Back under the radar

submerged hippopotamus After the events of the past months, I realize I’m much, much happier being behind the scenes. I’m more comfortable being under the radar – not because I’m ashamed of who I am or what I have to say, but because, well, I’m autistic. And that means (to me, anyway), that I’m much better off living in my own circumscribed world, where I don’t have to constantly explain my motivations and desires and opinions to everyone who hasn’t walked the same path as I have, who hasn’t studied the same research I have, who isn’t privy to my internal world where my intentions are developed and hatched into action, and who hasn’t witnessed the logical progress of what really happens in the world, when you push such-and-such a button.

Some months ago, I had changed my handle (here and on Twitter) to “Happy, Healthy Autist”, hoping that it would set a more positive tone for my work and my writing here. But it didn’t work out that way at all. If anything, it seemed to be a bit of a shit magnet for unhappy people who resented that I might actually be happy and healthy (which I actually am). ‘Nuff said about that.

I also realized that the things I’d written about really unfortunate, unpleasant events got a whole lot more air-time and attention than the things I wrote about good and positive things.

To whit:

blog stats showing nearly 400 views on one day, versus the 50 or so I regularly get

The nearly 400 views happened on a day I posted about being continuously attacked for a misunderstanding that I never intentionally “perpetrated” harm anyone. It was a simple misunderstanding that I could have fixed in a matter of minutes. But it turned into a conflagration and consumed time I’ll never get back.

The 25-75 views happened on all the other days when I just posted about regular stuff that happened to me. Clearly, drama was the draw. “Bummer” doesn’t even begin to sum up my feelings about that.

Aside from how f*cking depressing it is that people jones on drama a hell of a lot more than positive developments, it also shows me that while I may want to be a voice of positivity and hope, there’s not a ton of air-time to be had for that point of view. Positivity takes discipline and dedication. It requires that you put yourself aside and you choose something higher. Also, that you focus your attention on something other than worst-case scenarios.

Of course, I’m no exception to that, at times. My Royal Aspie-ness truly delights in perseverating on drama shit, for sure, and I can lose hours and hours to focusing intently on all the things I’ve said and done wrong, that I wish I could have done differently. I can lose hours and days and weeks to ruminating about All That’s Wrong and How Hopeless It All Is. But because I know it, it’s officially my responsibility to do something about it.

I can’t declare myself disabled by my autistic brain’s tendencies — I don’t dare — because awareness implies ownership of my issues. The simple fact that I know:

  1. That this happens with me,
  2. That I want to do better,
  3. How to train myself to improve,
  4. That my retraining systems are effective and work, and
  5. There is no excuse for me to stay mired in my own shit — of which I’m fully aware

… it all keeps me “on the hook” for managing my crap.

Now, sure, I can say, “But I’m autistic, and it’s not that easy!”

No kidding. Important and meaningful things are never easy for me. That doesn’t absolve me of responsibility in this respect. It just means I need to work at it. Hard. I have to use my powers for good, instead of evil, and perseverate on fixing shit that’s wrong with my own individual situation. I’ve got a systematizing brain, so I can — and must — come up with systems that will set me down the right path.

But I digress.

The whole Happy, Healthy Autist thing was fine while it lasted. But I’m much more happy under the radar, keeping to myself, just living my life instead of being a shining example for others. Other people can do what they like. They will do what they like, regardless of what and how I am. It’s not my business, and it’s not my concern.

I’m autistic. My life is tightly circumscribed around myself, my unique interests, and the things that I care about. And all of it is well beneath the surface of what the neurotypical world thinks is interesting or important.

That much is clear, after spending four days around a gaggle of about 10 NT workmates on a trip 2/3 of the way across the country. I was basically required (for the sake of teamwork and getting a damn’ thing done in the future with these people) to “hang out” with these vacuous, beer-and-wine-swilling, empty-headed, petty, sheltered, superficial creatures whose answer to everything was eating too much, drinking just enough to get buzzed, getting almost no sleep for the duration, and sharing gossip and rumours to get their political bearings.

To say I was “out of my element” would be The Understatement Of The Year.

Can you tell I had a horrible time?

If not, let me be clear:

I had a horrible time.

It felt a lot like this:

running the gauntlet
That wold be me, in the middle

And I’m going to have to repeat running that gauntlet in another month or two… I’ll probably have to do it every month or so, until I leave this job – which I am going to.

This is the final straw. I’ve been planning on leaving, but I’ve been back and forth about whether I have to leave the job. And indeed, yes, I have to move on. It’s ridiculous that I should be required to travel regularly to do my data-crunching job, completely trash my highly effective routine, and place so much additional stress on my mental and physical health. I’m not the only one who suffers. My partner is impacted as well. She’s none to keen on my meltdowns that invariably come within 48 hours of my return, and my meltdowns put us both on edge for days and weeks at a time.

