About pain and prefering questions to answers

12th of August 2022

So I probably shouldn’t be writing right now. I should be sleeping. I’m exhausted, but can’t sleep. I am in that state of mind where I feel irritated at everything and angry at everyone for no reasons at all or maybe for every reason there ever was. I’m not sure. I just think writing might not be the thing for now, not something to share with the internet at least. But the words are there and I am not sure how to say no to that.

Yesterday I talked to… not a therapist, but close enough. He recommended me a book that has the word enlightenment in the subtitle. I hate that. I don’t want anyone selling me the idea of enlightenment. I don’t believe I could achieve that from a book anyway. Not that I doubt the power of literature, but this is not the way that power works for me. And the book itself seems to talk about things that my gut feeling is telling me is the wrong things for me. I’ve spend too much time listening to clever therapists telling me my own intuition, my own experiences and my own gut feeling is wrong to ever make that mistake again.

I keep getting the feeling they are getting the whole thing wrong. There is no cure for the pain in their words, there is only accept, which I make very clear I don’t do. There is no readiness to dive into the pain with me and find the source. They seem afraid. They seem incompetent. They seem more ready to flee from the pain than anything else. The darkness, the pain, life and death, all these things are feared by the therapists I have spoken to. None of them understand that I do not want to shy away from any of it. I don’t want to numb the pain or accept it. I don’t want to get away from the pain. I want to face it. I want to make space for it so I can feel it. I want it to pass through me knowing it is felt and seen and heard. I want to acknowledge it and learn from it. I want it to have space and room and a place. I want it to hurt because I believe the pain comes from the things that matters. I want it to hurt because I know that is the only way to get out on the other side of the pain. I want to dig everything that hurt me out with the roots and all. Not just chop it down and hope it doesn’t grow back (how stupid do they think I am?).

I believe this pain, just like grief, is a necessary part of a process. A process of healing and growing and learning. And all of this is just what I think and feel for myself. I support those who chose other paths and I believe there is every chance that I will chose different paths in the future (if I have one), but for now this is where I am. Also I am mostly just lost now.

Which leads me nicely to the next thing I wanted to write this time. The next thing that has me annoyed and angry and frustrated with the world around me.

People always want to sell me answers. Whether it’s through religion or some kind of spiritualism or therapy. It’s always answers people want to give me. And nothing alienates me from a message faster than someone offering answers, especially when I haven’t asked a specific question. It always feels like a sales pitch and it’s always the word answers that’s supposed to be the hook. But I’m not buying. I want questions. Better questions, big questions, hard questions. The next questions. Instead I am stuck in the same loop of the same questions on repeat for decades now. I’m bored out of my mind and I want my mind to have something to work with. I want questions. Clever questions that strike at the heart of things. Or the kind of questions that opens the world up and gives me new ways of wondering. But answers are boring. I find more fun and growth, amazement and wonder in the questions than I ever did in answers. (Unless it’s magic tricks, where I marvel more at the skill of it being done than in the mystery, I’m not saying I make sense, I’m just saying this is how I feel).

I miss people who will look at me and ask the hard questions. The questions that pokes at the thing I didn’t even realise I needed to look at. I tend to do that to others, even when I try not to.

I’m exhausted. I should sleep. Or at least rest.

The hopelessness is strong these days. I’m not sure what do to or if there even is anything to do any more. But I do know this is not the time to write too much. My mind isn’t a well organised place right not, it’s not a good kind place for me to exist, no need spilling that onto the page. I’ll find better ways to try to deal with that. Anger needs to be felt, or it does stuff like it does to me right now, spill out in bursts that seem all over the place and directionless. One day I’ll find the space to feel it and live in it and welcome it here, as the kind, wise friend it is. One day.

I would like to have some kind of good sign of, but I don’t have one today. So I guess it’s just the usual words. Thank you for your time and I wish you well.


Letter about work, money and getting paid

28th of May 2022

Dear Reader

This letter has been on my mind for while. Someone said something amazing to me and it changed the way I look at my life and myself. It was such a gift that I needed to share it.

For context I haven’t ever really had a job. Not a paid one. I have been getting money from the government for many years, because my mental health was so bad working or taking an education just wasn’t an option. I know it is a privilege to live in a country where being taken care of like this is a given and I never had to worry too much about money. I didn’t get a lot of money, but I had enough. I could pay rent, insurance, food and other necessities, there was enough and a little left over. Not enough for saving up, but enough to be able to go the cinema or buy train tickets to see extended family or friends, or other small things that made life better if I prioritised right. Like I never prioritised decent internet and just used my phone, but I’ prioritised good materials for my bullet journal since it helps me so much. I didn’t have a lot but I felt secure. And though I never had to worry about paying bills, I always felt money was tight.
And of course there is a certain stigma to being someone getting money from the government and not from working. I always felt bad that I didn’t earn my own money.

I just got my first real job. I guess it would be considered unskilled. It is part time, but because of my disability I will get my pay supplemented by the government. My employer will pay for the hours I work and the government will supplement the rest so I will get almost as much as someone working full time.

And for the first time I realise that other people (not everywhere in the world, not every one, but a lot of people around me, the avarage worker in my country) have had financial opportunities that I never even considered possible. I always wondered how anyone could afford to eat at a café, or own a car, afford decent birthday presents for people in their lives, or afford to rent a place more expensive than what I could afford (rent is so expensive). But just this unskilled job, this job where I am still getting money from the government, means I will get almost twice as much money as I have ever been used to. And suddenly it makes sense that other people can afford stuff.

I know how privileged I am to live in a country that helps me so much. But for the first time I think it hit my how much my disability (autism, chronic depression an c-ptsd) have denied me, not just the same accessibility or the same options, but also the same financial opportunities as healthy people. Money isn’t everything, and I am and have been very grateful to have had as much as I did. But I just have whole new perspective on things now.

Something that was recently brought home to me when I was at a social gathering meeting new people and an older man was bragging about his rich son and his own money. He talked so much about all these status symbols that felt so foreign to me that even hearing someone care about it was a whole new experience. No one in  my family or friends circle have money. Most of us struggle with our health in some way and have disabilities that makes getting a job and working difficult. And my parents never had much money. So hearing someone brag about fancy cars and travels to Paris several times a year was just bizarre.

So I think I will share that gift now. Back in the fall I was talking to an older woman. I hadn’t really gotten the best impression of her from our first couple of meetings. But I wasn’t able to avoid her and did my best to be polite and talk with her. This day she brought up how she had always worked, ever since she was very young. She talked about her working experiences and how she even now as a pensioner did all kinds of things to stay active and never allow herself to be lazy. I shuffled my feet a bit and told her that I had never really worked. She asked me why it wasn’t real work? I shrugged and told her I had never gotten paid, I was never hired. And she looked at me so seriously and told me that I had worked and work is work. And suddenly I wasn’t seen as just some “lazy” person getting money from the government, I am someone who has worked a lot in my life. (There is a lot of stigma and stereotypes about the kinds of people who get money from the goverment, and despite my best effort I had definitely internalised a lot of shame about to being able to provide for myself).

I have done volunteer work. Lots of it. For 17 years. And I put in a lot of hours and effort. I just never got paid.
As part of the deal of getting money from the government is that I had to try to get back to either education or get a job. And part of that process allowed me to work at different places to determine how many hours I could work and under what circumstances I work well without comprimising my health (this process in the end proved that working part time is right for me and that is how I was finally aproved for the kind of part time work where the goverment still supports me). The employer doesn’t pay for that, but there are a lot of rules in place to ensure that the employer isn’t taking in free labour instead of hiring people. I did a lot of work like that. A lot. For many years. I want to work. I want to contribute. I want to be busy. I put in a lot of time and effort. Just like I would if I had been hired and paid to do it.
I’ve had one of my worst depressive episodes during lockdown specifically because I could no longer do any of that. It wasn’t just that I was sitting alone in my apartment, but that all the work I usually did was shut down and there was nowhere for me to go and help out and be a part of something. I never knew how much I needed to contribute.

I am not sure how to explain how much of a gift it was to have someone look at me and tell me that my work was work. With or without pay. For someone to acknowledge my efforts and not let my contributions be ignored because I wasn’t hired. I’ve spend a good deal of these many months trying to understand how much of how I have spend my life have actually been spend working. Which is a little funny because I had to write my CV to apply for jobs, and had already written all these things down. I had already identified these things as something that gave me skills that would be useful in my working life.

