Or how this blog turned out to be more difficult to write than I anticipated.
Ironically, it’s turned out to be difficult to write a blog post on why writing blog posts turned out to be difficult. Part of that is we’re getting to the end of season 3 on The Good Doctor, and a level of late season malaise has set in. Typically, TV productions don’t work a full year, and there’s good reason for that. It’s exhausting.
On top of that, this is the longest I’ve held one job in the last fifteen years, beating out two years at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta in the mid-teens. I don’t do well showing up to the same place for the same job repeatedly for a long period of time and have tended to avoid it. This job seems worth it, and the people are great to work with, but it’s still a slog and gets draining.
There’s a more specific complexity to writing the blog, though. It’s challenging mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Perhaps metaphysically. Let me count the ways:
Back in the day, there were movie trailers with a deep voiced man who intoned, “in a world, where everything you know is wrong!” Then some dystopian disaster would overwhelm the hero. Well, welcome to my world! At least, I have thought this often, sometimes with amusement, sometimes with despair, and have come to consider it part of the ASD experience. There are many moments when I discover everything I know is wrong.
The Original Disconnect:
There’s a moment of disconnection when you realize, or suspect, that the way you see something is not the way everybody else sees it. Your reality is not “reality”. Everything you know is wrong. There’s a kind of existential panic. Sometimes other people are quite happy to point this out to you. They may take some delight in it. Usually, they think they’re helping. The universe is underlined with a giant, “Wait! What?”
Consequently, there’s always been a sense of “maybe I’m wrong?” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a point of vulnerability. And you can’t feel like that all the time, if you want to get anything done, especially in the heat of the moment.
And you can’t feel like that if you’re trying to write a blog. Then everything you write is wrong. So you’ll write nothing.
Adjusting to ASD:
Learning about ASD has meant a new questioning of “everything”; past, present and future. It’s a journey back through my life, my beliefs, my choices and assumptions; everything seen in a new light, casting out shadows, revealing stark truths. It’s an answer to old questions and a creator of new ones. In some cases, it validates what I “always knew”, and offers a framework that makes sense. Sometimes it makes sense that nothing made sense. It opens old wounds, but offers a way to heal them.
Everything is up for grabs. It’s a chance to make it all new. It’s just hard to know yourself, and have something to say, in the midst of flux. In the act of writing, you’ve changed. Everything you know has changed.
David and I hope readers find value to the thoughts and observations in this blog. Even if we’re wrong, maybe we provoke conversation. But we don’t want to be wrong, so there’s a certain amount of checking and confirmation, mental hand-wringing, before anything is posted, and frequently afterward. We try to link to research we’ve done, but my process is often simply that I remember things that are important to me. I can do that pretty accurately, often verbatim, even years later but that means I don’t always have the links and citations. Maybe that’s an ASD special ability, to be a font of useless abstracted knowledge?
This is complicated by constant change in what is understood about ASD in general (e.g. thanks DSM-V for stirring already muddy waters!). There are many outdated concepts and misconceptions floating around. There are competing theories on causes and treatments. There’s good and bad information on the Internet, and even professionals may or may not know what they’re talking about. Honestly, I believe a lot of the current way of framing and thinking about the condition is wrong. David and I are looking for what seems to us to be authentic, but also to be in touch with the ASD culture, community and scientific information around us, as an organic fact-check.
So as I’m writing I learn more, discover more, and frequently that changes what I’m writing, as I write it. Obviously, this has to stop somewhere, or I’ll never post anything.
We are on a journey. Each post is a snapshot in time, a pebble tossed in the stream. By the time you read this, that moment is gone and we are already somebody new.
Unlearning the Mask:
A huge challenge, that I did not anticipate, is unlearning the Mask. Masking is an ASD process in which you’ve been taught, your entire life, to hide your Authentic Self in order to participate in the world around you. This can be invisible to you. If you choose it, you may not be aware of it, because the choice is part of who you are.
So there’s the question of how to stumble upon a public persona that is honest enough to have value, and solid enough to contain things I have never successfully communicated to anybody. These are the stories that must not be told, the feelings that must not be shared, the cries that must not be heard, the secrets that must remain forever hidden in order to survive. Because, you know, everything I know is wrong. This is the other self, that nobody ever sees, hidden in darkness, coming to light. There’s a level of terror to that; incipient panic. Suddenly real and materialized into this dimension. Naked and afraid.
But there is also the promise of freedom, dancing in the sunshine. So that seems worth the risk, worth the battle.
All of these things complicate the blogging process in ways I didn’t imagine. It’s an exercise in awareness. Frequently an excruciating one. When I write something here, it challenges me to discover what I really think, feel and believe, and why. And who I really am, or could be. The reconstruction of a fractured soul.
When I was young I was drawn to maths, science and computing. There were definitive answers. You could be right. And know you were right. And know that nobody could prove otherwise. You needed no one.
You could also know when an answer was “complete”. The wide world lacks this certainty, and the pursuit of it will crush any enterprise. Chasing phantom assurances sends us back into a philosophical loop, where we know nothing because nothing can be known for sure. (To know, therefore, is to accept doubt; a conundrum!)
So the act of writing is a risk, a very human risk.
Because, ultimately, nobody knows anything. And very likely, everything I know is still wrong…