tofu and theories of minds

I had a very disturbed night. Lucy woke up at 3am to go outside. She did a nice poo, which was a relief to me, because I have been worrying about her bright orange runny poo since Christmas. It’s firming up and becoming a less alarmingly bright colour now. Phew! I was having unpleasant dreams though. Waking up several times in a pool of tears. The good thing was when I finally woke up at dawn, there was sitting in my mind, a clear visual image of the design for the frame for my drawing, which shall be a part of an upcoming group exhibition. I am looking forward to drawing again.

It was a quiet Sunday morning at the studio, just me and Lucy, tidying and musing, and reading about aisthesis, while listening to Chopin on my iPad. I had a weird brunch comprising leftover chips from last night’s fish and chips dinner, leftover salad which my lovely friend prepared, and leftover overcooked beef cubes from the clement barbecue with Rick. Upon returning home, I was hungry again, so I cut and baked the tofu, which was sitting in the fridge for ages. It was still good.

So, what is it that has been bothering me in my subconscious? A very real and conscious issue, it seems.

Some years ago, a close relative with whom I grew up and subsequently lived as an adult for over two decades, became antagonistic at the onset of my personal and spiritual journey towards self acceptance and independence. It gradually dawned on me that all this while, I was nothing more to this person than a creature she could use and control, one who would always agree with her and serve her unquestioningly. This process of enlightenment, however, happened so slowly that it took me a further 3 years to completely extricate myself from her clutches – in my mind, and in practice. It is a common phenomena observed in people who have been subtly abused for a long period of time, or in individuals with Asperger’s (the latter due mostly to a lack of intrinsic ability to ‘read’ the minds of neurotypical people), this inability to perceive danger or harmful situations until too late, or just to say, “No,” and an overwhelming impotence where it comes to quickly disengaging from a disadvantageous situation. Even after she finally let down her guard and called me her “paid companion,” I was there to serve her purposes for yet another few more years. Her most powerful tactic was always blackmail – emotional and spiritual (religious). The emotional one worked best, followed by the religiosity. “After all I have done for you…” – each and every time we even approached any form of disagreement, this would be thrown at me, and I would very quickly capitulate, even when I did so unhappily. Where her interpretation of religion was concerned, she made me feel somehow unclean, unholy, and just wrong, whenever I dared so much as to deviate from her set perimeters. So, I made a lifelong habit of shoving myself aside and placing her at the altar. Why did I do so? Ah, too complex an analysis for one already too longwinded blog post. Put it down to personality types, familial relationships, situation, circumstance and yes, a great deal was due to my Asperger’s and her innate ability to read my mind while I was unable to read hers.

Darn that Theory of Mind business!

The separation was to me like a death, making way for new life. A process in which the familiar, and even treasured, is revealed in a completely different light, and an alternative truth dawns, a harsh reality, bringing about seismic change. In such situations, the old relationship structures can no longer be sustained on shaken and broken ground. Relationships are built by more than one entity in a complex system of reciprocity, thus, if the collaborator is unwilling to rebuild upon a new foundation, then collapse is permanent. It was inevitable, given what transpired. However, what is astounding and painful at the same time, is that this former connection persists in actions that perplex and, yes, even hurt, in subtle ways, which cannot be easily articulated. It is especially not easy for an Aspie Bunny, with poor Theory of Neurotypical Mind. (Mind you, this person claims to be Aspie too, but she most definitely does not meet the criteria, and any experienced clinician would know this.)

Is that, too, the aping and echoing me, part of the conscious or subconscious design, then, that I am hounded to the very last centimetre, without so much as breathing space to be me? “Me too!” was another favourite utterance of hers, in response to every little thing I said about myself.

