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And today she was suicidal because that guy who decided not to pursue a relationship with her three years ago defriended her on facebook?

What sucks is that she knows this is an extreme overreaction, so she beats herself up for being abnormal, so she feels worse. So I have to walk this tightrope between saying 'it's OK to be sad, don't hate yourself' and validating her own sense that the sadness is disproportionate, because, well, it is.

I try to be kind. I work really hard on being kind, because I generally wish people would be kinder to me. But it is also exhausting having to focus on other people all the time, and it doesn't take long before I get resentful. It is hard having to listen to someone weep about what a freak they are for having no friends, when you have been living without friends for several years longer than they have, and you are still learning how not to hate yourself or blame yourself for it. It is hard when you are living with someone whose moods are entirely determined by the random shit they see on facebook, and you do not have any control over whether today is going to be spent drying their tears or trying to sort out your own life. My therapist said I needed to define better boundaries for myself, but how are you meant to detach from a needy person without unleashing their terror of abandonment and making them cling to you even more?
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My single sister is whining about how much she hates Valentines Day and I am like, meh, whatever. I cannot get upset about this stuff anymore. Celebrate whatever holidays you want, this one has nothing to do with me.

This is what bugs me about so much feelgood self-improvement rhetoric. This idea that everyone has a right to be loved. No. It is not a right, it is a privilege. Everyone else on the surface of this planet has the right not to love you, and their right to choose trumps your sense of entitlement. If you're a child then your parents have a duty to love you incurred by their decision to inflict life upon you; but people neglect their duties all the time and it's not as if love is something which can be compelled. So no.

Which makes me think, not for the first time, that love privilege is a Thing, because clearly your life is going to be substantially easier if you are easy to love, and something of a struggle if you are unlovable. If you have people who care about you, you will cope better with whatever other shit life has to throw at you. And not everyone does. I keep googling variations on 'how to recover from depression when surrounded by abusive people' and there is NOTHING out there. There is plenty of advice on disentangling yourself from abusive people, but it is heavily reliant upon you not being depressed and having non-abusive people who are willing to help you, ignoring the fact that interacting with abusive people is fucking depressing and that they are also really good at cutting you off from non-abusive people. Not that they needed to make the effort in my case, since by the age of about twenty I was like 'ok, enough of this crap now, NO MORE PEOPLE.'

I was just so damn tired of everyone turning out to be untrustworthy. Still am. But I don't delude myself that I somehow deserved any better, because people are what they are, and I am what I am, which is not pleasant enough to draw pleasant people to me. I am not good at pretending to be nice; and even if I were, I would be reluctant to add falseness to my list of flaws. You only get found out in the end anyway.

Sometimes I wish I lived in the Middle Ages, when hermitude was a valid lifestyle choice and the church would give you the means to pursue it. There are some people who are just not a good fit with society, and we should be allowed to wall ourselves up in our cells, dreaming our dreams and thinking our thoughts, without third parties trying to control our behaviour or guilt-tripping us about our failure to be 'normal'.
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I feel genuinely sorry for extroverts.

For Christmas dinner I got this random old woman inflicted on me because my pseudostepmother is addicted to picking up waifs and strays. This, like most so-called altruism, is so she gets to feel good about herself rather than because she actually gives a shit about anyone else. If she were genuinely a compassionate or empathetic person she would realise that inflicting random strangers on three people with varying degrees of SA, without even bothering to consult them first, is pretty damn selfish. (For that matter, she wouldn't keep 'borrowing' her daughter's disabled badge either.) But anyway. Said old woman happens to be the most boring person I have ever met. Even my nan, whose short-term memory has been reduced by Alzheimers to that of a goldfish and who asks repeatedly what time it is and which members of her family are dead, is better company than this woman, who can only discourse upon her love of sprouts and her desire to make it to a hundred.

What the fuck for? I thought. What do you have to look forward to but talking at strangers? Give me a choice between spending my Christmas by myself and inflicting myself upon people I don't know and who don't even want me there, and it is a no-brainer. It is like some horrible parody of what Christmas is meant to be. Because these waifs and strays invariably do have families, who clearly want nothing to do with them, and I cannot help but wonder whether this is connected to their obnoxiousness. Apart from anything else, if you are obnoxious then your offspring will probably be too, which makes it difficult to sustain healthy relationships.

