Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Clarity is What My Autistic Mind Craves

Clarity seems to be the one thing that can make my autistic mind spiral faster than anything else. More specifically, LACK of clarity.


My mind craveeeesssss clarity. It wants to understand. It wants things to make sense. It wants to know.


This seems to apply to all situations.


If someone said something that felt off to me, my mind will try to figure out why. WHY did that feel off? What could they have possibly meant? What kind of follow up do I need to take? My mind wants clarity. It wants the answers and it wants them clear.


This desire for clarity can be beneficial. It leads me to be curious and ask questions. It helps me be a deep thinker. It helps me find solutions and make clear systems.


The trouble is, the world isn’t always clear. In fact, it usually isn’t very clear at all.


Scientific literature says that autistic individuals prefer black and white thinking. That makes sense. Black and white is clear. It’s easy. There’s nothing to figure out.


I think it’s why I liked being a part of a religion that offered clear rules about everything … until those rules started to conflict with each other (you can read about my journey of leaving religion here).


Most days, the majority of my day is clear. I have a clear schedule. I have clear expectations of myself.


And then, I get presented with topics that are not clear to me. Sometimes they are of my own doing. For example, I recently finished typing up 90 handwritten chapters for a book about starting a private practice. Now it’s time for me to decide if I want to put in all of the work to turn those words into a cohesive book. I wrote an entire essay about why the answer to that is not clear. My mind has continued to go over and over the options, seeking clarity about whether to use my precious time for this project or lay it to rest. It’s like I cannot let it go until I decide.


Other times, I encounter unclear situations that are not of my own making. For example, when my therapy clients share something that doesn’t quite make sense to me. At one point during my private practice, over half of my clients were actively choosing to continue affairs in secret. It was mind boggling to me. My mind wanted to understand why this was so common? And why choose to continue? And why keep it a secret? No surprise that I’ve now written some essays with my explorations on the topic.


My essays represent the end result. They reflect the entire journey. The goods gained. The clarity that was sought and reached, or perhaps peace with the lack of clarity.


They seldom reflect the agony felt when everything was confusing and unclear.


Autistic art therapist Jackie Schuld shares her acrylic painting of two abstract over-filled spaces with a break representing clarity.
"Craving Some Clarity" Acrylic painting by Jackie Schuld

Agony might feel like a hyperbolic word, but it feels very fitting to me. It’s like my mind cannot rest and it pulls in my emotions as reinforcements. I feel upset, frustrated, sad, or many other unpleasant emotions when things are unclear.


It usually takes a period of processing (usually multiple days) before I move out of the rumination. I’m not entirely sure how it happens. Sometimes someone says something to me that makes things click. Sometimes I seek out advice or insight from a friend that helps. Sometimes I randomly come to a conclusion that helps as I journal or write.


As I’m learning to work more and more with autistic mind though, I’m also trying a strategy of acceptance. Accepting that I don’t know. Accepting that I don’t know, I don’t like that I don’t know, and that is ok.


For example, I was recently perplexed about why it feels uncomfortable for me to hang out with a particular person in my life. I was trying to make sense of it, but it was nearing bed time and I didn’t want to lose sleep due to my ruminations. I gently whispered to myself, “I accept now is now the time to figure this out.”


It shockingly worked.


In the morning, I spoke with my sister about my quandary, and she had a ready solution. It seems the universe works that way. Usually when I am lost in my thoughts, I don’t come to an answer. It’s when I’m grounded and connected (to myself or others), that clarity is able to make its way in.


I also, ironically, have to admit that I don’t have full clarity on the subject of clarity. I don’t have all the answers as to how to achieve it.


But I do have the clarity to accept that that’s ok.

 

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.


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