire crackled, getting late.

Clock struck twelve, was CHRISTMAS MORN..

when bells began and Christ was born.

©2022 Wolf Johnny

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Short Bio of Johnny Francis Wolf:

Homeless the better part of these past 8 years, he surfs friends’ couches, shares the offered bed, relies on the kindness of strangers — paying when can, doing what will, performing odd jobs. Of late.. Ranch Hand his favorite.

From NY to LA, Taos and Santa Fe, Mojave Desert, Coast of North Carolina, points South and South East — considers himself blessed.

On Jan 10th, his first book, MEN UNLIKE OTHERS, comes out on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Congratulations, Johnny!

If you’d like to follow him on Facebook, the link is here:

https://www.facebook.com/wolf.johnny/

Living With Trauma

Not once did he mention my name

©2022 Kelly Jeanne aka Catwoman=^..^=

Just under a year ago, I was hosting a critique room via Zoom and my phone rang. When I saw the name displayed, I dismissed it and hung up. The second time they called I became very confused. I had a more concrete idea of who it was. Because of this I made a point of hanging up. Not even a minute later, they called again. This time I took the call, although I was not at all happy about it.

“Hello?”

“Hello, honey. It’s dad!”

I made the decision to close ties with my family over 40 years ago. I hated the way he said ‘hi’ to me as if nothing happened between us. He never had an understanding of those around him. He was always clueless.

“Hi. What’s happening?”

“Well, I just wanted to know how you were doing. We haven’t heard from you for so long. You just stopped all contact with the family and we never got an explanation.”

All I could think was how dense as ever he was. Nothing had changed.

“Why do you think I cut all connections with everyone in the family?”

“I have no idea what happened. Can you tell me?”

At that point all I could think was, Wow!!

“You physically and sexually abused me. On top of that, I suffered multiple concussions as a result of the abuse, which has made my life a living hell ever since. How could you possibly think this would not affect me?”

“I did apologize for it.”

“Yes, after I forced you to face what you did. You’re a Christian and you didn’t think to go to the ones you hurt and say something? I wrote you a letter to you while I was in Florida and you were in Michigan. I got a return letter from you so fast, it told me you really didn’t do any soul searching. When I read the words in your letter, you didn’t sound sincere. To this day you don’t truly understand the weight of what you did. When you called me just now, you said hello, as if nothing had happened.”

“You’re a Christian, too. We are supposed to forgive each other.”

“It’s not about forgiveness. Nobody in the family wanted to bond with me. I wasn’t loved by anyone of you. None of you were kind to me. The message I got was that you all hated me.”

“Why would you say that?”

Again, all I could think was, Wow!!

“Don’t you remember when that dog attacked me when I was about 7? No one bothered to help me and get the dog off me. I thought I was going to die.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“That’s convenient.”

“Don’t you want to rekindle our relationship?”

“We never had a relationship. The only times you were ever around was to yell. You made it impossible for me to feel anything for you. To this day all I feel is emptiness. I don’t know what else to say.”

“I wish you would reconsider.”

“That’s just not possible.”

“Why not?”

“For one thing, you still don’t understand the damage you did. You call me twice. Each time I hung up on you. You call me a third time. That tells me it still doesn’t register with you that maybe I didn’t want to speak to you. It also shows you don’t respect my not wanting to talk with you”

“Please. Won’t you consider?”

“I’ve never bonded with you or anyone in the family. I feel nothing for you. I don’t feel comfortable. Please don’t contact me again.”

I was surprised I kept my cool during the whole conversation.

I also realized that throughout the conversation he never once said my name.

~ I Am Me ~ Multi-Faceted Like A Diamond ~

Whenever someone tells me I shouldn’t let others rent space inside my head, I just tell them, “Hey, I need the money!”

out of the mire – kind of

©2022 Kelly Jeanne Catwoman=^..^=

About ten years ago a friend of mine and I got off the trolley in Chula Vista and walked the remaining three blocks to a favorite restaurant of ours. What follows is a blow by blow description as to what happened during those three blocks.