Traveling each month is fine, if you’re up for it, if you like that sort of thing… and if it’s a welcome break from your boring old homebody routine (which it is for some people). But for me, it’s intolerable.

And I don’t think anybody gets that, at all.

Especially not my boss. He gets a kick out of seeing people in pain — he used to intentionally trigger migraines in one of his vulnerable co-workers for fun. He still jokes about it – ha ha ha. Really fucking funny, dude.

No, not funny at all. The last thing I can tell him, is that I’ve got my multitude of issues. It will keep me out of the kinds of conversations I need to have, to do my job. It will put him at a distance, it will keep necessary information from me, as only the most “reliable” people get the inside view of what’s going on in our world. And I can’t function like that. “Coming out” as autistic is about the last thing I need. Even though I’m surrounded by Aspies at work, nobody — but nobody — talks about it. We don’t dare.

And if you’re reading this thinking, “Oh, how unfair,” you have never, ever operated seamlessly in extremely high-performance environments that serve the Overlords of this planet. And you should never, ever seek high-stakes employment in this proverbial Mordor. Not if you know what’s good for you, your career, and your sanity.

Anyway, in a few months, that won’t be an issue for me, because I’ll be moving right along. And this will all be just another “fantastic experience” I can put on my resume / LinkedIn profile.

I suppose that’s one of the drawbacks of being under the radar — nobody knows about the depth and breadth of your limitations and suffering. At the same time, if they did know, there’s no way in heaven or hell or anywhere on God’s good earth, that I’d be considered an adequate team member. I hear the way people talk about others with limitations like migraines and elderly parents they need to take care of. Those people are dismissed out-of-hand as not fit to fully serve.  They’re “out” — disqualified from the inner circle, because they can’t be relied upon in a crunch. And there’s always a crunch. It’s like having flat feet in the military — I’m not sure how it is now, but once upon a time, it would get you disqualified from service. Same thing with multinational, corporate, high-tech life. You have to suck it up and keep marching, keep putting yourself out there, keep charging into the line of fire, or you’re not good for much. If you don’t constantly prove your value at every turn, you’ll be replaced by someone younger, cheaper, more able to inspire confidence in everyone around them.

Anybody who insists all autistic people should disclose at work literally have no fucking idea what they’re talking about. It’s ableist and it’s unrealistic, and it just shows how out of touch they are with the realities of high-stakes positions in top companies. You have to play if you want to get paid — and we don’t make the rules. They are handed to us, and we’re expected to keep on keeping on, regardless.

So, that being the case, it’s time for me to go back underground. The way the political scene has turned (taking my stomach with it), I’ve got no burning desire to be “out, loud, and proud” about much of anything, right now. If anything, I’m bound and determined to get underground and stay there, being as much of an invisibly disruptive saboteur influence as humanly possible, for however long it takes to get this shit turned around – or at least poke enough holes in the mindless thought-boat of our ‘populist’ world, till it starts to sink of its own accord.

I’m a shitty public figure. I’m a much better underground freedom fighter. So, I’m going with my strong suit.

And people will never know I’m there. They’ll only see the after-effects.

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6 thoughts on “Back under the radar

  1. This field was intentionally left blank

    Oh no 😦 My spirit aches for you girl, on several levels. The online drama, the job, the trip, the stress… ugh. I wholeheartedly agree, too, that coming out as autistic at work could be disastrous. I can’t imagine how anybody can advocate that across the board. You’re right, it IS ableist. It’s unrealistic and at this moment in time, it could completely destroy one’s life. I genuinely, fully hope that one day (very) soon we won’t have to worry about that. But although time brings change, change takes time…. lots of time. It’s a gradual, baby-step-laden process. It’s not going to happen overnight. I can only imagine, too, how horrible it must’ve been to have been surrounded by obnoxious dorks, being cooped up with them for several days and being forced to interact with them. And the cutthroat industry that yours can be…just–no. I totally understand why you want/need to leave. I’m glad you’re plotting your escape.

    Knowing the town you were in for your trip, I have double sympathy. That’s a very… obnoxious town at times. I live in the next big town southbound, and although they appear so close on a map, the attitudes couldn’t be more different. Our town despises that one lol. I wish your event had been held here instead – it’s much more laid-back and I think you might’ve had a bit more fun (obnoxious adult children notwithstanding). But that town is the Route 128 of our state, and so, it doesn’t surprise me that the event was held where it was. Double-yuck. I feel for you.

    I admired your efforts at positivity, and yep, it was fun while it lasted. But I think you’re right – it almost seemed to be a shit-magnet. I might have a theory – might the ironic phenomenon you experienced stem from some (many?) peoples’ subconscious desire to prove you wrong? Because perhaps they’re miserable themselves and can’t stand to see someone with their diagnosis living well? Almost like those who put others down to push themselves up. I might be wrong, but it almost seems like that kind of psychology at work, to me. Just my wonderings. 🙂

    Anyway, I hope that this next week, month, year, etc, go infinity-times better for you. Sending you my strongest supportive thoughts. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VisualVox

      Thanks – it’s nice to hear some validation. So, I’m not imagining things, after all 😉 Meh… what-evah. I wish I had gotten down to SA on this trip – maybe next time, if I make the trip again. I love SA, and I really missed going there.

