OK. HF is a complicated guy. On the last 2 meetings with him, I thought that he was more secure in himself than Sam. But tonight, I saw a different side of him.
HF kept describing himself as a "drama queen". He kept calling his friends and his relatives (cousins etc.). I felt like he was paying more attention to them than he was to me. This is how I felt about JR when he was taking the selfies etc. It was a façade.
It turns out that his whole family and friends network know that he is gay. But they never talk about it. HF constantly judges himself and focuses on what other people think of him. He is a family guy. And I think that it is sweet that he is connected with them. But he does not appear to have a healthy relationship with himself. Repeatedly, I told him that the most important relationship that he will ever have in life is with himself. And that he needs to enjoy life. And not feel the need to judge himself.
Coincidentally, one of his cousins passed by on the riverside as we were hugging and kissing (for the record, this was the first time that I kissed him and we kissed several times during the course of the evening). HF seemed stressed because of what his cousin might think of him. He even snapped at me a couple of times, almost blaming me for painting a gay portrayal of him. Because I could not stop embracing him.
On the way home, I pointed out that he had snapped at me a couple of times. I was scared of him. I wanted to feel safe with him. A couple of times, he pointed out his insecurities with himself. I pointed out that he only feels a certain way because he defines himself in those terms. And that when you perceive yourself in a certain way, you become that certain way. He said that the reason why he sometimes snaps is not because of me but it is because of himself. I should not take it personally. It is never intended to hurt me. He promised me that he has no intentions of hurting me. He said that as we meet one another and get to know one another we will become used to that.
At one point, he said to me "OMFG, you are so into me right now, you are scaring me". Probably because I was lavishing him with hugs and kisses. I do not hold back. If I love a guy, I show it. He acknowledged that I am open and that it is cool etc., he wished he could be as open as me. But he comes from this Muslim background where his friends and family know everything that is going on with him. He does not feel at liberty to be as open with anyone as I do with him. As Phoebe (at the bus stop) pointed out: his family are probably dealing with the fact that I am white let alone a male! To me, why should race and gender matter? I think that he is cute. I told him that I like him. I told him that he is adorable. He seemed to reciprocate. He was staying out late with me (even though he had to get home and eat).
We have arranged to meet on Saturday. Have we? I told HF that the organiser of my group has booked Little Ku Bar. Humorously, I warned him not to be late. I would get there at 6. I would pay attention to my phone until about 8. Why was I playing games with him? Or saying all of this stuff? Maybe I was protecting myself. As soon as he left the bus, I edited my RSVP to +1 and immediately messaged the other organisers.
[23:59, 22/07/2021] Rory Duffy: I’m bringing a +1 on Saturday his name is HF question is not sure when he will arrive 🤷♂️ please let him in if he turns up late
As I was writing, HF popped up on my WhatsApp. He phoned me. The first thing that I said to him was "I hoped that you would do that!" Why am I such a pushover? Why am I giving myself so readily to someone who I barely know?
Within minutes, I was plunged head first into the drama between him and 2 of his girlfriends, involving a wedding that he should not have told various parties about. The bottom line was that he blabbed and felt insecure about blabbing. And now he is worried about what people are going to say and what they think of him. Most of the time, I was asking him questions like "what makes you feel this about yourself?" And "there seems to be a trigger that is making you think XYZ. Maybe we can explore this in a bit more detail". I felt like I was giving him a therapy session.
Later on in the call, we seemed to hit the nail on the head. He feels insecure about himself. So, he surrounds himself with other people and interferes in their lives. He finds it difficult to control himself. He tries to control the situations that are happening around him. He says that this makes him more attractive to other people. He finds that people are attracted to him. But he withdraws because he thinks that there is nothing to be attracted to. I asked him if he feels insecure about me. He said no. He said something about me being a nice, caring person.
I suggested that he could find ways of controling his impulses to call people and blab (especially while drinking). And maybe, in turn, he might have a greater handle on himself not to trigger the problems that are happening around him / to him in the outer world. Because he feels like a magnet for his own problems. There seemed to be a lot of manifestation going on.
I gave him a lot of advice on how to relate with himself. He seemed to become quiet. At the end of the call, he thanked me for listening and for my kindness. I said that it does not cost me anything. As if to emphasise that I give to anyone without expecting anything back in return.
We talked for 58 minutes. I cannot remember much more of the conversation. It was a little hazy and fuzzy. Now, I am feeling a little odd about it. I am becoming involved with this guy who seems to have a lot going on within himself right now and might not have time or capacity for anyone else. Let alone me. On our first meeting, he described himself as "self-involved". That is OK. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that. It might mean that the person does not have the capacity to have a mature relationship with someone else. Or maybe it is not the right time. As long as I can feel comfortable around him and maintain a positive rapport with him (in that order of priority), that is the main thing. But can I date him? I want to. I know that I want to. But maybe I am projecting everything that I am looking for in a guy onto him. And maybe I might feel let down or disappointed. That is understandable.
I suggested that he pause, relax and sleep on it. Maybe everything might sort itself out in his head and he might feel clearer about things in the morning. Maybe he might dream about it. I asked him to promise me that he would message in the morning to let me know if he dreamed about it. I backtracked and said that I would not make him promise. He said that he would try. I openly acknowledge that it is better to under-promise and over-deliver. So that one is not disappointing the other. Gently, I brought the conversation to a natural close and wished him a good night.
This morning, I am waiting for him to message me (even though he has sent the last message). Well, technically, I had the last word on the phone call. I was the last person to say goodbye and the first person to hang up.
Right now, I feel like he needs some space from me. Maybe it is a good thing that I messaged Sanjo on Tinder. In case there is the possibility that I can meet him for a quiet drink next week. Not for anything to happen but just to meet him in person. We have been matched on dating apps for about 2 years and neither of us has initiated. Despite us readily replying to one another.
HF also mentioned that he is going to Leicester next week and moving house. Therefore, it is unlikely that we will be able to see one another much. Maybe it is a sensible idea (for my sanity) to meet up for a drink with Sanjo. Just to give me a bit of headspace. I feel guilty about it. Like I might be "cheating" on HF. I would not expect him to do the same to me. But I know that this is my self subjugation talking. And maybe HF has already done the same to me. A couple of times, he mentioned about going for a drink with a friend before meeting me. But maybe there is a trust issue? And the reason that I am poised to go out for a drink is because I feel unable to trust HF? Anymore than I can trust myself? Where has this come from?
Yesterday, someone in Sainsbury's bumped into me. Or I thought that I had bumped into them. Instantly, I apologised to them. They did not hear. I caught myself in the act. I audibly voiced "why am I apologising?" Again no one heard or paid the slightest attention (even though I said that out loud in the middle of a queue in Sainsbury's). Who cared? No one.
Late at night and early this morning, I experienced intrusive thoughts, which can often happen if I am drunk and feeling anxious about a situation. Alcohol and anxiety. Potent combination. HF & I had been sat on the grass opposite the riverside. But HF insisted that we sit on the wall overlooking a massive drop down to a craggy beach. It felt a little precarious to be clambering over railings and sitting on ledges while drinking. Anything could have happened. I might have wobbled, lost my footing, injured myself or even killed myself by falling. I tend to experience intrusive thoughts AFTER (not before or during) the event. In my dreams, I dreamed that one of my colleagues was trying to commit suicide by overdosing on protein powder. My mind. WTF.
I mentioned this to HF. The mind is craziness. And it is in our human instinct to try and control our craziness. If we cannot control what happens inside us, we might feel an instinct to control what is in the outside world. To compensate for our lack in ability to control ourselves.
HF mentioned that one of his first cousins is a murderer. A woman broke up with him. He attacked her, suffocated her by smothering a blanket over her, beheaded her and separated the head from the body. He did this while he was high on coke. Again, alarm bells are ringing. I told HF that this was too much for me. I told him that I felt sick. I am feeling vulnerable by the fact that he is telling me these things about people in his extended family. Why was he telling me this? Maybe because I told him that I was advising someone whose ex has made a death threat against them.
[11:24, 22/07/2021] +44: Hi gang I need some advice please what should i do about my ex boyfriends not all of them are causing me grief there is just a couple who are and a few of them still want to be my friend after they cheated on me ??
Have I said the right thing? No-one has ever made a death threat about me. I broke up with Sam because although I liked him, I felt unsafe around him. He called me a load of names and told me to go to Hell (which was a little extreme). And he blocked me on WhatsApp and Facebook. But he did not go so far as to make a death threat against me. I did nothing against him to warrant one. Had I let the relationship progress any further with Sam, I might have put myself in physical and psychological danger. For sure. He had an abusive personality. But I do not think that Sam would do any of the things that HF mentioned about his first cousin. Compared to that, Sam is a pussy cat. He feels scared. Afraid that I could "have him for breakfast".
Listen closely to what people say. Often, they are inadvertently revealing something about themselves.
I might not hear from HF in a while. He possibly feels a little insecure about opening up to me and telling me such private things about himself. I do not know how to feel about them. I feel safe. But everything about him feels a little complicated and confusing.
Maybe it is a positive that I might not hear from him for a while. For my safety and sanity (not to mention his). And the security in seeing if he truly wants to spend time with me. By letting him initiate. I would rather not pressurise him or make the first move. He knows that I am up for seeing him. He knows that I like him. I have made that clear to him both verbally and physically. I have shown him affection by embracing and kissing him. Tempting though it may be to think, I do not think that I have overstepped his boundaries. He knows that whenever he calls or messages, I will pick up and respond. I told him that. Before drawing the phone conversation to a close, I told him that he could call or message me whenever he likes. In the same way that I told all of my exes. Is this the problem? That I am willing to communicate and show openness? No. Immediately, I know that this is not a problem. It is a nice quality about myself that a lot of people might not recognise or value. Communication and transparency (openness) are important values to me. People might talk about honesty and lay their claim to it. But it must come with communication and transparency. For me, they are inextricable in a relationship.