Things were going well while walking the first block until we came upon a curb, definitely not an endangered species. The woman I was walking with – apparently no longer my friend – pipes up with,

“We’re coming to a curb, Kelly. Be careful you don’t trip.”

I had a lifetime of people doing this to me. Because of this, I’m easily triggered. However, I did my best to keep myself from committing a capital crime and I swallowed my – at the time – 50 odd years of frustration and kept quiet.

While stepping from the curb with her, she gives me one of those smiles you’d give a 5 year old. All the while I kept looking at her and wondered if she realized I’m an adult deserving of dignity. I guessed not since I saw nothing behind her vacuous eyes.

We continued along until we hit another curb that brought us back onto the sidewalk. Again, I hear from her,

“Here comes another curb, Kelly. Be careful.”

By now, all small talk, smiles, and laughter had stopped, replaced by an awkward silence, mainly from her. The silence was very telling. It meant she was aware of what was transpiring between us. The only problem was, if I brought it up to her, she’d just deny it and call me paranoid, just as everyone has done to me my entire life. I decided I didn’t need the aggravation and remained quiet.

In due time we hit another curb, but this time with a variation. A red light.

“We have to stop here, Kelly. There’s a red light.”

I knew I had to let escape some of the steam that was building up inside of me. I looked at her with this dead look on my face.

“Are you kidding me? I can see the curb and believe it or not, I know what a red light means.”

She said nothing, except to look at me with this knowing smile on her face that told me she knew exactly what she was doing and she was enjoying it. I said nothing more after that.

“Light’s green now.”

I was slowly dying inside and what was left of my already non-existent self-confidence was becoming even less, if that was possible. I felt like Jeremiah sinking in the mire.

We continued walking. We hit another curb. I braced myself.

“We’re at another curb, so be careful. And watch out for the puddle in the road.”

I used to pride myself during those times when I was able to keep myself from getting upset too quickly. It seemed I was well on my way to maturity. I soon learned, though, all it did was allow time for all that anger and frustration to build up until I became Mt Vesuvius.

I have always had a hard time controlling my emotions, but I never knew why. Aside from the anger I had from the years of physical, sexual, but most of all, psychological abuse, there seemed to be something more to it. I just could not get rid of that anger. It clung to me as if for dear life.

At about this time, a memory popped up – not exactly a flashback – of all those times when I was very young, of my mom forcefully banging my forehead against the nearest wall in the dining room, whenever I didn’t get a solution to a math problem. She found it especially frustrating even after she had shown me the solution!

Was I really that stupid? No, but she thought I was. Since infancy, she and everyone else in the family had told me I would never amount to anything, I would never accomplish anything. Did I believe them? You bet! When people are drilling into your head something since before you can remember it’s very easy to believe it yourself. What made this especially effective is it all started before I ever had a sense of self. Whenever I think about this I want to give my inner child a hug and tell her how much I love her.

Now, here my mom was punishing me for a lesson she had taught me since birth. A lesson I had learned very well. That’s the very picture of irony, wouldn’t you say?

It all came into place at that moment while walking with this person whom I thought was my friend. I had suffered multiple concussions. My frontal lobe had been damaged. At the time I didn’t know all of the details, but something told me the repeated hits to my frontal lobe had greatly inhibited my ability to control my emotions. This revelation I had that took you, my dear reader, a little under a minute to read, all came rushing to me in the space of about five seconds.

I knew that if I let my emotions simmer, if I didn’t deal with them right then and there, I would have another eruption and I couldn’t handle the acid tears and gut wrenching agony that came with it. Most importantly, I came to realize I wasn’t being immature.

After my ‘friend’ gave me her last directive, I stopped right where I stood, looked at her and said, not in exactly a yell, but in a strong voice to let her know I was serious,

“Excuse me! I’m not an idiot. I have eyes and can see when a curb is coming. I know how to step off one and step back onto one. I know what a red light means, as well as a green light. I can also see the puddle. I’m very aware of all my surroundings. Incredibly enough, I’m actually a pretty intelligent person. I don’t need you or anyone to police and babysit any of my moves. I’m quite capable of conducting myself very well. From now on please don’t talk to me anymore. At this point all she did was give me that same crafty, knowing smile. When I saw that nothing I said to her was registering I continued,

“In fact, I can’t allow myself to be around you anymore. This isn’t what I call friendship!

