Can People Change? Here's My 2¢

Talking with a friend about Greta Thunberg( the teenage girl who took the United Nations General Assembly to task for betraying the environment while only “talk[ing about…] fairytales of eternal economic growth”), he indicated that the problem is getting people to change and opined that the key is getting them to want to. I responded: “It's definitely a component but I don't think it's the key, because it's really not a tricky thing at all. If you think it through, it's relatively straightforward that most people do want to change, or at least they're completely willing to change themselves in order to change the things they don't like about their lives; look at the prevalence of[…] goal-setting techniques and apps, New Year's resolutions...”.

I've been reflecting lately on one of the most profound examples of a change I've personally witnessed, and the role I played in it:

When I was a little boy, my mother, in addition to her in-home psychotherapy practice, worked one day a week in a clinical setting some 20–30 miles from home, close to the city. So on Tuesdays, because my father shouldn't be trusted to prepare items intended for human consumption, the three of us always ate out. As a result, despite that I don't easily make eye contact, "please" and "thank you" to people I don't know for the services they perform became ingrained, and this was reinforced by the discussion around tipping and constant open acknowledgement by my white-collar parents( both from blue-collar childhood backgrounds) of how hard people work in service industries.

So when I wound up in drug rehab, despite my distress over the completely inappropriate situation( I wasn't actually using drugs at all by that time), from the first time I went up to the cafeteria counter to get a plate of food added to my lunch tray, I naturally said "thank you" to the workers behind it. I was slightly taken aback by the lack of a response, but knowing I mumble sometimes, I decided to use my trained ability to project my voice and make sure that I was heard the next time. At dinner that same day, I was definitely heard—a row of heads jerked up from looking down at the food and stared at me like I had three. So I smiled at them and went to sit down. Over the next several meals they got used to me saying it. Maybe they even talked about it after the lunchroom cleared, who knows? Sometimes, there was no response, sometimes they mumbled without looking up.

Finally, about three or four days after I arrived, they were serving something with a choice of side, so when they asked me “[A] or [B]?” I said “[B] please.”, and a hearty thank you after the worker scooped what I suspected was an extra-large helping onto my plate. And she looked me full in the face, smiled back and said "You're welcome. Enjoy!". You could almost hear the dam breaking, and never again did silence meet my thanks.

On any given day, at least 85% of the people eating in that cafeteria don't want to be there. I can understand that a lot of them have trouble feeling or expressing gratitude in a situation like that, and some of them are petty or serious criminals, so I also get why staff are wary. There are always staff members st the entrances and exit of the cafeteria keeping an eye on the "clients", including next to the kitchen entryway by the counter window. The one guarding that door that day and helping to hand out dessert also smiled and put an extra cookie in my bowl, and later I heard him talking to a clinician about how strange and encouraging it was to see the invisible wall breaking down between the kitchen and the dining room since I had come. Even though I didn't need to be there for the given reasons, it's one reason to be grateful for the experience.

I was stuck at the Men's Addiction Treatment Center for 3 weeks, I was on the "good" ward, the one with the least behavior problems, and I commented on these cafeteria happenings to some of my friends, who started to emulate me. We were paired with the detox unit for meals, so as people in my unit left and people on the detox rotated out to other units, newcomers that I befriended over meals started coming to stand in line by me and picked up the habit. By the time I left, while not everybody was engaging, I can say for sure that the counter and window was a lot less of a quiet, get-your-meal-and-find-your-seat area than when I arrived. Clients were looking at the workers and workers were looking them in the face, exchanging thank you and you're welcome and sometimes smiles in a place that needed more smiles.

It's not something I set out to do, and it's not something that those workers or the other commited men were looking for from me. But change happened, and it grew, and that tells me that people in hard situations are willing and even happy to adapt, they just need a way to believe that the world around them can be better and they can be a part of that.

Riddle

It is what someone else can have for you and give to you without it ever becoming yours. Something that many of us can name long before we know the first thing about its nature. Something that you can receive constantly for years yet you may never have any, nor really even know what it is, until you find you have some that's not for you but instead for someone whose you've never expected to have. Something that is always yours when you have it for anyone, that you still have no matter whom you give it to. Something that can go unseen by those to whom it is shown, that often remains unknown to they whom it is made for. And it's the most difficult thing in the world to show to those who don't know what it looks like, even though they most need to see it; most difficult to give to those who don't have it and most need it, even though you won't lose it and most people want to receive it. The thing most important to keep showing & giving to people even though that won't necessarily ensure that they ever see or have any for themselves, let alone have any to show or give to you & others. Something that makes the most difference even without changing anything, that changes everything even when it doesn't make a difference.

On the Arrogance of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

So, here's a chance to expain one of the reasons I so dislike Neil deGrasse Tyson: you've probably seen his Tweet this weekend reminding people( and let me preface this by saying he is absolutely correct about the facts, a.f.a.I k.) that “In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings.

On average, across any 48hrs, we also lose…

500 to Medical errors

300 to the Flu

250 to Suicide

200 to Car Accidents

40 to Homicide via Handgun

Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.” which sounds similar to something I say: that feelings are important, but they aren't facts and cannot change or supplant facts the way other facts can.*

The problem here is that if 34 of those fatal medical errors or vehicular fatalities were the direct result of actions by just 2 people in just 1 weekend, it would be appropriate, not just emotionally but rationally and compassionately, for us to take special notice, and to respond by demanding to know how they were allowed that much power without proper evaluation, and that it be prevented from recurring!

Dr. Tyson is completely right about each of those facts, including his final statement, but completely wrong about their significance in this instance( unless he's deliberately formatted a non-sequitur to look like a conclusion, which I doubt even more), and this is exactly the kind of mistake in reasoning that I have always expected his particular brand of arrogance† to engender.

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Happy Pride

Frankly, this "straight pride" hullabaloo here in Boston is a blessing in disguise, especially happening now, on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots! As the millennial generation rises and post-millenial Gen Z comes of age, what Pride is and isn't is really unclear to a lot of baby gays—let alone their straight, cisgender classmates and other contemporaries. This is a chance to help understanding blossom, for them and everyone who's too young to remember things older generations can never forget—not only Stonewall, but Matthew Shepard. A chance to clue in those born into a world where Pulse made major news as a mass shooting but not by forcing a taboo subject to every front page & making us understand why we can't afford to be silent, about what Pride means.

A chance to explain: that the Gay Pride celebration tradition is VERY gay, but it's not at all about being gay. It's about being a diverse, vibrant community of good folks, that for 50 years now, has stood up and fought back against an age-old prejudice that has no basis in reality now that humanity has gone from small dwindling tribes to nearly overloading the carrying capacity of Earth.

Being gay isn't an achievement, but being a community of individuals thriving in the face of persecution is.

If you want to have your own pride, how about poor people pride? Poor people go through a lot of shit too and don't really get recognition or time to celebrate what makes the economic working-class so special in constant endurance and rising triumph. Unlike this prospective Straight Pride, Poor People Pride would actually be a worthwhile event/recognition festival.

