Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Cruelty of Small Children

There are so many theories as to what this song is actually about, but according to the creator it's about the cruelty of small children.
And I have no problem believing that at all.

You see, I was a victim of the cruelty of small children while I was a child myself. I was isolated, I was ridiculed, I was emotionally, mentally, and physically hurt. My belongings were public property and routinely destroyed.
And no one who knew cared, save five people: an old friend of mine, my mother, my grandfather, Maureen, and myself.

I had one friend, Owen, who also experienced the cruelty of the same small children, during the school year. I had to wait until summer to have more friends. Sam and Walker, Ari and Cody. During the summer I knew I had friends who would never treat me like dirt just because I didn't know they were popular at a school I had never been to before. They wouldn't treat me like my oldest friend Kelsey.
And they didn't know that it was happening. They didn't know that during the school year and in my own town I had one singular friend.
I didn't want them to.

I had fun during the summer. I had friends, actual friends, and I didn't want the ugliness of the school year to intrude on my time with them.

And then there's the one thing that I lived with my whole life.
I knew someone who was a fairly constant presence in my life. She not only didn't care that I was bullied and pushed around, she said it was my fault.
She said I needed to dress differently, act differently, drop my interests of reading and video games and trading card games, horses and singing and archery.
She said I needed to care about celebrities and boy bands and clothes.
She said I needed to wear clothes that didn't cover enough skin for me to feel comfortable.
She said I needed to stop riding and doing barn chores and instead play softball or soccer or some other sport.
I said no. That was a mistake.
I didn't want to change who I was. I had no concept of pretending to be someone I wasn't in order to fit in with the majority of people. I had no DESIRE to pretend to like the people who hated me. Why would I?
I was told that if I followed her instructions that they WOULD like me.
I asked her that one question: Why would I want to be friends with the same people who isolated me, hurt me, and ridiculed me?

The cruelty of small children broke me.

But I put myself back together and, like the Japanese art of kintsugi, made those parts of me that broke, that were the target of the cruelty, shine out.

I do have to wonder, though, what I would be like had I not experienced so much of the cruelty of small children.
I have to question just why the behavior that is condemned in adults, condemned, intolerable, considered harassment, even assault, is tolerated, ignored, even encouraged in children.

Can anyone tell me that?

Reaction to a Friend's Article

A friend of mine wrote an article that was recently featured here. I replied to it, and it became a bit...long. I will repost it here.

I am on the spectrum, too. I may have started to talk and read and even write earlier than most children...but once I did I had trouble stopping for anything. Even eating was sometimes a fight. To get me to interact socially with any children beyond a very few was a war. I didn't WANT to. I didn't LIKE talking to people. I learned very early that if you look like you're so involved in what you're reading that you literally cannot notice what is going on unless they physically move your book...well, that got most people to leave you alone.
And why wouldn't I want people to leave me alone? People were loud and startling, and they didn't make sense. Books made sense. You read and turned the pages and eventually there were no more pages to turn. Then the book was over, and you started another. Books were linear. They had plots and people in books acted in accordance with the plot - either to move it along or to hinder it. Protagonists and antagonists.
Eventually I learned that if I didn't talk to people and didn't "make friends" I would be labeled a "problem". What? I wasn't a problem. I didn't make trouble, I did okay in school, I was relatively quiet and well-behaved...but I ignored "real people". I didn't understand them. They didn't follow any set of rules I could follow. Saying hello to one person could get me a hello back, but another person would treat me like something to scrape off their shoes if I said hello to them. I didn't get it.
Later I found video games. RPGs, really. It was like a book, with a story, but YOU made the story happen. There were rules, and the people you didn't control acted in accordance with those rules. You acted within those rules to further the story. It was simple.

Eventually I found friends. Eventually I puzzled out this strange thing, human interaction. I learned more and more of the sets of rules that others followed. Sometimes I still stumble on the unknown, another rule to learn, another set of rules to puzzle out.

But it was hard. Everyone was loud and in my face and they moved through a conversation so was, to me, like trying to hold a conversation with an auctioneer.
I learned to read emotions. I do it so well now that I will react to the emotions of people I pass on the street. Walking through a city is a mental drain. So many people going by so fast and about a third of them I notice how they hold themselves and how their faces look and the energy they surround themselves with - anger or fear or the frantic panic of the very late...happiness and deep sadness or even preoccupation. It gets to the point that sometimes it overrules what I actually feel, and when that happens, I break down. Sometimes it's a panic attack, sometimes it's complete emotional deadlock - locking everything so far inside that I don't feel any emotion. I'm told that it's anxiety disorder modulated - modified - by being on the spectrum.

I have cats. I can tell you right now that without those cats I would not be functioning as well as I do. I don't do well academically and I can't work a steady, ordinary job. I'm not good at organising things and I have trouble keeping my house straightened out.