I want things to work out with HF. I want to be in a healthy, mature relationship. But it must be with the right person. Right now, much as I like HF, I feel a little insecure about him. Not as insecure as I felt about Sam. But it feels like HF has a lot of drama going on in his life (albeit self-inflicted). Maybe I do as well (with the 20s & 30s group for example). Or I feel like his life is complicating my life and there is a reactionary element to our dynamic. We are similar in that respect. We interfere in other people's affairs. The only difference is that I appear to think before acting. And I internalise it. He appears to act before thinking. And he externalises it.
It was nice of HF to invite me out yesterday.
Why am I attracted to insecure "badasses"? Why am I always going for guys who are not good for me? Why am I constantly putting myself in danger? Is there a Self Harm element in there? Or am I simply unlucky?
IJ says that there is nothing personal about it to do with me. The guy should have enough respect for himself to date and have a mature relationship. Put myself in the shoes of HF. If one knows that they are going on a date with someone and they have the slightest inclination that they might not feel ready, it is respectful to not put the other person in an uncomfortable position or bring all of their own complications to the table and make the other person feel responsible for those complications.
Or maybe this is part of the package and I must accept him without letting myself feel blamed in any way.
Last night, HF opened up a lot to me. Perhaps he feels uncomfortable about opening up to me so much. He seemed to vocalise this on the phone. I acknowledged that the more that he opens up, the more vulnerable he might feel. Why? Because he might feel afraid of what I do with that knowledge. Which is why it is important to restrain yourself before getting to know someone properly.
It is sweet and lovely that HF has opened up to me because it shows that he likes me and trusts me. Alternatively, this might be part of his life drama that I am finding myself ensnarled up in. And I might end up in a situation (like I did with Sam) in which HF blames me for no apparent reason. Because he cannot see past his own insecurities. I cannot control that. It might happen. What I can control is my response if I feel like things are heading in that direction.
I think that the best thing to do would be to take my own medicine. Lightly pause it temporarily. Not to consciously tell him this. But to hold off messaging him for a few days and see if he comes back. This is a test to see if he genuinely wants to spend time with me or if I am merely a sounding board.
For the record, I do not perceive this as "ghosting" because he has not yet re-initiated conversation. And I would resolve to respond.
Meanwhile, I am free to meet someone else, even if it is not a "date".
Maybe I should meet this other guy, Sanjo. But just go for a coffee. Or a walk in the park. When alcohol and substances are involved, things can get complicated. HF & I have exchanged a lot of words. Now it feels complicated and I do not know where I stand with him. It was nice to kiss him at last. But it did not feel that monumental, if I am completely honest with myself. It did not feel significant. It was just something that we felt like doing. We simply got on with it.
On the phone, I said to HF that he has all of the choice in the world. I am not forcing him into anything. I can be there for him and support him as much as possible. But at the end of the day, it is up to him whether or not he chooses to take that support.
HF asked me what I am doing with this group. Thinking that he was talking about Saturday (Little Ku Bar), I said that we would be drinking and socialising. I had already put himself on the guest list. He clarified that he did not mean about this Saturday, but about the group in general. I explained that it is an embracing, inclusive group for anyone LGBTQ or questioning to feel part of a community. But for me, LGBTQ (or "queer spaces") transcends further than your sexual identity and sexual preference. It is about reclaiming your individuality. It comes from a place of feeling like an outsider. Falling outside the box labelled "other". And not feeling afraid to be different. But instead embracing your uniqueness. Getting yourself out there in the world. Showing the best version of yourself. Feeling liberated and free to express yourself and your personality in whichever way you wish. The invitation is there. I have even gone so far as to revealing his name to the other organisers. Manifesting his attendance. The only thing left to do is see whether or not he takes the invitation.
Note to self: this is probably the most complicated, confusing and convoluted journal entry that I have ever written. I am simply writing things in the order that I remember them. From the date itself. To the messages. To the 58-minute phone call. To the intrusive thoughts and dreams. To the morning after anxieties. Apologies if it is a little jumbled and disjointed. I am noting down my thoughts as they occur to me. Later, I might read back on them and notice patterns starting to emerge. Like behaviours and thought cycles that are similar to previous relationships. How they manifested. And what I might choose to do differently next time. This is why it is so important to pause and reflect as much as possible. I am giving myself a chance to process everything. And make the right choices for myself. Regardless of the other person.
Repeatedly, I (soothingly) told HF that he could pause. Not act without thinking things through first. He could control his instincts. And then he might not feel like he is causing himself problems. Like Sam, HF has an impulsive nature. But not an aggressive nature. More of an interfering / gossiping nature. For example, drunk dialling his friends. Spreading gossip. Talking about secrets. And complicating matters by withholding certain pieces of information from certain people. Or discussing them behind their backs. It all seems a little dubious and convoluted. I can see how it is affecting him and his relationship with himself. At the end of the day, I can make recommendations. I can tell him that it is a sensible idea to pause before he picks up the phone. But it is his choice whether or not he chooses to take that advice. And that might partially be down to how he feels about me being in his life.
All that I can do is continue showing my qualities: kindness, empathy, compassion. How are you feeling today? How I can help and support you? Without expecting anything back from him.
This morning, a friend called me because his partner had a serious medical condition and was refusing to see the doctor. My friend was concerned for his partner and there was an issue developing whereby his concern was becoming an irritation to his partner. Despite the fact that his partner kept bringing up this medical condition in conversation. Instantly, I was reminded of what Sam said to me in a WhatsApp message. That if I tried to coerce him into seeing a doctor about his brain haemorrhage, he would stop speaking to me. It seems that I have experienced a similar situation before. Although not in quite so much depth.
I explained to my friend that there seem to be 2 separate issues here:
My friend is feeling anxious because if his partner becomes seriously ill or dies, his partner's family might blame him for it. Straight away, I told him that he was manifesting. Who knows what they might think? There is no point speculating something into existence. No-one can control the way in which other people might judge them. And I think that it is highly unlikely that this would happen if it were on record (verbally, liberally or otherwise) that my friend had expressed concern for his partner not wanting to see the doctor.
I advised my friend that he had gone above and beyond the call of duty. He had encouraged his partner to see the doctor. But there is no point in forcing him. He has done everything that he possibly can for his partner. Now it is up to his partner as to whether or not he chooses to take advice and see the doctor.
What would happen if his partner kept bringing up the medical condition in conversation? Repeatedly telling his partner to see the doctor might cause irritation. On the other hand, gaslighting or ignoring it would not be a healthy way to deal with it. It might create an unwanted disparity between the two parties in a relationship. A sensitive area might manifest. A patch of thin ice. Or egg shells. I advised my friend to say the following things to his partner whenever his partner complained about his medical condition:
This opens up a healthy, positive, constructive dialogue. It is turning a negative into a positive. Opening up a window of opportunity in the relationship. An opportunity for my friend to show his partner how caring and compassionate he is. Infusing strength into the relationship. It is about empowering the other person and assigning them some options and control without devaluing or depriving yourself. At an elementary level, it is about helping one another. Supporting one another. Focusing on those positive elements. Encouraging them to develop. Rather than either trying to control the other person (by telling them what to do) or ignoring the other person.
It seems that I am good at helping other people. But not helping myself. I am improving. But there is still some distance to go. Last Sunday, Rob said to me "why are you so nice?" Because he noted that I stayed up most of the night on Friday trying to help sort out Mary's problems.
Why did I go into all of the above? I guess that my friend is in a similar situation to me. My friend's partner (in my case, HF, the guy who I have been dating) is struggling with issues. As partners, we are able to support and help the other person. But we are not doctors. Or therapists. Or counsellors. I have learned this through the 20s & 30s Organisers group. And the issues that I have been working through with Yasmin & Mary. Out of all 6 organisers, it has become apparent that I might be the most sympathetic / empathetic and patient yet the most self-deprecating. In their opinion, I spend too much energy on trying to help people, which is not what we are there for. I even acknowledged this myself in the group.
[09:02, 19/07/2021] Rory Duffy: Lol. Yeah there is a danger of "over-policing". We are there to host events and facilitate the chat, we can write rules in the WhatsApp group/Meetup page but we are not there to run people's lives.
There is a pattern. In previous jobs, Stonehouse Court Hotel, BOTW and DT, I proved myself and excelled as a customer service representative / ambassador. But the feedback that I often received from my superiors was that I often let myself get drawn into detailed discussions with customers when it is not always necessary. Especially if the team is under considerable time and budget pressure. At both BOTW and Serious, I was called out for spending too much time on the phone (45-60 minutes) with customers discussing their passions and interests in jazz. I care too much about people. I want them to have an enjoyable experience. And why not? That is a wonderful quality to have. But maybe I try to help others too much at the expense of the business or myself (personal sanity etc.). Now, the same pattern is recapitulating itself in my friendships, relationships and role as an admin for the 20s & 30s group. I am an empath. If I see someone struggling with mental health issues, my first instinct is to rush out and help them. I have had to bite my lip in the main WhatsApp chat when I see people being bullied or vindicated based on things that they have said.
[00:29, 23/07/2021] Rory Duffy: I met a nice girl at the bus stop called Phoebe, still trying to find my way to the 87 🤷♂️
For example, yesterday, someone raised an issue about a Pakistani guy DM'ing them (see tabbed). Apart from the fact that DM'ing is against the rules of the group, there are a few issues here.
I was tempted to say that the question about whether or not the comment was "racist" says as much about the mindsets of those asking the question as it does about the mindset of the person who made the alleged "racist" comment (mentioning that they are Pakistani). HF is Pakistani, too. Is that important?
By defending "racism", one is effectively allowing that comment to be "racist". And, by extension, encouraging and perpetuating racism to happen in the first place. It is a form of manifestation. It is a vicious cycle that is only flared when the flames are fanned. Who cares whether or not the person is Pakistani? But why the need to point that out to everyone?