Cracks in the Ice

About 9 months after my friend Sean passed away, I started to watch the videos I took at his memorial service... I watched Susan, and was a little taken aback to find the story she'd told was different from my vivid memory of what she'd said that day( the type of Mexican facility in question and mode of boarding the truck in which he crossed the border stand out as drastic changes); then I skipped forward to watch myself, and had to stop, feeling suddenly ill at what I heard.

 I had never realized that, because of the particular wording, all the things I said( link) in trying to convey that I was in awe of him, *could* be read in another, self-aggrandizing way to belittle him. But that pompous, mocking interpretation is undeniably what I watched “myself” doing in the video... for about 20 seconds. Over the course of a few more tries, I was too overwhelmed to get through it, but I did comfort myself remembering how afterwards, his friends treated me with a level of kindness I very much doubt they'd have been able to muster if I'd really sounded like that on that day.

  But what, then, is this video? It’s real. It's here on my hard drive; if you know me in person, just ask and I'll show you. It's like a funhouse mirror nightmare. To start out, the “me” on camera snaps at the woman standing next to him to hold the device with a vague, rude imperative bark of the noun, followed by an annoyed re-iteration at her confusion. Actual me had asked her ahead of time between two prior speakers, since I was the only one recording it.

  He… I… then proceed(s) to make myself sound like I think I'm the best thing that ever happened to Sean, which I doubt anyone except Sean himself ever said, nor do I think anyone ever believed it( he said it in a spirit of something akin to affectionate exaggeration). “My” reading in the video almost comes across more like an audition monologue to play Mitt Romney or Donald Trump than as any kind of heartfelt personal remembrance.

  It was another 4 years before I finally managed to MAKE myself power through the whole thing. I did so whilst rereading it aloud as intended, in counterpoint to that somehow-parodized delivery—to prevent myself from crying in horror & shame & a sense of failing my friend; instead my tears were hot and angry. I had to pause the video and breathe a few times because, as much as I didn't want it to sink in, I couldn't sustain letting it all pile up.

  I don't understand how or why this was done, but although my two mutual acquaintances with him( one who'd joined us on a particularly lazy afternoon, the other being the one who alerted me to his passing & got me into the habit of referring to him by his surname) both flaked on the day of the memorial, I'm confident that the available recording could not, as I mentioned earlier, be a representation of the actual events: it would have never even permitted the sympathy & warmth shown to me after, much less encouraged the lovely conversations. But... where did this version come from, then? How?

Money Matters

My parents did a generally great job raising me, but one area in which they failed utterly was teaching me anything about how to manage money, primarily because they were overly hesitant about telling me how much they make.[..] I strongly encourage any parents out there who read this to avoid making the same mistake; it's a costly one and could prove VERY harmful to your kids in the long run. Instead, talk to them honestly about your income and home/family finances once they're adolescent and can grasp what the numbers mean.

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I Use

New poem. As with most of my non-musical verse, it's screaming uselessly for my father to hear me, as even that cursory regard seems to fade. See if you can spot allusions to the other two I have up in this blog.

I Use[ sic]

I used to think a lot of things, I guess I know better now;

I used to think you'd always hold the sky up; wondered how

you stood with all that weight.

I used to think a lot of things, knew/was so little then;

I used to think the world & I could live as honest men,

but who even believes?

I used to think I'd never see from a vantage good as you'd;

I used to think that'd be worth it, that you held what was true.

You had never even found it.

I used to think we could punctuate to bring about proper ends;

I never thought I'd be destroyed by all my oldest friends.

Just so you know: I didn't[/don't]

The Deal: A Religion-Indifferent Serenity Pact

I wrote this when I was thinking about 12-step groups, belief in a higher power, and the importance of the serenity prayer, with a conscious awareness of how it may make those without skyfather-oriented religious identity or belief uncomfortable. May uttered in unison as a mutual request between friends, family, teammates, atheist congregation members, etc., said as wedding vows, or offereed as a prayer to any deit(y/ies) or spirit(s)( with or without the last line):


Please, so that I may know peace & sow goodness, help me:


to find courage and so, by the power of my faith in you, me, and us, accept those things that I cannot change;


to bear confidence and with it, by the strength of the love we feel, change those wrongs that I'm driven to right;


to garner wisdom so I may, by grace of truth, rightly know each in its turn and fear neither to be the other;


and I'll proffer that same help to you, and for all I hold dear in existence.

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IDEA: S.H.E.L.T.E.R.

…a Society for Helping to Enhance Lives via Temperature Equilibrium Retention.

“Until everyone gets to go home somewhere, we all need to have S.H.E.L.T.E.R. in our lives.”

  Shelter is one of the basic needs for human survival. Why is that exactly? I got to thinking about this recently( I’ll tell you why in a bit). Well, we need some place where we can stay warm and dry, or cool and dry, but not so dry as to become dehydrated. So what shelter really represents for us, in essence, is the ability to regulate & stably maintain the temperature of our bodies and possibly the relative humidity in the immediate , so that we don’t lose too much moisture, nor get wind-whipped and lose too much heat, nor be baked alive by the sun, or waterlogged from precipitation which changes nervous system response to prioritize balance & tactile sensitivity & thus interfes with autonomic reactions such as immune function at the same time as it provides a favorable environment for microorganisms we don't encounter otherwise.

Shelter is our means to avoid exposure to extremes of temperature, humidity, and atmospheric disturbance; the more we mitigate those extremes the less we feel the want of shelter when denied such by circumstances.

  Thursday night I got stuck out close to midnight. I’d forgotten my wallet and my phone died. It was a long way home. A much longer way than I ever anticipated going on foot, and the cold so much deeper than it seemed at first; although my nice leather jacket and just a pair of cargo pants were sufficient to keep my legs and torso warm, my double-gloved hands & bare face, slashed by the winds tearing down every long straight road, felt cold like I’ve never experienced before. My toes too, when three layers of socks were finally soaked through; and the cold infiltrated to my core as I tried to warm my extremities and chilled blood flooded back towards my heart. I shivered harder than I ever had, and I would say the pain just from the cold was probably at 6. I typically don’t rate pain higher than that, and reserve 7 for bad sprains, the kind that mean possible hairline fractures. When I had a stomach ulcer, that was my only 9.

  Some people have to live in that environment. I was very aware of them as I made the long trek home—a couple miles in weather that when I got home, Google Home told me was 11°F. The last half-mile was hardest, sobbing aloud and struggling at every street corner to push myself past the wind and to another moment of shelter in a doorway. I had minor frostbite, and the heat after I got inside bardly seemed to touch me. I just curled up in bed, half-dressed still, and cried from the pain for another half hour until I fell asleep. I woke up Friday still a little cold all through my body. While it’s true that I feel a sensation a hell of a lot more acutely and deeply than most, that’s not even the coldest New England gets in winter, and even for those who become acclimated, it’s still not healthy, let alone comfortable. I almost cried again thinking of them, and I wondered, “What can I do about this? What can WE do about this, those of us who are lucky enough to have four walls and a roof and maybe heating & air conditioning?”

