25 May 2014

So An Autist Annoyed You? (A Rant)

So recently, I've noticed that a whole host of you NTs are getting quite annoyed at some of the members with autism. You've found us disagreeable, stubborn, rude, even malicious, bullying and callous. You think that we don't try hard enough to not be these things and avoid upsetting the normal people who find our differences intolerable. You think we should lecture, zap and drug our brains into behaving in a way that you don't find to be an inconvenience to others, or more accurately, yourselves. You see, that's what anyone with a shred of decency would do. They'd ensure their differences or disabilities (I don't particularly think autism is always a disability but the people I'm aiming this at usually do) are not a negative impact on those around them.
What is often forgotten by these outraged NT people (who, by the way, are always "highly experienced" with autism in a social or professional capacity which allegedly gives them the authority to speak/advise/teach about it) is that autism exists on a spectrum. Just like you have some people with Cerebral Palsy who are physically disabled but cognitively able, some people who are both, some people who you'd never guess had CP and others who obviously have some neurological dysfunction, you have some autistic people who will never be able to function very highly in some areas. Even with all the intervention in the world, their ceiling in some areas is much lower than in others. You'd never go up to a random person with CP who uses a wheelchair and suggest that they could be a lot less of an inconvenience and burden to everyone if they simply got some therapy, got some apparatus and learnt to walk around like normal people do. You'd never insist that it's possible for all people with CP to walk because your mate Dan has a little sister with CP and she got this wee bike thingy that strengthened her legs and now she can walk. You'd recognise that CP affects people differently and whilst one person's full potential might be walking independently, someone else's CP might mean that holding a cup is the most they'll ever be able to do for themselves.
The other thing that these people fail to comprehend is that not everyone has access to the appropriate intervention for their condition that will aid them in achieving their full potential. Not everyone gets an "early diagnosis" that means their upbringing was influenced by the knowledge that they have this condition. Not everyone had/has the familial support or a healthcare system that allowed them access to appropriate intervention. Not everyone has the money for it.
Another thing you have to understand about autism is that it's often very hard for people with autism to get that other people see things differently to you. If you are privy to the same set of facts, they can't comprehend how you'd interpret it differently to them so it's either you've misunderstood the facts or you "see things wrong". There's an experiment where they have two confederates and a autistic subject (usually a child). One of the confederates places an object somewhere in the room and then leaves. The other confederate moves the object whilst they are out of the room and then asks the subject where they think the first confederate will look for the object. Of course, the answer is that the first confederate will look where they originally placed the object, but someone with autism will have difficulty understanding that although they know the object has been moved, the first confederate cannot know because they weren't there to see the object get moved. My eyes are not your eyes.
Some people have managed to grasp this concept and can accept that from someone else's perspective, things may appear that way. Others can't. As a mother of an autistic child, I'm telling you that most of the time, it's absolutely futile to try and get them to think any differently. The best thing I've found you can do is talk more about why you interpret things the way you do and try and get them to explain what has formed their perspective.
The thing about you NTs doing these ill informed rants and lectures at us is that it actually puts us off listening to anything you say about how we should behave. You often behave like this after we have been "honest" with you (usually by your request) and so to us, it just looks like another NT who struggles once their bubble of delusion and lies is burst. Also, it makes you look "hella" ignorant about autism and because your rant is usually littered with some really insulting untruths and offensive slander, we just assume you're some uneducated peasant who believes we should be locked in institutions for the Greater Good. That earns you a resounding Fuck You.
So again, NT person, think before you fucking speak. Ironic that we have to remind you of that. I thought we were the ones with the "disorder".

5 April 2014

Knowing Your Limits

Throughout life, one is reminded to acknowledge their limitations and work within them in order to both have the maximum chance of success and not make your task an inconvenience to others. It can be difficult to translate this into your polyamorous relationships when one is constantly being reminded that love is infinite. It makes it seem as if you can have all these deeply emotionally entangled relationships which simply just work because you share this common ethos of limitless love.

I do believe that a person is capable of loving many people and there isn't an inherent limit on how much they can love one person. I'm not sure love is quantifiable in that sense to begin with. However, what had become overwhelmingly apparent to me is that the fact resources like time, money and physical space are finite means that this does have a direct effect on what you're able to realistically offer the people in your life without having to sacrifice any existing commitments. This, in turn, affects the liklihood of a relationship becoming long term, the level of emotional and practical entanglement and overall, the level of expectation and obligation you build in your intimate relationships.

