Month: September 2017

Letter from the North Fri 25-Aug-2017

We are all “on the spectrum” 

Or, as I might put it, “there’s nothing new under the sun”. 

The human system is not that original, it doesn’t exhibit nice distinct behaviours where each behaviour or characteristic is associated with only a single entity. One of my favourite examples is a sickening feeling in the stomach: 

  • Food poisoning? 
  • Indigestion? 
  • Seasick? 
  • In love? 

That is, particularly in the case of emotions, there aren’t unique signifiers for individual emotions, indeed the characteristics of individual emotions are rarely identifiable in isolation. Unfortunately a lot of the arena of mental illness suffers from the same problem. It is diagnosed based on symptoms, there are no absolute tests. Worse, it is based on the opinions of an individual of those symptoms as observed by that individual.

So, we get a horrible mishmash of diagnoses for conditions, like autism, and individuals can inherit multiple different ones and diagnoses that change over time. 

In medical parlance the term ‘differential diagnosis’ is the process of ensuring that your diagnosis is not for some other condition that happens to have overlapping symptoms – quite important when differentiating between food poisoning and being in love! Differential diagnosis is at the heart of autism diagnosis and indeed a lot of the DSM. 

It is the ‘differential’ part that I particularly have a problem with, which brings me to the topic of this letter.

The sort of issues I struggle with, as discussed in recent letters ,will often trigger the response, ‘well, yes, I do that and I’m not autistic, what makes you special?’

Which can often be summarised by the statement ‘well, aren’t we all on the spectrum?’ 

For me, there are two responses to that: 

  1. Who decides who is and who isn’t and using what criteria? Similarity of symptoms does not equate to the same condition (food poisoning and sea sickness anyone?) 
  2. Can’t or won’t?  

Simon Baron-Cohen talks about one view of autism as being ‘extreme male behaviour’, and indeed a lot of what you see in autism occurs in observable male behaviour, i.e. classic male behaviour, such as obsessions, lack of social awareness etc.

I don’t totally agree with his thesis and I would emphasise that just because a distinction is made between a ‘male’ brain and a ‘female’ brain that is not a sex and not even a gender distinction but a labeling one. That is, the assumption that a male brain only occurs in a person assigned male at birth and who has XY chromosomes, ditto for the female brain, would be a gross simplification. 

One of the problems in (academic or professional) specialism is that much of what happens in human beings crosses disciplines (called ‘intersection’ in academic spaces) and as non-academics we have to read the use of academic and ‘expert’ language carefully and in context. 

Anyway, my second response above is one I find more helpful than any strictly academic definition: 

are they able to but don’t, or do they want to but can’t? 

It is my experience that a lot of people can, but just can’t be bothered. I can’t, no matter how hard I try. 

That is one of my litmus tests for the difference between just being a bloke and being an autistic ‘male’. It differentiates between describing autism as something that looks like extreme male behaviour from ‘just being a bloke’. Since I believe that ‘male’ behaviour is not something that can be associated with ‘designated male at birth’, it is irrelevant, to me, whether one is discussing male, female, or any other part of the gender spectrum.

I found it was a useful test to differentiate behaviours in my autistic son, especially as a child/teenager. 

Why do I say ‘can’t’, how do you know it’s not ‘won’t’? 

For example, I am very aware that despite the appearance of social skills, all I have to do is relax a little bit and I make all the same social faux pas that many autistics would do, that is I can fake it but it doesn’t take much to catch me out. I learn what is ‘right’, but I don’t know instinctively what is ‘right’ (from a social point of view as defined by NTs)

So, when I worry about my parking space, don’t a lot of people (blokes especially, sticking to gender stereotypes 🙂 ) get driven by habit and expect things to be the same and get angry (cos they are men) or upset (if they are women) if their routine is disturbed?

Well, yes of course they do. The question is, how disabling is it and can they control it if they wanted to?  Is it:

  • An annoyance, albeit one that can result in violence,  
  • Devastating, something that can lead to suicide.  
  • A behaviour that is not the end of the world or … 

At a simpler level, as a parent, when trying to decide if my son was just being a willful child or was actually having an autistic reaction to something, I needed to make a judgement and act appropriately. Because I was able to put myself in his position, I found it easier to identify the difference between can’t and won’t than did others around him who were NT and had no experience or awareness that that there could be such a distinction in behaviours.

However, that concept can be misunderstood. Autism is not an excuse for bad or inappropriate behaviour, but nor is it something that you can be taught to ‘get over’. 

