It shouldn’t be this hard to go out to eat.

One evening with autism . . .

Triggers everywhere. My wife and I went out to eat for the first time in a while. We don’t very often, for multiple reasons. But, on a Monday night, it wasn’t too crowded. Still, there were a bunch of “triggers” along the way. By a trigger, I’m referring to something that causes anxiety, though I’m using it loosely enough to mean not a full-blown panic attack. Some may use it more specifically in that case, and I am using it only because I don’t have a better word I can think of. To be clear, I’m not saying I had a panic attack this evening, but a series of micro-anxiety attacks that are significant in how much they can build up and leave me feeling defeated and worthless. That is the real point. It’s the cumulative effect, and it’s the fact I have to counter these triggers constantly just to find any hope in attempting to have a halfway-meaningful life.

What were the triggers? There are some you’d never guess. First, going in to the town where I used to work was upsetting, even though we were not close to that place. It was the first time, perhaps, I’d been in that town in over five months, and it felt bad. Then, as we got out of the car, I was going to take my satchel in with me. But, then I recalled being physically intimidated and verbally assaulted by my former boss when he thought I had a weapon in it. I was just going to seek his advice, and he knew I was a pacifist. While I can be confused, that is not an exaggeration. His flimsy backpedalling was proof of that. The fact that he admitted it later without any sense of remorse—but lots of deflection—makes me realize how quickly a person can become hostile out of misguided fear. And, that was for a planned meeting! Imagine if someone in the restaurant thought I had something bad in there. I should just let my wife carry the bag. Maybe that’s the problem: men aren’t to carry bags (in my country, at least).

Anyway, the point is that I still have so much trauma from that satchel. Because I had to empty the contents at his feet and had a complete breakdown by his actions, it made me decide I couldn’t take my satchel in the restaurant. Even though it helps me stay a bit calmer, I told my wife I had to leave it in the car.

The restaurant was not crowded, but that didn’t keep the volume down. The music was fine, but it was louder than I’d have liked. At least I didn’t have to hear other people talking quite so much. I also carry earplugs, though I opted to just cover my ears with my hands, in honor of autistics everywhere. The problem with music is that it’s almost always going to remind me of something, if not directly, then indirectly. Considering how much of my life involves music, it’s nearly impossible for me to live without thinking of people, and that’s problematic. Even now, I have to work very hard to not think of anyone when I’m working on projects. My trick has been to focus on a specific person who has been nice to me.

This music, the actual songs themselves, reminded me of various people I didn’t want to think about. Then, eating there was itself a trigger, as it reminded me of eating out in the past with some family who have been very hurtful to me and others. One of the most horrible parts of trauma from parents is how ingrained it gets into your head, and you end up looking at your hands or face like they are the enemy. Just thinking a completely benign phrase I’ve heard my father use, much less saying it, can make me want to never see people again.

There are phrases I’ve heard my mother say that will make me physically ill when I hear someone say them. Even thinking about that now makes me tense and blurs my vision. Trauma is so bizarre. I’m fine, but I just have to stop for a while and stop writing . . .

It was exceedingly unfortunate when possibly the most triggering two words that could be said to me were said to me by a friend last year. Of course, she couldn’t have known, and she certainly didn’t know that my mother would then be jokingly using those words two months later when I was finally confronting her on those words. It wasn’t the words, but what they stood for. And, that’s just the surface of all of that mess . . . Yes, more triggers . . . Father and sister, mother and I, other siblings, too much, father and niece . . . not quite a year ago. See, I just can’t continue on that. I have to stop. All because we went out to eat . . . wow.

Well, that’s all I can do. It’s a quick reflection on this evening. Many good parts, actually. But, now I need to go immerse myself in a video game for a couple of hours until I forget I’m still living. Then, I’ll be fine!

Maybe I should burn the satchel, but it also carries so many good memories, and I need all of those I can get these days since I don’t see me making many more in the future, not if I have to risk feeling so bad.

And, yeah, I now have a headache and my body is tense, just from thinking about all of this. Just one satchel, two words, and a few songs. Just one of those would have done it. Now, to relax.

Peace, everyone, but just please keep your peace (and kindness, etc.) at a distance. Not all peace is equal. I can’t handle any more of this world’s “peace,” so please leave me to find my own. My arms hurt now . . . I used to love that satchel.

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One response to “It shouldn’t be this hard to go out to eat.”

  1. I don’t really get connected to objects that emotionally; a little bit to music, but not so much. But I really can’t cope with loud music. It annoys me how omnipresent it is. I have no problem with music when I want it, I just hate it piped into rooms.

    Liked by 1 person

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