A lot of times, I get told that I don’t act like I am on the autistic spectrum. That’s good, because then I nailed the social interaction. What they don’t see is that I also have to take time off to decompress. After a particularly emotional, difficult moment last night, and a touch of home-sickness, the picture summarizes how I feel this morning. So I’m quietly sitting next to a sleeping slave Angie and letting my bucket empty.
It’s been a particularly rough week. We have our Denver trip coming up in a few days, and because we needed the Friday to travel/rest/present, I am working 11 hour days to leave early on Thursday and take Friday off. Neither one of us are sleeping well, probably because of stresses surrounding the trip. This is our first time of being the presenters for an entire weekend of classes. We’re going to try some new things and we’re trying to prepare. On top of the usual busy week of shlepping grandkids to appointments. We’re also invited to a private event, of which angie had some stresses and worries about – the situation and event is a new thing for us. Did I mention we’re not sleeping well? The more tired I get, the more the bad aspects of my Aspergers slip in, and today was one of those days to batten down the hatches, because I was on a roll to break something. Anything.
Our methods of getting through these is somewhat based on protocol, somewhat a flexible response strategy. Angie knows that if I’m just in that much of an unreasonable mood, she is allowed to request to take her leave and go to default, while that request is a big flashing red neon sign to me to get my shit together and take care of myself. The flexible response part is that she can usually come at things from a different angle and we get through the rough spot in fairly good order.
So a lunchtime conversation went VERY awry. Fortunately, my Universal Translator – aka slave – patiently rode out the storm, as best she could and I have spent the afternoon in as much solitude as I can. I don’t like these moods, especially when we’re trying to prepare for something wonderful, and yet we’re so tired and stressed, it becomes hard to remember what we’re doing any why. Thankfully, the way the weekend is laid out, we’ll have Friday to recharge a bit. Get a bit of steam built up so we can do what we need to do and have some fun doing it.
I’ve written a lot about being a Master with Aspergers, both here in this blog and in books and articles. Most of what I write is to be uplifting and supportive – to let other Masters with Aspergers know that it can be done. Over the past couple of weeks, though, I’ve had to face one of the harder jobs and issues that a Master with Aspergers faces – dealing with emotions and human nature and the mysteries that are presented and the challenges I’ve had to face because of my wiring. And it’s that struggle I want to write about today.
We’re going through a period where we’re coming down from a period of a lot of external activity – travel, presenting, all the things that keep us busy but unfortunately also keep us away from really having to rest, collect ourselves and get into a groove where we are connecting with each other across all the levels that are important to us. We’ve been doing some naval gazing when we’ve had some down time and introspection, but on a more intimate or S/m level, not much time. What happens in these disconnect times is that issues that were easy to deal with before can be tougher to deal with. Especially when we’re busy, I go into a “just the facts” mode. Or I get focused on the tasks at hand. Noticing the emotions and the cues is not intuitive. So I may not pick up on things right away, in time to address them before they become tarballs.
In the past, these would lead to epic meltdowns. Now, not so much, because slave angie is much better about communicating when she sees it happening. And I’ve learned some of the cues I need to be aware of. The centering from the other night is one of those cues. A discussion that angie and I had last night about an upcoming private event this weekend is another cue. She’s learned to say “I’m feeling XYZ” in ways that I get are facts. Although, it’s still difficult not to feel that combination of “oh shit, epic meltdown on the way” and guilt over the situation at hand. I like harmony in my home and family – and when one person isn’t in a good place, that gets my attention and I always am challenging myself to learn how to do it better. Not realistic, I can’t be responsible for everything, but it’s my nature to want to learn and be a better person.
