Philosophising

I’ve been dipping my toes back into philosophy lately. I have had a recurring dream since 1992 that I fail my philosophy class and it sends me spinning mentally (in my dream). I wake up feeling bloody revolting; like my life is devoid of any and all meaning and I have a ‘must rectify before I die’ feeling. So, now is the time for me to return to philosophy as a discipline. I feel ready. And I know I’ll gain the benefit from it I wasn’t ready for when I was 19. And, hopefully, that dream will cease. I’m really quite sick of it.

***

Isn’t there another universe? Or many? Isn’t there a loneliness to offbeat intelligence?

I would not wish autism on anyone. Not when the external pressure to confirm to a shape that isn’t natural for me is too great. Like a balloon that has had years of being stretched and folded into many forms, I am worn, hollow and feeling like over stretched latex. All I want is to not be any shape. At all.

Other universes MUST exist…?

I touch the truth and then it disappears. It wants to be found, but it is frightened of me. Or I am I frightened of it? Truth and I belong together.

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Struggling and I know it. Do do do do.

Today is the culmination of little things that have gotten to me. I succumb to the weight of it all. I admit it has eroded my soul. I see the dust of my soul being swept aside in the busyness of the guys at work. I can’t even cry. I’ve been wrung of my tears.

I’m asking M about his job. While we chat, P comes up and asks M what choice of soft drink he’d like. They are free, in the staff room. M states his choice and P goes off to get it. I wasn’t asked, or even spoken to. This is my every day. Happens ALL the time. I am invisible. M shook his head in disbelief and stated that P didn’t ask me! Umm… yeah. This is my world, M. Welcome.

I try SO hard to stay afloat mentally. I don’t drink, gamble, do drugs, eat my emotions or resort to violence. I find ways to self soothe. Healthy ways to show my boys that we can rise above it. But they watch me sink a little further each day. Today, I am struggling to keep my car in a straight line.

It seems dumb; to allow whatever energy these men give/take away to affect me. The problem is, I have had this all my life. I know no better, or different. I tried for a good 40 years to play it their way. It near killed me. I cannot keep doing it. I am, however, determined to find a way to keeping my job and being in equilibrium mentally. I will not succumb to this state permanently. I cannot. Better efforts have been made to derail me, and I’m still here.

Battle weary, battle scarred and heavy hearted, but I’ll pick myself up and pretend I’m ok. But I’m not FUCKING OKAY. I don’t know what will make me ok. Maybe nothing? I would not know ok if it bit me in the butt.

I am wanting a different 44 years from the last 44. Sadly, I have no talent to bring me respect, I have no beauty to trade and no wealth to buy my way in. Like a prisoner in solitary confinement, all I have is my will and my bare hands to find a way to escape. I expect no mercy from my jailors any more. I’ve waited 44 years. It won’t be coming. If anything, it will get worse.

I have had a dream. To say FUCK YOU to the world, I KNEW I WOULD! I haven’t. Not yet. I have a spark of hope it might, but a greater expectation I will die as my grand mother died and the way it looks for my mum. Invisible, unwanted and insignificant.

All I have ever wanted (and I feel ill to admit this) is to feel unconditional love. For one day. To know I matter and that my efforts are not in vain. That I AM ok. Just as I am.

I have striven to be the ‘good’ daughter, the model employee, the ‘trophy’ wife, the ‘brilliant’ student. It has left me in the same place as everyone else. Not a thing has come of it. If anything, complete disappointment and abandonment of me when my ‘good’ effort dropped. I became that dust swirling around on the floor, unseen by anyone.

To the guys at work, I am a sexual object, a mother, invisible nothing, an apprentice and never a woman with a mind and a soul. It says volumes about their very closed minds, and virtually nothing about me. It should not even matter what they think of me. But it does. And I don’t know why. I am struggling to be me – whatever that entails.

People say that my boys value me. Not really. I am their mother. I have custody of them til they fly on their own. They love me as mum – not Kate, the person.

I have poured my being into motherhood and now my job. These two things get the best of me. I think it is time to fluff my own nest and look to finally developing deeper self value. Let me bend down to reclaim that dusty soul and make soup out of it. I promise to keep my car on the road. Just. One. More. Day.

