I've talked about this before in some posts but I've finally completed the level. It's always easier to describe stuff when you look back on it than when you're still in the middle of it.
I was always developing a bit slower but I was fine in primary school. When I got to high school though everything changed. I was totally unprepared for the social dynamics in high school I just thought everybody would be friends like before. Instead I got bullied.
Side Note, I don't know what world these people live in that write shit like:" Then I punched my bully and he never bullied me again." Cause in the world where I'm from the bully specifically picks someone to bully where they know they have the upper hand. I punched my bully and it didn't do shit.
It wasn't even what they did to me that was the worst part it was the realization that nobody gave a fuck about what was happening to me and I was all alone. Once this fact hit home something changed in me my emotions just got shut off in a way I put up a ton of emotional armor and I became a robot in a way. I just got through the day did what was absolutely necessary and avoided everything else. I hated going to school so much but I didn't know what to do. One time I saw these two guys make fun of this kid who brought his parents to school because he was getting bullied and I thought if I did that it would get even worse so I just didn't tell anyone. Whenever someone asked me anything I just said I was fine and hoped they would leave me alone.
On top of that, I didn't know that I had autism but I felt like something was off when I interacted with people. 80-90% of the time it was fine but the rest something just felt off I felt like I didn't understand why they would say something or why they reacted in a certain way. This made me even more defensive because people are unpredictable and I never knew if someone would turn on me or try to hurt me again so I was very careful.
In the beginning when someone would say something negative towards me, attack me or shame me it felt like it would just go right through me I didn't feel anything at all. It probably just landed somewhere in my subconscious but my conscious mind was totally unaffected.
My main coping strategy that I've used throughout my life is "The Box". Stuff was too much for me so I just made a box with all the stuff I could handle or things that I couldn't afford not to do and I lived my life in that box. Everything else just got ignored. Sooner or later I'd get comfortable in the box and I could expand it a little. That's how it works. The main downside is that you have stuff outside the box that most people are working on and you only get to it way later and it might be annoying. But the upside is you don't drown in misery and you can get through situations that would otherwise be way too much for you. Since My strength was rational thought and my emotions were already fucked up my box was only in my rational mind. This delayed my recovery but I was able to live life pretty normally. After 2 years I switched schools and I did my best to avoid becoming the target in my new class and it worked. Actually nobody was really bullied in my next school. But it didn't reduce my defensiveness.
How I felt
Even when I was mostly numb I could still feel a few emotions but only in everyday situations. Like as long as I would just talk superficially to someone, buy something, talk about a game we were playing during gym class it was ok but there were entire areas of myself that just didn't exist pretty much. I never thought about these things and if someone asked me a question about something I didn't know what to say. It was like a hard drive and I couldn't read part of my personality.
I used to get episodes where I'd wake up at night and my chest would feel really tight and there was also this vibrating sensation in my chest. It was like all the pain and bad emotions were leaking out of me or something. Because I never understood them or processed them this just happened once in a while to compensate I guess.
After years had past instead of feeling nothing most of the time I started to feel random flashes of emotions. It felt like the emotions were being transferred through a glass pane that had been shattered. So I just got small unconnected parts of the message that was supposed to be transmitted.
Over time the box that I talked about before kept growing and growing and at some point I reached the emotional side of myself so it was now also a part of the box and I realized that there were more parts to me that I hadn't explored yet and I started to try and understand myself and dig into what was going on inside me and why I behaved the way I did etc. This process started in 2016 and has been ramping up since then. When I was finally diagnosed with autism in 2019 it gave me a huge boost because I could understand myself and the issues I face way better and in the last 8 months I've picked up speed even more. less than 2 years ago I still felt broken inside and I wasn't sure if this was just the way it was going to be or if this was part of my autism that I couldn't understand my emotions. But now it's been 6 months where I feel whole inside and I can fully understand the emotions I'm feeling.
I've learned a lot about letting go of past pain, fear and anger. The situation where it happened and what the feelings are attached to are always different and I have to understand these things to be able to let go but the basic process is always very similar. It's always a fear from a past event that is affecting me today even though I can handle these things now. In the past I was always distracted by my unresolved issues and I couldn't fully be in the moment because these things couldn't be ignored. But now I feel like I can live without these burdens I feel so much lighter and I can be in the moment.
I'm even thinking about dating now, this will be one of my next challenges. I feel ready.