Posted in Burnout, Career Change, Self-Care

Learning to Breathe Again

I had a meltdown at work Friday, or almost did at any rate.  My body told me to go home before I think it would have happened.

We’d been running air conditioning all week and I have this thing where I can’t be too hot so I need it but if it’s running for too many days in a row, I get sort of fuzzy headed and can’t think.  This was the first cooler day, but being inside all the time, I didn’t really have the benefit of outside air yet, and beyond that I had had a work training where two men sat on opposite sides of me, completely ignoring the standard buffer I try to get around me and I also had to interact and stuff.

None of these things were big things, but suddenly everything was enormous.

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Posted in Autistic Identity, Career Change, Passing as Neurotypical

Still Fighting

I had a dream night before last where I went back to teaching online.   But I can’t do that anymore because teaching takes too much out of me and I can’t get a “good teaching job” anyway.  I spent the whole way to work fretting for two reasons: one, that dream seemed to have really gotten to me, and two, my knee hurts quite a bit.  The knee is a bit of overwork mixed with arthritis.  I’ve had bad knees since I was a kid and have one leg shorter than the other so weird leg things aren’t unusual, but damn, it hurts to drive right now (even though it’s my resting leg, not driving leg; it’s the sitting in one position too long thing.  Whatever the reason for the pain part, the combination of events was so freaking hard.

As a child of the 80’s (born in 1975…Gen X all the way!), I really believed in all the crap they taught us about women being able to do anything and how if we followed our dreams, everything would be GREAT!  But my town was run by teachers in a town with no educational competition.  No doubt they believed that we could, in fact, follow our dreams if we just got educated enough (etc.) and followed the prescribed path to college.  They never did teach me when to get off the path of education, but regardless, with as much education as I have, I should be freaking set right now, right?

But I’m not.

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Posted in Career Change, Identity

The New Normal

Since leaving my own life, my new life still confuses me.

Long Commute

This is both good and bad.  Some days I listen to SiriusXM, and other days, I listen to books.  I enjoy the alone time I guess, but it’s physically draining to be driving so much.  The good news is that I have a flexible start time and I go in early so I can avoid traffic (well, at least the worst of it) which saves me precious spoons.  The bad news is that there are times the construction on the freeway and trucks just wear me out since my spatial sense doubts that I will actually fit in the tiny lane with that truck next to me.

No Real “Homework”

It feels weird not to be thinking about work when I am not there.  I mean, for Autistics, it’s normal to not think of people when we don’t see them (at least, I think it is; anecdotally, I’ve heard a lot of Autistics say they do the same thing: they think about people generally only when they’re with them except for fleeting thoughts (“I wonder what happened to so-and-so; let’s google them like a stalker).  Anyway, so I’m used to thinking about work constantly.  This meant that I was never really just at home.  Now, there’s literally nothing to do at home, so I don’t even think about work except going to and coming from and when to leave the house.  It’s strange to me.

Who Are You People?

This lack-of-work thought leads to another fun one: who are these people I live with?  I’m actually able to pay more attention to them since my mind is less split at home.  I guess I’m noticing things more, that way.

Do I Care About That?

And this also leads me to wonder what I actually do care about.  I play some Final Fantasy online (crafting a bit) every morning, come home, have dinner and chat with my husband and figure out what my kid is doing and try to hang with him a bit (he’s big into hugs, but has a lot of his own projects and likes different meals, so he bounces in and out a lot) and inevitably we do still go to bed kind of early since the TV is there and my knee has been twingy again due to weather and commute (arthritis already? Sheesh…).  But I am starting to think about writing again, and I don’t know whether I have the ability to care about statistics and computer programming.  I want to care very much because I want to conquer that stuff because I was swayed away from it when I was younger, but does it even matter?  Instead, I think about the yard (it’s like a jungle; I swear the people before us were way too much plant people and it’s spread to the point of absurdity) and whether I can rearrange or clean things inside the house and what kind of a schedule that will entail.  I have never thought about things like a yard before.

Part of me worries that I am becoming closer to neurotypical, but that is not it since we do still live a different life from everyone else.  Few people homeschool (leaning unschool) with a husband at home, working, and few people are comprised solely of Autistics in their family, especially where we live.  And, knee twinges not withstanding, for the first time in my life, I’m not tired all the time.

I do not have great joy, like I did in my old life, but neither do I have the depths of despair.

