Monday, September 26, 2016

Aspies also wear masks?

A reader sent me this video with the comment "aspie's do it too".

"I think we're all taught how to be normal at a very young age. . . generally we're expected to act like everybody else . . . the more practiced we are, the normal we see." It's not just sociopaths, it's aspies, and actually everyone else who has been socialized to act "normal" rather than behaving naturally.

The video discusses how mask wearing is a bit of an issue because it hides the underlying issues and needs of the person.

There's also an interesting reference to mask slipping when someone is past the point of being able to pretend anymore. She also discusses the issue of hiding aggression and other potentially negative behavior.

Another interesting remark, an aspie "It's not that we're terrible people . . . or trying to hurt them or offend them in anyway," but since the aspie is trying so hard to act normally, they get exhausted/drained wearing the mask and the aggression or underlying problems build up until they finally explode.

Also making a realistic plan before social occasions for acting normally and liking to spend time alone to rest.

Sound familiar to anyone?

Also, related?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Acknowledging yourself

I got a lot of emails from people with sociopathic tendencies or other personality disorders asking me what to do about re-connecting with their sense of self. I kind of don't know how I did it, because it was mainly my therapist guiding me through it? But I thought that this article -- How to Become Yourself -- described it in a generally accurate way, particularly re the uncertainty and time and energy required:

Becoming yourself is hard. In theory it’s easy. You do it by looking very closely at the person that you’ve been, digging out bad behaviors by the root and by letting go of anything that holds you back. It’s hard because the You of Before will make a fuss, it won’t give itself up easy. It has gotten used to not doing the good and terrifying things that make life extraordinary. It wants to stay put, it wants to stay shadowed and safe and out of sight. Even once you’ve decided that you want to be different, want to be braver and more yourself, it doesn’t happen at once.

You take the first few steps and think you’ll just keep going like that until it’s done and you’re changed and everything’s better and you feel whole. But it’s not like that. You take a step, you pause. You agonize, try to go back the way you came–find the road blocked, find in some cases it’s gone completely and ahead is something you can’t yet contemplate going towards. You hang stricken in empty space, between states, between the way you’ve been and the way you’re going to be. Between almost-happy-but-not-quite-happy and beyond, to somewhere great, somewhere where it’s not necessary to ask Is this it? Is this all there is?

It’s like in werewolf movies, one self is not big enough to hold the other, more monstrous self. In your case it’s not a monster, but a bigger and more lethal you that comes bursting out of its old way of being. Don’t be afraid of this. It’s okay to be lethal in the ways you fight for your life. Be lethal in your demands for joy, respect, progress. Step out of what is used up and useless, be lethal and unmoved in your certainty that there is peace ahead. But how to get there?
By slowing down
We end up in so many shitty situations by not thinking things through, by not recognizing the pull of our own toxic behaviors or the tell-tale signs that someone is bad news and won’t to leave us better than when they found us. Take a minute. Follow the map back. In the past you did this, then this, then this, and ended up here, without anything. Nod like you’ve discovered something, even if you’re just as confused. Decide in the future to buy a new map, and mark with an X places where you are celebrated. Where you’re safe and happy and strong. These are the places most worth visiting. Go to them as often as possible.

By learning to be by yourself and for yourself
It seemed clear growing up that the only way to experience love was to surrender to it. Put up your hands and step off the edge. Be consumed, or else you’re not doing it right. Be captured, or else what’s the point? Be eaten whole by it. Two life changing heartbreaks down the line and I’m starting to think it isn’t true. Because good love’s not a dinosaur. It’s an exchange of light, it’s two people doing right by one another again and again and again until the last time they speak. That’s what I think anyway and I’ve seen at least two cartoons on the subject.
By being better
You cannot be a better, gentler you until you start doing better, gentler things. I don’t mean you have to brush a unicorn’s hair or tuck a snake into bed. But you do have to tread more lightly through your life. You have to make calm and brave decisions about what you would like to happen and you have to take the appropriate actions to make those things most likely. Life is a choose-your-own-adventure. Will I be something? Answer yes. Will I end up where I’m supposed to be? Answer yes again, with as much conviction as you can manage. Will I be happy? Answer yes for the last time, as loudly as possible. But it’s haaaaaard. I know. But not forever. It will be easier. Eventually you’ll forget the way it was–the old ache of it; your heart quiet in its bed, your dreams dragging behind you like a tattered parachute. It will be good. You will be good.

