The Hopeless(ly Deprived) Power Cuddler

Would you make fun of me if I told you I still sleep cuddled up with a teddy bear at night? Yes, you say? Well go ahead and make fun of me because it’s true and I don’t deny it. Yes, I know sleeping with a teddy bear is so 1st grade, but when you have an autistic brain that runs 230 MPH at all times (you know, as fast as an IndyCar runs on the straightaways of Indianapolis Motor Speedway), getting to sleep is hard enough without being even more anxious so you do what you damn well have to in order to make it easier to fall asleep and stay that way.

Anyway, childish personal anecdote aside, time to get a bit serious here. The title of this post describes me to a tee. As I’ve eluded to in prior blog posts, I thoroughly love physical touch. I thrive on it. I’m a hugger, a kisser, a hand-holder, you name it. I’m what my “twin soul” affectionately calls a “power cuddler” – no holding back, all of the aforementioned stuff, playing with each other’s hair, ears, rubbing various (non-intimate) body parts up against one another, all up in your business, whatever. It’s just absolutely sublime to me.

I’m sure to someone on the outside looking in it appears to be totally smutty. To the bystander it might look a little like foreplay, but I assure you I completely separate cuddling from romance, sexual behavior or anything. I never understood why the neurotypical world associates these acts solely with sexual attraction. Love comes in many forms after all, not just romantic. If I cuddle up to you, it’s not anything creepy or sexual. It’s because in some way we share a close common bond (whatever that might entail) and it’s merely an outward expression of that bond, regardless of what type it is or who you are – I’ll “power cuddle” with people of any sex/gender, orientation, whatever.

Now, the descriptor in this post is “hopelessly deprived” for a reason – it seems very few people see this kind of thing as something to be shared between people who are otherwise just friends or family and as such I really don’t have anyone around here to engage in power cuddling with. I, of course, respect others’ boundaries and won’t just go up to and randomly put an arm around someone and pull them into close body contact with me. That’s not acceptable behavior in any way, shape or form. I get that. I also get that some people have various traumas in their past that would make such action conjure up memories of painful or traumatic experiences. I also get that. Alas, where all this does put me is in a place that is not conducive to my mental health – I get more anxious, snappy, irritable, depressed, etc. when I’m lacking that.

Living in a world that frowns upon physical affection, being one who loves it is tough. If only everyone else (and especially neurotypicals) understood the power of a good cuddle. It releases endorphins, dopamine, among other “feel good” hormones. It relieves stress, has a calming effect (especially on someone like me), among other things. In a lot of ways I feel sorry for people who frown upon it. Our lives are so much richer when we openly express our love for each other (again, whatever form that love might be in).

If we learned how to hug, kiss, cuddle, hold hands, etc. each other with no strings attached and completely divorced it from romance, think of how much kinder of a world we’d live in. Maybe we wouldn’t have so much hate, pent up rage, school shootings, among other bullshit that’s the reality of life in the modern world. Baby boomers and older love to complain about social media being the reason for it, but I question the validity of their claims. We were detached long before the invention of Facebook.

Alas, I’ve only met one other person on this planet who sees things the way I do, and seeing as how that person is hundreds of miles away, the best I can do is “virtual cuddling” this person whenever possible and just longing for the real thing. It’s better than nothing for sure, but every time we virtual cuddle, god I can’t help but wish it was the real deal. Hopefully someday soon the universe will bring us closer together, but until then, I remain the hopelessly deprived power cuddler.

Tear, sniffle, tear, sniffle, repeat ad nauseam…

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I See the Way I’m Acting Like I’m Somebody Else Gets Me (And You?!) Frustrated

OK, if you don’t get that song reference you must be living under a fucking rock because when that song first came out they overplayed it on the radio, so much I hated the song and screamed every time it would come on the radio.

As such, I never really listened to the words that closely, save for its instantly recognizable catchphrase “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?” Actually, when you get down to the barebones it’s a very well written and composed song – it’s a lovely use of relative minor/major (and going between the two seamlessly) and the message is very deep and profound, and is why I’ve chosen this song for the 2nd installment of my song lyric inspired posts because again, it hits home and especially during this transitional phase of my life.

Those who knew me even as a kid knew I tried my damnedest to fit the mold, to be “normal” (What the fuck is normal anyway? Who decides that?). This both before and after I was officially diagnosed with ASD (AS at the time, but that diagnosis is gone of course). Shit, even as much as I love my parents, they often wondered why I couldn’t be normal. The only one who accepted me as is was my great-grandmother.

