Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The upside of candor

There have been a lot of interesting consequences from writing the book. I'll try to schedule an AMA on reddit or a Q&A on this blog soon to talk about them. One of the more positive ones is the support I have gotten from most of my friends and family.

I was talking to my sister, who has just started reading my book. She and I have never been close. She is by far the most emotional member of my family and we never shared much in common. We talk on the phone maybe once or twice a year. She wanted to call to tell me that she felt like she was understanding some of our interactions and my past history better than she ever had before. It felt really good to be better understood by someone that I've known for most of my life but from whom I have always felt distanced. She did admit that she felt a little badly for the death of the baby opossum, but she also told me that she loved me and was proud of me. And perhaps the first time in our lives it meant something to me because I knew that it wasn't because I had tricked her into thinking I was something that I'm really not. She was actually seeing me and still seeing things she liked.

Along these same lines, my other sister sent me a link to this interview with memoirist and former alcoholic Mary Karr:

When you surrender, you get used to a certain level of candor—you know, the old thing, you’re only as sick as your secrets. You develop a confidence in truth-telling. Part of my drinking was so much about trying not to feel things, to not feel how I actually felt, and the terrible thing about being so hidden is if people tell you they love you. . . it kinda doesn’t sink in. You always think, if you’re hiding things, How could you know who I am? You don’t know who I am, so how could you love me? Saying who I am, and trying to be as candid as possible as part of practicing the principles, has permitted me to actually connect with people for the first time in my life. It’s ended lifelong exile.

They always say God is in the truth, and I’ve ended loneliness and been able to feel connected by saying who I am and how I feel. I’m sort of comfortable to the degree to which I’m an asshole. It’s not like I’m not an asshole—people know the ways I’m an asshole and it’s within the realm of acceptable asshole-ocity. 

I don't know if being more honest and open will improve my relationships in the long run, but that's the hope. It's probably a very ironic thing for me to say, but I don't really have any desire to let my disorder define me or my life. That doesn't mean that I don't acknowledge that I have issues and struggle with things that to a large extent have prevented me from having lasting stable relationships and work situations, but I've always been really open to trying new things.

61 comments:

  1. Rock on Sister.

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  2. i personally dont believe sociopathy to be a "disorder". i feel that i am in a better place emotionally then the NTs around me. it takes me mere hours to get over something that my NT friends think should take me weeks or months to recover from.

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  3. Wow Interesting excerpt. How tiring it is to hide and worse still, not know you are hiding. I think the way out of this is to force yourself to show your true feelings and express your true thoughts. The surprise is that you are more like other people than different.

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  4. "I’m an asshole and it’s within the realm of acceptable asshole-ocity."

    I don't know why, but I love made up words.

    How do you reconcile who you are with what you want? I can be the nicest person in the world if I want something from someone, but at the end of the day when I've got it, I'm cold. I wouldn't even want to hang out with someone like me! When I see people that remind me of myself, I despise them, and I don't really know why. I don't have to talk to them, all they have to do is fit the archetype that I resemble. Actually, I hate most people all the time.

    I have it buried so deeply that I forget about it, but I really am filled with rage.

    I could be the one who finds a nice person, becomes obsessed with them, and stalks them into terror.

    I could be the one who snaps and destroys everything around him.

    I could be the one who actively works, slowly and carefully, to plot the demise of humankind.

    But I dream of a simple life, self-sufficient, where I can grow my own food and live my days out in peace.

    I dream of people hurtling off into space to colonize distant planets orbiting foreign stars.

    I dream of starting a family, growing old, and dying with my children and my children's children beside my bed.

    The truth, though, is that I'll never have anything that I want, good or bad. I'll coast through life alone, I'll be on my deathbed alone, and I'll contemplate nonexistence alone as my perception winks out and nothing ever was, is, or ever will be.

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    1. You sure sound lovely, Andy~

      What people figure out in their death bed is that they needed to have shared. Don't constrain yourself to that alone-ness. Figure out an arrangement where you can share without burdening yourself or the others. There are people who fit who you are, there are matching disorders, find the disorder that matches yours. Maybe someone with autism to put up with your bs on one side but to bring a lot of joy with some creative pursuit on the other.

