So, after having myself a wee bit of a breakdown and temper tantrum yesterday, because that is pretty much what that post was, also deleted my Deviantart account and removed close to 200 people from my Facebook friends. Yeah, rough day, overwhelmed the day before and just a lil over a week after attending a family event on my Wife’s side (my recovery process can be two weeks sometimes in high stress), though something I enjoyed, it was also stressful and overwhelming…the eyeball motif rugs in our room at the hotel didn’t really improve my mood all that much. Anyhow, I habitually fail to ask for help when I am getting overwhelmed, and the end result is usually some sort of self destructive act, I may not bash my head against the wall or punch myself in the crotch (yeah did that aplenty losing at video games in my youth), but I still tend to try and punish myself when I succumb to being overwhelmed, the sheer frustration of losing control is ever present sadly. Now, this sounds horrid on some levels, but I will say it has been a right nice change for me, see…I do have my temper tantrums, also a host of other almost childlike traits at time, petulant is a facial expression I have mastered for sure, but I used to explode in a very dangerous rage, a violent irrational anger that I knew hurt those around me, so I internalized that too, so when my anger exploded, people near by got the brunt in to form of the intensely personal attacks, tailored to inflict maximum trauma in the least amount of time to force them away from me, see the object of that anger is not the target on the receiving end, they were unfortunately the final trigger event and my fight or flight instinct likes to multitask. So, I would verbally attack the person who triggered the event to push them away, this is a tactic to delay as I process my actually desire, and that is too flee. But when enraged and overwrought in that manner, decision making on a conscious level for me is turned off for the most part, it is the damaged subconscious processes that hold the reigns and they want nothing more than to escape or to punish myself, depending on the severity of it. It is completely irrational in expression, but can be rationally understood for what it was, the rage and frustration of a very damaged, very hurt, very scared mind that snapped periodically in bursts.
My temper was something that formed out of my frequent childhood frustration, as my understanding of the world around me grew, as the expectations of what being a little boy entailed, and the treatment at the hands of my brother, my realization that I could not trust him, he constantly tricked me, when I looked to him for guidance. Man I know I must have been annoying as hell, I know he was struggling with his own issues and sets of pressure, but the sad result is a grown man who is still deeply and viscerally afraid of his big brother, and unable to trust anyone easily. But I did not break with malevolence at all, I still cared deeply about other people, I did not trust them to understand me though, I did not invite even those closest to me, into my inner realm until literally just a few months ago. I continue to fail to ask for assistance when I need it, I still believe that at 37 I should not need to ask for assistance from anyone, the few times I have asked for financial assistance in my adult life from anyone was born out of existential need, it took an event of that magnitude to ever seek help, and a result of this frustration, coupled with fear, hypersensory functions and never ever feeling safe. Anywhere actually, since my brother scared me and I was the perfect target for bullying outside the home and I have many a tale related to those, but I do not feel safe now either, I am not sure if I ever have felt safe, I see so many possibilities with every action and choice it is hard to ever feel 100% secure, but I digress a bit.
So, the expression of my anger changed over the years, after I broke publicly, so I learned to fully repress everything I was overwhelmed by and managed to force my face to wear emotions I was not feeling, I was still exploding with violence, but it went underground, behind closed doors, and into the home. My brother stopped being the danger and a threat to household awhile ago, but my damage would haunt that space for years to come, until I left it essentially. The temper then went deep underground, it cropped up rarely, maybe three or four times in college, which felt more comfortable to me, probably could have found mental health there sooner had I just been able to connect the dots when I was studying Temple Grandin’s work with livestock, but see, she visualized, she expressed her understanding in a way that did not metaphorically translate to me, so I missed it, because it was too subtle and we still had not learned enough, like John Elder Robison I considered people with Autism back then to be non-functional or marginally functional members of society, in the case of John Elder Robison it was not the case at all, in my case, I am marginal I think, I do not tend to thrive or do well on my own, but I am damn introverted by nature so it makes it hard, and I sure as heck do not have enough income to hire a personal assistant to help me get through the stuff that always overwhelms me. So, about that underground temper of mine, in my relationships is would crop up, I would subsume, try and do what I was supposed to do or just be a callous don juan depending on the exact time in my life. My explosions were irrational and were pretty much relationship killers, my first engagement ended when I finally lost it over not being able to go play DnD with some of my college buddies, I had already moved, already made plans for this and that, already let her make the decisions, but that was one too many, that was my safe social outlet where I could channel and explore the nature of people, try on different roles, and sadly help polish the masks I was wearing everywhere all the time Anyhow, the temper would flare up, relationships would go bottom up or be fixed, I was always ashamed, but I had learned to try and not let things fester, because they stressed me out, so I would seek concrete confirmation that I had burned that bridge or that it could be repaired, probably one of the few healthier things I developed amongst all that pain.
