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Autism: Concept of Time

05 Jan

New Years Eve, 1982. My parents let me stay up until midnight, watching a movie. After the movie, we watched the New York City countdown – 5-4-3-2-1, Happy New Year! “Say good-bye to 1982,” my father told me, “It will never be 1982 again.” And I went to bed in tears (silent tears – I am not sure my parents knew how often I cried myself to sleep) mourning the year that would never be again.

In this is revealed the beginning of my relationship with time. How can it be here, and then be gone? Why can we only go in one direction? If I remember it so clearly, why can’t I get there? Mourning. Always mourning for what was, and can never be again.

A few years later, I began to have recurring nightmares. I was in a trash compactor – like the one in the Star Wars movies, only instead of trash, the closing walls (very obviously) represented time, with one side being the past, and the other side being the future. Always the walls were closing in on me, and I was pushing against them with my feet against one wall, and my back against the other. “I am not ready!” I screamed, over and over again, as the walls threatened to crush me.

For years I had that dream. I still feel the panic. The fear was very real. I have never been ready for what is coming.

Time moves much too fast for me.

In a day, I may clean a few rooms. Read a couple of chapters in a book. Put together a few pieces of a puzzle. Make supper. Write my blog. For me, that is a busy day – but I know that others do all of that, work, socialize, and raise children, too. I don’t know how they find the time. It moves to fast for me, and I move slowly in it. Slow processing time. Slow to think, decide, act. Slow in a fast paced world, and I am never ready for it.

If I have a half hour appointment in one week, it affects my entire week. If I go out shopping for an hour, that is my entire day. When I worked part time, I found no time for cleaning, socializing, hobbies… exhausted. Burnt out. I could not function in such a fast paced world.

My very own battle with time, and it is very real. I look up from the puzzle, and 3 hours have passed. Where did they go? I finally will myself to shut down Pinterest, only to find that half the day is gone. Time doesn’t feel like it is passing, it is like I am frozen in a moment, only to find that upon reentering their world, time flows different there. So much faster that the world I exist in. And I am not ready for it.

Perhaps that is why I always fail the first times through. It takes me so much time to process everything. To pull it apart, and analyze it – as I always do. And by the time I have an idea of how I am supposed to act, feel, respond in any situation, years may have passed where I was only doing the best I could – and never good enough.

So I find myself seeking more and more of my time living within my own world. Time moves slower here, and I do okay, but it is not what others expect from me. I can’t exist in their world. I will try to find peace in mine.

New Year’s Day, 2016. Years have passed away since I first learned they would not return at the age of 6. Still I mourn for all that has gone before, and all that will be lost as I struggle to catch up in a world I don’t belong in.

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