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    2. You have expressed yourself elegantly. And the rage you speak of makes sense.

      Recent studies show that most people are way more optimistic than they should be and that depressives have the most accurate understanding of their own abilities and the circumstances they operate within. While the rest of the world mentally masturbates to the idea that their "big break" is just around the corner, depressives are more willing to stop drinking the whatever kool-aid they drink that enables them to stay stuck in middle management and raise children who are ornery and flawed and grow less cute and more distant by the year. Depressives understand that working harder so they can afford the car payments on an audi will not change their lives so they don't have much interest in "living the dream". If there's no dream to live for beyond reality then it becomes exhausting to get out of bed each day and put up with insincere shit from people you have to interact with but basically abhor.

      Depression has been described as rage directed inwards. And the violent impulses you have don't make you a bad person- they reflect the pressure of having to continually interact with people who don't see the world the way you do.

      But here's the thing- the fact that you wake up each day and don't give in to those impulses even when you are not self medicating with daydreams about a better future that have no bearing on reality means that you might be a far more decent human being than you realize. It's one thing to deal with the little annoyances of life (standing in line, going to pointless meetings at work, getting a flat tire) when you are still entertaining dreams of being the next American Idol. It's quite another to have to force yourself to be pleasant after you have resigned yourself to "this is all that there is".

      Despite my uneasy truce with a fundamentalist Christian past, I am a big fan of some parts of the bible. The book of Ecclesiates is pretty awesome because it says outright "Everything is meaningless". It doesn't add the PS- "if you do xyz then everything will be sunshine and roses". It's a quick read and might be of interest to you.

      As I am sure you can tell, I've had my share of depressive episodes so I get where you are coming from. For someone as deeply invested in people as I am wired to be, a lot of conclusions I've drawn after life repeatedly slapped me upside the head have led me to the cynicism that leads me to call myself "Machiavellian Empath".

      When I am low, the one thing that keeps me going is the idea that everything (good or bad) changes. Love may prove ephemeral, but so is despair. The world is big and even if today sucks, tomorrow may not if you focus on the fact that there are a lot of interesting people that you haven't met yet. You say you hate most people. I get that. But you don't hate everyone.

      The one thing that gets me out of bed when I am flattened by the realities of the human condition is that there is always the possibility of meeting a kindred spirit who you can travel part of your way with. Forget forever- just focus on the few people in your life that don't suck and realize that you are not alone.

      Good luck, Andy.

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    3. I expected laughter, not sympathy. Regardless, I appreciate you taking the time to write all that.

      I would describe how I'm feeling as mildly sad. Depression for me is wanting to step in front of every passing bus. Right now, I have no trouble getting up in the morning, and I am actively working to improve myself and my situation.

      I read the bible when I was younger, and I actually found parts of it very interesting. I have never met anyone who actually wanted to talk about it, though. I'm under the impression that the majority of people who call themselves Christians have never read it, though. I may look up that book, assuming it's available online.

      Hope is knowing that your life could be better and doing nothing to make it better. Despair doesn't have such a powerful bite when it's swimming beneath an ocean of ice.

      No, I'm not crushed by despair or the fact that I will never be happy. Those are light burdens that I carry with a smile on my face :)

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    4. well, there's a reason black humor exists. the best kind, imo

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    5. I do have an appreciation for the darker things in life. There's nothing like taking a bath in pitch darkness :P

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    6. Machavellianempath "when I am low, the one thing that keeps me going is the idea that everything (good or bad) changes.

      This is so true and in my opinion the most crucial thing for all depressives to remember. When I get depressed I tell myself that just because I am feeling depressed at this moment doesn't mean I will feel depressed tomorrow or in a few days time. This nips the 'oh no, I'm depressed' thought processes that feed the catch 22 kind of depression in the bud.