Selfishness

Time and time again, selfishness is an attribute given to autistics, hence the label autism; self focused. Today’s post is difficult to face. It means I have to see myself in a pock marked mirror in less than flattering lighting. But that only matters when the world demands Hollywood lighting and soft focus.

I can see how neurotypicals (Norm and friends) view our introspection, energy sapping days and our intense interests as selfishness. I spend more time than Norm living in my thoughts. I daydream at as many given opportunities as possible. I analyse my days constantly; it drives neurotypicals nuts!

On days when I am in the red energy wise, my order of needs changes drastically. I must focus on breath, toilet needs, water, food, my Ps and Qa filtering and my children. The rest (i.e. others) comes so last, it rately gets a look in unless it is literally life or death.

My boys and I HAVE to decompress by doing things that bring us pleasure. For my mum, it is gossiping with her friends, but she is an extrovert autist. My boys and I prefer solitary activities we can get lost in. We don’t really encourage any external joining of our world until we have regained equilibrium.

My mother constantly interrupts our decompression time. It does not occur to her that our interests, however mundane they are to her, are our healing balms. We NEED them to exist. Without, we become zombies. Living dead. If we give a cranky response, or no response, we are being mean to her and selfish.

It appears we are selfish. It makes sense we get labelled that. BUT there are some points to consider that counter it.

I know of some deeply caring people who may only show that superhuman depth now and then. They are autistic. I understand the energy cost of that depth and why they avoid it. Ever seen a film where a hero gives such energy to help others that they collapse, totally spent, after the effort? Yes. That is what I am talking about. Too few people see and understand that in real humans. I have carried D home from school because he has had a bleed he told no one about, so I would walk to the school thinking a lovely 2km walk home would do us all good. Then I’d go to the hospital in peak hour traffic with a child in pain and get home after midnight. I’d be tired the next day, but my work mates knew to leave me be. My boss would demand the same level of energy. No. I was deemed selfish and rude.

I see this in others, so I KNOW that just as many autistic people are incredibly caring and giving souls. But because the depth is hard to sustain, they give it so infrequently that Norm and co label them…you know.

Just as Usain Bolt cannot run for 21 km at the pace he sprints, autistic folk cannot live at the depths they go to. Usain Bolt no doubt walks around shops, so to do autistic folk ramble around Normtown on the odd occassion they visit.

I think of selfish being in a Venn diagram. On the left is a circle containing the things autostic folk deem selfish acts. On the right, Norm has his/her circle filled with all the things deemed selfish. I point at Norm’s list and say s/he is wrong! Norm points at my list and says I am wrong! We are both wrong AND right. We misunderstand each other. We are Usain Bolt and Norm is the current winner of the Boston Marathon. We both run, as in plough the fields of care, but in two vastly different ways that work with our neurology and nervous systems. It is not helpful to assume we are all like Norm. There are some Norms who venture into our circle too.

What I have failed to mention is the overlap. This is the important bit. It is the common ground we can use to work at understanding each other. We are ALL selfish, but we need to acknowledge that and ALSO acknowledge a person’s effort at caring. It may not look like what we are accustomed to seeing, but nearly all of us are caring and selfish in somewhat equal amounts. Just how much are we willing to invest in looking harder at each other     AND ourselves?

Dammit! There’s more to it than I thought.

I had it in my mind to sell off my unused perfumes. Truth be told, I use only 1/2 of what I own. There is only a 1/4 in total that I use often. I hate waste and I believe everything has a rightful place. So, the 1/4 of the scents I barely wear should be re homed.

Most of my morning was spent sorting out the perfumes. I soon had 90 sitting waiting to be listed and photographed. I did all that just after lunch and decided to keep the ones I think I might use. Then the idea of posting all these bottles caused me to feel nauseous and anxious.

I thought that was all it was about. The idea of posting bottles of petfume has always caused this reaction. But it isn’t just this.

It occured to me, through communicating with a woman wiser than me that I am terrified of not having enough. I have my belongings thrown away by others since I was 5yo. I’ve never had an issue letting go of objects ever since my heart was sawn in two that first time. Well, til now.

