Sorry for the lack of posting the last few days. The reason is simple enough – I have been incredibly tired. I have always had tendency to burn the midnight oil – even when I was as young as five and six I would go for spells when I would find it difficult to go to sleep. I used to be able to regain some sleep on the weekends – but of course just over a year ago a new person entered my life in the shape of my daughter who generally is awake between six and seven in the morning. Lie-ins are now a rare and precious commodity 🙂
Most of the time this is not actually all that big a problem. Going into Melian’s room, peeking around the door, greeting her with a happy voice and smile – these are not hardships or forced joy. No. Seeing me daughter in her cot, and watching her realise her daddy has come to get her up, and to see her often erupt into joy with giggles, laughs, legs and arms waving about – that lifts me in a way no energy drink can. Also Melian is generally very good at entertaining herself for a time, so after seeing to nappy it is often possible just to lie on the sofa dozing as she goes about her investigations and excavations of her toys – knowing that she will let me know if she needs me.
Sometimes however everything builds up. Melian, unfortunately, has suffered from occasional nightmares since she was only a few months old, and last week we went through a really bad spell. Add in a bad spell of nights for me, and a very busy situation at work and you have a recipe for tiredness. After all of that arrange two weekends in a row with social engagements – Melian’s two parties – and my ability to rest more or less goes out of the window.
As mentioned before I have Asperger’s Syndrome – but long before I was diagnosed I often described myself quite accurately as an introvert. One of the classic characteristics of being an introvert is that social gatherings are very tiring. The precise reasons for this vary, and for any one person there are likely to be a number of different factors. For me one element of my Asperger’s comes very heavily into play, and that is that I do not naturally read body language.
Think a moment about how you know if someone is sad, angry, happy, or even tired – without them speaking. How do you know if the person you are talking to is engaged or bored? It all comes down to those many tell-tale signs in stance, posture, body motions and facial expressions. Most folks pick up on these pretty intuitively, their subconscious doing the heavy lifting. Mine, on the whole, does not. Oh to be sure, over the thirty-odd years of being on this Earth my conscious brain has trained itself to try to compensate, and the person who diagnosed me reckons that this ability to use my intelligence as a crutch is one reason why I generally integrate with wider society better than many people in my situation. Since my diagnosis I sometimes catch myself thinking “this person’s mouth and eyes are twinkling – they are enjoying themselves” or (perhaps more often) “the person I am talking to is slouching a bit, their eyes look a bit tired, and they have checked the time thrice in the last few moments – probably should stop wittering on about history”.
This also has a negative side – in that it is extremely easy to over-interpret things as well, and start imagining that people are angry with you, or that you have upset them, when in reality they are just really tired.
Anyway, one-on-one this process of trying to get pick up on these social cues is relatively easy to maintain, but in a group it starts to take up a great deal of energy. The group does not actually have to be all that large either. All that energy expended trying to notice the changes in face and posture, and paying attention to the sound of voice too, is one reason why being social tires me out.
This happens even amongst those I have known my entire life. When my now wife started to introduce her then financeé to her family at a quite large family gathering, she mentioned that I might at times just disappear off for a while. She then explained that even amongst my own family I did this (she had seen me do so). Essentially I retreat to my own space, to try to find a little solitude to allow myself to regain a little sense of self. Likewise after a social gathering I often find it very difficult to sleep because I am over-stimulated, as it were, by tracking all this social data and I just need to time to relax before I can sleep.
Melian’s two parties were generally small affairs. The one the weekend before last was smaller, but did have an impact even so. Then came Melian’s nightmares, including one particular bad night where I only got through the next day at work thanks to a tin of Monster. This weekend just gone my brother unexpectedly stayed with us on Saturday, which on one level is very enjoyable. On another it was something of a surprise (even pleasant surprises require me to take some time to adjust, unpleasant surprises can have much more negative reactions). Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed having my brother around for the night. We had a very good time, but good times sometimes later present a bill.
Then on Sunday the party itself, which was a great success. Melian had a really good time. We did a massive Sunday Roast, more or less. Both my brothers and their families, and my father and his second wife, and one of our friends who is turning into an “uncle” for Melian were all present. Three pork leg joints, masses of roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, cauliflower, leeks, stuffing, and a delicious creamy mushroom sauce kept everyone well fed – not least of all Melian. My little girl ate her way through two whole plates of food. Seriously, this is a lady who REALLY likes her roast vegetables – especially if they have been dipped in aforesaid mushroom sauce. Then later in the afternoon we all had cake. Really a very great time, but I realised towards the end of it I had not “timed-out” at all, and then later that evening, and yesterday, I paid the price.
So over the weekend I played a bit on my new game, yesterday I played a little World of Tanks (I did not get to take much advantage of the special), and mostly I just did very little caught in a half-way state of being very weary but not actually sleepy. To some degree I am still wrapped up in that – it is now 2330 where I am and I still do not feel sleep calling, despite the fact that is what I pretty desperately need. Indeed in writing this article I am in fact being quite selfish – I am partly hoping that by writing about all of this I do enable myself to get some sleep – though there is a serious point as well in trying to explain at least one element of my Asperger’s.
Oh, and another which is to tell a little about how wonderful it is to be a father, and how much fun Melian had at her party. Nevertheless, hopefully I have not bored anyone still reading this to tears, and I think you for your indulgence.
Hopefully good night.