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  5. ME-
    It's really courageous to do what you've done. The advantage the sociopath holds is that they ask everyone else to lay down their cards when they keep theirs hidden. That imbalance of information is what gives you an advantage that makes exploitation so easy.
    Of course, the cynic in me says that this might just be another strategy and you have revealed only part of yourself. But then I remember- everybody (sociopath and neurotypical alike) shows only the parts of themselves they think will be acceptable to the world. I love the passage about how it was hard to let people's love in because you knew you were only giving part of the story. So True.
    It makes me wonder if a big part of the reason sociopaths relate to the world as they do because love has always been conditional in the way they have experienced it. There seems to be a mortal terror of being found out as being ordinary, and less than brilliant because love is performance based.
    For you to "lay down your cards" is truly extraordinary. I hope that you are surrounded by people who respond for loving you as you are: a flawed but incredibly brave person who does not rely on pity to stay in the good graces of others.

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  6. This is not related to the current post, but I wanted to get an opinion from you guys. I know someone who is most definitely BPD, but there are some things about them that don't fit the BPD description and sound more sociopath to me. Can someone be both? How would you diagnose someone who has all of the symptoms of BPD but also is sadistic (example, laughing at the physical pain of animals and emotional pain of people), seems to want power and control, wanted to be a cop or a mortician, has a fascination with dead bodies, loves the movie Silence of the Lambs, lies about everything all the time, is really good at reading body language, and purposely seduces married people into falling in love with her and having sex with her only to dump them and find her next "victim". She even refers to them as her "victims". These things seem more than BPD to me. Thoughts?

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    1. Read "Evil Genes" by Barbara Oakley. She feels that BPD and ASPD are very closely linked.

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    2. Lol. Thought I was reading Lana Del Ray lyrics.

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    3. hi 651

      I know a woman who is a sadist. She's in the bdsm community and accumulates slaves, has seduced them all into kissing her ass, and she also trolls sites where she finds NON bdsm "victims" ripe and vulnerable. Her boyfriends are always a bit blue collar and "less than" she is. She describes herself as borderline with narc tendencies. Her ex boyfriend calls her "the devil". He thinks she's a sociopath, but i don't. I think she's an entitled little narcissistic slut, and i think her bpd is only part of her make-up.

      I know other sadists with not quite as harsh a reputation, but they are also on an ego power trip. They preen. Sadists seem to get an ego boost from being "the best" sadist around. They rely on a submissive little fan club for esteem.

      If you take a way the sadism, what else is in the make - up of this girl? Really, idk.

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  8. Do you still desire to ruin others?

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  9. @ Andy Glass

    How do you know you will never be happy? You've previously stated that you're not a psychopath. Have you been diagnosed with a personality disorder? Would you settle for content? Where there's life there's hope.

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    1. I've never been diagnosed with any personality disorder. I've been content for a very long time. I pull this off by not wanting more out of life.

      I miss wanting things, though. Sure, unfulfilled desires can be stressful, but they add uncertainty and excitement to life. Desire loses its appeal, though, when every one remains unfulfilled. So, if I want nothing, I can never be disappointed. I'll be always content, but never happy, safe from sorrow but also joy.

      I get a sick sense of satisfaction from having this perspective, a kind of morbid glee at being able to dodge the pain that others suffer.

      Hope is a door that only opens to pain and disappointment, my friend.

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    2. But what makes you so sure your desires will never be fulfilled? Did you have a neglecting or controlling parent as an infant? Surely you see examples of people who want something, go for it, and get it every day. Why should you be the exception?

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    3. No, my parents were awesome, and still are. Since you asked, I might as well tell you. I was socially isolated as a child. I was never physically bullied, but I was ostracized. It was as if everyone hated me. I still feel the same way, that everyone hates me.

      Conceptually, I understand that this probably isn't true, but it's become a part of who I am. So, I can never really trust that anyone has a positive opinion of me. I shrug off praise like I would an insult. I don't want to be this way, but it's all I've ever been.

