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])”