There are parents and partners that excuse plain old bad behaviour because an individual is autistic and ‘they can’t help it’ and there are people who think an autistic is just overacting and needs to get their act together. 

Reality is somewhere in-between and needs awareness to sift the wheat from the chaff . 

Well, that’s the ‘heavy’ content done, so what else this week? 

I’ve been reading The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry, on masculinity, a worthwhile read on the issues that a lot of men outside the spheres of autism and gender diversity struggle with.

Grayson Perry sometimes wears female clothing, often quite extreme, but he makes it clear in the book that when he cross dresses, it is as a transvestite. He is quite sure he is male and would always identify as such. It might seem to be the same as I do, however,

  • I don’t see myself as male or masculine
  • I don’t wear what I do for sexual reasons
  • For me it’s not a fetish, though I do have a number of them ????
  • I wear what I do because it feels more like me than male clothing would

I am (I was at the time of writing in The North, but not at the time of this edit) still working on my letter from 4th August. It is proving a struggle to find a way of writing it that says what I want it to say as opposed to how earlier drafts have read – and work has been intense, not leaving much room for anything else. Last weekend was also carpentry weekend when I built a cupboard to help moving stuff out of one room so I can start converting it into a room for my daughter. 

This weekend, I will finish the carpentry and then I can start moving and sorting.

Sunday is pirates on the prom, Penzance’s attempts to win the Guinness Book of Records  so Teresa and I will be down there, dressed as pirates (so long as it doesn’t rain) 

Bank holiday Monday I hope to get some time finishing off the backlog of letters and maybe even getting some time to make progress on my learning how to use FPGA’s (not that anyone but a very small minority of you might care about that bit 🙂 ) 

Oh, and I’m making a chilli (con carne). At the moment the bird’s eye chilis are rather dry as they have been sitting in the fridge for weeks, but I’ve found that drying out in the fridge does nothing to affect their flavour (think chilli flakes) and I’ve put the chilis (broken up) and the beans in my crockpot and will leave them to slow-cook overnight. When making a different meal I discovered that slow-cooking with chilis in the water infuses right into the beans and seems to work better. 

As to whether chilli is one L or two, I have no idea so will use both spellings and hope someone knows the authoritative spelling which is probably connected to the country?? 

I don’t just use Kidney beans, I also used black eye beans 50:50, can’t explain why, I just do 🙂 

I’ll make the chili itself tomorrow and then leave it to mature for 24 hours or so (i.e. probably for tea after Pirates) 

Teresa prefers it with baked potatoes, I like rice, I like a 50:50 mix of red Camargue rice and black wild rice, takes a while to cook, but I am happy reheating my chili + rice in the microwave so I cook extra rice and Teresa heats up her chilli in a saucepan and pours on to the baked potato. It works for us, each doing their own thing but sharing the basic ingredient. 

Postscript 

Teresa has a lovely smile, but get out a camera and it disappears. No matter what I do or how many photos I take, trust me, the picture at the top here is the most smiley I got!

Well the chilli didn’t go as expected and we didn’t get the right number of pirates (to get the record), even less than three years ago. I didn’t get any of my FPGA work done, still best laid plans as they say.

Teresa tells me this letter doesn’t hang together very well, I doubt it does, as I remind her, when I write, all I can do is to snapshot each thought as it is present at the moment I put finger to key or pen to paper. Afterwards I try to see if I can weave a coherent idea through each letter, sometimes it works better than others. That means the thought that starts a paragraph, indeed a sentence, considering how long some of mine get, and the thought that finishes it may be completely unrelated. The same happens if we are talking in person which I know can be very confusing.

So Chilli Con Carne and autism are comfortable bedfellows for me in this letter, they have equal validity for me, but for you…?

And NO, we are NOT all on the spectrum. Well, strictly speaking, all of us that are, are, but all of you that aren’t, aren’t :-). 

The Bean, The North, Fri 25-Aug-2017

Letter from The North Fri 18-Aug-2017

Mutton dressed as lamb

Well, so much has happened since the end of last week’s letter. I’m not sure there’s enough room/time here to cover it all. 

So, first, despite my need for sameness, there are two significant (for me) changes: 

  1. Blossom is in a new place in the car park at work 
  2. I am sitting here in a totally different location at the The North and where I would prefer to be is available! 

The work thing was triggered by an email clarifying the car parking arrangements and where people should park if the car park was full. Well, the designated area would be in front of where I currently park and block me in. Even if I parked in the row opposite, Blossom needs the turning circle of the Titanic so it would be difficult to get out. The idea of having to find someone to ask them to move their car is terrifying. I just don’t need to spend all day checking if someone has blocked me in and that IS what I would do, obsessive behaviour anyone? 