Anyway, the whole point of this is it’s so tempting to try to be someone you’re not in order to fit in, and especially for us neurodivergents. Humans are social animals after all (make no mistake, we ARE animals) and have a need to fit in. Usually that means trying to be how whatever society we live in deems “normal” through either established social norms, laws or whatever the hell else.

Of course, when we ND’s try to act normal and to fit in, what happens? Do we wind up fitting in? Oh hell to the naw. We usually end up looking like total fools, and especially to our loved ones (well, the more open-minded ones anyway). I mean, can you seriously see me wearing cargo shorts and/or full length jeans, still a blank canvas, no piercings, drinking Miller Light and whatever the hell else normal (or, as I prefer to think of them, boring) people do? Yeah, didn’t think so. Would you want me to fit that mold above? Again, if you truly “love” me (in whatever form that love might be), would you want me to? Proabably not because then I’m someone I’m not and why would you love an alternate me?

Nah, I’m not fooling anyone when I become somebody else around everyone else. They all know I (also, anyone else who masks) am not who I am presenting myself to be. And you know what? Not only that it’s fucking tiring to pretend to be someone else around everyone else. It wears on your soul. I didn’t realize that until I started allowing the true me to really shine through.

And who knows? Maybe all the tears I’ve shed this week (and continue to shed) are that unrequited pain exiting my mind, body and soul. That’s OK, because it’s ready to be released, because I had a defective pressure release valve that didn’t allow it to be released. Now that I’ve replaced it with a properly functioning one, it’s working better and it’s working very efficiently too because with each tear I feel a little lighter, a little less heavy, a little less troubled.

So what happens next? Stay tuned to find out tomorrow! In the meantime, enjoy the song and really pay attention to the lyrics if you’ve never done so before. You might just find she’s singing to you too (as it seemed she was me).

Why I Do Not Want Children

If it’s one thing I’m absolutely rigid on and that I have never wavered on it’s my lack of desire to have children. Actually, it goes farther than that – the idea of being a father just absolutely repulses me, so much I actually ended my last relationship over that very issue. I was put at a crossroads where I had to decide which was worse – being single or having children I don’t really want. Obviously I decided that the latter was a much worse fate. As such, I did the only thing I could do and ended the relationship.

I have a multitude of reasons for not wanting children, but they can broadly be put into two categories: practical and philosophical. We shall take a look at those here.

Practical Reasons:

Concerning my practical reasons for not wanting children, the very first thing to consider is the expense of having children. Kids are not cheap! Doctors visits, increased grocery bills, daycare, school supplies, glasses, braces, sporting equipment, cars/drivers’ education, college, the list goes on! That all adds up.

The second has to due with my internal wiring. I’m one of those autistic people who is incredibly short-tempered. Is that conducive to having children? Absolutely not. I’d likely do them psychological damage with my tendency to meltdown and get frustrated over the slightest thing out-of-whack. That’s not to say all autistic people are incompetent parents. On the contrary, there are many who are quite capable of it. I’m just not.

I also pretty much got the short end of the stick when it comes to genetics, not only with the autism thing but I also have a heart defect (Wolff-Parkinson-White) that has a genetic component and I do not wish to pass that on. I also know I’m a carrier of the gene for Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid. Though I’ve not shown symptoms myself, I do know my biological father does and had to have his thyroid basically killed. I do not want to risk passing that on either.

Lastly is just I’m too much of a free spirit to be held down. Not having children I can pretty much travel unhindered, do what I want as far as nightlife and the like. I’m not held down by family commitments, which would no doubt make me miserable.

Philosophical Reasons: 

Before I discuss my philosophical reasons for not having children, I feel I must say that none of what I discuss here is intended to pass any judgment on anyone regardless of what reproductive decisions they might have made. That is not my intention. The views presented here are not original views, but rather views of academics that make the most raw logical sense to me. Again, this is not meant to be a personal attack on anyone so please do not take it that way.

The first, and strongest argument, is the Benatarian Asymmetry, named after South African philosopher David Benatar. Benatar first proposed this asymmetry in a paper titled “Why It Is Better Never to Come into Existence” and was further expanded upon in a full-blown book titled Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence which was published in 2006. The argument is much too long and detailed to list in a blog post, but the meat and potatoes of it is this: whereas pleasure is good and pain is bad, the absence of pain is good even if there exists nobody to benefit from that good, but the absence of pleasure is not bad unless there already exists someone for which such an absence would be a deprivation. In other words, regardless of the pleasure-to-pain ratio in one’s life, although the pleasures of life make our lives go better than they otherwise would, had we never existed we’d have forgone any and all pain (good), but because we would not “miss out” on anything by never existing (as deprivation requires existence), it is always better not to come into existence.