I had to bite my lip. I have made a rule for myself to not post my opinion or viewpoint on the main WhatsApp group. Stick to the facts. Who we are meeting. What we are doing. When. Where. How much (optional). Otherwise, I might find myself in trouble. There is a certain wisdom in picking and choosing my battles. Especially when I have my own life to manage (never mind anyone else's lives).
A couple of years ago, I read Dr Seth Love Prescription. One of the chapters talked about "Rescue Mentality". This is a trap that I often fall into. Both in professional contexts. And personal (relationship / friendship contexts). Last June, Alex pointed out to me that I am an empath. When someone else is in pain, I feel that pain. The opposite of that is a psychopath / sociopath. I am definitely not that. But there are people in the world who might exhibit (intentionally, unintentionally or otherwise) psychopathic / sociopathic tendencies. I find motives compelling and interesting (hence, my Eastenders-watching phase a few years ago). I am not saying that the psychopathic / sociopathic behaviour is what is happening here. And I firmly believe that there are two sides to the story and invariably exceptions to the rules. I do not know what a person's background and upbringing was like to drive them towards saying or doing the things that might be perceived as psychopathic / sociopathic. And that might be none of my business. Or I can only speculate. But here I go again. Trying to put myself in the shoes of the person exhibiting those sorts of behaviours. Rather than labelling or trying to diagnose / distance myself from it. I get drawn in. This is lovely but it can put me in a vulnerable position. One in which people might take advantage of.
Like I said to Avi Taler, I did not want him to take advantage of me. But by saying that, I was precisely doing that (allowing him to take advantage of me). I was manifesting that behaviour. I was putting myself in a vulnerable position where I might experience emotional or psychological danger. Not from him, I hasten to add. But from myself and the way in which my energy reacted to his energy (i.e., the act of saying it). At the time, Avi Taler was seeing a therapist. When he told me that, the first thing that I wanted to do was put my arms around him, talk to him and let him know that I was there for him. Without a thought or consideration for myself. This is the problem that can sometimes occur. I put others before myself. Self Subjugation. Instead of trying to "rescue" someone else, have I had much thought or consideration for "rescuing" myself? There was too much projection for me to realise this. I saw him as the one needing to be rescued when it should have been me needing to be rescued. Maybe it was too early for him to be telling me that he was seeing a therapist? Maybe he felt vulnerable for having told me? Maybe he was afraid of how much I knew about him and what I might do with that knowledge? In the same way as HF might feel vulnerable for having opened up to me last night?
It is OK. I can still help and support people if I want to. But maybe I can act a bit more selective about who I choose to help and support. In what capacity. And how much. I must always keep it in the back of my mind as to whether what I am "giving away" is free or comes at a cost. That day, Avi Taler had summoned me to his house at the drop of a hat. I felt compromised because my desire to see him overrode my clear judgement about what might have been happening or how I might have prevented that. I was not in control of myself. I was willing to be there for him at his beck and call. Maybe that was not sensible.
Recently, I have noticed that I often describe myself as a "docile doormat" or a "pushover".
FV said to me effectively the same.
FV 2:36 AM
Last night, at the end of the phone call, HF thanked me for my kindness. I responded by saying "it comes at no cost". I felt 100% secure in myself to say that to him. Because it was true. All that I was doing was recapitulating all of the things that I tell myself. It helps me to consolidate myself. By giving other people medicine, I am taking my own medicine. I can say with certainty that the 58 minutes on the phone to HF was not wasted. I took it as an experience. An adventure. In dating someone. What HF is saying and doing has never happened to me before. Despite my misgivings and reservations, I am trying to put it down to experience. Not treat the relationship as the "be all and end all". Who knows, that could have been my last conversation with him. Or the last time that he feels able enough to open up to me. Opening up to someone is a gift. Whoever you are. I should feel happy and content that he has shown me trust and feeling by opening up to me. Even if he regrets it later. Which he might now (on our 1st meeting, he described himself as an open book).
I should congratulate myself. The way in which I have shown kindness to HF is different to the way in which I showed kindness to Avi Taler. It was not a self-subjugating kindness. I did not feel like I threw myself at HF (emotionally, at least, even if I did physically). I did not take his words too much to heart. I can note them down in my journal. Meditate on them. Reflect on them. But I do not have to lose anything by trusting in his words completely. I do not know him like I know myself. if I listen, I might learn something. I do not need to place too much expectation on HF. I must keep myself safe and sane. That is the most important thing. Whether or not he intended the drama to happen does not need to be my concern. He has his issues. I have mine. We can talk about them together, if we want to. But we do not have to mix our energies too much or confuse one with the other. I can give him his independence. And he can reach out to me whenever he wants. When he does, I can decide how much I feel able to give back to him in return. Like I said to the guy in the LGBTQ Autism WhatsApp group (see above), friendships / relationships are a 2-way process.
[23:02, 21/10/2019] LV: We born alone and we die alone
Time and time again, I find myself back to this message: as much as a situation has the power to affect me, I have the power to define a situation by how I respond to it. It ties into this notion of control. I cannot control other people or situations. I can control myself.
Trivialising a situation in a journal (drawing the power out of a situation by putting it into written words) is a method that certainly aids this process of de-escalation. The added benefit is that I might start to recognise repeated patterns and cycles over time.
In situations and circumstances (professional and personal), I am increasingly drawing strength from these mantras. I might not get it "correct" every time. But they are helping me to empower myself. HF might not show up to the party on Saturday. He might show up. Who cares? The important thing is that I am with friends and enjoying myself. And consistently breaking everything down into manageable steps. Arming myself with backup options to safeguard my personal comfort, happiness, health, safety, security and wellbeing.
[00:00, 27/06/2021] Tom: Let’s both have compassion for ourselves. All we’re doing is being authentic and honest with our feelings
[15:35, 22/07/2021] +1: Hey Guys I need some help its not money some pakistani guy is sending me pictures of his pennis constantly, i have tried to block him but i dont know how he unblocks. If I give his number on the group can yourl bully mi
[16:31, 22/07/2021] +44: Maybe we should move this to discord?
[16:51, 22/07/2021] LM: Can I just say it's a terrible idea to ask other people to message him and bully him for very, very obvious reasons.
Today, the topic is camouflaging and masking. Next session is on special interests. We have been assigned to have a think about what we want to talk about. Is there a qualification for it to count as a "special interest"? No. Just our special interest, whatever it might be. Whatever. Whenever. Wherever. Whatever it is that we are into. Free reign.
In the literature, there are slight variations in the definitions between "masking", "compensation" and "camouflaging". Those are the 3 terms that are used most within the literature on autism and camouflaging. There is a slight difference in the definitions between those. In terms of what people talk about, people talk about "masking" a lot. However, the underlying base concept is the same.
Goffman's (1959) impression management theory is one of the most well-known theories in identity performances. Goffman argued that individuals present the self based on the perceived audience in their front stage. Identity presentations are constructed and prepared through the backstage.
In terms of the background to this and the psychological theory. From the 1950s, there was a theory on impression management. At the time, it was quite revolutionary. Goffman came up with this whole metaphor that we put on identities and we perform. Metaphor of life being a stage. We perform based on the perceived audience and we present ourselves facing before them. We prepare backstage. We perform. There are different identities that we put on for the audience. The point is that humans can change, manipulate or vary their behaviour and presentation depending who they are with and who they are seen by. This theory was the first time that this idea was put across in clear way. Since then, there have been various interpretations such as a "social management theory". However, this is the basic foundation theory.
The idea originated in 7000BC in ritual settings. These were the first masks. Masks have been part of human interaction for 1000s of years.
For most people, whether autistic or non-autistic, neurodiverse or neurotypical, there is a modification in behaviour depending on who we are with. For autistic people, there is a stark difference both in terms of intensity and stressfulness. It is a different experience in terms of specificity. There is an aspect of hiding / suppressing. There is a perception of something not going to be accepted. This is potentially more stressfull. This tendency manifests not only in acting more gregarious, but also adopting more hiding behaviours and non-autistic social behaviours. The experience of autistic people is not the same as that of a non-autistic person, for example, having to act polite around their boss. It can feel way more intense, complicated and sophisticated. It is important to recognise this. There is a difference and an increased stressfulness.
Not an extensive / full list at all.
Learning scripts of what to say: preparing in advance, saying this or that. Copying / mimicking other people or famous people: copying the way that they something or the way that they move their body to look "non-autistic". Having a rubric, a flow chart, an algorithm. If someone asks me how I am, I might have a set of prepared responses at the ready. Having a learned, structured way of socially interacting in that setting. There may be a pressure to give someone eye contact. A tendency to do it intentionally even though someone does not want to. Stopping yourself from talking about certain interests. Particular words or ways of language. Dialling it down (not acting "intense"). Some people might not understand it. Stopping yourself from doing something. Ideally, you would like to do that something but you are mindful of the people around you.
Not expected to stare or make eye contact whenever someone is speaking to you. It can be quite intense and unnerving for the other person. When I was younger (child / adolescent), I was often called out for staring at people and told that it was "rude to stare". During a saxophone masterclass / workshop at the RNCM, I received some feedback that I was staring too much at the audience and that it was sensory overload. I was supposed to focus my eyes on a point just above the audience. Outside an educational setting, I found that no one ever told me to stare or not to stare because they were too polite. This, in itself, manifested in a reverse camouflage where a person might think that the other person might not take the non-staring rule too well. Therefore, they choose to not say anything for fear of offending or upsetting the other person. Camouflage can work by way of rebound and reflection. Often, certain behaviours (like not to stare) are not taught. One is expected to pick it up and know it. For some people, these rules and expectations do not come naturally.
Some non-autistic people can find certain settings and interactions intense without even having to deal with the stuff that autistic people have to cope with.
What is masking? Hiding...feeling anxious hiding something, not showing it. Trying not to go...withdrawing or covering something up. Hide...compensating for sensory differences. Bottling...can lead to burnout and sensory overwhelming.
