I’ve been getting a few glimpses lately of emotional issues that are resurfacing long after I thought I had dealt with them. This has led to some interesting thoughts (well, interesting to me; you can be your own judge after you read them).

Because I often don’t know what I’m feeling — at least not right away — I also don’t know how much emotional baggage is piling up from the events I experience. This has two parts to it, really: 1) it can take me a long time to realize how much of an impact something has had on me, and 2) even when I realize that, I forget that the event was having that impact the whole time I didn’t know about it. What I’m realizing now is that #2 is an even bigger factor than #1 when it comes to my long-term mental and emotional health.

Of course, #1 has layers to it as well. Even when I do recognize an immediate impact, for example, I don’t always realize the full extent of it until much later. For example, I got divorced from my first husband many years ago. This was obviously an emotional event, and I got emotional about it — but it took me many years to realize just how deeply it had affected me, especially when it came to my sense of self and my worthiness to be loved. I absorbed a deep sense of “not okayness” from that event, which has taken a long time to come to the surface.

Other things in my life have had similar delayed impact, sometimes decades delayed. But the thing that I realized with #2 is that delayed impacts aren’t really delayed; it would be more accurate to say they’re unconscious and therefore invisible. So I wonder if one reason things get harder for autistics as we get older — often leading to burnout — is that we accumulate more and more baggage we don’t know how to process. In fact, it’s baggage we may not even know that we’re still carrying, so we don’t know that it even needs to be processed. Of course it piles up.


6 thoughts on “Baggage

  1. This is a fantastic, fantastic post! I can certainly relate! I’m realizing that the #2 you mentioned is definitely A Thing for me as well. I might not realize the full impact of something for years, or even decades! Our bodies and nervous systems register it, but we might not be conscious of it for a long time. I’m hoping you’re giving yourself as much time and gentleness as you need to process 😊💞

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I can very much empathize with you 💐💐💞. Sending you thoughts of strength and happiness 💓💓

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes this absolutely happens to me. Long and short term: for example three very stressful events spaced out over three months I may appear to be calm or coping on the surface, month 4 I crash & burn with physical & emotional pileup. Other time I specifically had a major burnout/depression as a result of 7 years of gradual and buried attrition. There were things I could have addressed and others as you say I was barely aware of as major or painful experiences because I had no sense of proportion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Add in delayed emotional reactions to some of the major events, and…yeah. Recipe for eventual burnout, and the final trigger may not even seem like something that major. So it can be hard for other people to understand.

      Liked by 1 person

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