And rather than try to mend fences with her granddaughter, this woman would rather go and talk at random people whom she has no actual interest in. I am quite sure she wouldn't be able to tell you my name, let alone how old I am, or where I live, or what I do for a living, or what I was doing at that dinner table in the first place. She wouldn't even be able to tell you whether I like sprouts. She just wanted some ears to talk at, and it didn't matter that I only issued two words in reply and barely looked at her. She didn't notice. She didn't care.

I suppose it is a step up from small talk, in that at least she has given up pretending to be interested in the other person. (The insincerity of small talk is what infuriates me. It puts my teeth on edge.) And it is a relief to be able to abandon the pretence in return, and stop fretting about your own social cues. But I would rather be struck dumb for the rest of my days than be reduced to that kind of fear of being alone.
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A short selection of things my family have considered it acceptable to say to me in the past year:

  • No wonder you have no friends

  • You have had every advantage in life. You're just too lazy to get a job.

  • You can find yourself somewhere else to live

  • Why don't you just kill yourself?

  • I hate the sound of your voice

  • You are dirty and disgusting and you smell

Then there are the more subtle forms of abuse by outsiders. The pseudostepmother who thinks it's OK to make you stand in the corridor when your dad is in intensive care because 'it's a different kind of love'. The pseudostepfather who pretends you don't exist. The waitresses who pretend they can't see you, the cashiers who demand ID even though you have grey hair, the Big Issue sellers who hassle you. All the little unkindnesses.

My sister's best friend lied to her that she had cancer. My pseudostepmother omitted to mention the fact that her rich husband was twenty-five years her senior and had a granddaughter. My mother lied for over a decade about having an affair. I don't know anyone who is honest. I don't know anyone who isn't judgmental. I don't think I even know anyone who is nice.

It is a lot like my phobia of dentists, actually. It doesn't deserve to be called a phobia because it is entirely rational, and justified, and based upon empirical experience. And when I overcome my fears, it turns out that I was right to be afraid. Guess what, dentists do inflict unnecessary pain on you in exchange for vast quantities of money! Just like they did before you stopped going!

I was scared of traffic even before a car knocked me over. If I'd been that little bit more anxious, it would have saved me from getting in an accident and the greater anxiety that resulted from that. Yeah, anxiety stops you living life to the full. But sometimes it's the only thing which keeps you alive at all.
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So everything you do is aimed at making the world in general a little less sucky and your space in particular a safe one. I support that. It's important.

And I accept that the only way I can support it is by not participating. Because I'm awkward. I will inevitably say the wrong thing, in spite of my best intentions, because that is what always happens. And I won't be able to cope when you call me on it, because I have a whole cornucopia of issues which prevent me from dealing gracefully with being criticized by strangers. I know that sounds like I'm making excuses. But I know myself, and I know my limitations, and the amount of linguistic policing that has to take place in order to make your space safe is more than I can currently handle.

I'm not good enough, basically. I'm sure you would hate me pointing this out, but it's true. Just as trolls and Nice Guys aren't good enough. Your space is a china shop and I am an elephant.

So when somebody posts about how great it is for her and how much she loves it? I am triggered. I am tearful. I am reminded of how my disability excludes me from basically all forms of community. I am reminded of how I will never have friends, of how I don't deserve them, of how I cannot be trusted not to upset someone whenever I open my mouth. Because pretty much everything you say is going to upset someone, somehow. That woman who posted about how great your community is and how much she loves it had absolutely no idea that her innocuous comment was going to send me spiralling into a pit of misery and self-hatred. And that is as it should be. She should be able to express sentiments like that without having to preface it with a content note, without having to worry that some random lurker is in distress because of something she said.

I am not safe for your space. But your space is not safe for me, either.

Well, the trolls and the Nice Guys manage without access to your community, don't they? They find fellow trolls and Nice Guys to congregate with. But I'm avoidant. We can't be around people by definition. The very concept of an avoidant community is an oxymoron. Which, among other things, means there is no activism, so there is next to no awareness of the fact that not everyone has friends, not everyone has relationships, and not everyone is capable of interacting with others in socially appropriate ways. And it is ableist to pretend that my disability doesn't exist, or isn't a disability, because, seriously, if something which prevents you working / living independently / making friends / having sex / having children fails to qualify as a disability, what the fuck does?