During the last six months there were two other job offers. One that was a clear maybe if the money was there and but if, by then, they definitely wanted to hire me. I hated the work. I just wasn’t me. The people were nice, the place had this amazing atmosphere. It was the kind of place I could see myself showing up and helping out because I had some spare time and just wanted to hang out or see people, or I missed working. But I knew it had to be on my terms. Like volunteering is. Being forced to be there sucked. And most of the workday there was nothing for me to do and I just sat around getting stressed out by having to be there and not knowing what to do. It also wasn’t an actual job offer yet, but just being told they would hire me if they could. But I still had a hard time admitting that I didn’t want the job.

The next job offer was serious. And I felt good about working. There was something to do and I could be effective (something I like a lot). I had things to do, I knew what the workday would bring. It was good. The work needed to be done and I liked that I could do it. But the work didn’t feel satisfying. There was no joy or satisfaction in what I did. I was severly depressed at the time, but still. I spend too much of my days turning myself of and trying not to think or feel.
The people there were very nice and did so much to make me feel welcome and give me the kind of work environment I need. But I wasn’t sure it was for me. Especially because it was a long way from my home. Something that hadn’t bothered me before. But it bothered me here. Because unlike the other places I had had to travel too, this wasn’t in a city. This was in the middle of nowhere. The schedules of the bus and the train didn’t fit together, giving me a lot of waiting time. And not waiting time somewhere interesting. Just waiting time in a field with no shelter, while waiting for the bus, or on an empty trainstation with nothing nearby. The walk from the bus stop to the workplace was near the motorway and it wasn’t designed to be walkable, and there were a lot of trucks. It felt a little unsafe to walk there. And it took such a long time to get there and home. Something I didn’t mind in the city where I could visit friends, look at cool shops and in general combine a work day with other things. I wanted to move to the city and getting a job there would make moving a lot more possible. But this was in the middle of nowhere. And there was no way I was moving closer to that job.

Again I felt bad about turning down an actual job opportunity. And so many people told me to just take the job for the money. I would get paid I would have financial opportunities, there would be so many options opening up if only I had the money.
But I have never worked for money (I am fully aware what a privilege that is). I have worked because I wanted to. Because I loved the work and the place and the people. I have worked because I felt good contributing to something and making other peoples lives and work a little easier. I worked because I learned something and got to grow as a person. I worked because I got to do cool stuff I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. And here people were telling me that the money was more important. And I knew that if I took that job I would be stuck. That before long I would be used to getting more money and that going back to less would be so so difficult. I knew how easy it would be to say yes to this job and use all my energy going to and from work, and working at something that didn’t make me feel anything. And how would I look for something else when I was too tired to function after two workdays and needed several days to rest to get ready to go back?
The money matters. And it made me doubt my decision so much. Especially with the people telling me the money would make such a difference in my life. But I felt like saying yes to that job would have been a slippery slope for me (personally). It felt wrong. Even though I am partly still sad that I didn’t get to stay and work at this place, with the nice people. I even think working there a few years would have opened some doors to new opportunities if I wanted to look for a different job later. It is a very well connected and well respected place. But I spent too much of my workday turning myself off. It was work, and work I was very good at, and earning the money would have made a big difference for me. But it also felt… I don’t know. Working for the joy of it, working because I want to and because I love what I do somehow felt more pure (for me personally). I didn’t want to lose that and I feared I would.

And then this job came along. Close to my home, in the field I want to work in, the right amount of hours. So I finally have my first job. A real one. Where they pay me money for showing up. I am not sure I love what I do. But I have enough energy at the end of the work days to do things I love somewhere else. And this job will give me the perfect excuse to try and get to do some amazing things I might have trouble trying out otherwise. It’s still new and there is still a lot I am not sure of. But I feel better saying yes to this. Now I just hope it will be good.

On a darker note I had a bad experience with some co-workers. I knew that ableism against autistics is a thing. I know about the kind of things that some people write online. I had never experienced hearing them out loud, in real life before. I am not sure I want to go into what was said. But it did make me unsure if it will be a good workplace long term. I told the people off, and argued about what being autistic is really like from an inside perspective. But I am still shocked. I am not sure how I will feel seeing these people next week. I am not sure I will ever truly feel at ease there knowing some of my co-workers view autistic people (me) like that.
I also worry if coming out as aro-ace will be safe. I know I will come out anyway. These people clearly need to learn that the world is more than they imagine it to be and that people different from them aren’t less than them. I am often prepared to be others first learning experience when it comes to asexuality and aromantisism. But I now know it will be harder than usually. And I will probably have to fight for who I am in a way I am not used to.
Their words hurt me a lot. But I guess I have always gotten of relatively easy on the ableism front. I’ll find my feet again and be ready to either change some minds or tell those minds to talk about autism in that way some where else. I won’t tolerate it.
I reached out to an autistic group online and got some support and feedback after the experience and they reminded me that when I stand up for myself and I am also standing up for them. It was such a kind a reminder and their acknowledgement of my actions was something I didn’t realise I needed. I am not alone even though I so often feel it. And what I do to stand up for what I believe is right, will help the next person. I am not just fighting for myself.
I am still sad and hurt and so angry. I think will remind myself to allow all those feelings to come and sit with me so I can hear them out. They have a good reason to be here now and I should welcome them in.

To whoever is out there reading, thanks for sticking with this long letter. I hope you are well wherever you are. I hope you have your communities backing you up. I hope you have your work acknowledged, you deserve that. I hope you are financially secure and I hope you have or get the opportunity to work for joy and not just for money. I hope you invite your feelings to sit with you so you can hear them out. Feelings are often so much wiser than we are. As always thank you for your time.


Not a blog post and not a poem

14th of January 2022

My finger hovers over the contact button
I do not click
But I force myself not to
It’ll hurt too much
How many times have I scrolled through my contacts and found no one I could contact
The act of scrolling through it
Wanting to reach out
Wanting help
Not finding it

After decades of searching for answers I think I finally found them
I think I finally know what I need
I think that is why this time fells the way it does
Maybe this time doesn’t feel different from the other times
But I still tell myself it does

I know what I need now
But I don’t talk about it
Saying or typing the words hurt too much
The words feel ugly and uncomfortable
Which is the nice way of saying the words disgust me

The world feels empty of love
Not the world exactly
Just my world
My life
I feel empty of love
Not love as an action
Not love as something I can give
I give plenty of love when the opportunity arises
But inside I am an empty bucket with a big gaping hole at the bottom
No matter what anyone throws at me I keep feeling empty

I think it’s going to kill me
I believe I have meant it all these years
Now I need to stop using the word think to soften the blow
It is killing me
Parts of me is dying

I can feel parts of myself dying
And not the good cool kind, where I walk away a better person who grew and became a better version of myself
The fighter, the stubborn, the Live, live, live parts of me
It’s the adventurer, the scientist, the child asking questions full of wonder
It’s the drive to go do things and the love of exploring
It is every part of me I love
It is the part people call inspiring and the parts of me I know others admire
It is the parts of me I am proud of
These parts are dying away
And I can’t… give them a place to resurrect and grow and live and be and work and contribute and find out what they could do if I wasn’t just existing in survival mode instead of living

I know what living takes now.
I know what I need to get there
I also know I do not have what it takes to build it. I am empty
Empty of energy and love and support and empty of willingness to fight and break myself in pursuit of something you cannot chase down.
Most of all I am just empty of hope

And I am empty of trust, the thing we all need most to be able to build anything
I was a little hard on myself before
I am an empty bucket with a hole at the bottom
But I am also surrounded by people who have very different love languages than me
People who I do not feel connected to and people who do not understand me
Which means that though I am not in a great position to take in the love people give me
A lot of the love they give isn’t wasted because of the hole in my bucket
It is lost in translation between what they mean to give and how I receive
I want to give myself that little space of understanding
It isn’t just that I don’t fill up on the love people give me
It is also that the love I need isn’t the love I am being offered

I kind of hate the word love

I hate the connotations it holds for me in an amatonormative society

This wasn’t really a blog post, but it wasn’t a poem either. I guess it just it what it is. And I am ok with that.

