Picket Fence’d

Note: if you have problems with self-worth or personhood, or if you, like me, have the tendency to absorb the brains of other people, reading this might be dangerous. The text is directly copy-pasted from my phone, where I wrote it last night, although I have anonymized some names for the internet. Since then I have begun to ask people for help in preventing this from happening again (and it was terrifying). I’m putting it here for archival purposes.

The quote in the last paragraph is probably my favorite one that I have ever read; it’s from the Pirkei Avot. And the title of the post refers to the picket fences R and I build around our own personal Pits of Despair.


How do you reveal weakness to someone else? The idea of being pitied is so awful—even worse, usually, than whatever the original problem is. Tonight I feel alienated, incidental, afraid; the burden is on me to keep up the appearance of strength. What’s the worst thing that could happen if I tip my hand? Literally nothing. The most likely outcome is that someone will comfort me. But the feeling of social threat is so strong, inescapable, telling me that the worst thing that could happen is that I could be seen my someone, that I could trust someone.

It’s got to have some kind of historical precedent, right? It makes me think of C telling me I made him feel alienated and unwanted in his own home. At the time I wanted to say, how do you think I feel? And, if I am afraid of you it is your fault, it is you who are doing something wrong. Now I want to say, you have broken me beyond easy repair. it will take years for me to trust anyone, or it may never happen, because you were not trustworthy. Your brain and actions were so inimical to my existence that I became multiply and chronically ill from having to live with you. I am not a person any more because of you.

And I despise myself for hoping that R will come looking for me, I despise myself for daring to consider showing them this document. Just the idea of trusting the person I love most in the world with my emotions is inconceivable. Wishing for them to demonstrate that they care about me. Is grounds for punishment. I don’t want attention. I don’t want to be seen or thought of and I hate it because I am so far from being anything like a whole, real person and I cannot see how it can ever be fixed. I cannot see a reason for me to try to fix myself, let alone a reason for anyone to help or support me. I don’t love being a sociopath but you know, I could probably deal with it if I were at least a goddamned person.

It seems so unfair that this is even a thing that can happen, that someone can do to themself. And it seems even more staggeringly unfair that I probably could have prevented it if I hadn’t treated neurosis like a game. I acted it out until it became real.

And anyway, I know concretely that telling R how I feel would hurt them. They already find it so difficult to balance on the edge of the pit, I cannot push them in by trying to communicate my pain. I couldn’t do that to anyone. There is no chance of gaining anything that is worth subjecting a person to my mind.


I am going to try to think of something positive. M says that if nothing positive presents itself you have to make something up. So here it goes.

It is hard work but I will continue to try. It is seemingly endless work with no certain reward but I am too goddamned cowardly to die. Building a support system took me six years last time, before I threw away everything I had. There is no reason to expect it to be faster this time. So I persevere. I live by mere inertia if nothing else and it is hope that carries me toward a future when I might be a person. I will do the tiny, painstaking magics that it takes to keep me alive every day because hope is the most powerful magic I know, the only magic that can truly matter. Every day that I can muster the courage to speak to a human, I build more of the mental fortress, the mental fortitude, that will fill in the missing pieces of a whole mind. My personal mythology is this: you are not obligated to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it. My personal mythology is this: to build stone by stone a whole heart.

On normality, and silence

I don’t want to be told I’m normal. I want to be acknowledged as abnormal, and I want people to make allowances for my abnormality to help me.

M and R have a habit of chiding me when I complain about Those Damned Neurotypicals. No-one is truly neurotypical! they say. All minds are on a spectrum! There is no normal! I’m unsure whether this is intended to make me feel better or whether it is just a passionate defense of their worldview, but I find it incredibly irritating. While it is true that there is no completely normal brain, there are typical brains, average brains that work very like the Normal Brain our society was and is designed for. Mine is not one of those.

I panic when I have to make a phone call. I use a truly egregious amount of energy processing noise and linguistic information. Sometimes I cry when I hear muffled voices or a vacuum cleaner. I don’t understand how to care about other humans, much less how to talk to them. I can’t usually remember what I did or who I was a few hours ago. I have to run out of a room if someone is peeling an orange or chewing spearmint gum. During interviews I stutter, make long awkward pauses, and omit important information. I sometimes want to kill myself because the future looks difficult, terrifying, and bleak. I am not a person who meshes well with American culture, and because of this there are a lot of things I am simply not able to do, like make friends, go to parties, and occasionally absolutely any of my work. I am disabled because of things that should not be disabilities. But because they are, sometimes I hate myself.