Ultimately, she left and I continued on to the restaurant where – amid some tears – I had a few quiet hours enjoying my meal. As sad as I was, I also felt relieved.

I wish I could say everything improved for me since that day and I lived happily ever after, but I can’t.

Even though life, in the physical sense is linear, always moving forward; our thoughts, feelings, and sense of self is ever transient, sometimes, as in my case, like quick silver. Depending on the circumstances, our feelings and thoughts are going to change many times over the course of a day. Having dealt with many humans himself, just ask Mr Spock in Star Trek.

Tantrums vs Meltdowns

Sometime ago I read an article stating that children with Autism have tantrums because of their lack of effective communication.

First, it should be noted that all children – on or off the spectrum – have tantrums, whether they can communicate effectively or not. Why is it any different for a child on the spectrum? This isn’t fair and only serves to demonize us, specifically children, even further. To make such blanket statements tells me that those who say such things no nothing about what it means to be on the spectrum.

Secondly, these so called ‘experts’ are, for the most part, getting ‘tantrums’ confused with ‘meltdowns’.

Tantrums are contrived emotional outbursts used by children to manipulate the adults around them in order to get what they want. Because they are contrived, that makes them conscious, thought out acts.

Children who throw tantrums know exactly what they are doing and when to throw them. Sometimes they don’t work. Sadly, most times they do, because most adults don’t know how to handle tantrums. It’s also sad to note that you don’t even have to be a child to have a tantrum. Many children who’ve grown up being spoiled may have them regularly.

They may not fall on the ground, kicking and screaming, but they make it known to everyone that they’re not happy when they don’t get their way. A tantrum in an adult can be as seemingly innocuous as a pout.

On the other hand, a ‘meltdown’ is vastly different. So, what is a ‘meltdown’? To understand the anatomy of a meltdown you have to understand the physiology of someone on the spectrum.

Those on the spectrum are born with hyper-aroused sensory systems that are 3-5 times that of a neurotypical.

Waking up in the morning with a bird chirping outside sounds pretty much like a school fire alarm.

I remember when I was very young, growing up in Michigan. Whenever a tornado was in the forecast, the sirens that went off shocked my central nervous system so badly that I literally felt the world was coming to an end and I wanted to die. It didn’t help that whenever we heard that sound, everybody in the family began yelling and we were all rushed into the basement. That only added to my fear. Those were the scariest experiences I felt and heard while growing up in the mid-west.

Imagine this same person who had just heard the birds chirping outside. They open their eyes and are bombarded with all this light rushing through the window. The light is so strong they have to snap their eyes shut, It’s too much for them.

One side of my living room is wall-to-wall plate glass with only blinds to protect me from all that light. I find that I even have to wear a cloth over my eyes at night while sleeping, because there is no way I’m going wake up at a random time with the sunlight in my eyes. Needless to say, the blinds are drawn the majority of the time.

This is problematic because I have a cat who loves her outside T.V. I don’t want to deprive her of the sounds and sites of the outside world, so I wait until the sun is below a certain point below the meridian before I open the blinds. This way, she gets to enjoy her T.V. and I’m not assaulted by all this light.

This same person who’s eyes snapped shut from the brightness of the light, finally decides to get up. The problem is, the floor isn’t carpeted and the icy cold wood is like ice stabbing into the bottom of their feet.

My floor is all wood. I hate winter because I know the icy cold wood floor is going to stab into my feet. It’s not comfortable at all. So, I rush to the bathroom to do my thing and rush back into bed. I usually don’t stop to put on slippers because when ya gotta go, ya gotta go, and with my bad legs it takes me that much longer to get to the bathroom.

As an aside, I want to mention that I had lived in Florida for 9 years. To say that I love the heat is an understatement. The whole time I had lived there, the temperature was nearly always in the mid to upper 90°, and a fair amount of days in the 100° with humidity to match. In the winter months the temperature didn’t get below 75°.

