Saturday, 20 June 2015

Aspie Anger



We aspies often seem to have this deep-seated anger. It's usually entangled with, and comes out of, our pain, our confusion, our shame and our negative experiences of the world. We live in a world that doesn't like us, accept us, understand us, or, for the most part, seem to even want to. We are demonised, called a disease, an epidemic, brain damaged, a burden, a trial, something to be eradicated, or cold, arrogant, selfish, egotistical, rude, and anti-social to list but a few things. We are frequently bullied, harassed, abused, assaulted, reviled, ridiculed and rejected. Our families sometimes don't like or accept us, we struggle at work or school or home. And then we're told it's all our own fault.

So it's perfectly understandable, our anger. It's also understandable how it's often inseparable from our hurt and shame and confusion, and our feeling that we are somehow 'bad', just for being our autistic selves. We thrash around in it, not knowing whether to get mad at others, or to beat ourselves up. We tend to flip-flop from one to the other, sometimes not having the courage to express our rage at others because we don't know if we're in the right or not, or we're scared of them, or feel like we need them, or don't deserve better, and so on and so forth.

Often, our rage and pain become so bad, it leads to what I call "F*#k The World" syndrome. This is when the whole world seems like some ghastly, confusing merry-go-round, and all we want is to get off the ride, find some hole to crawl into and pull the cover over ourselves, screaming at the world, even if it's only in our heads, to LEAVE. US. THE %*#@. ALONE. We hate the world, and hate people, at times like that. This is understandable, and undoubtedly necessary at times, but in the long term, it's not a good place to stay. Our loneliness, fear, shame, isolation, confusion and misunderstanding of others, the tendency to 'go off into our heads' too much, get mad, lose it, and then recoil again in even greater shame and confusion and self-hatred... all these skyrocket when we're in that state, and just add to the whole mess.

I don't have any magic bullets for all this. But I do feel it's possible to change our lives. The most important thing is to accept and embrace our autistic selves, wholly and completely. This can be hard when we get so many negative messages, but sooner or later we have to free our heads from all that. This can only really be done effectively with the support and understanding of other autistics, who can provide feedback - "No, you're not crazy, I feel like that too, I've had that happen too, you're fine as you are, they had no right to do that, here's what I did", etc, and help you learn how to set boundaries with others, if need be.

The second thing is to accept, even embrace, our anger. Given how we've been treated, our anger is legitimate. We have the right to be angry, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's kind of amazing, really, that we're all still alive to tell the tale. Own your anger. You have a right to it. Know that feeling anger is fine - what matters is how you express it. If you just lash out, the result is almost always bad. Channel it into self-empowerment instead.

If our anger demands it, we can get into advocating for autistics in general, to try to change the world, not just our own individual lives. This is not for everyone of course. Not everyone has the stamina or interest or ability to do this. But we can and need to come to some kind of self-acceptance. I'm not saying it will solve all our problems. But for sure being able to reject all the crap that gets shovelled on to our heads on an almost daily basis, has to go a long way. Having friends who understand, because they've been there, done that, and are often still there doing that, experiencing that, is a treasure beyond price. And actively rejecting all the anti-autistic crap, and expressing your anger in some constructive way, is even further beyond price.

My Love-Hate Relationship with the World



I have become aware lately of how much I both love and hate the world. Actually I think I've always known this, but I recently seem to have become way more conscious of it.

When I say "the world", I mean "everything that we know exists", and by "love", I mean love in its broadest, spiritual sense.

I love the Universe, in all its infinite variety and splendour, the amazing beauty of the stars and galaxies and so on. I find pictures of space totally awesome, and mind-blowing, when you think about the immense distances of space. They're saying now those vast distances aren't so empty after all, which to me makes it even more awesome.

I love our planet, because it's home, and utterly beautiful too, on the whole, still. I love wild sandy beaches, heaving oceans, thundering waterfalls, soaring mountains, rolling hills and the ever-changing skies. I do what I can to take care of it all. I love the environment.

I love animals too, not in any cutesy-Bambi kind of way, but because they are what they are, and worth caring about. Pets bring pleasure to many, working and farm animals are valuable, while wild animals play their part in the ecology. They're all our responsibility.

I even love human beings, most especially my family and friends of course, but also humanity in general. There are good people in the world, many of them doing good things, things that will help the world. Even knowing that there's also a lot of people doing harm to each other, doesn't change my concern for everybody's welfare. I want the world to be a better place, not only for autistics, but for everyone.

I even feel compassion, or at least pity, for those I have the least in common with - the blandly ordinary folk whose lives seem so boring you wonder how they stand it; the mega-rich whose wealth doesn't seem to guarantee them personal happiness; the hate-filled religious fanatics and "loony right" types; and even the abusers, rapists, murderers, etc, the last two groups of whom are so far from the Light I don't know how they'll ever find their way back. Yes, even them. (I avoid them like the plague of course, but I still pity them from afar.)

