Black Lives Matter

If you have read the title of this post and you need clarification on what it means, here are some simple instructions for how to find the clarity you need:

  1. First, black lives matter.
  2. Second, when in doubt, see 1.

I hope that’s useful. If you need additional clarification, well, just open your eyes, because it’s practically everywhere. For example, here is a nice video essay that explains “Why ‘all lives matter’ is a hurtful thing to say.”

Autism Diagnosis as Scapegoat

One way to oversimplify what it means for me to be autistic is to say that I’m like a “misunderstanding machine”, by which I mean that I am prone to having misunderstandings with people, and this to a much greater degree (i.e. “clinically significant”) than is true for (so-called) normal people. These misunderstandings can take two basic forms, with mixtures common: in the first place, I am prone to misunderstanding others, but in the second place I am also prone to causing others to misunderstand me.

Now, however tempting it may be to reassure me here that “everybody has misunderstandings”, I must respectfully ask you to resist that temptation. One of the potential benefits to both of us of my ASD (autism) diagnosis is that it gives us a handy scapegoat that we can and should (in my opinion) use to mitigate and hopefully resolve these misunderstandings. Whenever such misunderstandings arise, instead of wasting time and energy spinning our wheels in the clay of “whose fault is it?” we can instead simply agree that “autism is a bitch” and focus more productively on resolving the misunderstanding.

I hope that’s useful! 🙂


Image by Hanna333 from Pixabay

I’m Sorry, but My Autism Makes You Seem Like a Moron: Why I Try Not to Stupidity-Shame

I don’t know what my IQ is, but even if it’s perfectly average I figure I’m smarter than half of all human beings. That’s a lot of relatively stupid people I have to cope with on a daily basis, but I try not to whine about it because I figure it serves me right because my own relative stupidity must be dealt with by all of the relatively intelligent people that compose the other half of the population and who have to cope with me on a daily basis.

In the end I guess it all balances out, which is why as a rule I don’t like to make people feel ashamed for being stupider than I am. What’s there to be ashamed of? Relative stupidity is all just part of the Human condition.

But it’s the exceptional rule that has no exceptions at all, and every now and again I will meet someone who really seems to be begging me for just a teaspoon of shame sauce, and in these occasions I like to have on hand a good zinger that can satisfy their craving.

My own version of this makes use of my ASD diagnosis, but the general format can be used with most any condition:

“I’m sorry, but my dyslexia makes you seem like a moron.”

“I beg your pardon, but my ADHD makes you seem kind of dim-witted.”

“Whoa, my hay fever is making you look ridiculous!”

You get the picture.

Hope that’s useful!

 

 

‘Doctor Shopping for Validation?’ — Response to an Invalidating Reader Comment

I’d like to respond here to a comment left on my previous post by an anonymous reader. He wrote just one simple question:

“Doctor shopping for validation?”

I don’t know about you, but when I first read this comment I found it quite invalidating, got triggered, and then proceeded to perseverate on it, vacillating between wanting to ignore/delete it entirely and writing some scathing and satirical rebuttal.

But neither of those responses align with my recent therapeutic commitment to strongly favor validation over invalidation in my interactions with others. However unpleasant may be this comment with its implicit accusation that I might actually and deliberately go from doctor to doctor, embracing those who confirm that I’m autistic and rejecting those who don’t, in the end this sort of feedback is a perfect opportunity for me to walk my validation talk.

So, here goes (please let me know what you think, if you like, in the comments below):

For starters, I guess I should have explained in that previous post that the therapist I’ve been seeing for the past two years is starting a private practice and so is leaving his employer — my health care provider.  He’s also taking a few months off so he can work on setting up his new practice and has recommended to me that I continue with this new guy.

So, to answer the basic question: no, I was not doctor shopping for validation. I needed a new therapist and this guy was recommended by my old one.

Also, although I do find his “borderline” theory about my own level of autistickishness invalidating and uncomfortable, in the end I must acknowledge that it’s really never been my primary objective to “be autistic”, whatever that might mean, but rather, to find my place in this world. To find sensible answers to questions such as “what is my purpose in life?” or “where do I fit in Society?” has been my primary objective for as long as I remember, and to this day it remains unanswered.

It is a publicly observable fact that I have never achieved any sort of stable, long-term success in the domains of school, work, friendship, romance/marriage, or fatherhood, and only a person who hasn’t actually observed those facts might claim otherwise.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had significant periods of success. After struggling through my first 12 years of Public Education, and then one very rocky year off for some desperate “soul searching”, I underwent a profound transformation in my understanding of how to self-accommodate in an academic setting, went to college and had a very successful undergraduate career during which I won a scholarship award and completed the requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Sciences and Mathematics. In the decades following college, I had one job that lasted 5 years, and several that have lasted somewhere from 3 to 24 months. I’ve been in romantic relationships with women who toughed it out with me for 5 years, 3 years, and most recently 9 years before they just couldn’t take any more of me as a boyfriend/husband. I have one active friendship with a woman who’s been my friend for over 30 years, and only two people in my family seem committed to hating me for the long haul. With everyone else in my family we’ve always managed to resolve our differences.

