Letter about writing and words

25th of July 2019

Hi A.

Thank you so much for calling from your vacation. It was so nice to hear your voice. And I am so thankful for the trust you showed reaching out to me. I know that was very hard and a big step for you. And I feel so privileged to be the one you called. And to be part of your journey in the way you have allowed me to be. Thank you for that.

I wanted so much to start this blog. To start writing. To keep writing. Have a place to sort through my thoughts and work through all the mess in my head. I missed writing so much. But here we are. Only a few weeks in and I already find it difficult. I’m more than a little surprised by that. Not that I’m giving up or anything. It’s just a different kind of hard than I imagined.

Maybe it’s the stress. The aftershock of moving, the big scary change of suddenly living in a new place is finally hitting me. The changes and adjustments. The almost settled completely in, but still missing enough small pieces to bother me on a daily basis.
And I started work last week. It’s so great to be back there, but I’m constantly exhausted and have headaches that lasts for days. The adjustment to figuring out my schedule, remembering to make and bring lunch, finding energy to make dinner, the almost 4 hours of transport, bringing work clothes back and forth because it needs to be washed often. It takes a toll.

The work isn’t a real job, and the details of that isn’t important here. But I do keep in mind that there might be any readers out there reading this, now or in the future, who aren’t just us. And they might not understand that I work but don’t have a job and worry I might never get a real job unless I somehow mentions this. And I think I just did.

I can’t really write anything about the work I do anyway. Because the people I work with have very nicely asked that certain things aren’t shared publicly. Not because anything wrong is going on or because they are hiding anything. Just because they know how the world and people online are. A similar workplace got in trouble in the media a few years ago, and that hasn’t been forgotten. The work is ethical, no one is getting hurt, underpaid or anything like that. And I won’t say any more about what I do.

What I will say is that I love it there. I work with some of the kindest people I have ever met. They are patient and full of care. They like their work and are willing to teach me and the volunteers. I always feel so welcome there. And it’s a place full of wonder and I am daily in awe of the place and the things I see and get to do there.

So that place brings me joy. The commute and the energy drain I still feel is another matter. And the last two weeks have been beyond draining and I’ve already had to take a sick day. So on that front it’s good news and bad news.

Maybe the main reason I find it difficult to write anything this week is because the thing I want to write about isn’t something I can share. Not yet anyway. I don’t have the words. I barely have a context that makes sense to me, but my mind is very occupied with this thing and trying to figure it out, which I’m not sure is what I’m supposed to do. And even then… I’m not sure it’s mine to share. It might be. But I don’t feel sure.

And there are so many feelings and thoughts that I’m not ready to write down, even if writing them down would be the best way to translate them from feelings to words and ideas I can grasp.

In a way I feel stuck between my desperate desire to write about it and make it tangible and not wanting any record of this until I’m ready or know if there even should be a record of this.

Writing is for me a beautiful process that allows me to capture thoughts, even (or maybe especially) the ones that are so fleeting and strange that I have no other way of really getting to know them. Thought processes sometimes happens so fast that I lose track of where I am. And then, when I write, something clicks into place and the words flow from my fingertips. I can almost feel the shift in my brain, like some great mechanical weight being shifted and then everything flows. Something unlocks and opens up. Everything becomes clear, as long as it get to go on the page. Not because I don’t pause and think or get stuck. I often have to correct spelling or typing errors. But it’s like there is a path for the words to go. Through my mind, to my fingers, pressing buttons on the keyboard, and landing on that page, all in an order that makes some kind of sense (at least to me). Maybe it’s because I stop trying to catch them. Maybe they become clear because I know whatever I write, will be there when I’m done and I can read it. Whatever is in my mind now has a home, in order, as words on a page, and I know where it is. I don’t need to keep track of it. I can always go back and have a second look, in a way my mind works too fast and too unorganised to allow.

It’s a funny feeling. The shift in my brain, the way something in my mind falls into place, the way my fingers dance on the keyboard and I feel… in a way both not Here and more Here than ever. It’s not dissociative. But it is a loss of something. Maybe the only place I lose control and let whatever happens inside me wake up and express itself. Maybe because it requires some sort of… I don’t know. Maybe writing is the only place I relax because it’s the page is the only place I’m not afraid of letting go.
There is a calmness there.

Whatever leaves my fingers are just words and they can’t hurt me. As long as I know where I put the words when I am done being alone in the space of writing. Whether I save them or destroy them, publish them online or never share them with anyone, is my decision when I’m done. And I decide what impact I’ll let them have on me and the world around me. I can hide them away and never let anyone know these words are a part of me. I can share them and let others take from it what they will. A decision I try to make carefully. Because what leaves my fingers are words! Words. The most powerful thing I know. Words have the power to build us up or to destroy us.

