“Leo, I don’t care for your demeanor.”

children learning

I mentioned in comments recently how Sheryl Crow is teaching me how to communicate with people from a more productive place.  Her song, Halfway There on her Be Myself album is my anthem for the lesson.  (It’s also a great song.)  Music is the most effective way to teach me something.  I feel like I’ve already made good progress.  Now, when communicating, instead of only thinking about presenting my viewpoint, I also think about how those who might not agree will hear it.

The reasoning behind the lesson is the fact there’s little point in expressing my opinion in a manner that will cause the listener to tune me out.  I have a cat for that.  Heh.  I know whenever I speak to her, she’s listening for keywords, (such as, treat.)  She’s interested in my tone of voice.  Anything beyond is noise.  If I want people to consider my opinions as worthy of thinking about, I have to work on how I present them.  Just like with Amelia Bedelia, my tone of voice, and the words I choose will make or break the conversation.

I didn’t realize how horrible I am at this until recently.  I tend to come off like a drill Sgt.  In my defense, I did virtually grow up in the Army.  I’ve been out long enough to recognize it’s an entirely different world than that of a civilian.  It took a long time for me to adapt.  The hardest part was accepting civilian attitudes.  It’s incredibly frustrating to work with (or even be around) people who aren’t giving their best by default.  Of course, not all civilians are like this, but I seem to find the ones who are regularly.  😂

child weeping

Fortunately, I no longer lecture people on the merits of doing their best, (like a drill Sgt.)  I even try to keep my face in check, but I’m never sure I manage.  I’m a thought telegrapher.  (You can probably imagine how much fun this added to my training. /sarcasm)  Worse, my expressions aren’t necessarily the NT (neurotypical) version.  Aside from about-to-laugh or about-to-cry, I’ve been told I look angry when I’m thinking or processing.  Damn eyebrows.

Body language is something I’ve decided not to stress over any longer.  I don’t get it, I probably never will, so no more beating myself up over it.  As for my own, I’m working on not walking away like I’m trying to escape whenever I talk to people.  (Even though, half the time, I am.)  My entire lifestyle centers around not having to speak (out loud) to strangers much.  I suspect many who have or had a speech impediment share this habit.  I also used to put my foot in my mouth virtually every time I opened it.  (Thank goodness, Stevie Nicks already taught me the importance of thinking before saying.  Love her!)  Now I’m ready to take it further.  Baby steps, yo.  🙃

The battle for access to abuse-free health care continues.  Jade and Keia of Gettin’ Grown talked about the fact African American women frequently die prematurely due to racism in the medical field on this week’s podcast.  I felt validated after listening.  I’m not the only one who has had to deal with doctors or dentists who don’t think black people feel pain.  Or who automatically disbelieve anything we say.  I’m glad I decided I’m not going to die prematurely due to the crudeness and cruelty of some alleged professionals.

I’m proud of myself for refusing to see the evil dentist who mistreated me again.  I looked right at her (probably with angry eyebrows) and said, “No.  I specifically stated I would not be seen by her again when I made the appointment.”  The receptionist acted confused, but I saw a different dentist that day.  It was the first time I stood up for myself, but not the last.  I’m grateful the Patient Care Representative at the VA is a (more than) decent human being.  She’s already helped put in motion an eye exam, and I’ll be seeing a non-evil dentist later this month.

cute cat on the floor

I wrote her a note identifying some examples of the abuse I’ve endured in the Mental Health clinic and ward.  I didn’t share much, and only mentioned one person by name, but it was an overwhelming exercise.  I also shared how I was dealing with my ex-husband turning into Ramsay Bolton at the time, which is what drove me to seek assistance in the first place.  It brought back all the shit I’ve had to put up with since I got out of the military.  Plus, the Kavanaugh Travesty triggered me and stapled me to the floor as a result.  It was like standing in the midst of a trauma avalanche.  Good times.