  S.H.E.L.T.E.R. is what I came up with mulling it over for about an hour or so Friday morning. At first I was thinking, “What I WANT to do is run—brrr, well maybe take an Uber—right out and buy scarves & hats & lightweight gloves or glove liners—the kind that work with touch screens, because I know that my homeless friends rely on their phones to coordinate where they might be able to go, but taking off winter gloves and exposing skin is how my hands got cold despite layers.” I figured, “I’ll put them in my bag and distribute them to panhandlers and others who look cold and clearly have nowhere to go. …why just me? This is way too big for one person alone.

  “What about a group? An organization, something people can volunteer for, yeah. What do I call it? Shelter, because that’s what I needed with the wind clawing at my skin; can I make a good backronym? Starts with an S, so probably Society, it’s got a t so that’s going to be Temperature, Temperature E.R.... Equilibrium Retention! S.H. Society for Helping E.L., Helping to... Enhance Lives. So easy and perfect it’s almost like fate; the Society for Helping to Enhance Lives via Temperature Equilibrium Retention, S.H.E.L.T.E.R..

  “Yeah: collect donations, buy & give to each participant the things we’ll carry to distribute and help keep the needy warm—O.K., warm’s great in the winter, but, it’s February; winter might get fierce for a little while, but then will be gone. So what about summer? Well, personal cooling? O.K., sun visors, personal electric fans, those neck cooling things you fill with cold water. For the fans, maybe rechargeable batteries so they don’t have to buy new ones and aren’t constantly adding significant volume to landfills—but also interchangeable; volunteers could charge them at home on charging bases then take them out and swap them with people who already had the fans but with batteries run down and no place to plug in. So maybe instead of working out of our own normal bags, distribute bags with a logo to help spread the word and to be identifiable to people who need us. Yeah, but just a lightweight bag that can be folded up and put in a pocket or a regular bag after running out so that people won’t be disappointed or harass volunteers who need to restock.”

  “So, what else to do to spread the word? And how to prevent abuse? That is, prevent people from, say, trying to pose as homeless so they can collect and resell the items. O.K., so what if the price of getting something from a S.H.E.L.T.E.R. volunteer is a geotagged-&-time/datestamped selfie together for our website? We can post them on a photo-map thingy like panoramio. Smiles of people whose lives are improved by S.H.E.L.T.E.R. makes a great visual aid for potential donors; at the same time, this allows us to keep track and make sure somebody isn’t getting dozens of handouts over the course of a single day or week, and socially it’s very unlikely that people who don’t actually need it would want to be seen online taking handouts, let alone publicly outed as defrauding a charity.

  “This also prevents our volunteers from abusing the same way; by requiring any reported giveaway that isn’t matched to a photo to be reimbursed before they are afforded more supplies, and in the digital age the photo can be tagged. If we commission a smartphone app, a computer system could even automatically keep track of their supply and when they need to restock, and maybe if the photos are auto-uploaded, if anything happens to a volunteer, we have some idea of where he or she last distributed items.”

  That’s where I stopped. I’m an idea guy, but the nitty-gritty of organizing anything is something I can only manage in short bursts, which I currently have to devote mostly to scrambling for some kind of personal individual future; after suffering a long string of failure, augmented by massive losses beyond my control, my life right now is more of a mess than ever, and my resources are less than ever.

  My source of funds is gone, my retirement/backup plan is gone, most of the links to the better part of my social life are gone, the people I love most are distant and falling away( old, or sick, or in jail, or status unknown), and my stable home & sole investment is going( since returning in June I've burned through around 17–18% of my equity, and barely replaced what I’d guess to be 40% of essentials, 10% of all lost).

  Still, it’s a nice idea, S.H.E.L.T.E.R., one of those “If I had a million dollars...” things, and I thought I’d share.

Facing Adversity

Not-So-Fun fact: I’m face blind. Look it up, or the technical term, prosopagnosia. Basically, it means that I cannot remember or directly recognize the faces of other people; unless there is something highly unusual about your features like scarring or a birthmark, I don’t really know your face. Even my own; if I didn’t know it was me in the mirror, I wouldn't recognize me.

Like my other disabilities, I’ve learned to compensate for this via context, mannerisms, voice, and other cues, but if you were to come up to me in public out of context and having a significantly different hairstyle and clothing than I had ever seen you with before, chances are I wouldn’t know whom you are, even if we have been close for years. Likewise, if someone had even a remotely similar build and skin tone, with similar hair and manner of dress, I could mistake that person for you, especially in a context where I expect I might encounter you. This disability could of course be taken advantage of, but that would potentially be criminal fraud and a terrible hate crime. Height comparison isn’t normally a helpful factor, either, as most of my friends are men, and most men here in the northeastern United States of America are taller than me( the tallest I have ever been was five feet five-and-three-quarters inches( 5′5¾″), or approximately one hundred sixty-seven centimeters( 167 cm), and I may have shrunk slightly since, which isn’t all that uncommon by the early-to-mid-30s); I’ve been used to looking up at most folks all my life.

Because of my atypically specific visual memory, I’m rather better with photographs, two-dimensional images that aren’t moving; one odd result is that I probably know the faces of some celebrities better than those of my own friends and family( which isn’t to say I’d recognize them, either, in person), and the more close-up photos of you I have seen the more likely I am to know you in person by comparing my memories of them to your face when I see you. Thank heaven for social media! Sometimes, I'm at a loss to recognize someone and then just as I begin to consider giving in and apologetically asking the person to help me make the connection, he or she will happen to briefly pass through a position and facial expression that I can match to a photo I have seen.

It’s not that unusual for people on the autistic spectrum to have some degree of faceblindness, since we already process faces differently than neurotypical( NT) persons do, but the condition isn’t as inconvenient for me as it is for some NTs with it because I go out less, and when I do I’m usually heading for a specific destination to meet up with specific people. The fact that I live in a city rather than the town where I lived growing up, and only attended school in that town for a few years at the beginning and end of my pre-collegiate education probably helps also, because there are fewer people that I “should” recognize and less chance of encountering them.

But

For those who aren’t aware, I am not just a writer of prose & poetry, I also compose music and write songs, and I have a pet project I call Love! The Musical based on all the things I have learned about human relationships. Today one of my songs, tentatively titled “But”, is particularly on my mind, & I thought I would share some lyrics:

[Verse:]
You might be right about
the rain in Spain and whether it stays mainly in the plain;
you might be right about
how to balance work and fun.
You might be right about
the weather, and everything under the sun.
You might be right about
how I should live my life,
but...

[Refrain:]
You see, that determination
is not for you to make,
it’s not for YOU to make,
NOT for you to make.

There’s a bullshit to your logic
I’m not prepared to take,
that I’m not gonna take;
no, I’m not gonna take!

No more flying off the handle( handle),
no more waging wars at home, for goddness’ sake;
’cuz that determination
is not for you to make,
not for you to make;
it’s NOT for YOU to make!



–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

Hello 33

And just like that, another year goes by. It was a scary one, in which I found myself betrayed & robbed of things material & otherwise; sober now so much is clear, including the demons & mysteries that were just in my fearful imagination... and that some in fact were not. There were and are genuine threats that hardly anyone else seems to even believe in. But I still know who I am, and can say with confidence( and evidence, finally!) that I am NOT crazy and was never as confused as some made me out to be. So as long as I am satisfied that I do the best I can, my peace cannot be stolen again, even when I lose badly. For my 34th year, I vow that 2016 will be my time to fight back, and anyone who would stand in my way or try to control me, e̶v̶e̶n̶especially “for [my] own good”, had better get ready to run.