This is not a useful post. I am not proposing a solution, except the solution that I always propose (wholesale overhaul of American culture, the abolition of capitalism, speakers to be outlawed in favor of headphones, et c). I suppose I’m trying to articulate what bothers me about M and R’s arguments, which I am not usually able to do while they are making said arguments. There is an insidious cultural whispering that says, you’re faking it. You’re making it up for attention. You should be stronger and get over it. Be quiet. Be quiet. Be quiet.

Usually I am quiet, because people would probably be even more unsettled by the shape of my mind than they are by my words and actions, and might never speak to me again. But by god I am going to complain on my little-used private blog. Neurotypicals are awful and inconsiderate and I wish I felt that asking them to change their behavior to make my life easier would have any result. Down with neurotypicals. They’re just the worst.

On the destruction of knowledge

We Are Winning

Original quote is from “We Are Winning,” by Flobots


In altering the message in order to adapt it to a new medium, I am drawing a connection. Twitter is one of the most powerful tools we as citizens have at our disposal to expose the corruption, hypocrisy, and hatred that characterizes our government. Communication is the most powerful weapon against oppression. A tower of Babel, a strong community for justice, can be built with this power. Revealing the truth can only ever be good when it concerns many people. Hiding the truth, by manufacturing falsehoods or by destroying the medium of truth, can only ever be an act of violence against reality itself, and against the people who experienced and valued that reality. The destruction of knowledge is always used to exert control over those who want to preserve and add to it. It is never justifiable.

This deeply held conviction of mine is partly why I adore semiotics and the researcher’s ethos. Nothing feels more exciting and fundamentally right and important to me than uncovering overlooked truths once written down and now ignored. New truths are nearly as exciting, but there isn’t such a sense of urgency there—if someone does not preserve old truths, they are liable to be forgotten and lost forever. The greatest tragedy is losing information, not because it is important in itself but because… the existence of information is important. Someone wrote it down. It was meaningful, and we can still find meaning in that. I believe that the loss of an archive is worse than the loss of human lives, because the information inside a human cannot all be preserved anyway. I mourn the burnings of great libraries not for the idea of how much further science could have gone had we had their knowledge, but for the obfuscation and warping of reality.

It is ultimately important to me to record the past, because I have so little continuity of self that there is no other way for me to remember and understand it. I can become the past of two thousand years ago as easily as the past of yesterday. Then in my mind, in my heart, nothing cannot be proven unless it has been written down. The destruction of recorded history and thought is nothing less than the destruction of reality itself. And that terrifies me, because my grip on it is sometimes so tenuous. It is important to preserve everything that happens, because otherwise, there is no past. Yes, it also enables people to seek freedom, power, and happiness, but for me these concerns are almost secondary to the incredibly personal, visceral wrongness of eliminating knowledge.

A Series of Very Short Open Letters Addressed to People Who Make Me Feel Bad

To my father, who recognized several autistic behaviors in me when I was young and told me, “If you keep doing that, people are going to think you’re autistic!”: fuck you. Okay, this only happened once but somehow it stuck in my mind, even though I had no idea what autistic was and he declined to explain why rocking and repetitively rubbing my legs would make people think I wasn’t normal.

To my psychiatrist, who heard my talking about how I had done a lot of research and come to the conclusion that I was probably autistic, who heard how excited I was about this, and told me, “You might have the tiniest little smidgeon of Asperger’s”: fuck you. It doesn’t only manifest one way (8 year old white boy autism is the standard, I believe), and some people have gotten really good at hiding it, and just because someone wants a specific diagnosis does not automatically mean they’re faking it.

To my roommate, to whom I happily revealed that I was doing self-exploration and thought I was autistic (this was before I knew her very well) and told me, “I’ve met autistic kids before, and they’re not like you. You’re not autistic.”: fuck you! You’re not even a doctor, I don’t know why you think you’re more of an authority on this than the actual person whose brain is concerned! Also, stop coming into your own room and breathing and moving around, it’s offensive.

To my friends who are Better At Being Autistic than me: not fuck you. But sometimes you just existing makes me feel like I’m faking.

To those who have it harder than me: your existence also makes me feel bad, but that’s not the issue here. Stay strong and hopeful and brilliant. Keep surviving and helping each other.