In June of ‘93 I decided to move to San Diego. When I got here I was so cold that I had to wear a down jacket and gloves that entire summer. It took me about 13 years to become mostly acclimated to the weather. To this day, I can’t swim in a pool unless it’s well above 78° – 80°, or above.

Mind you, this is only covering tactile, auditory and visual senses. To keep from boring everybody, I won’t even go into the other senses, but I’m sure you have a pretty good idea of what it’s like dealing with this.

So, what does this mean for anyone on the spectrum? This means that our central nervous system is constantly on edge and on the alert. This, in turn, means that we deal with sensory overload everyday of our lives. That’s a lot of energy coming in.

Most of us know that energy cannot be created or destroyed. This means the energy has to go somewhere. After so much input of energy, there is nowhere else for it to go but OUT!

Think of a glass. When you keep pouring water into that glass, it’s going to reach it’s limit and that water is going to start pouring over and out of that glass. It’s exactly the same way with the body. That energy has to go somewhere.

This results in a meltdown. Meltdowns are automatic. Meltdowns are the brains way of rebooting and recalibrating itself. The brain is much like a computer. When your computer is acting strangely, it’s usually time to reboot it in order to keep it running smoothly.

For those of us on the spectrum, meltdowns are natural and healthy. They are necessary to keep the central nervous system from running into serious problems, further traumatizing the person.

Around the country and the world, in fact, there are many conversion therapy treatments that punish those on the spectrum when they ‘act out’. Some places may use cattle prods to keep the person inline. Other institutions may use bracelets that are around the wrists or ankles and when the person in charge sees ‘inappropriate’ behavior they will remotely activate the device, sending a shock through the person’s system.

Even though, it has been well documented that these so called ‘behavioral modifications do more harm than good, causing serious psychological and emotional damage, there are still places – even in the good ole’ US of A – that still use these tactics.

There is one institute in Massachusetts that still does this, even though there are countless organizations and individuals who are outraged and tirelessly protesting these barbaric actions.

So, how can you tell the difference between a ‘tantrum’ and a ‘meltdown’ in a child?

When you see a child, who is not having any immediate interaction with an adult or anybody, for that matter, and that child suddenly and violently falls to the ground and begins crying, screaming, and even hitting themselves, that’s a good sign. Unlike tantrums, meltdowns cannot be controlled.

One clue that it may be a meltdown, is that the child is alone. There’s no one there to provoke them by denying them a cookie, or a request to stay up late, or to go on a car trip to the store to buy them a favorite toy. Tantrums are about theatrics. If they are alone, they are not performing for anyone. Even if the adults are in the same room as the child or in an adjacent room, the key is whether or not that child is being provoked by an adult. In other words, they are not reacting immaturely to the word no.

The other clue is, if this child is having regular emotional outbursts without provocation, it’s a pretty good indications that the child is having a meltdown.

What about an adult? Permit me to embarrass myself and give you a peek into a meltdown that I had about a year ago.

The modem to my computer stopped working for whatever reason. I did all that I could think of on my own to resuscitate it. I even called tech support. Nothing worked. So, I called my provider and told them my modem stopped working and I needed a new one. After some last minute troubleshooting they sent me a new one.

It took a few days to get it and I was already on edge because this meant that my T.V. was out of commission as well. For me, that’s very dangerous. Along with the abuse during my childhood, I was the lucky recipient of several concussions. This means that I have a hard time controlling my emotions. I have to take medication everyday to keep myself grounded. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it still helps considerably. This means I can’t have silence for too long. My mind needs to have the sound of the T.V. most of the time in order to control my wayward emotions.

It finally arrived. I’m thinking, piece of cake. I opened the box and plugged it in like I’d always done in the past with the others. I reset the power button and waited for it to light up like a Christmas tree. Nothing happened.

Maybe it’s one of those new-fangled one.

Against all odds, I went into the living room and turned on my T.V. Nothing. I knew it, but I still had to try. I unplugged everything and went through the steps again. Still nothing. After the fourth try, I finally sat on the edge of my bed and began crying with my fists balled up. I knew I needed to cry and get it out of my system. In the past when I didn’t allow myself to do this, I paid dearly for it in full blown panic attacks with devastating consequences.

