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Sometimes, the truth hurts. But better the truth, and understanding, than living in confusion & conflict, imposing your values on someone else. For those that this hurts, I’m truly sorry. You’ll just have to believe me that it was as hard for me to write, as it will be for you to read.

I’ve spent much of my life looking for a place to call home. There have been many houses & farms, but I always knew they were temporary, the best we could find at the time, or the best we could afford. But until I found my humble cabin the woods, in my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains, 11 years ago, there weren’t any that were really, truly, home.

I had started to think maybe I would never really understand what it was to love a place so much that it was your heart’s home, that maybe I’d always be a gypsy, staying a few years here, a few years there.  But I’ve lived here longer than I have ever lived anyplace else, and don’t ever want to leave.

I’ve finally set down roots.

Even when I was growing up, where we lived was just a house, though, of course, I would say things like, “Let’s go home,” but it wasn’t home, not in my heart.

I have some vague memories of the house I lived in from 7 to 16 – a large, suburban house, backing up onto a swampy patch of woods. I had everything I could seemingly want: loving parents, clothes, nice furniture, more toys than any kid needs…  but still, it wasn’t my home.

My home was the Woods behind the house.

My spirit-sister, Daphna, and I ran those woods, usually barefoot in all sorts of weather, lest our shoes show we’d been into the “forbidden zone” – the area around the creek we loved, or elsewhere in that muddy patch of forest. We’d stash our shoes under a bush, and take off.

We knew every inch, every corner, every tree. We tracked the raccoons and other critters that lived there. We learned about wild plants; built rafts that always seemed to sink; caught tadpoles; found beautiful stones.

We ran like the wind, or the deer, as only a child can run, with utter freedom and abandon, leaping from rock to rock, and walked fallen tree-bridges, in total confidence, without fear.

But we weren’t supposed to be there. We were under orders to only follow the path that led to the small park, to play on the equipment there. I distinctly remember my mother telling us that if we went to the area of the creek, we might get bitten by a snake, or a rabid raccoon. That didn’t stop us. We went anyway.

I remember very clearly, standing one day on the path that led back to the house, as it started to get dark, when we were due back. Looking up at the house up the hill, I saw not a home, but a box; a prison; confinement; misunderstanding.

I was a round peg being forced into a square hole, and I hated it.

I dreamed of running away, to live in the mountains. Several times a year, we would drive the hour out to the Skyline Drive, which runs atop the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there, that, was my heart’s desire: woods that stretched for miles; babbling creeks; great weathered rocks; the glory of the Fall leaves; the beauty of the Spring flowers; breathtaking sunsets.

I remember being in the back seat of the car, looking out the back window, tears running silently down my cheeks as we would drive back to our house in suburbia.

Without Daphna, and the Woods, I think I would have gone crazy, and when she moved away, when I was 12 (?), it absolutely devastated me. The Woods were totally forbidden to me now – without a friend to go with me, I wasn’t allowed back there.

You can blame it on the Asperger’s if you want. But it was – and is – much more than that. It’s feeling things other people don’t. Remembering lives that happened before this life.

It’s valuing things other people don’t, and not caring at all about what they do.

It’s wanting something totally different from the people around me.

It’s still that way, with a very few exceptions.

After a lifetime of being a gypsy, moving from house to house to house, I finally found my heart’s home, here in my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. It is only a humble cabin in the Woods, small by many people’s standards, always disastrously messy & cluttered, and often actually quite dirty (in the real dirt sense of the word – my beloved dogs track it in, and without energy to clean…).

But it’s my home, finally, a place I’ve set my roots down, after so many years of searching. A place I’ve set my heart and spirit to rest. And I love it.

Living here isn’t easy, especially for a chronically ill person. The driveway is rough by anyone’s standards, nearly vertical, and impassable in heavy snow. The house is not well insulated, if it’s insulated at all. It was built to be a weekend retreat for suburbanites from DC, not a full time residence. The kitchen is smaller than most bathrooms, which makes cooking in there rather difficult. The paint is peeling, and the siding could use replacing, and the floors could stand to be sanded and re-stained.

But what makes it home is it’s location, in my beloved mountains; the 3 sliding glass doors that open onto the screened in porch and large deck with the breathtaking beauty of the mountains beyond; the open floor-plan & soaring ceilings; the way it sits back from the road, so we have  privacy; the screened in porch that I use for carving my beads, all year long, protected from all but the hardest rains and fiercest winds; the yard the dogs, so absolutely necessary to my life, have easy access to.

It’s the quiet seclusion, so necessary when the almost ever-present migraines strike; the silence, away from sirens, with little traffic, no noisy neighbors.