So part of me wants to crash around breaking all the china and screaming, hi, I exist, and you are erasing me and excluding me and all that other stuff you try so hard not to do.

Except that I am always already excluded. Because that is what being avoidant is.


Jan. 15th, 2012 09:40 pm
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About now is when I would have gone to and posted about how tired I am of my dad Not Getting It.

Moving is stressful, but I could deal with it fine if I wasn't sick. Being sick for six weeks wears you down, especially when you can't go to the doctor because a) calling to make an appointment when you have social phobia is a Big Deal, b) catching four buses and sitting in a waiting room full of sick people when you have social phobia is a Big Deal and c) like I even have time to go to the doctor, when I am moving.

But to have it sprung on you that you are going to be having your Sunday dinner at a table of EIGHT, three of whom are total fucking strangers? Sorry. Not OK. Not OK at any time, really, but if you can drink, it might be survivable. If you can't even resort to alcohol because you've already vomited twice in the past day, then no.

I just do not think my dad gets that I have social anxiety. I don't think he even gets what social anxiety is. And when I try to explain, he doesn't want to listen. He has equal trouble acknowledging that I'm physically ill, and I've been coughing up slime for the past six weeks, so it's hard to see what more I can do.


Jan. 13th, 2012 10:06 pm
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I know I am mostly burned out on people in general, but sometimes I'd like to have a friend who didn't think that 'fat' and 'autistic' were terms of abuse. And who didn't think it was ok to fling said terms of abuse at me on a semi-regular basis. And who didn't judge me constantly. That would be cool.

Actually, if I knew anyone like that I probably wouldn't be so jaded with the concept of humanity in the first place. But I don't. So I am.

I am moving in with someone who still thinks it is ok to make fun of people because you don't like their shoes. If I wanted to devote my life to someone with a mental age of twelve I'd have got myself knocked up when I was twenty-two. Oh wait, I couldn't. I was incel when I was twenty-two. Oh well, never mind.
ambergris: (Default)
tw: rape apologism, misogyny )
ambergris: (Default)
and I don't know why they're hinting I didn't read their comment policy etc. in the comment immediately after it. Maybe they're not aiming that specifically at me, maybe it's just standard-issue social anxiety-related paranoia. It's hard to tell whether you're genuinely being shunned or whether you just assume you are because you're so used to it happening.


I am profoundly grateful that my invisibility has spared me harassment and assault (most of the time, anyway; when I do get jeered at it's always by teenage boys who seem mortally offended that I do strange things like wearing winter coats in winter.)

But I used to wish that there was some kind of switch I could throw so that I could be visible to people I found attractive while remaining invisible to the rest of the world. It makes me sad that avoiding unwelcome attention also deprived me of attention that would have been welcome. And sometimes I've even wondered how I can be a feminist when I'm not perceived as a woman, and therefore have trouble perceiving myself as a woman, and am not affected by most of the issues which affect women. It feels kind of appropriative, like I don't have a right to complain about things I'm lucky enough not to have to deal with, however sad and angry I am that other people have to deal with them.

I had more to say, about how sometimes I wonder whether I'm really demi or whether I just got so screwed up by years of being read as asexual that I started to think I must be, because, really, how can everyone you meet be wrong about something like that?

But then I remembered I have a blog for that.
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So when my sister's so-called relationship turned to shit, the only thing which kept me going through the endless hours of listening to her rant and rave and cry on my shoulder was: I will never have to go through that again.

Because the unrequited love thing I specialised in when I was younger? Was not fun. It was soul-sapping, confidence-eroding misery. It was a constant reinforcement of all the stuff I believed about being unattractive, and boring, and generally worthless. (That said, any contact I have with other people tends to reinforce those perceptions. I didn't become AvPD by accident.)

Most of the time, I have to work at being grateful that I'm single. I know perfectly well that I'm such an extreme introvert that I NEED to be alone most of the time, but I live in a world where I am constantly told that I should be striving to find somebody (anybody) with whom to share my life, and that if I happen to be bad at sharing then I must be immature and selfish. This sort of thing seeps into your brain and most people never even question it.

But enduring hour upon hour of angst, I finally believed the things I keep telling myself. That nothing, nothing is worth putting yourself through that level of suffering. It is just insane. And if that makes me immature and selfish, well, all the better that I am not in a position to inflict my selfishness upon anyone else. There are worse things in life than being lonely.
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So I bookmarked this AVEN thread, because it echoed some of what I was thinking.