  For once, though, my birthday was great, even though I didn’t simply stay home & take shelter. I resisted making any plans, but I ran some successful errands that really needed doing. In the evening I finally made it to Game Over, the monthly Boston video game bar night, to see my friends for my birthday, which made tonight a marked improvement over 2 years ago when I planned to have my 3rd 29th birthday party at G.O.... which then announced a winter hiatus... and then the venue announced that it would be closing( permanently) a week before my birthday.( G.O. is at a new venue now.)

  Then back here for some more partying, and this evening the object of my affection is supposed to come by for the night and spend NYE with me, and we're going to fix my heat & install my new Nest smart thermostat. Then I can just tell Google what I want temperature-wise and it will happen, like I can do with my lighting. :-)

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

UberCOOL

Tonight was the first time that I used UberPOOL, the random carpooling option for cheaper rides from smartphone-centric hired car service Uber, and actually ended up paired with other riders. On my first ride, driver Jeremy took us over to Brookline to pick up Alex. I introduced myself and struck up a conversation.

  “My late friend Sean would love this.” I said. “His dream was to build a connected transportation network, help people easily get where they were going while maximizing the use of resources. Stuff like this, ride sharing... well, I can just see how he would smile. And strangers making a deal to more efficiently get where they’re going.. Well that’s the sort of thing I'm all about.”

  “What do you do?”... I have yet to understand why NTs are obsessed with this question, because as lovely as it would be, we don’t yet live in a society where one’s profession really reflects one’s personality and situations accurately. “I’m a blogger. Well, getting back into it after a while. Which for now means that I’m dependent and I spend a lot of time thinking.” “Oh, what do you write about?”

  Alex, who wasn’t originally from this country, was fascinated. He had a lot of good commentary and questions, too. It seems he’s in medicine, and he was curious about some of the differences in growing up with autism here vs. elsewhere. I acknowledged that there are a lot of accommodations and improvements here now, but mention that I missed them myself having grown up in the 1990s when we first started to understand.

  I don’t know why people say Boston is an unfriendly city. I think they just let themselves get like that and they’re too scared to say hi.



–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

Around the Sun

Dear Sean,

  Today is the day we’ve been around the sun without you, according to the date on your... Perish. Still makes me chuckle. A year after I knew is still weeks out, but a year ago today I’d been weak, exhausted, for no reason that I was aware of.

  Around the sun. I see the date & that’s all I can think about. Not that I can see the sun... you should see the snow! I would go out to the tree they planted for you on the Hill, but it’s a mess; so am I. Just like the winter days when we used to hole up &... ;-) I so wish you were here. Not just, like that, I...I think you would be... proud isn’t the right word.
…impressed? Heh, I knew how to make an impression with you already. I unburdened myself & I feel lighter than air; even with trouble incoming( you would like Google’s other suggestion for my dictation there), & it’s not because there’s Trouble here already.
…inspired? :-p I forgot you used to say that. Inspiration. You & whatshisface. Shameful confession: I totally missed that pun at the time; until after the expiration.

  I get it, finally. That critical moment, catching fire after smoldering for so long. Of all the things you could have meant when you’d thank me for setting you free... It was because you could do this already by then.
…incited? But to maintain it would be inhumanly stressful. So I see, pressure valve & fuel exchange.

  Even with just the tree, I guess a wall this time, I always could count on you as a resource for sorting out. Count on sorting myself out using you, if that phrasing would tickle your fancy or whatever else.
…excited? If I had this context when you were here I would tell you to turn the heat down, that making a flame that intense was dangerous & you’d run out of gas before you knew it. 

  But I guess you knew it, like you knew everything, & that’s why you told me that...
  Oh! Ready; that's the word for what you'd be: if you could see me now, you would be ready. There would be that little moment of annoyance when I realized you’d been waiting at the finish line before I left the gate. Like always. But I’d get there eventually. I was always surprised when that was good enough for you; and that I was hood enough for you to bother, when everyone but you knew you were too good for us all.

  A year ago, I was weak & didn’t know why. Today I am strong & wish I had you to tell me how. On these days I miss you. It’s a cold day. And you’re not here to shine. I’ll blaze bright.

 

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

Goodbye 29... Hello 32

Most years, the holidays & my birthday make me absolutely miserable. Festivals of giving and bright shiny objects remind me that I am poor, and never manage as much as I would like in terms of material generosity to those who are so good to me. The new year means that another old year has gone by with little change in my situation. And my birthday, right in between, not only makes me feel old; this is usually a blah day at best, or outright terrible, especially if I try to make plans.
  For example, last year I was in the habit of attending a weekly game night at a certain pub. At the beginning of December, the game night moved from Tuesday to Sunday for the winter months, meaning the event would coincide with my 3rd annual 29th birthday. So, I decided, what the hell I would be there anyway, many of my friends would be; so why not invite everyone? So I did, I listed the event on social media and encouraged people to drop by, buy me a beer, and wish me a happy birthday.
  Not only was the first Sunday so empty that the guy running the event declared he would skip the rest of December if the second didn’t improve, we never got a chance to find out if it would because the pub suddenly anounced that that would be the date of their farewell event–that’s right: I tried to plan something on my birthday for the first time in ages, and the venue shut down. That’ll teach me.

  So this year, I've been spending it the way I have for most of the last decade: with no plans whatsoever, just a few of my favorite treats & videos, all on my own. Occasionally, something will materialize and work out O.K.; but not most years, and even though there have been a few offers and suggestions, I don’t think I’ll be doing much this year.
  Looking back on the year, I have a lot to be down about this holiday season. Two good people close to my heart passed away in the prime of their lives. I got a number of fantastic opportunities and didn’t make the most of them; although they weren’t completely squandered either. I failed to save a good friend’s important relationship when my help was sought, then botched my own chance with the object of his affection–also mine. I not only failed to demonstrate that trust isn’t weakness & there are people in the world one can rely on; despite instantly recognizing that we aggravated each other's codependent tendencies, I allowed myself to be taken advantage of and badly screwed by someone who didn't intend to and probably doesn’t even realize happened, and may be incapable of understanding the great enduring love and the deep sense of loss I still feel over our parting. Not to mention the time spent making that attempt pulled me away from every goal & every other good thing in my life.
  So it’s odd to realise that, for all I grieve the lost, and I miss & worry about the living lost to me, I haven't been particularly unhappy lately; in fact, this year has ended kind of O.K., if a bit lonely. And this is probably the best birthday I’ve had since I started turning 29. Frankly, among the best that I can ever remember. What’s going on? I’ve even been less affected by SAD than usual( although the bright lights could have something to do with that).