I’m not sure if I feel numb now or if this is happiness of a new kind.  I think, right now, I am neither happy nor unhappy.  I simply exist.

But so does everyone else on this planet, I guess.

Posted in Autistic Identity, Burnout, Career Change, Self-Care

Regret: Learning to Unmask

This is a bit rawer than I usually write, but it explores what I’m feeling and where I am now.

I am finally beginning to get back to the way I was before I ever entered that school.   I’m working around what used to be my home office and I am finally able to pick things up and am trying to figure out where they go. I have listed books for sale that represent my academic and professional life. I have thrown a lot of things away, and for a pack rat it’s very difficult to throw things away because I might need them in the future.  I think now that I see that my life will definitely be very different. I realize I no longer need to hold on to the clutter.

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Posted in Career Change, Identity

Math and Me: An Odd Relationship

So, I have this weird relationship with math.

That’s really the best way to describe it because I have told myself I’m bad at it, and maybe I am, and maybe I’m not.

Regardless, here’s my math story.

So, in elementary school, I was always reasonably good at math, but my major issue was my poor handwriting.  Now we know that Autistic people often have trouble with fine motor control and we can take a lot longer to develop those skills.  You can either yell at us like we’re trying to torment you with our bad handwriting or you could be a reasonable person and let us type things for a while.  One, typing develops fine motor control and two, it means our work is legible in the meantime while our bodies catch up with those of our peers.  It’s literally no big deal.

But back in the 1980’s, that was not an option.  Instead, every report card and parent-teacher conference embarrassed you about your poor writing.  Your teachers even might give you extra credit if you voluntarily submitted yourself to handwriting practice because you definitely needed it.  So, if you know anything about math in the age of “no calculators allowed until Algebra,” you’d know that poor handwriting was a significant problem in math class because you would mess things up a lot.  The thing of it was, though, my fifth-grade teacher saw that I was more than competent at math and somehow he made sure I was placed in the top math class when I got to Middle School.  I think he noticed my attempts at working on my handwriting, and I was getting older, so it was getting better.

That was the peak of my mathematical career: getting placed in that class.

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Posted in Blogging about the Blog, Career Change, Identity, Vocation

No longer a Catholic or an educator; I’m just me now

The details of why I was asked to leave the school early don’t much matter, but I did see it coming.  I had become unnecessary and was no longer this year’s “flavor of the month” so I needed to go.  Add to that a jealous coworker who, I have, over time, realized that her own job security was threatened if I stayed around too much.  She made sure to tell our boss I wasn’t loyal, so I got exited.  We negotiated a settlement and I left.

I had no choice in the matter, really.  My savings had already been decimated based on the dream that was making this school a reality.  I desperately needed my income to continue while I searched for a job.  If I had done the “I don’t quit, you fire me” thing, I would have had to take unemployment, which would have been considerably less and unreliable, too.

I ended up with a two-month vacation, paid, during which point I searched for work and began rethinking my own identity.  I started my new job just in time so there would be no real gap in my income or even, officially, my employment history.  While illegal to pay a settlement over time, that’s how my school does it.  You have to pay a lump sum at dismissal in my state, but they never do and no one ever complains since we’re afraid to say anything and lose the settlement.

Anyway, the thing about being an Autistic female is that we are so very chameleon-like that, over time, we have little idea who we are really.  I realized, during this journey, that I did a lot of things that only make sense given that I am Autistic.  Who makes these grand sacrifices, at the expense of her own career and her relationship with her family?  Well, an Autistic woman does, if she has internalized the societal rules of what a “good girl” does and what a “good Catholic girl” is like.

On the journey, I realized that, as usual, I don’t even want to be a teacher per-se or ever administrate a school again.  The fact is, I’m good with data and not great with people, assuming those people are largely Neurotypical and assuming those people are adults, besides.  Neurodivergent kids?  I’d love to spend time with them.  I always have.  But the thing is I have more in common with a Neurodivergent tween or teen than I do with a neurotypical adult.  That breeds a kind of closeness that can be unhealthy, so it’s not per-se ideal to spend too much time around tweens and teens for me.

Beyond that, why am I in education at all?  School was where I have historically been treated badly by everyone involved, except when a few teachers who were kind to me.  Everyone at the school I just left was trying to stab me in the back last year (and continued for a few beyond that this year).  And yet, I kept going back.  Who does that, unless she is feeling Stockholm Syndrome?

Continue reading “No longer a Catholic or an educator; I’m just me now”