I’m a freak. I know that. I’ve known it since I was in my twenties. I just didn’t realize to what extent until, well, now. And I’m still realizing it. I wish I had known the extent when I was younger because then maybe i wouldn’t have wasted so many years feeling like there was something wrong with me. And being deeply depressed about it.
One thing I’m still coming to terms with or realizing is…well, it’s more of a question. How much of my weirdness is an actual disability. I’m some flavor of neurodivergent, but I have never been tested because I can mask it well enough for government work. This actually took me until I was in my thirties to fully grasp that people do not think the way I do. Not just in opinions, but in the actual way of thinking.
I have a very high EQ, which is how I can make myself look like a normal person. Something I have difficulties with, though, is very dry humor. Since I use facial and body cues to read someone, it’s hard when they mask that–or make a joke in writing that is very sardonic. My brother does this all the time, which makes it difficult for me. I can usually know when he’s making a joke, though, because I know him well.
Back when I was younger, I was numb all the time. I had to suppress my emotions to the point where I no longer felt them. There was a time when someone could tell me the best news in the world, and I would feel nothing inside. Same with the worst news in the world. “I’m getting married!” Nothing. “My mother died.” Nothing. “I got a promotion at work!” Nothing.
Part of that was because you can’t always tell good news from bad. “I’m pregnant!” is usually good news, but not always. Not if the baby is not wanted or an unpleasant surprise. Or, god forbid, the result of forced sex. “I’m getting divorced!” looks negative on the surface, but for some people, it’s the best thing to happen to them.
Back when I was completely divorced from my emotions, I would have to follow a very elaborate system so I could display the proper emotions. So. Let’s say someone told me they were pregnant. My first step would be to scrutinize their face to see if there were any signs whether they were happy or not about it. If I got the news by text/email, I would pore over the rest of the email/text for clues. Exclamation points? That meant something. Exuberant words? Good. That helped as well. Then I could match their emotions with simulated emotions of my own.
This took less than ten seconds on the average, and I was able to make it seem as if my reactions were natural. With practice, I got it down to two or three seconds. It appeared like an organic reaction, but it wasn’t. With the help of Taiji, I’ve been able to inhabit my body and feel comfortable in it. Dying twice has cemented my love for my body.
I’m still shaky on emotions, but I’m able to feel them more than I ever have. I still go through the process I mentioned above, but it’s at lighnting speed now, rather than several seconds. It’s as if I have a Rolodex (I’m old) of emotions in my head that i rapidly flip through until I find the right one. So it’s still not organic, but I’m not bothered by it.
It’s interesting. Even knowing that I’m different, a freak, and a weirdo, it’s astounding how far out of the norm I am. And, this is something I have a hard time discussing, that I might actually have disabilities. Believe me. It’s not something my family would have accepted. My father cannot handle the idea of women who actually work outside the home (even though he saw plenty of them when he was the VP of TIER, the Taiwanese Institute for Economic Research) let alone whatever the fuck I am.
I was going to talk about disabilities specifically, but I can’t get past the fact that I’m just so unrelentingly different. And, specifically, weird. One thing I find hilarious about Google is that it refuses to show me the results I want for certain sarches. And I don’t mean those kind of searches with the safe search on. I mean things like, “Songs about bad parents” or in this case, “Songs about being weird.” In the latter situation, it’s changing it to ‘songs about being yourself’ and ‘songs about being unique’ and ‘songs about being different’, etc.
Great, Google, but that’s not what I asked for. I’m sure part of the probem is what people are actually writing about (song lissts in this case), but it’s still irritating. If I wanted a song abotu being unique, I would have typed that into Google.
Anyway. I feel like I’m a verisimilitude of a human being. At this age, I’ve discovered the way to play along to get along, but it’s isolating. Add that to the variety of ways in which I cannot interact with the world around me, and, well, it’s not a good feeling. I have resisted researching disability communities because, selfishly, I do not want to add yet another ism to my long list (of ones I have to fight).
There was a letter in Ask A Manager yesterday about how to deal with returning to cube life (and dealing with a bait-and-switch offer). Many people suggested plants to brighten up their area. I immediately though, “Oh, god, please, no.” My joke is that I’m allergic to everything under the sun–including the sun. It’s not a joke, really, though. When I was a kid, I used to get an allergy shot. My mother never explained how it worked. All I knew was that once a week, I would go to the allergist and get a shot. My arm would swell up as I waited twenty minutes, and it would be hot and mesirable.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I figured out they were trying to get my body used to the allergens so my body wouldn’t freak the fuck out every time I sniffed a dandelion. It never worked. Every time I got that dreadful allergen test on my thigh (injected with thirty or so allergens to see which I’ll react to (all! It’s always all!), my leg would swell up like a balloon. I couldn’t breathe for what seemed like hours afterwards, and…nothing. They never explained what they were doing or, more importantly, why the fuck they were doing it.
My brother never had to get the shots. I thougt it was so unfair. It wasn’t until recently that he told me it was because he was TOO allergic to the allergens they were injecting him with. They had to stop because it would have been bad to continue.
My point is that I hate the great outdoors because it’s actively trying to kill me. I found out I was deathly allergic to poinsettias the hard way, unfortunately. It’s one reason (among many) that I’m glad I don’t have to work in an office. Having to tell people that their flora is killing me is not a conversation I want to have.
Here’s the thing. In general, I am the opposite of normal. Like, I can pass. I make people feel comfortable to the point that they dump their problems on me. But this is depnedent on me not showing twhe real me. I’m not saying I’m completely artificial to other people, but I’m not me, either. A petty but meaningful example. I love the snow and cold. I know that this is weird, even in Minnesota. So when people complain about the weather, I’ll just nod and smile. Not if it’s a friend, obviously, but if it’s just a superficial interaciton, I’ll joke about how bad the weather is and go about my way.
It’s not a bad thing, mind. None of us want to get real with the cashier at the local Cubs. It’s only a problem because I don’t want to get locked into that with people who are closer to me. I don’t mean my really close friends because I can be me with them. But that in-between stage. Like classmates or coworkers (if I had them).
This is getting long. Again. I’ll pick it up from here tomorrow.