So, I’ve selected a spot that would give me easy exit, at my time of day, and is not somewhere that could be double parked. I hope! Why do I need to do this? The problem is that people don’t follow the rules, why they don’t I don’t know but they don’t. Well actually I do sort of understand, it’s because the rule is inconvenient and/or unimportant to them at the time. Clearly not autistics ????. 

Where I am now is not the RIGHT place for me to park, the right place would be where I’ve been parking for the last 11 months. However, adapting to this it removes the stress and worry that when I am ready to leave, I can’t get out. I’m one of the earliest departures and so an easy block-in target. 

At the North, that’s more complicated, as I wrote last week. It is busy here in the North at the moment, probably busier that it has been in all the years we’ve lived here. Indeed, this week the landlord has added more table space in the main bar. 

The following section was written on Thursday or Friday morning (i.e. yesterday or this morning at the time of writing the rest of this letter at The North). When I came to insert it here some two weeks later I struggled to read the actual words – either the handwriting itself or the spelling were so way out that it didn’t make sense. The grammar was similarly bizarre and as a result I have had to use some reconstruction techniques (traditionally known as guesswork 🙂 ). 

I mention this because I keep going on about how writing, using language is not normal for me, and this is a perfect example. The same problem exists with the rest of these notes typed on a tablet but at least they are legible, that is I can read them; poor handwriting is not uncommon for people like me. So, how do ‘notes’, made in a lesson work out? How do exams or essays that must be handwritten or indeed just paperwork and forms work? It is a significant problem that I hide through typing and repeated editing, but it remains a major problem. So, what you read here (in italics) is my attempt to translate my notes:

 

Sometimes Teresa can read my handwritten notes better than I can. The handwriting problem is both an output AND an input problem (reading and writing for the non-computer geeks out there) 

As I said last week, when I left The North, I was just unhappy but that was at an intellectual not an emotional level. Over that weekend and much of the following week, the emotional consequences built up: 

  • palpitations 
  • heart racing,  
  • panic attacks 
  • adrenalin surge 
  • fight or flight reflex 

A lot of all of that this week and although I am more sensitive to what is happening to me, especially as Teresa and I work out some issues we are having, the pub/work car park problems are powerful triggers. 

Trying to socially engage is very difficult and I know I don’t understand and so can be getting it wrong without knowing. Hence it is hard for me to understand the rights and wrongs (or indeed if there were any rights or wrongs) in the incident last week. 

Ignorance is (or can be) bliss 

No matter how much children/adults are taught (self or by others) social skills, it doesn‘t change us, it just provides skills to allow us to ‘fake it’, As I am sure I have written before  

  1. It takes a lot of effort, no matter how effortless it may seem 
  2. It masks our trauma for the benefit of others and protects them from any issues they have as a result of not understanding our world 
  3. We can, short term, delude ourselves (and others) into believing we are coping not masking. Then something happens, the masks slips, we melt down and everyone (ourselves as well sometimes) is surprised! 

My mum would never use a shop after a single incident that upset her – I have no idea what the problem was, but it was a problem for her and she never set foot in that shop again no matter the inconvenience. At least that is my memory of what happened. I suspect it wasn’t as black and white as that, but that is my memory, … 

I could see (even at my young age at the timethat it was as stupid (daft if you want me to be politically correct and use language that means more to you than it does to me) for her as it is for me now. I know I have that desire in me – “that will show them” though chances are they will never even notice ???? I have to fight the pressure (instinct) to behave in that way, that fight increase my stress. Teaching me it’s inappropriate behaviour allows me to hide it from you, but it doesn’t do anything for me! 

And back to the original letter: 

So, here I am at a table which at a push seats four, but only has seating now for three (one seat gone to the main bar) and I’m probably more ‘secure’ than at my normal table and I’m not being ‘criticised’ for sitting at a big table in the main bar. 

It was hard accepting the change (see above) but it’s part of the compromise of being in the social world despite not really understanding what is going on. As I described above, my mum would blank somewhere on the first ‘fault’, and I understand that, indeed, that’s my default reaction, but learning more flexibility even if I don’t really understand why, means I can continue to do more than I otherwise would. 

I’ve been thinking about these Letters (Blogs), about why I do it. At the moment, if there are double figures of readers I’d be surprised (looking at the stats) but I write them (these letters) because I needed to be able to read them, indeed I’d like to being able to read them right now, never mind when I was younger. So at one level, they are for me; if you are reading, then they are for you and if you are in a small minority that is good. 