      As for all the folks who seemed determined to prove me wrong about being happy and healthy… well, if your identity is centered around your disability, and someone comes along and says, “As difficult as it is, I get along just fine, thank you,” then that person is undermining your personal identity and your political position. Those of us who are full-on Aspies/Autists and really make the most of it, can be a … problem… for those who rely on autism being perceived as a disability only.

      As I said… what-evah. I’m actually not ditching high tech. No need to. I need to dive deeper into it – learn some new programming languages, and reclaim my destiny along lines that work for me. I was a software engineer for 15 years, before people like the new Overlords I report to started hiring cheaper overseas help (I trained my replacements, once upon a time). But now things are coming around, and they realize that you actually do need deep expertise for certain jobs. Those are the jobs I want. Screw the popular ones. I want the impossible work – ’cause that’s actually interesting.

      No need to let your heart ache about this. It’s how it goes. Background noise, basically. Oh, and good incentive to keep moving right along…

      Thanks for your kind words. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m glad you are putting your comfort and needs first and I agree that you it can’t just be a case of, in an ideal world everyone should be open and honest about who they are and what they need. It’s wonderfully idealistic but a long way from being a realistic possibility. Even when you are out it’s not a black and white thing, my colleagues have no idea of the true impact of the environment on me and I will never share it. I would lose my job instantly and under the guise that it is the best for me. I long for a time when people can be who they are without fear of judgement or persecution but I fear I will never see that day. In the mean time thank you for doing what you do to support our community, for my part I will continue to do what I can and hope that collectively we can be part of a journey that leads to acceptance and recognition for what we bring to the world.

    I glad your back under the radar as this makes you comfortable, if it’s ok with you I would like to continue to think of you as happy and healthy as well as it did and does give me inspiration and hope.

    All the best

    Aspie and Proud

    Liked by 3 people

    1. VisualVox

      Thanks for your kind words. Yeah, I have a number of “very different” friends, and I know all too well the singular sense of loneliness in the midst of others who I expect to understand me – or at least make the effort – but don’t. I’m not sure anyone except us has any idea about how it is to live autistic in this world, which is a shame. It’s not that I need endless pity or even sympathy, but just an appreciation of the challenges that come with my situation – and an appreciation of just what a badass I am, for getting up and going, each and every day.

      By all means, feel free to think of me as happy and healthy — I am, indeed. So, thank you!

      All the best to you, as well.

      V.V

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I went through this same process. Came out in 2008 as Bluejacky, went back underground, back out as Pinky after a lot of thought. My personal conclusion is that since autism is only a part of me, it’s only a part of my focus and blogging. I am a whole person, like everyone else. My goal coming back out is to integrate all the things across all the medias I’m on and just be me. I use tagging and archiving to make particular things easier for others to find, like depression and autism and spoonie stuff, but mostly just dropped the defensive posture and I blog for ME. I have days I want to go back under so bad, but I’ve been contacted privately by so many people who tell me I say exactly what they feel and they can’t bring themselves to share openly yet, and they just need to see me surviving. Some people can do focus blogging and stick to one subject or interest, I just can’t because it’s a drag for me. Just blog YOU. =) I don’t think it’s necessarily the negativity that people flock to (sans twitter) so much as identifying with you sharing real stuff. I think you’ve done exceptionally well and obviously have talent for blogging, so creating your own niche is perfect.

    A note on autism blogging- Like any other focus blogging, after awhile it’s redundant. The information is overwhelming, and I think what the internet wants to see is its application in real life format. How do auties navigate and survive? We can describe until we’re blue, but the sharing the living part is what’s real.

    Big thumbs up, total support here, I have enjoyed your efforts and I’m thankful you’ve shared as much as you have. I know I’ve gained context from that. ❤ I normally just lurk, but I feel this one, and I do hope you stick around. =)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VisualVox

      Thanks for writing. It really is important for people to speak up about their own individual experience. That’s so interesting about your own “trajectory”. I find it so fascinating, what people experience and how they navigate the storm waters. Everybody handles things differently, and I get ideas from what others do, which I’d otherwise never think of. Of course, I don’t do nearly as much blog interaction with others as I could, but what I find actually helps me a lot at times.

      We all have to find our way, and there’s always a good lesson to be learned… I have this vision of an unfolding fractal of the whole. In the abstract, it’s a lot of fun to watch. In person, of course, it can get a little dicey, but hey – that’s life.

      Liked by 1 person

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