I’m doing better now, (finally stopped weeping.)  I look and feel like I talked shit about Mike Tyson’s mom in his earshot, but at least I’m not silently wishing slow deaths on everyone who ever hurt me any longer, (then feeling guilty about it.)  I finally slept, which helped.  I also listened to lots of music and watched a Will and Grace marathon while pacing.  I might take the saying, walk it off, too literally, but whatever works.  I paid enough attention to recognize how insensitive (and probably offensive) we were in the 90’s.  I didn’t notice back then.  (+100 to the millennials for helping us see how unkind we were without realizing it.)  ✌🏽

p.s.  Here is a fabulous, healing, and hopeful video.  #SISTERHOOD

“Do they really need the abuse of being compared to a rhinoceros on top of everything else?”

Art installation from The Burning Man exhibit, 2015.
Inner Child – art installation from The Burning Man-2015

M. gave me a gift today.  It’s an F*** Box from the UK.  It’s a grid of 16 buttons that play sound bytes of the F word being used in various ways (with feeling) by people with British accents.  I effing love it!  I need to hack it a bit to lower the volume, though, (this is the midwest.)  It’s the size of a deck of cards, and it now resides on my desk where I can press and giggle at will.

I saw a young woman speak horribly to a man earlier.  As I cringed, I thought to myself she should have served in the military.  It provides excellent training on how to treat humans, regardless of their social grouping.  I didn’t say anything because I couldn’t think of anything besides shaming her.  (I know from trial and error this isn’t a practical method for civilians.)

I used to be her.  Only for about a week, (because I was in the Army when I finally realized males aren’t disgusting after all.)  I trampled on a man’s ego as if it made me cute in earshot of a woman, once.  She corrected the shit out of my behavior. (It was terrifying to be a girl in the Army.  The women watch everything you do at all times as if every mistake you make halves their paycheck.)

I got kicked out of the barracks and had to move in with her and her three kids in military housing.  At first, I was in shock and had the gall to act like I was unjustly singled out and punished.  I didn’t even get a private room or bed.  I had to sleep with a toddler who wet the bed at least once a week.  I learned baby pee is no biggie, and they don’t take up much room.

Then I learned how to treat men by spending all my free time with two little boys and a toddler baby girl.  I don’t remember how long it took before I was allowed to move back into the barracks.  It’s not that living in the barracks was highly desirable;  more that I eventually figured out how shameful it was to be someone who couldn’t be trusted to live there without (verbally) abusing the 200 or so young men who also lived there.

I do remember what I did that got me in so much trouble.  A man who was in my battalion but not my battery, asked me out while we were standing in line for chow.  I was 18 at the time, and he was 25.  (Lowering my head in shame)  I said, “Eww.”  To his face.  In front of others.  And I didn’t realize I just kicked him in the nuts and set his hair on fire.  So I turned around and made the, Can you believe this guy? motion I learned from TV.  (And then assumed it was perfectly fine to go on living my life like I didn’t just do that.)

children

Whew.  I’m still paying for it in regret and shame.  My SSG told me whenever I look at a man, also see the cute little boy operating the man-sized avatar, because that’s where we all keep our feelings.  Spending time with her kids was a lot of fun, I’ll admit.  I adored them and still think of them sometimes.  The oldest was 13, and we were an even match in basketball.  (We spent more energy on talking shit than playing, though.)

The middle boy was 9ish.  It’s possible he was sweeter than Amelia Bedelia is now, and that’s saying something.  The baby was 3 or 4.  We used to watch music videos of The Boys, our mutually adored band, then dance in front of the mirror.  She was adorable and fascinating.  I was awestruck by how developed her personality was at such a young age.  She’s an incredible woman now, just like her mom.

It was the first and last time I abused a man.  It’s hard to see young women and girls make the mistakes I did and not intervene, but I’m nobody’s SSG, and this isn’t the military.  It’s easy to copy the behaviors and words we see on TV and in movies.  Especially those of us on the autism spectrum.  I couldn’t communicate with people if I couldn’t study actors to show me how and teach me the scripts.  Naturally, I assume everyone uses this tool to some degree.  🙃

Not everything we see actors do on TV is things we can copy, for many reasons.  There has to be a consideration in real life, because of real feelings.  No matter how someone looks on the outside, they’re still that adorable child (often operating their adult avatar.)  I don’t need help remembering anymore, but you know what I did.  I’m super thankful my SSG took the time to teach me this vital life lesson.  Hopefully, others can benefit as well, (without getting peed on.)