Camouflaging can be conscious or unconscious, Some people did not realise how much of a performance that they were putting on until after diagnosis, reflecting and unpicking it all. They end up consciously forcing themselves to look / not look at someone, or stopping themselves from talking about particular interests. This conscious process becomes a subconscious process. Subconsciously adopting ways of thinking over a number of years. Under the surface, working hard without being aware of it consciously. People talk about when they were younger like 5, 6, 7, 8, remembering “I need to learn how to do this” such as something socially at school. Needing to figure out what was going on. Learning until become automatic.
This process can be conscious. Consciously asking about someone’s holiday or the weather. It can be a mixture of both, some stuff conscious, some stuff unconscious (can be automatic). Example of attending a social event and coming back thinking "I am knackered!" Reflecting how I had to be animated with my face or talking about stuff that I am not necessarily interested in. Reflecting that there was a lot of masking. I cannot be quite sure what the process is of becoming conscious or unconscious.
Example of musicians. Sometimes, I have bumped into a musician with whom I studied at university / RNCM. The experience can feel quite intense. Invariably, they ask "are you still playing?" I mirror their behaviour by grinning and laughing yes. They seem to be dancing on their toes as they are saying this. The experience feels forced, contrived, fake, irrelevant and somewhat awkward. They are practically jogging on the spot: "are you still playing?" 😅
Example of adopting micro-personas depending on what situation / environment I find myself in and what role I am playing within that setting / context. Docile, homely, West Country "ice cream" persona for acting as a freelance musician or in a relationship. Relaxed, casual, tranquil yet imperfect Emo / "studio persona" when working within the data team. This is something that helps me to adapt. It is something that I have become good at through being forced to do it. It has become natural.
Compensation can be talked about on 2 levels.
Aspects of compensation form part of camouflaging (like holding back what I really felt like saying to her). But camouflaging can also involve superficial things like eye contact or changing physical appearance. There are a lot of semantics going on in this, which academic people love. What is useful in this is the highlighting of complexities and nuances in the ways in which autistic people talk about how they manage their interactions with other people. It is nuanced and varied depending on what camouflaging methods people use and how they use them and how they use them depending on the person and their lifestyle.
And what else?
There is not much research on this. It is really to develop a deep understanding and be in an environment where you can talk, reflect and build up knowledge about how to deal with it.
CAT-Q = Camouflaging Autistic Traits questionnaire. The LGBTQI Autism Group facilitator has an online link to try the test for myself. It might be interesting to go through it and see what they say. Although she does not think that the CAT-Q test is the most accurate. There is a more accurate one and she will see if she can find it for us.
The CAT-Q test is done with both autistic and non-autistic populations. Interestingly, in non-autistic populations (although more data is needed), people who identify as women or non-binary camouflage less than men. In autistic populations, generally, women and non-binary people camouflage more. There is not a massive difference. We need more info and repeated studies.
Reasons to camouflage
Specifically trying to hide autism can be a conscious choice, or it might not be. Someone might feel quite happy for people to know about their autism but still camouflage in certain situations. This is an important point. People can say "yes, we are autistic friendly here". And they might appear "autistic friendly" to the name and label. But they can still not act friendly towards the traits themselves. Like "you can be autistic, but look me in the eye". Like "it is not a problem that you have XYZ and need to take time off work but actually you do need to do XYZ, come into work and perform in a certain way." In a family, someone can be expected to fulfil a certain role, like caring in social situations or performing social functions. Reason to camouflage comes not only from the expectation to fulfil the pressure from society but also from people who are in your world.
Example of work. I play down my autism as much as possible so as not to cause a fuss. I have disclosed about it early on. People already know. I camouflage / mitigate because I am aware of other people's needs (e.g., having everything in writing takes considerable time for many people). I am aware of how much people want to accommodate my autism and help me. In return, I want to help them. I want to compromise as much as possible. Example of a 6-person meeting. We were discussing interrelated, complex issues. I did not want to participate in the discussion (a lot of it was management of tasks). I was nominated as a scribe to take notes. This plays to my strengths and enables me to help them as much as they help me (in my need for everything to be in writing, I become the one who puts everything in writing). Autistic people are often aware of other people's needs. There is invariably a misunderstanding that they are oblivious. There is a classic "lack of awareness" misinterpretation / not being unaware but wanting to be helpful. Getting the balance between wanting them to be aware and wanting them to be helpful / accommodating of my difficulties. Example of my dad stressing that I need to ask people about what they are doing when I expressed how exhausting it was to do this yet how conscientious I was putting in the effort to do this. There was a presumption that I was not doing this already!
The impact can be physically, mentally and emotionally tiring and exhausting. Apart from that, there is not much research into the effects. Meltdowns: afterwards there can be a feeling of exhaustion where the person ends up shutting down for a bit. A lot of people talk about a "busy", sociable couple of days in which they have hidden some of their traits or worked hard to engage. They go through a shutdown. Example of having to lie down in a darkened room. Exhaustion can result in not only anxiety but also depression. Although that is a confusing picture. In some research, it says that exhaustion can be linked to depression (but this is not necessarily the case). A loss of self, ending up camouflaging so much that they feel unsure of who they are. This has come up before. Particularly when they get their diagnosis, they can think "wow, I have been doing a lot of camouflaging! What does this mean about who I am?" It can result in a bit of self-reflection. On the other hand, people can find camouflaging useful for work. There is a benefit to it, a practical use and an advantage.
How to build a connection (personal, professional or otherwise) if you fake it? Should one fake it 'til you make it? This is an excellent point. The LGBTQI Autism Group facilitator has been talking to people about this a lot. Initially, the research talks about how helpful camouflaging can be to build up a connection. However, what people talk about is a feeling whereby one is camouflaging and getting to know someone. Subsequently, there is a dilemma of what to do once it reaches a certain level. Either stop camouflaging, genuinely be myself and connect on a deeper level. Or hit a relational ceiling and continue to suppress. There is a point about becoming more authentic and potentially risking the relationship. There is a dilemma about this. In theory, a "good" person should obviously act welcoming, lovely and warm. In reality, there is a dilemma when it comes to finding authenticity.
Camouflaging and masking takes a lot of effort. One cannot always get right. They might be perceived as "deceitful". They might not be read the right way. If one tries it and you get it wrong, one can come across as acting deceitful which not necessarily the case. People worry about acting deceitful more than not acting authentic. How does that work? As camouflaged has become talked about more in the wider world, there is a worry that people can think that one is lying and not wanting to be deceitful. This is a good point. People have talked about exactly that worry.
If you do camouflage or mask, is there a difference between the people you do it with and the people you do not do it with? People who know you might be helping with the "unmasking" process. They know that you are going through the "unmasking" process anyway. They make it easier for you. They become part of that unmasking process, making it easier to unpick. This can form the basis of a solid friendship or relationship.
Are there variations with whom you mask and with whom you do not mask, who I have disclosed to and who I have not disclosed to? There is not such a need to mask with people to whom I have disclosed. With those to whom I have not disclosed, I mask more. If I disclose to someone more accepting, I feel safe, not having to worry as much as I would with the general population.
Friends who have stuck around for years notice, respect and appreciate the sensitivities that I have (like my rigidity of needing to stick to the plan, following through and having everything a certain way). Other people have not stuck around. They might not have expressed a dissatisfaction with those sensitivities. They simply disappeared from my life or circle of friends. They did not understand me. It is a question of people's tolerance. Unfortunately, sometimes people are not tolerant to the ways in which my sensitivities manifest themselves.
Overall, camouflaging can happen across genders. Some of the data suggests that this spread is even. There is more evidence to suggest that females and non-binary people camouflage more.
Generally, what is reflected in the statistics (in terms of social expectation): it may be that women are stereotypically more socially engaged and undertake more social activities. Maybe autistic women do more "work" to keep up with the heightened social expectations, act "chatty", talk about care etc. However, this is a generalisation. Camouflaging is definitely seen across genders.
What about learning disabilities? All of the camouflage research is done on individuals who are autistic / have autism but might not have a moderate intellectual learning disability. The definition of masking involves a conscious cognitive accommodation. At the moment, there is not enough research on it. There is a theory that people who have learning disabilities camouflage as well. Maybe there is a behavioural difference, for example, putting hands in pockets rather than on skin. The algorithm requires more mental processing.
A couple of questions / points:
Camouflaging is Intersectional
Camouflaging is intersectional (religion etc.). A lot of people might camouflage autism in conjunction with their sexuality, gender, ethnicity, disability, religion, dyslexia, ADHD, chronic fatigue or anything else or any combination of the above attributes. For example, camouflaging autism can be hiding / suppressing specific autistic traits. This links in with who we are (how we perceive ourselves) and how we are trying to change / adapt ourselves. Non-binary and gender queer people are often not only camouflaging their autism but also trying to "be" more masculine or feminine in order to fit in with a social situation. This can feel complicated and intense. Often, it is a mix of diagnoses and many neurodiverse people have mixed / multiple diagnoses. The above attributes can affect one another. Certain aspects of camouflaging may not be possible because there are other attributes present that affect it.
Life is difficult. That is the truth!
Example of being in a church. I do not admit how much men can be a trigger for me because I am aware of what I say and try to moderate it.
Web diagram. I love this graphic. Labelling stands out as different. The power that is involved. The fact that as an autistic person, there can be a lack of power. People can feel stereotyped and excluded. Camouflaging can function as a way of being avoided, mis-labelled or left out and trying to be included. The sensations that dealing with those aspects can throw up due to social stigma.