But these islands of success are surrounded by a great deal of turbulent water. As one general, high-level measure of that turbulence, consider first that over the course of my life, listed in very roughly chronological order with the number of employers who have paid me to do that kind of work following in parentheses, I have had the following kinds of jobs for varying lengths of time and levels of pay:

  1. birthday party magician (3),
  2. greeting card salesman (1),
  3. yard worker/landscaper (5),
  4. golf caddy (1),
  5. snow shoveler (5),
  6. deli sandwich maker (1),
  7. kitchen helper (2),
  8. janitor (2),
  9. car parking attendant (1),
  10. delivery driver (2),
  11. house painter (5),
  12. math/physics tutor (2),
  13. chauffeur (3),
  14. factory worker (1),
  15. school teacher (2),
  16. carpet cleaner (2),
  17. news writer (1),
  18. waiter (1),
  19. ad copy writer (1),
  20. car salesman (1),
  21. multi-level marketer (3),
  22. software developer (10),
  23. telemarketer (1),
  24. stand-up comic (5), and
  25. IT production support analyst (3).

So that’s 25 kinds of work that I’ve done over the course of my life and 64 different employers who have paid me to do it. Since I’m 55 years old and I did my first paid birthday party magic show at about the age of 10, that works out to about 64/45 = 1.42 employer changes per year over the course of my “career”. I don’t know how that number compares with others (you can let me know below in the comments if you’d like), but I doubt anyone would consider it a strong indicator of job stability.

I could provide you with other kinds of measures, like my net worth, the number of times I’ve been fired, how many people never want to see or speak to me again, but because employment is so important to every other aspect of life, I think the fact that I’ve changed jobs nearly one and half times per year for 45 years says enough for now.

Considering just my erratic job history I’m pretty sure even my harshest critics would agree that there’s “something wrong” with me, whatever the cause. They might not believe that I’m actually autistic, or if they do, they might not believe my autism to be especially relevant; they might believe me to be merely lazy or an asshole or an idiot, or some combination thereof; but I don’t think anybody who knows me well enough to have a meaningful opinion on the matter doubts the basic premise that I am some in some important sense a social misfit.

And it is the resolution of this one indisputable problem that is my number one priority, as it has been for as long as I can remember.

Sometimes I like to comfort myself by thinking that my real purpose in life is simply to find my real purpose in life, but to be honest, that seems like a cheap trick.

No, I actually want to find my real real purpose in life, and although I do currently and sincerely believe that my “being autistic” has something very important to do with that purpose, to the point where it makes me feel invalidated and uncomfortable when someone, especially someone like my new therapist questions whether or how much I really “am autistic”, at the end of the day, it’s the facts of the matter that actually matter, and so if I’m not really, as such a matter of fact, autistic, then screw it, I want to know the Truth, and perhaps this new therapist has glimpsed it.

As it turned out, I had a great session with him on Friday afternoon and the subject of my “borderline” autism arose only briefly when he brought it up and even then I chose not to dwell on it or get sidetracked by how I felt about it. The fact is, it honestly seemed to me that we had more interesting matters to discuss.

 

 

 

 

 


Image Credit: Pexels on Pixabay

Validate Unto Others…

If you’re interested in the general topic of (in)validation, I recommend What is… Invalidation by blogger Ashley L. Peterson, a.k.a. ashleyleia. Here I mainly want to declare my commitment moving forward to strongly favor validation over invalidation in my interactions with other people. In the last couple of years, thanks to lots of therapy, self-observation, and introspection, I have come to recognize two lifelong habits that I have and which I can see now have been ultimately self-defeating:

  1. I have a compulsion to correct people whenever they say or do something that I think is either factually incorrect, self-harming, or wrong in some way (morally, legally, etc.). I have come to see that despite my best intentions, this kind of other-corrective behavior is usually experienced as invalidating, annoying, hurtful, etc., that it is mostly ineffective, often counter productive, and is essentially an invitation for the other person to invalidate me in return, and is generally corrosive to the relationship.
  2. Whenever someone invalidates me in some way, I tend to respond first by feeling hurt, rejected, anxious, etc. and then I often try to defend myself by invalidating the person who invalidated me, often by getting angry at the person. This in particular has been highly destructive to all kinds of relationships, especially those with romantic partners, bosses, and work colleagues.

Yup. That’s about the size of it for now. Not quite sure how any of that might be useful for you, but I’m putting it out there just in case.