If anyone is reading, thank you. Thank you for your time and for making me less alone in this. I hope whoever you are that you are less alone, less empty and more ok than I currently feel. And if you are not know that I am hoping and wishing all the best for you, even thought I do not know who you are.



21st of august 2021

Depression has been eating at me for about 6 months now. I lose track of the time. I am not sure if 6 months is the right number. But I know it isn’t off by much. There are good things happening. Really good things. The kind things I need to remind myself that life is good and worth living. But it doesn’t last. There is no lasting impression of the good things in me. I come home from a good thing and feel empty, wonder why I am alive, find no meaning in being so and wonder how to bear it all any longer.

I went to pride today. It was good. Good things happened. I talked to people. I am finding my people. People who are like me and understand me and want similar things in life to what I want. But I am sitting alone in my apartment now, it is late and I am tired, and I am unsure how to live with the pain in my chest.

Death is on my mind a lot. The hooks death have in me are different to what I am used to. I used to feel my whole being being pulled toward the end of things. Life was so painful I couldn’t imagine a reason to stay. But in the few years leading up to the pandemic I had experiences of life being the kind of adventure I would want to explore. And some part of me knows that there are some parts of life I would like to live. If I can. If I am allowed. If I can find a way. The pain in my chest, the emptiness, parts of me that is depression and not me at all, are making road blocks. And despite my best attempts I cannot overcome them. Reading is helping me understand the road blocks and the many ways I will ned help and support to get through them. They are not imagined or unreal, but they are not permanent structures that can never be taken down, even if I cannot do it by myself, and even if doing so is a tremendous work. I feel the hooks of death and I feel the pull and it is both so familiar and so strange. Familiar because death has pulled at me for almost as long as I can remember. Strange because some of the hooks are gone, parts of me feel the pull and can imagine life. This is a progress I presume. But it feels sad. Suddenly my death is full of grief of all the life unlived, because maybe it could have been lived. Something I couldn’t even imagine 5 years ago.

I wonder if I will make it. A strange thing to wonder. I manage to wonder it with calm detachment. The future is so unknown to me. I am not less ok with dying. But I am more ok with living if it is actually living and not survival. I worry I will stay stuck in the last part. Survival. Most days I think of it as its own special kind of hell. Where living isn’t possible and death is in the opposite direction. But I haven’t found another way to search for living. The only thing I want more than death. I know there is progress here. But it doesn’t feel like progress. It feels like grief.

I must be so filled with grief. But mostly I feel angry, without knowing why or at who or what. Grief isn’t safe yet. Grief is a feeling for safety, for calm, for reflection. I am not at safe. I am still at surviving. And in surviving there is no safety, no calm, no time or space. In surviving there is only surviving, whatever that means.

I have been surrounded by the wrong people for so long. Kind people. Nice people. Good people. But not my people. I have been a stranger amongst them. Feeling out of place. Wanting something else. Wanting what felt like more. To be honest I looked at their lives and thought them small and boring and limited. And I wanted more, I wanted bigger, I wanted adventure and freedom. And amongst these people I felt limited. There wasn’t room to dream, because dreams scared these people. I know there is beauty in the lives they live. I know there is a very different kind of greatness and that they aren’t small. I think they feel safer in their lives. I also think survival is a big part of how they live. And I hate survival. I feel suffocated in it. I want life. And I have been surrounded by survival. The thing I am so desperately trying to escape. I am willing to die to escape it, even if I am not at death yet. And then I have spend years surrounded by people choosing survival, cultivating survival and safety and the comfort zone and building their lives around it. And I didn’t even know there were other ways to live. Or of course I knew. People do it all the time. Other people. In other places. People I could read about or watch on screens, but not people I know. Not people I could talk to or interact with. I believed another way to build a life had to be possible. But no one around me could understand it. I am tempted to say they didn’t know how to think that big, but I do not want to sound judgemental. Even though I think I might be. I do not want to judge the choices others make. But it felt like the choices they were making made it impossible for me to break free and choose differently. I am not sure why or how.

I am meeting people who choose differently. I am meeting people who crave adventure and freedom and living. And I wish I could feel the joy of that spread through my life. But the truth is my depression has eaten so much of me away that I am not sure how I am still here. I don’t know how I am still standing, moving, talking, doing. Of course I am not doing a lot of anything. But I do enough for it to look on the surface like everything is somewhat ok. Only on a very thin surface, but most people I know are willing to let that thin surface fool them.

I find myself unable to take care of my home, sweeping the floors, doing the dishes, washing my clothes. My finanses are not in order. Life as lost all meaning and I spend so much of my time feeling like an empty shell or wanting to end the pain in whatever way I can find. I don’t find ways to end the pain. I distract myself. Watch the same video essays on YouTube on repeat. Play some small stupid game on my phone. Take my mind away for as long as I can. Food isn’t something I can make. I am supposed to care, and I don’t. I am supposed to care about the laundry, the dishes, getting food and not just live on sugar. But I don’t. I am supposed to reach out and tell someone I am not ok. But I don’t. Not any more. I did. Months ago. Over and over and over. Now I know no help or support is coming. Not the kind I need. My mom washes my clothes. I keep thinking I am supposed to care. I know it is better when I do it myself. I don’t care. I am worried by the indifference I feel. But not enough to keep repeating the same things to the same people. I am not ok. My depression is bad. I need help. I don’t know what kind of help. I am in pain. I am not ok. Nothing happens. I can’t give instructions to anyone, I can’t think of what specifically to ask for, and no one does anything. I feel empty and done. There is no more energy left inside me. There is no more anything to give to this.

A good job opportunity is coming up. I am supposed to care. I act like I care. I do the things as if I care. I think I must somehow care. But I can’t feel the care. I feel empty and tired and like all I want to do is sleep. Wake up again when it is all over and the pain is over. The pain has always been there, I cannot imagine it gone, I am tempted to write it will always be there. But I hope not. If the pain stays then I cannot. I know this. I have known this for such a long time. The pain lets me do nothing but survive. I cannot live with it. And like always I am ok with dying.
How did I get here? I want to write about the joy and happiness of a job opportunity. But I end up thinking about not being alive.

I know the grief is there. But I don’t really feel it. It isn’t safe to feel it. I am not strong enough. I want to grieve all that I lost, what I had briefly and what I never got to have.

There are all these new people I am trying to get to know. I am not a good version of myself at the moment. But I pretend to be and for now that will have to do. I want to be a better version of myself. I want to care and be present and be authentic in who I am. I feel so lonely. I have not let go of all the kind people who are wrong for me, and I have not yet found a place amongst the people who are my kind of people. I feel both trapped in what was and lost between what was and what I want to build. And I feel so lonely.

There are parts of what is going on inside me that I cannot write. Not because I do not want to, but because I don’t know what the words are. And maybe words aren’t what the things happening inside me needs right now. But these things too make me questions how I just survive and have done nothing but survive for far too long. Some of my wounds were seen. And when that kind of wounds are seen and taken into the light they can find a way to heal. I am not yet in the light with them. But they were seen. They were declared real and valid and true and I am not alone. And I am filled with sadness and grief and pain and relief and big decisions. I was given a gift, and I wish I could feel thankful or happy or anything other than survival.

I found so many good things. And I wish I had the energy and space to feel them. I don’t. I try to soak it all up when I am in the good moments. But I am not able to take anything away from those moments. I am barely able to be in them. But I am in them as much as I can be. I pretend to be ok, and maybe for a while, maybe I kind of am. But as soon as I am alone again I feel exactly how deep the pain is, how little energy I have, how empty I feel. As if those good moments strip me of my blindness to how accustomed I have become to survive. What little energy I have is spend there, in those moments. Because I need those moments more than I need food or laundry or caring. I need to build a new life, and that is what I am attempting to do. I need new people and new energies and new foundations to stand on. And those things cannot wait for the impossible to happen. I cannot wait for energy to come back, for the depression to lift, for support to come. I have to spend whatever I can find inside myself, and invest in these new opportunities and hope the investment pays of. I have tried everything else within my power.