For more clarity of the asymmetry, consider two people: sick and healthy. Let’s say sick gets sick but has a strong immune system and is able to recover quickly from that sickness, while healthy has a weak immune system but never gets sick. Who is better off? Obviously healthy is better off, even though (s)he has a weak immune system. Everyone would agree that it is better never to get sick, regardless of the strength of one’s immune system. There you have it.

The second argument, which is weaker and not an entirely new argument, is the Pollyanna Principle. The Pollyanna Principle is basically an irrational optimism bias. In other words, we grossly over-estimate the quality of our lives. More or less, none of us realize just how much pain and suffering we endure on a daily basis. For a prime example of this, let’s just step back and think about a few things. What do we spend a vast majority of our waking hours doing? Working, of course. It is a very rare and fortunate person who does not completely loathe his or her job. OK, that alone puts our lives more into the pain category. Combine that with the day-to-day pains and irritants we experience and don’t give much thought to: hunger, thirst, heat, cold, financial woes, the need to urinate and/or defecate, the need to sneeze, sniffle, cough, clear the throat, etc. That’s not even considering the bouts of illness and disease we will all face. Our sleeping hours have their own irritants; namely dreams which more often than not result in painful stimuli – fear, sadness, anger, etc.

Given the above, and combined with the fact that nobody consents to being brought into existence (rather, we were all just kind of forced into it), I feel that it is very difficult to justify bringing new individuals into existence.

Given that, the question I’m sure many of you are wondering is, “Do you wish you had never been born?” The answer to that question is, without any hesitation whatsoever, a resounding yes. I would have preferred never to have been brought into existence. However, that statement shall not be construed as “I want to die.” Once already in existence, most of us have an interest in continuing to exist and it can be very easily argued that death is actually one of the many harms we will face in this life (a position Dr. Benatar also defends at great length). That said, I absolutely do support the right to die so that if one decides his or her life is not worth continuing, that choice must be respected and the government does not have the right to stop anyone from taking his/her own life.

The above are the major reasons I have chosen not to have children. Again, these reasons are personal to me and shall not be intended as a personal attack on anyone. If you disagree with them, I’d like to know why. Please feel free to discuss your own views and engage in a healthy and respectful debate. I promise you I will not shut you down. I feel we can all learn something from the other side, whether you are a pronatalist or an antinatalist, a parent or childless/childfree.

Fly The Rainbow Flag

June is, of course, pride month. Honestly in some ways it saddens me that we even need a “LGBT+ Pride” month. Why should we? Why shouldn’t people be free to freely love? Why shouldn’t people be free to express their true inner selves? I just don’t get it. To all the naysayers who love to bitch about how we don’t have “cishet pride month” or whatever the fuck, just be glad you don’t need one.

This hits close to home for me. In addition to flying a blue flag, I fly a rainbow one too. Not only am I autistic, I am also part of the LGBT+ community.

My sexual orientation has been the subject of a lot of speculation lately, so I’m going to put that speculation to rest. Yes, my last relationship was with a woman. I’ve also dated men in the past.

However, my relationships are platonic friendships at best. There’s nothing sexual about them. To be totally honest, the mere thought of sex grosses me out, regardless of who it’s with or what type of sexual behavior it is. It’s just…ugh. The mere thought of it makes my skin crawl.

So to finally put the speculation to rest, I suppose the best descriptor for me is “bi-romantic asexual.” I can have relationships with either but sex with nobody. Maybe it’s another sensory processing thing related to autism (I know many on the spectrum seem to be more asexual)? Who knows.

As for now though? I am perfectly content single and have no interest in dating or marriage at this time. I don’t see that changing anytime in the foreseeable future. However should it happen I would hope that when it does society has changed enough to not question mine or anyone’s relationship or sexual practices (or lack thereof – there is still a lot of stigma surrounding confirmed bachelors/bachelorettes). I know progress is slow in these matters.

Whoever you love or whatever your neurotype, rest assured I support you all and it is my hope and prayer for all people that we all can live and love in peace someday.

Blessed be.

A Spiritual Moment at Octoberfest

I promised you when I did my SLS post this post was coming up; well here you go.