After 45 minutes of getting it out of my system, I calmed down and called the #800. The relief I felt when I finally got back online and got my T.V. operating again was immeasurable

I remember sitting on my couch softly crying. This time from pure relief.

In the past when I had these meltdowns I used to think I was being immature. When I found out I was on the spectrum and I learned about meltdowns, I stopped berating myself. I know that they are necessary in order to keep me on an even keel. This is my normal and I have embraced it.

Just like neurotypicals, we are all different and someone else may react differently when they have meltdowns.

I should also mention that everyone – even neurotypicals – have their limits on how much they can handle. That’s normal. That’s part of being human. The difference is, when you find yourself reaching the end of your tether a whole lot faster than the average person, you might want to consider talking with your doctor and having yourself evaluated. The important thing to remember is that you are not being immature. Be good to yourself.

What do you do if you see someone having a meltdown? The first thing is not to judge them, or tell them to get it together, or tell them to grow up. The best thing you can do for that person is be supportive. Maybe rub their backs or squeeze their hands. If they don’t want to be touched, respect that. If all they want you to do is sit with them, that’s okay, too.

One of the worst things you could do, other than judge them or tell them to grow up, is to leave them. The simple act of getting up and leaving is a clear sign of rejection, and you have no desire to show them support. Support your friend or family member as you would like to be supported in a time of crisis. We all need to know we have someone in our corner.

Watch “kellyjeanne@simpletruths” on YouTube

I did it as an experiment. At first when I created the video I tried posting it on Facebook to My Story. That didn’t work. So, I settled on posting it on my profile page and another group I belong to.

Then, I decided I wanted to branch out take the big plunge and post it to YouTube! That was a huge, scary step for me because I knew the chances of more people watching it would be greater. Plus, I was making myself more vulnerable.

The video is a little more than 7 minutes and 46 seconds long and that posed a bit of a problem. You see, I suffered multiple concussions when I was a child which has definitely affected my speech pattern. I talk slower, especially if I’m just talking off the cuff and have nothing written and prepared.

I just checked the stats and it shows- so far – 15 views, 1 like, no comments. average view duration is 46 seconds, 2:59 is the longest time anyone has watched it.

I’m noting all of this because I wanted to see how interesting or boring people might find me when I’m speaking,.since my speech pattern is so slow. This tells me to stick to blogging!

It was a fun little experiment. Who knows. I may decide to make another video when I’m more fluent in YouTube and I’m able to be more aggressive when it comes to growing my audience. But, for now, I’ll stick to writing and blogging. If you do decide to take a gander at the video, don’t say I didn’t warn you about my slow speech. If you do decide to check it out please see it in your heart to give me a like and – what the heck! Subscribe to my channel as well, just for giggles! Thanks!

Living With Trauma

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Little do you know, I’m still up at 4 a.m. wondering what I did wrong

What is love?

©2022 Kelly Jeanne

Most people who’ve experienced a lifetime of love have problems answering this question. How much less someone who’s never experienced love?

All my life I’ve been accused of using hyperbole, being overly dramatic, attention seeking. Why?

My abuse started when I was born and lasted throughout my childhood. Do you know the worst years anyone can be abused? The formative years. This is because the brain develops much faster during this time than at any other time in a person’s life. When these years are not developed and nurtured, this causes serious behavioral issues throughout life.

People readily acknowledge this, even while not fully understanding how truly crippling this can be for someone. Yet, when they meet someone like myself who has been so neglected in love and in life, and I tell them how being raised in such a dysfunctional and toxic environment has really messed me up, their reaction is usually, “Naaahhhh!” “Stop overreacting.” “You have to stop exaggerating.” “How is talking like this accomplishing anything for you?”

It’s easy to believe something when they are simply words on paper or confined to an academic setting. However, once those words are taken off the paper and removed from the world of academia and steps into reality, it’s too much for the average person to accept. These are the moments reality hits hard. No one likes reality. Most prefer to stay insulated in their little bubbles.