There are times survival is a great thing. Times it is its own kind of gift. But a life lived in survival isn’t a life lived at all. And I need to live. I need to live. I want life. I have had enough of survival. And I am not sure there is a way out of survival any more. I am not sure I have what it takes any more. I know I don’t have what it takes right now. And I am trying to be ok with that. I am trying to learn that I don’t have to have those things all the time. Because I don’t. None of us do. Moving from survival to living isn’t one step, it is many steps. And I think it is impossible to do all of them by yourself. I have done the ones I could on my own. I will do the ones that are mine to take on my own if I get to them. But I think that right now I am at some of the steps that need outside help. And I am trying to be ok with that. Knowing the help won’t come, I am still trying to be ok with the fact that the steps in front of me aren’t steps I can take on my own.

I am reminded of a line from a book. As I so often am. In the Never Ending Story the last part of the way to the top of The Ivory Tower cannot be walked or climbed or anything else. They can only be given. And that is how I think of what it takes for me to get the next part of my journey. It must be given to me. And there is a strange kind of relief in that. I am not failing because I cannot conquer this. I am not weak or lazy or failing. This is beyond me, this isn’t mine to do. And I think I need that sometimes. I think that is good for me. That something isn’t my job, my responsibility. Even though I prefer if it is.


Letter about aromanticism and not feeling heard

17th of February

Dear no one

Some years ago a friend of mine tried to insist I find a romantic partner. The timing was awful. I had just finally pushed the man who had spend the last almost 7 years sexually abusing me out of my life. As in it was less than 24 hours ago that I made the phone call that made the decision final. And here was my friend telling me a romantic relationship would help me. And he knew about that. He was in the next room as I made the phonecall, he held me as I cried the rest of the evening. I am sure he had good intentions. He had just gotten out of a relationship himself and was heartbroken. I spend the next few months desperately saying no to that idea over and over. I remember crying on the floor, part sadness, part frustration, but mostly rage at how he refused to hear my no. I still get a visceral reaction in my whole body at the memory.

He wasn’t the first to push on the idea of me getting into a romantic relationship. But it was the worst timed and the worst argument for it. He managed to link the idea that romantic relationship and what he called “real sex” would somehow fix the damage my rapist had done to me, and the stupidity of it alone was enough to make me question the sanity of my friend.

I wasn’t even unreasonable with my no. I started with not right now. Maybe when I am not spending every minute of the day either having flashbacks, anxiety attacks, crying or having nightmares. Maybe on the other side of this. Maybe when I meet the right person. Maybe later. But definitely not now. Please not now. Please just stop talking about this. He didn’t. Well he did. When he found a girlfriend and was finally able to focus on something else.

I was in the midst of trying to survive the tidal wave of emotions that was the aftermath of what had been done to me during those years. So it wasn’t till a year later I was finally desperate enough to sit down and open google and try to find question that would help me. I can’t remember the words I finally used. But I do remember that the question wasn’t really the one I needed to ask. But I didn’t even know enough about anything to know what to ask. Asking intelligent questions is a skill. One I try desperately to master. I know I failed that day. I know that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to ask, but only knew I needed answers. I needed to know. And by luck more that anything else a word I had never seen before turned up somewhere in that search. Aromantic. I got curious and read. And though this was not what I had asked, it was the answer I had needed since I was 14. I was 27 when I made that search. 13 years of needing answers and here it was. Aromantic.

It means to not feel romantic attraction. The very thing I had struggled to explain to people for so many years.

At 15 when a friend got angry at me for not wanting a romantic partner, and told me to just get a boyfriend and if I didn’t like boys a girlfriend. Our friendship ended that day. But my lack of language to say I am not interested and have it respected didn’t.

My mom’s reaction was made it even worse. I was crying from rage at the disrespect of my no, and her answer was (not even knowing what the fight was about) to tell me that if I kissed him at it wasn’t really it that was totally find and no harm done.

To this day my parents still don’t accept my aromantisism and asexuality. My dad joking that I soul bring nice underwear when I go on vacation (on my own) in case I meet someone. My mom telling me she hasn’t given up on me giving her grandchildren.

At age 16 there was the boy in the library who spend 30 minutes starring at me (maybe at my breasts in am not sure, I remember looking at my t-shirt to figure out if he was starring because I spilled something on it, I hadn’t) before talking to me, asked if I was single (yes) and how long I had been (forever), and finally asked me to be his girlfriend and when I refused told me “why not sweety you finally have the chance” like I was just waiting around for someone who wanted to be my boyfriend. I am so happy I got out of there and never saw him again.

I assume I was considered attractive enough. I am not sure. I don’t understand the concept. I was called beautiful a lot growing up. But there was a number of boys interested in me during my teenage years. I always found it so weird and uncomfortable. Mostly they looked at me with these puppy eyes like I owed them something and I scared me. In my twenties I was assaulted a few times by men claiming to be in love or at least interested in me. In every one of those instances I wished I had the words to explain that I am just not interested in a way that would convey what I think the word aromantic does.

I know it isn’t that simple. I know women everywhere struggle to get their no heard no matter their orientation. I know that word would not have saved me from most of what happened. It still doesn’t. But I believed I would have felt like I had firmer ground to stand on when saying no. I believed I would have understood myself better. I have been able to come out to the people in my life and their reactions to that would have told me what kind of people that are. I never would have stayed friends with someone who had dismissed this part of me, but I was somehow easy to think that I just hadn’t said no well enough when the best reason I could give for saying no to the idea of romantic relationships was “because I am not interested”.

There is also an uncanny resemblance between the way my no to a romantic relationship is being overheard and followed with a pressure to conform and not listen to what is right for me, and the way my rapist followed my no to sex with pressure, gaslighting, emotional abuse or just straight up didn’t listen. The feeling I am left with in both scenarios are a feeling that I haven’t said no enough, or clearly, or maybe of I just explained it better. But no. It’s not my voice that is broken, or their ears. It’s their willingness to hear me.

It’s been so many years of people not listening. So times my no has not been heard or respected. And I am so exhausted.

The words made a difference. The words helped. I found so much joy in them. I feel like I have a home in using them to describe myself. And even when people tell me not to (which, yes, they do) I feel stronger than ever in telling them off. I rarely get to the same level of frustration and rage that I am reduced to tears. I don’t feel powerless and voiceless in the same way.

Aromantic. Asexual. It is that simple. I knew at 14. I don’t know how, but I just knew. If I could I would go back and give myself these words.

Today I learned that that friend (the one who told me to get a romantic partner only hours after I told my rapist he wasn’t welcome in my life anymore) was telling his next girlfriend about me being asexual almost a year before I found the definition of it. And it hurt so much. That he could only show that kind of understanding behind my back and that he never tried to gift me the word. I don’t want to hold him responsible. But when I came out to him, he told me I could never count on anyone I didn’t have sex with. Our friendship was already broken at the time. I was just trying to hold on to some idea that we meant something to each other. He made me feel like I had no value as a human being. That my only value would be as a thing to be fucked. And now I learn that he was using the word asexual a year before I found it. He didn’t even let me label myself, and when I did his reaction was the worst. And there was a lot of bad and not great reactions.

I am not ok right now. I am so angry. At him, at everybody else who decided me being aromantic wasn’t something worth respecting whether I had the word or not. I feel foolish because somewhere inside me it there isn’t much difference between saying no and not having people respect it whether it is no to sex or a relationship. Some difference of cause. But somewhere all I know is that I said this is not what I want and people I care about, people I trusted looked at me and told me what I want doesn’t matter.

Today, with the help of words like aromantic and asexual, I would roll my eyes and laugh it off when someone tells me to get a romantic partner. But there has been years of my life where I couldn’t. Where what I needed from friends, family and even strangers is respect and feeling heard. Where I was told I couldn’t decide how I wanted to shape my life in the most fundamental way, and where I wish me feeling ready and happy and having found the right person was more important to the people I care about than whether or not I have a romantic partner. I wish someone had told me I was enough, that I was loved and could love in ways that wasn’t romantic. It took a lot to claim the idea that I am a whole person, not someone else’s half. It took a lot to learn that “No” is a complete sentence and I don’t owe an explanation. It also helps to have words that weed out people who won’t respect me having different romantic and sexual orientations than most people.