As I was back in Abilene last weekend (I still go back every now and then – pretty much all my friends and family live there and it’s not too far from Dallas) I of course dropped into my favorite local hangout there (Vagabond Pizza – if you’re ever in Abilene you have got to check that place out!) where I met this totally awesome couple. We shot the shit for awhile and mentioned we were both heading over to a local brewery afterward (a new place called Sockdolager – again if you’re in Abilene check them out) for Octoberfest.

While at Vagabond they both asked me what exactly it was that I did and I shared a bit about my work with them, which was interesting to say the least, but what happened next was truly amazing. The lady (who I’ll call K) noticed my semicolon tattoo and asked me about it. Not very often is it people ask me about any of my tattoos, much less the one that got me into tattoo culture to begin with, so I asked her how long she had and how long I had to tell her my story.

As she didn’t have long, I told her the condensed version of my story and how close I came to committing suicide and how if I wouldn’t have had this opportunity presented to me when I did, I probably wouldn’t be alive today, because nobody would give me the time of day to show what I could do despite my disability. Getting my foot in the door at my current company (even if it was because I had connections) is what really set me on the road to recovery, even if I didn’t realize it at the outset. I then went on to tell her about my eventual goal.

As I told my story K started tearing up and she hugged me and said “I needed to hear this today.” I kind of took it with a grain of salt at the outset but I knew I would follow them to  Octoberfest so I would get to see them again in a bit and she could tell me more.

Not surprisingly, shortly thereafter I caught up with them at Octoberfest and we picked up right where we left off. She and her husband were there as expected and we spent much of the night talking with each other as they introduced me to some of their friends and we wound up telling each other more about ourselves. As it turns out K is a financial advisor and she mentioned that she thought she could help me achieve my dreams sooner rather than later – well alright then, finally someone who actually does believe in me.

As the night wore on so did we (getting drunker by the minute), It was a beautiful night indeed – absolutely perfect ambient temperature with a gentle, peaceful rain. As the alcohol started taking hold K started divulging some of her own deep insecurities, many of which I related to straight away. We started talking about those insecurities, wound up on the topic of music (I was wearing my TFF and Hall & Oates souvenir shirt so we made our way onto the topic). She mentioned she loved the song “Mad World” and in her drunkenness asked me to sing it to her.

Of course, that was kind of on the spot and I’m self-conscious about my own singing voice to begin with (even though everyone reassures me it’s just fine) but after a second of thought I came to the conclusion “what the hell?” (I was pretty well intoxicated myself so my inhibitions were greatly reduced by this point – I might not have agreed to otherwise). We took each other’s hands, I gently cleared my throat and started making my way through the lyrics of the song. As I made my way through the song, at times she joined with me in a harmony almost, especially in the chorus parts.

As I finished the song she asked me, to the tune of the song, to keep singing to her. I wound up singing the entire song start to finish a 2nd time at her insistence. By that point, I didn’t really care and I gladly obliged. The reason? “Mad World” is one of those songs that, if you love it, it’s because you feel it deep into your core. It’s my favorite TFF song (and my overall favorite song) for that very reason. As I sang the song to her that night, I could tell how deeply she felt those lyrics. Wow, maybe I’m not the only one after all.

I left that night feeling as I had touched the hearts of two amazing people, just as they had touched mine. I’m not one for belief in god or angels, but it seems as though every now and then I come across someone who is on the same playing field as me – those who have been through the ringer, been through bad times and although in a better place, might not be completely satisfied with life. I felt like I had connected with both of these people on a deeper level than just meeting each other. I felt like I connected to them on the same level of conscience. Those are the few I have the deepest connections with. Pantheism asserts God is in all of us and we are all a part of a greater consciousness, and this greater consciousness is God. Experiences like this gradually shift me away from pure atheism and maybe more toward Pantheism. These were people I’d just met a few short hours ago, but it was as though I’d known them my whole life.

When I get down on myself and think there’s no way out of a seemingly dire situation, something like this almost always happens. Somehow K made it through seemingly dark times (she told me bits and pieces of it, but I’m sure there’s so much more to the story) and it reminded me that I can too. After all, if she hadn’t, she’d have never resonated with the lyrics of “Mad World” the way she seemed to.

I’m sure K and her husband and myself will cross paths again sometime. I really hope we do. They are amazing people, and meeting them just reminded me that you never know whose lives you might touch by just being there. If they’re reading this, I hope they realize they touched my heart as much as I seem to have touched theirs, and it’s bits like that which keep me going, even through the hard times.

I’ll get to where I want to be. So will K. Her husband seems to already be there (good for him). There is a light at the end of the tunnel, so long as we continue to push through that tunnel and don’t get off the train.