Do you know what trauma is? Trauma is when you’ve had too much reality forced upon you; thrust upon you when your mind is too young to handle it. This is what happened to me. I never had the luxury of a bubble to protect me. My whole childhood was raw and uncertain; a living hell that continually brought me to the edge of insanity everyday while growing up.

When I finally left home you would have thought I was raised by wolves. I always say that if I were raised by wolves I certainly would have received more love. I didn’t know anything when I first entered the real world. Those around me thought I was incredibly stupid. Looking back, I would have agreed.

Imagine being 25 and being so unsocialized because of the years of neglect, you weren’t taught anything about anything. As a result the bullying I had received all through school; all through my childhood, continued. This time from adults, and I use that term loosely. I feel as if I’ve spent my whole life around 5th graders. Socializing myself was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, simply because I never had any positive role models to go from. At the age of 64 I still haven’t mastered it.

When anyone says to me,

“Don’t feel bad! I haven’t mastered it myself!”

They think they’re saying this as a show of support. Instead, this shows they don’t have a clue about what I’m talking about. How do I know? Usually these people have family, friends and can talk easily with people. If you’ve been neglected and never shown love, people wouldn’t necessarily be attracted to you, at least not good people.

People who are raised as I was come across as raw and hard to digest. We are unsettling and we rub people the wrong way. None of this is intentional. This is what severe trauma does to someone.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m severely messed up in the head because I didn’t do this to me. The egg and sperm donor did this to me. The sad part is I’ll always be paying for the sins they committed against me. The multiple concussions I sustained while a child only complicated things as well.

I don’t know what love is, but I sure know what it isn’t.

What about you? Do you know what love is?

Living The Reality of Asperger’s

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

Stimming

© Kelly Jeanne 2022

Have you ever been to thKe dentist where after you’ve just been injected with a numbing agent they tap your cheek in a fast and repetitive motion? Why?

Have you ever been to a salon to have the upper hair on your lip removed and immediately after they pull the cloth off, they’ll tap your upper lip or cheek in quick, repetitive motions for the same purpose; to distract your mind from the pain of the wax ripping your hair out. Again, not every salon worker does this.

What about when you’ve had your blood drawn at the hospital? After the nurse withdraws the needle, they may tap in quick, repeated motions, the area where the needle was inserted. This is to alleviate any discomfort you may have felt while the needle was in or being taken out.

Mind you, I’m not talking about the tapping of the vein before they insert the needle. That’s done when they either can’t find a vein or they’re trying to get a vein to pop up.

Stimming stands for ‘stimulating’ or ‘self-stimulating’. It’s a repetitive action that’s performed as a way to self-soothe the one dealing with either physical pain or emotional pain. It doesn’t take the pain away. It simply serves to take the mind off any physical discomfort or to relieve emotional stress and anxiety.

When you go to the beach, do you stop to pick up a stone, especially a smooth one, and rub your thumb along it over and over? How many of you have ever purchased worry stones? Those glass smooth stones with thumb indents. You may find yourself rubbing it over and over again while watching TV. What about those stress balls made of spongy material? These are also used to relieve stress. A side bonus is that they strengthen your hands! You’ve probably found yourself squeezing those balls over and over again to no end, right?

Wow! Think of that? Companies that sell products to aid the average consumer in stimming. How much you want to bet these companies aren’t thinking of those on the spectrum when they mass produce these products. In other words, if companies make such products – and make a pretty good profit on top of it! – then it’s pretty much understood that ‘stimming’ isn’t just an ‘Autism’ thing.

Biting your lips, biting your nails, playing with your hair or your beard and moustache, any repetitive motion you use to calm yourself down. This is stimming.

What I find especially interesting about all the examples I gave above regarding professionals who perform these ritual on their clients, is that if you ask them why they’re doing it, they will tell you what a dentist told me when I asked him. He said,

“To distract you from the discomfort of the shot.”

There’s probably a good chance that most of these people who work in these professions aren’t on the spectrum, yet they performed these actions on their clients all the time without even realizing that what they are doing is stimming. The last one about the worry stones and the stress balls is even more amazing, because it means that a bunch of neurotypical got together with this idea and now they are being mass produced worldwide! This tells me – and should tell you – that everybody stims and there’s no shame in it!