  There's a saying that one can learn far more from defeat than from victory. As many could attest, I'm not a gracious loser, at least not without seriously strenuous effort; but it's true, these are the best lessons. Earlier this year my mother mentioned to me that if I wanted to find my birth parents, I would have any resources I needed. At the time, I wasn't ready. If I met my birth mother, how could I show her whom I've grown up to be without even knowing that myself? But after catching Kung Fu Panda 2 on TV the other day and seeing the( marvelous!) new Annie on Christmas Eve with my parents( both movies about orphans seeking answers about their past & finding their place in the world), I told them it's time for me to start looking.
  In 2014, I learned a lot about loss, & about weakness–my own & others’; in the process, I have grown stronger. I'm retarded, slow; it's not about giving up or being lazy, it's about knowing when the approach that works for many others isn't the best use of my energy. I'm disrupted rather than motivated by discomfort and thus I must count on being more drained after certain endeavors, perhaps foregoing rewards that I wouldn't be able to enjoy in the same way as a neurotypical person after toughing it out. I have ADHD and thus I'm prone to distraction; in any given time period I can I only count on getting done a quarter of what I wish to, although perhaps many other things that are better off done, even if I wouldn't've prioritized them.
  My awareness of the world around me is far more acute than most people’s in some respects, and sorely lacking in others; sometimes it is too much to ask me to hold on to a piece of paper for two hours, sometimes I lose $500 cash walking from the register to the edge of the parking lot, get to the concert and don't have my ID, remember your favorite soda but forget you hate those chips; & sometimes you should ask me things just because you've got nothing to lose and, being me, I might have an answer no one else would think of. Sometimes I look like a normal person to whom those things happen every now and then, and sometimes that's going to make it hard for you to remember & understand that on the days I seem to be purely a screw-up , what's wrong with me is the same thing that's always wrong with me, every moment, and I’ve just run out of plans or energy to fight it on that particular day.

  

As I return to this blog, I’ve been rereading many prior entries. Looking back on my experiences of Sean, of Rebecca. Reflecting on the time after I last published an entry semicolon on the dreams and aspirations that went unfulfilled when I became preoccupied with a great & unique friend who might have ultimately been the love of my life if we could even stand to look at each other now. 2014, it seems, was my year to learn about loss, & about weakness–my own & others’. In the process, I have grown stronger.

  Today I was astounded by all the people who said happy birthday to me, both publicly & privately. On social media and in my calendar, I watched so many of theirs go by thinking how it didn't really matter if I sent birthday wishes to people I haven’t seen in years. I am truly humbled by the love that surrounds me, & despite missing those who are no longer with me, I’m happy to be looking forward rather than backward on my birthday. I'm ready to find my roots because now I can see the main context of what they support.

  I've seen the best & worst of myself in the last 3 years,  and while it’s not a pretty or flattering viewpoint I’ve arrived at, it's the perspective I needed. I know what I have to offer others and I know what is beyond me to do or give and still preserve myself. If people don't want to rely on my strengths & cover my weaknesses, I'll do whatever it takes to make sure that's their problem. It's kind of appropriate, as someone with a pervasive developmental disorder, that it's taken me this long to reach my thirties. But although the past will always be with me, I'm tired of  worrying about whom I have been, what I could become, or how I should live. The future is about whom I am, warts and all, as they say. Love me or leave me; at least you got that right, B my dear.

  Goodbye 29, hello 32.

D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

own wings

I feel so... Yesterday, we laid to rest( or something, she was not so big on rest, really) my younger cousin, Rebecca Serkey. There was quite a lot of fuss about it, and I seemed to be among the very few family members( & non-work friends) entirely unsurprised by the amount of activity & attention; I’d always had an impression of a great deal of fraternity amongst first responders, & known her to charm the masses with her bluntness & understated good looks–I was among those who taught her to deal with people, after all. At one point, the driver my uncle hired for the event found me standing aside, the only one not looking desperately sad, & asked, “Just who is this person in your family that died?” with a note of awe in his voice; he’d initially thought the legions of uniformed officers might be for a recently-slain state trooper whose funeral could have preceded hers.
  Her peers & colleagues came from all over the country. There was a helicopter flyby with a call that went out on the radio, calling for the last time for her to come in.( Someone who had worked on the planning said with embarrassment that they wanted to have 3 choppers for her but were stymied by the short notice, as we weren’t sure when NTSB would release the remains, but her mother’s Jewish tradition demanded we inter them immediately.) The massive police escort closed off roads for the funeral procession to pass unhindered, including the George Washington Bridge & an expanse of the Long Island Expressway( crossing NYC without facing traffic was a little surreal, even to me) to her final resting place( under the circumstances, perhaps it’s best that her body was incinerated in the explosion; I’m not sure her body would have been permitted burial in a Jewish cemetary had it been examined intact). Color guards from many cities including Boston honored her, and her mother was presented with an American flag & the thanks of a grateful nation.
  At the burial site, I spoke, told them: alis volat propriis( that
’s a link to my remarks), and was relieved to feel I had done right by her, lived up to her example in giving what I could for those she loved.

  When I went to clean up & post my final draft of those remarks to my blog this morning, I began crying and I have hardly stopped, but it is not a miserable sadness. I wondered why now, after feeling, well, nothing but a desire to take care of others upon getting the news, satisfaction at the proceedings as she was memorialized... I think I have identified 2 reasons:
  1) Having seen who she was to the world, I had to explore & explain who she was to me, & who I felt I was to her; in order to know what existed, so as to discover what was lost & what can never be gone. This is as much about me as about her, & would thus not have been a point she nor I would consider appropriate to harp on at the funeral.
  2) I had to be past the point of delivering that remembrance to her mother, father, or the friends who grew up with her essentially as sisters; before saying that(, whatever she might have thought of me), in my mind, my heart, she was very much a brother( yes :-p) & a daughter to me.

  So having said that stuff at the burial for the mourners, I’ll add the following for me:
  With my special gift & our strange bond(/strange gift & special bond?), I got to see, every step of the way, not just who she was but who she tried to be; in any moment encountering her, I saw what emotions drove her forward or held her back. The girl who always smiled never could & thus never had to hide from me her unhappiness or longing–she didn’t ever have to spare me details either, & she never doubted that if she chose to share them(, or if I should figure them out), I got it completely.( Admittedly, she was not always thrilled with the idea.)
  She thus came to understand( & occasionally complain), long before anyone else did, that I am damn stubborn & proud of it; there is precious little point in attempting to deceive me, silence me, or change my mind without changing my perspective(–even for my own or good or someone else’s). She trusted that I knew what I was doing when I said so, & just as importantly, she came to trust that if I said I didn’t know what I was doing she’d better handle it unless she was content to waste a lot of time.( Ha! I’m kidding, she would never be... really, I think when I started not knowing it was a relief for her, but she never rubbed my nose in it.)
  From our earliest days, I complimented her on her own stubbornness( rarely even dressing it up as resolve) & she pushed it beyond mine, to its very limits. I have been so very proud of her–& so very worried. I saw her make mistakes, many of which I made & am only learning now to fix, but for all her stubbornness grew alarmingly greater, I’d forgotten her speed did too. She found freedom faster, & in finding wisdom she accepted truth in the relative blink of an eye. I am so very relieved.
  So I know why I have smiled, why I have cried, & why now I’m doing both: my feelings are parental, are fraternal, are friendly, are rivalrous, are grateful for her admiration & admiring of her in all ways. Not long ago, I lost someone I had not thought of as close to me, & the evidence, that there was more than expected to what I had with him, has left me reeling. Now I lose someone whom I have never doubted was close to me, & I haven’t needed any evidence thereof to stay solid.
  I can’t cry for the loss of her, or for anything she’s lost from me, because we know we gave each other everything we needed, & who that ever loved could ever ask for more? So I smile. I cry only to think that the world around us isn’t all that way, & she must’ve had more pressing business than to heal it... but I can no longer watch after her. I can only say:
Good luck, kiddo. I’m rooting for you.”.