And even more, it’s the trees in all their Autumn glory; the radiant sunsets that light the whole sky; the deer than amble, unafraid, through the yard; the great weathered stones that are everywhere; the trilliums, lilys, and daffodils we discover in unexpected places;  the violets that blanket the “yard” in Spring; the raspberries that fill our bodies with their all natural goodness; the well water that cleanses and purifies us, and runs through my veins.

What we have here nourishes my soul, feeds my restless spirit.

I wouldn’t trade my home, this land, and these mountains, for all the money in the world, or a million dollar house, or what you may think is an “easier” way to live.

You may not understand, and you may not value what I do.

All I ask is that you accept that I do value this life, here on the Mountain. And that without it, I see little point in going on.

Unless you are as sick as I am, you cannot know what it’s like to live every day, so sick, so tired, in so much pain.

You cannot know how it sucks the soul out of you.

Autumn Sky

Here, I have the chance for the only joy I will ever again experience.

Here, I can turn my head, from my big bed, and look out into the trees, the sky, the sunsets.

Here, the moon shines on me as I sleep; the stars light the sky overhead in a way they never can in the city; the meteors streak through the night and can actually be seen.

Here, I can spend my few minutes out of bed each day watching the ever changing world around me; see the many wild things we share the world with: the spotted fawns, the graceful bucks,  the elusive fox, and thrill at the flight of a hawk high overhead.

Here, I can sit in my hanging chair, on my porch, and rock for as long as I want, totally absorbed in watching the incredible beauty of the world around me.

Here, finally, is the place I call home.

Winter Sunset

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Note: This post is about my spiritual path, part of the Wolfdreams category of my blog. It will likely not make much sense to many people. But it makes sense to me.

The message was short and cryptic: “Follow the Patterns to the Stillness within.”

I had been resting, which became meditating, which became journeying. It was the voice of my Guide, reminding me of things that happened long ago, and of an ability seldom used. I scrawled it down, lest I forget.

I had remembered…

I was quite young. I was setting the table for dinner, putting the silverware out by the plates. I picked each fork, knife, and spoon, out carefully: I had to get the right ones. It was not a question of there being different sets of silverware, and needing to get ones that matched. No, it was much deeper than that. I wanted to get the ones that belonged out that night, and to put them at the correct place on the table – picking out the one particular spoon that just felt right with the one particular fork and the one particular knife.

My mother thought I was confused about where the knives, forks & spoons went, but I wasn’t. There was just a feeling of rightness, of belonging, when I put certain ones together in certain places. My mother was impatient with my slowness, and took them from me, and set the table, while I tried to understand why she didn’t follow the flow of rightness I felt.

Much later in life, I still feel it, but not often, not as strongly. Usually, it’s when I’m being creative:

Stringing a necklace, beads arrayed around me. Sifting through a dish of near-identical beads to find the one particular bead whose energy just fits with the other beads I have strung, Trying out different combinations of beads to get them right. Not because of how they look together, but because of how they feel together.

I eventually started calling this Patterning. Arranging things so that they fit into an invisible Pattern, where the energy will flow more easily. Something which I could feel, sometimes, but not quite see.

We know now, through physics, that everything vibrates with a particular frequency. Even things that are virtually identical in appearance vibrate in their own particular way.

Is that what I feel and sense? I don’t know. All I know is that to feel it, the invisible pattern of rightness, I have to be at a very still & quiet place inside. Words cannot be flowing non-stop through my mind.

People spend their whole lives practicing meditation, or prayer, towards one goal: silencing the mind and stilling the soul in order to be open to the voice of the Sacred within.

Silencing the mind is the tough part. I remember the moment I started thinking in words, rather than experiencing life in the moment; allowing things to happen without spending time thinking through them from every angle; without the chatter of the noisy mind filling up my head. You know what I mean, I’m sure – the mind goes on and on, never ceasing with it’s chatter, about everything, every aspect of our lives. Words fill our heads constantly. We “talk to ourselves.”

What I felt as a child, in that moment when I realized the silence within was gone, replaced by words, was a deep sense of loss. I was very young, but I knew that something priceless had been irrevocably lost.

I’ve never known anyone else who remembered the moment they started thinking in words, although I haven’t asked too many people – the strange looks I got after the first couple of attempts were enough to persuade me that others didn’t experience life the way I do.

Maybe, it was an expression of the Asperger’s Syndrome I didn’t know I had until recently. Maybe, people with autism can see and feel things that other people can’t, but which are very real, nonetheless, and are interacting with those things. I know only my own experience. I know I was bewildered at the seemingly random way people did things, and I was acutely aware that other people didn’t feel the need to follow the patterns I saw. My mother says I used to stare at her a lot, as if I was trying to figure things out, and indeed, I was.