When people aren't aware and working within their limitations, especially during New Relationship Energy, it's easy to both neglect your existing commitments in order to have the resources to deal with these new demands and create a level of expectation in a new relationship that simply isn't sustainable over the long term. Not unless you scale back or shed some existing commitments. Be they people, hobbies, children or social activities, something has to give in order for you to meet these new demands. This can be why some people who have the intention of a polyamorous relationship style slip into something that more closely resembles serial monogamy: every time they start a new relationship, it seems to have a devastating effect on the existing relationship and that partner eventually opts out altogether. To prevent this, one must objectively assess what commitments they have in their life (and want to keep), how much resources it will take to maintain those commitments, and finally, what they have left for commitments they'd like to make.

It's also about compatibility though. It's all very well considering what you can offer someone new, but you have to find someone who actually wants what you can offer and nothing more. Not from you at least. If your commitments mean that you'd be able to see an additional partner twice a month or so, it would probably be unwise to pursue someone who is monogamous leaning and is looking for a life partner to plan a shared future. It's just asking for trouble.

Similarly, that new person should recognise what this proposed relationship can realistically offer them and ensure that they can work within those limitations and are comfortable with getting additional needs met elsewhere. Building a relationship without acknowledging these limitations can lead to you being resentful of their existing commitments, be they people, work or hobbies. Resentment, especially of metamours and family, needs other negative emotions and simply isn't conducive with healthy polyamorous relationships. As much as I find polyamorous philosophy can be couple centric, I also feel that "thirds", "solo polys" or whatever else you want to call a person who is the potential or existing additional partner of their paramour, are often alleviated of any responsibility for the relationships they have. It's as if they don't have the accountability that others have for finding compatible partners who are able to meet their needs.

At this time, at least, I'm not able to develop another relationship that has the same level of emotional entanglement as my current relationship. I'm okay with that.

29 March 2014

Several Small Epiphanies and One Big One

The past few months have been emotionally draining, humiliating and laborious, but they might have just been worth all the turmoil in order for me to learn the things I've learnt about myself, my partner and polyamory generally.

I've always leaned towards a "spoke" style of polyamory in which relationships and partners are kept pretty separate. I leaned so far in that direction that people who wanted this kind of really inclusive family style of polyamory presented red flags. I couldn't see why you'd want that unless you wished to have some sort of control or authority over your partner's other relationships and that simply wasn't compatible with my needs. I still maintain that this style of polyamory is not for me and that it often does prompt those warning signs. What I've begin to truly acknowledge, however, is the limitations consequential to how you choose to manage and structure your polyamorous relationship style.

If I meet a person I'm interested in and they already have one or more existing relationship, it's up to me to decide if and how I can develop this budding relationship in a way that considers our existing commitments and meets some of the needs that we have of our romantic and/or sexual partners. If I decide that I'll never be comfortable sharing space with his other partner(s), then I have to accept that means I'll probably never be introduced to friends, invited to his birthday parties or interact with his family. He has to accept that whilst I'm entitled to have the boundaries I feel I need, some boundaries can actually limit the depth and perhaps longevity of our relationship and as long as all parties understand the inherent limitations that are brought about by particular relationship structures or choices , it doesn't mean the relationship is inferior or pointless. It just has constraints and acceptance of these constraints can make it easier for everyone to be content in the long term.

It can be easy to be so concerned about preventing these boundaries from being overstepped or disallowing your existing commitments from burdening or unduly influencing the path of a newer relationship, you actually harm the nature and scope of existing relationships. It becomes as if this new person's needs trump those of anyone else and everyone should portray this priority in their expectations and actions. Of course, New Relationship Energy is heavily discussed in poly circles and this is merely an example of how NRE manifests in everyday life. I think it can be reduced in intensity by everyone being realistic about what they can offer and what they need in return and whether the limitations of this budding relationship will be an issue for the people involved.

Experience in polyamory as well as relationships generally inevitably helps one to accept the limitations of a relationship whilst still enjoying the positive aspects of your interaction with the other person. Being sex positive and comfortable in your own skin aids one's ability to revel in the delights of casual sex or sex outside the walls of a traditional monogamous commitment without shame or guilt. Though what I consider more important than being experienced or sexually liberal is refraining from going into an arrangement with the view to change it to suit your agenda or with an interpretation of other people's relationships that is based on your own reckoning and belief system. Just because you wouldn't need an additional partner if you were already really, truly and absolutely in love and committed to someone, it doesn't mean everyone else feels the same and their existing relationships are insubstantial or unfulfilling. I know that I feel more inclined to form additional relationships when the ones I already have are happy and healthy. Through these few months of conflict, seeing other people just seemed injudicious and detrimental to the health and future of the relationship I'm already in.

