In Defence of Joy

There are dozens of self help gurus, books and videos telling the world to do what we love.

Maybe this is my autistic thing, but I’m puzzled why someone might need someone to tell them that.

However, the irony is that for AS youth the messaging is somewhat contradictory.

Their joy for something is reduced to an “obsession” or “special interest”.

It’s societal gaslighting.

I remember my interest in fascist regimes (prompted by watching The Sound of Music over and over again) – was looked upon as a very strange obsession. Yet knowing everything I could gave my life meaning – and JOY!

My love of language (and music) that counters hate eventually led to work in project management and political social justice fields as an anthropologist.

Is it because we are classed as different that we don’t “deserve” to have that joy fostered into skills? Is this just reserved for neurotypical adults – in the books consumed in million dollar self help industries encourage the rest of the world to do?

I was lucky to have a parent who encouraged me to follow my interests instead of what everyone else wanted for me.

Yet, because AS young people often show signs of knowing what we love so early, this seems to be detracted from by some (not all) educators and parents. Sometimes it’s because they think we don’t have room for the rest of the curriculum. Maybe the child is more important than rigid adherence to curriculum?

And yes, I do understand the importance of curriculums.

Are we meant to just go down the path of lots of general knowledge and unhappiness and not knowing our joy because then we’ll be “normal”? I reject this type of normal.

Then there is footage of youth being restrained and dragged down hallways for not conforming. This madness is not the fault of the young person with AS, but of a system trying to turn people into consumers of self help products.

If “normal” means I am meant to be searching for meaning in books written by people who’ve done what I’ve always done (found joy in focussed interests) – then isn’t that a wait of my resources and energy?

Why is there then an apparent double standard when it comes to AS young people? To anyone really?

Because I’ve looked at the books, videos and talks and they all say the same thing:

Find what gives you joy and do it. Make a career out of that joy or something related to it.

Not exactly rocket science. Often AS young people are blessed with what the self help books are selling at an early age.

Whilst I doubt that this is possible for everyone, I’m sure that aspiring to it, is not a terrible thing.

Maybe, just maybe, if we seriously created industries of joyful meaning from birth onwards – not only for marginalised AS children and people – but for everyone, the world would be a much happier, more peaceful world.

 

*I have used identity first language in the majority as is my right as an Aspie woman. I understand that some carers, experts and parents prefer to use person first language and that is their choice. However take away my autistic identity and I am not me – and I’m proud of who I am. So thus I prefer identity first language.

Leave the birds alone

To deal with the world I use music. I love my AirPods.

I deal with crowds and railway station platforms hidden under a veil of sound that mutes the cacophony that plagues my brain.

The direct input quashes strings and waves of the sounds that scatter around me. For a long time I thought everyone experienced this – that I was just mad. That I should hide the madness.

Now I embrace it. A couple of things I’ve learned to be able to embrace that:

  • Hearing gossip 50m away is a good thing. I hate gossiping. It used to upset me that I knew who the gossips were. Now I use that information to my advantage. To stay the hell away from them. Life is better without spiteful gossipy ninnies.
  • I find that when I put the music on to drown out the world I enter my own world. I go deep into the music and enjoy the experience fully. It often becomes like a happy trance.

From this happy trance I find my love of watching the world go by. Particularly on the train station platform.

Oh the birds. Doesn’t matter what sort of bird. But birds use rail platforms like little playgrounds. I can almost see the joy they take in the chaos of the humans.

They flit in and out in time with my musical headspace and it’s like a slow motion film reel. People blurring, birds in sharp relief. Leaping, dive bombing, swooping.

Recently a large human stomped up to sit beside me with a packet of crisps. An inquisitive sparrow had been sitting within 10 cm of my feet. They shushed it away.

From my trance land I found my silent head speak coming out loud.

“Leave the birds alone. They are not going to hijack your food and you look like you could spare a crumb anyway”.

Whoops! I covered my mouth when I realised what I’d done.

The person next to me roared laughing. They then offered the sparrow a bit of crisp which it gladly took.

Hooray!

Recipe for A Romantic Gaslight

A poem about gaslighting.

Whilst it’s not currently present in my life it sure has been in the past. Something I don’t wish to repeat. Aspie women are especially susceptible to “gaslighting” as I’m sure some men also are.

Gaslighting is a common form of manipulation (that anyone can experience), particularly when someone wants sexual access to someone but has no intention of that being respectful.

I hope it also highlights that gaslighting is sometimes seen as socially acceptable as part of “courtship” or flirtation (“treat em mean to keep em keen” rubbish) and thus harder to identify/deal with. However it is also a well recognised form of psychological abuse. I hope this poem helps describe that experience:

Start with a Queen of hearts and dry ingredients of care,

Make sure you prepare her when her emotion is laid bare,

Add compliments which she might be in of thorough need,

Combine her insecurities with sentiments, she’ll heed.

 

Then slowly tip her back into the objectification pot,

Gradually turn up the sexual commentary to “hot”,

Flip over her hesitations, say “But I like you for your brain”,

Withholding your feelings until she simmers in confused pain.

 

When you’ve tasted her sweetness but turned her bitter,

Turn up the gaslight again, pretend you’re not hitting on her,

If to expectation she does not quite seem to want to rise,

Add a good splash of ghosting and well picked lies.

 

Add salt to wounds and slowly reduce her down,

Slowly separate her from her previously held crown,

Pretend to listen and give her an occasional gentle stir,

Recite over the pot “But I’m not really sexualizing her”.

 

You’ve got her to boiling emotion but you’ve not listened,

Now her anger, like shining glaze, is starting to glisten,

Now you can say her crazy recipe is starting to go off,

Add a pinch of blame to her feelings, use lies to top.

 

Serve her broken heart up as proof of your skill,

Move to the next vulnerable woman at your will,

Season her with tales of how her before was madness complete,

Butter her wisely, the recipe takes best if you keep it to reheat.