Let me know what you think! 🙂


Image Credit: niekverlaan on Pixabay

How to Vaporize an Ocean of Sympathy

We’ve all been there. You’re struggling with some insurmountable difficulty, other people see you struggling and suddenly you’re overwhelmed with the outpouring of sympathy. It seems to be coming from everywhere and everybody. Everyone that becomes aware of your predicament wants to help out — perhaps with hug, an earnest look, some good advice — God bless’em. In extreme cases they may try to give you canned goods or antibiotics, but before you know it you’re overwhelmed. You’re drowning in a sea of pathos and you just want to feel solid ground under your feet so you can continue your struggle in isolation and despair.

If only there were some easy way to transform that pesky flood of goodwill into a large puff of vapor that would float gently up and away into the sky, thus leaving you free to obsess about your real problem.

Well, guess what? Turns out there is a way to do exactly that. It’s called ingratitude and it really must be if not the fastest then certainly one of the fastest and most effective ways to encourage — dare I say coerce? — even the most fanatical otherwise-would-be sympathizer to buzz off and sympathize with someone, er, more grateful for it.

As it turns out, sympathy is what economists refer to as a “scarce resource”, and folks (all of us) have to make tough choices about how and when and to whom they’re going to allocate that resource. In making those hard decisions one highly favored piece of information they use is whether and how much gratitude is felt and expressed by the sympathy recipient. A total lack of gratitude — a.k.a. ingratitude — is widely interpreted as a cue to go away and sympathize with someone else.

So, there you have it. No longer need you feel overwhelmed by the sympathy others may express when they observe your struggles. Whenever it all gets to be too much, all you need do is express some ingratitude and believe me they will get the message. If they don’t get the message, then it’s probably because you’re holding back in some way. Maybe you’re being too polite. Maybe you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Maybe you don’t want to seem, er, ungrateful?

Hope that’s useful! 🙂


Image Credit: Pixabay

On Disability and the Economics of Sympathy

This appears to be some sort of psychological law:

One can hope for sympathy to the extent that it seems inexpensive and expect antipathy to the extent that it promises to lower the apparent cost of sympathy.

Hope that’s useful!

🙂


Image Credit: Pixabay

How to Be Friendly, Kind and Gentle All The Fuckin’ Time

If you’re new to this blog, let me quickly catch you up on what you missed last year. To summarize in a sentence: yet again I ruined everything — destroyed my marriage, my health, my financial status — by trying to defend myself against a bully. The whole fiasco was thoroughly documented in many of the 285 blog posts I deleted back in October, but for various reasons, well, I decided to delete that whole mess and start over.

This sort of craziness is a core theme of my life. I could probably list dozens of examples. The details are always different and the scale can range from trivial to spectacular, but the structure of the story is always the same: someone with power over my life abuses that power, I try to defend myself, and as a result, everything goes to shit. Although this most recent fiasco was without a doubt the most spectacular of them all (at the end of October I actually spent two weeks in jail!), the core structure of the overall narrative is the same one that’s been running my life for as long as I can remember.

I hate it. I’m so sick of it. And for the moment it really seems to me that a central cause of this nonsense is what I wrote about in my previous post — the chronic false assumption on my part that my anger will seem rational and legitimate to those who witness it. This is just wrong. When I take a good hard look at the facts, it is abundantly clear that something quite the opposite is true: to the extent that my anger is witnessed, it will almost certainly be viewed as irrational and unprovoked by those witnesses.

Ergo: if I want to change this tendency of mine to ruin everything by defending myself against the bullies in my life, I need to stop letting people witness my anger — either by not getting angry in the first place, or at least if I do get angry, then at least hiding it from observers until I calm down.

In other words, I have to seem unangry — friendly, kind, gentle, etc. — all the fuckin’ time!

Suggestions welcome!

The Worst Mistake I Ever Made

I think probably the worst mistake I’ve ever made was to chronically imagine — over the course of decades — that my own anger would be perceived and understood by its diverse observers as rational and justified when rather to the contrary it has for the most part been construed as irrational and wholly unprovoked.

I can’t speak for anyone else in saying this, but I feel quite confident at this point in asserting that whenever I personally feel anger — or any of its siblings and cousins (frustration, annoyance, irritability, etc.) — it’s a safe bet that anyone who finds out about these feelings will judge me to be overreacting or out of line, perhaps a bit ridiculous.

At least in my own case, it seems clear that my own anger is only rarely seen as legitimate or taken seriously as a rational and valid communication of useful information regarding a problem that should be solved. As a direct consequence of this pattern, my own anger has rarely accomplished anything useful and has often contributed to the failure of many interpersonal relationships.

Conclusion: good rules (for me, at least, to follow) appear to be, in the first place, don’t get angry, and second, if I do get angry, keep it hidden till I calm down.


Image Credit: Pixabay