Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Avoid an Autistic Existence

In this PLPT guest post, Jess J. helps us to understand how we can become cognizant of our own behaviors to avoid an "autistic existence". Read on to learn more.

A few years ago I read the following quote by Geneen Roth in her book Women Food and God:

As long as I believe that pain is bigger than me, as long as I define being open and vulnerable as being vulnerable to annihilation, I believe in an image of myself: that I am someone who can be annihilated. And when I believe this, I bolt from different situations by engaging in various mind-altering and body numbing activities. I shut myself down or walk out the door when pain threatens to destroy me–which is any situation that involves another human being or whose outcome I cannot control. I live an autistic existence.

I knew it was important. I have used the saying, “autistic existence,” multiple times and knew it spoke to something that I understood as a truth. But it was not until very recently that I got a firm grasp on its importance and relevance in my own life.

I was looking at my bank account balance asking myself how I could have possibly spent $600 in a weekend with nothing significant to show for it. Not a bill was paid. No new clothes hanging in the closet, no major purchase were made so where did my money go? Simultaneously I was hungry (i.e. the reason I was looking at my account balance to begin with) and in need of food. I’d just gone grocery shopping a week ago, where had all my food gone? I was truly dumbfounded by how this had happened, yet again, and how I never quite understand the process behind my consumption. Not until I remembered Geneen’s words, I was living an autistic existence.

I was completely out of touch with the moments that I eat or the moments that I swipe my debit card. I did both mindlessly, without a second thought, without consideration of the moment or the next moment, day, week, month, or year. I was living in a fog that prevented me from clearly seeing that I was not hungry but eating out of boredom or habit, and that I was spending money I didn’t have to avoid the awkwardness of admitting my financial position.

So how do I stop? Stay awake, alert and present enough in the moment that I can make wise decisions? I have tried to make an ally of discomfort. I hate saying “no” when friends ask me to dinner or out for drinks, but unless all my personal affairs are in order then that should be my answer. I had grown accustomed to snacking at night regardless of hunger and so I had challenged myself to sit face to face, nose to nose with my bad habit reminding myself of the inconquerability of my soul. I have, in short, decided to sit in pain rather than try to remedy it. What I have realized is how hedonistic the ego can be, wooing us into autism so that we indulge at every possibly opportunity. What we are doing is existing in fallacies, and as a consequence we become the embodiment of lies and half-truths. But this is not about deprivation or restriction; it is about consuming better things to become a better person. It is about feeding my spirit rather than my ego and when I eat out of hunger rather than habit then my spirit feels fuller. When I manage my finances appropriately and place value in the intangible rather than the material then my spirit feels richer. In order to be better, be all truth and connected to the world around me, I had to accept it and I had to stay the course. That was the only fix, no Suze Orman books or Weight Watchers diets can account for the acknowledgement of the power that resides in our own truth.

Photo via Pinterest


For more of Jess' beautiful words and piercing insight,
visit her blog, Sincerely, Jess.


Anonymous said...

As someone who has an autistic brother (and has met many other autistic people and read up on it as a result), I just wanted to let you know that your/Genee Roth's terminology is REALLY incorrect.

The largest difficulty for an autistic person is interacting with people, largely because they aren't very good at identifying facial expressions or putting social customs into play, even if they understand them theoretically. There's also a few other things like people can't always read their expressions, etc. Further, they tend to actually have a very different reaction to stimuli, some things are too much while others are too little. They aren't living in hedonistic delight, they just can get a little overwhelmed by certain things, and will "stim" either to help stimulate themselves or calm themselves after over stimulation. When they do act shut down it tends to be because they are then suffering from depression, largely from rejection from others who find them different or people are misreading them again. There tends to be some overlap between other mental "disorders" but those disorders tend not to define the disease but are symptoms of other things that can fall into the autism spectrum.

What you describe is a misattribution of any altered emotional state as being autistic, since that seems to be hot buzz word of late.

What you seem to be describing is more of a catatonic existence, obsessive compulsive disorder or a depressive state.

Not at all autistic. Could you please stop using this phrase. Life has enough difficulties for autistic people.

Post a Comment

RSS Feed Like us in Facebook follow me!