      That's why I'll always be alone, why I'll never have hope. I wish they'd just beaten me up :)

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    4. Aww That is what I meant by talking from the heart, Andy xx

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    5. I don't like doing that. Those doors are shut for a reason.

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    6. Me, too. It is super hard to be intimate( emotionally) i.e. share your true heart. You are doing great, though <3

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    7. Andy, what you need to do to find joy without sorrow is simply decide that there is no purpose to life except entertainment. it doesnt matter what your actions are, whether they hurt or help someone, just how much fun your having. and dont tell me theres nothing you find fun, everyone enjoys something

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    8. You guys are gonna think I am a stuck in the mud but true joy is in helping others.

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    9. Honestly, I had a horrible day yesterday. I was so anxious that it was scary.I don't take medication because I want to work through what the symptoms are trying to tell me, as they are always trying to tell you something and some way to heal.
      Today, a big insight clicked in. I wonder if you have terrible days because your defenses are breaking down and these bad days are followed by better ones.

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    10. Sevvack, entertainment involves sitting on my ass in front of a computer. But, that's getting very dull, so I'm going to try to fight off my introversion and try to meet new people.

      Monica, I hope for your sake enlightenment and a nervous breakdown don't lie on either side of a razor's edge.

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  10. M.E. Is starting to sound like a loser these days

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    1. what is your definition of a "winner?"

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    2. A loser is someone who talks about family and support systems, and has problems that other people face. Winners are cold, merciless monsters that run around cackling maniacally, breaking hearts, and generally being lying, manipulative asshats.

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    3. A WINNER is someone who talks about family and support systems, and has problems that other people face. LOSERS are cold, merciless monsters that run around cackling maniacally, breaking hearts, and generally being lying, manipulative asshats.

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    4. I figured the anonymous guy wouldn't respond, so I inferred his meaning. I thought I was laying the sarcasm on pretty thick. Are you being sarcastic? This is awful.

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    5. I'm guessing that was a different anonymous ;)

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    6. Either that or the first anonymous has multiple personalities. That's entirely possible here.

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  11. I wish I could buy everyone at this forum a tall stiff drink of their choice... Goodnight

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    1. Make mine a double shot of tequila. I could really use a stiff drink today.

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    2. Patrón Silver sounds awesome.

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    3. I'm partial to Jose Cuervo Especial Gold with coarse sea salt and lemon, myself. Cheers! : )

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  12. Andy,

    Is something wrong with your body to make you feel the way you do? On a scale of 1-10 how attractive physically you believe you are for your age group?

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    1. I don't like answering these questions, but you asked.

      I would consider myself average, a 5. I'm overweight (but not obese), and I've been trying to exercise and eat less, partly to improve my appearance but mostly to increase my general strength and stamina. Being overweight and out of shape is embarassing.

      Many people my age are starting to noticeably lose hair, but I'm pretty sure I'll die with a full head of hair unless I shave it, so that's a plus.

      How I rate myself isn't the issue, though. I can't believe anyone would find me attractive. Tolerable, perhaps, but nobody's going to be drawn to me because of my looks. I like myself just fine, but when I try to see myself through other people's eyes, the only thing I can imagine is that they despise me.

      It's not true, of course, but that doesn't make it feel any less real :)

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    2. This is what I thought was going on with you. You are physically self-loathing and somehow projecting your own view of yourself to others.

      I think your healing necessitates in changing this attitude of yours. You need to come to grace as far as who you are physically. A huge part of one's attractiveness is a function of how they relate to the world. You are so young and could change this negativity about yourself. I suggest you seek help (counseling) in thsi regard and be very open in voicing all depths of your self-loathing. You will come to a realization as you hear yourself that a lot of that is baloney. So many men who are not even 5 on a rational scale come across as above 8 in attractiveness just because they put out the right aura.

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    3. That is true.
      And the fives are better in bed ;) than the eights who are coasting on the fact they were "play-ahs" in high school.