And when I did finally find the word aromantic I open myself so much more up to love of all the other kinds. I am friendlier, kinder, happier, more loving and giving. Because I am no longer afraid to have my love misunderstood as romantic. I am more alive and hopeful and ready to connect with people. I am more in touch with my need for human connection, because I finally understand that human connection is the important part, not whether it takes the shape of romantic love and one romantic partner.

I needed to have a look at my wounds in order to understand where I still need to heal. I can’t really get the help and therapy I need to deal with the sexual abuse. But I can take a look at this thing and acknowledge my own hurt. I can realise I am in such a better place and what a gift the words are. I can see how far I have grown. I needed better conditions to grow, and I found them and made them. And it is ok to take some time to heal. It is ok if things that look small compound and end up feeling big and more hurtful than they would on their own. It is ok to be a sensitive person and it is ok to need respect, understanding, acknowledgements and to be heard. It is ok to have reactions to not having those needs met. I am giving myself better now. What I asked for wasn’t unreasonable, it was human. But I was asking it of people who for whatever reason didn’t have that to give.

I don’t expect anyone is reading this. But if someone is then thank you. Thank you for making me less alone in my sadness and my not-ok-ness. Thank you for your time and attention, the most valuable resource in your life. And just in case you need to be told it too: you are enough, you are complete, you are valuable for you. It’s ok to be imperfect and sensitive. I call it being a messy human, because that makes me feel it as being a more acceptable thing, and it is a thing I really need to learn to accept being. So here it is in case you need to learn to accept that too. It is ok to be a messy human. We all are from time to time. It’s just part of it.


Letter about failing to listen to the stop, worrying I am not enough and feeling depressed today

9th of July 2020

Dear whoever reads this

So weeks passed and I missed two letters. I have no excuse. I don’t even have a reason. I guess something had to give.

I’m back at work. One day a week. Starting this week. So I have been back one day and will keep that up until September, then I’ll make it two days. It was good to be back. I was supposed to just be there for 5 hours, but I stayed 6½. And in my way home on the train, I suddenly found myself thinking that I could do another day tomorrow. Before quickly pulling myself back and reminding myself why the deal is one day a week.
I have no internal stop button. I have nothing stopping me from doing more than I can. Mostly even common sense (like my mental health can’t take it) will hold me back. I would have stayed another hour at work the other day, if I hadn’t been told to home.
I do the same in so many other areas. My friends needing help and support, and I give that, even when I have nothing left to give. Even when I feel empty or when I am the one needing something.
I’ve known about my lack of ability to say stop when I need to, but the point hit me hard on the train the other day. The stop is important. It keeps us safe. It helps us not give more than we have. But I have no stop. I probably learned that from my mom. She doesn’t have one either. And she won’t listen to reason either when she goes beyond when she can to give and work. I think that is a dangerous thing to teach anyone. I value the stop and the taking good care of myself. And I work hard to develop it. I also value that ability in others. Both because I have felt on my own mind and body what happens when you don’t have it or don’t listen to it. But also because I have seen too many people I care about hurt themselves by not listening to the stop. It hurts to see the people I care about break.

What hurts the most is hearing them tell me they are spent, that they have reached the stop, that their minds and bodies are screaming stop, and then hear them say they are not going to listen to it, for reasons that are often too small to matter in the grand scheme of things.

I am getting better at hearing the stop and listening to it when it appears. But I am surprised by how often I don’t have the stop. I just keep going and going. And thought I am trying to build the skill to stop and listen and take it slow and give myself time, I too often find myself wanting to do so much more than I can and unwilling to slow down, because reason doesn’t sound like reason, when I do the things that matters to me.

I also worry I am not enough. Especially at work. I hope they’ll hire me for a part time job in the future. But I have a hard time understanding that no one expects me to do the work of a full time employee when I am only working one or two days a week. And right now the place doesn’t even pay me. And yet I keep feeling like I am failing by not doing more. When I first started out there I had more energy and was less affected by my depression, so I worked three (sometimes four) day a week. And I loved it. When I had to slow down (for several reasons, but mostly because of the school I had at the time) I was stressed out of my mind feeling like I no longer contributed with what was expected. Because I only worked one or maybe two days a week. But no one expected me to get the same work done. Only myself. I struggle with that still. And wanting to prove myself worth being hired isn’t helping me.
But I love being there because I know I am the only one expecting this. Everyone else is taking it slow and being kind and doing what they have time for. No one is stressing or asking me to do more. I am allowed to show up and get no work done if I am having a bad day. And the work I do is appreciated. I just have to learn to not ask myself to do the unreasonable. And asking myself to do three days worth work in one day was unreasonable. It was healthy for me to realise I was expecting this so I could check in with the people I work with and have adjust the expectations and realise that the expectations of everyone else were much more reasonable.

Being the friend who always speaks reason, the one who not only hears other people’s stop, but also tells them it’s okay to listen to it and how translate that into actions that will help relieve the pressure, can be hard. So can being the friend who gives great advice on every problem. Not because I don’t love being a source of advice and reason, or feeling like my experiences are useful to help others, but because I feel like I am giving a lot of time and energy to other people’s problems. I care a lot. And often that care means I can’t put the problem down when the conversations is over. I worry and try to think of ways I can help, when mostly I can’t help at all. I can just listen and give my thoughts. And the people I care about are still hurting and still not saying stop. And I take it all in, like there is no filter protecting me from all the feelings that other people are feeling when they come to me with problems.

Today is bad day. I feel so depressed nothing matters and I am a strange kind of tired that doesn’t seem to lift with rest of sleep. I feel empty and alone. I do not mean to complain. I have so many great friends and I consider it a privilege to have their confidence and being someone they trust with both their problems and to come up with helpful solutions. Today is just another day of feeling like I give more than I get, not because my friends doesn’t want to give, but because what I need isn’t something that have to offer. I feel empty, like I have given more of myself than I had to give. I am touch starved and feel a big need for care. I am good at offering and giving care. But not good at receiving it. And though my brain needs the chemicals it gets from a hug or cuddling, I can’t imagine being that close to anyone ever again. The mere idea of being that close to someone is a little repulsive to my mind. So the need goes unfulfilled. And I am sad and more than a little self-pitying today.

There are good things here. I am back at work. I have friends who trusts me and who think I am great source of support and advice. Those are big things. My depressed brain is just making this a bad day, not erasing the good things. And though I have no one who can give me the care I need there are plenty of people who care. I am allowed to feel sad and alone and empty. And I am allowed to have needs that are none standard and that cannot be fulfilled by the people who are currently in my life. But I also remind myself that I am not allowed to dismiss the genuine care of the people who would be there if they could. And I can feel both sad and lonely, and thankful because I know there are people who wants to be there.

Whoever you are, I hope you are having a better day than I am. Thank you for your time.


Letter about writing and learning to put myself first

20th of June 2020

To whoever reads this.

I started my wring project. I have a friend help me. So I am not alone in it and I love that. I have to do my writing of cause. But she will help me set deadline and eventually contribute with her skills. My first deadline was Thursday, I had to start a brainstorm. And the first real writing deadline is three pages for tomorrow. I’ve known about this deadline for a week and didn’t start till late this evening. And then I wrote seven pages. I work so much better under pressure. So having a friend help me with deadlines is amazing.

What is also amazing is that she loves my ideas and always meets them with excitement and that she wants to join in. I am still so happy and surprised that someone thinks my ideas are cool and worth acting on. I always thought so, but always felt like other either shot me down or politely told me it was fine and that I should do that if I wanted to. No one ever grabbed my ideas and got excited with me before. And sometimes if I don’t talk to her for a while my insecurity comes back, but then I remember that she wouldn’t lie about being on board, and I get so happy again. I’ve needed a friend like this who jumps on my ideas and makes me feel like they could be brilliant.

I’ve been a little surprised at how hard it’s been sitting down and writing. Not the putting one word after another, that is the easy part. But starting the computer, opening word and sitting down and start the writing, is so hard. I love the writing. And right not the writing doesn’t have to be good or great. This writing project will actually be edited and corrected and taken really seriously. I just have to put the words down, one after another. And I wanted to and have been so excited about it. I just have zero self discipline at the moment.