The message from my Guide, “Follow the Patterns to the Stillness within,” was like a message in a bottle washed up on the shore; a reminder of the past, and a pointer to the future. To let go of my thoughts more; to spend more time with a still mind; to follow the sense of rightness that comes with certain actions; in order to return to that place of peace, stillness, and quietness, so I can hear the voice of the Divine more easily.

In some ways, you could compare what I feel to the way a river flows. You can spend your life fighting the flow of the water, or you can give in, let go, and let the current take you where you are intended to be.

I think I’ve spent far too much time fighting the flow. Time to let go.

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(No, not THAT primal urge, another one!)

I remember very little of my life. It’s not like other people do. I remember little bits & pieces from here & there. Frozen vignettes. Still-lifes. Partly, I’m sure that’s from the Lyme, etc. But not entirely.

One thing I do remember clearly: as a child, standing in front of the glass doors, looking out into our backyard, and the Woods beyond, filled with a deep longing, a restless urge, a melancholy that was unrelenting. Every Spring. And every Fall. For days.

As I got older, became an adult, I thought, incorrectly, that this feeling every Spring & every Fall would go away. Finally, I realized it for what it truly was: the primal urge to migrate.

Often, as an adult, living close to the Blue Ridge Mountains, I would get in the car & take to the Skyline Drive or Blue Ridge Parkway, and just drive. I’d stop at overlooks & sit on the stone walls, looking out over the mountains, while the longing welled up inside.

Knowing what it was, the primal, instinctual urge to migrate, and that the feeling would pass in a few days, helped. But as I spoke carefully to others about this, and learned no one else seemed to suffer from what I named Migration Sickness, it perplexed me.

I realized today that I’ve entered this Spring’s time of Migration Sickness, and I think I know now why it is so strong in me.

Recently, scientists successfully sequenced the genome  of Neanderthals, and were surprised to find that indeed, their guess had been correct: Neanderthals did not really all die out as modern humans advanced into Europe. Some of them interbred with the newcomers. In every person of European descent, they estimated that Neanderthal genes make up between 3 and 6%  of DNA.

For years before this, a researcher studying autism had proposed that those with autism, including those with Aspergers  like me, had a higher percentage of Neanderthal genes than others. His work now vindicated, he estimates that those with Aspergers have from 6-10% Neanderthal genes. Enough to make a difference in social interaction.

It makes sense to me (I read his research paper). But it also makes sense from a personal point of view. Neanderthals relied more on instinct to survive. And I’ve always seemed to respond more instinctually than others, including having my twice yearly bouts of Migration Sickness.

There’s another way in which I think this affects me. Neanderthals relied on getting closer to their prey than the humans that followed. They had shorter range weapons. And legend & science tells us they seemed to practice something similiar to shamanism. Their cave drawings show it. And legend says there were those among the tribes who could interact with animals differently: sense their location, tame wild animals, even “call” animals into traps. Shamans.

Are you following my logic here? This would explain a lot about my life. My way with animals. My primal spirituality, born of instinct and in-born abilities to journey to the spirit realm, to channel healing energy into animals.

I have always said, when asked, that my spirituality is very simple, even Neolithic. The Earth is our Mother, I’ve known that since I was a small child. Carving figurines of animals special to me. Always wanting to use the simplest of materials for my jewelry creations: bone, and antler, leather, and ivory from mammoths & ancient walruses. It seems like a no-brainer to me, to use the materials from the animal world that still hold the power & essence of the animal. Ancient Ivory & bone each are absorbant – they mingle the animal’s spirit with the wearers. Some stones, special ones, but few mass produced stones. And very little metal.

That primal urge.

Instinct.

The Neanderthal genes that made parts of my life torture, but blessed me with many more gifts in return. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Postscript: After writing this late last night, I took the dog out. As I marveled at the starry sky, I heard the unmistakeable cries of a flock of Canada geese flying overhead. There is only one valid reason for a flock of geese to be flying through the midnight sky over our mountain: migration. Coincidence, or confirmation? I’m going with the later of those two.

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Everyone tells them – the “little white lies.” Right? Maybe.

Little white lies have been on my mind today. They aren’t the same for me as they are for you. I have Asperger’s, and part of Asperger’s is an “inappropriate” attachment to the “truth” and “honesty.” And a difficulty detecting – or anticipating – deceit & dishonesty in others. That part has landed me in some seriously hot water over the years.