So I love the world.

But I also hate it.

And a lot of that hate, or at least loathing, dislike, exasperation, anger, rejection, etc, is connected to the reasons I love it.

I hate the idea of humans stuffing that beautiful Universe up. Even though, as an avid sci-fi and fantasy fan, I've enjoyed many stories of space travel, I kind of hope it never happens in reality. After all, colonising different parts of our own planet didn't really improve things all that much, did it? It simply created a whole new raft of problems.

I hate how so many people, especially those in Big Business, seem to be racing each other to pollute and generally stuff up our planet, would it really be so hard to be environmentally responsible? We've only got one planet, people!

I hate how some people treat animals. I'm not sentimental, I'm not even a vegetarian, and I know you have to assert mastery over animals (think of dog attacks, or a 500-pound bull trampling a human into the ground, and you'll understand why), but it doesn't need to be done with cruelty. Mistreatment of animals upsets me deeply. And I don't like either the whole 'performing seal' thing, or dogs on cushions with bows in their hair, and so on. The forcing of animals against their true nature seems to me a travesty of dignity for the animals concerned.

I hate the sensory barrage of the world. The whole blaring, glaring, flashing, whirring, humming, roaring, reeking, heaving, seething, frantic, chaotic mess of it. I hate how bloody overwhelming it is, and how pervasive it is. Sometimes I wish it would just STOP. Even just for a little while.

I hate how difficult social contact is in general. It feels like a minefield I have to tiptoe through, for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, and getting people mad at me. I hate feeling I have to choose between pretending to be NT or offending people with my bluntness or 'weirdness'. And sometimes I end up offending them anyway, or they sort of withdraw from me, or give me funny looks. I hate how tired I am at the end of any day spent having to 'make nice', and how distant I feel from, and how jaundiced I feel about, humanity in general by then, especially when I know that most of them are really not bad people, and that it's me, not them. I hate how shitty that makes me feel.

I hate the emotional games some people play. They seem to love to spin emotional webs and jerk others around. Why can't they be honest? Why do they have to screw with people's heads? What on earth do they get from it? It leaves me feeling confused, lost and like the ground is shaky beneath my feet. And then there's all those so-called 'nearest and dearest', with their silent demands and unspoken expectations, which you can't possibly know, not being bloody psychic, and yet they feel perfectly entitled to punish or pressure you when you don't meet those expectations. I hate how in relating to such people, I used to feel like I was lost in a swamp.

I hate how some people never say what they really mean, using various kinds of roundabout talk, clich├ęd rubbish or New-Speak instead. This seems particularly prevalent among politicians, bureaucrats and similar authority figures. An offshoot of this insanity is when these same people put in place policies designed to make them popular, but which actually harm those most in need. You can usually spot these policies by the weasel words used to justify them.

I hate how hard it is to navigate through the world, and how little help many people will give you, especially if you are in any way different. Dress differently, look differently, behave differently, be obviously homeless, poor, an immigrant, disabled, or anything else outside the norm, and most will simply look away, or dump on you for being whatever you are. I hate how judgemental of difference many are.

Most of all, I hate how so many are so cruel to each other, the damage they do, the wars they start, the oppressions they perpetuate, the 'isms' they create and keep going. I especially hate the jeering, sneering, sniggering, name-calling, derision, bullying, beating, abuse, spirit-crushing, cold-shouldering, forced normalisation and so on that is perpetrated on autistics, but I also hate how anyone else who is 'not normal' is treated. I hate that people think that it's okay to do these things to people, especially those who are most vulnerable.

I hate how if you don't or can't or won't "fit in", then you're cold-shouldered, excluded, and if you finally withdraw from it all in overloaded confusion, your absence probably won't even be noticed. The world is a cruel place, and I hate it for that.

So I hate the world. And I don't know what to do with that hate, or how to reconcile it with that love.

How do you feel about the world?

Update!

I know I haven't posted much this year, I do apologise if you've been checking fruitlessly. It's not been a good year for me, the latest thing is that on the 31st May, I fell and broke my ankle rather badly. This has meant I have had difficulty getting to an internet connection to upload new post as I don't have internet at home. It also means I've been even more short of "spoons" than usual. This doesn't mean I haven't been writing though, and I hope to get some new posts up soon. Keep the faith people!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Things I Don't Understand - Number Nine - Egotism



I don't understand egotists.

By egotists, I mean those who are convinced that they're somehow so special that the world should revolve around them and their needs, that they are above the rules that act as guidelines for other people's behaviour, and sometimes even above the law.