While I was writing everything felt like it sucked. Nothing worked the way it did in my mind, the entire idea felt stupid and I suddenly didn’t know what to do with it. But I have a deadline. My friend is on board. And I can’t edit an empty page. A bad page can be edited and corrected and rewritten. But en empty page is worthless. So I wrote it anyway. And that is a big victory. And now I am writing this, hoping I’ll be done before midnight, but the clock is against me.

I didn’t read a book this week. I wasn’t sure what to start. But more than that I didn’t want to take my mind of the new project. I’ll have to start reading soon though. The project and my thoughts about it won’t go away. I know that. I think it just felt very fragile, in part because I hadn’t started. But I have now. maybe I can find a short children’s book I can read tomorrow. I have a few of those on my to read list.

A called the other day. She sounded like herself. I felt so reassured by that. And she was so nice about me having all kinds of feeling about her not being there for a long time. She knows I understand and told me it’s ok that I feel feelings about it anyway. That was nice. I hope this means she might have room for me again soon, but I am also ok with giving her more time and not expecting more than she can give.

Lastly I was challenged on setting boundaries this week. So much in fact. A stranger put me on the spot about helping a friend whose mother just died. I wanted to help, but couldn’t. But when I am asked I never know how to say no. I felt like I had nothing to give, and thought the thing that was asked for wasn’t unreasonable, the way I was asked was. And even though what was asked for was reasonable and I wanted to help, I didn’t have that to give. It took everything to call my friend the next day and tell her I had changed my mind. But she was nice about it and I know I was more true to myself. I also felt like a terrible person for failing my friend in this time. But she has been nice about it and doesn’t seem hurt.
The thing that made me say no, was realising that by saying yes I was inviting to a closeness I didn’t actually want. This friend is the nicest person I know, but I don’t feel like being that close with her. I already feel like she wants more from me than I have to give and though I realise I am her closest friend, she isn’t someone I could ever be closer with. I just don’t feel whatever it is I need to feel in order to feel comfortable enough with someone.
I’ve struggled a lot with guild about that. Wondering if it was wrong of me to be friends with someone where we want different things. But I was reminded that every friendship is a negotiation of what closeness both parties are comfortable with. And I did the right thing by being honest about what I had to give and what I didn’t. It was still hard and I still felt like a bad person. It also felt good to allow myself to listen to what I need. Something I still struggle a lot with, when someone else is in need. This was a good first step.

That will be all for today. I just wrote seven pages for something else before I wrote this. I am empty of words to write right now. But I hope there are new words next week.

Thank you for your time.


Letter about unexpectedly caring about someone I no longer like and an update on my bullet journal

14th of June 2020

Dear no one in particular

I might take a break from writing these letters. There is a new writing project that I am hoping to start soon. For now I still find myself postponing it for no real reason. But if I start that project I might put this one on hold in the mean time. I’ve been thinking next week for a while, but now there are other things next week and I can see how that would be an excuse to postpone it again. I’m hoping to talk to a friend about making deadlines so I’ll have to get started. I suppose when the time comes I’ll be ready to share what this new project is about here, but I’m not sure it feels right to do the work of sharing when I am technically sharing it with no one. But for the first time in years I am excited about a piece of writing that I have a head of me. I’m looking forward to exploring what this could become.
I also feel a little weird spending energy trying to write something here when I don’t know what to say and when I want to write something completely different.

I’ve been doing really well with the bullet journal I started in March. I didn’t really thing it would work for me. But I decided I could try it for two months and if it wasn’t a disaster I would give it three. Not I just started the 4th month, and I am writing in it every day. I can’t remember the last thing I did this consistently. I’ve actually written in it every day for more than three month. I can’t remember my medication every day for a month. I keep forgetting my sleeping pills and suddenly it’s 2 am and I wonder why I’m having trouble sleeping until I remember that I forgot my medication. That actually happens all the time. I can’t get two meals a day consistently (and two meals a day is when things work well for me). I have no structure, no routines, nothing. I was expecting the whole bullet journal thing to fail. I didn’t set out to fail and I didn’t want it to fail, but I knew myself well enough to expect it to fail. So I am more than a little surprised realise I have used my bullet journal consistently every day since the 1st of March. And it was easy trying it out because I only committed myself to three months and I was so open to it failing. Maybe I should try that approach some more.

Mostly I just write down my tasks for the day, small things. Like empting the dishwasher or taking the trash down. I write down the phone calls of the day so I can remember that I actually talked to people and who I’ve been in contact with, and I actually think it has helped me stay sane these months of being home with nothing to do. I think I would have felt like nothing happened and like I was useless and did nothing all this time. But my bullet journal tells me I did things every day, big things and small things. It reminds me that though I couldn’t see my friends I talked to them and wrote with them, and I am less alone than I feel.

I’ve made spreads about things I could do during lock down and things my friends and I plan to do when it’s over. I track my migraines and tensions headaches and realise they coincide a lot with stress and overstimulation, which isn’t really a surprise but it’s nice to know for sure. And I’ve reminded myself of all the creative things I’ve been trying out and getting better at during this time.
I want to learn how to make a chainmaille dragon, and though I don’t have all the materials I spend the materials I do have practising the skills I need to make the dragon once I buy the materials.
I practiced some origami which I really wanted to learn more of. Though I am not yet good enough to try out the more complicated stuff.
I experimented with black out poetry, which was really hard and also really fun, and something totally new for me.
My mom just gave me some materials so I could try out paper marbling and I have done a little.
I managed to get excited about the idea of improving my handwriting (which is just aweful), but got a little stuck when I realised how much dedication and concentration it will take, but I haven’t given up, I’m looking for ways to stay motivated and get enough structure on my days to stick with it.
I also started writing all my recipes (from my grandmother and my mother and a few of my own) in this really beautiful notebook that I bought specifically for that purpose a long time ago. But with my poor handwriting it takes a long time and I can’t write more than one or two in a day before my concentration fails.
I’ve been baking a lot. It’s one of the ways I cope with things being difficult.
I bought myself a kintsugi set so I could try out this amazing art form that have fascinated me for years. It was a lot harder than I thought. But I am encouraged by the fact that I did it anyway. I wasn’t afraid to just try it out and try to learn the thing I wanted to learn.
And of course I have been reading and reading and reading.
Most of these things would just have disappeared from my mind when it was over. But with the bullet journal I can see which days I did what and suddenly these months of not working and not seeing friends seems less empty and not at all wasted. It’s been a long time since I could say that about any period of my life. And if I had known in advance about the lock down I probably wouldn’t have started the bullet journal and thought it was a waste of time. I never imagined it would be such a useful tool for me. The next goal is to keep it going for the rest of the year, and then for as long as I helps me.

I’ve also helped several people around me starting their own bullet journals. Most of them because they heard how excited I was about mine. But also because they like all the creative things people do with their bullet journals online and they wanted to try it out. I am not artistic or creative in that way. I cannot draw and I am so ok with that I have no desire to even try it out, and though I love all the beautiful bullet journals I see online and look forward to seeing what my friends come up with, I mostly just want mine to be a practical tool. Though part of what I love about bullet journaling is that it can be both at the same time. Because I can’t draw at all I have now fallen in love with sticker. It’s an amazing way to make my bullet journal fun and colourful and they work in both a regular bullet journal and in a black out bullet journal which I am also considering trying out at some point. Another good thing about this is that I’ll need several each year so I don’t have to commit to white or black pages for more than 3-4 months at a time, before I can just try something new. Though I very quickly realised I’ll end up spending money on quality notebooks, good pens and maybe some stickers so I will have some expensed from this. But I believe it’s worth it, and I did start out with a random notebook I had lying around and whatever pens I already had to make sure it would work for me before I started buying things for it.

I’m stuck between books right now. Unsure what to read next. On one hand there is so much I want to read. On the other I keep looking at my book shelves for something to catch my interest, but nothing does. I should start Sherlock Holmes soon. It’s on the list and on the shelves, and it’s a big hardback that won’t be easy to take with me if I get back to work in a month or two. So reading it while I am home would be good. The hitchhikers guide to the universe is also one of this year’s must reads. So I am not lacking ideas. There are too many great books I haven’t gotten around to reading yet, and it’s amazing to see them being marked as read on the list. The library also just opened up again, so I am no longer limited to my own shelves of books.

