Today is New Year’s Day.
It is the 1st of January 2019.
New Year is seen as a time for new beginnings, a time for fresh starts, a good time to make positive changes.
The whole ethos of ‘New Year’ is totally conflicting with all, those on the spectrum seek comfort from.
As soon as the bells toll at midnight, I am catapulted out of my comfort zone. All of a sudden everyone from close friends and family whom I am comfortable around to strangers want to hug me, shake my hand and kiss me, to wish me a happy new year. I can remember as a child getting into trouble at a party for being rude because I wouldn’t join in.
For anyone on the spectrum or those with sensory issues having your personal space invaded, being touched and kissed however well intentioned can be totally overwhelming.
Like it or not everyone has smells, I find hugging anyone wearing perfume nauseating. It is more than that though, there are the scents of the last food or drink a person has consumed, the detergent their clothes are washed in, the soap they used in the shower, each close encounter with someone exposes me to a barrage of overpowering scents.
I am always hit first by the scents a person carries.
I find shaking hands doesn’t come naturally to me, the first thing I want to do after someone shakes my hand is to rub off or wash off the feel of the other person. Especially if it is someone I am not close too. This is a hard concept to explain but it is like I can still feel the other person’s touch long after our hands have parted.
Hugging is a total invasion of my space, my whole body tenses. Sometimes it actually hurts, it is like I am try to pull away from the other person drawing back internally into myself. The less familiar I am with the other person the worse the reaction.
Kissing, I think you can already guess where this is going, I try my upmost best to avoid! Kisses are only on my terms!
A quick handshake, hug and “ Happy New Year too you” and I duck out at that.
Maybe I appear rude. I wish others understood how much something they see as a kind gesture overwhelms and exhausts me. I know from watching my little people they find the whole experience just as unnerving.
It can be overwhelming enough when this happens once with someone I am not close too, but for the next week I know I will be trying to minimise my own exposure and that of my children’s to these well intended uninvited gestures!
Now let’s consider the bigger pressures and anxiety the concept on New Year brings, the word ‘new’ for myself and many others on the spectrum automatically means something is changing. We draw comfort from routine, familiarity and consistency. The idea of something new is at odds with this.
Even if our day to day lives are staying exactly the same, there are social expectations to make a positive change, to make a better you, to embrace a fresh start, these ideas all strike fear into me, they make me anxious.
Why would I want to be a new me?
For the first time in a long time the thought of a New Year is hugely overwhelming, crushingly so to me. It is an all engulfing thick grey. It is heavy and suffocating.
I feel really anxious and unsettled about changes that lie ahead, changes New Year is bringing closer. All three of the special little people in my life appear to be feeling similar apprehension if perhaps for differing reasons.
The passing of New Years in the holiday season also signifies the beginning of the end of the holidays.
In our house and I know it is the same for many other spectrum families, holidays are a time to breathe and rest. They are a break from the exhausting everyday demands. For me they are a time to catch up on processing.
I feel I am still processing several events from before the holidays. I am not ready to move on. My internal MAC is on a go slow.
Right now in our house three of us are anxious about the schools starting back next week, having to change back from the holidays routine, having to face all the demands and expectations school brings.
One of my children is still trying to settle in a new school, meaning frequent changes and new experiences. New people. New places. Different expectations.
Another is having to face a major key staff change. Meaning new routines.
Both are having to build new relationships. Having to teach someone new their way of being and doing things and perhaps having to compromise a little or a lot in trying doing something’s in a different way.
The third is trying to find their way out of school. Moving out into the world. As am I.
I am having to prepare myself and them to try and survive the coming weeks, to try and ensure positive outcomes for my children and those around them.
I feel under immense pressure to find a way through without really being sure how to make this happen.
I realise now university for me has been a bit of an anchor over the last few years and taking a break, although much needed has lost me that anchor and security.
Wider than that, in my own separate life I am embarking on a new journey, life for now is take in an unfamiliar direction as I try to find a job. Again this is bringing massive changes, demands and pressures in my life.
So far job hunting isn’t going well. If only I could write answers at interviews. I am sure interviewers find it confusing that I can write a brilliant application form yet at an interview struggle to put relevant words together. Or I somehow get it all together and even amaze myself giving an excellent interview only to still get knocked back. Apparently I lack relevant experience!
Both scenarios happened recently and I still can’t decide which is more frustrating.
There is a part of me also wants to scream at the world have you any idea how hard all this is?
How long it has taken me to get to this point?
How far I have had to come?
My child most like myself is currently caught in a very negative spiral. They see no point in constantly trying, because they feel their efforts are not appreciated or recognised. Right now I can relate to how she feels. It is that feeling of never being enough.
As an adult I get that is the Aspie perfectionist trait. I try to keep that one in perspective. Try to keep at the forefront that trying and not giving up are enough. That one day someone will see the potential.
That is a hard lesson and concept for a child to understand though.
The semi rational adult in me knows and accepts New Year comes round every year.
It doesn’t mean I have to like it though!
I know life is constantly changing, sometimes that is a good thing. I am hoping and praying this year brings lots of good things for all of us. That enough of the jigsaw pieces will fall into place to build positive progress.
The thing with New Year though is it magnifies all these things and all at once and sometimes that is all just too much.
Happy New Year everyone. Be kind to each other and yourselves.