Most people associate stimming with those who are on the spectrum.

The act of stimming for the neurodiverse is going to be more often and much stronger. This is because those on the spectrum are much more sensitive to outer stimuli. Our eyes are much more sensitive to light, our hearing is more acute, as is our sense of smell and taste. Our sense of touch is more profound. We feel emotions more deeply and we’re much deeper thinkers than the average person.

All of this means that those on the spectrum may have the need to self-soothe more frequently. Stimming is natural and needed. It helps our minds to regulate and reboot, if you will, so we can get back on track.

Think about how you would feel, as a neurotypical, when you become nervous or impatient, so you start drumming your fingers (a form of stimming) on the table and someone told you to stop it. Now what do you do with all this nervous energy? That would be torturous.

nother way to look at stimming as simply a way to get rid of the pent up energy when you become nervous, angry, anxious, sad, even happy. That energy has to go somewhere and if you’re not allowed to release it; to express it in some manner, it can have devastating effects. As frustrating as it would be for you, imagine how frustrating it would be for someone whose whole central nervous system is constantly on red alert?

Now imagine someone such as yourself, who may not be on the spectrum, is fitted with a remote devise intended to shock you if you are caught ‘acting up’? This is inhuman; torture. No one would want to receive a shock for doing an act that is a normal expression of nervous energy. You would call that barbaric.

Take someone who’s neurodiverse; whose senses are greatly magnified up to 300% or more. This means the need to stim; to self-soothe is more frequent than that of the average person. Sadly, this isn’t understood by many – even those who work in the mental health field. As a result the one who has Autism/Asperger’s ends up being shocked more often. Just as energy cannot be created, neither can it be destroyed. This means that the energy has to have some outlet and the person who is repeatedly shocked for ‘acting out’ is eventually going to find another avenue for that energy. This could result in crying, shouting out, or jumping up and down, or any number of ways that are not considered socially acceptable. The result is even more severe punishment for those who are only expressing themselves in a way that is natural for them.

Behavior Modification never works for anybody – on or off the spectrum. We are people and should not be treated like Pavlov’s dogs. Even Pavlov’s dogs should never have been treated like that!

We like to think of ourselves as civilized, but there are still places around the world who treat those on the spectrum like this.

Behavior Modification never works for anybody – on or off the spectrum. We are people and should not be treated like Pavlov’s dogs. Even Pavlov’s dogs should never have been treated like that!

We like to think of ourselves as civilized, but there are still places around the world who treat those on the spectrum like this.

Stimming is a natural way that ALL of us use to soothe ourselves when we find ourselves in physical or emotional discomfort or pain.

Can you think of ways that you stim?

Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s that you say? You’re not in the US? What does that have to do with being thankful?

Even though I don’t have any fond memories of any holidays in my life, I am thankful. For the first time in my life I’m starting to collect some good memories. Not many, but enough so that when I look back, my mind finally has a choice between bad memories and good memories. I finally have a choice, however sparse, at the moment.

Because of my myriad of mental health issues – the main one being Major Depressive Disorder, which leaves me paralyzed to do anything much of the time – I have a wonderful caregiver. Her name is Dora and only speaks Spanish. She’s from Sonora, Mexico and came to the US years ago.

From the very beginning, I’ve requested that all of my caregivers speak Spanish, exclusively. I don’t want to lose my ability to speak the language through lack of practice. Dora has been my caregiver for pretty close to 5 years now. I love her because she doesn’t judge me. She doesn’t ask me why I do this, or why don’t I do that. She respects me. The caregiver I had before her was always asking, Why? Why not? She never respected my choices.

My cat, Luna, loves Dora and she feels the same way about Luna. Whenever she comes over and cleans a bit, she’ll spend about an hour playing with Luna, then get back to cleaning. Here’s a couple of photos I took of Dora playing with Luna on Luna’s third birthday last month (October)

Luna’s full name is ‘Luna de Miel’ which literally means ‘Honeymoon’ in Spanish. I named her Luna because of her black, white and grey colors of the moon. Dora mentioned that she had eyes the color of honey. That’s when I thought I’d add ‘de Miel’ to her name.

