A very strange feeling.
Not scary, like implosion. And not exactly introversion, which is where I live.
This is a feeling of folding in, accompanied by an overwhelming desire to be totally alone.
Really wishing I knew someone with a sweet little cottage they needed a house sitter for.
On the beach.
For about a month.
This is not unusual. A couple of years ago I read an article about adults with autism and was very much like Charlie Brown when Lucy hits on his phobia:
I had all the signs. Two that I really identified with were that it is easier for me to communicate through the written word than to converse. And I cannot handle conflict. My brain short-circuits. Very much like the robot movies where you can see the wiring short-circuit, I can practically see the synapses struggling to make the connections. One of my colleagues gave a staff meeting presentation on autism and one of the signs was poor core strength and thus poor posture (mentioned occasionally by my immediate family as "the weird way Mom sits.") I took the online autism survey:
A score of 34 or above suggest someone may be on the spectrum.
My score was 35.
I mentioned it to my colleague and friend who is our SPED teacher, and she nonchalantly said, "Oh, yeah, I've noticed that. You have a hard time with eye contact."
It was marvelously freeing.
I was a silent child. It was an era when perfect children were seen and not heard, and my mom is to this day ever so proud of her PERFECT daughter.
So to know that I'm probably on the spectrum is oddly comforting. No wonder I could never talk myself out of it.
I have absolutely no memories of holding a conversation of any kind until late in high school. I was everybody's sweetheart good listener. I could perform in front of hundreds of people, but not come up with a meaningful question or - heaven forbid - engage in an argument. About anything.
I continue to struggle with what I eventually nicknamed my social retardation, and still have a very difficult time expressing what I want.
Even to myself.
Which is why the infolding, the inversion. The last year has been one of having the world impose its wishes, needs and desires onto me. Much of it I cannot avoid. Some of it has hurt as people I thought knew me demonstrated instead that their priority was what they believed to be best. For me.
For example, when I came home in September and found my husband dead in his bed, I reacted as usual. I'm good in a crisis, as long as I can go deep. I find the steps and work them. Call 911. Who wouldn't get off the line until I had someone with me. The EMT's arrived, followed by the deputy (someone I knew). All of whom insisted I have someone with me. I settled on my brother, with whom I had spent many quiet hours growing up. He was the only one I wanted. A calm presence to settle me as I took the difficult steps ahead. My mother was in heart failure and I absolutely did not want her to go through this with me.
He showed up with her in tow. Followed my his wife and my niece. Who were followed by my sister and my nephew. Who were shortly followed by my sister's husband and the girl they had taken in a few months prior but who I barely knew. My SIL decided we needed food. Food was the last thing I wanted. I wanted - needed - them all gone so that I could go deep and deal with calling my sons - one in Tennessee and one in Japan - to tell them their father had died. That was on Tuesday. I got through my calls and the next day of grief with my boys. Thursday was when I had to start digging through paperwork and shifted from grief to rage when I started to realize what a financial mess the man had left for me. By Friday all I wanted was the quiet dinner my Mom and I had shared every Friday night since my dad died in 2010. Instead she informed me that she had decided she needed the family there. Somewhat shell-shocked, I could at least let them know the date of the memorial service. My SIL asked incredulously if I was going to attend and my sister informed me that her son's high school band had a fundraiser that night. I made it through the dinner and then, when home with my Mom, had a breakdown when I asked if she would please come to the service for my kids' sake.
More recently I had the marvelous, once-in-a-career special teaching experience that I wrote about here previously. At lunch I was telling my colleagues about it. Subbing that day was someone I consider a good friend, a BFF status friend. Mid-way through the story, in the middle of a sentence, she blurted out something about my fingernails. It was like being hit on the side of the head with a baseball bat. Really? My fingernails? My students showed ultimate kindness and support to one of the class, and she is distracted by my fingernails.
Normally by today I would be giddy. I said goodbye to that class. My school year is almost over. Two more days. Graduation tomorrow, packing the classroom Friday and I am done. By now I usually have happy lists with smiley faces and hearts as codes for all the fun projects I am looking forward to.
And I got nothing.
Just this desire to crawl into a box on the beach somewhere.