My perfumes speak for me. They link me to the world in a way that is super hard to put into words. My few toys I kept from my young years are three stuffed creatures: a hand made female doll, a pink teddy that is weirdly flat and a brown bear a woman swore to me was Paddington Bear. But isn’t. These dolls have feelings. I know, logically, they don’t, but they do. I tuck them up at night and make sure their limbs are free to move. My perfumes are part of me. If I give them away, how do I know they are going to a caring home? What if my less loved scents are just tossed to a bathroom and left to evaporate and get mould? At least with me, my scents are cared for and packed away with love. My ugly duckling scents were going to be sold, so I could be rid of them!! How could I do that??!

It sounds irrational and silly. All these underlying angsts about parting with scents that are inanimate and never used by me… I have no qualms packing a few loved ones to more loving homes. I get worried to the point of nausea that I haven’t packed the bottles well enough. But that is yet another autism thing. I cannot judge the outcome of some things. I have huge difficulty predicting outcomes. Remember those cartoon scenarios scrambled by teachers that we then had to put in order? I had to have one on one help. I never got them. I could not predict what was meant to happen. I still have that with physical outcomes. I need space between vehicles because I don’t know if my vehicle will fit down a narrow street. I don’t know what will happen if I weld certain materials. I need someone to demonstrate a few ways to properly pack perfumes. To reassure me that they will arrive intact. Because I don’t want to disappoint the recipient.

See? All this because I thought it wise to move on some perfumes. My whole day and all my energy have been spent on this. I know the few I have promised two friends will be well loved. That is fine. I’ll figure out the packing and it will all be well. At least my less loved scents are with me. Safe at home. They may end up being loves, or I may just choose to face these issues and move beyond them. Who knows? But for now, I think it best to realise that I am still haunted by deeper layers of violation of my spirit.

I still miss the book I made myself. It was the ONLY thing I was desperate to keep. Surely 10 lousy A5 pages stapled together weren’t worth throwing away? Why did all these males think it ok to throw my things away? Without my consultation.

I do not own much, nothing of value to anyone else. I have a few clothes, few pairs of shoes, a bed and my books and perfumes. That is it. My car I own, but it belongs to my children as well. My three toys, my books and perfume are what bring me to life. Not even my boys may have my toys and books. They don’t treat them with the deference they deserve.

Enough for tonight. I think you get the idea. If you receive a bottle of perfume from me, it means I think the world of you, for I am entrusting you with a bit of me.

Into the red.

I come home absolutely exhausted some days. Not physically, but mentally. I reach my tolerance level and then dip into my emergency stash of energy. I hate doing that. I plan my energy each day so that I am even keeled.

If I am having to enter the red and accrue an energy debt, I become cranky and lose all ability to mask my difficulties. It then makes me embarrassed to be seen in this state. A cyclic mess ensues. The key is to avoid the red. It cannot always be in my control, though.

Anyway, I go to the gym to help dissipate that crankiness. I cannot always make the gym. I need to put my children first. But who puts me first? No one. My children are very hard to house train. I HAVE to be at their side teaching them and mitigating their disdain at having to do mundane tasks. It is easier to rush home, do dishes, put dishes away, stop off at the supermarket for stuff we constantly run out of, do a load of washing, make dinner…and my mother expects me to be civil.

THIS is the hard part. Mother has had a day filled with her own activities. She does what she likes. She does 2 loads of washing for my boys a week and folds their clothes. That is it. She expects me to be civil and ‘nice’ 24/7. I CAN’T BE. Especially when I am constantly dipping into the red.

I’d love to come home to dinner cooked. Dishes put away. Simple stuff the three others can do. I cannot keep doing it all. Until everyone pulls their weight and allows me to have whatever moods I want, it will be the same.

My mother does not get that people have moods. She is a constant bland rock. Always the same gossipy, unachieving hermit crab. She is chalk, I am cheese. I let her be whatever she needs to be, but she has never extended me that right. I have always had to be nice. I hate that word. Grr.