I can’t, because I have a personality disorder that makes me pretty much unable to value or relate to human people. I’m so stressed and tired and I keep having anxiety attacks or something that doesn’t have a name, and I cannot build myself a support system because of what I am. I am alone, but not all of you are. You shine.

in which the author is a confused slug and eschews capitalization for the sake of tone

bewildered, it rereads the suggestion that someone is fond of it. this is not correct, it thinks in its dim slug brain, i have somehow imagined this into reality. it can’t even be happy about this because it is not a real slug. sorry i tricked you the slug was imaginary this whole time. imaginary slug is too confused to be happy.

it considers checking every five minutes for eternity to see if the fondness has abated. then it will be safe again. less confused.

that’s not quite it. i am happy that i have somehow made another person happy but they do need to understand i am not real. (worried & afraid face) (whispers) someone loves me

there is also something wrong with me. maybe many things. i do not know what they are but i am not normal. fig 1: persistent certainty that it does not really exist like other people do. fig 2: identifies with slugs more than humans. fig 3: has thoughts that are not Intrusive Thoughts but nevertheless seem intrusive and bad. brain misreads thoughts as intrusive? neurotypical is a sliding scale and it has no clue where the extremes actually are. fig 4: unwilling to be thought or talked about by humans. fig 5: unable to have a gender because it does not identify with any group of humans enough (looks wistfully at people with genders. feels sick.)

tl? dr? i will summarize: if you love me please don’t tell me about it because it will cause me to have a crisis of identity. caveat: i will attempt to ferret all information relevant to having feelings about anything out of you because i Want To Know because collecting information makes me more of an archive than a slug

with warm red shaking fingers

veins break the translucent surface of my hands
like the backs of orcas,
like aqueducts bursting with blue living water to spill and to share
my fingers tremble, heartbeaten,
as I touch over and over the round swell
that stands out over my tendons
as the tone of a bell over trees

musings, late at night

so much was lost and can never be regained, best beloved. all will be well, perhaps, but it will never again be what it was.

and oh, that aches

the death of children on a mountain. tests of faith. death everywhere but somehow he keeps the faith.


consuming fire. through the fire, love

the question, really, is whether there can be any happy ending

In the land of mothballs and clothes hangers

It’s really exhausting being nonbinary, like you’ll go shopping and in the stores the cashiers will say “have a nice day ladies!” But you use up so much energy hating yourself three different ways and the rest of the world at least five, and you get so tired of not saying anything, and of being too scared and polite to say anything. You get tired of forcing yourself not to care.

I realize it could be much worse. That’s where the fear comes from. People say if you want to be out you have to keep coming out day after day, and it’s true. I hide, and berate myself for it, because I don’t have the bravery to invite anything worse. I have a tendency, in my own head at least, toward melodrama; I am a grand tragedy hiding from the presumptive cruelty of the world. In fact I’ve never experienced any of that cruelty because of the circumstances of my birth. I’m uncomfortable in this closet, but I don’t want to leave, and that’s what makes me angry. I’m not fighting at all. I’m tacitly encouraging the status quo because I’m afraid.

This is what occupies my mind in restaurants and clothing stores. It’s a tiring litany, and by now an extremely familiar one, but always I ask myself “is it worth it to correct them?” and always the answer is “no, no, not having to explain is worth more.”

A Guide for the Purpose of Deterring Unwanted Conversational Partners

Sometimes, someone will wish to talk to you when you do not wish to talk to them. My solution is to be faultlessly polite, evasive, and condescending. A guide for this purpose follows:

1. Answer questions concisely and pointlessly. Reply to the letter of a question rather than the spirit, which will be to make you reveal information about yourself. Volunteer nothing, and provide no hooks on which they can hang another question. If your ambusher is forced continually to jump from topic to topic, they will eventually become too embarrassed to continue.

2. Do not ask any questions of your own. This will convey that you do not care about the answers, or by extension any personal information they might volunteer. Attempt to give the impression that they are not worth your time, and that you are bored. This should work in conjunction with unfailing politeness to make it clear that you are humoring them. You may also wish to evince indifference toward things they profess to enjoy, even if you enjoy them yourself.

3. In improvisational exercises, there is a rule that says you must always reply “yes, and–” to statements and questions, because “no, actually–” stops the scene cold. In this case, the latter is what you want, so employ denials and minor corrections liberally. The more pedantically exact your mien, the more superior you will seem. Feel free to experiment with other techniques such as using better diction and grammar than the other party, having perfect posture, and removing emotion from your face and voice. The less human you are, the more difficult it is to talk to you.

4. Cultivate plausible deniability. Give the other party no opportunity to fault you for rudeness or incorrect opinions (the latter is most easily accomplished by expressing no opinions). Some unsavory conversational partners will attempt to engage you in an argument in order to provoke you into disclosing emotion or personal beliefs; be indifferent. Use the “it’s a free country” defense if necessary. Remember that you do not care how wrong this person’s opinions are because you do not want to associate with them.

5. If all else fails, recruit a friend to discuss something that only the two of you understand and/or care about. Alternately, speak in a foreign language. This can be done via text message if no friends are in physical proximity.

Some of these may also work if you’re being interrogated, but the threat of physical violence makes it pretty difficult to be condescending. If you fear for your safety, I wouldn’t recommend trying to seem superior.