You and I both know that words have the power to twist everything, to spin our heads with lies and make us unsure of what is real or not. But at the same time words have the power to reveal truths, to name things we didn’t have a name for before. I’ve had sentences leave my fingers that left me crying in pain and grief and sorrow, because I suddenly understood truths I had never dared name before. I have felt how the right word can reveal truths hidden under the surface because without the right word I couldn’t fully unlock that truth in my mind. I need words.

I think and understand in words. Without them I am lost and my mind cannot grasp any ideas, feelings or thoughts, without the right words. I know other people are different. Some peoples thinking are more visual or auditory or kinetic. And sometimes I wonder what that would be like. Not being bound to words to understand. Almost like having another language to understand world through. But I need words to translate everything. I both find it magical and wonderful and a deeply lacking and isolating experience. Because it is translating. And so often I am missing words to describe or understand something. But when the word arrives it is a key that unlocks. A new word, phrase or way of using language describing something I didn’t have language for before creates new perspectives and can make me feel so at home or make me feel like the world just expanded and became so much wider and stranger.

I believe wholeheartedly in the power of words. Their ability to heal and create and build. I know that the internet I full of people trying to tear others down and that scares me so much. The dehumanising way I see words used online. But I also see and know and feel the power words have to do the opposite. And I hope that’s what we’ll do here. Build each other up, take care of each other, name things too hard to name if someone isn’t there to hear the words.

And just like that I feel empty. Like I ran out of words. But for a moment the words flowed out of me like I hoped they would. Like I hope they will every week.

I’m thinking of you and I hope you are all right. Or at least as all right as you can be for now. Next time I write you’ll be home from vacation and I hope to have spoken with you again by then.

Looking forward to hearing form you.


Letter about failing to be Here

20th of July 2019

Hi A.

When we first started talking about this blog I spend a lot of time thinking about what to call it. I knew I liked the idea of it being letters we wrote to each other, but we are also writing to and for something greater. I didn’t like the words heal or recover. I know we are not going to hold back on writing honestly about being suicidal. But Letters to Death were a little depressing and not accurate. We are not writing to die, we are writing to live. But Letters to Life were way too optimistic and didn’t in any way feel accurate either.

We are both writing to find a way through. We are writing to find a way to make life bearable. We are writing to understand ourselves better and because we are fighting for our lives in this battle against our traumas.

And then I remembered Andrea Gibsons quote: “Fine is the suckiest word. It’s the opposite of HERE.” And I loved this idea of Here. Here is the opposite of fine, of dissociative, of death. Here is where the pain is. But it’s also the only place healing can begin. Here is the place we are trying to get to. We spend so long trying to escape. By dissociating, by wishing or attempting to die, by erasing ourselves, by trying to be something we are not, by listening to other people instead of ourselves. And here felt like such a powerful word to me. Here in all its pain and ugliness. Here in all its beauty.

Andrea continues: “Here is the only place left on the map. Here is where you learn laughter can go extinct and come back” and in a different poem they write “I don’t care about any of the words on the map besides. You are here.”

This week I haven’t been Here as much as I needed. Yesterday I wasn’t Here at all. Here seems so far away right now. I got lost on the way there. Which isn’t uncommon for me. But this week was supposed to be a week of being Here.

The first thing that breaks down when I am pressed is the ability to say no and set boundaries.. Not that that ability was ever well-functioning, setting boundaries is a very difficult thing for me. I know you know that. But I am working on it and have worked a lot on that in the last couple of years. And I’m doing better. When I have time to plan it out. But the second I am pressed and don’t have time to prepare for the act of setting the boundary or the act of saying no I am completely unable to do so. And this week was one of those weeks when it all comes crashing down and I know the only thing that could have prevented it is me saying no and sticking to that no.

But too many unexpected things happened. Several plans were changed and some of the planes I had made couldn’t been confirmed till the last minute, and that is so stressful and messes with my entire energy-budget.

A lot of people use the spoons analogy. I like it. I just only learned about it recently and by now it feels like it’s too difficult to change the way I think of my energy. I think of it as an account with at budget and some arbitrary amount of energy stored, and everything I have to do costs some amount. I am unable to set numbers on, but I have a good sense of how much things cost and what the balance on the account is. I’m just really poor at managing it, and sometimes I misjudge the price of things. I really need a savings account for my energy. I have been living with too many red numbers for way too long. And I don’t have an energy income at the moment, only expenses.