Ever since I parted ways and no longer resided with this person, she has never once invited me to her new place of abode. Even when relations were still cordial between us, (albeit by then hanging on a thin thread, mainly by my effort and her needing unpaid services from me), and I asked to visit, my request was met with the inimitable signature brittle plastic grin and illogical excuse. Not even a postal address would be divulged to me. Yet, the same person has systematically invited almost all of my former friends known to her, to her home for all kinds of social activities or whatever other pursuits that showed off her generosity and goodness. Her most recent exploit was less than a month ago. These were friends I once considered part of my inner circle.

The grand irony is that none of those “friends” ever once stopped to question the motivation behind the seemingly benign gestures of sociability and congeniality. I call them my “former friends” now.

They have all been apprised of my situation, they have heard countless times from me, they were even present during the process of divorce between us. There is no more need to talk to them. Further verbal exchange is meaningless now, and counterproductive. If these persons choose to partake so easily of those few hours of trivial but pleasant socialization over and above standing by me and sharing my journey of change and renewal, then so be it.

I am less bothered by the loss of my so-called friends, than the disquieting question about this woman’s actions: what lies behind such ephemeral yet concretely disturbing gestures?

There may be a plethora of suggestions and possible exegeses on the psyche of this person. I myself have managed a few. But the irony remains. And truth will never be told, not by someone who has no inkling how to be forthright and utterly truthful, but clings tenaciously to the superficial tenets of maintaining always the best veneer, the shiniest most glistening sheer of religious holiness, no matter what and how.

In practical reality, I have moved on. My former friends may still feature casually at lunches and dinners, once or twice a year, if and when time and energy permits. You may even ask me why I bother, and I honestly have no logical answer to offer for this. Perhaps someday even this extraneous activity will cease. My inner life remains now closed to these people who were once confidantes of mine. For they have broken the fundamental sanctity of faith and trust. Yet, I do not blame them. They are neurotypical social brained persons after all. Being nice and amiable, usually without firm basis on any moral system in particular, bending and floating with the social winds on a whim, are all part of their intrinsic mental make up. Perhaps it is a good thing. The actions of this person, regardless of specific motive or agenda, have shown me who I can trust, and who are of no use to me in my new journey.

The question still begs a resolution, of course, in an academic way. What is the Theory of Mind behind this? My mind cannot find a logical system, it cannot grasp the nebulous capriciousness of the neurotypical mental social structure. Yes, I know, not all questions can or will be answered. This in itself is difficult for the Aspie, but I must accept that it is part of the immutable forces that govern all life, and humanity in particular. Truth, in the neurotypical world, is at best amorphous, and at worst a construct to be manipulated at will, and may the cleverest one win.

There is no battle here. I lose hands down, even before we ever could begin. I am an Aspie. An alien in the world of hazy shadows. I have discovered by now, after too many mistaken pleas and explanations to people who I thought would and should stand by me, that the more I explain, the more extraneously pedantic I become, and the more I am met with ‘humoured’ looks of pity, or sometimes even enraged judgement. It is arena of the neurotypical social brained, and where this person and my friends are concerned, I have given up fighting to be heard and understood, it is not a struggle worthwhile.

I must just keep going, follow the signposts relevant to me, towards my destination. Yes, it hurts, and yes, I am still haunted by her in my dreams. How can I not be? Aspie or not, I am still human, and I once loved this person deeply. Faithfully. Loyally. However, that too in itself has enriched my inner life, and contributes some depth, tone, colour, texture, sonic variation and visual eclecticism to my existence. I know what I am capable of, and what I am not. I am capable of strength of love, but I am not going to bother with Theory of Neurotypical Mind to the extent that it kills me. I have a great life left ahead of me, and much to achieve before I pass into the unknown oblivion.

I cannot leave this person completely behind, unless I sever every single insidious thread in the elaborate web that links us, and unless the main channel that binds us passes on, but I can and must lighten the load as I carry the final vestiges with me. Someday these too will be shed, though not now. It is ok. I am strong enough for that.

I have my Lucy. I have one good sister, and a small eclectic handful of likeminded folks to walk with me, from wherever they are geographically. I am also learning to allow newfound friends and acquaintances to help me along. Oh yes, and I have food!

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