There are varying degrees and kinds of egotism, though none can be said to be entirely harmless. There are the spoilt brats of both sexes, who learn in childhood to throw tantrums if they don't get what they want. Such children are often tiresome to be around, and many of them, alas, continue this behaviour into adulthood.

Then there are the adolescent 'mean girls', with their bitchy little cliques, and the arrogant young men (and many older ones too) who seem convinced that the mere possession of a penis makes them superior. They always give me the impression that they believe they're somehow "too special" to bother with things like being nice or considerate of others.

There are plenty of egotistic adults as well. People who use and abuse others, who whine and manipulate and scheme, controlling others for their own ends. Their attitude seems to be that only their own wants, desires and feelings have any validity, or if they do recognise others' feelings at all, it's only so they can use them against those others. They are, in their eyes, the centre of the Universe, and others are mere 'backdrops' for their own dramas. We've probably all met people like this, and some of us have suffered at their hands. I know I have.

Julia Cameron, author of my favourite book on creativity, The Artist's Way, describes such people as 'crazymakers'. They're the ones who always manage to create drama just when you don't need it, constantly undermine your efforts to establish order or sanity in your life, jerk you back on a short leash whenever you try to escape, invade your personal space and time, and generally drive you crazy - all the while telling you it's all your own fault, that if only you did this, or were that, things would be just fine... But no matter how hard you try, it never seems to work. Of course it isn't - they're pulling your strings. Such relationships are often verbally or emotionally abusive, but of course they rarely acknowledge that.

Some of these people would probably fit diagnostic criteria for conditions such as Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, if they ever submitted to being evaluated that is, which most of them wouldn't - any problems they have, in their view, are always someone else's fault. Others would not perhaps quite fit into that category, but are still extremely unpleasant to be around. An unknown percentage are outright abusers - the sexual exploiters of children, the domestic abuse perpetrators, the rapists, the workplace predators, the sleazy guys in the pub or nightclub with roofies in their pockets.

Sociopaths and psychopaths seem to me to be the ultimate egotists. Other people's pain are sources of amusement or pleasure to them, they truly don't care. And of course some of these become serial killers. It's surely the epitome of egotism, to see others only as prey or as obstacles to achieving their desires. These people are truly chilling.

Many dictators are egotists too, or become that way after long years of the corrupting influence of absolute power. They take their egotistical beliefs and apply them to an entire nation, or even beyond. Anyone who dares to defy them becomes, in their eyes, guilty of a kind of sin against the little god they see themselves as. There are plenty of examples in history of this - Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, the list is a long one, and they're not all dead yet.

Egotism occurs everywhere, even where you'd think it wouldn't. I spent several years on the fringes of the New Age movement, and while I saw much good, I also saw some not-so-good things. The worst was an article I read once, by a man whose name I forget, but who was said to be one of the 'fathers' of the rebirthing movement. In this article, he bluntly stated that if his followers did not financially support him so that he could indulge in constant all-day rebirthing sessions, they were "oppressing" him. No, I'm not kidding. (I had to read it several times myself, before I could believe it wasn't some kind of joke.)

I don't get why on earth any of these people would think themselves so superior, or as having the 'right' to demand everyone else treats them accordingly. They're usually singly lacking in any qualities that would justify such a high opinion of themselves, and often behave in ways that lower them in mine. I also don't get why egotists want power over others - the only power over others I've ever wished for, is the power to make them stop dumping on me.

I'm no pyschologist or pyschiatrist, but it seems to me that egotists of all stripes have something seriously out-of-kilter in their psyches, a kind of sucking need or hollowness within, that can never really be filled, no matter how hard they try. Even seeing that, however, I still feel I don't really understand these people.

Once again, I'm not sure whether this is due to my being aspie, or simply being me, or a combination of both. Many aspies view all human beings are intrinsically equal, probably due to a) our intense honesty and passion for justice, and b) our failure to 'read' all the little signals of social status. I am not alone in that.

Then again, it could be due to my family background and upbringing, most especially the influence of my mother. A year or two ago, I was watching an episode of Midsomer Murder Mysteries with her one afternoon. When the murderer and their motivation was revealed at the end, I turned to my Mum and commented that many reasons for murder, in both fiction and real life, seemed to me so silly, certainly not good enough reason to take a life. "That's because you or I would just walk away, Pen," she commented. "We couldn't be bothered."

I've thought about this quite a lot since, and I've realised she was right. One of the qualities my mother passed on to us was a sort of matter-of-fact humility and emotional stability. In other words, none of us have the kind of egos that expect the world to revolve around us, and if anyone really annoys us, we simply withdraw from them. Perhaps these egotists lack such a stable upbringing and family 'style'.

Either way, whatever the reason, I just don't understand egotism and egotists, and avoid them wherever possible.