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

alis propriis volat

It’s Latin. It means “One is flying on its own wings.”, substitute pronouns to taste. Today we buried my baby cousin, a few months shy of her 30th birthday. As usual( I have a usual for funerals, burials, & memorials now... that makes me feel old), I had quite a bit to say. Here it is, plus some notes in brackets to cover things the mourners would have known that general readers would not.

“So here we are, assembled in the strangeness of this moment. Where we all must go, my baby cousin has flown on ahead into the distance.
  I remember when our grandparents died, our fathers’ parents, I spoke and she thanked me after; that I spoke, she said, for them. She did not give thanks or praise to me easily... So when I received a call–news of a helicopter explosion? And the unthinkable[, a flight paramedic killed in the crash with her crewmates]... I wondered what I could say to pay her the same tribute. To speak for a life that spoke for itself so clearly.
  I realized that I can speak of quiet times, maybe not so in their intensity, but quieter in the world; those moments only we had known.

  Rebecca is in so many of my earliest memories, and no doubt I remained in hers. I don’t know how many role models she took on before me, but I may have been among her first bad influences.[ grin] The best of friends we were, in those times–and co-conspirators.
  Watching videos, playing games, & always plotting little rebellions against our parents around the corners, behind the doors, under the tables. Although not related by blood to our parents, the fathers who connected us, we had in us many similar streaks to each other. In hushed tones we praised each other’s dads & situations; and we sought freedom from the lives we led, to escape those finite worlds with their bounded edges. Always I was wiser, and often quicker, but although I was first to jump off walls & climb on ledges, she was ever bolder–not that I let her know it. I watched to guard her from what dangers I could, though she was headstrong and liked to show off.

  As we grew older, friendship turned to rivalry. I remember a time when she would test me on school subjects, ask for my grades. When I became disinterested, first in such pursuits as quiz questions, later in schoolwork altogether, she professed confusion. “Well what’s it for?”, I asked. She told me I was crazy and walked away. She returned to add “and lucky.”. She came at me with another quiz a bit later; I answered perfectly–such things came too easy for me.
  She barely said a friendly word for years thereafter, doubled down on her work, became even more incredibly accomplished. “Cool.”, I said, when she told me of some accolade she had earned. “Must be a lot of fun.”. Always oblivious, I didn’t quite get why a friend had to hold her back from clawing out my throat.
  But whether it impressed me or not, Rebecca still had a great love of doing, as others have said, just about everything–and she excelled at it. Even while she revered & then resented me, I always found her fierceness fascinating.
  I remember hanging out with Rebecca &[ her step-brother, when her father remarried,] Jakub. In my mid-late teens, I came out as gay & was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder. She never blinked. She smiled, they asked questions and for once I felt happy to talk. Maybe the most in my life until then, happy to talk. About my theatre stuff, about boys, about being different. After that, she always seemed not to be looking towards me, but into some unknown horizon.

  She let me know in no uncertain terms when she was a young woman who no longer needed protecting. I made a point of protectively threatening her boyfriend anyway. Some time later, after they broke up, she hollered at me for it–then burst out laughing.
  When she first began to pursue her eventual career path, I told her it was an impressive one, but tough. She explained that she needed to learn more about who she was, and she knew that best in a crunch; plus she loved the idea of making a difference, a tangible difference that she could see in front of her & touch with her hands. I have heard the story of that first call[ when she handed off her patient to a flight medic crew], the dream of the sky that drove her thereafter.
  Our grandparents passed, and I remember, as she spoke, the point when she was overcome. As she fell, I rose to catch her. I held her for a long moment as she sobbed, and we were young again, on the playground, with them watching us.

  As adults, we did not often speak. Sometimes she was impatient, could not sit as I did, to just be; other times I could not get myself worked up as she did, to go, or to do. We occasionally celebrated things together, holidays & foreign visitors, talked about deeper matters only twice that I can recall.[ Of all we talked about] I remember what she told me[ about herself on those occasions]. The one time, that she wanted to be her own woman, not her father’s baby girl; I told her that she had shown herself to be that woman already–but she was still my baby cousin Worm anyway. She slugged me, then hugged me. The other time, as she sought to become a paramedic, she told me that she wanted to make her parents proud, but do it in a way that could let her feel proud of herself on her own terms; I told her that I could offer no more advice, as I’d stalled out & she had long since passed me on her way to living that life–she was now my role model & inspiration. Her eyes gleamed for a moment, then she nodded. Her gaze wandered far again, became steel.
   I worried, that in her frantic life she never took the time to appreciate herself, to come to terms with the past, to forgive. But who was I, now, tell her what to do? Still, we were always solid to call on each other... we knew it, though we never found occasion. Even when we were frustrated with each other, trust was in it too.

  When the news came, I thought I was in shock[, as I had so little sadness in me]. This was my precious friend & rival, follower & companion. I had not protected nor saved her. But, no, I gradually grew to feel certain she was at peace & I could be. Now I only wondered how.
  Slowly at first, the pieces came together. The simple reality with which she responded when a New Jersey friend suggested she come home[ to where she had grown up in NJ] in response to frustration–days before her death, she firmly answered that she was home[ in New Mexico]. It soon came to my knowledge that her mother was to have visited[ would have been there on the funeral date]. [Her boyfriend Brandon’s] children were coming to stay[ in NM, to live & attend school there,] soon. Brandon was planning to propose[ at a renaissance fair; she had loved such events]. She had truly found her heart & her home in the west, in Brandon, in the desert, in the kids, in the sky. By the time she turned 30, she would have it for everyone to see, everyone who had doubted her, everyone who had supported her; for herself to see, and for God to see her.
  Finally, I heard a story. At the last exchange between her & our other cousin, on the weekend before Rebecca’s death, she had been dejected over missing an intubation, her last perfect record blown after a dozen years. A few days before she died, they talked as cousins do, as pros do. Rebecca fretted, and Nicki reminded her that we are not machines. That Rebecca was human, & incredible either way. That high standards were good, but it was what she had done, not what she hadn’t done, that would remain & stand testament to her existence. Rebecca thanked her and began to work at getting over it. In the end, Rebecca had everything, including self-honesty, wanted for nothing, nor self-acceptance.
  The night before she died, I found the Christmas card she had sent me, and thought about what I might say if I called her. I like to say, nowadays, and wanted to tell her–in explaining me, explaining our past, and to help her secure her future–that we all have strengths & weaknesses, so everyone deserves to have his or her unique strengths recognized & relied upon, and his or her weaknesses known & covered without hesitation. The outpouring of grief on faces here shows she was loved. The gratitude expressed shows she was relied on; her strength was recognized, no doubt. But it’s when I hear about how she & Nicki would talk, when I see Brandon & his family–her family, now ours too–that I know her weakness had a home too, & that she was covered. I am so immensely grateful for that; and that we can all rely on & cover each other in this difficult time.

