When writing the last post, I got tired and actually just stopped – after one section – before I got to the point.
There was a point to the title.
It’s a quote from somewhere, I don’t remember where – one of the last book on ASD I read (Valerie Gaus, “Living well on the spectrum”, half recommended half not; Caroline Hearst (Ed.), “Being autistic”, recommended and online) in the context of displaying certain human traits (and making certain human mistakes) more excessively, and I found it humorous.
I happen not to have read that particular treatise, but Nietzsche is perhaps, among the canonical white male (and German on top of that) philosophers, one that I felt was somehow particularly human. (He had a chronic disease and got into mental trouble from seeing horses mistreated.)
My last post dissecting anxiety loops was a bit about that: about getting some decent, well-rounded experience of what it means to be human.
In a way it’s about preserving self-esteem, and, for me personally, thinking about the up-to-now failure to have a profession, much less career, and about “what the heck have I been “doing” all these years then?”.
Because (despite what some people would accuse me of) I have certainly been doing things. Plenty of things. I was rarely bored in fact. Perhaps between managing constant crises, constantly reinventing everything, and occasionally being elated to crash afterwards, I’ve been specialising in something.
I think I know human weakness, to some degree. In rather a lot of detail, I know how you can get lost, how the mind can go flying, how emotions can cement you into a basement rather than move (e-motion) you, I also know certain types of misperceptions and delusions rather intimately, am proficient in trauma replay (I can do it in my sleep, word pun), and I’ve actually made the effort not just to analyse, but also to feel much of that – familiar, recognisable territory.
I can often see when others do it, the good thing being that I get less mad at people.
A lot of time and effort invested in being cured of too high expectations of self and others, of perfectionism, coming out the other end perhaps with a reasonable and intimate map of imperfection.
It is personal, and yet also universal. As someone said, here I totally forgot who, probably many people, in some areas the more personal the knowledge, the more universal it actually gets.
The extreme focus on detail and utter inwardness does lead to recognising things that shape the bigger picture.
It is not clear what can be done with that knowledge.
I recently had a love affair with someone who doesn’t have mental problems. I realised how much knowledge I actually have about stuff that this person doesn’t need; because of going through endless crises, I somewhat know how to give crisis support, I know how to get someone off the edge (sometimes), I know how to validate people who have poor self-esteem, I know how to carefully handle people who hate themselves, or how to (temporarily) provide the holding space when someone is falling apart. When none of that is needed, I kind of don’t know what to do.
A bit like having survival cooking skills (rat barbecue?) in a world full of gourmet restaurants. It’s not needed. It function is not even comprehensible.
It’s also shocking to see how much I “specialised in” something that was never really an interest of mine; it used to be nature, science, art, religion, literature.
These slid away, started to appear vain and functionless to me, on the other hand, when the dominant necessity was to acquire skills (maladaptive and adaptive) to not drown in the waters of past wounds and keep out some of the present flood.
In the absence of useful help (not uncommon for people who are neurodiverse, queer, and dislocated / constantly relocating) somehow I ended up specialising in creating my brand of Buddhism, knowing the mind, as I didn’t know what else to do. I guess it just seemed like there is nothing much else that I can control, so this is the logical focus.
The truth is, you need other people to get out of anything.
I needed a lot of “Buddhism” – learning about thoughts and emotions and how we feel with the body – to figure out how to have other people be helpful rather than threatening or distant or put off or trying to be nice but confused. (I assume that’s the autism bit.)
I lost the point now.
But all this stuff is invisible to people who don’t experience it.
Same time, it’s the “dirty laundry” or the messy cables and wires of being human. The stuff that we usually keep in a blackbox (to speak IT).