Because. It works for me.

Friday, 31 March 2019

Another Friday night.

I’ve been having some conversations, if you wish to call sharing words in e-mail messages, or direct messages, across the internet, conversations. I call them that, because sharing words in this way is about the only way I can share them.

In person, I don’t talk. In person, I almost can’t talk. Because there is far more to process in person than there is when dealing with black and white text on a computer monitor. Most people don’t even think about that, about the body language, the facial expressions, the movement of eyes, the positions of arms, and hands, the brief pauses and silences, and an endless list of other things.

These are all things I have to process. I have to think about them. I have to try to understand them, and the parts of the conversation that are not being spoken with words. For most people, this is something they do naturally. It’s called social behavior.

For me, and for those of us who are Autistic, the unspoken parts of conversations, the body language, and all the rest, don’t happen. We don’t notice them. Until we learn, through endless mistakes, and endless frustration, that these things exist, and are used by everyone.

That’s when we start a life long study of what those things mean.

As I said, I’ve been having some conversations with friends I have who talk with me through these black and white text exchanges. I speak about an absurd number of topics, I know that. And I use oceans of words, I know that. I do so because I’ve found that’s the best method, and provides the best chance, that what I am speaking of, the ideas I’m trying to express, maybe, might, but probably won’t, be understood by those I’m speaking with.

One topic, today, has been my removal of women from the list of names Twitter recommends I follow, and why I remove them from that list. I have not fully answered, or responded, to the person I’m speaking with on this topic. But I felt I should make some things known.

I don’t hate women. At all. I can talk with them. I can share pictures of flowers with them. I can try to express my thoughts with them.

I can’t do that with men. As best I can figure out, through the decades of effort I’ve made to understand the unspoken language of other people, having such conversations is not what men want, and not what interests them. With the net result being I can’t talk with them. They possess a hidden language I literally can’t understand.

I’ve done some simple math tonight to illustrate the extent to which this is how things work for me. I’ve taken the list of those I follow on Twitter, and broke it into “obviously not a guy” and “a guy, or not not a guy.” This is really simple for me, as the list contains only 45 names (and I’ll discuss why in a bit). 37 names are in the “obviously not a guy” category. That’s 82% of the names on the list. 8 of every 10 names.

When I explain to you that I can’t talk with guys, this is what I mean. I can’t talk with guys. The numbers make that brutally obvious.

And, that’s where things suddenly become exponentially more complex.

#MeToo. #BelieveSurvivors. The patriarchy. Feminism. And a literal ocean of other words. As my friend informed me tonight, there is a great deal of emotional upheaval happening right now in US society.

But, here’s the thing with that emotional upheaval. I’m Autistic.

With respect to women finding their voices, and speaking out, I can honestly say I’m all for it. The stories need to be told. The truth needs to be placed front and center, and removed from being hidden in a closet somewhere, and not spoken of.

I have been told, by she whom I have spoken with today, that I’m not one of the problem guys. That I’m one of the good guys, and shouldn’t react as if this is about me. I understand that, honestly, I do. I know that. She’s one of many who have told me as much. I don’t argue that at all.

But, I’m Autistic. The ability to filter things, to read them and say, “they don’t apply to me.” The ability to blithely ignore them, and let them pass under the bridge on their way out to sea, is not something I have. Again. I’m Autistic. I have very close to 60 years of life spent pushing myself to observe everything. Every detail. Every body movement. Every change in tone of voice. Every eye motion. Every twitch. Every wince. Every brief shake of a hand. Every detail of everything someone does. Including every word they speak, and how they speak it.

It’s how I survive. It’s how I function in the world. It’s how I keep from getting injured by an overwhelming number of mistakes, where I didn’t understand what someone was saying, or doing.

I explain to people, “I see everything.” I usually leave out the words, “Because I have no other choice.” Remember how I mentioned, earlier, that I don’t speak well in person, face to face? Now you know why. Because my brain cells are going insane trying to keep up with all the information I’m having to process, so I don’t get something wrong.

But, with text, all there is are words. I can handle that. I can process that. I can respond to it.

Again. I’m Autistic. I don’t process emotional states well. If you ask me how I am on any given day, I can’t really answer you, because I honestly don’t really know. I know I have emotions. And I know they show up at the most inopportune times, and I don’t seem to be able to prevent that. But I have no idea what I’m feeling. Like what I’m feeling right now, this moment, as I write these words. I don’t really know. I can’t put it into words. I think I’m not angry, or frustrated. But other than that, I can’t really say for sure. It’s Friday night, so I’m likely feeling something. For a while, I thought I felt lonely on Friday nights. But I don’t think that anymore. Perhaps it’s more a feeling of I don’t fit into the social system, so I find it hard to treat Friday nights like most people treat them.

Whatever the heck that means.

Now, I get to explain the small number of people I follow. And this is for those who haven’t figured it out from the ocean of words I’ve already written. I can’t filter anything. I don’t know what I’m feeling, but I know I have emotions, and they do things, and I can’t really stop them, because I don’t understand them at all.

There is a limit to how much I can process. If I breach that limit, I overload. And I can’t process anything. And if I don’t resolve the overload, I end up non-functional. So, I’ve learned. I have no choice but to severely limit how much I have to process. That means, even in the land of black and white text, I have to limit how much I have to process. Because, I become unable to process any of it at all, if I don’t limit the amount.

So, I have an itty-bitty list of names I follow on Twitter. And for now, I’ve shut down Facebook all together. To limit how much I have to process. It’s survival for me. It’s how I can remain functional.