I am aware that most people have either done this or have put off doing this for all sorts of reasons, so I am not sure who the target audience for this post is. But for those of you who have put it off but are still considering doing it, maybe just a quick endorsement from me that it's difficult and it's uncomfortable and even painful to own certain parts of yourself, and things often get uglier and more sideways before they get any better. But it is a really stable, safe, happy, and powerful place to be. There's a sort of confidence in knowing that you're living a life of integrity that is even more powerful and secure than the confidence the sociopath manifests in not caring about anything. (See also Montaigne on this subject) So it's worth it, in my opinion. Although if you do try it, I think it's best to be super committed to it, otherwise you might end up in a worse off position. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Good seduction?

I was talking a friend recently who was having a little bit of relationship trouble, specifically a little bit of a lack of reciprocation in interest with a new paramour. My friend is (for various reasons) the type to value being straightforward and direct about things -- the type to bemoan the gamesmanship of modern love, e.g. waiting to respond to someone, not appearing too interested, etc. "Don't wait to text back" are the sorts of platitudes you sometimes see in sappy and misguided social media posts, as if it is so brave and honorable to text someone back right away rather than trying to doing them the favor of making them desire you more than they thought they could ever desire another human being.

This has been a topic that my post-graduating-from-therapy-self has been thinking about for a little bit now -- what role does seduction or other types of potentially "good" manipulation have in healthy relationships? Because my first thought when my friend was telling me this story was maybe my friend needed to read the Art of Seduction, or Dangerous Liaisons, or get any sort of game for the sake of the paramour and for the good of the relationship. Because seducing and game aren't necessary always insidious. I've said it before, and even after dropping most manipulation from my emotional daily vocabulary I still believe it -- everyone wants to be seduced.

I asked me friend, "what is it you like about your paramour"? The answer: mystery, and the charming way the paramour goes about doing things in which everything feels like a pleasant surprise. It's the little things, so little that my friend was almost reluctant to tell me because it seemed silly. Things like giving up your reserved parking spot and parking on the street for the other person, working some connections to get into a hip new place, taking care of everything -- planning, paying, and otherwise trying to anticipate and then meeting another person's needs and wants. In the "old days" they called this "wooing", but they could have called it seduction because what it is at its heart is trying to induce feelings of love, affection, or desire in another person. It's manipulation, but it's not "bad" manipulation, and by that I mean it's not at all unwanted (in a consensual romantic relationship, stalking is another story).

I'm not saying to lie or pretend to be someone other than who you are not to get someone to fall in love with a fantasy. But there is nothing deceptive about (to go back to the earlier example) waiting a reasonable amount of time to text someone back in order to heighten the recipient's anticipation and pleasure when they finally do hear back from you. There is nothing deceptive about encouraging mystery and a sense of discovery between each other rather than dumping all of your personal information and baggage on during the first few dates. It's not whether people deserve or don't deserve honesty, it's that people don't really want honesty in that form in this arena. Maybe that's controversial to say, and certainly there would be plenty of people who probably truly do (anti-seducers, for one). But most just say they want the honesty. What they end up choosing is to be swept off their feet by someone who keeps them guessing, by someone who mixes a bittersweet and puzzlingly compelling blend of frustration and satisfaction in their interactions. Romantic love feels better when it's a bit of a challenge and involves a healthy amount of guesswork and angst. I don't know if it's absolutely necessary to use actual seductive skills to achieve this result, but it's certainly one of the most reliable and effective ways. It takes quite a bit of effort to seduce, and at least some skill. Consequently, there seems to be much more demand than supply for seduction. The fact that everyone wants to be seduced but there is such little actual seduction happening suggests that seducing someone, particularly seducing well, is one of the nicest things you could ever do for another person. Don't you think?
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