May peace be with you all this day, in the name of whatever deity you personally worship. Amen.

“Aren’t You Cold?” (Just Say What You Mean!!!)

If it is one deficit that many of us on the autism spectrum have it’s social cues, reading body language, tone of voice, etc.; I’m one of them and I really wish I wasn’t because I misjudge intentions quite frequently and I don’t know if someone is genuinely concerned, joking or trying to get a rise out of me.

Case in point, this morning. I went to do some shopping this morning and it was nice, cool and comfortable 65 degrees F in my neck of the woods. With my hot blood that is like absolutely perfect. Of course, I’m clad in my signature “Davy” Dukes and a tshirt with no jacket and I felt great. Alas, for a lot of Texans that seems cold to them especially when we routinely get over 100 degrees F in the summer and for extended periods of time (sometimes from April to October).

Anyway, I get my stuff and go to check out and the cashier kind of looks at me and goes, “Aren’t you cold?” Actually no I’m not, but thank you for asking though I do have to wonder – are you genuinely showing concern for my well being or are you trying to discreetly give me a slap in the face with a thinly veiled insult?

Look, I’ve heard A LOT worse insults in my time. I used to referee high school football and umpire baseball/softball and I’ve been called every name in the book and then some. That shit don’t bother me. If you have something mean or nasty to say just say it to my face. Don’t play this beat-around-the-bush bullshit with me because I promise you I can take whatever you can dish. That said, don’t be surprised when I dish some shit back your way too (in your case, Miss Cashier, speaking to your manager about being rude and unprofessional).

Nonetheless, in this instance I decided just to go ahead and let it go because I didn’t know for sure. I didn’t want to get this person in trouble when her intentions were actually genuine. False accusations are just not cool regardless of what the accusation is, but I do feel if I had a better gauge of body language and tone I would have been able to more accurately assess the situation.

Anyway, it’s an irritating problem to have. Alas a kind request from us for our neurotypical friends, family, significant others, etc.: please just say what you literally mean the first time. It’ll make it easier for us to understand and even get along with you. It will help avoid unnecessary confrontation and such. Thank you.

Growing Pains and Life Lessons Part 3 – Concerning “Toxic” Friends

Continuing this series in growing pains and life lessons is another topic I’ve learned even very recently the hard way, and in dare I say it one of the most painful ways possible.

I’ve never been much of a social butterfly and I have very few friends, and as such what few friends I do have I will go to great lengths for. It’s just the kind of person I am. I can be a bit of a tough nut to crack but once you do crack my shell you’ll find the most loyal friend you could ask for. I’m probably even loyal to a fault or to the point of being a pushover in a lot of cases.

Alas, that has led me to a lot of heartache also. I’ve held on to way too many friendships that have been or become toxic just because I don’t want to be friendless. I guess I was so afraid of being friendless that I was willing to make myself miserable for the sake of friends who I probably should have cut out of my life sooner but I was just really hesitant to.

Of course, with the last toxic friendship I had coming to an end very recently, I’ve come to realize that although I will miss certain aspects of this person, the fact that I’ve “broken up” with this friend has actually been liberating for me. I’m not as stressed anymore nor am I subjecting myself to the misery of this person telling me how I’m living my life wrong and/or that I “need help” or a whole host of other stupid-ass bullshit. It also didn’t help matters that this person is an ex-girlfriend. Yeah, since when did remaining friends with exes ever work out long term?

So with that, I’ve come to learn that toxic friendships are, for all intents and purposes, disposable commodities and that it’s far worse having toxic friends than having no friends at all. Can it get lonely having no friends? Absolutely, but the relatively low level of pain that comes from isolation pales in comparison to the intense pain a toxic friend (or a toxic relationship of any kind) brings.

I’ve also learned that sometimes a little pain now will prevent pain later. It’s OK to be sad to break up with a friend. In some ways it’s like grieving after all – this person has been in your life for however long and you’re cutting them loose because the friendship is no longer a symbiotic relationship (though at one time it probably was or you would have never befriended said person to begin with). If anything it’s become a parasitic relationship.

The moral of the story? Don’t feel obligated to remain friends with someone who really doesn’t treat you as a friend, even if you’ve been friends for decades. Cling to those who will treat you with the dignity, respect and love you deserve and cut ties with those who don’t. You might wind up with a smaller social circle but after the initial pain subsides you’ll find a newfound sense of liberation and you’ll draw even closer to those who mean the most to you.