  She wanted more than anything to share that life she built with her loved ones, she & I did not have to talk for me to know that. I say a lot with language, but I have always loved best they to whom I could speak without saying a word.
  Sometimes the first instinct is best... so to all of you, I offer the part of her life that was mine. To her, again, the first thing I wrote to her on Facebook when I knew she was gone: ‘[O]ne day short of 5 months after hearing about my friend Bender, I am painfully reminded yet again to never wait to speak one’s heart. I kept thinking of you, found your Xmas card just last night, but said nothing, & now no words are enough, Worm–no, wait; you’ll always be my baby cousin in my mind, but no more teasing... Flyin’ Lion: I salute you, & love you always. Glad you went out on top, living the life you wanted. We should all be so blessed & so accomplished. Peace be with you in the next life.’

  One last thing, now, that came[ into the conversation] from another friend of hers on Facebook. This I find most appropriate for such a Lion Heart, one that strove so hard to be free & came free at last in binding herself, beyond words & beyond life, to purpose, to sky, and to all of us:

alis propriis ea volat–“[on] her own wings, she flies.”

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

she flies on her own

Please forgive sudden silence. Unexpected conditions for a trip( flew to California, attended convention, acquired Google Glass), followed by the unexpected death of my cousin: http://cliffviewpilot.com/popular-bergen-paramedic-killed-in-new-mexico-helicopter-crash/

Dear Aut Light: Mirror, Mirror

Hello Hello! I’m back again, & it’s time to announce a change for those who’ve been following along at home: 2 days is too much! At least sometimes, as I go along trying to prepare an additional two blogs for launch. So, from here on out, most Mondays on Aut Light will be catch-up days, when I’ll reflect on recent happenings in my life then offer some little bits of wisdom, &/or link us back to take a good second look at past entries. Someday, I hope I’ll even have enough readers to do Reader Mail on Mondays. For now, though, you lucky ducks, we have a whole sort-of-new entry that started out as an e-mail to my mother. You may want to check the DRTYnet Glossary for some of the terms.( Note to self: write & post Glossary.)

“Before I forget*, Mom:

    I want to reinforce that you oughtn’t’ve blamed yourself for the mix-up† Friday night, that quick blame was a lingering codependent interaction we have( great progress already since we recognized it, just these details); you responded to what you perceived as my frustration with you–it was not your fault( neither the situation nor you engaging that pattern).‡ I reacted to my frustration with that situation inappropriately;† during socialization & interaction with people in the last week, I noticed my self-awareness schemata are weaker/slower than they typically have been since Mirror Day(, & kept having Theory of Mind issues in my thoughts while interacting, pretty sure I caught them all before they became problematic).

    It’s likely just from being a little rusty after all the recent isolation–wait, no! Just realizing:
these past 2 months have been the first time I isolated so much in ages & ages–probably the first time after Mirror Day. In fact, it is probably the first time I have been alone with my thoughts, AND had this much uninhibited conscious access to all I was processing, since... puberty I guess. Since the point when I started slowly practicing socialization with others... & managing... &... OH!
    GOT IT! No wonder I’m different in your eyes the last several weeks! No wonder I’ve been isolating for a while( & still, despite feeling MUCH better after Sean’s memorial! No wonder I seem to have ADHD again( or at least that it is manifesting again if I actually do & always have)! No wonder I’ve been prone to be emotional( especially with stories about freedom & personal growth) in the last year! No wonder temper, panic, euphoria, & affection are getting closer to the surface & it only takes one bad surprise or mean insult to seriously undermine my control! No wonder the tempo & sense of urgency have kept ramping up!( No wonder I have been writing so much music & text!) No wonder I have been able to maintain confidence in the face of doubters! No wonder I felt like there was something overlooked! No wonder I use so many exclamation points! Could it even be why I am now fond of interrobangs‽

    I definitely missed a forest for its trees this time#: for half my life, many essential aspects# of me or my personality have ALL part of a single complex! One that has been– uh-oh... that has been inextricably linked with my ‘heuristic social interaction engine’, & the requisite ability to simultaneously coordinate myriad data**(; I think that was how I was keeping my ADHD & hypersensitivity largely at bay, playing them off each other). Well, while I think about that... It’s not coincidence that the various elements came into focus when they did either.
    
    In 2012, I was in misery; obsessing over [my ex ]David’s tendency to hide things from the world( with general success, except it never fooled me) & to lie to himself( which DID fool me, & was therefore a threat) in order to achieve & attain what he wanted***–and the growing notion that there were hidden depths to both my disabilities AND gifts suddenly resolved into the events of Mirror Day. That gave me greater control & allowed me to appreciate my gifts... but of course it also meant that I had to truly recognize my limitations( that I had largely just assimilated⁰ prior)[...]

  I was forced by exhaustion to consciously accommodate⁰ th[ose limitations] for the first time in December[ when, after living for roughly 7 weeks as an NT usually does, working days, sleeping nights, & going out several times a week; I suddenly found myself barely able to get out of bed, let alone function, for over 2 weeks].
    Plus, I have had to learn how few people are even willing to assimilate my exceptional skills, let alone accommodate them & the depth of my limitations–& that most are not only skeptical, but outright dismissive; & just knowing more information of any kind] means more to account for.

    In February, I was still reckoning with that exhaustion when out of the blue I had to grapple with grief over the loss of a friend for only the second time( the first human one; & boy, it’s a MUCH more complicated experience). Everyone was telling me their memories of him & their versions of his history & his gut-wrenching childhood; I also became preoccupied with the lies told( & what he simply never mentioned), to family, friends, coworkers, his lover(s); all to keep them comfortable in their oblivion, I guess, & his life simple.
 It weighed on me until finally a few weeks ago I had a dramatic & painful breakthrough, & recognized how much damage I was done by the unrelenting badgering & disparagement from those for whom my legitimate best was never good enough, especially Dad§; & how I had responded to being between a rock & a hard place with dishonesty I had managed to not perceive[ in order to manage the expectations of NTs & not seem abnormally incapable or needy], for so long that it became a complex leading me to avoid any position of being responsibility to authority figures.( The dishonesty has since been heavily curbed; the avoidance, naturally, is tougher.‡)

    Then talking to [my cousin] a few weeks later, & enjoying her complete experience-induced shift, from that well-meaning skepticism most friends & family[ & other judgmental NTs] retain to near-total agreement about mental health issues & extensive general agreement on other things[ after coming to terms with her own severe ADHD, BPD, & PTSD]; & our helpful mutually-supportive dialogue, I wished others had time & energy do the same, which led me to see how paralysis( empathy burnout?) & fear were inappropriately( Mom’s word) displayed to me by Mom & not addressed adequately thereafter, exacerbating the expectation management as I tried reassure her & myself–but she understood &◊ apologized, unlike Dad; that helped with much of my worry & tension.