But the “little white lies” I’m thinking about today are ones most people tell everyday. Someone, perhaps a clerk at a store, asks you “how you are doing” today. You automatically answer with “fine” or at least “okay.”

It’s harder for me. I am not “fine” or even “okay” on any given day. But the aspie aversion to lying causes me to look blankly at the person, to see if they are just saying it reflexively, because they were told to greet everyone that way, or if, as occasionally happens, they are someone who really means it. Sometimes it’s a friend or family member asking, and how much they know about me & my health struggles factors into my answer.

When stumped, brain-fogged into a state of incomprehension, I usually simply answer with “I’m here.” If “here” is somewhere other than my bed, then I guess I could, or should, say “I’m okay.” Because getting out of my bed would mean I am “okay” by the standards of what some doctors call “the new normal.”

I’ve heard Gabrielle Gifford’s doctors using this term – “the new normal” – in reference to her rehab. That they will work to get her as functioning as possible, but she was shot through the head, so there has to be an understanding that she may have to adjust to a “new normal.”

So, what should I say when someone asks? The Aspie wants to tell the truth, but most people couldn’t really give a shit, and they don’t even really hear what I say, anyway. I guess you will know, the next time you ask me, by my reply, as to how much I think you care, or want to hear.

Today, I am grumpy & irritable and blowing my constantly drippy nose & coughing. I’ve been sick on top of sick since Christmas, when I picked up food poisoning that led to a cascade of dehydration & electrolyte imbalances that led to PVC’s of the heart. About the time I got that mess under control, I picked up the plague-like cold going around, no doubt on one of my visits to the doctor, and have been sniffling, coughing, and fatigued – exhausted – beyond words.

Today I am not “okay” even by the “new normal” standards of “okay.”

Good thing I’m not going anywhere someone would ask, isn’t it? I might give them an earful!
Ah well, this, too, shall pass… eventually.

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I have a thing. A seriously pet peeve. A household rule. No one is to use the word “bastard” around me unless they are using it literally – to refer to someone born out of wedlock. Why? Well, I got reminded of that today.

I was driving home from town. Tired. Drained. And discovering that all the radio stations I had marked on my car radio were missing, as they had the car totally disconnected from power while they worked on it. And as I searched for my favorite stations, a song came on that I had not heard in decades. But, my goddess, it brought back so many memories. Not happy ones.

The song was from 1968, it was #1 for weeks, knocking the Beatles off the chart. “Love Child” by Diana Ross. You can hear it, too. It was playing often for years afterward. Here’s some of the lyrics:

Love child
Never meant to be
Love Child
Born in poverty
Love Child
Never meant to be
Love Child
Take a look at me

My father left he never even married mama
I shared the guilt my mama knew
So afraid that others knew I had no name…

We’ll only end up hatin’
The child we may be creatin’

Love Child
Never meant to be
Love Child
Scorned by Society
Love Child
Always second best
Love Child
Different from the rest

I knew the way it felt to always live in doubt
To be without the simple things
So afraid my friends would see the guilt in me

But no child of mine will be bearing
The name of shame I’ve been wearing…

Love Child
Never quite as good
Afraid, ashamed
Misunderstood

Today, I hear Terra & Rhiannon talking about songs that are the soundtracks of their lives. It was no different when I was growing up, just harder to capture the songs – I had a little tape recorder, and would hold it up to the radio when they played a song that resonated with me.

“Love Child” was one of those songs, for obvious reasons. Adopted. My birth mother a young woman, having already had a child at 16, now having another, another bastard. And it shouldn’t have really mattered, should it? But it did. And this song, played on the radio a lot when I was quite young, impacted me heavily.

It didn’t help when, in elementary school, maybe fifth grade or so, we did a project on genealogy, and I stupidly asked what I should do, because I didn’t know my ancestors. Word got out. From them on, I was taunted with it. I was a “bastard” and I wasn’t allowed to forget it.

That was a different day & age. It mattered. It doesn’t really anymore. Now, you have single women having babies intentionally, kids with two mothers, two fathers, step families, etc.

But it mattered then.

My mother could never figure out why I didn’t “fight back” when the bullies were at me, which was constantly, one thing or another.  Here’s a quote from Straight Talk About Asperger’s (you really should read the whole page if you haven’t.)

