Social skills: They tell me to do what I love, part II

I have been working offline on some seed material leading up to a Creative Writing class, starting in two weeks. I’ve not been able to generate nearly as much as I would like, due mostly to the fact that I’ve not been out of the house recently — with the notable exception of going to pick up food from a Mexican restaurant during the recent 10-day heat wave (which did sustain me for three days). The heat wave has now broken — it actually broke late on the night of the 9th, when cold air blasted through the area and all of the open windows. (Thanks, Tropical Storm Kay.)

If I look back on it, I’ve also finished reading a book on editing and grammar, and I’ve been working on a non-writing-related course. I’m still uncertain as to whether I’ll be able to handle two post-Graduate-level Writing classes on top of this technical one.

The technical one, I need in order to be able to be marketable in my field. Pretty much everyone in the class is having trouble with the material. The actual work isn’t difficult; the readings are, and jargon doesn’t help.

I need to keep this class at the top of my priorities, because it is “official”; it could reflect negatively on my skills, GPA, employment prospects, and future ability to take on Graduate work, should I not take it seriously. It could also reflect positively on me, if I do well.

Of course, that technical class could also turn into…something fairly hellish, should I fall behind (or otherwise become unable to comprehend the material).

The other two courses I have planned are Creative Writing courses, which I’m not taking for a grade, but for knowledge and practice. Still, you know. Post-Grad level. This is only my second time dealing with post-Graduate-level classes, in Creative Writing. Having to work on an assignment for one of the upcoming classes, prior to its start, kind of smacks of AP English — not the most enjoyable class, in my experience.

Falling behind in either of the Creative Writing courses, really won’t break me, especially as I’m not fully certain where the Arts and Humanities fit into my life, at this point. They are life-sustaining, but do they pay enough to survive on, if you’re doing what you actually want to do? The obvious alternative is to go back to working in a Public Library setting, which is where nearly all of my past work history took place, but I shouldn’t.

I don’t deal well with people. I can be pleasant, most of the time, but it takes effort to be constantly and consistently pleasant with everyone. It’s also stressful, to be pleasant with everyone; especially when individuals consistently overrun your boundaries, or intend to dominate or harm or frighten or humiliate or seduce you (as if).

It isn’t all bad — most people are decent — but when randoms don’t get what they expect to get (whether that’s a personal book recommendation, a personal connection, a personal favor, or the level of politeness [in reality, “masking”] they expect), they can get nasty, pretty quickly…and that’s not something I welcome.

My prefrontal cortex knows that how I respond is ultimately my choice. The thing is, I’ve been subject to so much disrespect and trauma over the years, that I have triggers I’ve needed medication to handle. This is why I haven’t been great about responding to job ads. It’s also why I’m currently in therapy. And taking a technical course.

Dominance games like sexism and racism are just excuses to enable abuse. The point is that some people want to treat other people badly, and they make excuses for it which generally include their target while absolutely excluding themselves by the same logic. That seems to be the rationale.

I guess the thing to remember is, it’s not about me. Even though they really, really want me to think, it’s about me.

And yeah, I’ve reached the point during this writing, of realizing that a lot of my difficulties with the idea of having to go back into Public Services, or having to take a job serving the public more generally, probably have to do with my being on the Autism Spectrum (or possibly, the other diagnosis I have which correlates with difficulty in social situations).

In turn, that relates…possibly intimately, with the gender-identity issues I’ve written about, before. Although I believe I may be, “neuroqueer,” I haven’t yet reached the conclusion of confidently taking on the term. I have something of a dual-pronged relationship going on here, where part of my queerness (which term I use in the most respectful sense) may be an extension of an urge to escape social control over my body, behavior, appearance, and affect.

Essentially, I have less-than-no interest in playing games surrounding traditional heterosexual womanhood (including the game of whether I’ll accept or reject compulsory femininity, and including games around ritual sexuality [both the unwanted and {hypothetically} wanted kinds]).

The path away from that is something I have to hack for myself — with no instructions (well, other than becoming a nun; and I don’t think that’s going to happen).

As I pondered whether my last post still applied after having written it down — and talked it out with someone — I realized that this was one half of the reason I have identified as gender-nonbinary.

The other half? Gender-nonbinary community has been one of the only places in my adult life where I have experienced fitting in, without trying. Part of this is due to our great diversity, though underlying that diversity, there is some commonality.