The last couple of months have been Hell. Sheer Hell. My trust , my self esteem and my "spiritual equilibrium" as I heard some twat call it one day, have taken a battering. But if, and that's if, we have come to the level of understanding a cooperation that we seem to have achieved, it might have been worth it. Might.

But Daddy, I'm never, ever doing it again. Not for anyone.

12 February 2014

So We Climaxed (and not in the good way)

So, we got to the crux of the issue after much miserable deliberation and angst on both sides. I completely opted for the wrong time to address some of these issues but not using my usual method of walking away from relationships where there has been contention or a compromise of trust left me unable to contend with the feelings that I had. Anyway, this is what I/we have concluded from these events.

  • The breach of trust affected me more than I admitted or perhaps realised at the time. I was used to a breach of trust being confirmation of my expectations and being quite happy to acknowledge it as an incompatibility and walk away amicably. Choosing to stay with someone who I, at this time, don't completely trust in some respects is a sizable challenge. I think, in time, we can correct this. If we keep working together.
  • I have always known that rapid change in my life has been a struggle for me to deal with, however, I didn't expect to be as affected as I have found myself to be by what I perceive as rapid change in the life of my loved ones. It does affect me negatively, though, and that may be one of the burdens of choosing to have a relationship with me. Something that I need to put on the table early on. 
  • Some aspects of my autism are still perceived as creepy, even when the person has a relatively good understanding of autism and has affection for you. Having a relationship with an autistic person isn't the same as raising an autistic child; you don't feel the same obligation to never lose your patience or snap so when you do, you don't feel the same overwhelming guilt for having done so and you don't work that much harder to understand your autistic child so it won't happen again. It's rare that you consider the onus on your autistic child to put some effort into effective communication and interaction with others, and when you do, it often provokes the guilty feeling again, 
  • I really hate when people dismiss my feelings by conflating or associating them with either autism or depression. Even if I am feeling that due to the fact I am not neurotypical or have been having some down days, it doesn't help to just file them under a diagnosis as if that makes the feeling more positive or bearable. Okay, so I don't like change because I am autistic, what are we going to do about that? We can't remove my autism but we could take steps to minimise the trauma change creates. That's if you want to be a "we", of course. Us autists can't handle instability, either, so you can't pick and choose when the two of us are "we" and when it's just you and me coexisting and trying not to be too much of a burden on one another. 
As grueling as this process was, I do think it was beneficial, we know where we are and what we need from each other - now and in the future. I wasn't being forthcoming with my feelings because I thought they would simply disappear in time. I'm know now that they won't. 

2 February 2014

Rebuilding Trust

Since the incident, things between me and Daddy have been great. We've been away and had a wonderful time, we're more open with one another, more confident about expressing our affection and we seem to be able to talk more candidly. I've realised that I'm going to often have to say things as plainly as possible, something I shy away from at times in case I offend or if I'm not sure how reasonable I'm being.

Daddy has also made a clear effort not to repeat the mistake again. I can see that he has really thought about how to avoid that sorry of potentially sticky situation and has actively taken steps to demonstrate his new perspective to me. I appreciate it, I do. It's just difficult not to bring it up and remind him of the harm it caused at the time. Especially when recently, it seemed as if he was kind of questioning why I would consider forgiving (for want of a better word) Mr Lovely (who has ventured back to polyamory and is newly single) and seeing him again as friends (with benefits).

I know that dragging up the misdemeanors of your partner, especially when they've obviously tried to rectify the situation isn't a conducive thing to do, but I find it so hypocritical when people think it's acceptable for you to extend your forgiving nature to them but then insinuate that others don't deserve additional opportunities to make things right. That's when it becomes hard to not throw things in their face and remind them of what you've done for them and how it wasn't easy at the time and often isn't easy now to swallow what went down.

I do talk about it. Sometimes in jest and sometimes seriously. He doesn't try and defend his actions at the time, credit to him, but I think I try to prompt him into doing that. I feel resentful about not being able to express the grudge that I'm carrying. That's the truth, I want to still be annoyed.