I grew up autistic and undiagnosed. I was generally very well behaved. Adults liked me, because I was honest and well spoken and quiet and thoughtful. Even still I associate the phrase “stop misbehaving” with adults telling me I did wrong. I heard it plenty of times as a younger child. If I had to give an age, I would say age 4-7 especially. Though the same ideas would exist well beyond those ages.
Being autistic, in retrospect I would attribute almost all of this to me not knowing social rules or expectations as a novice human, and missing the more subtle social feedback to hint at it.
So what would happen? A parent or teacher would tell me that I was misbehaving, that I should stop, and possibly an explanation for what I was doing wrong. I never was one to intentionally act out, so being told that I had done something wrong would result in me crying. This was a recurring theme as a child for me.
So what did I learn from this type of thing happening so much? I learned that authorities know more about my behavior than me. I learned that the things authority figures tell me about my behavior is correct. I won’t be able to predict when an authority tells me my behavior was ‘wrong’. I won’t be able to predict when my behavior is ‘wrong’.
As an adult I have since learned other lessons which are a healthier way to interact with the world. Even still, sometimes those old ingrained lessons still make themselves be known to my brain and processing.
When someone asks me a vague question about something I said recently, without making the intention of their inquiry known, I feel these old lessons return. I feel the automatic assumption that I’m being called out for saying/doing the wrong thing. I feel like I’m being accused of something, but I can’t figure out what, and I have to helplessly wait until I’m informed of what my misbehavior was.
I’m not a very anxious person, but things stemming from the way adults reacted to my behavior as a child, those can still result in something close, even when I logically tell my brain the reasons that fear is wrong this time. It was so solidly ingrained into my brain that my behavior could be unintentionally wrong, that I didn’t get to learn what makes behavior wrong until after the point where I could be free from the lessons I was taught first.
So yes I messed up the clay models of the shore line at high/low tide in kindergarten. Yes that was bad behavior. Why did I do it? It was clay, and in retrospect, stimmy to play with. Was it important to teach me that classroom supplies should be kept in usable condition? Yeah. Was telling me that I did wrong the best way to go about that? I don’t think it was. Instead, empathize with me and say “Yeah, that clay IS fun to play with. It doesn’t look much like the shore anymore though. The next person to learn from it will be confused. Do you think you can help me put this back to how it was, then we can go find some other clay you can play with after?” Ideally with a non-judgmental question to ask me why I did it first, offering a range of possible answers along with an option “other” so I get to think about first.
Instead, now I have my brain respond to vagueness with the need to defend myself from an uncertain accusation.
Foggy looked up from his laptop screen and saw that Matt was still sitting in his chair with his glasses off, he glanced over at the door, but it was closed. “No, she isn’t?”
“I meant she’s outside.”
As if on cue, the door creaked opened and you peaked your head inside with a smile. “Morning, boys.”
Foggy turned to Matt, opening his mouth to ask him how in the hell he knew that, but dismissed it so he could get up from his chair to greet you. “(Y/n)! Have you finally come to seek our excellent lawyer expertise?”
“I’m afriad not today, Fog,” You said, pulling a paper bag from behind your back and handing it to him. “But I brought your favorite to make it up to you.”
Foggy looked inside and his whole face lit up. “Consider yourself forgiven.”
You owned a semi-popular bakery two buldings down from the firm. The first day you found out you were getting new neighbors you brought them over a small cake to welcome them, and thus becoming instant friends with both Foggy and Matt.
“I don’t actually know what kind of pastries you like, Matt. So I just made you coffee, I hope you don’t mind.” You placed a warm, cardboard cup into his hand.
“Of course not, you didn’t have to though.”
You smiled. “Yeah, but I like to,” You turned back to Foggy and clapped your hands. “Is Karen here? I brought her something too.”
“She’s in the other room.” Foggy answered as he returned to his chair, the floorboards creaking slightly as he did.
As soon as you closed the door Foggy turned back to Matt with a smug smile on his face. “It’s amazing, you might be blind but you still get the biggest doe eyes I’ve ever seen anytime (Y/n) comes over.”
Matt ducked his head to put on his glasses. “I have no idea what your referring to.”
“You know exactly what I’m talking about, jerk. Besides, the whole thing with always knowing when she’s here makes it obvious. I’m not gonna lie it’s a little creepy, impressive, but creepy.”
Matt knew how to hear the heartbeat of anyone in the same perimeter as him. But somehow, he knew the sound of your heart exactly. It was always a calm, dystinct rhythm that sounded like a song. He didn’t know how you did it, but it was always the same.
Sure, he could easily identify you by the smell of sugar and vanilla that always seemed to linger on you from the bakery, or the small hums you played to yourself whenever you were walking or working.
But your heartbeat was Matt’s favorite.
It was like something that was intended for his ears only, and it felt wonderfully intimate.
This caused a lot of trouble on his end, usually Matt was confident in his fancies because he could listen to their heartbeat to see if they liked him back. But yours’ was always calm and steady.
Matt couldn’t go based on actions either. You were a kind and generous person who went out your way to make those around you feel happy and loved. It was a trait he deeply admired in you considering all the bullshit he puts up with on a daily basis.
“So, are you gonna ask her out?” Foggy’s voice sounded a little fuzzy, and Matt could only assume he was already eating the doughnut you brought him. “Because seriously, if you don’t I just might, these things are amazing.”
Matt smiled, he could hear you making small talk with Karen in the other room. “I don’t know yet.”
“Come on, you’ve always been the ladies man of this operation. Just ask her out like you normally would.”
“It’s different this time. She’s different.”
Foggy sighed, slightly disappointed in his friends’ sudden lack of courage. “Whatever you say.”
Matt leaned back in his chair, canceling out all the rest of the noise in building and focused on you and your heartbeat.
Just as he was focusing in on the conversation, a muffled version of Karen’s voice mentioned his name.
A tricky day at the office: sometimes it can be hard for maritime archaeologists to see shipwrecks around all the fish!
Here, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary archaeologist Will Sassorossi tries to take a look at the USS Schurz while fish school around divers and the wreck. Schurz sank during World War I after a collision in dense fog. Today, the wreck rests in about 110 feet of water off Beaufort, North Carolina.
It’s 2:30 in the afternoon
and I’m still wearing my hangover
like a scarf tied too tightly around my neck:
stomach warm and mind thick with fog.
Today, I don’t need your knee-jerk small talk.
I don’t want to hear about your cousin’s wedding
or how your recipe for raspberry scones
didn’t come out right.
I just want some silence
from a world of obsession
Today, I’m staying home.
I went out to a spot in the hills with a picnic table and a little bit of 4g service. I worked on my laptop and got some sun and fresh air while I was at it. I made friends with Antony and Nisha who were visiting from London. On the way home I entered the fog. Today was a good day.
Shoutout to @mkhunterz who suggested I post some more forest photos when I asked for suggestions last week.