Asperger's,Autism Spectrum Disorder

When Enough Is Enough

So, this is a kind of continuation from my last post. I wrote way too much for just one post, so when I typed it into my PC (Yes, I do a lot of my writing in notebooks and type it at a later date) I decided to split it into two.

These days I am really confused about what my best actually is. How does other people know when they have done their best? My “best work” is not necessarily a result of me doing my best, nor does me doing my best necessarily end with me having created something of value. I think, I always just assumed that there had to be some sort of connection between the two things, but really, there isn’t one. Sometimes, I suppose, we do our very best and the result is some of our best work, but that really isn’t a given. It seems almost more like a matter of chance than effort, but I am sure many would disagree with that.

Do other people just feel like “Yeah, this is all I can do.” at some point while working on something? How do you know?

It’s rather strange, I think. Very strange.

No matter how hard I work on something, I can always push myself further – right until the breaking point. In the past I would always define doing my best by whether or not I had collapsed or had a breakdown. I am not so sure that’s how other people define doing their best. I used to think everyone was like me, but I supposed I was wrong about that too.

People often say that boundaries (or maybe it’s setting boundaries?) are important. I never doubted that. I have always encouraged others to respect and protect their boundaries. I thought I respected my own boundaries, but I made the mistake to believe that my boundaries were the physical limitations of my body. I didn’t realise it was not just about what you can do, but more about what you can do without harming yourself in the process.

I assumed I was weak and therefore I didn’t actually suffer more than others, I just didn’t handle it as well as others. I thought saying “no” once was enough and that had I said no, it was up to others whether they respected it or not and I simply had to accept the consequences. That’s not how it is, though.

Yes, we say no and then others have to decide whether or not they accept it, but we surely do not have to accept the consequences. We have to accept their right to make a choice, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept life with those consequences – their choices. Sometimes, not always but all the important moments, we have to back up our words with actions. We have to take responsibility for protecting our boundaries, even if others do not respect us or our boundaries, we still have to.

If I am in a bad situation and saying no is not enough, even though I really think it should be, then I won’t accept staying in the situation – at some point it’s time to leave. An example could be someone is being mean, rude or hurtful. In the past, I would have ignored it and accepted it as a part of my life. I felt they had a right to treat me the way they did – their choice, not mine. Now, if someone is like that, I will leave the situation if they don’t stop after I’ve asked them to.

Another example could be working too hard because of our own or other people’s expectations and demands. Simply saying “I cannot do this.” might just be ignored by others, maybe even by ourselves. Sometimes, we are urged to keep fighting or just get through it because we can relax later. You can always sleep when your dead, right? Yeah, it’s not always impossible to avoid those situations and sometimes we do need to push through a difficult phase. The problem is, if you push through every single day of your life. Then you won’t have the energy to keep going if things get hard.  It can be necessary to consider the costs of something, not just whether or not we ought to do it. What happens to us if we continue beyond this point? Is it really worth it? What if it never ends? Is it still worth it?

I made that mistake. I allowed just getting through it to become my whole life. I continued to push my limits even more and in the end it didn’t matter if I had break downs or how badly I hurt myself. I could always give a little bit more, if I just tried harder. I was just weak and needed to become stronger.

If we give all that we have, then there’s nothing left. Nothing left at all. Nothing left to take care of ourselves and those we care about. There’ll be nothing left to clean the house or cook a healthy meal, no energy left to read a book or play music, no energy left to do what we love to do and no energy left to even care. Giving everything means there’s nothing left.

That’s not okay.

You need to leave something for yourself. You need to be ready should you need to give more for a while, but it’s not just because of that. We need to have energy to cook a healthy meal and do the things in life that brings us joy. We need to be healthy and happy too.

I ask myself today: Am I okay?

I am not okay at all, but I’m better than I have been. I gave way too much for so many years, I’ve been drained far beyond what I would have thought possible. I have no idea what my boundaries are, I forgot a long time ago. I am not even sure how to figure it out – how do you know when someone crosses your boundaries and that it is not acceptable?

I’m going to figure that out and then I’ll be better. I will be okay one day. I can’t keep going like I used to, because I won’t survive it. I need to respect my own boundaries better in the future – especially when others don’t!

What about you? Is it easy for you? If it is, then please tell me the trick to it so that I can learn too. I think it seems awfully difficult to figure out what our boundaries are.

