It happens more times than I care to admit. First the intrusive thoughts that bombard my resolve. The voices of the kids on the playground that reverberate in my ears, send signals down into my bones. They call me a loser, a retard, they call me fat and make comments about my failures and inabilities. It doesn’t matter where I am when this happens, it doesn’t matter the circumstances, when I get overwhelmed and I melt down into a series of profanities and verbal or written attacks it is always the same memories, the same voices, the same false identity statements that I hear. It doesn’t matter what I’ve accomplished or how far I’ve come from where I have been, the same old lies ring so true in my heart sometimes. It’s as if I haven’t aged past the scared kid in school who just wanted to be liked.
The other day, after a good day full of bike riding and friends and family and movies, discovering that our bank account was depleted again I began to hear those attacks again. At once, before I could even think about it, it wasn’t about money anymore it was about failure. All of a sudden it wasn’t just that I had no money, it was that I wasn’t working hard enough, not making enough money to take care of life. It was tat I wasn’t strong enough to be as healthy as I should be. I was a fat lazy idiot. I wasn’t a good husband to Corrie, she needed and deserved better than what I had to offer. The voice inside my head, the internal monologue which I have heard since I was very young, the static and noise that I live with on a daily basis became deafening. Every sin was counted, every failure. The ‘meltdown’ or ‘crash’ is always similar. Screaming, cursing, sometimes I’ll throw something. This isn’t about rage or anger as much as it is about fear, defensiveness. I feel backed into a corner like an old dog that has been beat too many times. I lash out at the perceived threat. The thing I hate the most? Is the people I love dearest get the brunt of it. My wife, my pastors, my close friends my parents. F this and F that, the words just stream out of me like a raging river. I get lost in the storm.
Then the arsenal turns inward. I begin to attack myself. I feel worthless, insignificant, evil, ugly. Every time after lashing out I turn inward and face what I perceive to be the real enemy, which is me.
After that I am drained. I cry, I feel dazed and numb. On Sunday I slept longer than I probably should have. It takes time to recover from this, recovery happens but the cycle always seems to begin again and again. I’ve dealt with this for years. It is hard to know where the autism begins and where my conscious choices end in this, but I am aware that I am making some. It’s also hard to know what I am gaining from allowing these meltdowns to happen. What I long for is to be free, is to be Mike. Most of my anxiety is controlled but this tape loop remains and man is it destructive.
I have a longing to be heard, I also have longings to be respected and loved. I don’t like the idea of me being soft I’d rather be seen as hard, as capable THere is a picture I took of myself a few years ago and without meaning to it represented how I want to be seen by the world.
It’s the same pic on the front page of the blog. I look like a bad ass in this, I look capable, I look like someone who can handle anything that is thrown at him. God how I wish I was this person, I’ve always wanted to be him, he doesn’t have meltdowns. He doesn’t care. He is disaffected. But that’s not me at all. I think some of my rage is realizing that I am not him, I also think some of it is not being willing to accept the fact that this isn’t who people I care about in my life need. That’s not who my wife Corrie needs, it’s not who my parents need. It’s not who my church wants or needs me to be nor the customer at my job. They need me to care, to engage, to be vulnerable . Empathy isn’t easy for me but the people who matter to me in my life need me to sift through all of the static and noise so that I can at least try to empathize with them. I don’t know what the way forward is, at least not totally, but I at least know what some of the things are that I need to get rid of. It should help at least with the rage if I can make a habit of not going on defense whenever I get overwhelmed. How do I stop from getting overwhelmed though? How do I construct a filter? Even without rage there will be huge emotional rapids and currents that I’ll need to navigate through. Will I need more medication? Talk therapy? Is there a way to rewire my brain?
However the way forward I do want to say this, if you have ever been at the receiving end of one of my melt downs I am sorry. They aren’t healthy, they’re not a good way to deal with my emotions and I am sorry for any and all harm that I have caused because of them. I am trying to be a better person, the child of God that everyone else seems to know I am, and I will work diligently not to allow these demons to win anymore. It has gone on far too long and it is time for major changes in my emotional life. I’ll only get where I am going with God’s help but he has proven to be dependable time and time again.