Someone who I used to consider a friend completed his education this week. I know very little about it, I haven’t spoken to him in 5 years. I don’t really miss him. He and I were very close back then and losing my friendship to him was very painful. He meant a lot to me. I spend a lot of this time angry and hurt. The angry part took me by surprise. I am not very good with anger. I don’t feel angry enough. But I did when he hurt me. It was the first time I really set a boundary and stuck with it. He crossed a line. A lot of lines actually, but this was the one that made me say stop. I had thought he would listen and hear me. He asked me to set boundaries a lot. Be he couldn’t handle it when I finally did. And we lost each other.
I’m very good friends with his wife though. Which puts all three of us in an awkward position from time to time, mostly her I suppose. I was really open with her and told her I would completely understand if she didn’t want to spend time together because of my fall out with him. I was friends with him first. But she was so cool and sure that she wanted to keep me in her life and I am so grateful for that.
So I heard about him finishing his education. He struggled a lot during the 5 years I knew him. Dropped out of the school where we met each other. Lost jobs and almost gave up on the next education. It was a big part of the person I knew back then. I haven’t talked to him or wanted to talk to him in the years since I closed the door between us, so I was so surprised when I felt so moved by knowing he has accomplished this goal. His wife has told me of his growth, of how he has changed in these years. But nothing she said really made an impact for me. Maybe because she also tells me of the ways he hasn’t changed or tells me of things that remind me of the person who couldn’t respect me. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly believe he has changed, I don’t think I could ever like the person he is again, I don’t know how to forgive him for what happened between us. (Some days I am not sure how to forgive myself either). But knowing he is achieving this goal of finishing this education, I felt a wave of gratitude and happiness for him. For the first time in a long time I feel like I know he is ok and the part of me that loved him, the part of me that hurt so much letting him go, the part of me that wanted nothing more than to help him and save him, is so relived and happy. Because the person I knew him as could never have accomplished this. He can only do this because he is in a much better place. Because he has support and love and he is ok. There was a time (maybe there still is sometimes) when I was sad I couldn’t be there and help him and support him and love him and see who he grows into.

There are still days I am angry (though a lot fewer than there were), he hurt me a lot and some days I am still hurting (not all the hurting is his fault, but enough of it is, and I can also admit I am not blameless). Some days the painful history is the only history I remember, and none of the good memories are untainted by the bad ones. But I want him to be ok. I want him to be better. I want him to be loved and supported and in a good place. And I don’t think I really knew how much I wanted that for him till I heard about this. I hope he never hurt anyone like he hurt me, but I also believe he hurt me because he was hurting. And I am still sad I didn’t know how to help relieve him of that pain.
I believe he was in a lot of pain. But so was I and there was only so much I could do, and I decided not to break myself for him. The best decision I have ever made, because I learned to respect myself again. And the price I paid for that was so much higher than I had anticipated, if I had known that I might never have done it. He was the most important person in my life, I loved him so much. Saying stop took everything I had. And when I realised I was willing to lose him to not lose myself, to not break myself I gained so much strength and confidence and self respect. Things I’ll never sacrifice again for anyone. But what a price I paid. And maybe that is the part I have a hard time forgiving him for. Not what he did to push me there, but that he couldn’t see that what I was doing was growing and becoming the person he asked me to be, and that I had to lose him to gain that. I know I was the one who walked away in the end. But I felt like he walked away when I told him no and I felt like I would never be able to trust him if he didn’t acknowledge that no. and he couldn’t do that, so I couldn’t stay.
I feel like I got sidetracked. That was a long way of saying that despite my anger and hurt and hard feelings, I am so grateful he is ok. I want him to be ok. I am happy for him. Something I didn’t know if I would ever be able to feel around him ever again. I walked away so angry and so hurt. But I also felt like I let him down by not helping him. I felt so ashamed that I failed a being his friend when he was in pain. And I had to shut anything that wasn’t anger out. I didn’t know I still cared, didn’t know I still wanted good things for him, I didn’t know I was still worried about him. I was so worried about him. And I am grateful to know he is ok.

I think that was all for today. These letters never really take me where I expect. At the moment I am very happy that I kept writing and I think it’s good that I keep trying. And this too is one of those things I try and almost expect to fail at. That really seems to be the way to go at the moment. Trying things out without being too invested in the outcome.
When it comes to writing this I don’t know if anyone is out there. I don’t know if I am as alone in it as I feel. But if anyone is out there I am happy you are there. Thank you for giving me your time and attention, the most precious things you have to offer.


Letter about technology, loneliness and not being ready to share

5th of May 2020

Dear whoever reads this

I miss A. I miss my friend of cause and wonder if there will ever be a time in her life where there is room for me. And a part of me is insecure enough to wonder if she’ll want mere there when that time comes. These aren’t exactly fair thoughts and I do my best to keep them at bay. What ever happens to my friendship with A I hope she is OK, I hope she finds love for herself and realise she is as amazing as I know her to be. I wish her all the best, and hope I am allowed a sting of sadness if that doesn’t involve me. That sadness will not take any of my good wishes away.

When I write I miss her now I guess I selfishly miss her in this writing process. It feels so lonely. Like so many other things in my life. I feel more vulnerable than I would have felt if we were doing this together, if this were a way for us to share things. Instead I am fighting to keep myself writing and struggling to share my life and thoughts.

The internet scares me. I have seen glimpses of the hate and harassment that happens there. And I do not want to put myself at the mercy of that. Not ever. And that is why I chose not to have a comment section. Why the email connected to this account isn’t my regular one. Even when no one is reading along, even though I do nothing for this blog to find an audience, I am so aware of the public nature of this. Nothing here is private. Nothing online is really private.

These months of no work, of not seeing friends, of being isolated, has shown me just how much I do not want any part of my life to happen online. I do not want communities online or friendships that exist primarily online. I guess I knew this before the pandemic, but this has shown me how much I feel that. How much even now when I have been locked away from the few friends I have, I do not want or try to search for meaningful connections through the very amazing technological tools at my disposal. I am so fortunate that I live in a time when all this is available too me, and yet I so often shy away from it. Nothing about social media feels social to me. It just seems stressful and like a source of too much information I do not know what to do with. Like an ocean of small talk and surface level interactions that I try to avoid at all times. And the addictive nature of apps, the way they are designed to keep any attention they can get for as long as they can get, doesn’t work for me. I find myself scrolling through feeds but getting nothing out of it, yet unable to turn the thing off.

I am so amazed that I have so much knowledge at my fingertips at all times. I can learn almost anything I want from the smart phone in my pocket. That is a gift. It is wonderful. I can take pictures and send it to a friend far away in a heartbeat and share what happens in my life with them. But I have found I learn better with a teacher, when I can ask questions and be corrected. I feel more connected when I am in the same room with a friend and I can feel their energy and feel what happens when their energy meets my energy, and I can’t do that through a phone.
I find phone calls less stressful than video calls. And though I can see the other person with video it just feels like more is demanded of me, more attention, with nothing added for me to want to give that extra. I see something similar with my nephew. He is five. And when I call he loses interest in talking to me very quickly, whether I call in the phone or with video. I’m not there. In the room with him. So I am not really real to him. He forgets I am there and that he is talking to me, because it’s just a voice or an image on a screen. So he walks away or just does other things. His parents tell him to focus, but I feel like he is being so honest. And when I visit he is so present with me, so there, so Here. And that forces me to be Here as well. And I love that. The way he asks me to be in the moment with him, and the way there is nothing more precious I could give him than my time and attention. And that the time I have with him will always be limited and that makes it so easy to choose to be in present in that time. He grows so quickly, and so does his little sister. I feel like if I am not careful the time when they are kids and want me to play and want to share those moments with me will disappear in a flash and before I know it they’ll be grown and I could spend the rest of my life wondering why I missed these precious moments with them. I still wonder a little too much if they’ll like me later. But he likes me now, and my niece is still too little to have an opinion, but she will soon enough. My autism and my weird and my being me is things I am proud of and that I wouldn’t change for anything. But I do wonder what these kids will think of it when they begin to see it and maybe understand it. I keep thinking they’ll either love it or hate it, and whichever it is I’ll take it when it comes. But it’s on my mind.