It takes a lot of work on both our parts to overcome some of the obstacles of being an Aspie. Of her having to communicate in a way that she can get her point across, but not necessarily in a way that feels natural to her, but will make sense to me. So that I’m focusing on the facts of what she is saying, and not on the emotional verbiage which is natural for an NT to communicate with. And for me to recognize the emotions and have a good plan and strategy for those situations, to read it, understand the emotions and … even harder… have a plan that works with those emotions to get to the place I would like her to be. Not work in a bad or manipulative way, but to understand the best approach to take care of the issue, to deal with the situation and address what is going on. Not everything can be dealt with as facts. Dammit.
This will never come easy to me, but it’s worth it in the end.
It’s been a rough week for both of us.
Family stress has hit again and made the travel last weekend very difficult to manage on top a long drive each way and quick turn around. No downtime for the week for recovery as i’m last minute prepping to be ready for SEEK this weekend, This trip means a lot to me in the goals i had hoped for: to reach other slaves and submissives with camaraderie and support of each other. It all comes with sacrifices of missing family time and missing out on events of friends i really wish i could be there for.
It’s been a tough week for sleep and fatigue, not sure if we’re still recovering from the weekend, or the change in weather, or both — or my inner Bear is recognizing what has been typically the start of hibernation season.
I’m struggling with an odd Aspie day – went to training and almost immediately felt like I had a bucket the size of a shot glass. I knew how to work with it, and manage myself and my participation so that I didn’t overload myself. It was just unexpected and unwelcome. I managed and by lunch, I was feeling better, but then a self-assessment exercise left me feeling pretty low about myself and my abilities in my job. I spoke privately with the teacher, spoke about my disorder and we worked on how I could use the materials from the training even with my ASD. It helped that she has some experience with dealing with people with ASD.
But we get through this together, supporting each other.
I’ve been very public about my struggles with Aspergers and how our dynamic is affected by that simple, yet profound fact. I was invited by Raven Kaldera to contribute to a second book of his that was just released – “Mastering Mind – Dominants with Mental Illness and Neurological Dysfunction.” (Alfred Press) I contributed an article in it, which talks about my history, my struggles and my tools for adapting and coping with Aspergers.
I didn’t expect the foreword to the book to affect me so much. I’d like to share a little part of it:
When I asked around the general BDSM demographic, my most frequent response was something along the lines of “People with mental illnesses shouldn’t be in charge of another person! They can’t even control themselves, and it wouldn’t be safe.”
It’s hard enough to get dominant types to talk to you about their flaws and challenges—actually, getting dominant types to talk about anything is often like pulling teeth—and we were unable to find ones who were willing to talk much about challenges such as personality disorders. Many dominant types worried that even writing about these issues publicly in a book might give the impression that masters were sick people—a worry that they did not, interestingly enough, project onto Broken Toys, the companion volume for s-types. “Masters are seen as sinister enough,” was the gist of their complaint. “We don’t need to add to the problem by admitting that some of us actually have diagnoses.”
I had to step back and think about the “bubble” that I often project around myself – the bubble that what I do work, how angie and I operate works very well and that because we work, because she is well taken care of, because we get through the crunchy parts and the squishy moments, that I might be seen as “sinister” or “shouldn’t be in charge of another person.”
Now, truth be told – and I’ve written about this both here and in the book, when I was first diagnosed, I asked myself that same question. I quickly realized that just because I had this diagnosis, it didn’t change who I was, or who I had been for the previous 7 years of our relationship. It meant I had a word and a world of information to help me better, and I had understanding and – most importantly – the tool to forgive myself for what I had seen previously as some integral character flaw that I could not learn. Self doubt is as much a killer to M/s as anything else, especially self doubt reinforce by a lifetime of being “different.”
Fortunately, while this book may be small, it is full of stories of people who, like myself, “are able to balance the trial of a glitchy brain/mind with protecting and caring for a submissive or slave, and while none of them would say that it is easy, their s-types seem to be quite happy—with both the treatment they give to the s-types and the strength they model in handling both challenges at the same time.” (again, from the foreword.)