Camouflaging seems to change over time. I am not sure how. Some people talk about how they camouflage more as they grow older because social situations become more complicated. Kids can get away with stuff. Adults cannot. Some people talk about camouflage less with age. They say "sod it, I am just going to do what I am going to do". A couple of examples from work. Madeleine is a retired receptionist who comes back to visit the office every week to see people. She said to e that when she was my age, she used to act diplomatic, kind and caring. But as she grew older, she adopted more of a "fuck off" attitude. She explained to me that she had several run-ins with HR because she needed to "tone down" her language and behaviour. And she fell out with some of the younger stuff because there was a culture of society getting offended and upset over anything. Reacting disproportionately. My line manager once said to me that the older she grew, the more she learned about caring less. This is about embracing individuality (not in a mean way). I was about to suggest the rude granny from the Catherine Tate sketches but something in more of a positive light.
On the other hand, camouflaging can happen more with age. Stakes become higher and with promotion and ascension into higher positions of power, there can develop an increased responsibility and need for personal regulation via camouflaging. The stuff one got away with as a kid cannot be gone away with anymore. For example, one cannot talk about their obsessions when they are in a board meeting. It depends on people's families and work situations. Some people can act extremely guarded at work but let down their guard when they are at home. They adapt according to different situations.
The home environment. When young, the family can be accepting and nurturing. This is great. But when they are not, masking is something that can happen early on as a child. When older and more out of a family situation, there is more opportunity to be less restricted. This is not a linear process. It is not necessarily changeable according to age. There are a range of factors.
What are the norms? These could be a combination of factors like growing older and securing higher positions at work. Or living up to certain standards and impressing superiors. Social environments change according to situations. Acceptance of "norms" fluctuates at different stages.
When you are retired, you can do what you like, no? Theoretically, you are not having to fulfil obligations. Arguably, in your social sphere, friends and family might have a set of expectations or clear-cut rules about how to behave. Intersectionality comes in, particularly social or religious backgrounds with defined norms.
Have we had experiences of feeling overwhelmed by choice? In my behaviour, there has been an element of not wanting to bother people, wanting to help them and not acting too much of a pain, wanting to be part of a social group. You use it in that way for that as well. It can be a bit difficult. Recently, I realised that I am autistic and I do certain things differently. There is a lot of ambivalence and dilemma about that. Maybe I cannot behave in that way or be involved in a certain social group. It makes life complicated. I also realised that, having told them about my autism, there is an almost patronising want to help. The term benevolent sexism, can this apply to benevolent ableism? Patronising statements like "you are here, should we turn the lights down?" While the intention is pure and thoughtful, it can make one feel uncomfortable because it is an opposite extreme. The benevolent thing is such a key behaviour that society needs to work on. Rather than acting totalistic, it is intended in a positive way. But it is not effectively helping or giving a sense of power or recognition to the person with those attributes. It can be tricky when someone is not accustomed to engaging with it and slips into those modes.
What do I do? I camouflage partly because it helps others. It is totally individual. There should be no judgement about whether or not I choose to camouflage in any situation. Am I going to adapt or not? There are pros and cons whichever way. Is there an advantage / purpose or not? There is no pressure whichever way. Should I choose to take the mask off? In the same way as coming out about gender and sexuality? It should be fine whichever way without a pressure or judgement one way or the other. What feels right to me? What is my experience of this? It is complicated. There are many dynamics at play. It is useful to think about it and what it means to me. It is important to recognise when "unmasking" has a negative impact leading to a conscious choose to leave it out. I choose to deploy when I wish. I love that empowering statement. It is a person’s agency to use it when they want. AND if they struggling with it and it is not their "jam", that is equally cool. Because a lot of people do struggle with coming out. It is about adjusting to neurodiversity / sexuality as well as disability and ethnicity and how the world accommodates these attributes. It is an individual choice but equally the world needs to get better at accommodating personal choice, too.
Getting the world to adapt instead
Pretty much every single thing I do when in public is so nobody thinks I’m weird. I’ll probably always alter my behavior, because it’s easier over time. Because if I didn’t, I likely wouldn’t have the career or life that I have now. (Vanessa https://www.healthline.com/health/autism/how-women-camouflage-autism#1)
Example of my parents and a generational generalisation. They focus on society's impression of me and how other people might see me. Repeatedly, I emphasise that the most important relationship that I will ever have in life is with myself. It is about how I perceive myself. This is the important relationship that must be safeguarded. I do not know if this is a generalisation / generational trend. Since there is a lot more research and education about equality and discrimination now that there was when my parents were growing up.
No matter how much I have tried to change myself (and show others that I am willing to change and adapt): I will never be able to change who I am fundamentally, at the root. However, I may be able to tweak or adapt what is at the stalks. There is a majority vs. minority issue as well. If part of a majority, it is hard to appreciate what it is like to be part of a minority. Like "come on, it is not that hard, get with the programme". There is a constant experience of having to adjust oneself. Especially when it comes to issues about gender, sexuality and cognition.
Example of my previous manager. I clearly delineated to him what was going on inside my mind when faced with a barrage of verbal information and instructions. His response was "I cannot say that this is something that I have ever experienced, can relate to or can accommodate". There is a shuttered mind and an inclination to disengage.
Read More: 06/02/2020
For many autistic people, it is sometimes easier to retreat into a shell and camouflage because it feels safer.
Camouflaging can be miscalculated and done in the wrong way. However, the advantage of this is that at least one has shown a willingness to try. It is all about the intention. The motives were pure, thoughtful and considerate. Even if we do it in the wrong way, at least people are not attacking. The above mentioned micro-personas can function like little robots that I have programmed or puppets on strings that I have fashioned. These micro-personas act as a strategy and a mechanism by which I can maintain a healthy internal dialogue with myself whilst simultaneously performing the job or role at hand. It acts like a suit of armour when I am going out to battle.
Next month, we are focusing on special interests. Reminder for the next time. Email the LGBTQI Autism Group facilitator with what I would like to talk about and how long I would like to speak. She will put together a little programme and divide everyone up fairly. She is looking forward to hearing about our special interests!
LGBTQI Autism Group
Interesting, our conversation about virtue signalling in the WhatsApp the other Monday (31/05/2021) and the irony of the exact problem occurring 3 days later (03/06/2021) 🙄😅
Just realised that it was a premonition.
It is a trend. HZ does not know why. It is not fun anymore.
In our generation, there is a culture for people to get upset or offended by anything and everything. 15/06/21
Yes, totally. I was upset about it. It seemed like a ganging up / herd mentality. I briefly alluded it to the admins on Saturday, I dropped a subtle hint to Anna that I was not happy about it 😏 message received, I think 🤞...JW seemed to agree.
That is good! What did they say?
Anna walked away 😉
JW said that she would not have removed him.
I like and respect both of them but I felt that the point needed to be made. Yes, because I bet there are more people in the group who feel the same way. Yes, probably, and they are possibly too afraid to say anything for fear of being blocked. That is only a speculation, though (I speak for myself, ha!). Although I did say something. I preferred to do it in person. Keyboard Warriors!
Yes. HZ does not know how to deal with it himself, but he will not let people get ganged up on every time someone says something that might not be PC. No, and that is wise 💪 😌
Interestingly, I have since been speaking with Rob. He did it to see what would happen. As a ploy to demonstrate how overly-sensitive the group is. He meant nothing offensive by it, though. Genius.
This afternoon, I had a deep and philosophical conversation in the office about life, death, angels, demons and spirituality, as one does...
It was triggered by the present that landed on my desk. Thank you for the rich gifts, Anna! How kind and thoughtful 😊 I am over the moon with them! I am now kitted out for when I am next at the park. How strange. It is almost like Anna knew that I wore my badge with pride at the picnic in green park last Saturday. I made it out of the house and got as far as Vauxhall bus station. But I could not find any decent alcohol in the Sainsbury's. Then, I realised that I left something important at home (the badge). Since it matched my outfit, I made a special detour back home and out again because not having it equated to one of my wardrobe crises 😅
Well, I have options now. Next Saturday, I will be fully prepared, and people will notice it more. And I have something that no one else has. They are unique. To me. 😝
Yes. It has a bottle opener! 😃
This is amazing. Anna reminded us it is my artwork. Now I will be super popular at the picnic. I can help people with their drinking, too. Full circle. How ironic.
What is that thing? It looks like a demon. As a child, I saw it in a James Bond movie. It captivated my imagination. As an adult, I researched where I had seen it. I found out that it was in License to Kill. Several scenes in the movie were shot at Villa Arabesque, Acapulco, Mexico. Apparently, there were a lot of animal sculptures and fish furniture lying around. When James Bond wakes up in Sanchez' mansion, we see a brief shot of a human encapsulated within a spherical fish's body. An online source says that this a prelude to the "winking fish" in-joke seen at the end of the movie. James and his Bond girl (Pam Bouvier) jump into the swimming pool. The shot pans to a winking fish before the credits start to roll.
My colleague explained that this ties into mythology. Apparently, the fish-man sculpture is a "marine spirit". Marine spirits and maritime creatures are used as a symbol of repressed sexuality. You only need to watch "The Little Mermaid" to see more examples of this.
At BOTW, I became known for that fish sculpture. I planted it in the venue ops database that I programmed as an Easter egg. Back when we launched in 2012. At the time, I mentioned that there was an Easter egg concealed inside a database. There was much speculation about it. A few years later, I was still working there. I casually dropped it into office conversation to try clicking "Help" during the Welcome screen to see if anyone might notice. Sally picked up on my hint. She found it! Quite possibly the most hilarious moment that we have had at work.
Ever since, it became my office alter-ego.
At 29, my colleagues presented me with a birthday card in which my face was superimposed over the fish sculpture.
Even at DT (where the fish-man was less celebrated), I had it as my desktop picture so that visitors would be gawped at by a gormless human trapped in a fish body whenever they walked into the office. My manager sarcastically asked me which surrealistic piece of art I extracted it from.
I am glad that I have carried the tradition through to my 3rd job. I have it as my desktop picture to greet people as they walk into the office. 😈
This year, in February, I painted a picture of it on my iPad using an Apple Pencil. It took me several evenings. I emailed the painting to Villa Arabesque in Mexico but they have not yet replied.