What I do do well is horses. Horses are simple. They have social rules and set behaviors. Stables have rules and are laid out in a simple way, everything in its own, very obvious place. Stalls are all mucked out the same way. Mucking out goes into the pile outside, no matter where in the world you are. Tack needs to be cleaned and stored the same way the world over. Horses need to be groomed the same way. Feed is measured the same way. Hay bales have flakes no matter where you are. No matter if you're in America or the UK or Siberia, every horse the world over needs water. Tack is put on the same way no matter what horse you're tacking up. Feet are cleaned, bits de-grassed, and aisles swept the same way. Bathtime always involves water and soap and hoses and sponges. It always ends with some amount of water and stray horse hairs on you.
If you act this way, horses will react this way. Act that way and horses will do that. It's simple.

But to tell this to people who know I am on the spectrum and they, save for family and friends who might as well be, will treat me like a five-year-old who wears glittery Disney princess dresses and wants a pony to keep in her backyard.

Sure, I may wear clothes that most people don't, and have interests most people aren't interested in, but that does not mean that you can treat me like a five-year-old pony-obsessed princess girl.

I may be in a bliaut, but I have a six-foot-tall bow in my hand, arrows at my hip, and know how to use they for target-shooting...or elegant, witty, barbed discourse.

I am on the spectrum...and while that makes me different... also makes me who I am, and I will neither apologise for it nor hide it.

And you, Jason, are one of the people who helped me be that person.
Thank you, my friend.
I am who I am thanks to my friends. With all that I have gone through in my life because I am on the spectrum I feel it is wrong to hide who I am and how I think. I would hesitate very little to go around in a lovely long bliaut and chemise. Work, shopping, a nice walk. I WOULD, however, think twice about wearing just a bathing suit to the beach. I prefer to cover up. I am modest. I like looking pretty, but my idea of pretty - for myself - is much different from how most people my age like to dress to feel pretty. I like my jeans and my t-shirts, my long skirts and shorts that almost reach my knees. Sometimes I wear multiple skirts at a time. I am different. To many people that is enough, in their minds, to make me unsuitable as a friend. To them I say this:
If you feel you cannot be yourself with your friends, then maybe they are not actually your friends. If you cannot be yourself, if you feel you have to be perfectly socially acceptable, then just think: why? Why do you feel you have to hide yourself? You are you and that should be enough.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

 Humanity as a whole is disgusting. I honestly can say humans are the most stench-ridden lot of slime molds in this universe. Of course, that's rather offensive to slime molds. They're decent life-forms really, and some smell quite nice. Mind their own business.
Of course I include myself. I am, after all, human. I really wish I weren't. I encounter some of the most unpleasant people.
I can honestly say that one of the best friends I've ever had is a pony named Comet. Two others are cats. The other few are humans who are really on the decent end of the scale.
I also know one human who should really be non-fungal, non-algaic pond scum. You know, the kind that's all neony yellow and green and colours your skin when you so much as breathe near it and contains not one bit of pollen and never freezes? Yeah.
I think as a whole humanity is a disgusting lot of self-serving traitorous backstabbing warmongers. When a given tech is invented it is invariably used shortly thereafter to improve warfare. It is the nature of humanity to war and it is a disgusting thing. You will find individuals who are kind and honest but it is a rare thing. I tend to carry around lots of books and some headphones so I can ignore the large majority of humanity without seeming more impolite than those trying to interrupt someone reading a book larger than their head. You can count on one hand the number of centuries without warfare since the dawn of our recorded history. It is shameful, wasteful, and thoughtless. Only by seeking to understand can we erase fear and its offspring hatred and bigotry, and the large majority of the human species would rather bash those with differences into burnt cinders. I do not like humanity. I myself am human and so there is a part of me that is as bad as those I dislike. I dislike this part of myself as well, but I suppose I must live with it or live not at all. I prefer life. Life can be spent wisely and widely but death buys you little and almost none of it lasting save a name and a deed, if that.

Friday, February 6, 2015

You have value just by living?

Lloyd from Tales of Symphonia is amazing.

He believes that no matter what happens, you are yourself. Lloyd has this attitude that to change yourself for others isn't right. That everyone is who they are and that's perfect. That people are who they are, and that to hate them for things they can't change is monstrous. And following that, it's not right to hate people for what they can choose, either.

He thinks that no one should have to sacrifice themselves, their happiness, or change who they are, not for anything. He thinks that every life has value, that everyone is born the same and that it's the people who raise us who pass on prejudice, or not. He truly believes that one day there will come a time when everyone sees the value of life and no one will be sacrificed for anything. That one day every life will have value enough that no one will be seen as expendable.

One day...

But humans are, as a whole, a violent species. War has been part of humanity almost longer than civilisation has. We can dream that one day war will be unthinkable...but unless there's a drastic shift in the way we live our lives, the way we think, the way we ARE...

Lloyd Irving's dream will never live.

No life will be valued just because they are.