So, tonight, I am well and truly in the red. I so wanted to exorcise my energy at the gym and gain 2gm of lost muscle back. Everytime I go into the red, I lose muscle. It destroys me a little each time.

Overtime is expected of me now. It ‘proves’ I am keen to progress. No. It wears me out. My job is so fast paced I don’t get a chance to drink water for hours. I bashed my hand with a sledge hammer yesterday, but I carry on the best I can. Yet mother expects me to be nice.

How do I recover that energy debt? I cànnot because each day is exhausting due to having an autistic brain.

Architecture and cultural theory.

When I was about 7 yo, I discovered architecture and its place in municipal life. An unused utilitarian late 60s brick building was my play area. I rode my bike to the abandoned nondescript building each day. I’d touch the bricks and the steel work used for hand rails and watch the sun give or take light and the effect it had on the atmosphere of the facade. I had no idea this was a distinct academic discipline, but those marvellous hours alone with that building sparked an unconditional and total love for architecture and its role in reflecting, and creating, the values and aesthetics of society.

I found a book on Russian brutalism in my school library about 5 years later. I poured over it and imagined how the buildings would look from different angles. Then when I was a little older, Frank Lloyd Wright entered into my world and all of a sudden late 70s suburban, open planned brick veneer homes made sense to me!

In my uni days, a friend studying architecture gave me the joy of Ando and other modern Japanese architects. It was then I learned of the Bauhaus movement and the move in Europe of Belle Epoque to the various Art Nouveau and Deco eras. I finally learned that my early days of analysing that brick utilitarian building had a whole history and legitimacy to it. I had words for what I felt, saw, smelled, thought etc.

I still have a love for architecture. Not so much European buildings of the middle ages and Renaissance, but more modern design. I love how Gropius, Le Corbusier and others used architecture as a project to subvert social norms, set agendas and make buildings simultaneously art objects AND practical places for human cohabitation and collaboration. Gone were mausoleums to questionable leaders and monarchs, and in were buildings to assist in societal advancement. Buildings became symbols of collective success and a testimony to technological development.

I saw Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy Soho in Beijing a few months back. I was speechless. From a distance, the sleek building with its smooth curves looks impressive. Up close, it is devoid of soul and looms in a future people are not sold on, or even feel they belong to. As technically sublime as Soho is, I am still flabbergasted the Beijing government at local, and state level, permitted it to be built. In a city with remnants of Imperial China still found in pockets and the harsh reality of having to house the huge wave of migrants arriving in the 80s and onwards towering over everything, Soho stands awkwardly alone.

Sorry! Got to go to work. The humidity…ugh.

Easy! Chop. Gone…

I was always a deeply sensitive young woman. Things cut me to the core, but others brushed them off easily. Through years of being too trusting, too kind, too everything, I decided a few years back to capitalise on a handy aspect of my autism. I burn bridges and rarely turn round. I don’t mean to be like that, but there is a benefit to it.

Easy. Chop. Gone. My tolerance for human BS seems to be super human. I can stick around folk way longer than they deserve, but once my tolerance has been abused, I walk away. Unless you are genuinely in repentance, don’t EVER approach me. Once a person is gone, they stay gone. You may not feel the same, but I do not tolerate abusers to return. The bridge is burned.

It may seem harsh to be so blunt. Like I said, I will allow a lot of boundary pushing til the dam bursts. I am less inclinded to allow this to happen so often now, but I love the approach I took with my boys. The three strike.

I’ll talk about the issue. I’ll allow a second chance, but make that mistake again…gone. It must be a question of moral misconduct, illegal activites or a break of my trust.

I’m making this way more complicated than it is. But you are getting the gist. I have so many days left on this earth and I cannot waste time on melodrama, abuse or stuff that is aiming to hurt anyone. I am unapologetic about my easy, chop, gone. I love and value my energy, so anything not in line with my morals, ethics or values goes.

I feel free and unencumbered by things. My days are filled with more that sustains me than before simply because I judiciously exercise my subconscious habit of trimming the dead branches.

If I am loyal, I’m loyal. If I’m being abused, Easy! Chop. Gone…