I wish I could follow oodles of people. And yes, like 82% of them would be women. Smart, intelligent, conversational, creative women. But, there’s a limit to how much I can cope with, to how much information I can process, to how many topics I can be exposed to, and maintain the ability to convince myself I’m not the problem.

So, I limit things. To survive.

Perhaps, in the days ahead, I’ll try to explain this in more detail. And to explain the problems that come with this lack of ability to filter, and highly developed ability to see everything, and almost complete inability to process my own emotions. Perhaps.

For now, just know that I’m OK. And that I’ve done the things I’ve done because I can’t find any other way to remain functional in this world.

Mark.

#FlashFriday #27 : What Happens In Vegas…

As I started to wake up, I remembered the guys had thrown a bachelor party for me last night. I tried to remember what I could, but it wasn’t much. Something about a pile of naked women, and oceans of beer.

My head hurt. Lots.

Realizing I had to pee, I opened my eyes, and noticed I was in my BVDs and a life jacket. Looking around, I saw a boat paddle. Then I realized I was in a wooden barrel. Floating on Lake Powell. Somewhere.

I swear to God, when I get to shore, I’m gonna kill the guys.

250 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Rebekah Postupak‘s #FlashFriday, Week 27. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #Flash Friday. They are good reading.

#12Masque : Lost In The Masquerade

Welcome to the Twelfth Night Masquerade, hosted by Meg McNulty. A masquerade celebration of the twelfth night of Christmas. What follows is my entry into the celebration.


She looked the part she’d chosen to play in the masquerade. The black silk gown she’d selected was exquisite. It fit every curve, drew attention to every surface. Her shoes, more like sandals with straps that wrapped around her ankles and calves. Her nails were all polished black as night. She wore black lace gloves that reached to her elbows. Her black hair cascaded down her bare back, the gown held in place by a black ribbon that laced from the small of her back up to the base of her shoulders. She’d topped it off with a black mask. The pale black eye shadow she’d so carefully placed was just another detail in the work of art she was.

I’d expected nothing less.

She was the same every day. Perfectly made up. Perfectly dressed. With perfect behavior. Like an actress playing a role made just for her. Putting on a show for all to see. With no depth, no life beyond the screen. What does an actress do when she’s not acting? Who does she become when she’s not in character?

I knew the answer, though I dared not share it with anyone, save her.

It was a joy to watch the way she played the part. Turning men into helpless boys, unable to take their eyes off her. Nodding their heads, and racing to fetch her another drink when she indicated she wanted one. Too tongue-tied to ask her to dance.

The way they turned to love-struck puppies was no surprise.

Other women avoided her. The spoke of the hussy in black in hushed tones in their little gatherings. Green jealousy, and red hatred filling their eyes. Visible through their masks. Smiling when their paths crossed hers. “You look stunning tonight, dear. Really. You make it look so easy.”

I stood, in the shadows. Speaking to no one. Watching her perform. Watching the corresponding performances from those around her. Wondering how they would behave, if they knew her as I did. If they knew the truth of who she was.

Would they understand how hurt, how broken, how wounded she was? Would the see the way her heart bled? Would they see the scars within her soul? Would they see she had forgotten so very long ago who she really was? No longer knowing what she felt, what she believed, or who she was. Just an actress, playing a part, and nothing more?

Would they see the little girl, hiding from the world she didn’t understand? Always hidden behind a mask.

As I watched her perform that night, I found myself wondering, as I have wondered so many times before. If I could ever help her find herself. If she would ever see herself as I did. If she would let me walk beside while she searched for who she was. Or if she’d remain as she was now.

Lost. In the masquerade.


496 Words

Please read the other entries in this masquerade. They are all wonderful stories, freely shared by word artists, and are well worth reading.

#12DaysBop : Day 7 – When Sunshine Becomes Angry

It’s day 7 of Stacy Hoyt’s 12 Days Of Christmas Blog Hop. Today, the prompt is storms, and we learn it’s never a good idea to piss off a fairy named Sunshine…


It was a beautiful day. There were no clouds in the sky. A soft breeze flowed from the East to the West. It was a normal day in the village, with children playing, women cooking and cleaning, and men working in the fields, or tending to the animals.

No one talked about what happened three days earlier, when they’d handled that problem child. No one asked how she’d been handled. It was enough to know she was gone, and the village was safe again.

Sunshine walked into the village that day. Men stopped working when they saw her. Her strawberry blond hair cascaded halfway down her back, between her wings and caressed her bare shoulders. Her skirt flipped as her hips swayed while she walked, revealing even more of her legs.

Women stopped when they saw her. Their eyes revealing their jealousy, screaming, “I should look that good!”

The children gathered around the pretty fairy. Fairies were just magical to them.

When she reached the center of the village, she stopped, and looked at each person she could see. Then she spoke, her voice shaking with barely controlled rage. “She didn’t have to die.”

Silence was the only answer she received.

Sunshine looked to the sky and screamed as her rage erupted. The sky transformed into a swirling maelstrom of black clouds. The soft breeze became a linear wind that howled through the village, stripping branches off the trees, ripping fence posts from the ground and reducing every home to splinters.

A torrential rain flash flooded the village. Lighting flashed, and thunder rolled. It only lasted a few minutes for that storm to destroy the village. Every villager died. Then Sunshine flew away.

There was not a single cloud in the perfect blue sky that day.


Please go enjoy the rest of the stories in the blog hop. There are some really gifted writers out there. It’s well worth reading their work. You can find the other entries here:

The 12 Days Of Christmas Blog Hop, Day 7 – The Gift Of Storms