She’s the first tabby I’ve ever had and I did some research on them. I learned that there are 5 types of tabbies. Some sites say there are as many as 9 types! After much studying and comparing the various markings with those of Luna’s, I discovered that she is a Mackerel tabby.

Of all the cats I’ve had she is the least affectionate, except while I’m in the bathroom doing my business. She’ll follow me into the bathroom and proceed to head butt my legs, do figure eights around my legs, and stand still awaiting a back scratch, all the while purring up a storm.

She is the first cat I’ve ever had who will not sleep with me. Many times, when she walks past me, I put my hand out to stroke her and she’ll shrink from my touch and make a quick get-away. She’s the first cat I’ve ever had who doesn’t listen to the word ‘no’. She’s definitely not stupid; just very independent minded.

There is hope, though! A couple of times last month while falling asleep on the couch, I woke up with her asleep on my lap! I was so dumbfounded and beside myself with joy! The other time, I woke up to find her laying beside me. When I woke up, she looked at me as if to say, “What are you looking at? Don’t get too excited.” Then she proceeded to jump off the couch. She didn’t want her mom to get a big head. I have hopes that as she gets older she’ll be more affectionate. Maybe I’m dreaming. I don’t know. No matter. I love her very much, regardless.

Well, I suppose this isn’t the usual Thanksgiving message, but that’s okay, because it seems most people I know aren’t in the US anyway. Go figure! LOL!

I’m hopeful that someday they’ll successfully cross spiders with turkeys. That way we’ll have 8 drumsticks! Now THAT’S what I call progress!

Whether you’re in the US or not, what are you thankful for?

Always. Never. Everyone. No One. Everything. Nothing. Hyperbole? Part Four

Your Opinion Is Not My Reality ~ Steve Maraboli ~

© Kelly Jeanne 2022

I deplore hearing people at birthday parties of those who are up there in years saying something like, “Is today your birthdayyyy? How wonderful! Are you planning on eating a lot of ice cream and cake todayyyy? Good for youuuuu! You have a lovely birthday todayyyyy, okayyyy?

Over the years it has become so triggering for me that I literally have a hard time hearing what these people are saying. To me it sound like one long, high pitched, screeching sound; like someone’s nails across a chalk board. I can’t discern one word from the next.

If someone’s voice is naturally high pitched, it still bothers me, and it’s still hard to discern one word from another, but not as much. Only because I know they’re being sincere and not condescending. On the other had, if someone is deliberately being condescending, I I would much rather jump out a window than listen to that screeching in my ears.

There are those who are talked to in that manner, but don’t complain. For the most part, when this happens, it simply means they have the grace to handle it. It’s great to have the grace to put up with such communication, but that doesn’t make it any less hurtful, disrespectful and undignified. This also makes it difficult for those of us who do complain. I, personally, have been told all my life, “Well, no one else has complained.” Therefore, I treated as someone who is just being overly sensitive and in need of thicker skin. Ultimately, nothing is done. Nothing changes.

Another way to look at it is this. The recipient may not say anything because they’re simply tired of it all and don’t have the energy to deal with the ignorance of others. So, in lieu of blowing a gasket and risking a heart attack, they keep quiet. I don’t blame them. When I look on the faces of those who are talked to in such a manner, the look on their faces is one of resignation and my heart goes out to them. I also notice that as the ‘well wisher’ walks away, the eyes of the recipient follow them with a look that says, “If you only knew.”

As tired as I am with this ignorance from others, I’m not that old and I will say something about it every time. I hope I never have the grace to put up with and allow such disrespect from others. I’m not afraid to speak my mind. If it makes you uncomfortable, good! It’s supposed to.

Ask yourself, would you like to be talked to in such a manner? If you are honest, you would say no. So, if you don’t find this an attractive way of communicating then give others the same respect. Payback will come when you get older and find others younger than yourself, talking like that to you.

People who talk in absolutes or use extreme statements that sound quite implausible, and are continually making these statements with all sincerity, chances are very great that they are not saying these things for dramatic effect, or having a pity party, or wanting attention. It’s a sign that these words are coming from severe trauma and every word is true.

~ The End ~