Basically this. If you're going to be an advocate for asexual visibility, you are going to be more helpful if you are a sane, healthy, happy, productive, fully-functioning member of society. If you don't give anyone the getout clause that you're broken.

The trouble with this is that most people, regardless of orientation, are damaged in some way. We live in a broken world. Dysfunctional societies produce dysfunctional individuals more often than not.

And me? I'm nobody's postergirl. I can't even say for sure whether I qualify as asexual. It could just be a symptom of my AvPD; if social contact is too much for you to handle, sexual contact is going to be even further down the agenda. It could be the depression. It could be the meds. It could be that I want a positive label just so I don't have to be broken; the same way I deconstructed virginity out of existence, so I wouldn't have to be one.

Or. I could simply say: this is where I am, now. This is how I feel, now. It wasn't how I felt in the past, and it may not be how I feel in the future, but that does not negate how I feel now.

And it doesn't matter exactly how or why I got here. I'm still here.


Mar. 18th, 2010 04:56 pm
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I explain about spectra. I explain how, just as you have your basic straight/gay continuum with the bis in the middle, so you're also going to have a scale of intensity, with the asexuals at one end and the highly sexed at the other.

She gets that. But she still says maybe I just haven't met the right person yet.

I explain that the number of 'right people' is related to where you are on the scale. Up at the top there are hundreds, thousands even, at the bottom there's none. While I'm not at the zero point, it's extremely unlikely that I will encounter another 'right person', even if I wanted to.

And I don't.

But she still says I shouldn't write myself off.

My family are always telling me not to write myself off. I don't understand how admitting that I'm unemployable, or saying that I can't imagine ever not being single, constitutes 'writing myself off'. Don't I have an intrinsic worth independent of any that might be assigned to me by potential bosses and partners? Does it really make me a lesser person if I can't get validation from others? Isn't it more empowering to try and get by without it?

I can't remember a time when my reality wasn't being denied by those around me. Don't be silly, of course you have friends. Shut up, you're not fat. You're not suicidal, you're just lazy. Maybe you just haven't met the right person yet.

I know they only do it because they find these truths too painful; but when you refuse to accept what somebody is, you're telling them that what they are is unacceptable.

It doesn't help.


Feb. 28th, 2010 07:22 pm
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I don't know why some people think shouting at a depressed person is an appropriate way of dealing with an admittedly exasperating situation. Seriously, what do they think will happen? Depressed person will leap to their feet declaring 'yes! you're absolutely right! I am a lazy good-for-nothing, but now you have been so good as to alert me to the fact, I am going to stop! I am now going to get dressed in my smartest clothes and reward you with a cup of tea before going outside and magicking up a fabulous life for myself!'

It seems to me far more likely that depressed person will merely snivel a bit.

Some people are so miserable and powerless in their own little lives that making other people suffer is the only source of joy they have. I learned this at school.

I am perpetually afraid of becoming one of them.
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I went through a period, about ten years ago, of identifying as incel, and one thing sticks in my mind; somebody remarked that most involuntary celibates are trying to end the 'celibate' part, but others are trying to eliminate the 'involuntary'. Well, the thought of not being celibate was sort of horrifying, since I was only attracted to one (uninterested) person and couldn't contemplate sleeping with anyone else. I didn't even want to be attracted to anyone else.

I didn't equate this with asexuality or demisexuality, by the way. I equated it with True Love.

So I thought, right, I'll work on the voluntariness, and since I'm horrified by the thought of not being celibate I'm clearly most of the way there already.

Thinking of myself as incel, in retrospective, was a continuation of the passive, victimised role I had assumed in relation to my sexuality throughout my teens. This narrative basically went: I am fundamentally unattractive, nobody will ever want to sleep with me because I am flawed and they are shallow, this is how things always have been and always will be, and it is up to me to accept it.

Now, a lot of teenage girls have low self-esteem, but the majority nonetheless manage to engage in some degree of sexual activity during their lifetimes, so I don't think we can attribute everything to that. People with low self-esteem do have sex. Ugly people have sex. Shy people have sex. Even people with social anxiety have sex (though admittedly I have no clue how they get to that stage; I suppose they just get targeted by pushy people?) But obviously I was a special snowflake, unique in my utter undesirability.