…They want to “fit in” so badly that they betray their own nature, but fail even in that betrayal, and subsequently fail to recognize that failure as well. They try to be normal, but they can’t….One might wonder why some with Asperger want so much to “fit in”. It is so that a person with Asperger is seen by most normal people as “different”, even though many of those normal people will violently deny this when confronted (“There’s nothing wrong with you!”). And some normal people naturally follow the line, “This person is different from what I am used to/This person therefore annoys me/Therefore I have to make this person suffer/As hard as I can/As long as I can/And I get away with it easily as this person cannot defend oneself/Otherwise I would not dare bully this person as I am an extreme coward and cry for my female parent while defecating in my trousers whenever someone so much as points a finger at me in response to my bullying”. As a result, persons with Asperger tend to be the target of extreme continuous torture in almost every social environment they are or become part of. They are the natural focus of the inferior’s hatred. Yes, it says “torture”, and not “abuse” or even “teasing”, as one sometimes sees, as those disgusting euphemisms do not even begin to describe reality. It is in the light of this life-long suffering that one must see the attempts of some misguided Aspergers to “fit in”. They think the torture will end if they learn to act normal. But it will not and they can not.

Love child. Never meant to be. That was me. “My father left, he never even married mom”. Never quite as good. Afraid. Ashamed.

It didn’t matter that I was adopted. I didn’t “fit” with my very loving, trying so hard, adoptive family. Never connected with them. And now I know it wasn’t their fault. I was autistic, having Asperger’s, which is a nice way of saying high functioning autism. But back then, autism wasn’t talked about, or very well known, and when you said autistic, it was the severe end of the autism spectrum.

And they wondered why I didn’t want to go to school.

I remember my mother telling me over and over how she was called a “beanpole” and other not nice things when she was growing up.That I just needed to stand up to the bullies. But being autistic, I was unable to form a response. (somewhere there’s a quote about that but can’t find it at the moment).

I did develop a “coping mechanism.” I smiled. When under any stress, I smiled. It took two years of drama class for me to be able to defeat that, as it was so ingrained in me by high school that every time I stepped on stage, no matter the subject matter of the play, I… smiled.

I also shredded my lip with my fingernails habitually. I still occasionally do. I try to wear a long pendant with a smooth stone on it, so when I get that stressed feeling, I divert my hand there, or to whatever pen or pencil or whatever is close to hand. You could also consider that autistic “stim” behaviour, but I’m not going into that now.

Anyway. Don’t use the word bastard around me, please. Try to understand. Every time I hear it, I hear the echoes of childhood taunts. I can’t help it.

As a post script to this post, I just subjected Rhiannon to listening to this song. Loud. While I sang it. With goosebumps on my arms and my god, so much anger inside. So much.

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Note:

I think at this point that everyone has pretty much read A Secret Revealed, but if you haven’t, you need to read it before going further.

If you have already read A Secret Revealed, then you can proceed to the posts below:

How it Affects Me, part 1 (posted Thursday, 6/3, after A Secret Revealed)

How it Affects Me, part 1.5 (posted Thursday, 6/3, very very late)

On Tests & Scores (posted Friday, 6/4, 11 am)

I haven’t gotten to part 2, which is how this affected me as a child.

A lot of people are expressing surprise, but there was an awful lot going on inside of me that no one knew about. Telling you, my family and closest friends, about this is very scary to me. It’s like opening up a window on my soul, which has been hidden for so long. I’m sorry I’m asking so much of you, pouring all this out so quickly, but you have to remember, it’s been bottled up inside me for almost 47 years now…

I want to thank everyone for their support – it’s been fantastic to hear the affirmations of love and acceptance. A very healing thing for my heart.

Love you all dearly,

Ash

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On Tests & Scores

So, I see that many people in my family are taking the “short” AS (Asperger’s Syndrome – getting tired of spelling it all out) test at Wired.  And some are confused by the results. So, I’ll own up and tell you my score, and you can add yours in as a comment if you’ve taken the test, and if you want to share.

On that test, the average “normal” or N.T. (neurotypical, as opposed to neurodiverse, which is folks with autism of some sort), is 16.

The average person with AS or any other form of autism scores 32 or above. The absolute maximum you could score would be 50.

If you scored between 16 and 32 then you are likely N.T. but slightly odd, having some traits.

I scored 39.

The long test, called the   Aspie-Quiz, is much, much more detailed. It’s run by a researcher who is investigating causes into autism and AS in particular, trying to prove a theory. It’s been updated repeatedly over the years to make it more accurate, and some questions are weighted more than others.  This test doesn’t just give you a number, it gives you a diagram of your mind’s abilities, and where they fall, plus copies of all your questions and answers and how aspies answer versus how N.T.’s answer. If you register, you can download the report as it doesn’t all show up on the screen if you don’t.

For more on that test, the types of questions, and to download my report, go here (this link was broken in A Secret Revealed but have fixed that).

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