From: Rory Duffy <roryduffy
My mum acknowledged that it has been a special image in my life for a number of years. I even turned it into a character and built a story out of it in my fictional hobbies. My colleague seemed impressed that I had brought it to life. It caught my imagination as a child. It has remained a big part of my life.
We talked about clowns. In France, clowns are popular. They tie into the Pierrot / French mime art nouveau culture. Whenever we were on holiday, we stayed in French Gites (cottages), where clowns were often prevalent. In one bedroom, there was a giant rag doll clown hung up on the wall. I loved it. My colleague asked me if that is not a little creepy? It is creepy, but in an alluring way. I believe that the clown is like a concealed spirit guarding me while I sleep. 🤡
More on this theme: www.pinterest.co.uk/roryduffy27/moonstruck-clowns/
Do I believe in demons? I believe in manifestations. Forces of good and evil that manifest themselves through the people who I encounter through life. 2 years ago, I was going through a 7-month period of depression. During which I experienced psychosis. During my hallucinations, I saw demons. As I later found out, these visions were a symptom of low Self Esteem.
I have managed to capture and categorise my visual representation of Drifters, Flag Wavers, Fools, Future Fakers, Ghosts, Jokers, Phantoms (whatever I wish to call them) in my Pinterest Board "Foolography".
Event during my lucid state, I still believe in these ideas. The difference is that I have maintained a level of control over myself. I am no longer letting myself be controlled by the universe. During this time, people would say to me "what will be, will be". Although they had my best interests at heart, this was actually unhealthy for me because it was a form of disempowerment. It prevented me from saying or doing the things that I needed to say or do.
I recounted my experience of sleep paralysis, a few years ago. It was after watching a horror movie, late into the night (not recommended). Case 39 featuring Renée Zellweger. Although my body was conscious, my mind was unconscious and dreaming. The demon from the movie appeared in my bedroom before my bed. It had white, translucent skin under which the red blood veins were barely visible. It leapt from the floor up onto my bed. Although I could not feel it, I could sense that it was as light as a feather. Since my mind was dreaming, there was nothing that I could do to stop the vision from unfolding before my eyes. What happened? I screamed myself awake. My flatmates all heard. The next morning, my flatmate asked me "Rory, are you alright?" I explained what happened. Patricia, my landlady, explained that the movie opened up a doorway in my mind to the spiritual plane.
My colleague asked me if I am a spiritual person. I have become more spiritual as I have grown older, partly due to the influence of my landlady, Patricia. I believe that she was a shaman. I lived with her for 7 years. She had a profound influence on me. She taught me that we might die tomorrow. Live for the moment. My grandfather was a vicar. I was baptised. I stopped attending church just before adolescence. When I was a student, I got heavily into Buddhism. Sometimes, I might label myself as agnostic. But for the most part, I prefer not to put myself in a box. If I were to label, my worldview syncretises aspects of Christianity and Buddhism.
2 years ago, I was out of control. I was controlled by the universe. I believe in destiny, fate and serendipity. I believe that there are forces out there that influence circumstances and change the course of nature. But the difference between now and then is that I have been given some measure of control within myself. I have a more healthy, equilibrium dialogue between myself and the universe. This is why I am sensitive and recognise the underlying reasons behind certain eventualities. Or maybe that is simply my own reasoning and understanding that I draw out of them. It does not mean that it is not real. Seeing is not believing. Believing is seeing.
Do I believe in God? I am not sure. I have not formulated it within myself. Why should I not believe in God? Good question. This ties into the cosmological argument. I will get back to you on that one.
Back to the fish, I thought that it would be useful to copy and paste all of the information and references that I can find about it online. So that it is in one place for my convenience. In the process, I discovered that someone has made a real life sculpture of it! I have messaged him asking where I can buy it. My lifelong dream is to have one that sits at the end of my bed so that I can be protected through the night and wake up face to face with it.
At the M&M, JW revealed that her and Tom describe me as weird. But in a good way. Because they describe themselves as "weird". She asked me to take it as a compliment. It is like an initiation ceremony. They helped me interpret Sam, too. At the end of our date the other week, Sam said that he is weird. Serendipity, indeed. Perhaps everything is finally coming together. 🐟
Fishman sculpture in LTK
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I have talked about Destiny vs. Free Will. Not to mention Karma & Fate.
Today, I have had a moral dilemma. On 29th May, I was drunk in Hackney. I picked up a white UNIQLO Premium linen shirt from the ground. It was in my size (S). I completely forgot about this until the next morning when I picked out a random white shirt from my rucksack. There was a sweater, too, which was also in size S. I kept it.
Regarding the UNIQLO white shirt, my initial plan was to keep it, too. However, it still had the tag and original receipt (£29.90 + £29.90 + shopping bag £0.10 = £59.90). My follow-up plan was to return it to the shop and get the money paid into my bank account (£29.90). But my brother who works at Superdry advised me that this would not work. The money would go back to the original buyer's credit card. And I might be in danger of getting busted for money laundering, excuse the pun.
Just after my birthday, my mum planted a seed. She kindly ordered me a beautiful pastel orange, crew neck UNIQLO T-shirt in the hope that it might dissuade me against buying cheap crap from Primark. Although I requested size S, it was a little loose fitting for my liking. Last week, I discovered that UNIQLO produce a size XS.and even XXS on the website. I visited the shop in Oxford Street, tried on an XS and found that it was a better fit. Anyway, the point is that I was able to exchange size S for a size XS without requiring my mum's receipt (I did offer the shop to ask my mum if she could email it across should they need it). But they did not require it.
With that in mind, My follow-up plan was to keep the shirt and sell it on Vinted. But last week's exchange gave me a better idea. Why not exchange the white shirt for a few UNIQLO items totalling up to £29.90 or more? Besides, I was planning to buy a few plain, coloured T-shirts to go with my aztec shorts and harem pants. In this way, I could successfully avoid Primark. As I was leaving work, I explained my plan to TC. Instantly, she thought that I was doing a good deed by returning the shirt to send the money back to the original buyer. Looking at her smiling face, I was suddenly seized with a feeling of guilt. I thought about how I would feel if I lost £60 worth of goods on the streets of Hackney. And how nice it might be if the money were returned. I was half way through explaining my plan when I changed course. I might as well come clean to the shop, since it is the honest thing to do.
TC echoed my thoughts that if I send positive energy out to the universe, I might draw positive energy back. Why not return it? Make someone's day? That way, I would not be expecting anything back in return and I might feel much better about the situation.
I have mentioned Karma. Added to that futile plan was the complication that I would need somewhere to park my bike since I would not be returning to the office in the morning (I had my running gear on me). If I were to launder money, there is a possibility that Karma might get back at me and my bike gets stolen while I am in the shop.
At this point, I had 3 options:
I decided to do a good deed and return it to the shop. Not in the vain hope that Karma might reward me in some way. Because that would not be doing it for the right reasons. There is a deontological approach and a teleological approach. If I opted for the latter, i.e., if I performed a good deed as a means to an end rather than as an end in itself, I might be doing something right but for the wrong reasons. I needed to get myself into the mindset of returning the money anonymously to the buyer and thinking nothing of it afterwards.
As I was cycling down Pentonville, Tottenham Court Road and into Oxford Street, I felt excited by the prospect of what I was about to do. How wonderful it would be for the guy to notice £29.90 from UNIQLO drop into his bank account? I found a side street, locked the bike by the wheel against a lamppost camouflaged among a row of motorcycles (carefully checking with a nearby security guard that it was risk free). I walked into the shop ground floor and went to customer services. I patiently waited in the queue, half looking forward to getting this over with but half pleased at myself in prospect of how the cashier might react. At one point, I even thought that they might refuse a refund and encourage me to do an exchange after all. Feeling guilty again, I pushed away that thought.
I said "a bit of an odd one, I found this shirt discarded on the floor with the original tag and receipt. I was wondering whether I could return it so that the money could be sent back to the original buyer as I am sure that he would appreciate it. It is in mint condition." The cashier was a little taken aback and seemed to agree.
She paused and said "it is very nice what you are about to do, but unfortunately we have a policy at UNIQLO whereby the item can only be returned to the branch from which it was originally purchased. On the receipt, it says that it was purchased in Wandsworth."
I faltered. Oh. When would I ever get the time to trek down to Wandsworth?
I said "I do not know what to do."
She said "you are welcome to choose something from the shop floor and get it exchanged."
I said "I guess that this is what I will have to do. I cannot say that I have not tried."
For a moment, I thought about it. But I no longer felt guilty.
I said "can I find something upstairs, bring it down here, get it exchanged and pay any extra difference?"
She said "yes, go ahead, feel free to do that if you would like to."
In a way, the universe gave back to me simply because I was having the right moral attitude. I had done the honest thing by coming completely clean. And the universe rewarded me. I reckon that there was a reason that my mum wanted to get me a UNIQLO T-shirt for my birthday. That reason paved the foundations of this eventuality happening.
Yesterday, I received 2 INCERUN printed t-shirts from Wish. Although I had ordered them in both colours (yellow & black) and even messaged the seller to clarify what I had done, I received both shirts in black. I was not impressed. I kicked off big time, repeatedly demanding a full refund for the 2 t-shirts after having received a partial refund for the 1 shirt, since they are now out of stock on Wish. I have managed to re-order both colours from NewChic but effectively made a loss of £30 in the process.
Maybe this is karma teaching me not to act like a spoilt brat.
I could sell the Wish t-shirts on Vinted. But my instinct tells me to wait until I have received the NewChic replacements. And so the life saga continues...
I have paid for the searches. It has not worked. How do I feel? I feel disappointed. I have no regrets. I would have felt worse had I not paid for the search. Why? I would have been forever doubting and questioning whether or not I should have done it. I would rather have certainty or closure in some form or another than spending the rest of my life wondering whether or not I should have taken this opportunity. The experience has made me wiser. I am more equipped to deal with a similar situation.
