Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Emotional Presentness"

So today, I want to talk about something that I'm not sure is part of my autism, or just part of my personality. Hell, I actually don't know if there's a difference between those two things, either. Such is the nature of the beast with neurological differences. The sensation that I'm referring to is what I call "emotional presentness", and it affects every aspect of my ability to process events around me. In a nutshell, what happens is that I always feel everything that I associate with a certain person, object, or place as if I just experienced it. For example, my relationship with my mother is complex. Right now, we are doing better than we have ever done before, and I hope that our ability to communicate keeps getting stronger. At the same time, though, every time I talk to her, I feel everything I've ever felt about her.

I'm not talking about resentment, either. I don't feel like she owes me anything, and I'm not looking for anything to happen to make me feel better. It's more like... chaos.

You see, I don't just feel the same way I felt when I realized that she had left me alone and run away when I was 12. I feel all of that, and also the feeling of her cleaning up my wounds when I fell of a bike and tore all the skin off my chest. And also the anger that I felt when I told her that I did not agree with the church, and the first thing she did was drive me to one and force me to listen to a mass where the homily was about the danger of trusting our own judgment. I feel the way I did when I saw her for the first time in eight years every time she calls me.  All of it, at once. And at equal strength to the first time it happened.

The chaotic ebb and flow of my thoughts is not helped by the immersive, vivid memories I have of these events, either. I don't just remember scenes from my life, you see. I re-live them. In full, 5 dimensional sensory pandemoniorama. I don't nurse grudges--in fact, I forgave my mother everything in my heart, and I feel slightly embarrassed when I am with her and I can't stop myself from reliving those things, because it makes me feel anger that is unwelcome now, and that does not reflect the current state of our relationship.

It's not just that good times are disrupted with memories of the bad or vice versa, it's also true that the memories sometimes interrupt one another, distracting me and leaving me with an uneasy feeling of impermanence. When this happens, sometimes I lose track of what point in my life I'm remembering from.

It's also not just her. I have the same experiences when I find something I used to have in high school, or when I'm in a place that I haven't been to in a long time. I know to some extent that this is normal, and that everyone has these feelings of nostalgia and reflection, but it bothers me that I can be taken completely away from the present like this. It makes me feel like every moment of my life is happening simultaneously, and this makes it hard to get emotional distance and perspective.

There was a time in my life when my ability to imagine things and to visualize was damaged. For a few years, I did not think visually at all, but in audio. Everything was noise, and even my measurable spatial reasoning on tests dipped. I don't wish for those times to come back, but the one blessing that they brought was that my memory turned into a catalogue of events. I NEVER relived moments, or even replayed people's voices in my head. Everything was flattened, informational, dry.

What worries me is that I will need to choose between the two: to either suppress the flood of sensory impressions that washes over me every moment of every day, or to live in a completely flat, information-oriented environment.