If I really want to find a way to be Here I have to find a way to get better at managing my energy budget. I have to say no and stop thinking I owe everyone that I spend more energy than I have. I know that the only one who expects this of me is me. And I have to find a way to change that expectation. I spend too much time being dissociative or in other ways not being Here when I have to pay off my energy debt.

And I think a part of me wants to be Here.

My parents won’t understand me saying no. And I keep getting back to that. I read that reasons are for reasonable people. When you spend a great deal of your life, especially as a child, around unreasonable people boundaries become difficult. They are my parents. And thinking of them as unreasonable is still weird. It’s an act of rebellion to set boundaries and say no. Not picking up the phone because I need space or just don’t have the energy to talk to them is an act of rebellion. Asking for what I need is an act of rebellion. Doing these thing and acting fearless in the face of whatever their reaction might be is the most difficult thing. It only works if I act fearless, but my body still reacts as if it is dangerous.
A part of me wants to sit down and have a reasonable conversation with them about my needs, where I listen and explain and we are all open to finding compromises that works. But I know that isn’t possible. And that hurts. The conversation would create more conflict than I can handle. So right now the tactic is to implement boundaries small steps at a time. Celebrating the success of not picking up the phone today and being okay with failing to do the same tomorrow. Each victory is a victory. This is a long term goal. And I need to keep thinking of it that way.

Today I’m just thinking about how much it messes me up to not be able to ask them for something as simple as time to myself, planning or less phone calls with no purpose.

I don’t think I can write more today. I don’t have the energy to edit, so I apologise if this is a mess or there are more mistakes. Today posting this letter for you is all I can do. Hopefully next week the letter will be on time and be better.

I hope your vacation is going great and that you can enjoy this time away from home. I’m sending you good thoughts.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Letter about Loneliness

14th of July 2019

Hi A.

So I missed the first deadline on this blog. And I feel terrible about it. The week was just so busy. Lots of phone calls and I’m still getting settled in to the new apartment. But I’m committed to starting this up. Even if it is a few days late.

I hope you are doing well. I hope the upcoming vacation with your family will be a success. I look forward to hearing about it when you get back home.

I wrote something last week. It might not be the best first letter for this site, but I needed to write it, and I still feel like sharing it.

The last month has been hard. As you know I just moved into this great new apartment.
Weeks of packing, of getting rid of the things I don’t need or won’t have room for. The weekend of moving and the last two weeks of getting settled into the new place have been tough. The good kind. The kind where you work hard and accomplish something. Also bad hard, where all my symptoms has acted up and my mom had a meltdown and took it out on me. She apologised but still left me with a lot of bad feelings.
But mostly I am writing to tell you about a thing I don’t even know if I am allowed to call a problem. A thing that has been a different kind of hard.

I have felt so lonely.
And before you start blaming yourself and all that stuff, let me just cut you off and call you out on that bullshit and tell you that it is not your fault and not your responsibility. It is my thing and it has nothing to do with you. Let me have my feelings in peace and stop trying to make it about your own failings. You did not let me down. You took care of your health. And that is very important to me.
But if this writing thing with us have to work I have to be allowed to tell you the truth. I have to be allowed to write what I feel. And I know you. I know how you have been programmed to think and internalise everything around you, especially other people’s pain. And I cannot do this writing thing with you if I have to worry about that. So I’m gonna call you out. I’m gonna be hard. And I am listening to the times you told me that you hate when people treat you like you are fragile. You are not. And getting called out on the wrong thought patterns is important to breaking the cycle. And now I’m gonna write as unapologetic as I can about my loneliness, fully expecting you to not take it personal and not blaming yourself.

I feel lonely.
Not because no one is there for me. Not because no one cares. But because no one has the time to share the good news of this new apartment, the good energy and the good days that comes along with it.

There were mice in the old apartment. And something that I hope was mice and not rats, made noice in the walls. Mostly at night. And it made it impossible to sleep sometimes. And too many bad things happened in that old apartment. Too many bad memories. And I can’t even remember if it ever felt like home.

I had given up on moving and finding a nice place to live. I know that was the depression talking, but still. I felt like it didn’t matter. I didn’t really feel like I deserved better. And that was hard. And I didn’t know how to tell anyone I felt like that. I didn’t believe I would get better, my depression and anxiety and PTSD takes up so much space and there is no help to get. And I lost hope. All hope. Of a better future and of ever being able to live the life I want. And then I started thinking why bother. I’ll always be a burden to everyone. Maybe I deserve to live with the mice (I so hope i was mice and not rats)

But this week I moved out of a terrible apartment. An apartment where I was raped multiple times and exposed to a lot of emotional and sexual abuse, an apartment where I have not felt safe or at home in so long. Where I have not been able to sleep because of the mice in the walls (and the nightmares) To a smaller but nicer apartment. It has a great balcony. The bathroom and kitchen are nice. Sloping walls that make it nice and cozy (even if it isn’t ideal for someone who has a lot of books and now have very little wall space for book shelves). My bedroom/living room is beginning to feel like home. By now I have found room for my books. All of this is good. And it makes me happy.