If I ever again use a dating app, I should apportion only 50% of my attention on finding new matches. The other 50% should be apportioned towards preparing myself for the possibility (bordering on certainty) that exes might appear and ensuring that I screen shot the evidence.
This is my anxiety talking. If a dating app makes me feel this level of discomfort, it indicates that there are issues left unresolved. I could come across people in real life like I did with Ansh on 28/09/2019. Whether it happens online, or in real life, it is not something that I can control. What is left to "evidence"? I must cultivate peace with the events in my past in order to move forwards.
Painful as it has been, I am glad that I got this over with and did not spend too much money (£18). Now I know that CheaterBuster does not work. I have asked for a refund.
If they refuse, I will leave a negative review on TrustPilot. No problem.
This is my projection talking. I have immediately assumed that they are not going to provide a refund. Once again, I have played the "eternal victim".
I should explain to CheaterBuster that the dates of all the candidates are from early 2020 and previously, not 07/11/2020 or later.
I mentioned the following to my colleagues:
Simon was a fellow intern, exactly the same age, difference of about a month (he was a month older than me). He left the company and came back as my line manager. He is behaviour was not nice. He bullied me. He had it in for me from the start. He farmed out all of my work to the Press & PR officer. He went to the CEO and explained that he did not have enough work for me to justify my hours.
Suddenly, I regretted telling the above, thinking "I should not have said that, it is like I have talked this situation into happening again". I look back over my past. I can identify cycles of circumstance and actuality that repeat themselves. Projected through my words. If I talk about it to new people, it is like tempting fate. I am manifesting the same situation again into actuality through my words.
I explained the above idea to my colleague. She said that it is OK. I am among friends. It is good to talk as friends now that we are in lockdown and not seeing our own friends enough. Especially as we have been working hard all week. I said that I lack self-confidence. I apologised for telling them about that. I asked them if I could take back my words.
My colleague said that it is "better to say it than not say it".
If it is inside you, it has power over you. If it is outside you, the power goes away.
Another colleague said that she used to believe in Manifest Destiny. This is because the person creating the issues in me told me to keep quiet about it, to not say anything about it. That is like letting fear control me. Those ideas about destiny. That is my depression, social anxiety, lack of self confidence or whatever *thing* is lodged in my brain reaped by the person who planted that seed. It is not me talking.
My other colleague said that the Manifest Destiny idea is not true. I agree to a certain extent. I recognise that if anything is manifested, it is not necessarily the circumstance or actuality itself. It is the awareness that I have of the circumstance or actuality. If anything, it is going to make the circumstance or actuality less likely to happen again in the future. My awareness alone has broken the cycle. I am more assertive. I am more vigilant. Paying attention to the cycle. ensuring that the cycle will not happen again. Not getting carried away.
The trick is neutrally noticing my thoughts and differentiating between my thoughts and what actually happens. If I can make this distinction, I am winning. Not letting myself be consumed / controlled by my thoughts. 22/03/21
I have had to re-write this entry, because I had it in draft mode open on my screen but did not save it. I was on a Teams call. Safari randomly quit. I came back to the auto-saved draft an hour later but found that it only saved what I had written up until the end of where it says "not 07/11/2020". I broke out in a sweat. I almost had a meltdown or a panic attack. With the thought that I have not only lost Tinder data, but also lost something that we discussed that I had written in here. I saw myself as some kind of obsessive information hoarder. I felt raped of words. I was on a Teams call with my colleagues working through a data mind map. Luckily, they did not notice.
This sounds strange. It is difficult to explain. At the beginning of the week, I found out that I could possibly pay a small fee for some information online. I wanted to withhold my decision until Friday so that I could consider it rationally. This meant considering the implications that it might have on my mood. Weighing up the effects of obtaining or not obtaining the information and how I might respond to each eventuality. Before going ahead and paying the fee. I have felt 50/50 over whether or not I decide to either take the risk and pay the fee or try to "let it go". In the end, I decided to take the risk.
In retrospect, I have come to the conclusion that even though that risk was not worth the money on paper (i.e., I have not received the service I paid for), it has not adversely affected my mood. Why? I have realised that this is something existing "out there" that I cannot control. Despite this, I have taken the necessary steps to control myself, i.e., attempt to acquire the information. I did the best I could to take care of myself.
I came to an important conclusion. My ultimate issue is not with CheaterBuster. It is with Tinder. Or any app/digital platform that restricts the user from viewing people that they know for certain exist as human beings in a virtual space. The simple fact that Tinder does not have a search function. Instead, Tinder forces the user to browse through human beings as "records", swiping records into oblivion and preventing the user from accessing a person ever again. This is, in essence, what germinates - at a microcosmic level - the throwaway, swiping culture. The blocking / disappearing / ghosting culture. The trash-can mentality that human beings are "disposable". This projects back on to the self. The way in which these digital dating platforms confine the relationship between the users to something that can essentially vanish without a trace.
Another app that comes to mind even encapsulates this unhealthy mentality in its name "Plenty of Fish". The name originates from the saying "plenty of fish in the sea". The idea that the app is a "sea". And that when you dive into the "sea", you may get bitten by a shark (cue analogy of submarines resurfacing in an earlier journal entry).
Back on 06/05/2019, I was recommended to unmatch Avi from Tinder (and delete his WhatsApp conversation). Victoria said that this would be "for the best". The "blocking" action ("unmatching, unfriending, whatever we wish to label an act of disengagement) was technically my doing. That action impacted negatively upon my mood and mental health. Had I not unmatched, do I think that Avi might have willingly remained matched with me? Might I have been able to keep tabs on him? I saw that the WhatsApp came back to haunt me on my birthday, despite me deleting the conversation. In retrospect, for good reason. I am not faulting anyone because they had my best interests at heart. However, I see that the advice given did not play to my strengths as an "information hoarder". Back then, I was weak. I committed an act of weakness to avoid what I was feeling. An act that did not serve my best interests.
"Temporarily disappearing" is the lesser of 2 evils. "Permanent disappearing" is much worse. In the sense that "ghosting" is the lesser evil of "blocking". "Ghosting" is a grey area. It cannot be easily evidenced. Unless someone admits to it. Which effectively undoes and possibly redeems the act of "ghosting" if such an admission is made to the person who was "ghosted".
One person might have needed time to formulate their response. Another person might perceive a delayed response as "ghosting". After all, it took me 7 months to respond to Avi's birthday wish and seek some form of closure. By extension, could it be perceived that I "ghosted" Avi?
[10:31, 27/05/2019]: That’s why I would ignore it
In my opinion, it depends on the intention. I was waiting to hear from Avi. I did not hear from him. That took me by surprise. It was completely unexpected. In Hammersmith, there was a misunderstanding. Avi said he "needed time". I agreed to give him time. In return, I requested him to be the one to re-establish contact. I lacked the confidence to do so myself (I asked him this outwardly and openly). Besides, had he not been the one to proactively message me up until this point?
Avi asked why I did not enquire him for answers. His "need for time" and my lack of confidence were precisely the reasons why.
[12/01/2020, 12:26:07] Avi:
It is fine to give oneself time, if that is the genuine intention. That was what I believed Avi meant when he said that he "needed time". He later admitted that this was misleading. It seeded expectations in my mind that we would be in contact. Did he have no intention of contacting me or seeing me ever again (despite what he had said and what we agreed in Hammersmith)?
In this case, there was an admission of "ghosting".
The difference between "ghosting" someone and "giving oneself time" is in the intention. If an act of not responding is calculated to give someone an "answer", that is something I cannot agree with.
Blocking. On the one hand, it is so "final". On the other hand, it is not. It is pretending that someone is "dead" when they are alive. It is unrealistic. That person might come "back from the digital graveyard". This is triggering. Mistakes happen, people block one another. I have done it. Others have done it to me. A lot of people have done it. It should be reversible. I disagree with any app or digital platform that does not facilitate such a reversal.
Unmatching from Avi on Tinder was my mistake. I do not know for certain that Avi would not have done the same to me. Unless I ask him, of course. Which, although technically possible, would not be a wise move since he has already made it clear that he wishes no further contact with me. The simple fact that Tinder does not allow you to "unblock" ("rematch") is an issue for me. The way in which the app encourages self-denial. The perceiving of people as "disposable" or as "disposed" when they are actually "out there" in the real world. Preventing such a reconciliation from happening. Restricting resolution. Leaving it open to chance that the person can pop up again when you least expect it.
I have tested these limits with Tinder. Despite the financial loss, I can still draw happiness, peace of mind and satisfaction from the acquisition of knowledge. That I (in myself) did everything within my own capability to reverse the act of unmatching. I could not.
It ties back to the idea that:
This means not letting myself be put in a position where I am vulnerable. From either myself or others. Blocking or unmatching someone sets a precedent that is not guaranteed to be met. Pretending that someone is "dead" when they are actually alive. Inevitably, someone may appear (and disappear) again. People should be allowed to reappear again. That decision should not lie in the control of an app. It should lie in the control of a user.
Avi's Tinder profile appeared and disappeared again. It felt like going through the whole experience of finding and losing him all over again. It is painful. I do not need to put myself in a position where I might feel this level of pain and lack of control. Unless I am prepared for it.
I wonder whether the answer is to boycott any digital dating app that force prevents a user from reconnecting with a qualifier on principle? On the grounds that it is not reflective of real life?
Tinder is, in essence, this. There is no "search" function, only a "browse" function. We are still connected on Facebook & WhatsApp. We could still bump into one another in London. London is a small world. Tinder has informed me that Avi is in London. Why should Tinder subsequently inform me otherwise?
I can understand why I hear many stories of depression and anxiety among those who use dating apps. Possibly for these precise reasons (if that is not a projection). In the way that they work against the grain of how human beings live, cross paths and interact with one another in real life. They are a denial of reality. They force people to go through the process of swiping other people into oblivion.
Remember the rule of projection: what manifests on the outside is what manifests on the inside. The simple fact that people are putting themselves out there for rejection by us. By the same token, we are to them. In swiping other people away, people are essentially swiping themselves - or, at least, aspects of themselves - away.