I understand how difficult writing is for me, I understand that even after I’ve done my best, it can be odd, but there is a part of me that wants other people to embrace that difference and consider it a good example of a different way of writing.

I’ve been writing these letters for many years; most of them are still in my notebooks waiting for me to transcribe. A few years ago, I also wrote a description of my early life, you might call it an autobiography, except that isn’t accurate as the book itself discusses. 

I have been editing that book off and off over the last 3 or 4 years but I can’t really believe that anyone wants to read it. 

Still, nothing ventured…

I entered a competition with Random House for new writers in minorities (gender, learning, race, disability, …) and since I hit a number of those categories, I thought well, maybe someone will be willing to look outside the accepted norm of ‘proper writing’. So, I entered ‘Bean and the Art of Being’. They weren’t interested (I wasn’t in the top 150 out of 1,700, never mind top three). Of course, any ‘proper’ writers out there will know that getting a book accepted by a publisher is not a simple process and full of many setbacks, so expecting my first attempt to fly was unreasonable ????.  

Yet, all through my life, I’d have liked to have known that there was at least one other person going through what I was going through. So, I’ll persist with these letters. They are for the me that I was; I will also publish the book one day, self-published I suspect, but who cares if it only has an audience of six, if it helps, it helps … 

Funny really, when I had problems on my proper table it was because I was one person on a table for six and yet here in this room there are two tables for six with two people on each 🙂 

Oh well, as I said to Teresa, let them (whoever ‘them’ is) have their posturing, if that is what it is. I won’t let my mum’s inheritance drive me away, nor other people even if they have no idea of their impact. I am a survivor in the social world; yes, I am rules driven, yes, I don’t like change, but yet I will find my way, find my path and I WILL make it work because I won’t be beaten, that’s the upside of mum’s stubbornness and very helpful at times. 

And there is the dilemma, for the last three days, once I realised the possible implications, it was so easy to over react (even if for me it’s not ‘over’) but I won’t, it costs but I want to be out and about. 

Juno Dawson is, as I listen, talking about the problems of being out in public as trans and not passing, and the work needed to even try and pass. 

I come from a world in which passing (as male or female) is out of the question and even as an autistic is a nightmare. At 6’2” (though at the doctors that came out closer to 6’ only so, I am shrinking!) and 18st at the time, though now reduced to 17st 3 and working well at 1lb a week loss (whilst I am a bit metric, I still think in stones, pounds and ounces for weight). With massive, albeit sloping, shoulders. You’d never confuse me for a girl and yet since I am always in a dress or skirt, you would wonder about whether I was a boy or trying to be something different or just not right in the head. That is why I just ignore the gender thing and do my own thing, very girly in dress but no wig and no makeup.

I have to put up with the funny looks, comments and staring but even so, it works for me and it means that ‘not passing’ is visible in my local community, which, I hope, allows others to experiment in safety, because if I can swan around in my Size 24 frock, anybody can? 

The visibility of being autistic is much more of a problem, all that ever shows are the differences, so long as I mask them and we all learn to mask, I am automatically ‘trying’ to pass and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but it’s much harder for people to get their heads around the idea of being autistic even being a ‘thing’ as it is so invisible, especially when compared to a frock! 

Postscript

I heard a comment in the bar (about me) about not showing your legs when you are “a certain age”.

Mutton dressed as lamb anyone?

Of course Mutton is a far more interesting meat than Lamb, but it does need a bit more effort to get the best from it.

A metaphor anyone?

The Bean, The North, Fri 18-Aug-2017

 

 

Letter from the North Fri 11-Aug-2017

Changing the subject

Another week has evaporated, this full-time job lark (been at it for 10 months now) is certainly is keeping me busy!

Rather than an autistic letter, a gender one seems to be appropriate this week. As I said two weeks ago I have been listening to Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships, but it is just such hard work (the listening that is), the voice is not interesting, I can’t tell which of the three authors is speaking, and the amount they repeat themselves makes my use of repetition seem almost amateur.

So, against my better judgement I downloaded an audible book recommended to me on Facebook in an Audible advert, yes, I hate myself, I did check it out and it did seem worth bothering with.