I don’t feel or understand my feelings right away, it takes a long time for me to understand those kinds of things, so I don’t expect this to be easily done. There are some feelings I’ve felt that I still, to this day, don’t understand and would not be able to describe. So, no, I don’t just “know” what my boundaries or limits are. I only know when it’s too late and I’m crying in a corner somewhere and even then, I won’t necessarily be able to tell you what exactly made me break down in the first place.

My only real option, I think, is trial and error.

I have to do my best to stop it in time. I have to try and get a sense of how I feel when I’m starting to cross my own boundaries. It’ll take time and I think, more important than anything else, I will have to be patient with myself, but I was never good at that.

I need to accept I might do more than I can sometimes, and then I will have to be prepared to take some time to recover from it as well. If I push myself too hard it will take time to heal and while I’m recovering, I will be able to do even less than I can under normal circumstances. Everyone is like that, because healing isn’t just about waiting to get better, it’s about actively doing what you must to get better and that takes energy – even if you spend a lot of that time not doing anything others would label as productive. Sitting outside in the sun and resting takes energy when you have drained yourself too much, even simply breathing and existing can drain what little energy we have left. We all have to be patient and forgiving with ourselves and others in those situations.

If you are anything like me then you may be used to working a lot. I love work, always have and always will. Taking time out to do nothing but heal feels almost painful to me at times, but it is necessary once in a while. Maybe it wasn’t always like that and maybe it won’t always be like that in the future, but to the me I am now – it is necessary. I can’t possibly go on the same way I used to. When I was younger it was easier to force myself to do what I assumed was needed of me – what was asked of me – easier to push myself forward even while I was breaking apart on the inside. Even if it was still possible to me, I would not want to live like that again.

I can’t help but worry if it’s too late for me to change now. Maybe I am too old, too set in my ways to change the way I live my life. What do you think? I think a lifetime of bad habits has left its mark.

I don’t really think it’s too late, I just feel it might be. When I was younger, I wasn’t able to tell the difference between feeling and thinking and I just assumed it was the same thing. Annoyingly, knowing there is a difference doesn’t make it a lot easier, because I still struggle with the useless feeling of hopelessness in the face of change.

Would anyone accept me if they could see just how little I am actually capable of achieving?

I feel like they would prey on me when they see how weak I am, just like they always did before. I am still so worried that I won’t be enough.

It always felt better to simply isolate myself from others to recharge and feel happy, because to me, I am always enough. When I am alone I feel no pressure to be like others want me to be or to behave the way neurotypicals unconsciously (or consciously) demand, no fear of being harmed or abused, no fear of being lied to or misunderstood – when I am alone I am more free than I can ever be around others. When I am alone doing my own things, it is impossible for me to push myself to far because no one requires anything of me. I can feel happy without reason. I wish I could take that feeling and hold onto it even in the company of others, but I don’t know how.

Alone, I am enough. To others, I never was. They only accepted me when I could make life easier for them and shunned me or ridiculed me every time I showed any weakness. Today, I feel different about my past. I used to believe I was weak, and perhaps I was once, but I am no longer the same. Being weak is not something to be ashamed of, we are all weak at times.

The great thing about time is that we age, and now as an adult I don’t feel like a child anymore. In some ways I am still awfully childish, but that I think is quite wonderful and I hope to never lose it. It is, however, very different from feeling like a child. As a child I felt powerless all the time, but now as an adult I feel like at least some things are within my control.

Choosing to change is something I could never have done as a child, it is something I am only able to now, as the adult human being I have grown into. See, I did change already? So, this is proof to me that I should be patient with myself. It has taken me two decades to become someone who doesn’t feel powerless, perhaps if I am patient with myself it will take a lot less time figuring myself out now. The choices I make every day affect me and change me, even if slowly, and that is indeed giving me a greater sense of control over my life. It may not be much, but it is good enough for now.

You see? This is exactly the point; figuring out what is good enough. I don’t need to find the easiest way or the fastest way to respecting my own boundaries, I need to learn what my boundaries and limits actually are. It’s the only way to really make sure life is worth living.


Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not always easy, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Since I was diagnosed myself, I have been trying to raise autism awareness and share my own experiences and thoughts about life as well as my search for a happy and fulfilling life.

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