This spawns issues of self-denial. At least Facebook, WhatsApp and IRL groups facilitate the reversal of digital disengagement - with themselves - if they wish. Tinder does not. That is the distinction.
Going back to the "Plenty of Fish" analogy. I do not wish to swim in any sea, digital or otherwise, where a shark might come and bite me (without me being able to see it coming) thank you very much.
I would be surprised if this view did not become more widely-known. People who are open and talk about mental health issues might start to recognise these patterns. There may be a paradigm shift towards dating apps that allow for transparency. For people to see everyone at once, if they wish.
Or maybe that is wishful thinking on my part...
This mishap shows that despite everything, I am still not "over" Avi. I am still hurting, whether self-inflicted or otherwise. Still now, my past is affecting my present and future. It is not as simple as "letting it go". How can I "let it go" if I am not allowed to confront whatever it is that is preventing me from moving forwards in the first place?
From: Rory Duffy
2 conclusions to draw from this:
Therefore = feedback is always possible, despite what they say. It requires a little tenacity...
One more "unresolved query" to tick off my spreadsheet.
On 13 Nov 2020, at 10:57, Jobs at Woolwich Works wrote:
On 17 Sep 2020, at 09:31, Jobs at Woolwich Works wrote:
From: Rory Duffy
Today, I had to participate in interviewing candidates for the Data Services Manager role. The situation made me a little uncomfortable. Why? I went through the interview process only a few weeks ago. It is still raw for me. I feel like the tables have turned.
At one point, the candidate said she embraces all religions, colours, diversities and sexualities. I asked her about autistic people. Her response was "not knowingly". At the time, I felt like I had pushed the boat out a bit. Especially as my director, the lady who interviewed and offered me the job, dialled into the Teams call at that very moment. It might not have been clear whether I was talking about the candidate or myself. The group leaders said that it is important to ask these questions during the interview about autism. Whether you identify as being autistic, having autism or otherwise.
My previous workplace was not as accommodating of my ASD. It was only 10-12 employees and I disclosed too late, about 18 months down the line, when internal communication issues had knock-on implications and caused problems with one of our clients (February 6th). At the time, I disclosed my autism to my manager. He said that I am in the wrong job. He said that the company is not big enough to accommodate or facilitate my condition. It is not something that he has ever experienced or can relate to.
I do not identify as "autistic" per se, because I do not have the diagnosis. Instead, I identify as "having autism". People need to be receptive to that. For the first time, when I applied to my current role, I ticked the disability box in the accompanying Equal Opportunities Monitoring form. According to my friend Sarah who works in HR, organisations are legally required to anonymise those so that they are separate from the application itself. And so that the disability has no impact on their assessment.
I do not see my neurodiversity as a "disability". However, in legal forms and paperwork, I feel pressurised to categorise it as such. In the eyes of the law, in order for it to be taken into account (within a workplace environment), I must declare it as a "disability" even if I do not see it as such. Even with the government, there is no "neurodiversity" box. It all comes under "disability". The legislation sits under the Disability Discrimination Act.
Legally, organisations are supposed to make reasonable adjustments.
In the '90s, there was the "2 Ticks" scheme. A "2 Tick Employer" = disability positive. If someone discloses a disability at the point of application, they would be guaranteed an interview. This scheme has now changed its name to "Disability Confident". It is designed to encourage employers to recruit and train "disabled" employers or employers with "disabilities".
There are some specific employers who have a real passion for employing reurodiverse people. These tend to fall specifically around tech roles. Perhaps there will be more in future.
Access To Work Scheme.
This scheme is designed to fund and support people with disabilities at work.
It can involve regular sessions of support with a counsellor to help someone perform their best at work. To apply for access to work, one can undertake an assessment. They would go through the employer. The employer would put an application together with you. A representative would come out and watch you at work. Usually, you would get something, whether it is additional funding or support.
Under Access To Work, if I disclose my during application, I will definitely get an interview.
Beforehand, I will:
None of that is impossible.
Alternatively, I might choose to disclose during the interview, upon acceptance of an offer or after a while. Once disclosed, the organisation has a legal duty to try and help.
This has something about auto transcription in Teams:
"There is also an option for recordings to have automatic transcription, so that users can play back meeting recordings with closed captions and search for important discussion items in the transcript. "
Have to record the meeting for it to work.
Important: I would need to ask for consent.
Examples of where my penchant for written communications has often been a running joke at work.
Today, my team members P & T asked me if I prefer them to email me or message me through Teams rather than coming up to me in the office or phoning me. I thought that this was a really kind thing to ask. I said that I felt guilty about sounding really harsh. I am aware that there needs to be some compromise. But I am more likely to read, internalise and recall information if it is in a written form. I like having an email or a checklist in front of me so that I can read it 20x and absorb everything to the last letter. To communicate in this way is a small change. It is not a big ask to message instead of talking in the office but it makes a massive difference for someone like me.
If I wish to disclose, it is good to highlight the positives.
These are all reasonable requests to ask in the workplace. They frame it in a positive light so that it demonstrates a willingness to explore ways of working to their full potential.
If I do not feel confident disclosing to colleagues, I could have a conversation with a friend. I could set time with a person and prepare notes. Have the conversation with a friend before. It is up to what feels most comfortable.
There are pros & cons. If I have or have not disclosed, it is genuinely fine whichever way.
There are schemes in place. Nowadays, employers are better at understanding and adapting. If I do not wish to disclose for any reasons, that is fine, too. Sometimes, it can feel like there is a pressure to be "out and proud".
You can also ask for adjustments without disclosing. There are things to ask for are not earth shattering. They are not that difficult. Example of Teams messages above. If you do not wish to disclose, you can still ask for adjustments.
Someone said to you: "Autistic clients should not be in coaching. They should be in therapy". Coaching is generally commissioned to people who are deemed in "good mental health". It is more future-focused/robust. Therapy is more about healing the past than the future. This guy was basically saying that an autistic person would not be suitable for coaching. An assumption that there is something so "wrong" with us that only therapy will do.
I get annoyed with people seeing me as "less abled". I need to be "fixed" or "cured". People saying to me "you should feel happy in yourself". This is a misunderstanding. My autism or social anxiety is misinterpreted as a lack of happiness. People saying "you must first make yourself happy" to me. It is like they are echoing what the outside world is saying due to their lack of understanding. It is pretty damaging if taken the wrong way. They cannot cope or engage with it.
DISCLOSURE BEYOND THE WORKPLACE / IN OTHER RELATIONSHIPS
Disclosing in intimate relationships.
Talking on the phone vs. email. Complying with regulations / preferences.
Example of a friend you have had for 10 years who always phones you to talk for an hour, despite knowing that you prefer her to message or email. You avoid the calls and tell the other person that if they really wish to be in contact, they must message first. I see it as like a business negotiation and having the "upper hand". Sometimes, it takes a bit of to and fro. There are some compromises to be made. The way that I see it: whoever instigates the contact must comply with the rules of the other person. I know that this is a somewhat "Black & White" approach.
If the friendship has been going 10 years, something must be working. It just so happens that your friend has ADHD. And (ironically) works within a neurodiversity team. There you go. It iis a complimentary friendship.
Example of CB.
CB has known me for 9 years yet she still insists on randomly phoning me up even though she knows that I do not always like it.
You walk around the office randomly going up to people and chatting about irrelevant topics. This you consider an ADHD characteristic. Your story resonated with me, because in previous jobs, I attributed very little value to any conversations that took place over the phone. This got me into trouble. I got pulled up for talking too long to a jazz enthusiast at Serious. At BOTW, my view (that when people phone you up, they are not being serious) became widely known. I relayed this view to my manager at DT, telling him that when people phone me up, I just assume that they are lonely and would like a chat. My manager told me that the first minute or so is small talk but then the "real business" needs to happen. He told me that I am supposed to be doing work when I am on the phone. I cannot agreed with this viewpoint.
Lighthearted ways of saying "This is not for me":
These are beautiful ways of putting it.
WhatsApp groups example. You thought that you accidentally offended someone in a WhatsApp group because you posted a photo and then 2 people left the group. If there is a problem, it is best to initially approach people one-to-one. It is more direct and honest (I had a similar conversation with my work colleague MA, early this morning). When problems are addressed in a group/public dialogue, people can sometimes get dehumanised. In a one-to-one dialogue. When it is a sensitive topic, people need to connect on a personal level a bit more. Know where one other are coming from. It is harder to do "en masse". People disassociate by default. Addressing it one-to-one is making it easier for the other person.
A lot of people disconnect/disengage because they do not know what to say.
It is good to say:
It has structure.
Less anxious, and responding in a calm, measured human way.
When you have had that conversation with the person(s) who have the issue, a separate conversation can take place with the rest of the group, e.g., "I have autistic tendencies, sometimes I struggle to know how to respond to certain situations, I have spoken to XYZ about this and I am sorry if I offended anyone". It is doing that disclosure in a really structured way. It is giving them the clarification about how you would like them to respond.
Neurotypical people (and very often people who are British!) tend to not communicate and disengage. I know that this is a wide generalisation. There is a "politeness" culture in the UK where people tend to shy away from potentially difficult or awkward conversations.
We have pencilled in “creating a list of assertive phrases and guidelines” for next month. This would be great, actually. Also, I think that there could be a focus on “processing disappointment”.
Because this could work on a number of levels,
I do not know if this is a separate topic… 🤔
Sometimes, I find that my disappointment overrides my ability to be sensitive, gentle and understanding with people, if I have had certain expectations of them. I wish to be honest but articulate my disappointment in a way that is not extreme / going overboard / being a drama queen. Learning how to tone it down. Warming up my messages.
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have his reward.
332 Brixton Road
Samaritans, 24 hours, on 116123 or email:
I have been recommended to acknowledge and process all that I have been though, where it all started from how it has affected me.