Boy was it worth bothering with. Written and more to the point read by Juno Dawson it looks at the whole issue of sexuality and gender in a clear and, I found, entertaining manner. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Juno is transgender on the transition road (or at least was when she wrote the book), I’m not transgender (for the sake of a label) but gender queer/gender fluid/… and not transitioning. But, we are both very much in agreement that gender is MY business (or hers), nobody can tell me what it is or somehow associate my gender with chromosomes or external attachments or society driven labels on my behalf.

I was always a girly bloke and I’m still a girly bloke or possibly a blokey girl. I like beer, cars, perfume, flowers and chocolate.

I refuse to be defined and thank goodness Teresa (my wife) was actually looking for a girly bloke, boy did she get one!

I wear dresses or skirts, it is what I like to wear. I’m not trying to look like a girl, if I was I’d wear T-shirt and jeans – or is that a boy? Hard to tell nowadays as the ‘uniform’ is so androgynous!

Anyway, I always wear a frock of some sort, it’s just who I am. As I may have mentioned before, that is how I dress at work and indeed I am introducing the idea of Floral Friday at work, a day when instead of being relatively drab (in my book, grey, black, navy, …) I am in my most floral of garbs. Folks understand and I doubt there is anyone in the office who doesn’t understand Floral Friday. It’s a slow burn, but folks are gradually getting the idea and some are even starting to enter into the spirit, albeit cautiously. I ‘m a blowsy, floral person by nature and introduced the idea to explain why I was doing what I was going to do anyway – the fact that people are picking up on the idea, and joining in, is a bonus.

Of course FF coincides with Friday at the North so I come here dressed as I am for work, in full floral mode.

Gender is a funny old thing. I have not yet met ‘myself’ when out and about. That is, met or seen someone ambiguous in gender. The only blokes in frocks I see are not blokes in frocks, they are transexuals and they are girls in frocks, sometimes invisible (they “pass”) and sometimes not.

Someone came to the office on Tuesday to fix Blossom (my Landrover). I basically left them to it but checked on them from time to time; after the second or third visit they asked ‘trans or non-binary’, the simple answer is ‘non-binary’ and I said so, they said they were trans and going through transition. Not obvious to me, but I only mention it because that is one of the few people who have ever asked me. Nobody on my counselling course ever did!

I remember, years ago, going into Evans in Truro (when it was still there) to try on some sandals. I was pretty much in full boy mode and this was a very early outing. Teresa was with me and I sat in a changing room (having asked if it was Ok) and the assistant asked ‘are you a cross dresser’, I said yes (it was, and is still, a perfectly valid term) and she said her boyfriend was.

As I sit here in a colourful top (I would have put a photo in here, but I forgot and I’m no good at descriptive language, so you will need to be patient until I can remember a photo of it, sorry), a long coloured skirt and a pair of very strappy sandals, I feel like the same person I was when asked about those sandals (3 years ago?) and indeed the same person I was when I asked my mum to make me a colourful top that was not that different in colour to this one (pink paisley swirls with some other colours which I don’t remember). I supplied the material, she made a shirt, I wore it to school, it was a favourite, I was 16 (almost 50 years ago).

Unlike Juno, I never thought I was a girl, but I also just didn’t get the whole boy thing. I often just did my thing unaware of how the world viewed me. One of the advantages of being an unaware autistic is that other peoples views of you are not that high in your awareness. So I was me, without awareness. Not sure I would have worn a frock, but if it had occurred to me as a possibility I could have.

So, just like Juno who was sure they were  a girl always, I was always sure I was non binary, I just didn’t know that was my ‘label’ (tribe?)

Truth is, back then, in the North of England, the idea of anything other than male/female was unheard of, so I couldn’t imagine being non binary because there was no vocabulary for it. At least nowadays, children have the language to express their gender and sexuality in ways that were simply not available when I was at school.

So, here I am, at the North, the middle of August and there is heavy mist. It was there as I reached the turning for the North Road and came over the moor into Pendeen. We are well known for our mists, even in the summer, but I have to agree that August is not really the time. Still, the North is full of tourists, so it’s not stopping them, which is good.

Indeed ‘my’ table has been taken over by a family, but I cannot (and don’t) complain, it is an odd ‘autistic vs social vs support your local pub’ dilemma.

  • I want the pub to make money in the summer because I suspect it doesn’t in the winter. Judging by how empty it can be on a Friday night outside of the tourist seasons.
  • I need my space, I don’t want to share it and I feel violated when I have to
  • They are strangers and I feel ‘people claustrophobic’
  • It is just not fair for me on my own to occupy a table that would seat 6. My autistic side can’t see the problem, I was here first and it is MY local. This is MY table, I struggle if I can’t sit here.
  • The social me (the one that understands, albeit dimly, the ‘normal’ rules of social behaviour (LINK) can see it is clearly the right thing to do.