What I tended to overlook was that, although it was true that nobody of the opposite (or any) sex ever indicated that they found me attractive, I pretty much repelled any such approaches before they could occur. I gave off 'leave me alone' vibes because 99.9% of the time, I actually did want them to leave me alone. I'm not sure I had AvPD at that stage (I'm only self-diagnosed now), but I certainly had some degree of social anxiety. I never socialised outside school -- I had a small group of friends, but they had mostly evaporated by the time I left -- and I was bullied, so if anyone had been interested (which I sincerely doubt, since I had the worst hair ever) they couldn't have admitted to it without being ostracised.

In my entire seven years at secondary school, I had three crushes, two of which were on teachers, and only one of which could be characterised as actually finding the person sexually attractive. It never occurred to me that I might have a low sex drive or have other anxieties about sex. I just thought every other male at my school must be ugly, or stupid, or both. Usually both.

Like most eighteen-year-olds, I thought college was my second chance. Even if the boys were ugly, at least they wouldn't be stupid. I might fall in love with somebody who would love me for my mind, and the relationship would follow its natural course.

I suppose there might be, somewhere out there, some asexual eighteen-year-old boys who love women for their minds, but the asexual eighteen-year-old boy I stumbled upon in my third day of residence wasn't one of them. Well, I say he was asexual. I don't know that he was, or that he would self-define in that way, but he was certainly somewhere on the spectrum. Like, a few weeks in, we had this drunken conversation about how the idea of sex was kind of gross and really not aesthetically pleasing, but I thought everyone secretly believed this because it was so obviously true. And he didn't date, or get off with random people when drunk, and had approximately two celebrity crushes, and I, in my blundering, inept way, clearly terrified the life out of him.

This being the same person upon whom I was still fixated three years later when I decided I was incel, I believed I wanted to sleep with him. Well, I did want to sleep with him. Whether I would still have wanted to sleep with him once matters progressed beyond the hypothetical is a question that will remain forever unanswered. My crushes were always on people who were safe, you see. Even the boy I crushed on for four years at high school was a Christian who proudly declared himself celibate. (At fourteen, I was unimpressed by this; wasn't everyone celibate at our age? You have to remember this was the early nineties, and I hung out with a lot of Christians.)

I could not imagine ever getting drunk enough to swap bodily fluids with a stranger. Or an acquaintance. Or a friend. Inevitably I would throw up long before reaching that point, and besides, I did not want to. There was only one person I wanted to kiss.

Here's the demiromantic thing. I have never had a crush that was instant. It was always: this person is nice enough, but not physically attractive. Or even: this person is really annoying and ugly. If I think someone looks good from the get-go, I just feel indifferent. It's as if it trips a switch in my brain: they're out of your league, nothing to do with you, move on.

But anyway.

Before I went off on this historical digression, I was going to say that identifying as incel wasn't right for me, and it wasn't right for me because I was trying to blame the rest of the world for the fact I was still a virgin rather than accept my own role in this. It was about me not owning the choices I had made on the way there. It was about me being Patience on a monument, a martyr to my unrequited love. It was about me being that uniquely undesirable snowflake.

And I was seeing a lot of bitterness directed against women, which troubled me although/because I knew I'd been guilty of similar bitterness against the whole tribe of men. I knew I was one of those snotty, shallow bitches who wouldn't look at these men twice, so I kept my mouth shut mostly, hypersensitive to the prospect of anyone hitting on me. Once, somebody suggested that I 'just had a low sex drive' and I automatically thought: yeah, well, you're just saying that because you don't believe women can be incel.

After the incel period, I called myself a 'non-practising heterosexual', which didn't require as much agonising, but also didn't really resonate with me, because it's not an identity, as such. It's just 'heterosexual' plus an adjective; it suggests a temporary, intentional state of affairs and fails to acknowledge adequately my difference from the norm.

So what tempts me to identify as asexual, now, is that it gives me some agency but not too much. It's not exactly saying 'this is my choice'. Celibacy is a choice. But it's not as if I had the opportunity to have sex and turned it down. It's more that I evaded being given the opportunity. And why would I do that, if I wasn't somewhere on the asexual scale? That's what I'm trying to figure out.


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