Monday, September 22, 2014

Fixations, Obsessions and Special Interests...

While I don't know if it directly relates to ACC folk as well as ASD folk, when I learned of the propensity to see things in patters, be obsessed about "special interest" it answered so many questions I had about my life.

I was diagnosed late in life with both ACC and ASD, and in looking back, the entire set of odd behaviors I had were those common with autism.

Where I grew up my home was nestled in a large wooded area...my nana, my mom's mom would come for visits and birthdays.  She would take me away from the heavily drinking and arguing relatives out into the woods, where we would spend a long time collecting rocks, crystals and other memorabilia.  We had all kinds of quarts in those woods, and even some arrowheads and Native American artifacts.

Well, I remember that I loved the colours and shapes of all the rocks, and crystals and semi-precious stones, and I would collect them.  Mom got mad at me, because (I don't remember the age) I had filled all the shelves in the basement storage area with file boxes filled with rocks and such.  Honestly I remember it being more than a dozen of such boxes.

She made me get rid of all the stones, but I refused and kept a lot hidden in my room...as I got older I would set up what I called "my little altars" with rocks, crystals, and  chachki of all different manner.  I was obsessed with arranging them so they would be in equal order, shape and patters, triangles and rectangles and perfect circles...I have continued to do this all of my life.  I found out after I was diagnosed that being obsessed with patterns and numbers was a typical thing for autistic children.  I was obsessed with the number six and would do everything six times, if I coughed, it had to be six time, if I turned my head to the right (six time) I had to turn it to the left...etc...I have always found visual patterns and number patterns very soothing.

As I began to grow older, the physical patterns (arrangements) didn't hold as much interest in me as did the patterns in my mind.  I craved (and still do) to see everything in balance, kind of like a see-saw perfectly balanced between two children.  I began to read more in my teens and started seeing patterns in books, patterns in words and language.  I became obsessed with languages, words, poetry (specifically iambic pentameter.) When I would talk to others or they would talk to me, my brain would rearrange the words into a rhyme in my head, and get so wrapped up in it I would immediatey forget what was being told me.

I think somehow this ties in with the rigid thinking styles of many ACC and ASD folk.  If something didn't "sound right" to me, I would all out reject what was said for my own version of it, because what they said "just couldn't be true."  As crazy as this sounds this was my childhood and adolescence.  

From about the age of 13 I began to be obsessed with faith and religion.  I am probably the only person you'll ever meet who has not simply studied major world religions, but converted to, practiced and internalized the structure of all of these.  I have always been looking for the "truth" (singular) and find relativism very difficult to cope with. 

My parents were never religious, but they were Episcopalian and so I started going to that church around 13.  My parents didn't discourage me, but if I wanted to go, I ended up having to walk 2.5 miles to the next town (Westwood) to go to the church there.  I still had the imagination and confabulation that is usually only present in early childhood, so I experienced many "spiritual" things that in retrospect were likely manufactured by my imagination, which only served to drive my parents crazy...You see, at 13 my fantasy life was still reality.  Even my approach to faith and religion at that age was very immature.  To be honest, I was looking for a home away from home, from the stresses, from my fathers violent alcoholic outbursts, and more.

Now, many years later I have come full circle and I am reinvestigating my Christian roots, after studying Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.  

I'm only now really beginning to understand the difference between faith and reason.  We can choose to believe something that cannot be proved rationally but can be experienced spiritually, mentally and emotionally. As is the typical trait, my "spiritual" world, was in reality something locked up in my head, and not so much "lived" as thought.  Having studied multiple philosophies, psychologies and religions, I realize that these were an artificial artifice  I erected in my mind to "protect me from the world."  In retrospect, this is a horrible reason to embrace a philosophy or religion.

I found real faith in the Eastern Orthodox Church, it made the most sense to me, and I'm currently revisiting and re-enlivening my life with this.  I am finally beginning to recognize there are some things that logic and science will never be able to answer. This isn't something I have ever been able to fully accept until now in my life.  My relationship to "religion" and even philosophy was not unlike that of a codependent  relationship.  

At 52, I can honestly say I still don't want to grow up.  More accurately, I still feel as though I am the 13 year old child.  I don't really understand or relate to adults.  I could never imagine myself being a parent, yet friends tell me that I am awesome with children, I think because I feel that I still am one.

Well, this post was more meandering that some of my other ones, more stream of consciousness, but I hope that it was in some way beneficial to my readers.

~Joseph







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