Unusually, not only did I have one family join me, they had only been gone for a few minutes when another arrived, however this time it was more stressful.

I have no problem when someone comes over and says ‘do you mind if we share your table?’ I do have a problem when another local seems to be acting like they are the maitre d’ and says ‘do you have a problem if these people share your table?’ For goodness sake, I have NEVER objected, indeed I have made every effort to be sociable and welcoming when people do join me, so why did you ask and then show them to my table?

I didn’t stay long after that, not because the people had joined me, but because I felt very unwelcome in my local ????

It’s the first time I’ve had to say that and, for me, very disturbing. At the time, I was not very aware of my feelings and certainly couldn’t have described them, the full impact only hit me as the following week progressed and that will be discussed in next week’s letter.

For this letter, although this part is being written after Fri 11-Aug-2017, it is a fair reflection of what was happening for me, I just didn’t think it relevant to write at the time.

So, delayed response: this is generally true for autistics, processing delays are common. For me, external events take time before I can internally understand, this process can be seconds or minutes, but also hours, days, weeks, years.

In general, this is a problem because I can appear slow witted or at least as if I’m not paying attention. If you add on sequential processing i.e. I can only process one thing at the time, so if I’m hit by multiple events that I need to process and they are taking time, I can appear to freeze or alternatively melt(down) as the stress becomes too much.

In the case of emotions this is a real problem because by the time I am aware of the emotions, the associated event is long gone and just as in the case of PTSD, my brain as a whole has done a poor job of tagging the event and the associated emotion so I can retrieve both together when trying to recall either. The result is that emotion floats, is not tied to a particular event, and just comes and goes with nothing to explain it. In the past that could result in an explosion of emotion that I have associated with some trivial event because that is the event that was occurring at the time the emotions surfaced. Almost never are the two actually related and not surprisingly those around me (wives especially) feel rather put out that I have exploded at something that they really didn’t do.

So, at the time of this incident, it felt unfair that I was being treated as being unwelcoming and blocking a table.

As I slowly processed how I felt during the following week I started to wonder whether somehow I had completely misunderstood what EVERYONE who frequents The North thought about me and it was only this one person who was expressing what everyone else thought. Now I know I don’t read social clues well (sometimes at all) so I do recognise that it could be me that was in the wrong.

I could spend another 1000 words explaining that comment but we neither of us have the time to explore it beyond me saying

  1. Yes, I know, intellectually, it is much more subtle and I could easily be making a mountain out of a molehill. I have no idea of the actual motivation of the individual, nor can I ask them because that is usually perceived as a criticism and treated as an attack and that makes things worse ????. Took me a VERY long time to work that particular social rule out!
  2. It IS a mountain, I cannot emotionally perceive it as anything other than a mountain, no amount of logic or common sense can change the immense surges of adrenalin (fight or flight), distress or panic or suicidal thoughts (what is the point of trying to live in this NT world???)

The conflict between those two things inside me makes the situation worse because I ping-pong between the two never knowing which is right and feeling pathetic because I don’t know and don’t understand and never have and never will.

What is the result? Stress, an internal conflict that overwhelms and I become incapable of processing ANYTHING else until I have sorted out this and, guess what, I can’t process this.

Teresa described OD (other David, her first husband, who in retrospect we are sure was autistic) as sometimes feeling like he was a live hand grenade that could go off at any moment for no apparent reason. At a time like this, I am that grenade; the only difference is that I know I am and can articulate I am, but I still am and it’s still driving me. Awareness helps but also adds pressure as I try to deal with knowing that I am being unreasonable and yet not being able to do anything about it. More stress and more volatility.

Until I can process this, I need space and more than anything I need understanding that what I could normally handle (process) in day-to-day existence is absolutely a barrier right now and so yes, walking on eggshells will be necessary but trust me, I’ll sort this, you can’t, but you need to trust me.

And so, we will come (in next week’s letter I hope) to trust in my relationships

Postscript

I know I said this would be a gender letter and that was how it started, but as in my general life experience, autism is always there and so it is here. I could avoid the “A word” in these letters but then that would exclude the most important component for me.

These letters are for the ‘me’ who needed them when I was younger and didn’t understand and couldn’t articulate what was happening to me as well (poorly) as I can now.

So, to the Bean (the me of today), from David (the me of yesterday), thank you.

The Bean, The North, Fri 11-Aug-2017