Waterfalls and Baby Snakes

Yesterday the weather was absolutely beautiful. There is something so magical about the first day of the year that is warm enough to wear shorts! Or maybe that’s just me… Anyhow, since it was so lovely out, my husband and I took some sandwiches to a local park for a picnic and then took a short hike to a waterfall.

Along the path we found two baby snakes! They were so adorable! Unfortunately, we didn’t get a good picture of either of them, but I found this picture online that is pretty much exactly what they both looked like (although one was much tinier, maybe a newborn):

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I’m pretty sure they were some species of garter snake, but not sure. We did get a picture of the small waterfall:

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It is amazing how spending time in nature can really elevate your mood. I’ve heard nature described as a natural antidepressant, and I would have to say I agree in many ways.

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Ever Heard of Sexual Anorexia?

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Last night I was looking through book giveaways on Goodreads and happened to spot a book about “sexual anorexia”. I’ve studied psychology and mental health issues for years, but that was a phrase I had never come across before. Now curious, I had to Google it and found the subject rather interesting.

Apparently, just as anorexics starve themselves of food, a sexual anorexic starves themselves of sexual experiences. Some do so because of strict religious or moral beliefs, but the majority do so because of fear of intimacy and trust or a history of sexual abuse. There do seem to be some who seem to have OCD issues about sex as well, and avoid it due to a belief that it is repulsive or disgusting. This last category seems especially hard hit because they tend to beat themselves up or feel degraded for even having sexual urges in the first place.

Often the sexual anorexics that are afraid of intimacy and trust might still indulge in porn, masturbation, and such, but they avoid actual sexual encounters with others. They often choose to be celibate, but some do get into relationships and then find ways to avoid actually being sexual with their partners, which obviously can lead to major issues between couples. I found it interesting that there is also a category of “sexual bulimics” which are people who might go out and sleep around a lot all at once, but then will starve themselves of sex for a long while afterward.

I know this may seem like a weird subject for a blog post, especially when I don’t have personal stories or experiences to share, but I find stuff like this fascinating. The intricacies and oddities of the human mind never fail to amaze me.

Being Too Clingy and Possessive

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I can be a bit possessive, especially when in a close relationship. I’ve always been like that. Even as a kid I would get jealous sometimes if my friends had other friends or wanted to do stuff without me. I’m not sure why, but I am easily prone to feeling left out or threatened by outsiders. However, I know this dynamic isn’t exactly healthy and I am trying to learn to let go a bit and not be so demanding by monopolizing anyone, specifically my husband.

It may be my autism, since I have heard it is typical of autistics, but I don’t make close relationships easily. I usually only have one or two truly close relationships at a time, and I can definitely be guilty of being clingy or insecure about those relationships. For the past 16 years, my closest relationship has been my husband (as it should be), but my husband is a bit different from me in what he needs socially.

Socially I only need those one or two people, although it can be terrifying if those relationships are threatened, since it is so hard for me to connect with others and build closeness. My husband on the other hand seems to desire more social interaction and the chance of making more friendships than I do. He wants to feel a part of things more than I do, as I am more of a homebody.

So, I have been working at letting go some and not feeling resentful or frightened by him reaching out for other friendships. It is still hard sometimes and honestly there is still a big part of me that thinks he should need absolutely nothing else in life but being with me…but I know that isn’t realistic or healthy. Does anyone else out there struggle with issues like this?

My Poor Husband…

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Sometimes I feel truly sorry for my husband. From what I have read and been told by psychologists and psychiatrists, he has a rough road to travel. Asperger’s can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. Bipolar can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. Long-term chronic pain and chronic illness can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. PTSD can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. And my poor husband has to deal with them all on a daily basis…

Of course, when we married fifteen years ago, I didn’t know I had any of these conditions or that I would develop some of the others. I did already have chronic foot pain and issues with depression and anxiety, but nowhere near as bad as I have them now. Nor did I have a true understanding of what was causing the symptoms I sometimes experienced, whether they be mental or physical. I wish I could have warned him, but I simply didn’t know myself.

On the positive side, he has definitely been a trooper. He always steps up to the plate and is there for me and willing to do anything he needs to do to take care of me and help me through the confusing mess that is my mind and my body. If anyone in this world has shown me the meaning of true love, it is him. And I am thankful.

Bipolar or Borderline? Part 1

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Although I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar type 2 mood disorder, honestly, I wonder myself if it might not be Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) instead, or even in addition. The reason I say this is that so many of the stories of other Borderlines hit close to home and so do the symptoms. My greatest fear is fear of abandonment, and has been since childhood. It doesn’t matter if that abandonment comes from rejection or death, it all feels like being abandoned to me.

As a child I wouldn’t even spend the night at friends’ houses normally because I would have panic attacks at night and end up calling my mom to come get me. I was always afraid something would happen to my family or they would somehow be gone in the morning if I wasn’t there with them all the time. This fear became much, much worse after my dad died when I was 12. After that, my fear centered on my mom dying or leaving me, which wasn’t helped at all when she remarried when I was 15 and started dumping me off on anyone she could while she went on trips with her new lover.

When I got married at 20 years of age, that fear transferred to my husband. At first I feared he would just get sick of me and leave or find someone else he liked better. I was extremely insecure for a long time. I would get upset over the silliest things, like thinking he loved the kids he worked with more than he loved me. It was ridiculous. The one and only time we have been apart since being married was when I went with a church group to Tennessee for a week. One night during that week he told me he would be home by 10pm, so I called him after that and couldn’t get an answer. I freaked out, and ended up leaving 19 tearful messages for him within an hour because I was so scared something had happened to him.

Fortunately, I have matured over the years and my fear of my husband leaving me or cheating on me has greatly reduced due to his loving nature, although deep down I know I must still have some of those fears because I have nightmares about those things happening. However, now my fear focuses mostly on my worries that my husband will die before I do…a fear that might be somewhat justified by my being about a decade younger than him. This fear of something happening to him is so strong it literally gives me panic attacks if I think about it too much.

My fear of abandonment and rejection greatly affects my ability to develop other relationships because I tend to push people away before they can get too close, mostly out of fear of them rejecting me once they really get to know me. I know I have poor self-esteem and a flawed self-image, which I’m sure I will address further in part 2 of this post.

* Art by Maranda Russell

Autism and Flirting

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Flirting makes me seriously uncomfortable. Why? Probably because I am autistic and can’t actually tell when most people are flirting, unless they say something blunt like “I want to do you” (which has happened to me, I guess I didn’t catch their subtler hints or something so they decided to just go for it…sadly, it didn’t work for them).

Anyhow, back to the subject of flirting, whenever a male stares at me for uncomfortable amounts of time or keeps flashing me smiles, I do wonder if they are flirting or if they are just being outgoing and friendly. I really don’t know the difference. It puts me in a rough spot, because as a happily married woman, if they are genuinely flirting, I don’t want to encourage their attention or make them think I’m interested in return, but I also don’t want to be rude or mean if they are just being friendly. I also don’t want to seem presumptuous by assuming someone is flirting with me if that is not their intention.

For me, this issue of being oblivious to what the opposite sex wants has been lifelong. Even before I was married, I never really thought anyone was interested in me unless someone told me they were. Even then, I often thought they were joking. Sometimes not taking it seriously or not recognizing flirting got me into some awkward situations, or made people think I was interested back simply because I was kind to them, which then meant I had to hurt their feelings and let them down, which I hated. I know this all may seem weird to non-autistic folks, but I wonder how many Aspies can relate to my experiences?

*Art by Maranda Russell