Before meeting other nonbinary people, I hadn’t brought up discussion topics to have multiple people tell me that they understood and identified with what I said. It hasn’t happened for me in queer Women’s groups; and it also hasn’t happened in wider groups largely populated by binary Trans* people.

I had thought that as a child, playing actively, not wanting to play with dolls, and wanting to play “Daddy” in House, meant I was transmasculine. However, I regularly break out of what I expect of myself as a transmasculine person, whenever I try on the identity. Some of those quirks may also be due to neurodiversity, however.

Because of what I’ve written out above, I consider that my identity as gender-nonbinary — or, at core, possibly neuroqueer, to use a positive term — is more than just a response to trauma. Being neurodiverse is one of those things you can’t get rid of. I see it as a wholly legitimate identity…which, in my case, goes to the foundations of who I am. Even if I am not Autistic, I am still neurodiverse, and I still have a diagnosis which can incorporate social difficulties.

Prior to this year, I hadn’t known about the overlap of the Autism community and the gender-diverse communities. I hadn’t understood that being, “slightly,” on the Autism Spectrum might affect me profoundly.

I suppose it could be like having experienced dysthymia as a youth. Dysthymia is characterized as long-term, low-grade depression. If crying every day until I was too numb to cry was, “low-grade,” there must be people out there who have experienced unimaginable suffering.

As well: being “slightly” on the Spectrum, could be enough to profoundly impact my adult life. Or, it could be enough to guide me into an adult, “best,” life, should I understand the circumstance and choose to learn from it.

I lived my life from K-12, trying to keep my options open. Waiting to get out, afraid to fail at anything. But social skills are something I’m — expressly — not good at. I tried to get better at them for ten years. But: is it important to me to be better at them? If so, why?

Do I want to throw another ten years, or twenty, or thirty, into trying to pass as, “normal,” with the general public? Especially when I know that openly not being, “normal,” may be an option that harms me less and leads me to enjoy my life more?

As I’m writing this, I’ve just tried to share the above insight with a family member, who wants to tell me (with legitimacy!) that I am, “normal,” and, “antisocial,” not, “Autistic.” Apparently, exploring the possibility that I might have a mental configuration (underneath the known trauma) that has profoundly impacted my life so far, and may in fact connect the pieces of my life and serve as a guide to the rest of it (should I become aware of the pattern), is not a safe conversation to have late at night.

I spent so much of my childhood trying to please the adults around me, that given freedom as an adult myself, I don’t necessarily understand how to find what I, “love,” to do. What is the content of “love” in this context?

The closest activity I can come to, is writing. Writing is not a stable vocation. Writing may require that I take a day job that I hate, in order to survive.

Whether or not Autism is the cause, social skills are not my forte. However, it’s extremely obvious to me that I have difficulty with interpersonal relations, particularly when I speak — or deal with a neurotypical person who wants me to follow a script (which has got to be the most boring way to interact). The exception to this is with gender-nonbinary people, who tend to appreciate hearing my thoughts.

I need to build my own life. I shouldn’t have to deal with my parents trying to define me, for me, at 40.

But this is what comes from being afraid to take a job because you’ll have to deal with people (and you have been exposed to abusive people — and people who were abused — for years).

Excepting my stints with Libraries (>10 years) and a short time Editing, I’ve had the same issue with not feeling safe enough to seek employment since I graduated with my BA. That lack of feeling safe was part of what drew me to Librarianship in the first place. I didn’t quite understand that someone had to keep the place safe; that it wasn’t necessarily easy to keep the place safe; and that it might one day be me who had to call the Police, to keep the place safe.

The problem is, you can’t always count on the Police.

As I write this final part of this post, the sun is rising. I can see a blue haze out of the broken slat of my blinds. What I want to say — and what I want to do — right now, is drop those two Creative Writing classes, so I can focus on the reading for Information Organization that I never got to do. I want to concentrate on my technical class, and go back to Python 3 and Spanish language classes…which are open to me, any time. I want to re-prioritize recording my thoughts in this blog. I want to read. I want to cook. After I get my booster, I can start practicing driving again.

All of that — well, maybe not the blogging — will help enable me to become a functioning, employable adult. Fiction writing, will not.

I have just under three weeks to decide if I want to go ahead with these Creative Writing classes…but I think the time I would spend in them is…incredibly precious to me. I don’t have a huge amount of time before I may be forced to launch. And I know how to learn; I don’t need a class.

Maybe I should sleep on it?

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