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    4. confidence is far more attractive then actual looks i have found

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    5. I don't talk about these issues, ever. I don't run around like a sad little puppy dog with my head down, either. I project confidence and my dry, slightly morbid sense of humor usually resonates with people. I can tell very easily when people respond positively or negatively to me, they don't hide it.

      At the end of the day, though, positive feedback starts to look like pity, people being nice to the poor little outcast, and their invitations to future social gatherings seem to have been offered begrudgingly.

      The only aspects of low self-esteem that I embody are an excessive will to please and pessimism. I don't get angry at criticism, I appreciate it and see it as an opportunity for self-improvement. I am decisive, and will hold to any commitment that I make. I make mistakes every day, but I don't dwell on them. I see past mistakes more as missed opportunities, and I don't let them consume me. Any hostility and envy I have are internalized and buried.

      I don't think counseling is necessary. I'm trying to get in shape so that I'm not hopelessly unattractive. I'm trying to be more social, to get out every once in a while. My family is a huge benefit, and I visit them often. Hope has no worth when compared to action. I cannot shake the certainty, though, that I will always be essentially alone. I can open up to strangers on the internet, but in person any darkness I have escapes only through a filter of humor.

      I cannot fathom why you would want to be nice to me, or help me, though. I must sound like some whiny emo teenager. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to put on my eyeliner and flip my hair in front of the mirror so I can stare into my coal-black eyes and let the emptiness drown my pain away.

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    6. Hi Andy
      I can relate to a lot of what you say. You helped me. People dont talk about their inner views on themself

      Recently I tried to open up to a family member and he told me he was shocked i felt like shit inside. He thought i was the "cool" one. It's awful to feel it inside and put on the confident face to the world.

      Right now i am trying to be real with someone, and they keep telilng me they love me and how wonderful i am. I just want to always say please, I dont need you to say those nice things to me. it is sounding like overkill to me, and it makes me want to think that this person is overcompensating out of guilt. i have issue with what he says (the gooey stuff) and WHY he says it. I put the negative (MY perception of WHY) first. He says it is important for h i m s e l f to say what is in his heart about me and so it should not matter . he says he needs to say this stuff to me bec he ordinarily will not do it. I can't believe anything he says. I dont care what he thinks.

      But i am confused. maybe i do need this. maybe i really need him to say it. But i fear that if i allow him to love me, it (he) will go away the minute i do so.

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    7. Glass, as many problems as my mother and I have, she gave me one piece of wisdom that I will never forget unless I get dementia, or something: "People don't like you because of the way you look or what size you are, they like you because of the way you make them feel when they're around you".

      It's so true. We are drawn to people that make us feel good about ourselves, because many people have doubts once in a while. The idea is to look for your complement or supplement. (but hopefully you don't NEED someone else for completion) I've become attracted to people without knowing what they look like at all because of how comfortable and natural I felt talking to them. And you know what? You're great at making people feel comfortable. Just continue to play up your strengths instead of dwelling on your 'weaknesses', which I put in quotes because they are surely subjective anyway.

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    8. Anonymous, I'm hardly qualified to give advice, so please take this with a grain of salt. It's more important that someone demonstrates love through action, rather than words. If this person opens up to you and talks about how they feel, about what makes them scared or worried, trust them. If they make everything about you, and try to to focus the conversation on how much they care about you, don't trust them. Don't open your door to someone who keeps theirs closed to you.

      Chet, I appreciate that. I'm never comfortable around anyone, though. I'm always on edge, rationalizing and overanalyzing the smallest things, and everything breaks down. I latch onto the smallest perceived slights and magnify them until they drown out all positivity. Maybe that's why I get along with people so well, because I'm trying to make people as comfortable as I'll never be.

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    9. Well, everyone except for you, Chet. When I think of you I just get filled up with warm fuzzies :)

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    10. are you declawed?

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    11. that's great advice, Glass. thank you. I feel what you say inside, on a gut level, too.

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  13. Goodnight sw. <3

    thank you.

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  14. \"I consider the sociopaths I have escaped from to be the mechanism through which my talent for survival was cultivated."

    that is a good one

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