    & finally today... full accommodationΔ, there was no way I could have my breakthrough before while constantly managing expectation, but it was fully part of the interaction schemata... I had to get breathing room¶... more conscious knowledge & less subconscious processing make things a little harder, trying to evaluate more info using less reliance on preprogrammed behaviors & reactions–great for full accommodation, not for real-time living. I have to rebuild my social schemata without a foundation of behavior patterns that are potentially deceptive/manipulative. Need to do it effectively because being too astute scares NTs, too loquacious annoys them, too retarded makes them channel discomfort into contempt. OH & I had better get my sensory integration back up to speed with 2 rock concerts to attend in the next 8 days! O.K., sounds like a challenge, still...

    As I blog( & more), “passing”[ for neurotypical] less well/frequently may be a huge part of standing up to societal biases against those with mental health issues–this is a major step in overcoming that childhood trauma of having conformity misguidedly forced on me at the expense of great pain. Maybe I can even learn to switch gears more easily, since I am more conscious of the mechanism–that has been the trend since Mirror Day. This leaves only the question of how to refer to this transition... Clarity Day? Oh, no good for [my other ex to whom I remain very close]¹. Looking-Glass Day? Maybe, unwieldy. Gordian Resolution? Too obscure... suggestions welcome as to how to frame–ooh FRAMING DAY‽ What do you think? Oh, & for posterity, the reason this step came now: I have been wanting for days to find a way to greatly improve others’ understanding of me–so the pattern held true & I improved my own instead.

–E.M.

* I am trying something new, turning many explanatory passages into footnotes( a few remain in the text as parenthetical). Hopefully this will make my main points easier to read & digest[ usually larger portions are taken out than in this case]( although I fully realize that getting it will be agonizingly slow still; it should at least be possible now to do so, for anyone who cares enough to take me seriously)[. Also, forgive the change in from 2nd- to 3rd-person perspective; when I realized I wanted more folks than just my parents to read it, I just switched]

⁰Terms describing complementary/overlapping learning methods, defined by what I heard from Tom, on http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/assimacc.htm & other slowlytightening..:
•Assimilation is( roughly) the addition of new information to our understanding of something, without changing the existing schemata through which we perceive & react to it(, which may result in the exclusion or alteration of crucial data). When only cursory or temporary understanding is necessary, assimilation helps to prevent us from being drained by the effort & pain of fully accommodating.⁰*
•Accommodation is( roughly) the process of changing our thinking & behavior to react appropriately to new information. Often more painful & difficult than assimilation, because when part of the information does not fit into existing schemas, instead of modifying the information, we must either modify existing schemata( & thus new behaviors) or create entirely new ones to properly hold it intact.⁰*
•The practical difference is a lot less technical: assimilation is learning something well enough to repeat it & maybe even teach it someday; accommodation is learning something well enough to live it any or every day. If learning does not significantly affect behavior, or at least thinking it is only assimilation; either method alone is bad. http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/assimacc.htm

† even though at first I DID–again, wrongly–blame [Mom] for a few seconds, before the point when managed to shift my feelings appropriately toward myself, apologized, took a breath, & explained my frustration–but that does not mean [she] should have[ blamed herself].

‡ I should have put the remind-me-once-if-I-give-a-specific-timeframe rule into place weeks ago; when I recognized that unlike lying which I recognize easily now, I will need at least some outside intervention to make a dent in the avoidance. I wish Dad could help too‡*; [Mom’s] participation at least should help me let go of the newly-recognized trauma between us–plus replace a codependent behavior with an interdependence tool.
‡*but [Dad] is[ was] still unwilling/unable to accept that( due to the trauma [my parents] unintentionally caused me( especially him) when [they] gave in in to social/internal pressures & pushed me to perform like a normal person),‡*† the notion of [them] exerting pressure( especially him) is triggery, & my defining an isolated acceptable context is a technique[ exposure therapy for PTSD] to help get over the trauma
‡*† almost as if he has utterly forgotten the introspective wisdom that delivered him, at one time, from some of his own lingering burden due to similar abuse: th[e wisom] of Alice Miller, who defined Schwarze Pädagogik( poisonous pedagogy) as not just beatings[ he never hit me], but all types of behavior that manipulate( e.g., “pull”[ Dad’s word for his intention]) children’s characters( e.g., to make them what an adult authority thinks they can/should be) through force, deception, hypocrisy, or coercion(, especially when parental blindness to feelings[ alexithymia?] is involved),

# of high-level mimicry of NT interaction, managing expectations with deceit, avoiding obligations I could not meet & situations with authority figures, repressing the lying & avoidance, repressing the meticulous situational planning

§; how the repetitive trauma‡*† has resulted in the potential( not a guarantee, at least; except from him, obviously) for any friendly reminder from someone, or an evocative situation or intonation pattern, to cause feelings of inadequacy & helplessness that immediately fight off the best I can–usually by engaging distractions & distancing myself from the matter at had. In college, I used to have nightmares about the late mornings, but that has faded. I still tend to jump when I am in the shower & someone addresses me, though

◊ immediately proved willing to acknowlegde & own up to her mistakes. It was so nice that she was thoughtful, accepting, appropriately remorseful but not paralyzed, & she

Δ of interrelating factors as a system: because it was all tied together

¶ from heavy face-to-face interaction to reach that understanding. After PAX, I moved to take a break( fortunately trusting my gut) until after Sean’s memorial, & at that time, I would have also thought GaymerX. :-( So that wall came down with Nicola drawing me out & letting me really go at speed, also asking good questions, & so much more–nearly everything? maybe–is clearer than ever before. Except

‖ Still better to have arrived at this deliberately, as had I continued to socialize while noticing frustrating patterns, I would have become aggressive & irritable, & cognitive dissonance could have made me forget my breakthrough( as some do).

**[ don’t worry about this footnote too much; I just wanted to have it written out, but it isn’t crucial]( input from physical/emotional hypersensitivity); performing combined( complementary) filtration & organization via relative contextualization of any & all polysensory/multimodal information & abstract knowledge available, a personally-derived technique. Aside from maintaining equilibrium via constantly checking consistency[ I promise, that all made sense, at least, it does to someone who can do it & has the requisite vocab], it enables enable me to cope with my natural deficits by using it for sensory/social integration by condensing a massive volume of details into a single or few focused-yet-deep cognitions( hence why each has layers of reasons that seem impossibly broad & detailed to others, to the point where they often become unsettled or frustrated & dismiss it as false, even though it is usually consistent however far down they are willing to dig)

***specifically, D wanted to be perceived as a good man. I loved him because I believe, deep down, that he really wanted to be that man; I wanted to show him he could be, but as my father has astutely pointed out, seeing beyond pretense to who people really are inside, like X-ray vision I can’t turn off, sometimes leaves me at a loss to react to their external behavior. When that behavior harms me, I can become preoccupied, as I did D’s lying

¹ because CLARITY is some chemical thing researchers can use to prepare rodent brains( that disturbs [my close ex, who is a biologist])”