There has been a lot of good energy in moving. In the getting out of the old place. Getting rid of things I no longer need was also good, even though it was hard and made harder by the fact that I moved to something smaller and had to say goodbye to things I really like.

It was also stressfull and overwhelming. It was a big change and a lot of smaller changes and adjustments and a lot of doing things on a tight schedule. All of which is difficult as an autistic person. But I did it.

And then I was left with all this great new energy, in this new place, being just a little proud of the work I had done to get there. And all I wanted to do was share it. With my amazing friends. I wanted to invite someone over for dinner in my new kitchen. I wanted to drink sodas on the balcony with someone. I wanted to show off the bookcase and coffee table my brother build for me. When I decided to move, having guests were an important part of how I envisioned my new home.

Most of all I just wanted to share the good energy I was feeling. In part to make it last longer. But also because I know how much I rely on the people around me to get through the bad days. And I have so many bad days. And that is hard. For all of us. So I wanted to share that for once I had good news and a few good days and no one is there to share it with me. No one has time to talk to me, no one can come by and see this new place that I am hoping will soon feel like home. No one is there to have dinner I my new kitchen, or drink sodas on the balcony. No one is there to call and tell how happy I am to not live with mice or rats in the walls keeping me up at night.

I know every one of my amazing friends would pick up their phone and talk to me. I have some amazing friends (you included). Friends who never hesitate to tell me to call if I need it. Friends who show up for me in so many ways when I feel like everything is collapsing around me. Everyone of my friends will be there when I have a crisis. Everyone of my friends know what it means to be in that kind of situation and all of them care about me and all of them will be there is I need it.

And all of my friends either have problems of their own or work or education that takes up all their energy and I know they take out valuable time in order to be there for me. And I know how much they give and how great it is of them to always be there when I need it.

Please know that I am so grateful to all of you for everything you do for me.

And I am grateful and aware of how privileged and lucky I am. I really do have amazing friends who are there for me when I need it. And everyone of you always tells me to always reach out when it gets bad. And it is bad a lot. And you are all there a lot.

I know. Any problem that has to do with a good day is a luxury problem in our line of living. But still. This loneliness hurt so much. Because it’s not like I am alone. My great amazing friends are all there. If it all falls apart. If I really need it. If it’s life or death.

But what if it’s just life? What if it’s just… living? What if I just need someone here to help me make a few good days into a lot of good days? What if I am not on the verge of suicide, but just really want to share that today I’m not hurting?

I don’t want a life of knowing everyone is there for me only when it is bad. I want someone to share the good days with too.

I want someone in my life who is just as willing to show up for the good days and help make them great as they are to show up on the bad days and make them suck a little less.

And I always knew that the good days fuelled by moving and the newness of this would die out. But it’s died out a little too soon. I couldn’t run on that forever. And the feeling of loneliness burned that fuel a lot quicker than I expected. Because I somehow forgot to calculate this loneliness into the equation. I felt so sad and lonely and unable to ask for any more. Most people barely even answer. Not that any of these people wouldn’t drop everything and call me if I was in crises. It’s just that this isn’t a crisis, this isn’t an emergency. This is just me being lonely and wishing I had someone to share this with.

As I write this I realise that I have no one listed in my phone as my emergency contact. I don’t think my mom is the person I would want to call in an emergency and I don’t know who else to put. Maybe my brother, but he has his own family to take care of.
But more than the lack of an emergency contact I realise I also need the opposite. A non-emergency contact. Someone I can call without it being an emergency or crisis and who is willing to step up and be present for that.

Since I wrote this last week, I’ve had some contact with friends. And it helped a lot. Reading it through now I wanted to acknowledge that I am not totally isolated even when I am in not crisis. But the overall theme is still relevant. This is not the first time in my life I have felt lonely in the middle of good things happening, because I feel like a lot of people around make me feel like if it isn’t an emergency it isn’t that important or a priority. And that makes me feel like I am not am priority. I know you all are there. I know you want to be. I know that this piece of writing isn’t the objective truth. But it was how I felt at the time. And I think this is the kind of space I want us to have in out letters.

I care about you a lot A. You matter to me. And I miss talking to you. I’ve also wanted to share this good news in my life with you. Please take that with you from this letter. That you have been missed and that there are good days worth sharing, And I want to share my good days with you. If you can. If you have the energy and the time. And if you want to.

Looking forward to hear from you