Worse Than a Weightlifting Accident: Autism and The Machine

I don’t have a lot of fears. But in my top five:

5: Uninvited guests

4: Getting called on to pray when I haven’t been writing the prayer requests down

3: My workout bench collapsing under me whilst hoisting weights overhead

2: Anyone asking me “Can we talk?” without any context


Number 4 ended up happening a couple weeks back, and after intense counseling, I feel I have recovered from the trauma.

Number 3 happened last week.

Every time I lift, I bear this latent fear and hoist it ahead of me. It’s the most likely cause of any critical injury and would be the odds-on favorite “freak accident” (freak as in rare, not as in ‘occurring to a freak’) to befall me.

But so it happened in a backward-hurled blur, falling flat from an incline to a sharp decline — arms and hands held aloft, bracing my pair of dumbbells in place so as not to fold inward and pancake my face into my skull.

Within a second it was over.

I’d fallen, shocked, and rose unharmed.

But not unhurt.

One of the clips on my weights had snapped from the impact, rendering it unusable.

And yes, folks, I missed the forest for the tree here.

I wasn’t upset at the bench collapse.

I wasn’t upset at the fall.

I wasn’t even as upset about the broken part.

I was upset because I couldn’t complete my workout routine cycle for the day.

“Hunter, how absurd can you be about getting upset by THAT?”

Ok, first of all, it’s “How AUTISTIC can I be” and second, yes, I can be patently absurd about it.

Autistic routines are finely tuned machines.

It doesn’t matter how flexible I make them. I doesn’t matter how much slack I leave in them. Wide berth, narrow berth, consequentiality, inconsequentiality, life, death — even when I’ve found ways to adapt.

The brokenness of a routine still stings.

That’s how I know I’m still autistic.

Behind the many masks, counter-routines, adaptations, self-talk cycles — the hollow at the core still bellows back in this recalling and reverberant echo. There is a hole here.

Yes, of course I have a counter-routine. Yes, of course I make contingencies. Yes, I’ve learned to bypass a lot of the defeat and desultory feelings that come.

I weathered the accident pretty well. Falls happen. Breaks happen.

But of all the things that broke and snapped in sequence, I was left most smarting at the smallest routine thing.

And that’s The Life Autistic.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — and follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram as well.


2 thoughts on “Worse Than a Weightlifting Accident: Autism and The Machine

  1. #2 is pretty bad (even considering that the question answers itself). The only non affirmative answer is flipping the bird and walking away.

    (I know how frowned upon it is to mention Big Band Theory in our club but) occasionally I’ll just complete the routine for my own sake (like knocking on the door that third time). I used to try and purposefully set up routines to break them just to prove that I could. Now I’d prefer not to add additional anxiety to my day to prove that I’m something I’m not.

    Glad you are well and survived.

  2. So well put and your explanation brings a stangely luxurious comfort to the lonely hidden ways l perform and try to fit myself into life.

    “Lets go here, instead..”
    In response l can feel my head falling off my shoulders. The ground opening up underneath me, my planned rountine being roughly snatched from my fingers.. and the threat of change melting my insides..
    I can’t
    Why not?
    I just can’t..

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