Looking back on life after an Asperger’s diagnosis is like watching the Sixth Sense after you find out the twist. It all feels a little contrived. To find your quirkiest idiosyncrasies bulleted in a textbook can leave you feeling lackluster, which is especially traumatizing when your primary defense against fitting in nowhere is: Well, at least I have luster.
To best illustrate this for you, I provide you with a list of my weirdest traits, which as it turns out, are less idiosyncratic than symptomatic:
Piling: I sleep under a mountain of pillows. Plus I put one between my knees. I hug another. And I smash two against my face. I used to call this snuggling. Now it’s called piling.
Songs on The List: The List is comprised of songs that burrow their way into my brain and live there for days. They’ve been known to nauseate me. To make me a little…unhinged. I can’t give you examples because the typing of their names is enough to lock me in catchy tune hell, but they’re basically anything you would hear at the bank. Rod Stewert. Huey Lewis and the News. 20th century Madonna. You get the idea. I’ve had leave grocery stores because of songs on The List. I’ve almost had to leave my husband for singing them. My family used to call this part of me cute. Now we call it perseverative thinking.
Songs on the other list: This list is the opposite of The List. These songs are welcome–nay, encouraged–to burrow their way into my brain. To ensure they do just that, I play them on repeat. A lot. If you want to see my old college roommates beg for death, play them Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Walk on the Ocean.” Who knew they were onto something when they said, “Turn it off already! This is not normal.” If you need further proof, you may refer to my current iTunes library, where you will see that I’ve played most songs about 25 times. But “Distant Sures” by the Cave Singers? 1,142. Nobody within earshot ever called this trait cute. More like insufferable. We now call this perseverating, too.
Water games: Perhaps the aversion to water games isn’t unheard of, but I think the intensity of mine may fall a bit outside the curve. If you splash me, I will cry. If you throw me in a body of water, I will slash your fucking tires.
I’m not kidding.
What we used to refer to as my can of whoop-ass is now called a sensory issue.
Playing with my ankles while standing: I’ll never forget the first time I realized I do this. I was Work Kirsten, which is to say I was the personable, brown-nosing version of myself who wears Ann Taylor skirts and heels. I was with a tough crowd–all superiors. You may be surprised to learn I felt nervous. What started as a pretend itch quickly evolved into minutes-long, full-on groping of the tarsus in a wobbly flamingo pose, most likely with a brazen display of crotch. What am I doing? I wondered. And when, for the love of God, am I going stop? Well Kirsten, you were stimming. And you will never stop.
What are your quirky traits? Aspie or not, share the in the comments section below! (I promise I won’t give them clinical labels that diminish your luster).