And that is the message that I’d like to put out there to those people who are outside my bubble, both those who would make generalizations about mental illness and sexuality/relationships, and those Dominants/Masters who think that we shouldn’t admit our diagnoses. That it is fear and ignorance that leads to the outlier cases speaking for the majority of us. I’m not ashamed of who I am, the life I live or the things that go into that – including that I struggle with social/emotional issues related to the way my brain is wired. I hope that the examples I share, both in this book, in my blog, in our lives that you can see, show you a far different world.
Come to my bubble. Not only do I have really awesome cookies, beer, bourbon, cigars and naked slaves, but I also live in a world where we are imperfect miracles of perfection. No, it’s never easy, but then — what in life IS easy when the stakes are so high?
The book – “Mastering Mind – Dominants with Mental Illness and Neurological Dysfunction.” is from Alfred Press and is available for $12 printed, $5 PDF/EPUB.
Life with someone with Aspergers or autism can be challenging. Life *as* the person with Aspergers/autism is just as challenging. Especially when the Aspie is super-attuned to emotional states of the NT (Neurotypical) person.
So angie asked me a question tonight that was politely asked, but my radar picked up all the signals of her emotions and as a result of that, my bucket just filled in 0.002 seconds. That led to a difficult discussion.
In the past, this would have gone on for awhile, not gone well, and required a lot of energy to get through.
Tonight, with knowing that there are layers to get through, we got through them pretty quickly, go to the reason for her off-kilter emotions and what was going on. Question answered, issue resolved, a success in terms of learning that some things are just going to happen, no matter what, and we can be fore-warned and fore-armed.
I like to say that sometimes you just have to get through the shitty part, because it doesn’t last forever, the sun comes up and life goes on. We learn and we grow.
Master Michael: There are times when I wake up and the Aspie bucket is about the size of a shot glass, and the events of the day that fill up the bucket are about the size of giant boulders. That fills the bucket up pretty quickly and the day is not usually too pretty. (For more about my Aspergers “bucket theory”, go here.)
So today has been one of those days and it has been rough, but it used to be worse, a lot worse, when these days would happen in the past. Before I was diagnosed, I had a lot of confusion over why these days would go so poorly. I wouldn’t be able to explain to my slave what was going on. I would end up reacting badly, she would struggle with that, we would struggle with each other and it would become messy.
After diagnosis, and after reflection and observation, I began working on tools that would help us both. It came down to a lot of communication and protocol.
That gives her the knowledge of what I want her to do. She’s to stick to the basics. Keep her inputs to me to a minimum. Be aware that the bucket is tiny and the Master is cranky, so allow us both the room and cushion to allow things to be a bit crunchier than usual. In the evening, or when I’ve emptied the bucket enough, we’ll talk about what happened. It’s a way of reconnecting and of finding out what we could do to improve the situation.
Interestingly, telling her this also gives me more tools, rather than setting myself up to be seen as vulnerable. Owning my own shit, taking care of my own issues, now that I recognize and acknowledge them. I can rely on my own rules that I set up. I find myself more aware when I might be having an overwhelmed, overstimulated, bucket-overflowing moment and I can take that step back, say “This isn’t what it is, this is more of a reaction” and go do some self-care.
Having that closure and reconnect sets up a positive feedback loop, as slave angie can now understand what is going on and have confidence that these tools work. That leads to trust the next time, so that she can give me the space to empty the bucket, and hang in there until the day passes or things get better. Less stress on us bumping heads means that things get better quicker. Unfortunately, that part is not as predictable, but it generally takes just having a bad day and then sleep and I have a better day tomorrow.
So this morning, I warned slave angie that the bucket was tiny and the boulders were huge. Tonight, in talking to her about the day, I found out that while things went as well as they had been, the way the day started had reminded her of times when things didn’t go so well when I had small bucket days. These days can be hard on the NT (neuro-typical) partner. I give her a lot of credit for having stuck with it to learn and grow and figure out how to navigate these sorts of days. So it ends well, not necessarily as fun of a day as we hoped, but more trust built up that we can get through these days together.