There have been so many things lately I have been thinking of writing or sharing here. This week a big thing happened that I might have written about if A had been a part of this. I would have trusted her to read it and be here with me in it. I would have known she was there and that she was being her own kind of vulnerable with me too. And I wouldn’t have been alone. So sharing those things wouldn’t have been so hard. Because I would be sharing them with a friend. If I write or share it now I am just giving it away to the internet, to no one. And though I am so fine being vulnerable and sharing so much of myself, I have been working on understanding I am allowed to keep things private. They are not secret, but private. Something I felt like I never had a right to. Too much blame when the therapists couldn’t fix me, it was always my fault, because I hadn’t cooperated or been honest enough. So I learned to tell them everything from such a young age, and nothing was ever private or secret or mine. And now I am beginning to claim things as mine and be more careful what is shared. But I also know when I started this blog, these letters that was supposed to be for A, that if she had been here, if she was writing back, I would have wanted to share so much more. And a part of me is sad that I have these things I am not ready to share, when I also struggle so much to find anything to write every single week.
I’m not going to push myself to share. But a part of me hopes I can share it some day. I think it’ll have value. It does to me and I believe it’ll have value to others if I can give it away. For now it’s mine. And that feels kind of nice too.

Lastly an update on my reading. I just started book 28 today. I am completely off any kind of schedule. I’ve read a few short children’s books that I could read in a few hours or less. And maybe they shouldn’t could as haven read a book, but I have decided it my reading and my books and they are books and they count. Especially since I read them to keep up with reading and because I have been meaning to read them for ages but haven’t till now. And I am ahead of schedule which was one book a week. So even though my reading died completely for 2 weeks about a month ago the small children’s books got me back to reading. And in the past week I have read the new Hunger Games prequel and the first two Hunger Games book. I just started Mockingjay today. So I’ve been reading constantly. The trilogy is a reread and they are great to return to. I do worry a little that I will get stuck unsure what to read next, but reading a series really did make it easier for a while. I’ll try to decide on something before I finish reading Mockingjay.

I keep thinking I should start writing in advance and take time for editing and stuff like that. But it doesn’t feel realistic yet. I hope that’s ok with whoever is out there reading. For nor just writing this to no one and posting it to not let myself down is challenge enough,

If anyone is reading then thank you. Thank you for your time.


P.S. Got distracted before I posted, and almost decided against sharing just this. I am not ready to leave the text for a day and return to it to edit, if I hope to post anything. So I think for now unedited is the way to go. But I do hope to change that.

Letter about absorbing emotions, bad boundaries and having friends whose progress is at a different stage than mine

31st of May 2020

Dear reader

This week I have felt how difficult for me it is to be there for friends who are at a different stage in working with themselves. I hate that. I want to be good at it and I think I was good at it. And that has lead me to think that being good at it is somehow important to who I am and who I want to be. And that is something I’ll need to work on, because the way I used to define that isn’t working for me.
I’m beginning to feel resentful at the people who are not working on the things that are absolutely necessary for my own growing. Like stopping negative self-talk. I’m never going to get better at accepting myself and liking myself, if I allow myself to think and say bad things about myself. And like most people I know I can say things to myself that I would never allow anyone else to say or that I wouldn’t even think about others. So the last few years I have been making an effort to not allow that kind of thinking. And I feel better. It’s not over and done. But it’s an amazing work in progress that makes a real difference.
And then it gets tough to listen to my friends saying awful things to themselves. Like calling their feelings and reactions stupid. Instead of owning whatever it is they think is stupid. I still haven’t heard it them do, say or express something stupid, they are just being human and having feelings.
The problem for me is that when I hear it I have two reactions. Reaction one is to do the same I do with my own negative self-talk and that is banishing it. Calling out and making it clear that that kind of talk isn’t allowed. But that isn’t what my friends want to hear. They are not working on this the same way I am, and I do not feel like that response will be seen as helpful. And I have to remember that. I have to remember their mindset and how I used to have it too. And that is hard to do, because in a way it puts me right back where I started, I am so strongly reminded of all the things I am working hard to get away from. And in a way it hurts. It peels back all my progress and asks me to throw it a way just for a moment, so I won’t have an overreaction to my friend calling herself stupid.

Another friend once compared it to trying to quit an addiction but only having friends who are also addicts. I have no such experience and don’t know if it’s an acceptable comparison. But it feels so true. And it’s not just negative self-talk. It’s being in abusive relationships, having bad or no boundaries, problems with parents and so on.
I know we are all doing things on our own terms and that none of us can be expected to grow and make progress on someone else’s timetable. But I feel lonely and lost in my own experience. I feel like I cannot share the good experiences I have and I worry asking my friends to completely stop their negative self-talk in front of me is too much to ask. Even if my boundary really is there and I think it would help all of us.

It’s hard watching people care about not having good boundaries and getting hurt over and over again, it’s hard trying to give advice and be kind and patient with them (and I know they need kindness and patience, and a few pointers about where to start), when every time this comes up I get a huge emotional setback.

I know how much I cannot push them or force anything. This is growth. It happens when they are ready and when there is room in their life to work on this. I can point them in the right direction, but I cannot do any more. And trying to do anything else will very likely backfire and make things worse. I know this. I’ve been there. And it wasn’t even that long ago.
I just don’t know how to empathise and care and meet them where they are, without (temporarily) erasing all my own progress to stop myself from shouting at them. And me wanting to shout at them isn’t about them. It’s because I feel like I just did this, and just found the right path, and just got away from that mindset that was killing me. And here they are, bringing it all back, asking me to look back, and all I want to do is move forward.

I probably need a boundary about helping people in this situation. Because I might be a few steps ahead of my friends in this, but I have not reached any kind of destination. And I also feel too much when I talk to them about their problems. I get to invested. It’s like I have no off switch, no boundaries. I feel like a sponge, absorbing all the pain and worry. And I’ve always had a saviour complex, I want to save everyone, I want to heal all the hurting, I feel the need to fix everything, apparently especially the things that aren’t mine to fix. And it takes an active effort to disengage and not take on everything in the world as my problem. That’s the main reason I don’t watch the news. I can’t handle knowing how broken the world is and how little I can do to fix it.

When a friend calls and need help, advice, a listening ear, I want to be there. And I don’t want to do that by halves. So I do. I listen and I care and I am in this with them (as much as possible). But when I put down the phone, or send them home, those feelings are stuck in my body for days. Sometimes weeks or months. Worry and pain. And I walk around with the situation on my mind trying to problems solve it all. I have to remind myself this isn’t mine to carry. I am not helping anyone by not letting it go. And I can push the thought away. With force and by intentionally letting them go when they pop up. But the way my body holds on to the feelings is harder to work on. I just feel too much. Too much that isn’t mine to feel and that makes my life harder. I have to remind myself over and over that these feelings, this thing that happens in my body, it’s not about me, it’s not mine to carry. I’ve gotten better at doing other things right after such a call. So I release the things I feel as soon as possible. But I need better boundaries about that kind of calls. I need better boundaries in general.

I want to be there for my friends. I want to support them. I want to make sure they have what I didn’t have and don’t have, the things that would have helped me or the things I still feel I need. I try to be that for them. But for a few of them I feel like the on-call therapist, the only life line. And as much as I cannot stop myself from being the supportive advisor, I need a change. This isn’t working for me. Especially because the people who do this the most cannot offer me what I need in return. It feels one-sided and like I am giving more than I have. None of my needs are being met, except my need to be needed, and at this point in my life I would prefer to that to go both ways. And I would prefer to not drain myself and to not have to undo my own progress again and again to have that.

For some reason I feel like I am ungrateful and like I am being unfair and unkind to these people. They are caring and kind and it’s not their fault that what they have to give doesn’t fit with what I need. And I feel lonely and expendable. And here are people who I care about, who care about me, who want to spend time with me and who needs something I can provide and they ask me for it. So why do I still walk away feeling like none of my needs are being met? Why do I feel so fundamentally incompatible with people this warm and kind and who want to give? What is it I am looking for?

My first priority about this is figuring out how to not absorb all those feelings from others. Then I probably need some conversations about what I need and how to make room for that too. I know I have really bad boundaries, but I am working on it.

I am not entirely sure how to finish this letter. Except to say thank you for your time.