When I was in the USAF I saw spikes again in my temper, only got me in trouble once when I finally lost my cool with the new assistant shop chief who just was not hearing what I kept telling him, and he wanted to me to do a certain task that was against procedures, and since my name was connected to that, sure as hell was not going to be me, who helped clarify and streamline the processes we used to ensure compliance, who was going to willfully do something against that. Now, in his defense, his idea was practical, I am not sure I would even have called it bad, but it was technically illegal and so I finally lost it and yelled at him “What part of this is FUCKING ILLEGAL do you not understand?”, in front of the shop, with folks not from the shop around as I was located in the flight building, my temper exploded when overwhelmed, and though I always tried to keep it in while working or in public, sometimes I slipped, sure I did not go into my office, smash my keyboard (I have slain many over the years) and punch my hand into something likely to slice it up, so I guess that is something noteworthy *sigh*. Only time I got a write up though, and the drama continued from that into my sanctuary, my office, and when he followed me in pissed off and slammed the door behind me, cornering me, my flight instinct too over, and though I had long bruises down my shins and forearms and was already using a cane to help ambulate, I went out a small window before he could really get too far into his angry tirade, screw that noise, he was bigger, stronger, and pissed the hell off, so I did the only rational thing my gimpy ass could, and I got the hell out through a window and went to the Chief directly, fully admitting my own culpability in the drama that had unfolded, so I took my lil write up and dealt with a very awkward relationship with the assistant shop chief until I was finally boarded out of the service. My temper haunts me even now, if I think about modelling a conversation in a debate format or something, I can too easily see myself becoming overwhelmed and that fight or flight reaction, that irrational side of me, may have a chance to make a showing and I am direly afraid of it, as well as ashamed that I become so overwhelmed and out of control, that I cannot slow down my thoughts and focus enough to the point I lash out blindly.
But I am working on changing that, for example with this meltdown over the last few days, I learned to take our heated cherry pit pad, warm it up just a little bit and nap in a bunch of pillows, in short I am putting more conscious effort into trying to let my very scared and timid brain to feel more secure and safe. Still seems asinine to me that my subconscious and my conscious thoughts are still at a disconnect, but at least consciously I am aware of that, so the temper has faded back to more normal childlike tantrums, and that is in fact, a marked improvement over the beginning of summer, when my temper incidents spiked to a high, I am not sure I had ever seen, two to three times a week, the existential crisis in full swing was a scary thing, and it was the threat of that to my daughter that forced the issue, because I refused to let that temper damage her the way my father’s temper damaged us, his is a lot like mine….nice, wonderful, caring and compassionate man, but when the damage shows it’s face, it was also fierce, frightening, and not his fault either, but sadly we make it worse by keeping it down, so I will settle for outbursts and hope in time they will fade away too, I like to think when I found my baseline way of thinking that I had to tear down a lot of faulty architecture and internalized crap, but it also seems to me that it did result in almost a regression from adulthood, but it makes sense in a way, I was forced to learn certain things in a way very contrary to how I think, I did not have the self will to buck the system as hard as John Elder Robison did, I subsumed myself and told myself I was broken and defective and that even though I knew I was “smart”, that at the end of the day, because I could not apply and understand things, that I was going to amount to nothing. And I flip flop back and forth with that struggle even now, but I am trying to grow, trying to remember to ask for help, to stop assuming compliments given to me when I am not able to see the expression that made it are not snide, hurtful, shallow, or hollow, or anything else. Which explains why I do not do drive thru’s, I can read faces and body language well, and I am crippled without that input, I rely heavily on that input to ensure I am not offending, or causing harm, or a host of other things, and on that subject someday, I would even like to talk to Mr. Robison, I think a compare and contrast on being able to read people vs not being able to read people would be very informative for both of us haha. But since I am not likely to seek him out and sure as hell do not see that happening in reverse, I will settle for modeling conversations in my head like I normally do.